You and your metalhead friends.
(photo credit: Rob Macinnis)
It’s time for some hard truth (I’m not stupid — I save the hard truth for Saturdays because our audience drops on Saturdays). The hard truth is that you are most likely a big fucking geek. I can say this with confidence for four reasons. First, you can read. Second, you are reading a metal blog. And third, in all probability you are a metalhead. I’ll come to the fourth reason in due course.
Actually, the third reason is the biggest clue. I haven’t conducted any kind of scientific study, because I am not a scientist and studying sounds like work. Instead, I base my conclusion on years of first-hand observation. And what I’ve observed is that most metalheads are big fucking geeks. Not all, mind you. Some are career criminals. But even the ones who look like career criminals usually aren’t — down underneath their scary exteriors, they’re just geeks.
I suspect this conclusion would be greeted with disbelief by most people in the straight world, i.e., the people who look away quickly and increase their speed when they drive past the outside of a metal venue, because they think we’re ALL career criminals. But you know what I’m talking about, don’t you? And if perchance you don’t, I’ll assemble some of the evidence.
First, and most obviously, just listen to what metalheads talk about when they’re together. They talk a lot about metal, of course, but it’s usually a thoroughly geeked-out kind of discussion, littered with micro-dissected genre references, arcane one-upmanship displays of historical knowledge about albums that sold no copies and bands whose names have long been lost in the mists of time, assertions about the finer points of guitar tuning and whether those drums were triggered, learned critiques on album production values, endless vignettes about live shows, the size of their vinyl collections (a relatively recent phenomenon), and of course a crapload of jargon that would sound like Martian dialect to anyone outside the community.
Some conversationalists try to play it ultra-cool and some are almost literally bursting with enthusiasm, but either way the deep geekiness of the participants is vividly on display for anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear. No doubt, this is very similar to what archaeologists, botanists, and electrical engineers sound like when they get together for a few beers (do those people drink beer?). I’ve been in conversations like this when some unfortunate soul who knows nothing about metal happens to be pinned in place with no means of escape, and the glaze that comes over their eyes looks very much like the clinical signs of brain death.
This is not the casual passing of time. This is discourse of such intense fervor and such deep mastery of trivia that one would think the topic is only slightly less important than the human body’s need for 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, .93% argon, and — well, of course you probably know the names of the minor gasses as well. Because you’re a big fucking geek.
Even when the conversation turns to some subject other than metal, it’s still geek central. Because those subjects quite often turn out to be comic books, science fiction, comic book movies, science fiction movies, and video games (often based on comic books and science fiction).
I used to work with a dude who had an expression for nerdy people like this. He would say, “I bet that guy had a lot of hobbies as a child”. The thing is, fully grown metalheads still have a lot of hobbies. Metal just happens to be at the head of the list.
And then we come to appearances. Like everything else I’ve written here, I’m going to generalize, which means I know there are exceptions, so don’t jump my ass for being unfairly… general.
When I walk up to a metal venue and catch the first glimpse of the crowd hanging around outside before doors or in between sets, there’s a little habit I follow with the person who often accompanies me to shows. I turn to her and say, “Ah yes, the beautiful people“. Because of course they conform to no one’s idea of beauty except maybe their own kind.
They’re almost all dressed in uniform — the black band shirt and the cargo shorts or ratty jeans, often accessorized by black hoodies or vests festooned with patches. There’s often a lot of hair, if not on the head then on the face, with the visible skin displaying a kind of sickly pallor, and a generally scruffy, somewhat unkempt aura hanging about them. Most look either underfed or overfed; there’s really not a lot of what medical schools would call ideal body types in the average metal crowd. And they tend to look very serious.
Many of these people look like badasses, even though they’re really not, and many just look… well, kind of awkward. Like the geeks they are (especially at folk metal shows). This just happens to be the kind of place where metalheads feel less awkward than they do most places, because they’re in the company of their breed. (Granted, there are indeed some handsome men and some beautiful women in every metal crowd, though you may have to look closely to find their allure).
