Indie And Alternative Music, What Is It
Everybody wants to label everything. The arts are the worst offenders of this propensity with virtually everything being categorized into time and style labels. This is none more true than in "pop" music (you see there is the label right there, can't get around it). This can be especially frustrating when trying to categorize something that you feel can't be categorized; is it Indie and Alternative music, or is it mainstream.
When I think of Indie music I think of a band jamming away in the garage. That is it - a band! Not a bunch of producers looking for the "Next Big Thing." The Beatles were like that, playing seven hour gigs in Hamburg, Germany. They were poor and had inexpensive instruments. The Beatles roomed in cheap hotels and to a large extent blared out the tunes of their Rock n Roll idols and a few original songs. Of course we know what happened to them - they went mainstream. Some would blame Brian Epstein for that, but it is not like the four Beatles themselves didn't want that because they most assuredly did.
When you think of the sixties you have to think that the whole rock music scene was Indie because it was so counter-culture. Of course that was the business of the counter-culture; to make sure everyone that was buying believed that they were buying the counter-culture and not Madison Ave. To a great extent they were buying and participating in the genuine article. Maybe that was true Indie music.
Then the first golden era of the producer came along and demolished that which was good. Out were trotted the sound-alike slick corporate bands. To be sure some of them sounded amazing; I like the band Boston for instance. The Punk era of the mid 1970's demolished the demolishers in a brazen even at times bazaar release of anti-establishment energy. Then those bands broke up and died, few if any went mainstream unlike their close cousins "New-Wave."
Those bands became popular and a battle then raged between "New-Wave" and the overly produced, but kind of fun, Disco. Hair Metal and Glam also participated in the second great era of the producer. Finally, and some would say thankfully, that gave way to the "Alternative" rock sound ensconced by bands such as Nirvana, Jane's Addiction, or Jesus and Mary Chain. They were the new Indie until what was good became destroyed by the lure of money and lack of talent. Pseudo "alternative" grunge bands suddenly appeared and took the beautiful landscape of seething musicians twisting it into a sonic conformity that inspired such large selling yet forgettable bands such as "Stone Temple Pilots."