Is rock music dead?

En octobre 2015, je publiais mon interview avec Bret Easton Ellis, l'auteur d'American Psycho, Moins que Zéro, Les Lois de l...


En octobre 2015, je publiais mon interview avec Bret Easton Ellis, l'auteur d'American Psycho, Moins que Zéro, Les Lois de l'Attraction et j'en passe... autant de chef d'oeuvres qu'il faudrait imposer dans tous les collèges de France. Bret me disait que le rock était mort:

"(...) rock is dead. Where are the rock bands? You have to go to country music to find people who are writing pop or rock songs, but that's all another story." Il ajoutait : "Part of the problem with the post-Empire music scene is the democratization of music, the fact that anybody can make music, that you don't even need to know how to play an instrument or write music in order to have huge hits. That's a really unusual thing. I don't know if anything really great has been made from that kind of aesthetic, but it definitively influences so much of the music today. I think it's really interesting that the sales of electric guitarists have plummeted in the last 5 or 10 years. The idea about wanting to be a rock'n'roll guitarist is really evaporating. Whether it's good or bad doesn't matter, it is just happening."

Je prenais acte de sa réponse et décidais de poser la même question en conclusion de tous mes interviews : le rock était-il mort pour de vrai ? Je craignais chaque fois une réponse positive... parce que je pense qu'il l'est effectivement : K.O, mort, décédé, fini, kaput. Il n'a pas disparu bien entendu, et les scènes actuelles fourmillent de nouveaux talents (que ferais-je avec Still in Rock, sinon ?!), mais le rock ne crée plus de mouvements en dehors de lui-même. A dire vrai, je fais malheureusement ce même constat pour la quasi-intégralité des formes d'art ; nos sociétés sont... post-art. Elles sont instagramées. Tiktokées. Ce changement est d'autant plus flagrant avec le rock'n'roll qui a, un jour de la décennie 1960s, a emporté avec lui toute une jeunesse pour conduire à une révolution des moeurs. Aujourd'hui, c'est impensable. Mais j'ai décidé de me battre pour en faire un magnifique zombie, un... mort-vivant !

J'ai donc récolté de nombreux avis afin de me confronter à d'autres réalités (chacun la sienne, hein). Certains ont été spontannés ("Jamais!"), d'autres plus réfléchis. J'y ai trouvé un peu d'espoir, et des artistes désabusés. Quelques réponses m'ont fait réfléchir, d'autres m'ont fait rire. Voici donc l'intégralité des avis ainsi récolés aux fils des cinq dernières années. pour le reste, je continuerai de poser la question.


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Mike Sniper (Captured Tracks)

Well, I think it's at a low point not from quality but because of eartime afforded to it. Saying "rock is dead" is kinda silly. That's like saying "classical is dead." Classical is dead, it has the word "classical" in it's name. But the violin, cello and oboe don't cease to be musical instruments because Mozart isn't culturally impacting things in a hands-on way these days.

The idea that "Rock" as some cultural catalyst is probably fair. It'd be silly to think there'd be some Nirvana or Beatles kinda band again. Not because there's not good bands but because it's impossible for such an ADD culture to kind of generationally get behind something like a band right now. 

There's too many outlets and music isn't considered culturally important. This is why you have huge megastars like we have now as cultural ambassadors as opposed to musicians. We're back in the Pre-Elvis era. Miley Cyrus, Kanye, Beyonce... it's basically updated/edgier versions of Bing Crosby, Patti Page, Frank Sinatra. Music isn't an important cultural commodity anymore, so you won't have an importance on it. This is why Drake interrupting an NBA game is news that dominates all talk of music on a given day. It's not that music/bands/rock is bad, it's just that it's validity as something worth caring about has fallen to what it was like in, say, 1952.

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Larry Hardy (In The Red Records)

People have been saying “rock is dead” for a long, LONG time now. I can see their point. Everything has been done already. There are only so many ways to arrange and re-arrange those three or four chords. That said, there are always great rock bands going at any given time - you just have to actively seek it out. Some of the artists we’ve discussed here prove that. I’m guessing Mr. Ellis just isn’t looking in the right places. I would think country music is even deader. At least the crap I’ve heard lately.

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Lol wow. There's more than one emoji that would be perfect for this. ;-) 

I'd say rock 'n' roll was a stillborn dream, and we've all been scrambling to resuscitate it this whole time. I don't mean that as a slight-- this is just plainly a necrophiliac business we're all in. There's a dead object with electric, living desire flying around it in a million different directions. 

It's not shocking at all to hear one more famous person over 50 revert to the formula "x is dead." People love to make this pronouncement about everything. It's so clean and catchy, and it sounds iconoclastic even though it usually represents a conservative wish. Usually when someone says this they mean that their outdated critical framework won't neatly cohere with a disobedient reality, or that the market for their work or the work they advocate for is dead or threatened-- drying up or aging out. I'm not sure why Bret Easton Ellis said this-- I guess the market for new electric guitars is drying up. But I do find his caricature of my generation cartoonish and misperceived. 

