Dad Rock / The Flat-Pluto Society of Heavy Music

I am a 59-year-old East Indian male who works and plays in the space of mathematics. I have written three books on the subject. In a few months, my fourth book will be done. It’s not a math book. In fact, this book will, in all likelihood, put me in rarefied air.

Words: Sunil Singh

I might be the first person to have written in-depth books on both mathematics and rock music.

Yeah. That probably wasn’t on anyone’s Bingo card in 2023–a brown-skinned, tattoo-less Boomer writing what might be the most expansive and unifying book on the idea of “heaviness” in music. And no, it’s not restricted to the velocity and volume of the music. And it is certainly not restricted to any time period. In fact, it is pretty much up to date.

Jeff Woods, who I am deeply honoured to have written the foreword for Sonic Seducer, has interviewed so many of our great rock musicians and bands – Jimmy Page, David Bowie, Rush, Metallica, Pearl Jam, etc. His knowledge and storytelling capabilities of rock music are legendary, and his promotion of local artists makes him even more unique.

JJ Koczan, who has written the first review, is one of the most knowledgeable people on the planet in the realm of obscure ’70s and stoner/desert/doom rock. He is the “Gandalf” of this world and spreads his boundless wisdom at The Obelisk.

Jeff Woods Radio
Jeff Woods Radio

I could not have asked for two more passionate, gracious and kind personalities to grace this book. They truly are lifelong students of rock music, each professing the importance that both the past and the present must be honoured and constantly be updated and connected.

I had to lay some foundation before I went into my rant. Yes. That is what it is. I usually save my rants for math education, but there are also plenty of constipated ideas in rock music. The biggest culprit has to be the unflattering genre of “Dad Rock”.

Now, the irony here is that lots of great music is housed here. Most of classic ’70s rock, for example. I said most. If you go by the quality of the music and not popularity, lots of great bands are left off that list, such as Atomic Rooster, Buffalo, Cactus, Dust, Horse and Granicus.

So, the genre of Dad Rock is more about rock music which was popular. Oh, and being permanently stuck there, refusing to acknowledge that rock music didn’t die in your generation. I don’t care if you are 20, 40, 60, or 80. You don’t get to control the narrative and bring your learning of new music to a grinding halt.

You don’t get to deal with being incurious and constipated as valuable currency. If anything, you become a poster child for Alvin Toffler’s book Future Shock (1970).

Alvin Toffler -  Future Shock
Alvin Toffler – Future Shock

Dad Rock is more of a calcified mindset akin to sticking your head in the sand and then, invariably, talking out of your ass that being on a boat cruise with Poison is some pinnacle of rock ‘n’ roll. Now, I loved many of the hair bands of that time – L.A. Guns, Tora Tora, Cinderella, etc., But the only band I truly listen to now from that time period is L.A. Guns. That band is a grateful anomaly in the general static state of Dad Rock.

In 2023, it’s ridiculously cringy. I would, and I am being serious, rather listen to Taylor Swift than be in the hell of a 24/7 high school reunion of Dad Rock. Because there will always be at least one person who will say the inevitable asinine comment of “rock music isn’t as good as it once was.”

Charlie Brown
Charlie Brown

Which brings us to “Pluto”.

That Rocks!
That Rocks!

If you go by the above image, arms-crossed dudes, imposing font, exclamation mark, and the words “hard rock” and “Metal” clearly visible, you would think that this show has the possibility of being on the edge of something.

Uh, no.

It’s false advertising. If the show could be turned into a drinking game, every time Eddie Trunk mentions he is friends with rock stars he knows or the name Brett Michaels (Poison) comes up, I would be hospitalized with alcohol poisoning.

Now, if you want to go down memory lane of Sunset Strip in the ’80s or have debates on whether Ozzy will get back on stage, that is perfectly fine. The problem is that you market the show with ostensible muscle and teeth to imply you are going to cover the universe of hard rock and Metal.

You’re not.

You are not only neglecting the entire galaxy of desert/stoner/doom rock. You are being passively xenophobic by only focusing on music from the United States and the United Kingdom. My playlist contains bands from Sweden, Norway, Italy, Greece, and Argentina and has for more than two decades. Read the last two words again.

And, completely forget about talking about female-fronted bands. None of the three hosts of the show would have a clue who even Acid King, Windhand, or Ruby The Hatchet might be. All three of these bands are light-years better than whatever Kip Winger is up to.

Again, I am roughly the same age as Florentine, Trunk, and Jamieson. When the hell did your balls shrink, and you decided that Hair bands and ’70s/’80s Metal is where the Canon of hard music documentation should end? Are you even aware of High On Fire?

If Dad Rock is Pluto, then High On Fire is Jupiter with the heat of Mercury.

The last show I saw was Ruby The Hatchet at the end of May. I have been going to shows for six decades now, and what RTH did to me in just under an hour was as intoxicating as any of the hundreds of shows I had seen up until then. In fact, the photo below of Jillian Taylor sums up the wild, feral, and inclusive energy of today’s rock ‘n’ roll.

Today’s. It’s time for those stuck on planet Dad Rock to board the next rocket to a celestial body of rock music that isn’t dead.

Ruby The Hatchet - Lee's Palace, Toronto - 31 May 2023
Ruby The Hatchet – Lee’s Palace, Toronto – 31 May 2023. Photo: Melanie Webster/MetalTalk

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