Indie Rock – Past to present
Posted on Feb 20 17
Over the course of the last fifty years, Indie Rock has transformed and developed into many different genres with unique sounds, this spawning of creative genius has released a revolution in music, the way it’s written, produced and distributed. The humble beginnings of Indie rock in the late fifties rapidly grew and mutated into several popular styles that remained underground and out of the mainstream public view until the seventies. As the seventies rolled around, it had become evident that indie rock had established itself as its own genre, with hundreds of past and present artists that defined a new generation of music, that would forever change the music scene in its entirety.
The Indie Rock sound
It’s a bit of a struggle to clearly define exactly what the Indie rock sound actually is. “Indie” music has always described independent bands that came up and experienced some success without the need for a complicated record deal. These artists either never really broke into the mainstream because their sound was ahead of its time, or faded into obscurity as the next wave of popular music emerged.
Independent artists have always proven to be game-changers with the ability to shift entire music cultures. Artists such as Kurt Cobain of Nirvana fame, started the band just touring and playing gigs until they were eventually discovered and proceeded to found an entire genre themselves, bringing to light other bands in the newly developed ‘grunge’ scene.
Indie musicians have been described as the birthplace of new innovation in music because they are yet to be shackled and constrained by A&R agents at record companies and are completely free to create any sound that inspires them. Examples of the subcultures and sub-genes that came out of Indie bands included Lo-fi, Speed punk, Math rock, and Emo.
Indie artists developed fan bases from their authentic approach to music which seemed more passionate and in touch with reality than pop music, earning them fans the world over as the scene grew. The rise in popularity of Indie music created a niche for anyone that wanted to start their own garage band, not just for the chance at superstardom, but to be able to express themselves to a small audience that resonated with their independent message.
The exponential explosion
The ability of anyone to pick up an instrument and create their own vision of the music they wanted to make, led to exponential growth in indie artists in The United States and Europe. Early Independent labels were established that catered to producing and distributing the work of indie artists. Indie artists somewhat despised the influence of corporate politics in music and felt that the corporations stifled creativity and were a form of censorship in itself.
Eventually, by the late seventies, most Indie labels had been absorbed by the larger conglomerates but this did not end the Indie dream, by this time, the larger labels had caught onto the Indie revolution and began to sign Indie artists in a variety of genres. The fact that Indie music had no specific sound, made it more of a movement than the style of music and various sub-cultures sprang up around the creation of Indie bands and labels that founded entire movements. With sounds being appreciated for their raw, real, personalised feel, rather than what number they were on the Billboard Top 100 that week, artists were no scared to experiment with totally new sounds, The grunge and metal scenes that developed from the early Punk scene kept with distorted sounds and cynical lyrics that spoke out against social issues, political parties and global problems that were otherwise cast to the wayside by the mainstream media.
Getting the word out
The majority of Indie bands and labels did not have enormous corporate budgets that their mainstream competition benefited from. Indie bands, therefore, relied heavily on touring, with some artists taking to the road in nothing but a van and their instruments, surviving along the way between shows. Indie labels produced records that were promoted through shows, posters and local, indie record shops.
The Indie shows led to the founding of the modern-day rock festival, where indie artists would gather for days at a time to play a mega concert before thousands of screaming fans. Lollapalooza, founded by Perry Farrell, himself a vocalist for an Indie band is a great example of an Indie festival that became incredibly popular and since it was never bought out by a corporate, Farrell’s passion for the event died at end of the 1990’s but new organisers hosted the event well into the 2000’s and beyond.
While the odds were stacked against the success of any Indie band that started out into the scene, this didn’t seem to stop aspiring artists, with the scene gaining incredible momentum toward the end of the seventies and the early eighties with the arrival of the Punk scene.
The first Indie movement to gain traction and develop an entire genre around its sound was Punk rock. Punk began in the streets of England, were a disgruntled youth population was feeling the uncertainty and restraint of an economic depression that drove up unemployment. Coupled with an establishment government that was chasing dubious policies, the Punk rock scene grew from the angst of a generation that needed an outlet to vent through.
Punk rock established itself with morals, while many of the musicians were tattooed up, dressed in dirty, tattered clothing and sported crazy hairstyles such as the mohawk, the majority of the bands spoke out against real issues such as race relations, government tyranny and social disorders. The lyrics were almost always featured with real, angry, provocative ideals and displayed the mindset of a culture on the cusp of revolution. Bands like the ‘Sex Pistols’ and the ‘Buzzcocks’ were British bands that managed to grab some form of success while digging the foundations for the expansion of the Punk scene abroad.