I don't think the deathly stench around here is coming from the rock shows we play where there's still plenty of 'dumb' emotion and energy and sweat and good faith being generated. This seems like a crisis of criticism, not a crisis of music. 

How about when Crass called out Patti Smith and Steve Jones and The Clash, and declared that punk was dead not even a year after Never Mind the Bollocks came out? Way back in 1978. And they did it in a punk song! Now that was something! 

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Andrew Savages (Parquet Courts)

A silly statement by a silly man.

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Andy Shernoff (The Dictators)

Well, rock is not dead but it certainly is ailing. At one time we awaited the new Beatles or Stones album with baited breath, rock and roll changed the culture influencing politics, fashion and art. I am skeptical that it will ever return to its former glory.

Bret is not the first person I’ve heard call country music the new rock and roll. He’s referring to the commercial country music coming out of Nashville today. To my ears it sounds like the crappy, processed rock music I didn’t like in the 80’s. If that is what passes for rock music, then rock might be dead!

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Of course not. Rock ‘n’ roll will never be dead, rock ‘n’ roll is too incredible, people will always love it, it’s so great!

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Cole: Well, some of Bret Easton Ellis work is great, I mean American Psycho is really a great book but he recently wrote a movie called The Canyons with Lindsay Lohan…

Colin: I think that overgeneralized statements like that just show ignorance and a lack of effort to try to find music. There are not many rock bands now that I feel really passionately about but there is plenty of bands that, if you dig a little, are making good songs.

Cole: People have been saying rock is dead, punk is dead since the 70’s. After Sex Pistols broke up, people were like "punk is dead" and they have never expected Nirvana to happen. But my response to Bret Easton Ellis saying "rock is dead", is after I saw the Canyons film with Linsday Lohan, Bret Easton Ellis is dead!

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Chic-a-go-go (TV Show)

Categories are for zealots and chumps! If you can rock and dance and get frisky and get inspired by Country or Klezmer or Madrigals or bird songs, that is your rock'n'roll.

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Justin Strauss (Milk'n'Cookies)

Hmm. I wouldn't agree with that. People have said that for years. They're will always be something out there amazing. You just have to find it. Kind of like Milk'N'Cookies, who some people are just finding out about now.

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Paul Collins (The Nerves, The Beat)

Ok, one, people are telling me that rock'n'roll is dead since I'm 17. Rock'n'roll has been dying for a very very long time. Two, I don't agree with them. Three, I would like to invite him to my next show, haha.

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Rock’n’roll never dies. God save the Queen!

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Nick: Rock'n'roll die the night Buddy Holly die.
Julia: I don’t agree, jazz is even more dead than rock.
Jacob: It’s far for being dead. It will always be the voice of young people.

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Jody Stephens (Big Star)

I disagree totally. I think there are all kinds of music out there that are alive and well. Rock music may not have the same profile it did 30 years ago, but it's still alive and well. Everything is splintered into different genres and subgenres, and different factions and all that, so I think it's still very much alive.

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Rock'n'roll isn’t dead.

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I don't know what it's like in America. But in Australia when your at a festival. It's seems Most of the acts play pretty straight, and don't really getting that wasted. So it kind of seems dead in that sense, you imagine bands in your head when you grow up just getting wasted all the time and it kind of sucks when they're aren't doing that. Some bands do but most of the ones that go hard are in the underground scene.

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I’d have to disagree with Bret on that one. It’s never died.

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I hope so.

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[People saying that are] not looking hard enough. People are lazy, because through the history of rock'n'roll, some bands had always kick ass. You have to search for them sometimes. Even when everybody in the entire music industry is like, "oh, it's dead, there's nothing good happening right now", all those people are fucking lazy, they're not looking and they're not paying attention for what's really going on.

It's so easy to step back and say that everything is boring, it's such a general statement that makes no sense because movies aren't boring now, they've never been boring, and, it's just like your opinion, so, I would say that he's wrong, 100% and that if he really look at what's going on and not the surface of what's going on, he will realize that there is good rock'n'roll. It might be dead in his head but it's not dead in the world.

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He’s not wrong. But I just think there’s a good handful of us out here trying to bring it back to life.

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It depends on what your definition is. I don't think the idea is dead and for sure in the underground, guitar music is still loved and sought after. In the mainstream, it's been dead for decades.

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No way! We’re living in one of the most exciting eras for rock music and beyond. The scenes are more diverse than ever and there are so many different sounds being experimented with. A bunch of people come to our shows who lived through the 80s punk scenes and they think that what’s happening now is way more exciting and welcoming.

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Franco: I don’t think so.
Nicky: no
Pipe: Yeah, no.

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No. Rock cannot be stopped.

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Probably, but who cares?

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Nah, you just gotta know where to look.

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