On Jan. 26, the local music blog All Our Noise posted an interview with Sean Gray and Chris Berry, the owners of College Park–based Fan Death Records. Chatting with reporter Denman C. Anderson, the pair discussed their favorite bands, the history of their label, and their plans to release a comedy LP.
The D.C. blogosphere went sort of batshit; a post on Arts Desk highlighting some of the pair’s more rankling opinions (e.g., “D.C. is a shitty place, with shitty bands, and a shitty outlook on life.”) garnered more than 120 comments and briefly veered this blog’s usually unremarkable traffic into Sexist territory. Within a couple of days the post’s comment thread turned into a toxic waste dump of bad will.
Gray, 27, and Berry, 22, were unchastened. “We are just 2 record nerds. And the fact that 2 nerds who run a no-name punk label that isn’t even in D.C. can shit on 2 soft targets and make tons of people butt-hurt is telling of how lame the city actually is when it comes to crappy ‘indie’ music/culture or whatever it is those bands are into,” they told Arts Desk in an e-mail a few days later.
Below, a critical catalog of the butt-hurt.
THE DANCE PARTY
The Hate: The D.C.-based synth-pop group loves beer, girls, and sweatbands. Gray: “I will flat-out name you who are garbage bands in D.C.…The Dance Party.”
The Counter-Hate: “I love how some fat hipsters can move into a city, live there for two years and be experts,” wrote commenter Dan. “The Dance Party was selling out Rock and Roll Hotel when those kids’ parents were still paying for year two of five of their European History degree at JMU.”
How Butt-Hurt? “The interview got people riled up, which is pretty cool,” says guitarist Kevin Bayly from Los Angeles, where the group is recording its major-label debut. “Also, the fact that our name came up is awesome, because we haven’t been there forever.” Singer Mick Coogan says the band doesn’t exactly bristle at being branded a troupe of drunken lampshade-sporting goofballs. “We’re called the fucking Dance Party dude! That’s what we do.”
RA RA RASPUTIN
The Hate: “That band, garbage,” said Gray, who noted that guitarist Patrick Kigongo is a “really nice dude.”
The Counter-Hate: “If a band like Ra Ra Rasputin is so bad, why have their past two shows been packed?” argued commenter Pablo. “Obviously their are plenty of people who appreciate the sound their putting down.”
How Butt-Hurt? “I’m offended that some asshole who I’ve never met would tell me that I don’t ‘have a sense of perspective in terms of what I’m doing,’” wrote Ra Ra Rasputin drummer Ken Quam on the comment thread. Kigongo was more cautious: “I’m not really too keen to draw this out, but Sean and Chris are entitled to their opinion,” he wrote in an e-mail. “We’ve been doing this for three years now -criticism comes with the territory.”
BRIGHTEST YOUNG THINGS
The Hate: Many commenters accused the D.C. entertainment Web site—which escaped the rant but has blessed many of Gray and Berry’s targets with frequent and adoring coverage—is crappy-band ground-zero. “The real problem with DC is BYT,” wrote commenter In a DC Band. “Wannabe frat-boy (& sorority girl) scenester douchebags—every single one.”
The Counter-Hate: “The bands that are getting ripped on in this thread would probably be roughly as big with or without BYT,” said commenter No Art on a follow-up post. “They would still have lots of friends, be just as stylish and fashionable, go to the same parties and events, etc. BYT is just an online gathering place for these people, who would otherwise probably just gather some other way.”
How Butt-Hurt? “These comments (which have been flying around since day 1 about BYT) don’t upset us at all,” BYT founder Svetlana Legetic writes in an e-mail. “By no means do I think we’re perfect, but we’ve spent years supporting bands, art and other creative people and endeavors in this city, as well as creating opportunities for people to showcase their talents and yes, sometimes being out and drinking. But EVERYONE deserves a place to relax. Having a sense of humor about it all is necessary.”
The Hate: Only one person contacted Gray and Berry: an anonymous e-mailer who threatened them with anal rape if they crossed the District line. Most people preferred to bash the pair, their label, and Gray’s cerebral palsy in Arts Desk’s comments.
The Counter-Hate: “Meh, they are just saying what we are all thinking,” wrote NW DC.
How Butt-Hurt? “We proved our point,” Gray writes in an e-mail. “Cause D.C. is so boring and shitty that two record nerds can piss off 100 people or more.” He thought the jokes about his medical condition were funny. “‘Hey Sean why don’t you do an interview standing up,’ pretty amazing. I died of laughter.”
The Hate: First The Wire, now this. A few Baltimore residents dropped in to gloat: “As someone who grew up in the D.C. suburbs and fucking fled to Baltimore the minute I turned 18, Fan Death dudes speak the TRUTH,” wrote Dan O. “Unless you’re a flag-pin wearing motherfucker or a toothless bike courier, anyone musically inclined and living in dc is setting themselves up for NOTHING. See y’all in hell, you 850-for-an-efficiency-paying motherfuckers.”
The Counter-Hate: “Every city has really really shitty bands that are trying to ‘make it,’” wrote Who’s to Blame. “Believe you me, Baltimore has some embarrassingly bad bands.…like Fools & Horses, The Hint, Numa, Of Broken, etc. These bands make almost US Royalty look like Radiohead.” Response: Ryan Holladay of D.C. duo Bluebrain made a valiant attempt to rep for his town. “I’m personally glad there is a new surge in DC music and hope to see even more spring up in this next year,” he wrote. “Thank you to all the bands/DJ’s/MC’s that love this city enough to put themselves out there.