El Paso Music Scene

Paying Our Dues

The El Paso times wrote that musicians are hung up on bands paying their dues. They also loosely elaborate on how subjective these dues are. From what I gather paying dues is playing local bars until two in the morning and roughing it out on tour. They also state through interviews that having to work for what you have is respectful. All of these factors spell out what have been successful routes for El Paso born artists. Maybe local musicians remember the blood and sweat that led to the national recognition of At the Drive In and the spin offs thereof. That stigma of open wounds really leads to respect in this town. Even bands that don't find commercial success whore themselves at local clubs and hit the road with dirt in their pockets, their enthusiasm totally over-shadowing gas prices. It is an issue of experience. It is not an issue of how many endorsements a band can land or how many trade shows they can play. The goodies come later (or at least we feel they should.)

When the goodies and media come before experience we all throw our hands in the air and say, "What?" in high-pitched voices. Something feels fishy when endorsements come knocking at the door. The questions arise. Where did they get these goodies from, and why? Who do they know, who are they related to? Why them? Equality can factor itself in but the point in question is far more complex than simple envy.

So much for the subject pertaining to us. You all know who I'm talking about. It is obvious that it is Atomic Pink. They have been a target of mine for a while now. Only one thing leads to the criticism, exposure. Fair game. The girls should not be immune to the El Paso scene's harshness. By experience I know what it is to be slandered right and left. This is not about making them seem like fakes or not talented. It's not about being jealous or pissed about what they have. This is about how they are perceived by local musicians. They are a local band like the rest of us. Atomic Pink play shows with full energy, divide their lives for their craft, practice hard, and are passionate about what they do. We can all feel that. They are just an El Paso young band. I respect them for pushing more females into music. Once again, equality can factor itself in but the point in question is far more complex than simple envy. It is their PR (public relations).

We all know what happens to bands when the pressure builds and they have to live up to standards that are not their own. Some crumble under what is expected of them. I find that the media push through El Paso Times, Danny's Music Box, channel 26, and print media is hurting their reputation with their hometown and especially with local musicians. It is an issue of PR. Nationally they may strike a chord or three but here they will live with the stigma of being Danny's Babies or Danny's way out of horrible business. Everyone knows about the silver platter and possibly the prayers that led to the handing of it. This is not good. I believe they would have been better off gracing the stage with beat-up equipment and pawn shop guitars. They only damaged their personas like many a boy band. Of course they may sell a million records, but it is good to have a firm foundation in their hometown. Being low-key for a while would have helped them tremendously instead of promoting them as the next big thing. It sure does look far down there. The thoughts of Bubble Gum Pop, the Marshall deals, the silver platter, the Danny's links, and the yearlong updates from El Paso Times would not factor in as much if they had a different approach. I know I don't have the years of experience that their manager does, but it all seems so obvious why they are viewed in a bad light. They know it and their local respect needs to be justified. These handouts will stick to them, unfortunately. Atomic Pink will continue the play shows, rock hard (because they do), and write new material but it is going to be very difficult to band-aid how the early promotion placed them. It is their own doing. The parasite will be hard to burn. Locally, musicians will find their image hard to shake.

As for paying dues (wow, am I back on subject?) I still want to see the girls play area bars and clubs. McDaniel, their promo guru, stated that safety was an issue for the girls. That is another jab at people in the local spectrum. I don't think (though I'm not a spokesman for), the T-Lounge, HORR, Surges, Lucky Devils etc, etc, etc, would be very happy labeling their establishments as unsafe. Parents and Security Guards are allowed in bars and some shows begin early. The girls of Atomic Pink stated that "We would love to play anywhere, any time. We would be comfortable anywhere." It sounds like the girls know what they want. Is this a clash of management? We would love to see them perform for all of us. They are more talented than some local bands. Maybe instead of justifying why they don't play local clubs they can book a show at one and start this healing process. Heck, I have a few shows coming up that are not totally booked.

Of course, El Paso Times 7/3 was one of my sources. Keep up the good work and don't forget the rest of us in print.

- Nicholas Matta (Aux.78)

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