If you’re anything like me, you probably started the day by recognizing that the start of a new work week had indeed arrived and then immediately began shaking your fists at the sky in anger. Monday is rarely anyone’s favorite day, and from what I have seen firsthand it feels safe to say it’s the one day of the week some people outright hate. I guess to them the arrival of the work week symbolizes the end of their quote/unquote freedom, and as a result they head into the office/factory/restaurant/store with a negative outlook already on their mind. This leads to bad attitudes, which only makes the experience of being at work worse, and for some reason it also seems to make time slow to a crawl. We’re not about that life, and we hope this post can do the same you that the song contained within it did for us.
There is a quote from H.L. Mencken that I have kept on the wall in my office for the better part of the last half decade. It reads:
“Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”
I could spend several minutes and paragraphs exploring the history of the black flag and its use in counter-culture proclamations against perceived acts of tyranny throughout time, but suffice to say it’s a symbol intended to send a message that a person, group, or community are no longer willing to sit idly by while corruption and wrongdoing continue to thrive. If there is anything we in the alternative music community have learned in 2015 it’s that no one has the right to say they have no place in the battle for a safe, welcoming scene. Between the rampant accusations of sexual misconduct, the low payout artists receive from streaming services, the rise of crimes against bands on the road, and the ever-present, albeit rarely discussed division that exists between various sub-groups of kids who claim to belong in this scene, there has never been a more urgent time for people to speak up, be active, and in other words fight for the community they claim to love.
This isn’t just a message to you, the reader, but also one to myself. I think it’s entirely possible for anyone to get caught in a routine of subpar living because we think we lack the power to drive substantial change,and it often isn’t until an outside forces tells us otherwise that we begin to believe in ourselves. If you feel the same, don’t worry. It’s normal. Too normal, in fact, and that is why it’s important to remain aware of your surroundings at all times. It doesn’t take long to find some corner of alternative music where controversy or problems exist, but it’s almost impossible to find anyone taking it upon themselves to inspire meaning change. It seems everyone wants to be the person who yells “Fire,” but no one wants to grab an extinguisher, and if that trend continues it won’t be long before we no longer have a scene at all.
Stray From The Path have long been a band who wore their opinions and hearts on their sleeve(s). They may have started out as any other unknown hardcore band from Long Island does, clawing and fighting for any piece of publicity they received, but over their last two releases it has become increasingly clear this band has undergone a change that made them something akin to a modern day Rage Against The Machine. I’m not saying they have the same sound or technical prowess of that group, but the reason for their existence, as well as the reason they continue to grow from release to release, seems to revolve almost entirely around the fact they say what others are afraid to even acknowledge. In a time where it seems most artists would rather write about the same three or four topics that have always been a selling point for alternative music than risk being seen as controversial, Stray From The Path are breaking down walls and shoving a fat middle finger in the face of anyone who says they are out of line. Their music is about awareness over sales, and it’s because of their diehard dedication to seeing improvement from the community, as well as the individuals who populate it, that I knew they had to be featured in one of our Motivation Monday posts.
The new Stray From The Path Album, Subliminal Criminals, finds the band being outspoken as ever as they tackle everything from the rise of sexual assault within music, to the misguided complaints of those experiencing ‘first world problems.’ It’s a chaotic and heart-pounding listening experience that can and will inspire you to fight for change in your own life. It’s the kind of record that could provide the soundtrack to the day you finally take a gamble on the lifelong dream you’ve kept a secret from your friends and family, or it could be the score to the day you kick the ass of the bully who has been making fun of you or people you know due to sexual preference. Whatever the case, it will motivate you to make a positive change in the world around you, and in my opinion there could be no better sign of a great record. If you agree, click here and pre-order a copy of Subliminal Criminals today!
James Shotwell is the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. He is also a professional entertainment critic, covering both film and music, as well as the co-founder of Antique Records. Feel free to tell him you love or hate the article above by connecting with him on Twitter. Bonus points if you introduce yourself by sharing your favorite Simpsons character.