It’s cold, it’s early, and my mind, followed closely by my eyes, is staring blankly ahead. Waiting to be fuelled by coffee. I like to be invisible in these particular moments because I’m usually not able to readily communicate with anyone in particular, and if I do, it just comes out as verbal dribble. But more often than not, these particular stops on my morning routine fuel a lot of my writing, and I love the way people interact with each other. Coffee shops are havens for anyone looking to either escape the pace of life, or fuel themselves within it. It’s also a place for great conversation (and observation) amongst friends and strangers.
This morning just before I put my headphones on, a discussion began about music, so obviously my ears picked up. “Who was your favourite band from the 80’s” the barista asked someone who I assume was a regular customer. Silence… Followed by a haze of nostalgic thought. “Aussie Crawl,” he replied with certainty. Moments later, the ever familiar hum of the harmonica (even familiar to someone who definitely does not care for Aussie Pub rock), telling the empty cafe just how The Boys Light Up. I may not generally have the same passion for this particular genre of tune as many fellow Novocastrians do, but in that moment, I did. It got me thinking about the music we listen to, and just how it enables us to connect with the people around us, particularly when it comes to local music.
Think about it this way. When you first see a local band you love, or even better, you know someone in that band, you’re instantly connected to what they are doing. A massive part of the reason why I became a music writer (for the record I am not a music journalist) is that I believe if you’re personally invested in the efforts of a band, you’re more likely to support them. If the same guy who’s playing lead guitar in your favourite local band, is also someone who will sit on the hill with you and reminisce about the glory days of ’97, you’re far more likely to support them. Their success, in a way, becomes your success, it’s a shared and circular experience. Also, in a town like Newcastle, chances are you already know them, or they know you at least, or their mates mate, is friends with your mate, isn’t that how it goes… right mate?
A lot of the time, the success of a local band, depends on the company they keep. This isn’t just about their nearest and dearest either, nor is it about the fans. This is about the close network of people that circulate around them. This really solid handful of people who will go to all of their shows, rock a whole bunch of merch, and give their new single a share on Facebook. See, if a local band believes in their craft, and that their sound backed by a really solid music community, their chance for success is always and forever going to be much much higher.
Music is something that can absolutely connect a community together, and I think here in Newcastle, we do that really well. So much of me though, believes we can do it better. It really doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to get behind the local artists we love, and form a community around that. I do believe as well, Australians in general are suckers for tall poppy syndrome. You know the moment where the voice of the collective believes that someone has been just that little bit too successful. Hear this… There is no such thing as too much success, unless you feel it’s personally detrimental (looking at you Courtney Love). There just isn’t. We should be encouraging those around us, particularly local people, to be successful at something they love to do, it should also encourage us to give what we are passionate about the good old college try. It should be the mindset of ‘if they can do it, surely I can give it a red hot go,’ instead of, ‘look at them getting a record deal, bloody sellouts.
It’s just not punk’.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, what if it were local bands we were getting all nostalgic and happy over? What if some of the bands, we have right here, right now, really are the next big thing? How great would it be to know we all helped them get there.