Editorial: I Like Music

Donovan Maudsley - Editor-In-Chief
Posted on: February 19, 2017

Well here we are, having successfully navigated the stress filled mine field that is midterms. I hope you were able to get out unscathed.

Some of my classmates and I were talking about examinations over our Hell Week though and we realized something kind of funny. Other than Chem 102 in first year, which is entirely multiple choice, you can probably make it through most engineering programs without ever getting a question right on an exam. Food for thought.

We’ve put together a pretty sweet issue of the paper for you guys this time. All your favourite columns are back. Raeesa makes an appearance to argue against Hasan in our Point-Counterpoint column. Our new staff writer Qianshu makes his first appearance. Tristan tells us a little more about his experiences in Germany this year. Gabrielle gives us an update on the whole Brexit situation. We’ve even got a comic! How cool is that?

So I just went through my (hopefully) last ever Hell Week. As usual I got way too little sleep, drank way too much coffee, and ate horribly throughout the whole week. However, before my Fluid Dynamics 2 midterm on Friday, my study group and I used some advanced geometric properties of paper to turn a single page of newsprint into a circle of paper with a diameter of around 12 feet. It was pretty awesome, but then Thomas Willert went and broke it. Nice going Tom. We also made a smaller one out of a post-it note, and you can actually fit through it.

Well, I guess it’s time to get to the point of this damn editorial.

I really like music. That might seem like a stupid sentence; everybody likes some sort of music. I’ve been into music and music related things for years now. It started when I picked up the violin in the fifth grade. At first it was just for school, but I really liked it and my mum got me one for my birthday after I started lessons. Next came the guitar. My grandfather bought me a classical acoustic guitar from our neighbour across the street during a garage sale. I remember when I finally learned how to play “Here Comes Your Man” by the Pixies I was so proud.

I started playing bass guitar is bands when I was in eighth grade, and kept that up all through high school. Any old fool can play bass. I’ve never really taken structured guitar lessons though. I learned from videos on Youtube and by watching players who were better than me. Eventually I started teaching guitar at the school I took violin lessons at, which was pretty fun. I even started playing drums after a few years. My parents surprised me with a kit last Christmas, and it’s a blast to play.

Enough about me for a while though, I want to talk about the bands that I like. I mentioned the Pixies before, and want to recommend that you check them out. The Pixies were one of the first modern alt-rock bands and were way ahead of their time. Some of the songs off of their 1989 album Doolittle could be passed off as 2017 indie rock. Extreme uses of dynamics (louder choruses, softer verses), sometimes rough guitars, and massive vocal ranges meant that the Pixies’ sound was never quite the same from song to song. They released an album a year from 1987 to 1991, and then promptly broke up.

They left one hell of a legacy though, and their records influenced pretty much every other alt-rock band from the 90s. In particular their music left a lasting impact on a young Kurt Cobain. During an interview in ’94 he said that when he first heard them he connected so much that he thought he needed to be in The Pixies, or at least a cover band. In the same interview he also said that while writing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” he pretty much ripped off The Pixies.

Another great musician who stated a Pixies influence was David Bowie, which was funny because The Pixies were influenced by David Bowie in the first place. Bono from U2 also said that he thinks The Pixies are one of the best American bands ever.

Eleven years after disbanding and doing a million other projects (Frank Black and the Catholics, The Breeders, The Amps, The Martinis), The Pixies got back together and everything was right with the world. They’ve released a few albums since then, and played about a million shows around the world. A few members have shifted around, but the core lineup is still pretty much there. The new albums are good and I like them a lot, but they don’t quite hold up to the old school albums. It sounds like they know how to play their instruments too well now…

The Pixies are tangentially related to pretty much everyone in the world of rock and roll. Their current bass player was a member of the Queens of the Stone Age, and A Perfect Circle for a while. Thom York from Radiohead has cited the band as an immense influence. Producer Steve Albini worked with The Pixies before working with a million other bands in the 90s and 2000s. The band has also played almost every major music festival in North America and Europe.

You’re probably saying “okay Donovan, I get it. The Pixies are awesome. Who else are you going to talk about?” Well get ready to hear about Soundgarden. “That band that has those two songs on Rock Band?” Yes, Avid Reader, yes.

Soundgarden is a grunge band from (you guessed it) Seattle. Named after a statue which stood in a park near front man Chris Cornell’s house as a child, Soundgarden holds the distinction of releasing the first ever major label grunge record, 1989’s Louder Than Love. This album wasn’t super successful or super good, but their third full length album Badmotorfinger helped cement them as a major player in the grunge scene. I attribute this to the addition of Ben Sheppard on bass. He’s probably my favourite bass player ever, and coming from someone whose primary instrument is the bass that’s a big thing.

Badmotorfinger is a freaking terrific album. Soundgarden perfectly merge heavy metal riffs with radio friendly choruses. Some standout tunes from the album are “Rusty Cage”, “Outshined” and “Jesus Christ Pose”, which was protested as being anti-Christian but is really about the exploitation of religion for personal gain. “Jesus Christ Pose” really distills Soundgarden, and in a larger sense grunge, down to one song.

After Badmotorfinger, Soundgarden toured around for a while and then recorded their magnum opus, Superunknown. How can one album be so heavy, contain so many great instrumental parts, have wickedly awesome lyrics, and still be totally radio friendly? I doubt anyone will ever figure out the formula for Superunknown. Rolling Stone Magazine marked it down as the 38th best album of the 90s, which I think is total lunacy. Superunknown produced five awesome singles, and was nominated for the Best Rock Album Grammy Award.

After recording and touring for a fourth full length album the band members went their separate ways, similar to The Pixies. Also similar to The Pixies, they reunited twelve years later. Enter 14 year old Donovan, who woke up at 6 AM on a cold November Saturday to go downtown to wait in line for tickets to actually see Soundgarden, because online tickets sales weren’t really a thing yet. I was second in line and very excited. The show was awesome, and I still have my concert t-shirt stashed in a closet somewhere.

Fast forward another 6 years and I find myself without a co-op position over the Summer ’15 term, so I work part time for my cousin as a security guard. I’m working concert security for shows around Ontario and I actually got to meet Ben Sheppard for a whole minute and a half. I like to think that I didn’t embarrass myself too much.

Other lesser known bands you should check out are the Sword (a more straight up heavy metal band), Motion City Soundtrack (a pop-punk quintet from Virginia), and O’Brother.

Well, that’s all I have to say about myself for this issue of the paper. As usual, if you’ve got things that you want to tell me about (such as disagreeing over which Soundgarden album is best), please, please, PLEASE email me at iwarrior@uwaterloo.ca. I’m going for a nap.