This is one of the great ironies of metal culture. People outside the community probably think many metalheads look like refugees from a biker gang, which just goes to show they’ve never actually met a member of a biker gang. But in fact most of the people you meet at shows are the gentlest of souls (except the ones who are mean drunks or had a more-than-usually-rotten day), some of them shy to the point of catatonia in the presence of people in the outside world, even if they’re big and boisterous when the amps come to life. The music is often harsh, aggressive, and littered with depraved lyrics about violence, death, and occult abominations, but the musicians and fans are mainly a bunch of pussycats. Skittish, geeky pussycats.
When I began this piece I said there were four reasons for concluding that you are most likely a geek. The fourth reason is because it takes one to know one — and I know this about you because I, too, am a Big. Fucking. Geek. I display almost all of the characteristics summarized above, in spades. I mean, fer chrissakes, you may be reading a metal blog, but I’m fuckin’ writing one!
And so, if it’s not evident already, not one thing I’ve written here was intended as a put-down. Everything was instead written out of love and pride. The very geekiness that lies at the core of metal culture and at the core of metalheads is part of what I like about it and them so much. (All of my friends who AREN’T metalheads, they’re geeks, too. In case you were wondering.)
Let me leave you with three questions, and if you’re inclined to address any of them, please leave a comment (I’m pretty sure you will, because you’re a … well, you know).
First, do you accept my assertions or do you think I’m full of shit? Second, if you think I’m right, what is it about metal that makes metalheads so geeky? And third, do you think we’re any different in that respect that anyone else (sometimes I think everyone is a geek about something, it’s just a matter of degree)?
(photo credit: Rob Macinnis)
I don’t know about botanists, but let me assure you, electrical engineers definitely drink beer. Lots of beer.
And I know this because, although I’m not an electrical engineer, I work in a related equally geeky field. And I’m a metalhead. And I enjoy video games about science fiction. I think you pretty much nailed it.
Not a big fan of comic books though.
I’m an engineering student and I can confirm that electrical engineers do drink copious amounts of beer. Drinking beer is a characteristic of all engineers in general though.
Does drinking beer make them less boring?
Only if they’re drunk enough, do you reach a common low ground of geekiness – the comforting bed that is a parked car’s hood on a cool night, and the feasibility of things as urinals.
I didn’t realize you were a poet.
I’m (almost) an engineer and don’t drink really drink any beer.
I have a problem with whisky though.
At least whisky doesn’t have a problem with you.
Yeah I’m a scientist and I too can assure you that science is all about getting together over beers and talking the inane details of topics as interesting as whether GnRH neuron migration depends on ER beta signalling via the classical or non-classical signalling pathway… (actual conversation I’ve been party to!). And conferences – those talks and things during the day are just for show, the real action is beers at the bar talking geeky smack at the end of the day.
Heavy metal fantasy draft.
I know you. You are a big fucking geek. You don’t need to prove it further.
I don’t think it’s that something about the music “makes metalhead so geeky.” I think it’s more that you have to be kind of geeky about music to begin with to appreciate metal. You have to dig beneath surface and look out for all the subtle nuances that the music offers.
The average person who doesn’t “get” metal is likely unable or unwilling to look past the loud guitars and violent screams. They don’t notice or care for polyrhythms (I remember one pop song in particular that was kind of infamous; because of it’s polyrhytmic nature, it was “hard to dance to”), odd time signature changes or to break apart just how complex a certain riff or drum arrangement is.
On the other hand, we live for that shit! It’s our bread and butter. Sure we were all enthralled with the “loud guitars and violent screams” to begin, but we stuck around for the mathematical complexities the likes of which are unrivaled in popular music. And math is pretty much the geekiest of of all geek hobbies.
