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.
I spent the last week traveling from the coast of New England to the heart of the midwest and back again, all while packed in a tiny rental car with my fiancé and our two overweight cats. It was the kind of travel situation you might expect to find in a holiday road trip comedy, with people and animals fighting to be comfortable around a growing pile of luggage, snacks, phone chargers, and empty bags of greasy fast-food. We have made a similar trip every year for the last four years, but for whatever reason the 14-hour drive (each way) has only grown more frustrating in time. I initially thought this was due to the fact that upstate New York is a rather boring place to look at, which is inarguably true, but on our return journey this past weekend I realized that my inability to deal with the length of the journey might also have something to do with my age.
28 is a lot closer to 30 than anyone who is 28 would like to believe, and it comes with a new world view that challenges things you have accepted as absolute truths up to this point in life. In the time since my last birthday I have had several panic attacks over my role in life, both from a professional and personal standpoint, as well as a near constant state of anxiety over what the future may hold. I have had to come to terms with the fact I am moving further and further away from the target market of the genre(s) and bands that first got me interested in music, as well as how that evolution has impacted the things I do within my role as a music professional. I can remember a time when Warped Tour was what my summer revolved around, but now I groan at the idea of spending another 100+ degree day standing in an overcrowded amphitheater parking lot to watch bands perform what typically amounts to a 25-minute greatest hits set. I also used to go to basement shows, but anytime I see them advertised now I (somewhat ridiculously) believe the audience such events draw would probably look at me as if I were a chauffeur for someone younger. These thoughts are frustrating for someone who has dedicated their life to alternative music, but they are thoughts anyone in this scene will face as the grow older.
While I have yet to fully understand where I am destined to go from this point in life, I have learned to cherish the alternative scene in a way I never could before, especially when it comes to discovering new talent. What brings me peace in these often hectic times is knowing there are young artists and professionals who are breaking their backs to ensure the fun and communal aspects of alternative music continue to exist. If there is one thing I want for my children, as well as any future music fan, it’s the ability to know and experience the carefree state of mind that comes with connecting to alternative music. Be it through headphones or a crowded venue, there is a spirit found within alternative music that makes it easier for people to reveal their true selves to the world around them, and sometimes I worry that as my generation begins to age that aspect of the scene will be lost.
ROAM, a pop punk band hailing from the UK, are one of the driving forces behind my faith in the future of alternative music. Their sound is born from a deep love of mid-2000s punk, as well as a desire to leave their own mark on a world of music they themselves would be lost without. They understand that music is bigger than themselves, and while they write from their perspective there is an inviting aspect to their material that welcomes all walks of life in need of motivation to face another day. When ROAM plays, you feel their desire to succeed with every strum of a guitar and every line sung (or in some cases, screamed). You become lost in their sound, remembering the way you felt the first time you heard punk music, and you’re overcome with the desire to somehow make that sensation last forever.
In January, ROAM will release their debut full-length LP for Hopeless Records. We at Haulix were fortunate enough to receive an advance stream of the record, which is titled Backbone (out 1/22), near the beginning of December. I cannot tell you how many times the album has played on repeat since it first hit our inbox, but suffice to say it is easily the most streamed release of the last four weeks by a wide margin. Our company is comprised of people on the verge of 30 and 40, but when Backbone plays we are collectively pulled back to those awkward teen years spent doing everything we could to discover who we were meant to become. The album speaks to the desire to be the best version of yourself, as well as the struggles one faces when trying to break away from the person others have always thought them to be. ROAM appreciate how hard bettering yourself can be, and they have created a soundtrack to promote self-realization that carries a punk edge so infectious that I personally believe no one will be able to resist its charm.
I may still be months or even years away from fully understanding my role in alternative music as an older person, but as long as bands like ROAM exist I can live knowing the type of music that made me dedicate my life to this business is still being created. More importantly, it’s being made in such a way that it draws in an untold number of new music fans, each of whom will contribute to the diversity and community found within alternative music in ways that cannot even begin to predict. As far as I am concerned, ROAM is the sound of the future, and the future sounds great. Knowing this, I am able to stop worrying so much about the state of alternative music and focus instead on helping others navigate this crazy business. That is what I am here to do, and thanks to ROAM I have a soundtrack to motivate me day in and day out. They can be a soundtrack for you as well, if you give them a chance.
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.