How two guys talking hard smack about some of the most popular musical acts of all time (including Beethoven) may have stumbled onto a cure for internet culture.
As a rule I do not listen to podcasts. I am not a great fan of small talk, and a lot of podcasts seem to be full of the kind of vapid jibber jabber that makes me cringe for the intellectual future of humanity. But an even bigger reason is that it is difficult for me to stay focused on people talking when I cannot see their faces. I have this problem with telephone conversations, too. My mind wanders and I end up doing something else that draws my attention away from whatever I am listening to. But recently I tuned into a few podcasts while researching my true crime articles, and Spotify decided it would start suggesting more podcasts to me.
Spotify decided to further target my interests by suggesting a podcast called Slipknot Sucks one day while I was at the gym. They must have referenced my history of talking shit about Slipknot and Corey Taylor in both written and video formats, and concluded rightfully that I would be open to this. Nailed it.
After that episode I decided to try something a bit more dear to me, and listened to Queens of the Stone Age Sucks. Although I disagreed with a whole bunch of shit they said right off the bat, I still found them pretty hilarious, so I decided to fight my urge to react and just take it in with an open mind. As I continued to listen to them eviscerate several other bands I loved, and some I really hated, I found that I could often see their point without feeling I needed to adopt it myself. I began learning to quiet my own ideas and opinions and just considering the merit of their perspective irrelevant to my own.
The internet has conditioned us to do the exact opposite of this. We are encouraged to have instant opinions on, and reactions to, everything. It doesn’t matter how uninformed, willfully ignorant, hostile or indifferent we are to any given idea or piece of content. We have been unintentionally trained to react. The very functionality of online life invites us to participate no matter how little we have to add. And over time we can get so wrapped up in the imagined importance of our reactions and opinions, that we do not notice they are getting in the way of our intellectual flexibility and humanity. We have become self-absorbed, cruel and increasingly ignorant – thanks to the unintended consequences of this invasive technology. And perhaps the only way we can prevent it from dragging us all the way down is learning when and how to tell ourselves to shut the fugk up. And that is exactly what the Your Favorite Band Sucks podcast is helping me to do, and maybe it could do the same for you.
As for the actual podcast itself, it ranges from insightful perspectives to bombastic mockery. Sometimes it feels sincere, sometimes it feels nihilistically glib. It almost always feels like being a little high and drunk in a record store after hours. Tyler is the store’s manager, the guy who has forgotten more about a single genre than you will ever know about the entire history of music. He is abrasive, cocky and knowledgeable enough to get away with it. Mark is his best friend who works there on weekends and evenings when not at his IT job or with his family. He doesn’t know as much about music, but he is no dummy either – and he plays the perfect straight man to Tyler’s explosive iconoclasm, often saving Tyler from Tyler’s excess with his more relatable warmth. Together the pair have a dynamic that makes Your Favorite Band Sucks both amusing and addictive.
I don’t want to go into any specific episodes, since I don’t want to spoil anything or color your perspective. Not to mention I am only about halfway through their extensive catalogue of musical misanthropy. I haven’t even gotten to Black Sabbath yet, my actual favorite band. I will save that for a final test, when I am all caught up, to insure I have cured myself of the instinct to instantly react. But I will say this, Tyler’s vocal impersonation of Billy Corgan during The Smashing Pumpkins episode* made me laugh so hard I almost soiled myself while lifting. I would have had to find a new gym, but it would have been worth it to be the ‘Do you remember that guy who shat himself while lifting and laughing simultaneously?’ guy.
Although I plan to write a separate review, I cannot miss this opportunity to recommend that you also check out Tyler’s podcast – Cocaine & Rhinestones. It is a definitive history of 20th century country music that is so well investigated and put together that it might actually be one of the most important historical documentations of 20th century culture in the United States, not to mention an absolutely transfixing rabbit hole full of eccentric individuals, the birth of the music industry, and the lifestyles of the lower class people who made and listened to this music.
*Upon further listening, I have noticed how much this impersonation also sounds like Beavis. And now Billy Corgan sounds like Beavis to me. When I pointed this out to my partner, she suggested we could perhaps split vocalists into two categories – Beavis, and Butthead. I bet the boys at YFBS would agree that if Billy Corgan is top Beavis, Johnny Cash is peak Butthead.
There are several instances where YFBS podcast discusses the excess and clichés of heavy metal, a sentiment I have written about myself.