I think you’re on to something here. I suspect lots of people got into metal based on the power of primal riffs, which weren’t necessarily complex but did exert a powerful grip, but then over time branched out and became attuned to more complex and layered music that would have sounded like just “noise” to others.
This is insightful.
“…and electrical engineers sound like when they get together for a few beers (do those people drink beer?).” One can confirm that at least some electric engineers do drink beer. But, the discussion One has heard didn’t seem to be about electrical engineering.
“Even when the conversation turns to some subject other than metal…” One has often been one to derail the conversation with talk of fictional calendars and measurement systems, coupled with a lame joke; but derailing it much sooner than would be conducive to the continuation of the conversation on another track.
“The thing is, metalheads still have a lot of hobbies. Metal just happens to be at the head of the list.” One thanks you for this succinct statement of One’s behaviour.
“… (especially at folk metal shows).” What’s that about?
“I mean, fer chrissakes, you may be reading a metal blog, but I’m fuckin’ writing one!” Eyyy…
“Sometimes, I think everyone is a geek about something – it’s just a matter of degree.” Sadly, not all people One knows seem to exhibit this to any degree. One often thinks, “Seriously. You’re hanging out with one of the weirdest people you know. But, you still hide your nerdiness? Is it even worth it asking you what it is?” …except with sports fans, whose geekiness One just ignores.
I guess you’ve never been to a folk metal show. The costumery is more… varied… than the usual metal uniform. I’ll just leave it at that.
Same goes for power metal, if not even more so. Rhapsody Of Fire had the D&D crew out in droves.
1. “Do you accept my assertions or do you think I’m full of shit?” – I think you’re spot on.
2. “What is it about metal that makes metalheads so geeky?” – Not sure. There do tend to be marketing similarities between metal albums and other nerdy things (compare album artwork to Dragonlance novels, Magic cards, etc.).
3. “Do you think we’re any different in that respect that anyone else (sometimes I think everyone is a geek about something, it’s just a matter of degree)?” – Metalheads are not unique in this. If you think the crowds at folk metal shows are impressively geeky, you should go to a Chick Corea show sometime.
Also, don’t know if I’m in the minority here, but I’ve long associated metal with D&D. It makes good battle music, and I know a few people that got into metal through aboleth slaying set to Slayer.
Coincidentally, I’ve just gotten back into magic after selling my cards as a teen due to a lack of money. And as Islander has pointed out, magic artist such as raymond swanland do metal album art!
One agrees with your replies to the questions.
As for the association of heavy metal with D&D, you might indeed be in the minority – One imagines there are many more metalheads who have never played D&D than those who have.
I would be in your majority.
Stupid me, I left out fantasy, D&D, and Magic when I was listing non-metal interests of many metalheads.
Chick Corea is exceptionally geeky though, mainly due to Return to Forever having toured so much with Yes and other old prog bands. He’s a Scientologist and huge sci-fi/fantasy geek so a lot of nerds gravitate towards his music and persona, so I’m not sure it’s really fair to single him out.
I wish you hadn’t told me Chick Corea was a Scientologist.
You’ve been in the dark too long! He converted around 1968 I believe? He and Elron Hubardo exchanged letters until the latter’s death. If you’ve never heard Hubbo’s album “Space Jazz: The Soundtrack of the Book Battlefield Earth,” I recommend it for pure hilarity. Chick is on 3 tracks, I think. Regardless, it’s nowhere near as good as Battlefield Earth the film. Xenu bless your thetan, Travolta.
There is a lot of overlap between D&D and heavy metal and I got into them at around the same time. Coincidence? I think not.
Now that it has been mentioned, I realize that D&D was a shameful omission from the article. I think it’s because although I’m definitely a comic book and sic-fi nerd, I never got into D&D. Too ego-centric in my thinking.
I think focusing on just D&D is too narrow of a viewpoint…Even outside the stereotypical power metal lyrics, metal and fantasy go hand and hand. Assuming they like to read, a lot of Metalheads who have never rolled dice before have probably enjoyed something by Howard, Moorcock, or Leiber at some point.
