What got you into "alternative" music

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And by Alternative I dont just mean Alternative rock. I mean, pretty much, anything that isnt mainstream (assuming you did at all get into the alternative).

For me, I actually like stereotypical hoes/money/cars rap (!!!), when I was in middle school. Eventually I got really sick of it, and looked for the most different thing I could find. I found the Velvet Underground, mainly through hearing about it off-hand. From there, trying to find more bands that sounded simmilar, I got into Sonic Youth, and then pretty much everything I like now.

What took you off the mainstream path?

David Allen, Tuesday, 15 October 2002 19:49 (eighteen years ago) link

you have been sent to destroy us haven't you?

jess (dubplatestyle), Tuesday, 15 October 2002 19:52 (eighteen years ago) link

2,856 new answers!

Tom (Groke), Tuesday, 15 October 2002 19:52 (eighteen years ago) link

Oddly enough, it was my local rock radio station. In mid-1985, there was a particularly adventurous music director there who managed to add to the regular rotation, in fairly quick succession: Echo and the Bunnymen's "Never Stop", The Cure's "Inbetween Days", and New Order's "Perfect Kiss". All three of these made me perk up every time I heard them, and I said "WHOA NELLY, there's something else out there besides Billy Joel and the Doobie Brothers! Where can I get me some more of that?" After that I started to search for these things and that's that.

Sean Carruthers (SeanC), Tuesday, 15 October 2002 19:53 (eighteen years ago) link

smashing pumpkins -> mid-90's indie rock -> whatever came next.

dk, Tuesday, 15 October 2002 19:54 (eighteen years ago) link

OK, a truthful answer: I wanted to be different. Peer pressure at 13 made me stop liking pop and I got into what you might call "classic alternative" i.e. the VU, Pink Floyd, some proggy stuff, Bowie because of that. I really desperately wanted something I could call 'my own' too though and eventually found it in The Smiths which totally spoke to me but which none of the other kids at school liked.

Morrissey went on about how disco music was shit and videos were evil and I sort of went along with that for a couple of months before thinking, hold on, this is bullshit. And by that time all the kids at school thought I liked weird stuff anyway so I just got back into pop as well.

Tom (Groke), Tuesday, 15 October 2002 19:56 (eighteen years ago) link

see tom? you have indie guilt!

g (graysonlane), Tuesday, 15 October 2002 19:58 (eighteen years ago) link


steve k, Tuesday, 15 October 2002 19:59 (eighteen years ago) link

?? What is indie guilt again?

I wish more people who liked "alternative" music would admit that the feeling of difference is a massive part of the buzz - it's the only way of explaining why the pull of the 'scene' is pretty much constant even though the quality of bands varies so catastrophically.

Tom (Groke), Tuesday, 15 October 2002 20:01 (eighteen years ago) link

If only it was "Daeve Allen hippiedestroyer." Another lame joke opportunity wasted.

hstencil, Tuesday, 15 October 2002 20:01 (eighteen years ago) link

I just wanted to be cool!

So, I bought an Iron Maiden album.

jel -- (jel), Tuesday, 15 October 2002 20:01 (eighteen years ago) link

In middle school, I listened to a lot of hair metal. Yes, my bedroom walls were even plastered with pages ripped from Hit Parader and Circus of all the boys with the big hair and bright, shiny guitars. You had your Ratts, and your Dokkens. Your Crues and your Poisons.

One day, for some reason, MTV squeezed a Soul Asylum video into one of their metal video shows. It was for "Cartoon" from the Hang Time LP. Granted, that song's not very "alternative" at all, but it was a major change from what I'd become accustomed to hearing.

In the 9th grade, I met a girl named Laura who introduced me to Echo & the Bunnymen and The Cure (not too drastic a change, as there was still plenty of hairspray use to satisfy). From then on, I was hooked and started digging around in the sub-genres and have been doing so for nearly 15 years.

paul cox (paul cox), Tuesday, 15 October 2002 20:03 (eighteen years ago) link

haha at high school I thought poison were alternative!

jel -- (jel), Tuesday, 15 October 2002 20:05 (eighteen years ago) link

Tom: I don't know but someone referred to it in my misguided chartpop hating thread. Anyway I was just kidding. but yeah, isn't that the main thing? I mean when you are a kid, you want something that sets you apart (and brings you together at the same time - most people tend to like what their friends like). Of course, you get older, you realize there is lots of good stuff of all kinds. But it is still maybe the heart of the reason why I personally could never understand getting all excited about getting the latest Pink record or whatever. I suspect i am quite out of the 'scene' that you are referring to but I assure you i find a constant supply of new/old and exciting stuff without ever being tempted to enter a Tower records.

