This modern rigmarole, content-farming, 6-month-cycle we now call “rock” has eschewed its “roll.” It’s given up on building anything – it wants cookie-cutter, square-in-a-square-hole bullshit.
Connie Chung of all people put it best, trying to introduce NRBQ to the world when they’d already been around for twenty years, saying “remember when rock and roll was more than tight spandex and Pepsi Commercials?” That was 1989 and we’re still asking that same question. Do any of us remember? Do we remember beyond our reissues and lip-synced 70s television appearances on YouTube? Do we remember what it was like when bands grew, when they became better with time, when we weren’t disappointed in every subsequent release because the modern sound had moved on and the pages of scribes deemed it unworthy of click-bait-ability? Do we remember when the printed and recorded word wasn’t the final word?
Let’s get a few things about Natural Child out of the way: they’re not retro, not the bastard sons of Lynard Skynard or ZZ Top, not barnstormers or foot stompers or country bumpkins sharing their latest “stew.” To some they are saviors, to others they’re the soundtrack to countless substance fueled nights – to themselves, they’re a rock n roll band, chugging along, in every sense of the word.
To some they’re something to mosh to, to head bang to, to sway to, to lean against walls to – to others they’re the groovingest band you wish would just jam longer – to everyone who steps up to their plate, they’re a fucking rock n roll band.
Rock was founded on stealing, borrowing, appropriating – but in truth, it was founded on taking everything you love and making something of it. If you love punk and only get down to punk, you’ll form a punk band. If you were reared at the bar teet in a honky-tonk, you’re gonna write a ballad to the breasts and beers you were raised on. We forget that these “genres” aren’t just musical: they’re ethos, a way to live you life just shy of a code. Corrupted and cooped beyond recognition over generations, they make rules for themselves, telling us who can and can’t be there. Natural Child says come on in – give us your tired, your weak, your poor, give us your rockers and rollers and grimy punks and suburban cowboys. Get down how you wanna get down – the people out of place here are the ones who look at you askance and askew. Child ain’t got time for judgment or judges
Wanna know what Natural Child sounds like? Good luck. Go to a show and you’ll see what the club thinks they sound like in the bands tasked with opening for ‘em – one night its straight edge screamers, next night there’s apparently been a sale on pedal steels at the nearby Guitar Center. They might be the only band left that fits in the rock bin of your soon-to-be-closed music store for reasons other than the fact that they’re white dudes who make music. One night they’re making mosh pits erupt, the next they’re channeling their inner Dead, wandering off into far corners of their catalog and ability, coming out unscathed but with some stories.
But Natural Child isn’t a band with a story to tell. There’s no shtick. There’s no caveat we gotta get out of the way before you can get into their world. You just gotta meet them on their terms: you do you, let them do them. Seven years, five LPs, hundreds of shows, these are not spring chickens. Yes, they remember when they used to play that song, but they’re not playing it just because you came out to see them tonight. It’s not that they don’t love you, random 50-year-old-out-of-place-at-a-rock-show, it’s that they’re on their own trip, with their own designs, and they ain’t never given in to no one. Never have, never will. This is music for them, and if you can dig, dig. If you can’t – well shit, there’s a lot of music out there.