Lots of metal fans also seem to be history geeks as well…lots of interest in WWII and medieval times
Dunno about the fantasy stuff, but I’m a HUGE history nerd. If there was a way to make a history major more commercially viable than it normally is, than I would wholeheartedly major in it.
You are definitely not full of shit, haha. Wondered about it myself. I’m studying physics at the moment and majority of the guys in my class are metalheads and well ‘geeks’ (out of the 7 guys, 6 are metalheads including myself…and there are 9 people in our class…). The metalheads in the class also enjoy their fair share of gaming (don’t think anyone in the class doesn’t have a Steam account). Anyways, great article.
I’m going to consider this a statistically significant sample.
people always look at me with surprise when it comes up that I’m afraid of spiders/hate hospitals/etc: “but you listen to metal!” I tell them this every time. Behind all the violent imagery, loud guitars, and screaming vocals, we’re all just a big bunch of nerds. I don’t think it’s any one thing about metal in particular that lends itself to geekery, but rather that most applied interests tend to attract geeks of some kind. Any time people are willing to remove themselves even a little bit from the mainstream in order to devote time to a particular interest, a geek is born.
This is what I was alluding to at the end. Selfishly, I’d like to think we’re special, but I think you’re right that”most applied interests tend to attract geeks of some kind” and that “any time people are willing to remove themselves even a little bit from the mainstream in order to devote time to a particular interest, a geek is born.” What I haven’t quite figured out is why I’m usually attracted to people who have such peculiar devotions, even when I don’t share those specific interests.
I definitely understand what you mean; even if someone is into some obscure topic I have absolutely no interest in, I still admire and can relate to their passion. Still, there are a few things so far on the fringe I’m more bewildered than anything (https://youtube.com/user/Daconthocon78 for example), and I have to wonder if “normal people” feel that way when they peek in at metal or some other such obscure subculture.
I not only accept your assertions, I fully agree with them. I haven’t yet figured out exactly how it works with metal heads and geek almost being synonymous with one another. I know even amidst the geeks I still sort of fall into the minority, comic books and video games are definitely my thing(sci-fi not so much, but I’m also a Bible-school teacher who will listen to Immortal as I’m preparing a 3 hour Bible lecture(nothing like opposites attracting,right?) & I’m also a martial arts geek having been in some type of training on & off since the age of 6. I guess if there is any sort of difference, it might be this; those of us who call ourselves metalheads and aren’t just called that by others, we live & breath metal( or as earlier said by Mook “it’s our bread and butter!”) Metalheads are by no means run of the mill music fans, we’re a unique breed that values what we listen to quite highly( even some of what we don’t listen to is valued in a sense)
If I’d had you as a Bible school teacher I might still be going to church.,
Wow, that was dead-on to the point of causing me to rise up from long lurker status. When my wife and I started dating, she consistently told me how “geeky” I was with my attraction (obsession?) to metal. Being younger I argued the point with her for a while until I realized how true it was. This article brought up every good point she ever made (I’ve required her to go to a number of shows at this point through the years). I think there’s a lot of truth to this especially in regards of those of us that have ‘grown up’ with metal (meaning we found it early on and stuck with it through our 20s and potentially 30s/beyond). For those of us that have gone on to write about it as opposed to simply reading about it, the geekiness factor increases exponentially. During times that I wasn’t writing about metal, people would just plain tire of hearing me talk about it. My children (4 and 2) are destined for music geek status, given they already vastly prefer “daddy’s music”.
Glad you climbed out of the lurker shadows. It warms my heart to know that you are helping to create a new generation of big fucking geeks. Also, it sounds like you are a very lucky man to have found a wife such as yours. Some women are attracted to geeks. Usually, they are geeks, too, though I wouldn’t presume to judge in this case.
