The Internet Killed the Music Industry and Interpol Wached It Happen
|Interpol was there, circa 2001, when the hype machine died.|
This was near the outset of the 21st Century when the whole mall-crawling Western world and every one of its inhabitants with fully operational ears (especially the hipsters, indie geeks, and scene freaks) were gearing up for a major upheaval in the realm of popular American music.
The radio was awash with third-generation grunge, skeezy alt-rock, and lobotomized pop. Even 13-year-old cheerleaders and their suburban gangsta boyfriends were fleeing Columbia House Music Club memberships and smashing perfectly good Walkman CD players in frustrated rage.
The music sucked and it was time for a massive fucking wave of new sounds. Like that initial blast of Brit punk in '77. Or the great Seattle invasion of '91. Or even Dre, Snoop, Tupac, and G-Funk in the summer of 1995. Just something to clear the cultural plateau of five years' accumulated musical trash.
At the time, marketing experts and music journos in windowless offices claimed to see some kind of cataclysmic sea change roiling out on the East Coast in NYC -- specifically Rudy Giuliani's newly sanitized, tourist-friendly Manhattan. And the primary proponents were already being identified and hyped. The Strokes were gonna be the real saviors of rock 'n' roll. And there was second-string disciples such as Interpol.
Ten years later, looking back from the vantage point of 2011, we now know that the predicted proto-punk revival was really a boomlet and not a full-blown boom. Sure, it washed the last dregs of the late '90s -- i.e. the Backstreet Boys and Limp Bizkit -- back into the sludge pool. And it bred a brainier generation of arena rock such as the Killers. But it didn't completely overtake the airwaves and conquer the charts in the way that Kurt Cobain, Pearl Jam, and the rest of the flannel-clad alternative army had done a decade earlier. The Strokes didn't save rock 'n' roll. And neither did Interpol.
Why? Well, as we all slipped into this fresh millenium, the music industry apparatus was beginning to break down. And it had been years since MTV had really given a shit about music videos, subsisting instead on reality TV shows such as The Real World and Jackass. But mostly, you can blame the vast void of the World Wide Web. It was just about to open up like a black hole, swallow big chunks of the old hype machine, and spit out a pair of strange new entities named Napster and MySpace.
This was the moment, circa 2001, when Interpol finally broke and tried to seize the scene. "One year later and I think the world would've been closer to what it is now," Interpol guitarist and co-founder Daniel Kessler says over the phone. "When our first record [Turn on the Bright Lights] came out, the Internet was a prominent tool. But social networking wasn't really happening," he remembers. "It was pre-MySpace. And as far as hearing new bands, people weren't really using the Internet that way.