Monday, April 11, 2011

Your Scene Sucks - A Declaration of Independence

By Tim Boykin

The two most important things in my life continue to be music and counterculture. You already know what music is, but I think counterculture (as I understand it) probably needs defining. It's very simple; the establishment, or status quo, is ALWAYS WRONG. It exists solely to set stifling parameters on life and culture. So a 'hipster' or 'scenester' for me is defined not in that they dress a certain way, or have a certain style of music they prefer, but rather that they are pretty much pathologically, and en masse, doing it in a "paint by numbers" way, and for all the wrong reasons (presumably to further and protect their own social and/or economic status). Somebody else has hit on a successful or recognized formula, and so now the scene police move in to make sure that if YOU don't do it that way, you risk being ostracized and shunned. The scene police are my eternal foes, because they are the enemies of creativity and growth. Without creativity and growth, we stagnate and die. The only sensible, healthy response to this is to revolt, to defy. You wouldn't eat a pound of arsenic would ya? Me neither.

Hipsterism has reared its ugly head throughout history, from the Salons of Paris in the late 19th century to hardcore punk in the 1980s, up to the so-called 'indie rock' establishment. I remember as a kid in the early 80s really feeling energized by what was happening with the emerging American hardcore scene. It was a wide open frontier. All the bands looked and sounded different. The only constant seemed to be rejection of adhering to any format that might have been established by the first wave of punk bands from a few years before. But by the mid 80s, it happened; hardcore had become cut-and-dried, paint-by-numbers.....established. If you wanted to be accepted by 'the scene,' you had to do A., B., and C., etc., or you were OUT. Where had the the rebellion gone, the creative fire? My response was to hoist the ol' one fingered salute.

Which brings us to now. I don't care what you're into. You might be a crust kid. That's cool. You might love death metal. Me too. But I'm inspired by everything from grindcore to honky tonk to jazz to electro to stuff across the entire spectrum to stuff that doesn't even exist because I haven't come up with it yet. I am open to divergent, nonlinear, non-mainstream ideas. But I will not reshape anything I'm doing to adhere to a pre-defined, one-dimensional concept of what any scene thinks I ought to be doing.

Tim Boykin is a Birmingham-based guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, and teacher.  An active member of the local music scene for the past 30 years, Tim currently performs with the bands Throng of Shoggoths, Tim Boykin Blues Band, MP4, and SharBaby, among others.  He teaches guitar at Highland Music on Clairmont Avenue.


  1. As always, Tim articulates his reflections and opinions with style and profession, wit and clarity. . . .as he does so well with his guitar, performance, song-writing, and true, experienced, pioneer and leader of the Birmingham music scene. Tim is the real deal. And he doesn't give a shit.

    Rock on, my brother