I should add that my own wife is a big fucking geek. Unfortunately, her geekiness runs in other directions; she thinks metal is an abomination and a canker on the asshole of civilization.
Very apropos earlier today I had a Twitter conversation with two other metal writers in which we
* mourned letting go of Type O Negative CDs, some figurines, a comics collection.
* mentioned our full sets of Magic the Gathering editions, AD&D 2nd Edition Players Handbook (still in use), 6 different versions of the original Star Wars trilogy.
I was just recommended a band whose album is a re-telling of Star Wars episodes 1-3 the way they should have been done. There’s so much geek on that album it’s like stink on shit. I would tell you the name of the band but that would spoil the surprise.
I tend to associate nerdiness with obsessiveness, in the sense that someone who is a “nerd” of some particular field or entity came to be so through a lot of effort and time. At various times I’ve been a huge Star Wars nerd (all 6 on Blu-Ray, but I wish I had a better set than that), baseball nerd (specifically stats and front-office news – when I was 7 or 8 I would scan the sports page “Transactions” area for baseball, and basically dreamed of being a GM), history (mentioned a bit above), and now, obviously, metal.
I also think metal fans tend to be on either extreme of nerdiness, with those who’ve explored little metal beyond the ’80s stuff they listened to as kids being rarely very nerdy, and those (like us here) who’ve stayed more active searching for music tend to be more nerdy.
agreed completely. metal is just one area of my life (at one time in my life) where I’ve gained a large amount of knowledge in a relatively short period of time, and continue to consume in that direction. All my life I’ve been described as someone with “no middle ground” and I think a lot of nerdy metal heads would also fit that description. Food and pro basketball are also places I’ve gone full nerd, but those I think are more socially acceptable (not to mention common) than heavy metal and as such I think we’re less likely to label those interests with the same connotation.
I’m groping toward a synthesis and this helped. I think I do accept that everyone is a geek about something, to some extent — with significant variations in degree. And maybe what differentiates metalheads from some (but not all) other geeks is the fact that our geek focus is less common and less socially acceptable. And, I would add, requires more discernment and taste.
I might have lost my track here, but which is the fourth reason, the conversation outside metal or the appearances?
It seems that some, not all ‘core’ music fans, ifyou consider it heavy, aren’t like what you described here. but again core music is rarely discussed here.
The fourth reason is because I am such a big fucking geek that I am perfectly suited to draw these conclusions.
the other three sum it up pretty well why metalheads are also metalnerds, the fourth one seems like case validation. I mostly agree with the point, even though I like the word dedication than geek…
“-Core” achieved enough of a level of popularity in music that it began to attract a far more mainstream audience than your typical metal band. While Im sure many of those people have some kind of nerdy indulgence, the majority of them probably have more socially acceptable, less nerdy interests
I am definitely a huge geek. Pretty much all of Amputation Spree spawned from me having too much time on my hands and spending it all in my room at the computer.
Our Facebook motto since the beginning has been as follows: “We love people with too much time on their hands”.
Correlation rather than causation I’d say – there is, and always has been, a large proportion of metalheads who like it for the “drink beer, be an asshole” image, or who want to be “bikers” or “tough guys”, as well as people who don’t easily fall into any sort of category of “geek” or “jock” or whatever.
While I’d say there’s perhaps a good chance the scene attracts a greater proportion of certain types of people – for example, if we say that metal is generally “outsider” music, then it stands to reason a good proportion of the nerdy, geeky, obsessive, or otherwise not “typical” people will end up listening to it due to being already tarred with the “outsider” brush – but ultimately “metal people” are still a population, with their own statistical trends and segmentations.
I’ve always tried to avoid painting “us” as special in any way. It’s just a collection of people united by a preference for a certain type of music, after all. You could unite people of similarly disparate backgrounds under one banner if you chose to use a different inclusion category.
Though I will say that, in breaking down into smaller populations WITHIN the “metal population” – such as, say, blog readers/writers – you start to see closer associations….
