Jenn Rourke, 10/3 Hell on Stilts

By Gus Bode

Is Johnny Quest right?

architecture student to whom they gave the moniker, “Johnny Quest.” “Sellouts!” he called the quintet. And thus Less Than Jake was inspired to write one of their most infamous songs, “Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts.”

Selling out has always been looked down upon as one of the most cowardly things a musician can do. Selling out means changing your sound or image to reach a broader audience and increase sales. But there are many benefits to selling out, such as a steady paycheck.


I’m a big advocate of money. I think I should have it; I think

everyone else should have some, too. And if banking a truckload of money solely depends on a willingness to dumb down your songs to three bar chords and enter an exclusive studio with a world-class producer who’ll make you sound better than a choir of angels, then I’d be all for selling out. Often, when a small band breaks onto the national scene, they’re shunned by their local fanbase. Green Day, for example, was embraced by the nation with the release of “Dookie,” their first record on a major label. Everyone

was crazy over Green Day. Everyone, that is, except their hometown supporters in Berkeley, Calif. Those fans felt betrayed.

It’s a matter of cultural ownership. When a band leaves the safety of the local scene, their fans may feel abandoned and jealous that their hometown talent has to be shared with the rest of the world. Music enthusiasts can be selfish that way. Rob Cavallo, who discovered Green Day and produced their albums, made sure

to preserve the raw energy that he loved about the band. Recording

“Dookie” in three days, which is lightning fast in the record industry, the band couldn’t have sounded any fresher. “Dookie” showcased a band true to their sound. And still Berkeley yelled, “Sellouts!” You can’t win.

I have a problem with artists who blatantly sell out and continue with their careers as though they were still in it for the music. The most publicized case of shameless selling out is Blink 182. After “Dude Ranch,” their breakout (and best) album, they presented us with “Enema of the State,” which pretty much disregarded their San Diego punk roots, sought to hook the


coveted female teen audience, and give the trio ample reason to run

around naked on camera. Music was of little concern at that point. Take “Adam’s Song” for example, a track so void of rock and spine that it could’ve charted on adult contemporary radio.

Another shameless sellout – No Doubt. Does Gwen Stefani still have a band? They’ve left rock in the dust, opting for MIDI tracks instead of raucous guitars. In their latest video, “Underneath It All,” Gwen’s bandmates don’t even make a cameo until the second chorus, and then they aren’t even playing instruments. Enjoying a long career and taking your music in a new direction is one thing, but turning your back on your roots to appease marketing is just shallow.

There are going to be more Johnny Quests and more sellouts, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. Less Than Jake is set to record a new CD, “Anthem” with none other than Rob Cavallo, the man who aided Green Day in “selling out,” as the Berkeley kids would say. Who knows? Maybe Less Than Jake will invade mainstream radio with this disc, then everyone in Gainesville can call them sellouts.

“The key to success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” – Unknown

Jenn is a junior in radio-television. Her views do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Egyptian.