Monday, 4 April 2011

Biting the hand that feeds - why do Goth bands diss their fanbase?

When writing an old post for this site (Goth music - then and now) I was reminded of the attitude that a lot of the older Goth bands seem to have regarding the subculture; for example, Robert Smith's remark that "it's so pitiful when 'Goth' is still tagged on to the name 'The Cure'". This kind of attitude is something that I find exceedingly irritating. If these artists are not particularly fond of the subculture, that's fine. But there's no need to complain and bitch about the group that, in most cases, consititutes a large proportion of their fanbase.

Source: Tumblr
Even Siouxsie Sioux's ultra-casual, "Goth? Is that still going on?" when asked about the subculture in an interview seemed a little fake to me. I mean, the woman was being interviewed for Meltdown Magazine, whose tagline was 'It's a Goth thing!' If that didn't give it away that yes, actually, the Goth subculture is thriving - what does it take?

Of course, the subculturally-beloved band most famous for ragging on the devoted followers that pay their bills are The Sisters of Mercy, who have practically made verbal Goth-bashing into an art form, as well as infamously booting support act Sunshine Blind off a tour for being 'too Goth'.

I did hear a while back that the Sisters referred to Goths on their website as 'g**h', as though it was a dirty word. Even for 'if-I-wear-black-socks-I'm-stigmatised-as-a-demon-overlord' Andrew Eldritch I thought this was a bit silly, so I popped over to their site to see if this was true. In fact I found very little mention of Goth, save in their FAQ where there are a few snide remarks:

Q: Do you always wear black? [Amy's note: Did this really need to go in their FAQ or was it just an excuse to make sneaky 'we are not in any way shape or form a Goth band, despite Patricia Morrison's dress sense and the fact that the music we play is very recogniseably EARLY GOTH ROCK' comments?]

A: "Not at all. Traditionally, we very often wear shirts of the most flamboyant colour and design.... You shouldn't be that bothered anyway.... A TV station or a magazine or a citizen with a particularly desperate agenda might insist on exaggerating the importance of the occasional black sock...[what's with all the socks?]; you don't have to make the same mistake. If the songs are too difficult to concentrate on, or you're simply so sad that you have to draw substantive conclusions from what we wear, you should at least ignore those morons who need to discuss the kind of capes we wear. Because we've never worn any."

Q: My friend says he thinks that the singer with some dodgy band of darklings is really Andrew Eldritch. Has Andrew ever been in any other bands?

A: "Andrew has sung guest vocals for a couple of major artists ... but that's it. You certainly won't find him singing with your friend's dodgy darklings. Especially as their lyrics are undoubtedly gibberish."

Dodgy darklings? Oh, my dear followers, you just KNOW what I'm going to be calling you guys from now on... ;-)

Anyhoo. I'm not entirely sure why bands like these seem to think it makes them cool to whine about being associated with a large section of their own fan base, but it's undeniable that the Goth scene presents them with an easy target. Mention to your Goth friends or local spooky club DJ the idea of boycotting The Sisters - in return for their lame comments, we'll stop helping them pay their rent - and you'll be met with looks of abject horror and remarks along the lines of, "But... but what will I do without First and Last and Always?" And don't get me wrong, I'm just as bad.

Which probably means that the Goth subculture is the only consumer group in the world that can be viewed with public disdain by artists and will STILL go buy their stuff. I guess we 'dodgy darklings' are too forgiving when it comes to talented musicians... dammit.

On a completely unrelated note, this was the highlight of my weekend:

How was yours?


Anonymous said...

I'm a casual sort of person. I stuff casually, I wear casual clothes and even listen to casual music. I met many different people from many different races and beliefs. If there's one thing that I've learned from all these people, that is, If you a dick head, your a dick head. It does matter if you wear Cowboy clothes or dress Goth Style. It's our actions that make us who we are. If you want to dress Gothic or Cowboy. You do it!

Ellone said...

Yes, I agree the 'goth' term is not used to much anymore. I think it's mainlly because of all the sub-genres, like new wave, post-punk and so on. It's not 'cool' to use the word 'goth' anymore haha. I believe it's all rubish, and people hide behind their little finger :P

Audronasha The Countess said...

well, I think they might be sad because of an old school goth stuff disappearing. It was a little different then. And sometimes you just can't tolerate the younger ones who in your opinion are acting not very Gothic... In where I live it sometimes feels like it's just a fashion stuff and no inner feeling, no spirit. That moment I don't want to have any common thing with those 15 years old girls wearing PVC stuff and black make up just because it "cool". I don't want to think that I am the same. But I must to admit we all are. It's just different stages of our life. Young ones will always look not worthy enough to the older ones :P And the young ones will find older ones being too cocky :)

NoxArtemis said...

Generally, I won't let an artist's egotism *coughAndrewEldritch* get in the way of me listening to their music. BUT, I'm not going to be the sort who will blindly kiss their @$$ and pretend that they aren't huge jerks. Afterall, it's they're music I'm attracted to, not their personalities, especially if it's a crappy one (I guess in the music industry, the consumer is just as guilty for continuing to buy from an artist that talks $h!t about their fanbase - but that's what the net is for :D).

More bands should be like The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath a Cloud.

Kitty Lovett; A Charming Notion said...

You're beautiful, Amy, and it's not fair on the rest of us mere mortals.

I remember watching TV a while ago and the ad for the new My Chem whatever album. I admit to liking their old stuff. I don't think it's good, but I admit to liking it. My friend Heather was with me, and she told me about Lead Singer Whatshisace saying in an interview, "I hate what 'goth' has become."

Because as the singer in an emotional hardcore band, you know all about goths, you scene poser.

Old Nightwish FTW.

