When Rockers Become Whiners And Calculating Business Men

by Travis Mateer

The list of artists who have become wimps and whiners is long, like Trent Reznor, the guy who once sang I WANT TO FUCK YOU LIKE AN ANIMAL and, more recently, scored the soundtrack to a “cannibal love story” called Bones And All. You would think someone like this might be able to handle the “toxic” environment of Twitter under Elon Musk, but no. From the link (emphasis mine):

“I’m about to depart,” Reznor told the Hollywood Reporter about his plans for his Twitter usage. “We don’t need the arrogance of the billionaire class to feel like they can just come in and solve everything. Even without him involved, I just find that it has become such a toxic environment. For my mental health, I need to tune out. I don’t feel good being there anymore.” He then deactivated his Twitter account not long after.

Yes, the irony of Reznor complaining about a “toxic environment” is pretty impressive. It makes me think about other famous rockers who have tried to use their influence to help out struggling industries, like Neil Young doing his part for Big Pharma after Spotify upset the narrative controllers by featuring the VERY DANGEROUS podcaster, Joe Rogan. From the link:

If you had been forced to predict which blue-chip Canadian-American rock legend was going to suddenly pull their music off Spotify in protest at the streaming site hosting a far-right-friendly podcast that spreads medical misinformation, Neil Young would have been a very safe bet.

Here in Missoula I’ve been thinking about our own rocker-royalty, like the Hickey brother. Here’s some old, fawning coverage of these brothers from the Missoulian:

It’s been a wild ride for three brothers who’ve shaped the Missoula indie-rock scene

Even among the pantheon of legendary shows that took place at Jay’s Upstairs during the twilight years of the last century, one performance stands singularly for those lucky enough to have been there.

It was December 1999 when five local guys took the dark, cramped stage of Jay’s, under the name the Spiders From Mars. Several of those guys had played together in various short-lived bands before; and two – Shane and Bryan Hickey – were brothers.

But that one gig, put together more or less as a one-time stunt, would change the local indie-rock music scene for years to come.

It’s been 17 years since this article was published, so A LOT has changed, like the infamous venue, Jay’s Upstairs. Here’s a tweet that recently reminded me of that stanky gem of rocking:

So, what are the Hickey’s up to now? Well, one of ’em sits on the board of the Zootown Arts Community Center, where I’m currently renting a space (for a few more weeks). I think Colin made a smart move by “retiring” from booking shows, leaving that work to Nick Checota’s monopoly-esque hold on the local music scene. Did I mention that Checota helped the ZACC buy the building where I’m currently a tenant?

Another brother (Bryan) is the owner of Big Dipper, an ice cream shop currently getting some college newspaper scrutiny for how staff have been treated. Did Bryan close down his Higgins location because the youngsters were getting too uppity? After reading this excellent article, it’s hard to see it any other way. From the link:

Big Dipper is closing down its Higgins Avenue location for the winter for the first time since its opening 30 years ago. University of Montana student employees said the seasonal layoff caught them off guard.

According to names former employees shared with the Kaimin, at least eight UM students are losing their jobs. Some employees called the closure a calculated move in response to demands for better working conditions and a pay raise.

Big Dipper President Bryan Hickey declined to sit down with the Kaimin for an interview, but sent a statement. “This closure has no relationship to the recent concerns expressed by a small group of employees,” the statement said. “Big Dipper deeply values all of its employees.”

If there’s a lesson in any of this, maybe it’s for the fans of rock and rollers to be more discerning in the favor they bestow on the fallible humans who make the music they love, especially when those humans abandon the rebellious pretenses of their youth for typical money/status considerations.

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Thanks for reading!

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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