g (graysonlane), Tuesday, 15 October 2002 20:12 (eighteen years ago) link

Britpop was what got me really into music. Before that, I just listened to U2 and REM and Queen, and I would have been oblivious to the fact that great music is released every week. Britpop got me into a groove of buying a lot of new records. Blur, Oasis, Pulp, Bluetones, Suede, Manics, Ash etc. That got me reading the music press, and I started to take notice of what they had to say (probably too much notice, in hindsight). It was just a gradual process of getting more and more into music from then on in, and now buying cd's and music by artists both mainstream and non-mainstream is a constant process.

weasel diesel (K1l14n), Tuesday, 15 October 2002 20:13 (eighteen years ago) link

morrissey was wrong about disco and videos but that didn't have too much to do with the quality of his music.

g (graysonlane), Tuesday, 15 October 2002 20:14 (eighteen years ago) link

Oh geez... here comes the nostalgia... can't resist.

It seems like people with an older brother/sister or John Peel had a distinct advantage. I didn't have either, however, so I had to watch MTV and listen to the radio constantly for the few times they'd "slip in" something interesting. So, after moving out of my Genesis/They Might Be Giants phase in 5th grade, I started listening to Camper Van Beethoven (I think I must've liked "Pictures of Matchstick Men," and the rumor is that they were the first band to be branded "alternative"), the Pixies (I distinctly remember hearing "Here Comes Your Man" on the radio right before I fell asleep), Bob Mould, R.E.M., the Sugarcubes, Sinead O'Connor (I remember when she was on the Grammys pre-"Nothing Compares 2 U" and had a P.E. logo on her head), the B-52s, the Dead Milkmen, Talking Heads, VU, and a ton of other stuff. All on cassette tape. And I got the Bunnymen's Songs to Learn and Sing because I liked the Doors and they covered "People Are Strange" on the Lost Boys soundtrack, but I didn't like it cuz it the rest didn't sound like The Doors (!!).

Oh, and I also had to rely on my subscription to Rolling Stone. I still remember that they gave Bandwagonesque one star, which might have contributed to my completely baseless hatred of all things British, which lasted through high school. Ever since then, with the few music reviews I've written for publication, I always pretend I'm writing to myself at age 14; just TRYING to get the young me to see the light while avoiding being jaded or cynical. It's a good technique and I wish that more music writers would use it.

I wish more people who liked "alternative" music would admit that the feeling of difference is a massive part of the buzz - it's the only way of explaining why the pull of the 'scene' is pretty much constant even though the quality of bands varies so catastrophically.

I agree 100%. Music when you're a teenager and music when you're in your teens are two completely different beasts: teenager = defines who you are; older = lifestyle accessory or, in our case, object of bibliophilia.

Aaron W., Tuesday, 15 October 2002 20:23 (eighteen years ago) link

Yeah I guess so g: there was a two-way guilt thing for me. First of all was changing schools at 13 and finding it was very uncool to like pop so kind of forcing myself not to, and then wanting to be individual on top of that (i.e. cooler). And then I realised that nobody thought I was cool whatever so I might as well just like what I liked, which meant going back to pop but listening to other stuff too.

I think once you've noticed that people judge you by the music you like and have tried to manipulate that in any way there's an 'innocence' that you can't get back which is why the second-guessing-of-motives threads generally have a teeny-tiny kernel of truth (and why the response gets so hot).

(As for Morrissey - oops if I implied it did. I love The Smiths and a lot of Morrissey's music since. It was just the only time I've ever tried to use a pop star as a guru and it was a foolish error on my part!)

Tom (Groke), Tuesday, 15 October 2002 20:24 (eighteen years ago) link

My older brothers, more than anything else. Through them, I got into Toto Coelo, Adam and The Ants, The B-52's, and Devo at a young age (7? 8?).

Dan Perry (Dan Perry), Tuesday, 15 October 2002 20:28 (eighteen years ago) link

Same. My older brother + all the high school jock assholes who picked on me listened to Phish and the Dead and classic rock. And to the naive, alternative is the knee jerk reaction.

bnw (bnw), Tuesday, 15 October 2002 20:32 (eighteen years ago) link

nirvana. (i actually consider this a bad thing, since my previous favorite band had been public enemy and it took me 2 or 3 years to realize i had been right all along.)

jess (dubplatestyle), Tuesday, 15 October 2002 20:33 (eighteen years ago) link

Well tom we actually agree on a lot of things. I am a bit too old (I think I am older than you?) to get actually hot over any music related issue, the whole music - cool thing pretty much goes away (though I do have some friends who still judge a potential date partially on the type of music he/she likes). I will say this, absolutely noone I know thinks my enjoyment of bubblegum music is cool. Anyway, yeah, pop stars probably make the worst kind of guru. Even worst than actual guru gurus.

g (graysonlane), Tuesday, 15 October 2002 20:33 (eighteen years ago) link

I guess I will actually answer the thread's question. Obviously, I was trying to impress a girl.

g (graysonlane), Tuesday, 15 October 2002 20:34 (eighteen years ago) link

"Velvet Underground, mainly through hearing about it off-hand. From there, trying to find more bands that sounded simmilar, I got into Sonic Youth," -- yeah way to flee the "mainistream".

