Sunday 24 January 2016

Rock 'n' roll is dead, 'cool uncle' Kevin Mathews retires, ageism lives

Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver.

Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead.

Natalie Cole.

David Bowie.

Drummer Dale “Buffin” Griffin of Mott The Hoople.

Glenn Frey of The Eagles.

Animal of Dr Teeth And The Electric Mayhem.

No, not Animal!

News of the manic drummer’s death last week was the biggest shock of all. He was reportedly only 66.

His last movie appearance was in Muppets: Most Wanted in 2014.

Co-star Fozzy Bear was quoted in the Waterford Whispers News as saying: “Although he had already been diagnosed with threadbaring syndrome, you would have never known he was sick.”

Animal’s death was also shocking because he was a Muppet.

I didn’t know Muppets can die.

I’m beginning to question the trustworthiness of this Waterford Whispers News.

But since it’s on the Internet, it must be true.

Still, as shocking as Animal’s passing was, after learning the news, I didn’t go to the toilet and cry.

Which was what local musician Kevin Mathews did after finding out about Bowie’s death two weeks ago.

Mathews, who is also a poly lecturer, told Yahoo! News: “I was teaching a class so I couldn’t react. The moment I got a break, I went to the toilet for a good cry.”

This is a 54-year-old man we’re talking about.

And he was bawling like a pubescent fan girl over Zayn Malik leaving One Direction.

Coincidentally (or not?), nine days after Bowie’s death, Mathews announced his retirement from performing and recording.

To explain his decision, the singer-songwriter, who had a big local hit with the ballad My One And Only as Watchmen in the early 90s, wrote in his blog:
“Since the late 80s, there have been numerous pronouncements of the death of rock ‘n’ roll. Each time, the prophets of doom have been proven wrong – the 1990s with the rise of Nirvana and the 2000s with the Strokes and the post-punk revival.

“I sincerely fear that 2016 might be the year that time is called on the former institution known as rock ‘n’ roll.

“Perhaps it is the death of David Bowie that has depressed me to such an extent that this doomsday scenario now becomes a reality.”
So according to Mathews, rock is dead. I blame Justin Bieber and tropical house.

Mathews also pointed to the lack of bands playing rock ‘n’ roll at the upcoming Laneway Festival on Saturday.

He wrote:
“This realisation has also aided in my decision to quit as a solo performer, whether live or in the studio – and focus on other aspects in my life.

“My main pre-occupation in music will be as a journalist and hopefully, as a curator and mentor. That is the only way I can see myself making a contribution.

“My music as a solo artist has no fucking significance whatsoever. Time to move on then.”
But the former lawyer also cited other factors that led to his decision in his heartbreaking Tumblr post:
“In the last three years, I have recorded and released two albums and one EP, which have been received with the law of diminishing returns.

“And even though I personally felt that Present Sense (the album I released last year) was the best I have ever done, the response has been abysmal — the worst ever experienced as a recording artist.

“In addition, the shows that I had put together to promote the album were also poorly attended.

“Not only that but when I tried to get the support of The Esplanade to support the album, they did not have any spot for me!

“Now, let that sink in — even The Esplanade — where every Tom, Dick and Harry has a chance to perform - were not interested to have me perform!

“I must admit that that really hurt.”
Well then, maybe he should form a band called Every Tom, Dick And Harry.

But as Mathews revealed, the ultimate career killer isn’t The Esplanade but ageism:
“When I reflect on this decision, I can see that it all started with a review of The Fast Colors’ performance where the reviewer described us as cool uncles that she wanted to kick out of the cool kids party.

“That ageist comment stung at the time, but I felt that it wasn’t true. Well, now I do believe that it’s time for this ‘cool uncle’ to leave the party once and for all.”
So basically, he’s retiring because someone called him “uncle” and it wasn’t his niece or nephew.

As someone turning 50 this year, I can relate. Next stop, “ah pek”-dom.

Ironically, Mathews’ hero, Bowie, who died of cancer at 69, worked right till the very end. Released two days before his passing, his new album Blackstar is topping the charts around the world.

Even in death, Bowie has a No. 1 hit.

I wonder if anyone ever called him “uncle”.

Death is said to be the great leveller, but clearly, some rock stars are more “level” than others.

Animal lives!

- Published in The New Paper, 24 January 2016