We Cool? We Cool. Why Jeff Rosenstock Matters
Most “this band means a lot to me” stories follow a certain narrative tack. They start with discovering the band as an impressionable, bright-eyed teenager, probably introduced by a wise older sibling, a mixtape burned from a best friend’s CD-R drive, or maybe headphones shared with a crush on a long ride somewhere, falling in love over four chords and split earbuds. That’s followed by enthusiastic discography-diving, tracking down the most obscure B-sides and splits that bootleg music blogs offered under their proverbial trench coats. And the stories usually culminate in finally sharing the same sweaty, small room with that band, shouting back the lyrics you fell in love with as your slightly younger self. Sound familiar? Probably.
So maybe it’s poetic justice that my story of how Jeff Rosenstock’s music brashly marched its way into my heart waves a casual middle finger to that narrative before dismantling it completely.
When I found myself gravitating towards ska-punk in high school – I didn’t go as far as to wear all-checkered-everything and sign up for skanking lessons, but an impossible number of Less Than Jake and Goldfinger songs occupied prime real estate on my iPod — I became tangentially familiar with Rosenstock’s foray into the genre with The Arrogant Sons of Bitches. I figured that, like a more punk Paul McCartney, Rosenstock just felt like filling the world with silly ska songs.
But lets bypass all the childhood nostalgia bullshit. I discovered Bomb the Music Industry! in college, in a soundproofed radio station tucked in the basement of Syracuse University’s student center. I was a freshman who wore his dorm room key on a lanyard, thought naming a fledgling radio show “Stage Dives and Sing-alongs” was cool, and trekked half a mile every Monday at 6:30 in the morning, wind whipping in my face, so I could settle into the WERW (What Everybody Really Wants!) studio for two hours and test just how soundproof those station walls were.