No one likes knock off liquor. Unless you are soulless and will sell yourself to anything that rolls off the counter. And the local drug lord will have your mothers head for cooking him substandard methamphetamine. It’s bad for his image and the customers won’t like it.In business respect and image is everything. The authenticity of the product is what build’s your trademark. Having built that image your consumers come to expect your products/services to conform to certain standards. Sometimes it goes beyond money and business. It strikes at the heart of someone’s pride. These are the same sentiments that Rock and Heavy Metal enthusiasts harbor against those that are out to degrade their music.
Fans and the wider community regard authenticity with unflinching seriousness. Just as every other recognisable product, rock music and its heavy metal counterpart have come to be recognised to submit to certain codes. The latter especially conforms to a core of stricter rules of conduct. For instance pure heavy must always contain a thick bottom sound played on the bass guitar. The themes that it promotes are also set in stone and they primarily revolve around debauchery and darkness. A band that takes a turnaround and dilutes the prominence of this thick bottom sound or introduces themes of love, contentment or conformism will almost certainly draw the ire of fans and critics. In the long run they will be adjudged as phonies or poseurs if you like. Rock bands that adopt a pop sound will be similarly christened. A good example is how punk fans have taken to bashing Good Charlotte’s. Critics have even described them more as an alternative band since they don’t espouse the fundamentals of what it means to be punk.
Being one of those that detests the adulteration of sound musical principles and using that deceptively to gain acceptance and sell records I feel that the discourse is a bit lopsided. If you consider it there are other matters that need to be put out there. First of all it takes a lot for a band to break out and receive mainstream success. It’s hard to just keep playing gigs if the gigs don’t pay bills. And at the end of the day responsibilities won’t go away. The Music to Overdrive frontman once famously pointed to this bitter fact. The band’s recent work is clearly a step away from rock music fundamentals. In order achieve success then a band might find itself having to break off the leashes of the underground sub-culture. They may need to adopt styles that are mainstream and reach out to a wider audience.
Secondly even though a band may forsake authenticity, in most instances you may find that it retains some degree of its original characteristics enough to please some of its fans and identify it (partly) with the rock/heavy metal subcultures. There are people that are okay with a bit of clandestine experimentation. Thirdly and as a corollary to the second point is that bands that take this forbidden path do a lot to aid the scene. They bring attention to the rock & heavy metal scene that they are albeit a false representation of. And with that they serve as a welcome induction to thousands of new fans to the sub-culture. And with that maybe having fence-sitter bands isn’t such a bad thing. In fact I think we need more of them for the sake of the scene.