My list of bands/artists that I count among my favorites is probably pretty lengthy. Sometimes my husband and I sit on our back patio after a long weekend day of digging holes (I have another weekend of that coming) for apple trees and fence posts and listen to Sonos Radio (yep, it actually IS a shameless plug for his company). There’s an 80s channel on there that I tend to like, and and invariably as one song after another comes on, I’ll exclaim “Oh, I love this band!” Apparently, I like a lot of music from that era…not that I would have suggested otherwise!
While I might like, or even love, a lot of music by artists from Pet Shop Boys to Cutting Crew; or Erasure to even bands like Quiet Riot; and Visage to Japan, there’s no way I can keep up with each of those the way I do Duran Duran. Even if I took this site and blog out of the equation, I can’t say I actually study those bands the way I do my “Big Three”.
This subject came up yesterday on Twitter. I have deep admiration for people like our own Velvet Rebel – or as I call him – The Intern. He knows a little (or a lot) about ANY band I can think of, and a lot that I’ve never even heard of. He’s a walking encyclopedia of music knowledge—a fact that is as admirable as it is intimidating for someone like me, who dares to co-host a YouTube show with him. (Catch us on The Encores Club!)I find myself having to study for more than a few hours each time we review a new album, not counting the time I spend listening to the music, just to feel like I know enough to even have a reasonable discussion. Every time I hear from Jason, he has a new band to share with me, or he’s read some massive book that I obviously need to read as well. I don’t know how he does it on top of working what I think is MORE than a full-time job, but he provides a great bar for me to attempt to reach. I miss most of the time, but it’s a great challenge.
(Okay, I really don’t call him by anything but “Jason”; but you know, I think he likes calling himself our intern. Who am I to judge?!?)
On Twitter, I explained that most of the time, my knowledge of my favorite bands is centered around their albums or music, as opposed to their career, their fanbase, and all of the other nuances. For example, I love Tears for Fears, but beyond knowing the basics, such as their albums, the songs on the albums, and the general trajectory of their career, I don’t follow every last thing about them. I’d like to think I have a fairly decent general working knowledge about them and their music, but I’m no expert.
That led me to explain that I have a very short list of about three bands that I’ve amassed any sort of knowledge about, beyond their albums: Duran Duran, The Beatles, and The Killers. Even within those three, though, I can’t say I’m an expert on The Beatles, or even The Killers.
I wouldn’t dare assert that about Duran Duran, either—not amongst the crowd reading this post, anyway. Sure, I’ve read some things. It’s true that I’ve tried my best to watch or read every interview I can. I do my best to keep up, so to speak. At least enough to feel comfortable having thorough discussions of their music and career, and compose a blog!
When it comes to The Beatles, I’ve read a “few” books and articles over the years. I’ve watched many of their interviews, too. In the case of this band, I’ve done two main things: collected their albums along with a handful of their singles, and I’ve studied Beatlemania (the phenomena of their popularity and fan community) at great length. I wouldn’t dare say I know much more beyond the basics when it comes to the band – and I couldn’t pick Pete Best (their original drummer, pre-Ringo Starr) out of a line up, but I know more about The Beatles than I do about bands like, Japan, for instance. Again, I’m not an expert and don’t pretend to be.
Then there are The Killers. I first stumbled upon that band back when Hot Fuss was released, thanks to my dear friend Jessica. I fell in love immediately, and have followed their music and career ever since. It is fascinating to witness their journey, and I see similarities between their fan community and that of Duran’s. The reactions are so similar with each change in musical direction, and I love feeling just the slightest bit like a bystander in their case, because I don’t take it all quite so personally. That part is refreshing, and actually forces me to see things in Duranland a bit differently than I might otherwise, too. I read as much as I can about The Killers, and even participate in their fan community. Even so, there is no way I’d call myself an expert. I know their music, I know a very little about the band and the people who have come and gone, but I don’t pour the energy into them that I do Duran Duran. I just can’t.
I suppose to some degree, I’m an unapologetic one-trick pony when it comes to music. I know one band backwards and forwards, along with a couple of others to a point where I won’t embarrass myself—most of the time, anyway—in a conversation, as long as those people aren’t experts! I’m fascinated by people who are able to amass great amounts of knowledge about many different bands. It’s something to keep working towards.
My Own Way, or my own musical game, is more of a hopscotch, as I skip my way across Spotify. Right now, I’m thoroughly enjoying a band called Psymon Spine, which is one of the bands we’re talking about today on The Encores Club. I’d suggest them to Whooosh! if I thought Simon or even Katy might give them a listen. They’re fairly new, and their new album, Charismatic Megafauna, is out February 19th. Their music is experimental, but has a fantastic disco groove…and no, I’m not being paid for the endorsement! I just know what my ears like when I hear it. Check out “Jumprope” and “Milk” on Spotify if you want to broaden your horizons a bit!
So, do you have a “Big Three”, or are you more of an overall expert?
I have my big two: DD and Led Zeppelin, but I have nowhere near the same amount of knowledge of LZ as I do of DD. While my awe and appreciation of LZ is more intellectual than personal, I feel a much more familial kind of fondness for Duran that goes beyond nostalgia. I don’t know a thing about other fanbases, but it still seems that there is something especially compelling about our boys that drives an unusually strong devotion, pride, and passion in their fans. Sure, many of us felt a romantic connection with one band member or another when we were teenagers–that’s not that uncommon. But for that drive to keep learning as much as possible about the band and to know what they’re up to RIGHT NOW in this moment in the world, to continue into our fifties and beyond… that’s only Duran (and I’ll confess, Simon in particular) for me.