In the past several years, there’s been a wave of bands influenced by ’90s alt-rock, including many artists that have been discussed on the Celebration Rock podcast: Japandroids, Cloud Nothings, Charly Bliss, and Rozwell Kid are just a handful of the acts that have utilized the fuzzy guitars and loud-soft dynamics associated with the era. More recently, there’s been a wave of nostalgia for early ’00s bands from New York City like the Strokes, Interpol, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, thanks to Lizzy Goodman’s recent oral history of that scene, Meet Me In The Bathroom.
However, there was another music movement that took place between the early ’90s and the early ’00s that people aren’t talking about, even though it was just as popular as alt-rock and way more popular than those early ’00s bands. You could argue that the bands associated with this unheralded scene had a more lasting cultural impact, and were even more original than the artists we remember from the alt-rock and neo-new wave eras. Of course, terms like “influence” and “originality” doesn’t necessarily equal quality. To call the signature bands of this scene “good” might be a bridge too far.
Of course, I’m talking about nü-metal.
When nü-metal dominated mainstream rock 20 years ago, I couldn’t stand it. And maybe that was the point: Rarely has a genre of music been so popular and yet also so obnoxious to those who didn’t get it. Looking back, however, my feelings about nü-metal have changed somewhat. Do I feel … affectionate? No, that’s not quite right. But I do feel grudging respect.
To talk about nü-metal, I called up friend of the pod Ian Cohen in order to define what exactly nü-metal is, as well as discuss the impact that it had and whether being innovative (which nü-metal was) is the same as being good.