And my alphagoth ex used to laugh at my music tastes. So I like Barbra Streisand and Evanescence. You know what - I damn well like Evanescence. I saw them when I was twelve and a half, and it was the best day of my life.

Jacqueline said...

booooooo. Those comments seriously remind me of when I was thirteen, bedecked in black corset,black satin fishtail skirt, lace tights, and short victorian boots, and insisted I'M NOT GOTH OMG I HATE GOTHS!!!! There's nothing wrong with liking a subculture, it doesn't mean you're a poser or a "conformist," nor does it mean you have to participate in said subculture every day of your life.

Emily Lynn G. said...

You know what I'm going to say, Amy:sympathize. It must be frustrating for a band to be labeled to one group of people (you see this kind of hatred nowadays from "emo" bands to their scene fan base.) because they feel it would restrict their artistic limits and limit their audience. Basically, bands like the Cure don't didn't want to be a 'goth' band because then only goths,according to the ever infallible mainstream media, can listen to them. Even MCR rants about not being a 'emo' band.
*cough* that being said, they so CLEARLY cater to subculture (like you said-not knowing goth in a goth magazine?what?!)that to pretend like they don't is just lieing to themselves. In the end I guess they are just embarrassed at my generation for basically ruining subculture and making it "uncool", (Sorry, trying to combat it as best one can) while still not being embarrassed enough to stop taking our cash, which we DO give them willingly. So whose really to blame? I guess the more ignorant fan base should shape up and the bands should just admit that instead of dissing their whole fan base altogether.
On to the pictures:I want more pictures of your room, It looks so cute!that skirt seems to die for<3 Is that the boyfriend we occasionally hear about?

Ashlee said...

Maybe they're like emo kids, and think that it's cool to deny what you obviously are. And that admitting what you obviously are makes you a poser.

Julietslace said...

I agree with Emily Lynn G, it can't be easy to be clunked in with one label. But I hate their egos, personally I just listen to their music and I refuse to condone their attitude. Simples.

Ps, I have the guest post ready. Do I get a pigeon to send it over or :p

Qwack said...

As much as I love The Cure, I agree that Robert's ranting is a bit... irritating. Heh, at least Peter Murphy doesn't rant about not being goth. If he did, then I think I'd either a) choke them both, but not enough to kill them, just to knock some sense into them, or b) wait for my head to explode.
Robert's been whining about that for the last what, 20, 25, 30 years? Twice as long as my age.

Anonymous said...

The whole denying a label when you obviously fit that label is as old as rock n' roll itself. The media invented the term "Goth" and we just accepted it, do black people accept the N-word? If you see it as offensive, you don't. What are those labels based on? Negative stereotypes.

This type of behavior still exists largely among emos, scenesters and now the hipster crowd, who do the same thing, deny you are something to better fit that label. It goes back to is it "X" to call yourself X,Y, or Z label or deny it when you clearly are?

Ironically the only contrast to this behavior comes with the punks who embraced their label, as well as hippies before them.

Bixie Willow said...

I knew that the Sisters of Mercy booted a supporting act, but I didn't know that it was Switchblade Symphony! It really surprised me to find that out because I love Switchblade Symphony. Thanks Amy, you're always teaching me stuff!

Hayley said...

I HATE it when artists diss their fanbase. They seriously have no room to talk. I would totally boycott the Sisters of Mercy if I even listened to them.

ultimategothguide said...

@ Kitty Lovett - flattery, my dear, will get you everywhere ;-D Thanks very much! ^^

@ Emily Lynn - yeah, that's Dan ^^ and thank you. The skirt is Hell Bunny, I found it on a sale rail someplace.

@ Juliet's Lace - I'll pop over to your page and leave my e-mail. Thanks for helping me out =)

@ Bixie Willow - you're welcome ^^

Shawn said...

Actually, it wasn't Switchblade Symphony that was booted. It was Sunshine Blind.

ultimategothguide said...

Hmm. I heard it was Switchblade. (Obviously.) Where'd you get your info? I read mine online which admittedly is fairly possibly inaccurate.

Shawn said...

I can't remember the original source from which I read it, but here are a few that I just found:

Right from the mouth of Caroline Blind:

Another one, which specifically states that Switchblade Symphony was allowed to play:

Another one from Caroline Blind:

I hope that I haven't come across as haughty by pointing this out. I like both SS (saw them in Buffalo in 1999) and Sunshine Blind. :)

ultimategothguide said...

@ Shawn - cheers for that! Sorry to be a pain, I just prefer to check sources before I edit posts. Thanks for the heads-up.

Not at all, you've been helpful! ^^

Shawn said...

Oh, no pain at all. :) By the way, I found your blog through a Facebook post by Queenie, on whom you recently wrote an article. I'm a friend of a friend of hers. :) I like it, and though I don't know how much I'll post, I'll definitely be following along now. :)

Unknown said...

Just stumbled across this post after someone emailed me a humorous Uncle Andy mem. I know about this all to well since Andrew shot us down days before the Philadelphia show as an opener because apparently we were "too goth". (The New Creatures)
What ever. Little man with big ego and what came across as a school boy tantrum. "I'm Not Goth, I'm Not Goth...oh yeah, please buy my records"
Johnathan Mooney
Founding Member

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I believe the Goth scene has been slowly cannibalizing itself because of the elitism. Once something of a collective of artists and intellectuals it seems most have been chased away by the narcissistic behaviors or materialism seemingly plaguing the scene.

Perhaps we should learn to appreciate differences between the then and now. Find our common ground, rather than knawing on one another. We will always have the Baby Bats. The best we can do is assist their maturation rather than debride or chastise them. Better chances of shaping them into productive "community" members.

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