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R.E.M: Progenitors of Indie Rock?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Minimalist518, Jun 26, 2018.

  1. Minimalist518

    Minimalist518 Tele-Afflicted

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    There have been multiple references to R.E.M. as College Music in this thread:
    Anybody remember the genre of “College Music” from circa 1990?
    https://r.tapatalk.com/shareLink?ur...share_tid=842311&share_fid=78013&share_type=t
    Many posters have grouped them with bands that, largely, were formed after them (and in some cases probably because of them,) generally on or about 1987 or 1988 (pulling an educated guess at a year from the air.) Rather than hijack the College Music of the 90s thread, I thought I’d branch off a thread of my own. My general terms of inquiry are this:
    R.E.M. themselves put out the Chronic Town EP in ’82 followed by Murmur the next year. This puts R.E.M. and their Athens, GA contemporaries more at the end of the Post-Punk, beginning of the Hardcore eras; yet they bear few of the stylistic hallmarks of Post-Punk and certainly none (other than an independent, DYI process and aesthetic) of Hardcore. They were, in fact, something new and the argument that they influenced later bands lumped in as College Rock in the 90s seems all but overtly assumed as fact in the College Music thread thus far.
    What I’m curious about is what others see as the influence and lineage from R.E.M. to the College/Alternative/Indie music of the ‘90s.
    What other bands that started around the same time as R.E.M. – but like R.E.M., were not immediately, easily or handily identifiable as Punk, Post-Punk or Hardcore – influenced the continued evolution of underground music in the years, say, post-Clash, pre-Nevermind?
    Thoughts? Rants? Hypotheses? Theses? Scholarly Dissertations?
    Go!
     
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  2. Teddyjack

    Teddyjack Tele-Afflicted

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    I think the dB's were an influence on many bands (mine included) who may not have gotten the recognition they deserved.
     
  3. CK Dexter Haven

    CK Dexter Haven Friend of Leo's

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    I grew up in small college town w/ a carrier current station. In the mid/ late 70's if you took your portable up to campus you could usually pick it up sitting on a bench etc."College" or "Indie Rock" or what would become that existed far before REM, The 200lb gorilla is of course Big Star, but Modern Lovers, (and by association Talking Heads) Television, and many others were in heavy rotation in those days. While they may fit in other genres, they did not receive top 40 air play for the most part, infact REM probably was one of the first along w/ TH to get wider air play. Of course most of these bands can be traced back in some way to the Velvet Underground, which college stations were playing in the late '60s early '70s
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
  4. Mike Eskimo

    Mike Eskimo Telefied Ad Free Member

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    1983 : we go to see The (English) Beat at this rat-infested theater downtown called the Grand Circus Theater (now the completely re-done Detroit Opera House). I had seen U2 there right before. Lots of plaster raining down at that show.

    Openers : REM (touring for Reckoning)

    Was aware of them, hadn't really heard much. Mopey, mumbly, jangly, raincoats, so - we heckled them.

    Finally got off the stage , English Beat come on , Saxa, ranking full stop, epic show.

    Later on, Reckoning becomes one of my favorite albums of theirs - though there's only a few. Very period-specific music - for me.
     
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  5. LocoTex

    LocoTex Tele-Afflicted

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  6. luckett

    luckett Banned

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  7. Minimalist518

    Minimalist518 Tele-Afflicted

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    An excellent argument and equally excellent examples! Perhaps I should edit my thread title to “Latter Day Progenitors.”
    All the bands you mentioned are favorites of mine. I agree that while some may fit into other genres, the influence on Indie rock is undeniable. For example, Television and early TH were part of the CBGBs Punk scene, but bear little resemblance to Punk in modern public perception, but the influence on later underground, non-Punk bands throughout the 80s and thereafter is clear.
    As for the Velvet Underground, R.E.M. is directly responsible for my getting into them through the cover of “There She Goes Again” on the B-side of “Radio Free Europe” and the band talking up the Velvets in interviews.
     
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  8. Minimalist518

    Minimalist518 Tele-Afflicted

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    I saw a show on that same tour at the Vassar College gym. I took my sister as her 17th birthday present.
    We had no idea who R.E.M. were but we came away fans. Full disclosure, I was wearing a raincoat. However, in my defense it was snowing a heavy, wet April snow outside, so...
    The Beat did absolutely, unequivocally tear it up!
     
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  9. raito

    raito Poster Extraordinaire

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    There's a reason Todd Snider's last line in 'Talking Seattle Grunge Rock Blues' is 'We're goin' back to Athens'.
     