I always liked money and cars. Lyrics about them though, that took me a while.

Okay, to answer the question, Thomas Pynchon and I don't regret it.

Sterling Clover (s_clover), Tuesday, 15 October 2002 20:36 (eighteen years ago) link

Pynchon? I know he likes Lotion but how else?

g (graysonlane), Tuesday, 15 October 2002 20:41 (eighteen years ago) link

That started it all.

Sterling Clover (s_clover), Tuesday, 15 October 2002 20:44 (eighteen years ago) link

the pretty in pink soundtrack.

keith (keithmcl), Tuesday, 15 October 2002 21:28 (eighteen years ago) link

john peel (the fall, the field mice, butthole surfers)

gareth (gareth), Tuesday, 15 October 2002 21:34 (eighteen years ago) link

my brother, tim westwood on capital radio (for hip hop at least), annie nightingale, record mirror, snub tv and dance energy, then radio 1, nme and the big dance mags i guess

blueski, Tuesday, 15 October 2002 21:48 (eighteen years ago) link

A little taste of punk/new wave from a cover band in 6th and 7th grades, followed by the overwhelming impact of discovering Penn.'s WXPN in 8th grade: punk/wave, yes; but also 20th century classical/avant-garde, electronic music, progressive/art rock/Krautrock, reggae, free jazz, unfamiliar music from foreign countries, Medieval music, among other things. I had been somewhat bored with rock and roll, but I was also drawn by the thrill of joining some sort of listening elite. I definitely didn't do it out of peer pressure since I was pretty isolated and if anything I tended to occasionally turn one of my friends onto some of this stuff, not generally the other way around. (By the end of high school I made friends with a couple people, a student and his father, who were both interested in a big segment of this music.)

Rockist Scientist, Tuesday, 15 October 2002 22:02 (eighteen years ago) link

if alternative = indie rather than metal then i guess Mark Radcliffe's old late night show on Radio 1 and buying NME cos it had Rocket From The Crypt on the cover.

Wyndham Earl, Tuesday, 15 October 2002 22:04 (eighteen years ago) link

one word: skateboarding.


msp, Tuesday, 15 October 2002 22:06 (eighteen years ago) link

three words: escaping small town

jack cole (jackcole), Tuesday, 15 October 2002 22:40 (eighteen years ago) link


Kenan, Tuesday, 15 October 2002 22:41 (eighteen years ago) link

Sonic Youth for indie rock type stuff.

Before that was punk with Bad Religion, Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat et al.

Ian Johnson, Tuesday, 15 October 2002 22:43 (eighteen years ago) link

Older brother here, too, I guess. He went away to college in '85 & after that I heard plenty of "college rock." But come to think of it some of my high school friends like The Smiths & REM a lot, around the same time. For me it was never a pop vs. alternative thing -- I was a classic rocker! I considered Classic Rock an alternative to the mainstream since day one.

Mark (MarkR), Tuesday, 15 October 2002 22:52 (eighteen years ago) link

And hey Jess PE is alternative all the way!

Mark (MarkR), Tuesday, 15 October 2002 22:53 (eighteen years ago) link

well, NOW yes.

jess (dubplatestyle), Tuesday, 15 October 2002 22:57 (eighteen years ago) link

well, AT THE TIME, too. and you were not "right all along," you were right BOTH TIMES.

M Matos (M Matos), Tuesday, 15 October 2002 23:06 (eighteen years ago) link

sisters who had sizeable crushes on skaters and early-mid 80s skate music.

which may speak for my recent/current VIOLENT RAMP obsession.

gygax!, Wednesday, 16 October 2002 00:08 (eighteen years ago) link

Dave Kendall-era 120 Minutes. Reading Alternative Press and Ray Gun in the bookstore because I was a poor high school student and needed money to buy albums. Pretty Hate Machine. Trompe Le Monde. No Pocky For Kitty. Slanted And Enchanted. And of course, Nevermind.