This is so accurate. I feel really bad for my girlfriend as I speak to her daily about metal, speaking about so many different genres and sub genres. I remember recently when my Ancient Ascendant album arrived, for which I was very excited. I knew it sounded excellent from what I had heard, but had no idea Dan Swano mixed and mastered it. I was looking through the artwork and reading the credits right after it arrived in the mail, as I of course ripped open the package immediately. When I saw his name, I said; “Yes, I know this is going to sound excellent! Dan Swano is the man!” To her credit, she is a bit of a music nerd herself, having been a vocal coach and is always willing to listen, even though I’m sure it gets on her nerves. She takes it all in stride, so I am lucky because that “metal nerd” part of my personality almost never gets turned off.
I will just say, as I did in an earlier response above, that you are a lucky man.
I think you’re absolutely right. I’m a huge geek. I live, eat and breathe metal. But i also love comic books, sci-fi/horror movies, video games, etc. I go full nerd when i’m talking to someone about music. I’m not into sports, hunting, cars or any of the other typical “male” cliches. I’m a geek. I’m not sure what makes metalheads so geeky. Maybe it’s something to do with that last sentenced i typed, about male cliches? While some metalheads are modern day vikings for sure, most of us were picked on when we were young for not coming from the same mold as other guys. and for the last question, i think everybody on this planet is more alike than they would ever care to admit. with exception of certain people who are the scum at the bottom of the bucket, none of us is that much better than anyone else.
one last little thought. i freaking love metalheads. i love all their weirdness and imperfections. i love going to a concert and striking up a conversation with complete strangers who are more than happy to treat me like their best friend, all because we’re sharing the experience of being in love with metal. i don’t care if their unattractive or not “well spoken”. i think they’re awesome. just fucking awesome.
I don’t think you’re full of shit, but I also don’t think your points necessarily prove geekery either. People talking about a common interest isn’t geeky, it’s normal conversation. The topic may be obtuse to people who aren’t into metal, but you could say that of any topic. I know I’d be lost if I found myself in the midst of a conversation about, let’s say soccer. It wouldn’t make the guys talking about soccer geeks, just better informed about soccer than I am.
Also, comic book movies, science fiction, science fiction movies, video games aren’t geeky either. They’re mainstream. Maybe 15 years ago, you might have had a point. Not anymore. My father is 70 years old and refers to the internet as “The Yahoo.” I wish that was a joke, but it’s not. The last time he came to visit he wanted to watch Dark Knight, a comic book movie. Even comic books aren’t as fringe as people think. I think I’d have a harder time finding someone who doesn’t play video games than does. Maybe my parents, but even my mother will play a game on Facebook or some Flash game.
I feel bad writing this. It’s like I’m pooping on everybody’s geek pride party. I don’t doubt that there’s some full fledged, card carrying geeks among us. I just don’t think listening to metal alone makes one a geek. Sorry.
How dare you have a different opinion!!!! Heretic!!! In all honesty, though, isn’t being a geek just someone who is overly enthusiastic about a topic? When one likes metal, it is typically not in a casual fashion. All the metal heads I know are complete geeks when it comes to the music. My friends and I send tracks back and forth to one another and often, the discussion is more about the production value: How the snare sounds, the guitar tone. Maybe that is simply implied by the nickname “metal head.” I believe it was Rob Zombie who said in the “Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey;” “No one says, ‘I was into Slayer–one summer.’ I’ve never met that guy, I’ve only met the guy who has ‘Slayer’ carved across his chest.”
I dont entirely agree with…while the goalposts have moved a bit for geeky interests, the stigma is still there. Video games are okay as long as you play the right genres (FPS, Fighting games, etc), but things like RPG’s are still seen as the realm of the video game nerd. Comic movies are okay because theyre just part of the summer blockbuster run, but look how much the fantastic elements within have to be toned down and made realistic to appeal to a wider audience. Comics are going through the same thing…stories and art styles have changed to make them seem more mature and acceptable, while terms like graphic novel are thrown around so they seem less like childrens entertainment. Yes, you could read Game of Thrones in public, but you’d still probably get that classic look of pity if you were seen reading Howard’s Conan or Moorcock’s Elric.
