The first time that I actively listened to alternative rock was 2001. I was about 9 years old in the 4th grade, riding to after school care on one of the vans that lined the bus parking lot.
I had made a white friend, named Taylor who was a year younger than me and already super “scene”. At the age of 7, her parents had already raised her up listening to The Ramones and Metallica, and she had the band shirts to prove it.
I remember it was raining that day, so we stayed parked a little bit longer. Taylor always had a Walkman radio player with her because she didn’t like the music played on the van. She would always ask me what type of music I liked and I would always respond back with, “I don’t know. Radio music, I guess.” That day, she flipped one of the earpieces outward of her big, over ear headphones and said, “check this out!” The song was “Blurry” by Puddle of Mudd. When I first heard the song, I paid attention to the beat. There was an echo-like instrument in the background that I really liked. I listened to the rest of the song with her and told her that I liked it, then went back to life as usual.
A few days later, I caught myself humming the chorus while washing dishes. A few days after that, I found the radio station that Taylor had been listening to and heard a few other songs that I liked, including a few from Nickelback and Creed (don’t judge…). Before that, I had only listened to hip hop and R&B, so this was completely new for me; however, after one of my family members caught me listening to the station and teased me about it, I stopped listening to it.
Fast forward several years, when watching MTV and VH1 videos in the morning before school was a way of life, I caught a run of Flyleaf, Evanescence and Paramore back to back to back. I was in love with alternative rock yet again. This began my quest and search for similar songs. I went through musical black holes on my iPod nano, discovery new bands of various genres. My playlists ranged from more mainstream bands like Mayday Parade, Forever The Sickest Kids, and Cobra Starship to harder bands like Emery, As I Lay Dying, Saosin and Brokencyde.
Of course during those awkward growing up stages when you just want to fit in, I was insecure about being called an “oreo” or a “wannabe white girl” though as I got older, I realized that what I listen to doesn’t make me more or less Black or pro-Black than I already am.
So, let’s reminisces, shall we! What was the first alternative rock band that you listened to?
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