Nick Mirov (nick), Wednesday, 16 October 2002 02:30 (eighteen years ago) link

This bloke a few years above me at school called Matt Vickers, who played The Cure's "A Forest" a lot. I asked him what it was, and my life changed forever, basically. The Cure, The Smiths, JAMC, Pixies, New Order, JD, Sisters, Siouxsie and so forth. Vector, wherever you are, I salute you - you made me the shadow of a man I am today!

That, and Peel - got me into everything from The Flaming Lips, Pavement & Pulp to minimalist techno, early drum'n'bass, German folk music and African pop. Still don't like The Fall much, but.

Charlie (Charlie), Wednesday, 16 October 2002 03:09 (eighteen years ago) link

when i was starting high school there was a girl i liked who was into dying her hair, nine inch nails, jesus & mary chain and all that fun stuff.
smoked weed ever since.

dyson (dyson), Wednesday, 16 October 2002 07:05 (eighteen years ago) link

I blame my parents, the weirdoes! Trying to raise children as "Bohemian" and "Intellectual" and "British" in suburban Connecticut, what did they expect?

Seriously, if I could point to one thing that turned me musically weird... WCDB Albany, NY. Used to be the most amazing college radio station. Now I hear it's all sports all the time or something... ugh.

kate, Wednesday, 16 October 2002 09:10 (eighteen years ago) link

I like to travel off the beaten tracks. It's in my blood I guess.
The realm of "alternative" music is so much wider than mainstream chartpop.

alex in mainhattan (alex63), Wednesday, 16 October 2002 10:03 (eighteen years ago) link

Yes all the way from Wilco to Ryan Adams in your case Alex!

Tom (Groke), Wednesday, 16 October 2002 10:10 (eighteen years ago) link

**The realm of "alternative" music is so much wider than mainstream chartpop.**

Depends on how you define it obv, but if we mean alternative *mainly guitar-based music*, then I'd say it's narrower in every way - ambition, emotional range, use of sound, willingness to experiment and so on.

Also doesn't *alternative* get in the charts? Or does getting in the charts disqualify it as *alternative*? Which is silly.

The use of alternative seems so early 80's.

Dr. C (Dr. C), Wednesday, 16 October 2002 10:16 (eighteen years ago) link

On the other hand - "The range of music that doesnt get in the pop charts is greater than the range of music that does" - yeah I'd agree with this, it seems unarguable.

Tom (Groke), Wednesday, 16 October 2002 10:25 (eighteen years ago) link

To answer the orig question - the CHARTS and TV!

Pre-punk I was into whatever was in the charts plus the odd bit of prog which friends' elder brothers usually had. I also saw non-chart stuff on OGWT, but didn't really connect with it as much as chart music. Punk took its time to travel to the rural North, so I was about 6 months behind London. We'd heard The Pistols/Damned/Ramones/Subway Sect/Buzzcocks etc on J.Peel and read about them in the music press, but didn't fully get into it until the first punk recds hit the charts in 1977. I remember watching the Tony Wilson program 'So It Goes' too, but that was 1978 wasn't it?

Dr. C (Dr. C), Wednesday, 16 October 2002 10:28 (eighteen years ago) link

You forgot 16 Horsepower, Calexico, Giant Sand, Gillian Welch etc. Tom. ;-)

And Boards of Canada, Neu!, Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, Field Mice, Montgolfier Brothers, Godspeed YBE!, Cat Power, Pixies, Jesus & Mary Chain, Tocotronic to name but a few. I like alt-country but there is a lot of alternative music I like which has nothing to do with it.

P.S. Concerning the definition of alternative in this thread, have a look at the question, Dr.C:
And by Alternative I dont just mean Alternative rock. I mean, pretty much, anything that isnt mainstream

alex in mainhattan (alex63), Wednesday, 16 October 2002 10:45 (eighteen years ago) link

Skater friend of mine who was in high school when i was in 7th grade always wore a smiths t-shirt. I asked him who they were and he made me a tape. Changed my life.

