Friday, July 16, 2010

The Steinbrenner / Jasta Connection.

As we spiral further into the world of indie rock and leave our friends with fudgey, unwashed, asses in hardcoreland behind, I know it's my responsibility to maintain a party line. I'm supposed to casually insert references to powerpop records I've never listened to and only reveal my punk origins when needed to maintain credibility. I have to employ euphemisms for aggressive music, things like "noisepunk" and "smartcore" and a dozen others. And never, ever, am I to mention actual hardcore or punk music that came after 1986.

I'm going to break from convention for a moment and hope that I'm let back in the indie rock club after this transgression (that club allows for nicer hospitality requests on our rider). This blog post is about men of vision. It's about men of singular purpose and unmatched efficiency. This post is about George Steinbrenner and Jamey Jasta.

The connection may not be immediately obvious, but any inspection reveals these men were cut from the same cloth. Their goals and the resources they used to achieve those goals may have been different, but that doesn’t matter. In fact, the goal is the least important detail. If Steinbrenner didn’t own the Yankees (current estimated worth: 1.6bn), he would have owned the Redskins, or the Heat, or Manchester United. If Jasta didn’t establish Hatebreed as one of the longer-running American hardcore/metal acts, he would have steered another group of Connecticut heshers to the same end.

What links these two is their drive and invulnerability to discouragement.

Think about how many times during your life you are told you “can’t.” There are things, you are taught from a young age, that are outside your grasp. “Those things are for someone else,” you’re told. “Have something else. Something smaller.” Now consider how that permeates your thinking. Even the rebels among us who are willing to defy that constant “can’t” still relegate their challenge to smaller goals. They’ll step on the lawn when told to keep off, but they never think to buy the property and own the lawn.

My band recently released a record. So far, it’s received mostly positive reviews. I’m sure it will receive a few negative ones. As an adult and as a confident person, I respond to criticism in what I consider a constructive way. I analyze it for truth and based on my findings, I take it into consideration or I disregard it. Ultimately, what the band does is idiosyncratic enough that, if I choose, I can wrap myself in the blanket of elitism. I can deflect a sharp word with “they just don’t get it!” This is why you have so many bands praised by new music media (read: blogs) simply for adding things like vocal distortion. To offer criticism of something considered even slightly different opens you up to accusations of “not getting it.” For spineless sycophants trying to forge an identity out of music culture (read: most people involved in music) there is no worse crime. They’d sooner admit to child molestation than admit the new INSERT INDIE BAND WITH ANIMAL NAME OR NOISE BAND WITH CLEVER NAME is just trying too hard. Jamey and George have both received more criticism than any man not running a nation is likely to get in this life. Both of them did things that are straightforward and easily grasped. They didn’t have the luxury of cloaking themselves in snobbery. Instead, they smashed criticism and hammered through the ranks of doubters. They said, “I know better, because I know better.” I can’t help but respect that. Most people are hamstrung by fear. They’ll sabotage any opportunity for advancement to avoid new responsibilities or criticisms.

Success hinges on your willingness to do more than the 7 billion other people who want the same thing. People looking to excuse their own failings will search out opportunities successful people had and cite the differences between their lives. They’ll say, “so-and-so was born rich” or “he just happened to be in the right place at the right time.” This won’t advance the person saying it and it won’t hurt the person they level the accusation against. It’s just air.

The reality is that men and women who want things tend to get things and those who don’t either died too soon or didn’t want them enough. Some of our goals will take us more than a lifetime and we enter into them knowing we’ll have to continue that struggle on the next plane of existence. That’s fine. A person who truly wants things doesn’t expect them immediately. George Steinbrenner probably wanted enough World Series rings for each of his grandchildren’s digits. Jamey Jasta probably wants to own Viacom for the purpose of playing Biohazard videos on primetime television. George didn’t get what he wanted and Jamey may not. But both men are/were in the hunt.

My father called me the other day to discuss the passing of the longtime Yankees owner. He said it hit him harder than he anticipated, almost like the loss of a family member. “I have two heroes,” he told me. “George Steinbrenner and Nelson Mandela.”

Below is some video taken from our live-in-the-studio recording for The Waiting Room, a production of Panda Studios and 12 Gauge Records. On their site, you can find mp3's of the recording. Expect some announcements and a special gift or two early next month.