Indie music has a long and respected history in the music industry. While other types of bands are trampling over themselves trying to score big record deals with the head honchos, Indie music bands prefer a more autonomous, laid back and less glamorous disposition. Indie pop or rock music dates back to the 1960’s when the first authentic Indie artists combined rock, pop and a small amount of R & B musicals sounds to create the much loved and admire Indie music as we know it today.
Indie pop’s name says it all, as it derived from the term `independence’ and the musicians that performed it were just that. Indie bands consisted of members that wanted to make a certain kind of music, put out by smaller labels and were afford creative expression that was usually doused in traditional music.
The 1960’s were a desperate and erratic time, with the war pending and many people were seeking love, peace and sanctity. Indie music was derived as a way to call out to all people and encourage them to love one another in a time of uncertainty. For the most part, it was successful as millions around the globe embraced the sultry and honest lyrics that usually had some kind of message about anti-war, loving your neighbor and all around feel good nuances.
One of the first Indie bands that got much acclaim was Velvet Underground. For the true Indie musician, record sales are not the pivotal focal point, and no one knew that better than this groundbreaking band, which was once managed by the late and great Andy Warhol. Those their commercial success was nothing to be impressed with by today’s standards, Velvet Underground was fearless and broke many terrains in the music industry; their first album was cited as being the most prolific ever recorded by Rolling Stones magazine in 1967.
Throughout the years, as with other genres, Indie pop music say a mirage of changes in tone, style and management, but never lost complete sight of what it set out to do which was to united true music fans with music that incorporated important (and most times political) messages, that pushed the boundaries and was ever evolving.
The 80’s were much happier times and brought about more new aged Indie bands. Until the 80’s Indie pop was centralized in the United Kingdom, with few records breaking into the U.S. This was all to be changed as bands such as The Smiths and Orange Juice brought forth a whole new wave of alternative and radical tunes for U.S. citizens to enjoy.
Indie rock still held true to its original roots from its for founders but also split off into sub-genres like grunge, lo-fi and many bands had a more pop sound than Indie’s original rock and grassroots sounds. Much of the Americanized Indie pop music was based on premises and styles of the British band The Smiths.
The Smiths were created in 1982 in Manchester, England who signed with a small label, Rough Trade Records. Its members were: vocalist Steven Morrissey, guitarist Johnny Marr, bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce. Together these four were hailed the most influential and important Indie band of the time and from them future bands would take the reins and also make stark contributions to the Indie pop music scene.
The Smiths never had a hit single that broke the Top Ten on British or American music charts, and their commercial success was unimpressive by traditional standards, however they made great strides in political messages that other bands wouldn’t touch such as on their Album, “Meat is Murder” which warned people about the dangers of meat and animal cruelty and chastising the Thatcher governmental policies. The band broke up in 1987, and though many rumors surfaced in the next decades, the band members simply couldn’t get past solvent issues. Other bands however owe a lot to The Smiths, as the 1990’s forged ahead with a plethora of Indie and grunge greats.
Orange Juice released their first record in 1981 under the guidance of Postcard Records and although the band and its success was short lived, they were one of the first bands to incorporate a synthesizer in their songs and were also the first to utilize a Roland TB-303; a bass synthesizer that added the electric sequencing to the bass guitar sounds. Subsequently, future disc jockeys and other musicians latched on to the richness of the synthesizer and it became a staple in record and music production for decades to come.
The Josef K Band was also a Scottish Indie pop band that made headway, though their sounds included more punk band attributes than Indie style. Josef K was formed by singer/guitarist Paul Haig, drummer Ronnie Torrance and keyboardist Malcolm Ross.
Like Orange Juice, they were placed on Postcard Records after the release of their first single in 1979 and released their first full album in 1981. The band was displeased with this album and thus it was soon taken off the market, selling only a few copies. Later years would hail more successful albums as cult fans latched on to their funky style that also infused some disco. Also cited as one of the most influential bands of all time, Indie musicians today still play covers of Josef K.
Even today and within the last decade thousands of Indie pop bands take refuge in what their predecessors laid the ground work for and fans can still reminisce in these former bands styles when they list to current bands like Fleet Foxes, Animal Collective and individual artists such as Ryan Adams.
Authentic Indie memorabilia fans can find on eBay, or at online band merchandise stores such as rerock4ever.com or Amazon.