Punk then moved ‘across the pond’ where it was taken up by the local scene in southern California in the late seventies and early eighties. The So-Cal punk scene birthed many popular artists which took the punk style and changed it to suit their own musical expression, birthing other branches of the Punk scene such as ‘Straight edge”. Bands such as ‘Minor Threat’ “Black Flag’ and ‘The Ramones’ were early adopters and innovators of the Punk rock sound and set the stage for new innovations in the indie rock scene that were soon to come.
By the end of the Eighties, the heyday of Punk was coming to a close, however; a group of new artists that came from Seattle, further North of California, were starting to make waves with their own unique sound.
Nirvana, led by their frontman; Kurt Cobain, launched onto the fading punk scene and grabbed the waning audience with something new that they could relate to. Since Punk music was always vocally anti-establishment, the existing fans of the Punk bands of the late nineties were drawn to the emotional, anarchistic, anti-social lyrics of Cobain along with the raw, unfiltered music that they defined as bridging the gap between Punk and modern rock and separating themselves from the pop music culture of the day.
As the scene grew, other bands came to prominence. ‘Soundgarden’ ‘Stone Temple Pilots’ and ‘Pearl jam’ are examples of other grunge bands that simply exploded onto the grunge scene in the early nineties, amassing fans that were tired of the mainstream rock that they were being fed and yearned for something that spoke to them from a different point of view.
Indie labels such as Sub-pop, the original company to sign Nirvana, were bought out by the conglomerate; Geffen group and by the mid-nineties, most grunge musicians were signed to large, corporate labels.
Today’s Indie rock
The actual term of ‘Indie Rock’ was actually coined to describe the grunge scene established by Nirvana and the artists that subsequently followed. As the scene developed it was applied to any artist that had a sound that was outside of the mainstream. Since then, Indie rock has grown to a scale that has dominated the music charts. By 2005, all of the top ten records of the year wee classified as Indie rock and its popularity was huge.
With this advance in change, the larger record companies began to take notice and snatch up any Indie artist they could find in the hope of finding the next ‘Counting crows’ or ‘Sheryl Crowe’. Since then, Indie music has lost its anti-establishment edge and the musicians that choose to follow that path have been lost to the realms of independent alternative rock that borders on the obscure.
With the advance of technology, the world of indie music has only exploded further and artists are no longer limited to just rock music, Skrillex, the famous UK DJ that popularised the Dubstep and EDM sounds is an example of an artist that came from nothing, with limited resources, to establish a completely unique sound that swept the world and created some of the most popular music of our time.
What’s next for indie rock?
Indie rock is a sound that has disrupted the past construct of what we thought music should be and forever changed it and in some way, reviving a waning popular music scene. Its diversity, with everything from rock, to pop to electronic music has captured the minds and hearts of the upcoming youth and it has established solid foundations for itself that will extend into the future, forever changing the way we think and listen to music.
What kind of events suit Indie rock?
Indie rock is great for any occasion where you want to party and have fun. Indie songs have the ability to get the crowd involved and everyone loves a good sing along to the music that captured their youth. Indie rock bands and DJ’s have a place at any corporate event, celebration, New Year’s party, wedding reception or special event.
Why you should book an Indie rock band for your next event
If you are looking for an event that needs to have that party tone to it, then an Indie rock band is the perfect addition to your event entertainment. A great Indie band will be able to play all the best indie classics that everyone will know and be able to get on the dancefloor and shred their shoes too.
Indie rock is fun and fresh and belongs on the stage at your next event. No matter if your guests are young or old, there’s an Indie rock song that they love and enjoy.
The Somebodys – An amazing indie rock experience
The Somebodys are an all-male lineup and one of Earcandy’s most in-demand acts. With a bespoke repertoire, the Somebodys are absolute technicians that perform the best Indie rocks hits from the fifties all the way till the heydey of Indie rock in the nineties.
They have something on offer for anyone of any age and they love engaging the crowd and encouraging the audience to sing along and dance their hearts out. Perfect for any size of the venue, the Somebodys are a Rock and Pop Band that will go the extra mile with every stage performance.
They are true professionals that value the stage experience and aim to please every time that they warm up the amplifiers. For the very best Indie rock experience at your next event, book The Somebodys with Earcandy, your event indie-entertainment specialists.