There are times when I feel like I was born twenty years too late. I think most people have a similar feeling at least once in their life, and it’s tied to one thing or another that they might be experiencing. In my case, it’s tied to music. Now, I am not generally a nostalgic person. I don’t own a pair of rose-colored glasses. Sometimes, though, when it comes to music, I feel like I’m so out of step with what’s happening around me that I can only help but think how great it woud be if it was 1975 and side 3 of Physical Graffiti was spinning on my record player.
Early on in my musical education, my first guitar teacher stressed to me the importance of being able to listen to a song and play it by ear. She hammered this point home with a healthy dose of The Beatles. As I showed some proficiency at this, we moved on to some more guitar-heavy stuff like Hendrix, which in turn led to working on basic scales and learning how to solo. At this point, my father stepped in and opened my eyes to glory of Led Zeppelin. There was no turning back. For the rest of my teenage years, I was a guitar rock junkie. If it was heavy, had a few riffs, and a solo or two (two!), I was all about it. However, literally every one of my friends was busy listening to Biggie Smalls, the Wu-Tang Clan, and Fat Boy Slim, and this was the first time I felt like I was leading with my left foot instead of my right. Don’t get me wrong, I listened to all of that stuff as well and enjoyed it a great deal, but with whom could I share my awe of the sheer number of original riffs per song on Black Sabbath’s Paranoid? No one. And it was also at this point that I first learned to bury my love of this music.
Years pass, and so do the cynical, irony heavy grunge and post-grunge 90’s, but not without leaving their mark. In the wake of Nirvana and the spirit (get it?) they carried with them, the grandeur of big, loud, stadium shaking rock music is nothing more than a punch line. The devil horn hand sign that came to encompass hard rock and heavy metal is now used as a self conscious tool of ridicule, or stripped of meaning altogether. Technical proficiency at an instrument is looked upon with scorn. Heaven forbid you know what you’re doing when your hands touch your instrument. You might come up with an original idea! The notion of what it means to “rock” has mutated and been watered down. Bands now don’t actually want to rock. They are afraid to. It’s as if the music is sent to you with an apology instead of a “fuck yeah!”. “I’m sorry that we had a guitar solo for four bars in our last song. Isn’t it funny that I’m flashing the ‘sign of the beast’ in our latest press photo?” The answer is no.
When I was first asked to join Bang Camaro, I leapt at the chance. Finally, some like minded folks with whom I could share a proper outlet for all of the things I was constantly harassed about during practice with every other band I had ever been in. To inaugurate the occasion I decided I needed a new guitar. It had to be an uncompromising machine befitting of Bang Camaro’s uncompromising riffs. In the pantheon of rock guitars, there is only one whose true purpose is to play louder, harder, and faster than any other, and that is, of course, the Flying V. In my excitement prior to buying the guitar, I brought it up with a couple of my room mates, who play in band of which I was briefly a part. A rock band. The reaction from both of them? A condescending snicker. Yes, I was actually laughed at! Granted, its shape is unorthodox. It is a design to which some have attached a unfair stigma. In reality, the design is both brilliant and beautiful, and to paraphrase what I said earlier, its one true purpose is to actually rock, not apologetically rock. Had I been 15, I probably would have shamefully gone to my room and listened to Van Halen’s Women and Children First. But I’m not 15. I’m an adult. I know how to play a guitar solo. I play in Bang Camaro. In spite of the nay-sayers, I went out and bought a Flying fucking V and instead of lamenting the fact that it’s 2006 and not 1986, I now play it in proud defiance of those who attempt to rock while cowering in fear of those who do.