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Friday, 28 February 2014

Don't ever call me a goth again, you motherfucker!

"If you ever use that description again, this will be the last time I ever work with you". That's the reaction I got a couple of years ago when I wrote a press release (yeah, the day job) about a certain well-known musician and his support for the human rights organisation for which I work.

Er, so what was that dreadful description, that dastardly slur? Well, it was the phrase "goth rocker". Yep, goth rocker - pretty awful, eh? And not only that, but my flatteringly hyperbolic press release actually said "legendary goth rocker" and was only a draft version for the musician in question (who shall remain nameless) to have a look at - presumably between extended self-admiration sessions in front of his full-length mirror. Goth rocker. Blimey. He's surely never been so insulted!

Two faces by Niluccio
You're going to call me what?
Meanwhile, according to Alexis Petridis, Bauhaus' Pete Murphy once slammed the phone down on a journalist who had been using the word goth during an interview. More touchiness! It seems to me that if even the prime-movers of the early-80s goth scene like Mr Murphy and Mr He-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless can't even spare a good word for their own contribution to an important body of work ... then, well, we might as well lock up the cemetry gates for good. There'll be no more gothic goings on down there ...

How has it come to this? In the minds of some, "goth" is now a death-dealing put-down, a sickeningly obscene denunciation several rungs below "cocksucker" or "motherfucker". I'm well aware that so-called goth music is hopelessly uncool and has been since about 1985, but, as I've said on this blog before, goth music and goth culture in general deserves far better than the thoughtless derision it now generally attracts.

Hark! Through yonder window
I hear the sound of ... Sex Gang Children

No, I refuse to bury the corpse like this! Goth was always far more than a dodgy Alien Sex Fiend record or an equally dodgy Camden Market skull t-shirt. Come to that, I reckon goth was also far more than even the best of Bauhaus's - often very good - music. As others have noted, elements of the gothic are strewn around the punk and post-punk landscape - and well before that in some instances too. People are quick to ridicule The Sisters Of Mercy or Southern Death Cult (I've done it myself) but are generally far less mocking when it comes to The Cramps or Faith-era The Cure. Yes, it's that delicious goth spirit, warming up the undead body, giving it a nice tinge of green or purple. And it's surely there in pre-punk bands like Rocket From The Tombs, Suicide, Cabaret Voltaire or even The Velvet Underground as well.

So, stop this goth renunciation! It's time to say we're all goths and we're proud of it. Goth's back from the dead. Long live goth.

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