It’s a Sad Day Today

Yesterday I learned that New Jersey Pop Punk outfit The Measure SA called it a day. According to a punknews.org article Laura Measure stated:

After a number of lineup changes, the Measure increasingly became Fid and I finding ways to continue making music together. For a while, that was working, but this Fall I made the decision that I can’t continue with the band. There were a lot of personal reasons behind that and I realized that my heart just wasn’t in the project anymore. It’s not fair to anyone to try to keep going after that, especially when you’re expected to tour and write music and play shows and look like you’re having a good time. As far as parting ways goes, it’s a fairly amicable event and I’m glad that we’re ending the band on good terms and as friends.

We started the band when I was 20, and if you had told me then that I would get to travel around the country, put out over 18 records and play with some of my favorite bands because of it, I’d think you were out of your mind. It’s been a great privilege and I hope those experiences don’t end here. Fid and I will certainly be putting out music in other bands soon, so stay tuned.

The Measure (SA) felt to me like one of those honest, modest, hard-working bands that had a creative aesthetic to their presentation that made them unique from the heard of pop punk bands, especially those from New Jersey. Not all their songs were great, but most of them were pretty gosh darn good. They always sounded great and usually out did any band they shared a split with.

I found this even more upsetting after coming across Nervous Energies which currently features five home-made videos of Against Me! playing through 5 songs from their full length discography. That the world is absent of The Measure (SA) and somehow allows Against Me! to still exist, just doesn’t feel right to me. I know, the Against Me! bashing is so old and ridiculous and unbecoming of a 33-year-old single dude that actually still cares about punk rock. But it’s not the major label-ness of Against Me! that ever irked my nerves. It was that it clearly coincided with a lack of energy and creativity in their music. The performances found at Nervous Energies of their songs from Reinventing Axel Rose and The Eternal Cowboy show a very rusty band. It’s clear from these videos that these songs, “I Still Love You Julie” and “T.S.R.” are underperformed by the band.

I am one of those assholes who saw Against Me back in the day. Not quite the basement days, but certainly the church hall days, when they were popular enough to draw 150 kids or so and everyone had a good time. They were an incredible band to see. When they signed to Fat and The Eternal Cowboy came out I was stoked. That record was pretty fucking awesome. But even before Sire, that band lost the spark, lost the magic, lost the meaning. It got to the point where Tom Gabel even renounced his political fever of his youth. I once compared this band to The Clash, and I wish now that I could take that back. The Clash were always on a major label and were a force to be reckoned with. They did immeasurable awesome shit, including a 12 night stand at The Bond in down town Manhattan. I have a recording of one of those shows. It’s mind-blowing. Their set at Shea Stadium opening for the Who is  unreal. I thought this was the course for Against Me; that they would be bigger than the bullshit and still rock.

Searching For A Former Clarity was a telling title, because that album was in search of a band that would no longer be. It had some good moments, but suddenly it seemed like the poetry got lost in Gabel’s head. More than the music, the lyrics on that album were really disappointing, the reflection of a writer with writer’s block. It was just an okay album, a misstep perhaps. But by the time New Wave came out, I was convinced this band was done. I had hoped for a raging release of furry and ire, instead it was a mid-range rock album, more akin to Tom Petty.

Seeing these video’s yesterday was really painful. I don’t believe that Against Me turned their backs on their roots or fans intentionally. In fact their supporters did a good damn job of doing that, to a degree that is despicable. I think the band took that personally and somehow, that transformed their energy. I don’t know what happened exactly. But honestly, after hearing the bad news about The Measure (SA) breaking up, I wish it was Against Me! That sounds so mean to say, it’s a really stupid thing for a supposed rock critic to suggest really. Why should one bands demise reflect on the continued existence of another. But I want passionate art. I want art that is made with craft and care and that comes from an unbridled energy. Against Me! used to tap into this beautiful rage, and now they just wallow in dissatisfaction. Their own regard for their old material is the evidence of this. It’s not something I want to see out of any band, whether I like them or not. Any musician’s career, big or small should be an upward trajectory, where the raw excitement of the beginnings feeds into a creative understanding of the complexities and art that follows. It should be linear, and somewhere, for Against Me, that line broke up.

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2 thoughts on “It’s a Sad Day Today

  1. an interesting rant — and I agree with some of your AM! assessment (esp. the backlash affecting them & their energy – an underated part of the story IMO). I also think there was an unnatural set of expectations put on AM! super early (that a band like the Clash in the pre-internet days never had to deal with).

    but this post begs an interesting question IMO:

    as someone who’s never really gotten into the Measure’s music (I respect the drive with which they make it & I hear nothing but great thingss about the folks in the band, etc) would I rather have a band who’s music you like still out there swinging for the fences (AM!) or a band who’s music you don’t like much (M-SA for me) but who “does it the right way”?

    i’m torn. On one hand i think having bands like M-SA doing it right gives an example for other bands & raises the bar, right? OTOH, by breaking up it means they might start other bands that I’ll like more — that might also do it The Right Way ™. Personally I’m sad for M-SA since breaking up seems like it would always suck in some ways — but excited for the individual members getting to do something new (and maybe even something “better”).

  2. That is an interesting question Mr. Swamps. I’m not sure that there is a right way. I was actually pretty excited that AM! signed with Sire and was working with Vig when it was announced, because I thought they were going to swing for the fences. But despite what mainstream media said about NEW WAVE, that album just sounded like a band that was tired of fighting. In fact, what really irked me about that album was that when Ben Lee released his total album cover of the record, it showed that the song writing was still really good, but that the performance was lacking the energy I spoke about. I agree that they did have a lot more stacked against them (no pun intended) and the expectations were a lot higher. And I can’t say that there reaction to the backlash surprises me. I just wish they had risen above the haters instead of stooping down to that level.

    But I agree, sometimes the Against Me’s of the world are important. I honestly don’t begrudge those guys for trying to reach a wider audience. I don’t know an artist in the world that doesn’t want to be heard. Art making is partly narcissistic and anyone who believes otherwise is fooling themselves.

    So for me, the M-SA did it the right way, simply because they did try to swing for the fences every time. They were not always successful, and sometimes I believe they should have pulled back on the quantity of song they let out in the public.

    And I will admit, part of my sadness is I feel like they were a band on the cusp, about to break into that next level. I think rock and roll needs strong lady figures en-mass like Laura Measure, so to see that band get bigger was a long over do in my opinion.

    I am excited by what comes next for them though. And I do hope for something bigger and better for Fid and Laura. I’ve never met them, but they seem like great, hardworking folks and certainly deserve the accolades.

    Thanks man for reading and commenting. It means a lot to me. I like the dialog.

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