Sunday, January 23, 2005

Kill Your Radio

One thing I wanted to do when I came here was listen to as many Kiwi bands as possible, check out the local scenes, all that bohemian uber-cool crap. To my surprise, this didn't turn out so great. It's not like I didn't try, I did everything I could without spending gobs of money on concert tickets every night or hiring a proffesional investigator. I combed painstakingly through the biggest record shop in NZ (Real Groovey... a prety sweet store actually), I listened to each radio station on the dial (FM and AM), I read as many local-ish music mags as I could find in chic coffee shops (I found two... one of them was from Australia..), I even browsed through friends' music piles ("Yeah I got that one in the States, that too, and that, and that, yeah that too...") and talked to record shop employees ("Uh, yeah, I don't really listen to alot of music, I just work here"). Things were not looking up. It seems NZ's local music scene is entirely geared toward shipping bands overseas to get popular in the States, so they don't do alot while they're here.

It's the curse of a relatively lightly populated country, and it goes like this: A vast majority of the tunes in NZ come from the US. US labels look at NZ and say "This is a country of 4 million people. That means only 2 million or so are in our target audiences. There's not a lot of potential to make money here, since we can sell 2 million Eminem records in the LA suburbs alone. Therefore we will only release our records that are guaranteed to sell."
Hence... You have radio stations that are 20 times worse than any American Top 40 station. These guys don't even have the whole top forty, they only get about the top 15, so they just repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, the same Eminem, Destiny's Child, Jay Z, Linkin Park, J-Lo, and Blink 182 songs over and over... Normally you can look to student-run college stations in the US to find better music, stuff more off the beaten path... Not here. I found the Auckland student station and they were being original and adventurous by playing old Eminem and old Linkin Park. And the problem is not just that the radio stations suck. Let's be real, most radio stations in the US aren't much better, the problem is that there is so much music out there that just isn't available. So much stuff isn't shipped over because the bean counters at Capital or Universal don't think the profit will be large enough. This means Kiwi kids who try to start bands in high school all end up sounding like crappy versions of Blink 182 or Linkin Park because they never get exposed to the music that gave birth to those crappy bands, then they never get anywhere because "why would you listen to a crappy version of Blink 182 when you can just listen to the real thing?"

Don't get me wrong here, NZ has it's own music and it's noteworthy bands, but they don't get much airtime or credit. I heard alot of noise about NZ's "biggest band" Shihad because they changed thier name from Pacifier, but I never once heard them on the radio on any station, never saw them on a record-store listening station. I only heard one Shihad song and it hidden on a mix CD of crappy US pop-rock. It was good. I liked it, but I never heard it again. Other good groups like Pluto or Scribe get 15 seconds of fame on C4, NZ's answer to MTV, but like with the previously mentioned US tv station, good bands are few and far between the J Lo's and 50 cents.

Enter today's bullet list: Top 11 albums I'd like to donate to NZ radio in no particular order...
  • Stephen Malkmus and The Jiks "Pig Lib"
  • Thursday "Full Collapse"
  • Interpol "Turn On the Bright Lights"
  • The Dandy Warhols "Dandy's Rule, OK?"
  • Modest Mouse "The Moon and Antarctica"
  • Elliot Smith "Figure 8"
  • Ambulance Ltd. "Ambulance Ltd."
  • Built To Spill "Keep It Like a Secret"
  • At The Drive-In "Relationship of Command"
  • The Smiths "Singles"
  • Pavement "Terror Twilight"


mum said...

What? No Eminem on your top 11 list! I know you enjoyed listening to hours of "without me" or "Lose yourself" on all those long, long, long road trips. Oh wait, I forgot, sorry my bad....Bono is your artist of choice, what was I thinking. =0)

mum said...

What Bono didn't make your list? BONO RULES, DUDE.

Anonymous said...

see second story.

I like the DKMs drinking song!

Drinkey, Drinkey, Drinkey, Drinkey, Drinkey, Drinkey, fight!

Anonymous said...

Tell the truth.......I was watching....before you left the States for NZ. I saw you download William Shatner's latest album on your ipod. Don't be can admit it. Add it to you list. I find Shatner irresistable too.