Threadless Says: "I Listen to Bands That Don't Even Exist Yet"

by Molly Kenney

Threadless’ new shirt is really clever, but I want one that says, “I listen to bands that you think are mainstream, trite, and completely devoid of innovation.” I’m not bitter. I’ve just been judged for my musical taste one too many times.

Hanging out with a decidedly emo crowd toward the end of my high school years first opened my eyes to the world of musical snobbery. A band was only cool enough if it was suitably obscure and tearfully melancholic. Devoted fans attended intimate concerts in tiny back-alley venues as unknown to the general public as the artists themselves. You were only as cool as your favorite band.

Musical tastes in the college atmosphere are even more specific and exclusive. Artists are defended like children, and music that does not speak to a higher truth or break new musical ground is discarded from the mind and the playlist.

I think I can appreciate innovation and genuine musical ability. I’m open-minded and willing to take risks in my musical exploration. But I like a rap song once and awhile. I have a little emo left on my playlist, a few ‘80s club songs, and Newfoundland folk music. I enjoy old classic rock, but I’m still discovering the best of it. I do love the ‘90s, and I am forever dedicated to Billy Joel. Is that so wrong? I don’t think so.

Recently my new job partner, in an effort to get to know me and to make conversation in the car, asked about my favorite band. I froze, preparing my defense. This is the moment of truth, I thought. Once he’s judged my music, he will have judged me. I took a deep breath and said, “You know. A little of everything. I know it when I hear it.” That was cool with him, but we agreed on a musical veto system just in case one of us played something pedestrian and tasteless.

(Evan Ferstenfeld is the designer of the Threadless t-shirt.)

(For an earlier take on Threadless, please see "Nude No More." And for those looking for more debate on music, please see "Music: The Best of 2007, So Far.")

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Rick Rockwell said...

Perhaps you'd like to check out the iVoryTowerz podcast, which has many of the musical qualifications you set out here and on top of that it isn't elitist.

For the latest podcast, you can find the playlist here and the program here. Enjoy!

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