How I Got Into Music: Volume III
Posted: by The Editor
How did you first start paying attention to music and participating in your local scene? What are the albums, artists or concerts that shaped you? It’s vastly different for everyone. Learn about what our staff used to listen to in our series: How I Got Into Music. For this new edition of our How I Got Into Music series, contributors Bineet and Hope.
Do you know how much you have to love a band to eagerly watch a YouTube video of them doing something as mundane as eating pizza? That’s what I did in the height of my Paramore phase during my coming of age years. No wonder my sister begrudgingly let me use the family computer – I was hardly making good use of it. MySpace incited my passion for finding new bands. I took solace in the online world, for outside of it, I was bullied. Some of my favorite bands were Rise Against, Jack’s Mannequin and The Hush Sound.
In high school, music became more of a peripheral interest. But in college, I got right back into it. I majored in journalism and was pleased to stumble upon music journalism, for it melded two of my strongest interests. I used my blog to dabble in music writing, penning pieces on artists like Lana Del Rey and Kendrick Lamar. I wielded my position as a staff writer for my college’s newspaper to interview a local band. Still, I never saw myself as capable of writing for a full-fledged music publication (this has clearly changed).
Even though I consumed music voraciously, I didn’t go to a show until I was 21. As a teen, I didn’t have the courage to ask my parents about it. They’re from India, so certain facets of American culture, like our music, are alien to them. Then, when I found out Joyce Manor was playing near me, I knew I had to go. I became anxious and changed my mind about it about twenty times, but ultimately went.
Because it took me so long to see music live, I sometimes feel illegitimate as a contributor for The Alternative. But ultimately, I know that my anxiety is all in my head. It’s more worthwhile to celebrate the music I have enjoyed than to dwell over what I missed.
It was a September day in 2004 when my brother bounded off the school bus and made a beeline for the house. Tucked under his arm was a simple CD a friend of his had made for him. He raced to his room before popping the disc into his CD player and cranking the volume. The speakers began blaring this rowdy, rough, earworm of a tune, bubbling with ambition and anthemic attitude- sounds I had never heard before. My brother’s first burnt CD was a rip of Green Day’s American Idiot, and it also served as my first introduction to punk-rock. The moment I heard the title track, I was sucked in. I remember feverishly asking my brother what the record was about and him telling me the political background to the record. I couldn’t believe that music could tell stories, have themes, or even be vessels for something so much bigger than themselves. I knew from that day forward that I would never listen to music the same. I was seven.
Growing up, my brother was the main outlet for the musical influences that orbited around me. Whether it was Blink-182, Sum 41, Jimmy Eat World, or even older artists like Rush and Bob Dylan, I always found myself in his room listening to other ripped CDs of their works. My brother would light up telling me about them, and I would soak up every word. So, when I reached middle school, I had a pretty good handle on my music taste. That’s when the Jonas Brothers arose, and the era of YouTube carved its way into society.
Now, besides the mass hysteria (my own hysteria) over the Jonas Brothers at 11 years old, when I look back on why I latched onto them, I found that it was probably because they were able to blend rockier influences into a pop landscape. This was something I didn’t even know was possible at that age, so I was hooked (besides, “Inseparable” off their self-titled? Pop-punk legends). Then, of course, I found myself going on deep dives through YouTube late at night. This is when I had tapped into what I call the “2010s YouTube Music” genre or the “Neon” era of alternative music. The Stephan Jerzaks, the Stereo Skylines, the Nevershoutnevers, the Artist vs. Poets etc., etc. I remember getting a group of friends around and going to Cassadee Pope’s first solo acoustic tour with Stephen Jerzak as support. That show, standing in a group of people singing the same songs to an artist we all loved, and being surrounded by my friends was a changing point for me, and I knew that “Gig Life” was going to be such a significant force for myself going forward.
All Time Low crossed my radar around 2011, and that’s when I found myself full submerged in the pop-punk scene. They were the band that opened me to other groups like The Wonder Years, Tonight Alive, Pierce the Veil, and A Day to Remember. I felt like a lost part of myself was found when I went to ATL shows, and I became addicted to that high of following their tours. Alex Gaskarth’s lyrics on their record Dirty Work is even what inspired me to become a writer.
Then, around 2014-2015, I was around friends who had started bands in both heavy-metal and indie-pop territories. I went to a lot of shows in the local scene because of this. I opened myself up to such a different type of music and group of people through local shows, and it was through that, that I learned how vital DIY was in music. I became entranced by the DIY arena, and I knew that I wanted to do anything in my power to help cultivate, promote, and keep that culture alive.
So, when an opportunity arose for me to start writing features and reviews on music (especially in DIY and smaller sectors), I jumped at the chance. This was in late 2016, and I realized over the few years that I’ve been doing this that being able to promote small artists, indulge their works, and be a simple cog in helping to keep the DIY scene kicking is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever felt as a music writer. Who would’ve thought a burnt CD of Green Day over a decade ago would elevate me to where I am now? *Paul Rudd Voice* Not me.
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