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  10. warrent

    warrent Friend of Leo's

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    This band. Never comercially succesful but inflential in many ways. Not the least of which the leader Mitch Easter produced REM's early stuff including Radio Free Europe

     
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  11. jondanger

    jondanger Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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  12. Slowisfast

    Slowisfast Tele-Meister

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    My initial reaction is B-52's and They Might Be Giants.
     
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  13. highgreenchilly

    highgreenchilly Tele-Meister

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    I saw REM for the first time when I was in high school in 1982. The Athens music scene was very vibrant. I recommend the movie Athens inside out. Pylon and Love Tractor were my other two favorite Athens bands of the time. The B-52s were great but I preferred them in there earlier years when they were a little more raunchy (I also prefer REMs earlier stuff - I dig the southern gothic vibe). I definitely think Athens, GA deserves more than a footnote in the history of modern rock.
    Other musicians from my adopted hometown are Vic Chesnut, Bloodkin, and Widespread Panic. I believe the Drive By Truckers call Athens home as well but I think they’re from Alabama?
     
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  14. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Here we go again, with the "Myth of the Velvets".

    Let's go back to the Beatles, and those journalists who would ask John and Paul who their influences were. Wanting to appear as cool as possible, they bypassed the Skiffle guys and other corny white influences that are obviously in the music, and they selected the names of some of the coolest, blackest, least well compensated Highway 61 players they knew of. Oh, and Bo Diddley. What a cool name, gotta say I was influenced by Bo Diddley.

    The people who names we use to capture the essence of where our influences came from, are shorthand. You're gonna hear me talk about Buffalo Springfield and Dave Davies, but you know it is way more complex and nuanced than that.

    All this fawning over the Velvet Underground is a joke. The young individual in a band, accustomed to expressing himself through music, has significant insecurities and so you select the name of someone who is as far from David Cassidy as you can get. That's what you do. This isn't intentional spreading of falsehoods, this is just the art of the sound-bite.

    I listened quite a lot to the first Velvet Underground album when it came out, some cuts many many times over. This girl I was crazy about, had the album and it seemed like a really good idea (but we listened to Todd Rundgren, also, I made sure of that). I valued her friendship, but my take from 2018 is, her decision to latch on to the Velvets was just about as important as her decision to have a pet tarantula. And it was just as important as her decision to fill the small Toyota station wagon with this mysterious "Coors" beer she brought back from Colorado.

    At least she had the sense to name the spider after Todd. Who respects a spider named Lou? Anyway, I played less and wrote fewer songs after my immersion in the Velvet experience. It is just another proto-band.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
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  15. Cheecharron

    Cheecharron TDPRI Member

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  16. dkmw

    dkmw Poster Extraordinaire

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    I agree with the posts about Athens bands, and in the other thread I talked about how WRAS FM broke so many Georgia bands. The Brains should be listed.

    I think Tom Petty deserves a mention, although he went almost straight to the big time.

    I think there were English influences as well; I know a lot of musicians listened to Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe.
     
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  17. brobar

    brobar Tele-Holic

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    I never was a fan or really took notice of them... until I saw them live in '95. I was living down in Arkansas at the time and was wanting to see a concert so I grabbed the local entertainment paper to see who was playing that weekend up in St. Louis. I saw that Steve Vai was going to be opening up for Bon Jovi at the Riverport Amphitheater. Being a huge Vai fan I was in. So I called the box office to get a few tickets and the rep on the phone told me "there is no Vai/Bon Jovi concert this weekend... the only show we have this weekend is REM with Radiohead as the opening act." Apparently I was looking at the previous month's entertainment newspaper as Vai and Bon Jovi were there 4 weeks prior. I knew who REM was but never went out of my way to listen to any of their stuff. I had never heard of Radiohead at the time. But I wanted to see a show that weekend. The rep said only lawn seats were available since it was just a few days before the show. I said let me get my card and I'll call you back to get tickets. I call back about 5 minutes later and another rep answers the phone... I asked for two tickets to the REM concert. She asked where I wanted to sit. I said "lawn seats since that is the only thing available". She said "we just had two front row seats become available if you would like those." I'm like HECK YEAH! I asked how they became available and she said they always reserved a few seats in the front row for those with disabilities and if they aren't sold 24 hours before the show they'll open them up to the general public. So I ordered the two seats... drove up to St. Louis University to see if any of my pals from the school wanted to go. Everyone was busy studying for mid-terms. I ask this random girl at the front desk of my old dorm if she wanted to go to a concert with me that night and she said sure. We arrive just as Radiohead was doing their first song. I'm thinking these two front row seats could be anywhere along the stage off to the side with a hard angle, but come to find out we were ushered right down to the front row of orchestra section... center stage. SWEET! Radiohead put on a great show (I became a fan). Between acts we go to grab a few drinks... we hear "What's The Frequency Kenneth" start playing so we rush back to our seats... our two seats were DIRECTLY in front of Micheal Stipe's microphone stand. After they play a couple of songs, Stipe asks the audience "so what did you guys think of Radiohead?" The crowd screamed real loud. I yelled out "THEY F'N RULED!!!" He looked down at me and said "What? Yeah man, they did F'n rule!" and then slapped me high five! Throughout the show, Stipe had lyric sheets on a music stand and after each song he would take that song's sheet and just drop it on the stage in front of the stand. At the end of the show after the encore he grabbed all of the sheets and threw them into the audience. I grabbed a couple... gave one to my date. They were signed. I got Crush With Eyeliner. I don't remember which one she got.

