In Defense Of… Heavy Music (A Response To The Daily Mail)

This morning I woke up feeling fine, and then I checked Twitter, and felt anything but. This drop in my mood was caused by an article I read courtesy of The Daily Mail, an article about a teenager I won’t name who committed suicide, and the article I read highlighted the fifteen year old’s music taste as a key point of reference. I wanted to write some words about the way in which The Daily Mail handled the delivery of this piece, and my thoughts on it. I don’t feel that Slipknot and alternative culture can be made largely responsible, and I guess I wanted to write about why this is the case, and touch upon the mainstream media’s unfair views on heavy music.

The article I’m addressing can be found here.

In my experience (at least for me, it would be wrong to speak on behalf of the unmanned young man) heavy music has always been a comfort, something I take pleasure in, and at worst it was an escape from an average reality. When I was 15 people thought that I was depressed because I listened to The Used and Taking Back Sunday, but in truth A Box Of Sharp Objects never made me want to self-harm, the exact opposite in fact, and Tell All Your Friends has never made me anything but the happiest guy in the world. Around that time I had friends who were openly suicidal, they made no secret of the fact, and I know for a fact that each of these people found a relief in heavy music, the comfort of knowing that someone else felt the same way. People listen to Taylor Swift because they feel heartbroken themselves and want someone to guide them through it, people might listen to Slipknot because they’re angry and want to share their anger with their music instead of venting it elsewhere. When I get sad I listen to the Count Your Lucky Stars discography and I feel warmed, Joie De Vivre have only ever bummed me out in a kindly, reassuring sort of way, and I fucking love them for it. I’ve been listening to heavy music for almost thirteen years, Hell, Slipknot were probably my favourite heavy band as a teen, and I’d like to think that I listened to their music because I liked it, and in the time since first discovering them I’ve been happier in the presence of alternative music than I have in several other areas of my own life. To be completely honest, bands like Slipknot and Machine Head only ever made me feel alive. I can say with confidence that the music I listen to has never had a negative influence on me, or anyone I know. Sure, my parents disapproved, to an extent I can understand why they did, but I think they’d understand that I listened to what I listened to because I took enjoyment from it, and not because it was leading me astray, as the media seems to think.

As a long-time lover of alternative music I personally take offense to the Daily Mail’s wording and ideals, implicitly implying that Slipknot, a supposedly ‘thrash metal’ (?) band are almost responsible for a teenagers death. Personally, I find it an obnoxiously bold statement – to lay that on a band and a genre of music – and once again I feel that the music I love has been made a scapegoat for tragedy. Surely that’s wrong? I’m not arguing that music definitely wasn’t a factor, I don’t how ——– felt, and I can’t assume to, but I take issue with the way his story has been delivered. Other factors which may have contributed to his suicide are mentioned in brief passing, and the bulk of the article is focused on his music taste, which is apparently responsible to a greater degree. The writer, Hannah Parry, even saw fit to include a history of times the band have been linked to crime, which seems unjustified considering the act in question is a suicide, and there is no proof that the band influenced the decision at all.

Slipknot Piece

The media has a habit of shifting blame towards alternative culture, and this article isn’t the first time heavy musicians have been made to shoulder the brunt of someone’s actions – think back to Marilyn Manson-linked high-school shootings, or the fabricated ties linking My Chemical Romance to depression when lines like ‘I am not afraid to keep on living’ were sung loud and proud at the bands shows.  I remember reading a very similar article last year which stirred a similar sort of defensive disgust within myself, and I’m saddened to see virtually the same article here. These kind of constant assumptions, that heavy music is a corrupting influence, are hugely unfair, both for the artist, for their fans and for similar fans who associate themselves with the scene, and I lose a great deal of respect for any form of media when it’s determined to force this link upon their audience. Personally speaking, I don’t buy it, and I wanted to make that clear by posting a response of my own.

Granted, and all things considered, I can see why the band would be drawn into this. If the songs playing at the time where the songs of Elton John then I doubt music would’ve even been mentioned. I can understand why the links are formed, Slipknot’s music can be considered very dark, but I don’t feel like these links should be stated as a major contributing factor. Corey Taylor wrote songs such as Everything Ends about his own struggles with suicide, and the lyrics aren’t exactly the most positive (Where the Hell am I going? / Do I even need a reason to hide? / I am only betrayed / I am only conditioned to die)but to link songs like this one to the death of a teenager seems wrong, at least in my eyes. We, myself included, have no idea how —— felt, and when I read The Daily Mail’s article I read it as an attack on alternative culture, and I hate that. I can see why bands such as Slipknot have negative associations, but these associations mean nothing unless they’re a definitive contributor.

Thankfully, the majority of commenters on The Daily Mail’s website share my views that music is not to blame, but considering these sensationalist stories have been around for decades it’s a small positive. I think it’s wrong to write articles such as The Daily Mail have, potentially creating a story for the sake of creating controversy, and if you happen to be reading this I’d encourage you to form your own opinions on alternative music instead of feeling forced to feel a certain way by a journalist who clearly knew what they were writing and how it would be read.

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