Listening to a BBC Introducing radio show is an enlightening experience, because a good 70-80% of it is made up of that genre of music which most of us don’t spend a lot of time listening to: music which is completely derivative of older, better bands. In particular, there are several thousand Artic Monkeys/ landfill indie-esque bands. Every one reduces hope for the future of guitar music further.
Against this background, Rat Boy appears. He is not a likely character to bring a new edge to guitar music. His inspiration for his music was staring at alcoholics in the Wetherspoons where he worked, and had the time to pursue it properly only after getting sacked from said job and then rejected from McDonalds. There are more romantic musical origins stories out there.
Then again, music has never been the preserve of the establishment. From The Beatles to The Sex Pistols to Oasis, bands tend to be made up of the disenfranchised. Of particular relevance is Jamie T – or at least I thought he would be, until a quick wikipedia search reveals a schooling history unlikely to leave someone in a situation with ‘no one left to fight’.
Then again, does it matter? After all, the British obsession with class is the only reason that information is on Jamie T’s Wikipedia page in the first palce. If good music is the reason you listen to music, the context shouldn’t usually matter. The same applies to Rat Boy’s music. In the reverse discriminative atmosphere of music, his origins are likely to be a positive. But it is testament that his music, whilst relying on Wetherspoons, Poundland and second hand clothes with holes in for lyrics can exist and succeed perfectly without it.
And it succeeds because, like Slaves, it makes guitar music seem like something which isn’t just guitar music. Guitar music which is proudly guitar music can and does suceed – as Oasis, Royal Blood or The Beatles. But in this environment music which exists as just music is all the better for it.