    Anyways... the guys put on such an awesome show, I became quite the fan. I've never thought about how their music was classified. College, Indie, whatever... I didn't care. Bummed I only got to see them that one time. Love their stuff to this day. I'm glad I called about those Vai/Bon Jovi tickets! =)
     
  18. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Well, Jason is from Tuscumbia, I don't know about the others.

    Mitch Easter was actually from North Carolina, if I remember right. I think, if the Vibe of a place, enough receptive people and friendly venues and safe places to stay and practice, a place just has a gravitational field and people get drawn in.

    Anyway, I don't know what to call what. Frankly, a lot of people I knew used this "New Wave" term and it encompassed Punk and Ska-sounds and all sorts of things. Mainly, this was about what it was not. It wasn't some slick Los Angeles thing with Leland Sklar and Michael McDonald, etc. And it wasn't metal. All sorts of people whose careers had been skidding, tried to get in on it and some people only cared how you looked and some only cared if the record was good and some people only cared about how good the live show was.

    Lots of people I knew listened to EVERYTHING. I'd have REM or Let's Active in rotation with



    and



    What do you call this stuff? You gotta ask for things by name, I think.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
  19. jondanger

    jondanger Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Mitch Easter is from Winston Salem, NC and lives in Kernersville, NC. He recorded Pavement’s “Brighten The Corners” in addition to his work with the Pavement, Ben Folds, REM, Let’s Active, etc.

    “Stands for Decibels” is another great NC power pop record, although they may have moved to NYC by then.

     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
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  20. Minimalist518

    Minimalist518 Tele-Afflicted

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    ??? I’m kind of mystified. Your point is lost on me. Is it your contention that because the Velvet Underground did essentially nothing for you that it must therefore inevitably follow that they do nothing for anyone, ever and that anybody that cites them as an influence is a poser because (Velvets + Boris = 0) x (Velvets + All Indie Bands in Rock History after 1968 = 0) ≠ Influence of the Velvets? Did I parse that correctly? [emoji38]
    I don’t know man, I get why you don’t dig them. I get why many people don’t like them, or even, on occasion, could feel adverse if not repelled by them. And I respect your opinion that you believe the influence to be overstated because maybe, even often, at times it is.
    But it seems just a tad reductive to make the blanket statement that their influence is a myth based solely upon the desire of young, insecure musicians to appear cool because that wasn’t *your* experience when you immersed yourself in the Velvet Underground for a summer because you were crazy about a girl who didn’t name her pet tarantula Lou.
    That does not follow as day follows night, my friend. Sorry; I’ve gotta disagree.
    I, for one, was influenced by them for good or ill. I’m not out to prove I’m cool. I am most assuredly *not* cool. I’m just another music nerd that plays for the joy of it and I genuinely dig the Velvet Underground among a lot of other bands you probably regard as overrated, maybe even with good cause.
    But by your calculus doesn’t the fact that I *do* like the Velvets and that they *did* make me write and play more inevitably mean that everyone does?
    I guess my point is that while I respect your opinion; it’s just an opinion and that influence, or lack of influence, isn’t some kind of zero-sum game that can be extrapolated from one person’s highly subjective experience (with or without hot girls, tarantulas and crazy 60s artsy, avant-garde rock records) however wide that experience may be.
     
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