Chris V. (Chris V), Wednesday, 16 October 2002 11:10 (eighteen years ago) link

Elemenrary School: The "Doctor Demento" Show
Junior High: The more obscure stuff from MTV -- back when it was cool -- the "Post-Modern MTV" show, "Classic MTV" and "International MTV" (Japanese Reggae and Israeli Funk rocked my universe!)
High School freshmen and sophmore: DRI, Circle Jerks, Minutemen, Black Flag, DKs...
High School junior and senior: Irish folk music, Jazz and Funk (plus "120 Minutes on MTV")
After Graduation: Goth-pop (Cure and Siouxsie) and pre-grunge Soul Asylum/Pixies/Husker Du (plus more Irish Folk Music, Metal, Gangsta Rap and more)

Lord Custos Alpha (Lord Custos Alpha), Wednesday, 16 October 2002 14:43 (eighteen years ago) link

I would interpret this thread not so much in the "what do you define as 'alternative'" but as "when did you start caring about what you listened to enough to seek it out without mainstream media help"

the progression for me went as such:
7th-9th grade - classic rock
10th grade - pearl jam, smashing pumkins, nirvana...
11th grade - sonic youth, nirvana, pavement, yo la tengo
12th grade - sonic youth, pavement, yo la tengo, the pixies

college it all exploded into me basically listening to anything in my search for great stuff. its not like when someone says "oh I listen to everything" and really mean "I don't give a shit about music" I mean it as "I'll listen to anything once, and if it seems like it could be special, I'll listen to it again."

tinobeat (tinobeat), Wednesday, 16 October 2002 14:57 (eighteen years ago) link

"when did you start caring about what you listened to enough to seek it out without mainstream media help"
First Flowering of Non-mainstream sources: College radio station broadcasting from Oakland (I think); Two stoner dudes would playfully bicker in between records, and occasionally, they would play an entire CD and then come back on the air saying "Sorry for playing the whole record, I went out to get some lunch."
Second Flowering of non-mainstream sources: MTV when it was still cool, yadda yadda yadda.
Third Flowering of non-mainstream sources: NAPSTER! YEAAAAAAAAA!!!

Lord Custos Alpha (Lord Custos Alpha), Wednesday, 16 October 2002 16:27 (eighteen years ago) link

Music first (you know the groops), history second, with the dogma reinforcing the enjoyment of the music - that is, it's DIFFERENT but GOOD and you UNDERSTAND and they DON'T, those silly little monkeys, and ye will be JUDGED and found wanting by the throng of brainwashed BASTARDS sucking on the corporate COCK, but understand that they are WRONG and you are RIGHT.

Were I more socially agile back then, my enjoyment of the music wouldn't have progressed past a superficial "because it sounds cool" brainwashed cock-sucking level. But, hey, when you feel ostracized (regardless of whether it's true or not) - better yet, when you WANT to feel ostracized (since that's easier to cope with than the grey areas of truth defining your feelings of inadequacy and awkwardness) - and you want to reinforce your self-worth, why not construct walls of counter-culture coolness covered in glyphs decipherable only by One Of Us, thereby reinforcing the ostracization that might / might not have lead you to this state of exile in the first place, along with reinforcing the bullshit strata that ultimately leads to the Us Vs Them mentality permeating most of pop culture?

(And I qualified strata w/ "bullshit" because that's what I want it to be, not because it actually is.)

David R. (popshots75`), Wednesday, 16 October 2002 17:42 (eighteen years ago) link

The Coop!

Arthur (Arthur), Wednesday, 16 October 2002 18:50 (eighteen years ago) link

marky mark => &^%^ => VU => &^%^ => marky mark

Amedee Archambault (Amedee), Wednesday, 16 October 2002 19:14 (eighteen years ago) link

Suggestions from friends, I think. Can't be sure.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Thursday, 17 October 2002 14:47 (eighteen years ago) link

ten years pass...


pfunkboy (Algerian Goalkeeper), Wednesday, 9 October 2013 23:27 (seven years ago) link

Wanting to be the kind of person who had opinions on the Pixies.

Treeship, Wednesday, 9 October 2013 23:30 (seven years ago) link


Chinese Taipei (nakhchivan), Wednesday, 9 October 2013 23:31 (seven years ago) link


JEFF 22 (Matt P), Wednesday, 9 October 2013 23:31 (seven years ago) link

those too

Chinese Taipei (nakhchivan), Wednesday, 9 October 2013 23:33 (seven years ago) link

Melody Maker

pfunkboy (Algerian Goalkeeper), Wednesday, 9 October 2013 23:34 (seven years ago) link

My new friends in secondary school liked Green Day

Luigi Nono, le petit robot (seandalai), Wednesday, 9 October 2013 23:37 (seven years ago) link

are you still friends?

pfunkboy (Algerian Goalkeeper), Wednesday, 9 October 2013 23:37 (seven years ago) link

with most of them, yes

Luigi Nono, le petit robot (seandalai), Wednesday, 9 October 2013 23:44 (seven years ago) link

Do you still call them "basic bitches"?

Treeship, Wednesday, 9 October 2013 23:47 (seven years ago) link

on occasion

Luigi Nono, le petit robot (seandalai), Thursday, 10 October 2013 00:17 (seven years ago) link

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