..Dont confuse mainstream awareness of certain things with acceptance of all nerdy interests because theyre not the same thing
2. Hard to say. If you’re an old metalhead like me, it’s probably due to the fact that you “were there” when being a metalhead was uncool and frowned upon. So it has a “stick to my guns” pride about it. And let it be known that I used to be a mod in a comic book forum.
3. I think maybe the whole world lately has subdivided itself in cricles of geeks (wow, “Circles of Geeks”, is it not a good name for a band?). We’re all islands, all houses without windows like Spinoza used to say. Have you ever tried Jazz buffs? They are the biggest geeks of all. I always attend an open air festival ’round year, and every fucking year the nerdest of the nerd is right behind my shoulder, going “Oh, he missed the last semitone in that 7/4 passage” or “I remember when I saw Miles in 1985…”. Makes me want to become a serial killer.
The one thing that sets us apart, if I may say, is that we are the welcoming kind. Everyone, kid or grown-up, who decides to “go” into metal, we are there with open arms. We’ll lend him albums. We’ll make him fucking playlists. We’ll provide advise, most of which unasked. If you try to go into jazz or classical, expect cold stares and “If you didn’t listen to Hank Mobley / J.S. Bach when you were 5, you can’t understand”.
I know two jazz addicts, and they are definitely big fucking geeks. Because they are my friends, I don’t see any stand-offishness or cold stares, but they’re the only two of that ilk that I know. I do agree about the welcoming aspect of metal. There’s nothing more fun than coming across a new entrant into the field and watching people bombard them with an attempt at a PhD education in… as long as they’ve got.
Also, I still have an extensive pull list at a comic book store that I can’t bare to stop even though I have no time to read them any more. (yes, I routinely waste vast sums of money due to emotional attachments)
“There’s nothing more fun than coming across a new entrant into the field and watching people bombard them with an attempt at a PhD education in… as long as they’ve got.”
This will be me so much in the fall. My roommate is somewhat metal-friendly, but his knowledge is not yet too encyclopedic. I’ve already started bombarding him with bands, and I don’t see it stopping anytime soon. This will also happen with other fellow students and passers-by.
“arcane one-upmanship displays of historical knowledge about albums that sold no copies”. I laughed so hard at this.
Given I just came to this article after reading the other post on dynamic range, I think you’re right on the money.
It was just a coincidence, the kind that proves the point.
I think there’s something to this, and recently wrote about it in a way. But it’s more complicated than that.
First, you’ve got to define your terms. People can be geeky about anything. But that is distinct from geekiness in the traditional sense (sci-fi/fantasy/comic books, or more generally speaking, an interest in speculative fiction). Then there are the areas that have been added to that definition, like anime and video games. And people can nerd out about sports or metal as well.
I used to hold to the idea of your article, but now I’m not so sure. As the above commenter noted, there is a certain inherent geekiness because it involves getting enthusiastic about something outside the mainstream. But maybe that’s all there is. The added effect, as you mentioned, is that people here are reading a metal blog, so there’s an added nerd factor to this audience.
At metal shows there tend to be a lot of people who are just scuzzy dudes. Or at least the few I’ve been to.
Also, I’ve realized more and more that I don’t really belong to the metalhead camp any more than I do to any other nerd camp. I don’t feel a sense of belonging at an Opeth show or at a hobby shop playing Magic: the Gathering. Most everyone I know is pretty much just into mainstream things . . . so I can talk to them about anything other than the entertainment that interests me. So maybe I’m not really qualified to speak on this at all.
