“What kind of music do you make?”
This is a question that I get asked somewhat frequently. My response is usually that I make pop/rock/alt country. I am now aware that there is a much more accurate response that I can provide.
I make Adventure Rock. What is adventure rock? First let’s talk about what it isn’t. This may better help to identify why describing the music that I make “pop” is inaccurate, or at the very least- misleading.
For some- music is a thing that happens on the subway. They are there, and they are bored. If they don’t feel like playing a video game on their phones, they seem to have no choice other than to play music from their iPod. Granted, there are many people who choose to read, but I’ve found that they are the minority. Or perhaps people are at the gym. They seek to escape from the hamster wheel of thoughts that are running rampant in their minds. The solution? Strap on the iPod and crank up some Lady Gaga.
Based on my observations, a vast majority of people experience music in a dramatically different way than I do. I like to sit down in front of a nice home stereo, and do nothing but listen to the music. To be inside of the music. To give myself completely to the music. I also like to go on long walks with my iPod for the sole purpose of being alone with the music. I am not trying to imply that my way of experiencing music is any better or worse than anyone else’s. People experience music in many different ways, and there is nothing wrong with this. I do however believe that it is indicative of what the music actually means to them, and for many of them- it doesn’t really mean a whole lot.
I think that this is part of the reason why much of what is considered “Pop” or “Rock” music today is a very boring, flat, seemingly pointless barren desert of emotionless phrasings & melodies. How it is that popular music has become so colorless & devoid of range? When the gym plays Muse, Maroon 5, Linkin Park, or Nickelback, it paints a very distinct portrait of nothingness in my head. To me, it’s not even music. I understand that by its very definition it is, but it is wholly inaccurate to say that Nickelback makes rock music, if we are also saying that Motorhead or Led Zepplin does the same. Similarly, it is not accurate to say that Rihanna or Ke$ha make “pop” music, if we are saying the same of Madonna, Missing Persons, Chaka Khan, and INXS.
When the radio plays the ‘rock’ & ‘alternative’ music of today, there is simply no life in it. It sounds like a broken whoopee cushion that has been deprived of all its air. Harsh, I know. But what if it’s true? That kind of music might be perfectly fine for mom’s to listen to while they drive their SUV’s to the grocery store with little Johnny and Suzy, but is it really what the youth want? Is it really what the youth can identify with? If so, then I pity the experiences that they must be having. There’s a whole discussion about people liking music because that’s what the record companies have decided they’ll like, but it’s not what I’m trying to get into here. I am merely trying to point out that much of what is considered “Pop” music is so entirely devoid of color and emotion that it’s very popularity amongst living breathing young people remains a mystery to me.
When I tell people my favorite band is Type O Negative, they usually say “What kind of music is that?” It has always felt wrong to say “Rock” or “Heavy Metal” or “Goth Metal”, although with the last one we are getting closer. None of those titles seem to imply or allow for the gorgeous emotion laden melodic passages that a song like “Everything Dies” contains. “Rock” just doesn’t fit them. I’ve heard their music described as melodic fantasy doom metal, and to be honest- that comes very close to describing the way that I experience their sound.
I can’t help but wonder what people who feed themselves a steady diet of modern rock/pop music would think if music started changing direction. What if instead of talking about the challenges of life, and clubs, and wanting to be millionaires, and ….. uh…… wait a second-what the fuck are any of them really talking about? What if instead of whatever it is that they are talking about now, they started shifting focus into songs that were more about adventure, life, fun, and magic? Would those people accept it? I can’t help but wonder what use those listeners would actually have for a song like Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy "the Silence” or Black Grape’s “In the name of the father” or Erasure’s “Chorus.” I suspect that for some time, they wouldn’t really understand or accept it. This is provides me with a pretty solid understanding of where my music fits, or it a lot of cases doesn’t fit in with modern music as a whole.
I have found new insight about what to tell people when they say “What kind of music do you make?” I make Adventure Rock. What is Adventure Rock? As its name implies- it is music that takes you some place. It invites you to go on an adventure. It might be about a girl, a dream, an event, a theory, a place, a person, or a magical wizard- but no matter what the subject matter- it is truly intended to exist as a place that you can venture off to. An adventure that you can have anytime you wish. An escape from reality if you so choose.
It’s not just the subject that makes it Adventure Rock. It is the way in which it’s presented. Melodically, it is intended to have an epic feel to it, even if the song is only 4 minutes in length. If Maroon 5 started singing about going on quests and adventures, but played the same kind of music- it just wouldn’t do the trick. Just thinking about that prospect sounds about as exciting as a plaid shirt. I want people to hear the wonder in the music. I want the listener to escape inside of the song, and keep some of the magical afterglow with them as they experience life. I want for them to find an emotional experience in a far off distant land, from the comfort of their home, car, or iPod. And if I’m writing about nostalgia, I don’t’ want them to simply remember what it was like to be young; I want them to go there. I want them to feel it.
This is Adventure Rock, and this is the music that I make. Watch the music video for “Sing Along” and you’ll get an idea. There is an adventure taking place. Specifically, you’re watching my adventures of many fun times over the first year of living in a brand new place, and having a multitude of brand new experiences. It was quite literally, an adventure. That magic and the essence of how amazing it felt was bottled up and poured into the song which encourages you to “Sing along to the music in your heart”. I conclude this adventure with “Unicorns and rainbows it’s a magical place, when you sing along to the music in your heart”. Am I wrong?
Peter Litvin is currently on an Adventure Rock album called “School”. He has vowed to make "twenty albums before I die". With the bar set very high by previous work (Corpse Smoke, Gypsy Kiss) Pete has a lot to live up to. But if "Love Spectacle" is any indication, Pete can live up to the challenge, and then some.