Reggie and the Full Effect – Thanx for Stayin’

Promotional Copy
Year :
The Get Up Kids / Saves the Day / The Juliana Theory

A momentous occasion in my exposure to new music occurred during my latter high school years.  If I was cornered and had to make a call on an irrelevant detail, I’d go with senior year.  That occasion, (I’m predicting) you ask?  My family got digital cable!  From the dregs of 56k, I was transported into a whole new world of possibility/internet accessibility.  It was just like that movie Jungle 2 Jungle, if you replace Tim Allen with increased bandwidth.

I took to Napster straight away and downloaded all sorts of songs within the general confines of the pop culture landscape.  Deep cuts from the likes of Blink-182, Eminem, Limp Bizkit, and Weezer made their way onto all sorts of fundamentally shitty mix CDs I assembled.  At some point thereafter, though, I was riding around after school with a friend of mine and he put in Reggie and the Full Effect, namely the album Promotional Copy.  I cottoned to it immediately and, without getting into potentially incriminating details, had the album on some sort of  CD-R later that day.  Sorry guys, I never did pay for Promotional Copy.  Or Greatest Hits ’84 – ’87 for that matter.  But I bought your last two albums and saw you on tour and bought a t-shirt, so I feel like maybe that more than most can say.

Reggie and the Full Effect jump started an exploration into pop punk and emo music beyond the defined playlists of alternative radio. Whole discographies of associated or similar acts like Get Up Kids, Lagwagon, Fenix TX, Less Than Jake, and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes expanded, however marginally, my exposure to these genres past the Blink-182s and New Found Glorys that informed my tastes to that point. Actually, my exposure to Me First and the Gimme Gimmes began with their cover of “Phantom of the Opera” being mistagged as a Blink-182 song.

From my computer chair and/or my friends’ computer chairs, I was able to bypass all the effort involved with discovering new music. I didn’t have to go to shows or play in a band or live in the right city or frequent the record store or be part of a scene. Within an hour, an album could be downloaded and burned. I could present myself as a longtime fan of a band I’d just heard about earlier that day. Having this sort of instant and limitless exposure was obviously thrilling, but it also felt unearned. I wasn’t that far removed from that day I rushed home from school to see the world premiere of the music video for Limp Bizkit’s “Nookie” on TRL. And yet here I was declaring Black Sails in the Sunset AFI’s best album as if I’d been a fan since Answer That & Stay Fashionable.

A lot has changed with music distribution in the last baker’s dozen or so years, and so this sort of notion that I hadn’t earned my exposure to these bands is fairly antiquated.  New music is even more available and just as free, and now there are no worries about an RIAA lawsuit.  I’m not entirely sure how the new distribution model is supposed to work in the artist’s favor. My understanding is that it doesn’t, at all. I suppose it’s on me as a fan to go to shows and buy merchandise if I want to support the band. Maybe in its own way free music puts a sort of moral obligation on me to be a better fan.

It’s sort of ironic that my musical horizons were first expanded by getting my hands on a burned CD of an album called Promotional Copy. That was the first of many forays into new music over the last decade plus that were most certainly not on my own dime. If I hadn’t used digital cable to seek out new music, I probably would have ended up as a huge Slipknot fan or something equally disappointing. By stripping away the boundaries to new music exposure now with free streaming services and the like, there is an endless market of Johnny-come-lately fans just like me. And who can deny them their musical birthright in this era of music distribution? Any band’s entire body of work is immediately available, so fandom isn’t measured by longevity. It’s a meritocracy, measured by an enduring, honest-to-goodness passion for the music. So it’s been said: if you’re not now, you never were.

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Jeff Bennet (@JeffBennet) goes with Drake any time someone asks him who his favorite band or artist is, because he has this personality flaw where he needs to be all things to all people.

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