What Happened to Good Ol’ Fashioned Rock N Roll?
Recently the Gusto Project had the privilege of interviewing the gifted up and coming band Scarlotte Will. In this interview the overall depth of the band was discussed as they told us about their creative process as a team and the meaning behind some of their songs, even their quirky Band Name.
As the band discussed how they moved from Scarlet Hill to Scarlotte Will because the former was taken and over-used and told us how they thought a different spelling to the word ‘Scarlet’ would “be different”, a thought came to mind. The thought? Does modern rock and roll, especially in the South African context, still leave any room for blatant truth anymore? Or is everything made to sound cool, deep or “different”.
As a lover of classic rock, I fell in love with the rock where people were literally screaming their truth from the rooftops as if telling it was as essential to them as breathing. I remember rock being the bastard child of the music industry, the unwanted black sheep as the words were too blunt and real. A perfect personification of a rebellious era. We were rebels and rock was our secret anthem. There are no formalities to rock, no fillers or filters. There is only rock n roll. There was no deciphering or pondering to this music. You were either rocking or you weren’t. You got it or you didn’t, you were in or out. In the words of
ACDC, “Rock N Roll ain’t no middle man…to me it makes good good sense.”
While we were busy complaining that Rock was dying in the world and mostly in SA, Rock N Roll wasn’t dying it was…changing. Bands like Scarlotte Will are a testament to that. At first glance Scarlotte Will may look like the usual uncut and raw rock band: with their long hair, skinny jeans and vintage hipster beards. However, their sound takes you into a completely different direction. Their music is not loud and invasive and this may just be a good thing. Their Message is not Sex Drugs and More Rock N Roll. No…their songs are, in the words of the bands lead Vocalist, Tristan, “Personal”.
Even their method is different, they don’t see themselves as a drum n’ bass band but have adopted different sounds and unique methods in their music that remind an exposed ear of Kings of Leon during their transition period. Their songs have more than one meaning and leave the listener guessing as to what it is, and them adding their own meaning to it. This should be the purpose of music, to mean something and to touch people in weird and ethereal ways. And even though Rock N Roll is a law on its own, it is still essentially music. Music is not just for hearing, it’s for understanding.
They are not a tribute to old school rock n roll, but they are part of a different type of it. One can agree that a country as diverse and changing like South Africa needs its own brand of Rock N Roll with its own voice. For this to happen we need to, at times, break away from Traditional rock. Scarlotte Will is an acquired taste, but one definitely worth acquiring. Their songs have soul and that is something that is definitely missing in South African music as a whole, not just the rock genre.
Bands like Fall Out Boy may have thought it was time to ‘Save Rock N Roll’, but maybe Rock doesn’t need saving because it has become an uncontrollable life and force of its own that doesn’t follow trends or guidelines.
Perhaps rock is not dead, but it’s taken many different life forms, such as the form of Scarlotte Will. Rock is living and living things change, it’s called growth. Scarlotte Will is a unique part of that, and we’re excited to see how far they’ll stretch these parameters. Isn’t it about time we got to be the generation that deciphered rock songs instead of just head butting to them.
If Rock is about not listening to the ‘Man’ and breaking the rules, then shouldn’t we be allowed to break the rules of rock as well?
We can’t wait for Scarlotte Will to let us, as the title of their EP suggests, see “The Things Unseen.”