Imagine a time before Facebook, before the serotonin releasing hunt for superficial likes on Instagram, before everyone had an opinion on Twitter. Hard for some of you but likely for those who remember a simpler time. It’s undeniable that social media has had a potentially irreversible impact on human existence but from a musical perspective, are we overdoing it? Featuring an exclusive interview clip with Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth, we wonder are we in social media Overkill?
One of the hallmarks of Metal has always been it’s fans. Known for their fierce loyalty, this can sometimes be a double edged sword. As much as the fans can be loyal they can outweigh their loyalty with their stubborn nature. Nevertheless, if you win over the opinion of a Metal fan, consider it a small victory. Now engaging in a new format, fans are turning more to the internet. When previously you would go to a Metal show and meet fellow Metalhead’s the make up of the scene has completely changed.
Used in various different ways the internet can be the worlds finest tool or it’s most deceitful weapon. Given the opportunity for fans to actively engage with bands and fans. Giving them immediate access to what was perhaps some of their secrets. Now we’re being shown Instagram stories, behind the scenes, stage walk on’s and of course interviews, at a moments notice! Yet the internet can also create a veil of illusion in inmumerous ways. First and foremost it has given the people the ability express their opinion, often forming a sort of hive mind which as we know can be subject to stupidity and even more dangerous can be easily manipulated. Not to mention the likes of Facebook can monetise a band’s career with the new platform expressing “likes” which as much as people wouldn’t say they pay attention to, they do. At the end of the day, people want something popular and often look to tastemakers for inspiration who will use social media to their utmost potential.
Yet another negative facet to the rise of social media in the music scene is the experience of the performance itself. Guilty of it myself, people are recording performances and taking photos depriving the intimate moments of a performance. Which all but end up stashed on the phone not looked at or like the proverbial claw choosing the little aliens in Toy Story, one is chosen. Then uploaded to portray an inaccurate display of just what the performance was like. In reality bands are most likely playing to a crowd of mobile phones than engaged fans hell bent on displaying their latest social achievement, which much of the time is getting into high profile shows.
Benefits are there too however enabling from fans to make bands more accessible and able to get closer to their fans. Twitter for example, as much fun as it is to read Donald Trump’s idiocy minute by minute gave the fan who was smacked in the head at a NOFX gig the opportunity to smack Mike back! The possibility of having a chat with your favourite bands or reaching out to them, giving fans and musicians alike the acknowledgement by accepting a tweet, that is if the band isn’t run by their own social team. So are we really connecting? The times of waiting outside of shows, yes they are still there but nowhere near as prominent, because why stand in the cold when you can just tag a band in an instant on Instagram or Twitter? People are beginning to lose the human touch that comes as part of meeting someone.
News is also another outlet that is open to manipulation, though you could argue it always has been. Given a sense of urgency, the option of delivering what can sometimes end up being unsavoury gossip is made easy. Leading to credibility being lost and ultimately just bad content consisting of “he said / she said” style articles. I can think of a couple of websites that would very aptly fall into the category that have gotten made on their click-bait breaking news stories, which often have nothing to to do with the sustenance of the article.
The biggest and most alarming difference however is the simple lack of human communication that social media is bringing with it. Now, bands are building a fan base on likes, on followers and superficial elements holding no substance. Anyone can have the ability to be who they chose in the online world but actually getting out in the venues and meeting people, this is where bands are formed, friendships are solidified and real communication is had. You cannot and will not ever get the same experience as meeting people, perhaps to network, perhaps to form a band or just to have a beer with after a gig. It could also be argued that this is what led to the likes of crossover bands becoming part of the scene. Rather than having everyone remain to their scene people were integrating amongst perhaps places that would be foreign for them, exposed to different beliefs, different outlooks and ultimately different music had to go someway to shape bands’ sounds. A perfect example being the combination of both Nile and Overkill teaming up together for their new US run, I mean what othat kind of polarising genres could you think of?
Remaining a traditionalist, in an exclusive video, Overkill’s Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth expands on just how important it was for real social interactions when the band were in their infancy. Releasing their brand new album The Grinding Wheel, if there’s anyone who has a say on the subject it’s thrashers Overkill. Somehow being their eighteenth record to be released the band are veterans of the scene and will still be here for years to come.
So yes, social media has had a lasting impact everywhere particularly the music scene itself and it is changing but perhaps rather than be afraid of this change we should embrace it. Treading a fine line between the embracing of a new idea and being somewhat technologically enslaved, as fans of music and not just necessarily Metal. Pause for a moment and look back to think, “Was I really in the moment?” Perhaps you might realise that though it might seem like you are that second, you’re anything but.
Overkill’s brand new album is out now via Nuclear Blast Records, with a variety of different options you can pick up vinyl editions of the record here as a gatefold green splatter or green vinyl or you can pick up a copy on CD here!