You can’t stop rock’n’roll

You can’t stop rock’n’roll – classic words from Twisted Sister dated 1983.

Rock has managed to rediscover and reinvent itself, I see it everywhere I go.
At least here in Sweden it’s very evident. And it’s such a relief, cause I still remember the identity crisis that rock’n’roll went through in the mid- and late 90’s.

I came home to Sweden after having lived in NY for a year and was bummed that there were no rock-clubs anywhere. It was The Great Rock’n’Roll Depression if you ask me – the post-Nirvana and pre-nothing period.

The golden era of rock died over night. They all just disappeared – all those bands who sold out arenas worldwide, had those huge over-the-top stage-productions, topped the Billboard-list…
It was the exclusive time when hard rock actually had its own show on MTV (remember MTV when it actually WAS Music-TV??).

Europe had Headbanger’s Ball with Vanessa Warwick. The US had Headbanger’s Ball with Adam Curry and later Riki Rachtman. I loved that era. You can laugh about the hair, the spandex, the glitter and the lipstick today, but rock’n’roll was alive and kicking!

Then came Nirvana and everything just went downhill. I’m sure there are people out there who beg to differ, but that’s my humble opinion.

Rock clubs closed, there was nothing nowhere… Rockers cut their hair and stayed at home in their flannel shirts being depressed.

It was a nightmare.

Something had to change, and eventhough you can’t change everything – you can always change something.
I decided to do something about it.

I wrote to my favorite nightclub at the time, Heartbreak Hotel, and tried to convince them to open a hard rock club.

To make it easier for them, I included a bunch of ideas, probably two pages full of brainstorming – and sent it to the owner. He called me the next day and next thing I know, I was in charge of the rock club Hard Break at Heartbreak.That hadn’t been my plan, I just wanted a place to go to, not run it, but what the hell – I took on the challenge.

On the day of the premiere there was no doubt that people had been STARVING for rock’n’roll! The owner couldn’t believe it – he had been struggling to stay in business and figured that my idea at least couldn’t make things any worse

The opening night of Hard Break – there were people lining up, rockers as far as the eye could see! People couldn’t even get in – an hour or two after we had opened the doors it was already crowded! A club with a 800-guests capacity, nobody really believed me when I said that it would work.
I knew it would.

Rockers didn’t just suddenly stop loving their music. They just didn’t have anywhere to go. It felt good to prove everybody wrong – rock’n’roll was very much alive, it was just hidden, surpressed and temporarily beaten.
But you can’t stop rock’n’roll – it’s an undefeatable force!

This clip is from a TV-interview after the premiere of Hard Break:

 

Things have changed a lot since then. When I look around now, there are rock clubs and rock pubs/bars on every corner. You can even choose your particular niche – from AOR to death metal. Take a pick. It’s all there.

Even fashion is now rock’n’roll. The catwalks are hailing black clothes, chains and studs. Shoes are cool again, high heels, straps, studs, just very metal in general. Hard rock is “okay” now. It’s the first time in 30 years I think, that I can say that rock has finally been accepted.

Since Finnish rockers Lordi won the Eurovision Song Contest with “Hard Rock Hallelujah” a few years ago, you suddenly have rockers competing in mainstream music competitions (such as the Eurovision), which was totally unheard of ten years ago.

Hard rock never really died. It was more like a sleeping grizzly in its den. And it’s just such a kick to see it back on track with full force!

Bands are out touring again, clubs are up and running, rock radio is getting just as many listeners as regular mainstream stations. Years ago people would have laughed and said that that could never happen. They had another thing comin’…!

7 comments

  1. Ronnie Soo

    I think you know by now that I most certainly do *not* beg to differ on that one! :DThe owners of our local rock clubs weren’t exactly the listening kind, but the one that was around then is still around today – just that it caters for a clientele that is less than half my age! Although to be fair, during the days of nu-metal, they got more popular if anything. But yeah, I saw the demise firsthand in the 1990s when everybody suddenly wore flannel and glam was out. People stopped going out – I did, although that might also have had something to do with my job working shifts at the time (!)But the thing I resented more than anything about that time was not that Grunge et al was the ‘in thing’, but that you were expected to just forget about anything that came before ‘year zero’ (Kerrang’s term, not mine for 1991). Unless of course, it was Black Sabbath! It was around then that it became clear to me that it wasn’t important how good a band was, it was how ‘cool’ they were – or at least if they could be sold to ‘the kids’ as cool. It still bugs me today (let it go!!!) because there were plenty of great bands who had the rug pulled from under them by the Grunge thing. Thunder were one of them and so were Skin, both by rights should be living in mansions in LA today, but were criminally overlooked throughout the 1990s for not fitting in with the prevailing trends. Even the Coverdale/Page collaboration was not immune, it’s amazing to think nobody wanted to put that act on tour apart from Japan.Rant aside, it’s both amusing and gratifying to see that ‘Forevermore’ is trouncing Britney’s new effort in advance sales orders! :D

  2. Daniela

    “Year zero” – I love that one! I could’t agree more with everything you said actually. Skin was a really great surprise (damn brave to open for Mr Big and do an ACOUSTIC gig! Kudos to them for that!). Yeah, the 90’s was a depressing period, so many rockers thought that rock was dead – they cut their hair and started recording fucking John Cougar Mellencamp-records…. A total identity crisis. I’m just glad that it all came back and that things are back to normal. Well – pretty much. :) Thumbs up to Coverdale for what he’s accomplished in this business throughout his career (respect to a man who can kick the shit out of “modern” acts still – after so many years!).

  3. Ronnie Soo

    The internet has had a lot to do with the revival, especially since a) musicians can now communicate directly with fans and in a lot of cases, found they still have an audience (despite what their labels were probably telling them!) and b) like-minded people spread far and wide can do the same! Yeah I know there used to be pen pals, tape-traders and such like but it was very much small-scale, not now! Sod piracy – that’s why record labels didn’t like the internet; it took away their control, they couldn’t tell us what we should be liking any more! As regards things being back, pretty much, it’s actually Scandinavia – your part of the world – that is the place to be for rock now! Some great bands have come from the Nordic countries in recent years and long may it continue, since this country is still obsessed with ‘indie’ (whatever that is, nowadays!) :)

  4. Daniela

    Indie is more mainstream than mainstream now – it’s ridiculous. The internet has certainly stirred things up quite a bit, changed the music world as we knew it, forever. I was watching an interview with sir Bob Geldof about that just the other day actually – a very insightful interview that will be in this blog very soon. He is an intelligent man with interesting views and he sees things very clearly. One of the things he said though was that when music becomes too easy to get, you don’t appreciate it as much. He has a point. I will post that interview tomorrow. I think you’ll find it interesting.

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