30 March 2023
Go Your Own Way
You can go your own way sang Fleetwood Mac. And many rock bands have felt that they have had no option but to do just that. Whether it’s changing tastes in the wider music industry, change of record company or a general will to just do it differently here’s a few bands that have forged their own path.
Kickstarter masters before it was even a thing. 80’s Neo-prog masters Marillion found life outside of a major label contract tough going. But not for long. Forgoing the demand for big single hits and hitting a new streak of creativity, Marillion turned to the infant web2.0 and a legion of die hard fans spread across the world to fund recording of 2000’s Anaoraknophobia album. Now free of any commercial constraints Marillion’s expansive sound flourished and their fans loved it. Enjoying the interaction and reconnecting with their fanbase led to fan conventions and Weekender events at holiday camps, fan chosen set lists and more crowd funded albums. Thirty years on from what could’ve been their end of days, Marillion march on heads held high.
Sisters of Mercy
Re-writing the definition of stubborn, Andrew Eldritch has been on strike for the last 30 years! Facing what he considered an impossible recoup bill with Warner Music following 1990’s colossal sounding Vision Thing album, Eldritch played the game by co-operating with the issue of two back to back best of albums, to the point of re-recording their classic Goth punk anthem Temple of Love and delivered a UK top 10 top 10 single with 1992’s Under The Gun, but still the bill owed went higher. So Eldritch said enough and never delivered another piece of music to the label again. New material is played live and on occasion up to half the live set can be songs never officially recorded, providing a strong reason to the black attired faithful to turn out. Now into their fourth decade, The Sisters continue to regularly tour Europe and are due to play their first US dates in over thirty years this May. Defiance.
System of a Down
Not every flag wave of independence is a good idea. Especially when you don’t tell people it’s coming. Steal This Album was the follow up to the multi-platinum Toxicity. Half recorded demos from the previous sessions had been leaked online throughout much of 2001 so you can only imagine the stress at Sony Music HQ when the penny dropped that their then leading rock artist insisted that this ‘new’ album be issued in a clear plastic CDR style case with a simple hand written instruction to steal it scrawled across the front as a two fingered salute to online piracy and fan endeavor. However, instead of turning on your fanbase like Metallica and their ill-advised anti-Napster crusade, System’s Steal This Album nodded to it in acknowledgement. But issued to a surprised media with little (or no) fanfare the album was in danger of being totally overlooked, and missed entirely by busy reviews editors.
The most difficult band in the world? Or total feckin’ geniuses who have earned the right to do what they want and how they want to do it with their art? Fuck you Spotify. Fuck you You Tube. Fuck you casual fan. If you want Tool music you buy it in context, full album in full packaging for the full experience AND come see us live so we get paid. Well, in an age of cultural commodity and instant gratification someone’s got to play that card sometime, right? It’s easy to be cynical and say that Tool are all about the money, but why should artists starve to be considered credible? Tool want it all on their own terms and good luck to them. headlining major festivals and selling out arenas some 30 years into a challenging career where they have morphed from angry arthouse project into a modern day metal tinged Pink Floyd, Tool have proven that you can do it your way…If you’re good enough.