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Notes From The Flip Side: 06.27.2001

I'm beginning to remember why I don't pay attention to message boards much. There are obviously a few that I frequent; the people are nice, the static is minimal. However, in recent months, I've seen a rash of shit-talking, backstabbing and incipient punker-than-thou scenesterism creeping up on the Hot Water Music board (note: the HWM site has been down for several days). Maybe it's always been there and I've just never seen it before. Maybe it's new - maybe a slew of "No Division" fans just need a band to trash so they can feel cool.

The general dispute is that some HWM fans feel that the band sold out by: a) moving to Epitaph, b) changing their sound, c) all of the above. That's also the level of reasoning that goes into most of those posts. Well, that and a substantial amount of name-calling and insults. Obviously, this bothers me. It bothers me enough that I'm devoting server space and bandwidth to stand up for a band that I believe in.

You see, for a very long time, punk had lost me. It had moved in a direction that I couldn't understand, much less agree with. It all seemed to be lame pop-punk, songs about girls or irrelevant noise about misbehaving for no purpose. In many ways, punk - as a genre - seemed to have lost the political and emotional purpose that I loved about it. It seemed hollow and devoid of anything meaningful, like the influx of major labels and corporate money had annihilated all but a few scattered rebels who had retreated to distant caves to make their last stand. Then I heard the Leatherface split. Then I heard "No Division." And that was it. I was hooked. I searched out albums, singles, EPs, splits, anything I could find. At every turn, I heard music that understood my hurt and songs that offered solace, sympathy and commiseration. I heard anger and passion, friendship and unity. I heard the things that I needed to hear. And the other shit just sailed away.

I freely admit that I'm one of HWM's newer fans. That shouldn't matter, but apparently in this argument, time equals credibility. People who have been fans longer apparently think their opinion is more informed. From my perspective, that stance smacks of an appeal to authority. It seems to represent everything that punk rock, in my opinion, should stand against.

With that said, I don't hear anything significantly different about "A Flight And A Crash." I just hear the natural progression of a maturing band that's better able to articulate its ideas in words and music. I just hear the sound of another revolution in my heart and my head. Just to make my position on this album absolutely clear, I bought it when it came out. I didn't get a promo copy. I paid cash on the barrelhead for it and I don't regret a single penny. It sounds just as urgent, heartfelt and passionate as the rest of their music. That's as close as I get to a review these days. For whatever it's worth, I think it's a great album and it's certainly one of my favorite records this year. And as I listen to it again while writing this, it drowns out the sounds of those who seem to think they can only build themselves up by tearing something else down.

I guess you'd call it trashing. And I guess I'm not one who's prone to throwing things that mean something to me away.

At the risk of sounding like the sappy, sentimental, hopeful bastard that I am, I believe in this band. I believe in who they are. I believe in what they do. I've believed in them since I talked to Chris Wollard, since I saw them for the first time, since I watched an entire club singing along with every song, hands in the air and hearts on our sleeves. I've believed since I heard their music and found songs that took away my hurt or, at the very least, made it easier to bear ... for a while.

And I guess you'd call this response respect. I guess you'd call it gratitude. What can I say? Loyalty and faith are too precious to give - or give up on - lightly.

Site Updates

I finally finished Paddy's part of the D4 interview. Just so you understand why it took so long, the raw text, single-spaced, takes up about 40 pages. The two files together take up nearly 170K - nearly double the size of the previous longest interview.

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Last modified on Wednesday, March 26, 2008