Paying homage to the "fan" bands
by C.J. Cain
It comes as no surprise to me that AC/DC's "Stiff Upper Lip" is as popular as the beer tent at an all-day outdoor metalfest in July. The band demonstrates an approach to its music that, unfortunately, countless bands have failed to recognize as the key to longevity. AC/DC is a true "fan" band. There are others, unfortunately not enough. A fan band follows a simple formula - know your fans, and consistently give them what they want. How do fan bands survive when, for the umpteenth time, music industry mouths proclaim yet another death of hard and heavy music? They ignore it. They have the most loyal fan bases in the business, and the bands are not about to desert the people who have given them the considerable success they have enjoyed.
I can't tell you how many new young bands I've seen explode onto the scene with guitars locked and loaded, ready to rewrite the history of music. What happened to them? Either they lost their focus, changed it, or never had one to begin with. I can think of one very well-known band that is a classic example. They "erupted" from California bars in the late '70s, and featured a young guitarist doing things with a guitar that had never been done before. Eventually the band (or should I say one of them) decided that hard-charging guitar riffs were getting boring to him, so he began adding keyboards and slowing down tempos. That was the real beginning of the end to the band. They are still popular, yet seemingly refuse to reunite with their original flamboyant lead singer, although rock fans would undoubtedly make it the reunion tour of all time!
How many musicians have decided to "explore other musical directions," or have left bands due to "creative differences?" Bands like AC/DC, Judas Priest and others have never veered from the power chord and riff-laden paths of hard music. In business terminology, they continue to offer the same product that first won my loyalty. I saw the aforementioned California band in my hometown for $8.00. I probably paid $6.99 for their album. Do I pay today's concert and CD prices for an inferior product? No way. The few fan bands that have earned my loyalty get just that. I can and do buy their new releases without first hearing them - I know they will not fail to deliver.
Forget the bands that are trying to resurrect their careers by reforming only when they feel the metal monster is showing signs of life. If they are trying to recapture popularity they once had, apparently it wasn't important enough at the time for them to hold on to it. They bailed when they saw their cash cow starting to dry up, and left us sucking hind tit. I'll look for you guys on the next VH-1 "where are they now" special, and I'll continue supporting bands that treat me like I count.