And–weird observation, I’m not sure why this is relevant but it popped into my head. I now know nothing about mainstream music. I’ve spent so long trying to avoid it, and I’ve succeeded. I have no idea what “Blurred Lines” or “Get Lucky” sound like. As in, I’ve not heard a single note of either one. I don’t know what the fox says. I guess that’s a thing? Also, up until a week ago, I thought Lorde was a black male rapper.
“I thought Lorde was a black male rapper.” I got a big smile out of that, but only because I know (barely) that Lorde is not a black male rapper. But otherwise, I feel the same as you do: I know virtually nothing about mainstream music (including rap, which started in the underground but unlike metal definitely seems to have been mainstream for a long time). I may be missing a lot of worthwhile music, but I doubt it.
My twin sister keeps me current. You aren’t missing a damn thing.
Almost all my friends are metalheads AND engineers. Double geek power!!
I think everyone is a geek about something, its just, most people are geeks about stupid boring shit. What do civilians do when the sit around and not listen to music together? They geek out on whatever boring subject they have been conditioned to. Consumerism, meaningless political parties who are just two sides of the same coin, mortgage rates, the new iPod winter socks that “all men must have this spring”
I dare you to go to a family gathering, or work-dinner, and listen to what they are discussing. How many hours of Bob discussing the new double XCZ 200 kraken resistant paint he just applied to his boat, to go with the new Chtulhufinder 9000 Deepwater sonar can you take, before you think of him as a geek? How about the 3 guys discussing what time of year is best for buying a house compared to a condo, if the roof is black, and not red? And sunday is obviously the best day to buy gas if you live on the west side, because of the drop in oil prices and Chevron revenue that comes with the fool moon.. And oh my god did you hear what that famous person did with the other person in that place with the thing, where something else happened in 2003?
And lets not forget soccer. if you dont know everything there is to know about english football, you are a total fucking outcast here. Who won what tournament with what person scoring the winning goal in what minute, with what manager? and what airline did the referee take to the match? In Norway these things are common knowledge, But to me it just seems like obscure geek knowledge-wankery.
Almost everyone is some kind of geek, but Metal heads are often very passionate about it. Its more visible with us.
If you want to go with that definition of geek, I still object to the idea that everyone is a geek. I know exactly one person who I’m sure isn’t, and there are probably plenty of other people too. There are people who are interested in the most mainstream things to the most mainstream extent possible, and don’t really have any hobbies other than watching mainstream TV and mainstream movies.
Yeah i guess i use a pretty broad definition of geek. Actually, i dont use any definition at all. I just have some vague idea of the concept. Not really a good place to start.
With all this discussion of Magic and other geeky pursuits, I felt obligated to share this photo. At my band’s most recent show (back in February) here is how members of one of the other local bands (Low Man) killed time before the show started…
This is SOOOOO appropriate. 🙂
Great article, you not only hit the nail on the head but you were thoroughly entertaining while doing it. I’m a total geek, and when I’m not writing for Angry Metal Guy I’m usually reading about biomechanics or insulting my friends for not knowing the finer points of some obscure shit that (and I’m giving an order of magnitude estimate here) 10 other people on the planet care about. Our argot isn’t unique though, there are plenty of groups out there who, when they get together, are incomprehensible to outsiders, but metal seems to stand out as a musical genre that is particularly prone to this. Even jazz musicians in my experience aren’t as ostensibly geeky when they get together.
Also, to answer your question, although I don’t have any experience with botanists, I can tell you that geoscientists and evolutionary biologists love beer and the cutting edge of paleontology is discussed most often in pubs in the middle of nowhere over a cold brew.
“I can tell you that geoscientists and evolutionary biologists love beer and the cutting edge of paleontology is discussed most often in pubs in the middle of nowhere over a cold brew.” I would seriously like to be a fly on the wall at such a session. Because I am a geek, I suspect I would be highly entertained despite not understanding a single sentence that would be uttered. 🙂