Review Summary: "Guys, newsflash – grunge isn’t cool anymore."
One day, sometime around the moment when the new millennium hit, the members of Speak No Evil (Curtis Skelton – vocals, Danny Gill and Lisardo Rios – guitars, Greg Weiss – bass, Chris Frazier – drums) met up in order to plan how to handle their second record. Their debut, courtesy of big dog Universal, went over without causing anything close to a storm…
Curtis: Guys, newsflash – grunge isn’t cool anymore.
Band: Buh. Not good.
Curtis: I know, I know. We had a pretty good, workmanlike grip on the template, but it seems its time passed.
Greg: Now that I look at it, it’s probably been kind of dead in 1999 already.
Chris: Yeah, fads come and fads go. And folks had years to get tired of it.
Curtis: I’m well aware of that fact. So, if we’re to make decent money doing this band thing, I suggest we update our sound. More units shifted, more money, and the label will like us more as well. Any ideas?
Greg: There’s this thing that’s cool with the kids right now, what’s it called, new metal?
Lisandro: Nu metal. Yeah. KoRn and the like. It’s pretty hip.
Curtis: Oh? What’s it like?
Lisandro: You know, simple syncopated chugging, nothing fancy. You can even skip making up vocal melodies in places and just pretend to rap. Make sure your lyrics are pissed off though.
Curtis: Deal. What should I be pissed off about?
Lisandro: Uh, I don’t know. Try some kinderangst. Do your best to be relatable, though.
Greg: That gave me an idea for the most idiotic song title ever, “15 (Live My Life)”. It will seem like we’re supposedly feeling all their adolescence pains.
Lisandro: Why 15?
Greg: Think about it. When you’re under 15, you’re looking up to 15 year olds. When you’re older, you’re probably already aware of Napster or whatever it is that kids today use to get music for free, so that’s some revenue that stays in their parents’ wallets.
Lisandro: Good justification.
Chris: Oh, wait, and there’s also those politically-charged groups, think Rage Against The Machine. Do that as well.
Curtis: That’s perfect. Two different approaches, two potential groups to recruit fans from. Any other ideas?
Lisandro: Try one of those dunderheaded party anthems, they never get old.
Curtis: Title brainstorm…
Chris: “Bring Your Body”?
Greg: Nailed it.
Danny: What about those tracks we had already? I did dig that jam we nailed last week, what was it called, “Let Go”, it was a pretty good tune.
Curtis: It’s grunge… ey wait, grunge. Perfect. Whip up some slightly more chuggy variations of the riffs we have already and slap it on there. Will give us some crossover cred, the music press will like it.
Chris: We’re trying to get critical acclaim here as well?
Curtis: Hey, it won’t hurt. Maybe somebody actually bothers to read reviews. That reminds me… Greg, you had a gig doing some weird stuff a while back, what was it?
Greg: You mean the Armenian and Arabic gig?
Curtis: Yeah, that. How about we slap some of that in places to make the critics think we’re all artsy and stuff?
Greg: Sure, should be easy enough. Think there’s some weird exotic instruments hanging around my flat, I’ll take a look. We could play them for a few bars, will be cool.
Danny: Yeah, the kids probably won’t even notice some Middle Eastern scales here and there, but with luck the critics will spot them. Bingo!
Curtis: On a similar note, lay down a guitar solo on one of the tracks. Make it technically proficient, but not really bloated or flashy. Just let the press know we’re professionals and we know what’s up. The kids won’t even notice it.
Chris: True that.
Curtis: So yeah, how about a quick run through that tune Danny proposed we keep, and then we split and get cracking? I’ve got to practice in order to be able to pull off that rap style I’m to put on…
Chris: Oh, one thing – how do we actually pull off the style change? As in – musically it will be easy, as we’re all good at this “playing instruments” thing, but in terms of press. Won’t we get eaten alive for bandwagon jumping?
Curtis: Leave it to me. I’ve already got some ideas for passionate interview statements how this album is really our first and whatnot. It will go well. It has to go well, if we’re to earn money here. We have to get noticed and get rich, I’m not sure we can try and keep reinventing ourselves each time a new fad pops up. So, let’s get to work.
And as they vowed to, they did. Welcome To The Downside arrived in 2001 and went by virtually unnoticed by the kids. The press did seem to like it a bit more than the grunge posturing of their debut, but it wasn’t quite enough to get famous. The band dropped off the face of the Earth not long after, leaving behind a set of adequately crafted and well performed tunes that lacked the magical hook to lift them into the public conscience, or anything to differentiate them from whatever pack they were trying to fit into at the given moment. A shame really.