AIDS Wolf (2003 — 2012)

Citing the last nine years of being a very challenging, very bold and startlingly unique and aggressive noise rock band, and having little to show for their efforts, the Canadian-bred AIDS Wolf has decided to call it quits.

Photo credit: Yannick Grandmont
This recent dissolution has garnered some interesting posthumous appraisals of their career and sympathy to some degree.  The band Tera Melos, who'd played with AIDS Wolf in 2009, wrote a very respectful eulogy to the band and pointed out the difficulties with being an idiosyncratic presence when popular musical trends are driven by factors like American Idol and commercial licensing.  Some bands aren't for everybody, but it does speak to our supposedly "receptive" underground media and independent blogosphere when an entity like AIDS Wolf, a band that was truly surviving off the grid, a band who were as "outsider art" in terms of their look, their sound and their musical approach as any other band excluded from the safety of popularity, were somehow neglected.  I myself am guilty of this, having only really discussed to some extent their last album a few months ago, even though they've produced an extensive body of work for many independent record labels over their nine-year lifespan.  Do I feel bad?  Absolutely.

 

AIDS Wolf is the type of band I seek out and try to promote, simply because I know so few will.  Performers very often try and imitate what they believe the public will perceive as weird.  Lady Gaga has gotten away with saying she was Born This Way, but the actuality of Gaga is that she's a promotional stunt disguised as an entertainer.  Advertisers and PR types know how to mold and manipulate, shape and sham — they understand how to capture the public's attention and the effectiveness of costumes.  Good Charlotte managed to convince throngs of impressionable teens that punk rock was simply an outfit, and not an aggressive and outward attitude you were supposed to find in a band's music.  This same thing happened with Avril Lavigne and I still hear the label "punk" applied to her like some ill-gotten bandage she tore off the chest of G.G. Allin just as he was beginning to heal from whatever festering wound he managed to acquire during the many acts of brutality he would commit on any given stage on any given night.  Marilyn Manson's not that shocking if you know some history behind rock n' roll.  If you don't?  Well, you might think you're witnessing the apocalypse on stage and the corruption of your good little boys and girls.  Shocking, right?



Not really.  Without spending too much time retracing the co-opt'ness of Alternative music and the manufacturing of rebellion, what I'm trying to point out is that our perceptions of the truly avant-garde are horribly skewed.  AIDS Wolf were a band of artists, artists that knew full well they were going to have to fight and claw their way to any real success if they were going to follow their musical pursuits.  And even then, their success was going to be anchored to a very select and very limited type of listener-ship.  This was a band that could legitimately claim to be on the fringe, a rare musical entity whose outward presence was not only backed-up and probably surpassed by the music they made, but was confirmed by the extent to which they kept on and on and on.  



Singer, Chloe Lum, pointed out in her farewell summary of the band, "I don’t know I’d recommend this path to anyone else or if it’s even relevant to younger folks but I’m glad for the experiences because even the terrible ones become funny in time."  It's good that her attitude has allowed her to be proud of her work because I believe that AIDS Wolf serves as an example of the sort of purity of off-kilter artist many of us who write or blog look for.  If we didn't, we could simply chew the spoon that's being dipped into our collective mouths while we nod our heads obediently, puppy-dog eyes gazing upward as we assure our feeders, "Yep, this is really good."  Instead, we try and focus on the outskirts of popular or even "good" taste, attempting to dig through layers of gloss and sparkle in order to find those often very brilliant and struggling souls that will ALWAYS need the support of fans and/or an attentive underground media.  We try and network outside all those Simon Cowell approved turds so we can offer some exposure to the passionate and determined bands that really need it.  There's always a romantic aspect to creating your own new mechanism for art, one that can thrive without corporate funding or the approval of popular opinion.  But, the truth is, there's only a mechanism in place if its parts continue to work.  In this case, AIDS Wolf is no more because the mechanism failed them.  At this point, we can only apologize.

R.I.P.

Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead
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