Spectacles, Testicles, Wallet, & Watch

In a recent review of The Multi-Purpose Solution's latest album, we were kinda sorta referred to as "emo." Actually, the reviewer — Jim Testa — wrote:

This stuff would be positively emo with any other vocalist...

And a lot of people seem to feel that way, so I should be pretty familiar with emo. Shouldn't I? I mean, according to the Wikipedia definition, I might even be emo. Preppy emo, that is. And, it occurs to me now, maybe that's why David Andrews had such problems with my spectacles. He actually just hates emo.

Nevertheless, I had a difficult time explaining it to JA.

"Stephen, what's emo?"
"It's funny you ask..."

I could have stopped right there, but I continued: "Because I tried explaining it to my little sister over Thanksgiving..."
"And my daughter was trying to explain it to me," John admitted.
"Well, what did she say it was?"
"She didn't."

I sighed, threw my head back, and gave it a shot.

Well, it's like, alright... You know, there was... Um, okay, it comes from hardcore punk rock.

Wait, that's not right. Let me start again: The term "emo" comes from "emotional hardcore." At least, I think it does. Emo is short for emotional, you see. That much makes sense. You might also hear the music referred to as "emo-core." There's also something called "screamo," but that's just silly. Let's not talk about it right now. Alright, so, it goes way back to the early '80s, actually, with bands like Minor Threat and Bad Brains. But they weren't emo. Then there was also Fugazi and Black Flag, but they weren't emo either.

Um, you had Ian KacKaye on one side of the fence, singing about politics in the suburbs, and, you know, teenage angst and stuff. I mean, I never really understood what Ian MacKaye was singing about. I grew up in Newark, and I had no idea that any of this stuff was going on. I wasn't mad about anything; I was just scared. Anyhow, then you had Henry Rollins on the other side, singing about beer and sex. I could dig that. But, those two dudes, Henry Rollins and Ian MacKaye, you know, they kinda hated each other. I think.

Alright, so there were these hardcore bands singing about politics and, um, ideals — I mean, like, being straight-edge and not eating meat — and then there were these other hardcore bands who didn't want any part of those ideals. They just wanted beer and sex. Somewhere along the line, people got tired of all of it, or maybe they just got a little older, and bands like Rites of Spring and Moss Icon started popping up, and the music was still pretty fast and hard, but the lyrics were now about love, and, you know... emotions. Make sense?

Time passes and bands like Sunny Day Real Estate and Weezer get thrown in there, and I actually really like both of those bands a lot, but I have no idea what they have to do with one another. Now, it's all gotten watered down and even more confused — obviously — and it's been popularized by MTV, so the groups that the kids — my sister and your daughter and so many others who shop at Hot Topic — know as being "emo" are really just boy bands playing pop-punk.

But, please, don't quote me on any of this. I have no clue, really. And, with that, I think I've covered all the bases. In the name of the father, son, holy ghost, and the other guy. Amen.

Oh yeah: I also think it has something to do with whiny, nasally, neutered vocals, which is why The Multi-Purpose Solution [Don't let the pink fool you.] is not emo. Otherwise, we would be. Positively.

Jens Carstensen's picture

Simple: if it's not fun, and doesn't have interesting instrumentation, it's emo.

ninut's picture

if you think about it, some of the beatle's shit is pretty, uh, EMO. the reason i bring this up is 'cause i'm kinda in a Fab Four phase right now. could have something to do with the 25th anniv. of JL's death. morbid of me, eh? either way," isn't george harrison singing about his guitar ""gently weeping"" about as emo as it gets? c'mon Nix. humor me.

Stephen Mejias's picture

>Simple: if it's not fun, and doesn't have interesting instrumentation, it's emo.Hee hee. I have nothing to add to that, fortunately. You said in 10 words what I couldn't say in 600.

Stephen Mejias's picture

>either way," isn't george harrison singing about his guitar ""gently weeping"" about as emo as it gets? c'mon Nix. humor me.NINA! I almost called you on the way to work this morning. I miss you very much. Reading your comment got me feeling pretty emo", actually. My keyboard is gently weeping right now. I'm pouring some of my coffee out onto it in your and John Lennon's honor. Mark David Chapman: Feh.

Christian's picture

Preppy emo? Wouldn't that be preemo? Sorry, that was bad. Seriously, I am having trouble with this whole emo thing. Just about everything not instrumental and not Kiss could be emo in some form. Beck's Sea Change album could be the poster child (Lost Cause). If it is the punk-pop that seems to be everywhere then I can understand the backlash to it. OTOH a friend passed along a CD by City and Colour - Sometimes the acoustic solo side project of Alexisonfire (emo-core?) singer Dallas Green and it is killer.Mabybe I do like emo...I'm confused.