If your band dresses like it’s 1974, you’re wearing fancy dress

A week ago today Brighton duo Royal Blood made history when their self-titled first album became the fastest-selling rock debut in three years (and the one before that was by Noel Gallagher’s Flying Birds – not exactly Gallagher’s debut release).

More than that, they became the first new band “from our world” that readers of NME, Kerrang! and Classic Rock, listeners to TeamRock Radio and BBC 6Music, my 11 year old son AND the dads of other kids on his football team have all heard of and could equally like.

In fact, the only people who seem split on the subject of hot new rock band Royal Blood are rock fans.

“Overhyped shite,” a visitor to Classic Rock’s Facebook commented. “They don’t look very rock to me,” said quite a few others, while a TeamRock Facebook commenter upped the ante to: “They look about as rock as Muse…”

“About as rock as one of rock’s biggest bands?” you might think, “I guess that’s pretty rock then.”

Except you know that’s not what he meant. He meant: “They look like a right bunch of indie ponces.”

He meant: “Baseball caps? These men look like they might have once listened to HIP-HOP!”

He meant: “These men HAVE THE WRONG KIND OF BEARDS!”

He meant: “Unless a new band looks like the Scorpions circa 1979, YOUCANSHOVEITUPYERARSE!”

Let’s get this out in the open. As poster Oisin Hunt pointed out in response: “It’s 2014 lad”. What exactly SHOULD rock bands look like in the 21st century?

Because I have news: if you’re in a new band and you’re dressing like a band from 1974 (i.e. 40 years ago) you’re wearing fancy dress. You’re vaudeville. You’re a laughing stock.

Harsh? Well consider this. If the Beatles had dressed like a band from 40 years before them, they would have looked like this:

If the Sex Pistols had dressed like a band from 40 years before, Johnny Rotten would have looked like this:

If Guns N’ Roses had dressed like a band from 40 years before, Axl Rose would have looked like this:

Not only do you look like a plum, you’re putting rock music back 40 years – consigning it to the past, re-affirming to onlookers that rock is retro music for trainspotters, nothing more than a spoddy re-enactment of a dead culture.

If you spend a lot of your time online scanning websites like a self-appointed Rock Taliban patrolling the borders of our ‘pure rock nation’ and posting comments like “That’s not rock”, “They’re not metal” or “why is this on this site? I may as well be reading Q!” – about bands that are PLAINLY rock and metal, who you haven’t really listened to and don’t WANT to listen to because you don’t like their haircuts or the clothes on their back – then you’re the one holding rock music back.

You’re into fashion – well, costumes – not music.

These pictures are all from the last 5 years. Think about that:

Scott Rowley
Content Director, Music

Scott is the Content Director of Music at Future plc, responsible for the editorial strategy of online and print brands like Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Prog, Guitarist, Guitar World, Guitar Player, Total Guitar etc. He was Editor in Chief of Classic Rock magazine for 10 years and Editor of Total Guitar for 4 years and has contributed to The Big Issue, Esquire and more. Scott wrote chapters for two of legendary sleeve designer Storm Thorgerson's books (For The Love Of Vinyl (opens in new tab), 2009, and Gathering Storm (opens in new tab), 2015). He regularly appears on Classic Rock’s podcast, The 20 Million Club (opens in new tab), and was the writer/researcher on 2017’s Mick Ronson documentary Beside Bowie (opens in new tab)