What the heck do you do when you’re a teen? You’re a hot and horny piece of shit with an attitude problem and no clear identity and smudge marks all over your desk where you always trace the anarchy symbol with your finger. This sucks—but it’s nothing compared to wondering what to do when you have a teen. Suddenly there’s this horrible, weird version of you who’s slightly taller and displays enough of your own particular quirks that you can never quite tell if you’re being subtly made fun of, even when the teen is giving you a hug or a familial kiss goodnight. Fuck my teen’s disdainful and sophisticated humor. But maybe you’re like me: a dude who consumes enough black clothes and dour electronics that saying you’re “goth” is slightly easier than just admitting you hate music. And maybe your teen takes after you, funny dad wears some crazy crap and that’s the teen life for me! But forget about clothing advice because your teen will look awkward and weird in anything because nobody alive is comfortable with their bodies and we don’t really learn to mask that until our twenties. So let’s talk music instead: let’s hook that goth teen up with some extremely good shit.
:::ELDER GOTH TRIGGER WARNING:::
We’re just going to bypass the eighties and nineties on this one. It’s covered. Mick Mercer did it, as did some other people who remembered to include Siouxsie. Just give that teen some Cocteau Twins and Coil and tell them to never be like Morrisey; they’ll figure it out. Also, things posted will be extremely subjective and not even necessarily goth—rather, modernish things that I think a black-clad weirdo kid should listen to. There will be hip-hop at some point.
:::ELDER GOTH TRIGGER WARNING:::
The first thing to remember is your teen is pretty much a person who hasn’t yet learned how to hide their true emotions. You don’t want to push your taste on that teen; they have their own teentaste and they’ll figure out what they like their damn selves. It’s fun and nice to share music but the last thing a teen wants to share is their time, with you. You have to trick and deceive them, stay one step ahead of the teen as much as possible.
Now, some people might say, “Go easy on my teen. Don’t drop the most difficult albums you can think of on them and freak them the fuck out so they rebel and turn in to some kind of piece of shit above-grounder”. Parents just don’t understand: nothing helps a person more in their formative years than being as uncomprehending to their peer group as possible. So the first thing you need to do is give that teen Scott Walker’s The Drift and Bisch Bosch. Your teen and their teenfriends are going to go wild for these avant-garde compositions, leading them on an audio pathway all the way back to Walker’s original 1967 solo debut—currently the number-one hashtagged topic in the lunch cafeteria, probably. Walker is also doing some improbably cool work with drone metal gods Sunn O))) as well, so that’s another topic you can take to your teen’s bank and cash.
If your teen is wearing black, they might be exposing themselves to mall metal. That’s cool (not really but talking trash about your teen’s taste is both mean, makes you sound old as hell and is likely to drive them closer to the thing you hate anyway), but check this out: those creepy clown men and Career Deftones Ripoffs whose music makes your stomach feel like punching itself can be a Stargate SG-Fun to drone, harsh black metal, anarcho-crust, and other pathways to a successful business career. A few essential pieces to hide under your teen’s pillow:
-Ash Borer’s Ash Borer. Can you imagine being a teen and hearing the beauty of “Rest, You Are The Lighting” at the exact same time you get your period or first pubic? Probably you’d grow up to be a pro-skater.
– Norymberga’s Norymberga. Throat-rendingly harsh, yet endearingly catchy. Made a friend of mine say “Holy shit”, twice, and he was a bully and a date-haver when he was growing up so you know this is serious business.
Neurosis’ Honor Found In Decay/Godflesh’s Hymns. Metal gateways to industrial, without any of the cheese factor that usually comes when you combine the two.
– reliq’s Empire of Broken Signs. Majestically powerful, reliq is one of the catalysts that got me into metal myself, with influences that range from hardcore thrash to spoken-word poetry. Full disclosure: these guys are now all very good friends of mine. Second full disclosure: so are a lot of other really cool musicians. You should check this out.
Other names to casually drop at dinner: Wolves In The Throne Room, Bone Awl, Deafheaven (cool-kid namedrop plus their backpatches are ill), Gnaw Their Tongues, or just e-text them a link to this awesome cassette blog if they have a tolerance for seeing the word ‘dark’ repeated every third sentence.
HEY—teen on tumblr?! Probably, there’s all sorts of places a teen can get into nowadays, but what you want is them to get into the same stuff as you. That’s the way parenting works. My own dad wanted me to be a hurdler, so he handed me a hurdle and made a big deal out of it, “How about a show of hands for the hurdle, son!” I wish I’d had an older person to take that hurdle off my hands and curb my hurdle hang-up; when I bought it I couldn’t keep my hands off it, I had a very strict “hands off” policy except for my hands. I’m over that hurdle now, so let me hand you some advice: tell your teen to take a flying leap into the noise posting scene.
Noise cassettes are usually produced in infamously small batches, because not that many people actually want them until they can’t have them anymore. Nothing inspires greed like a grainy shot of Jesus being flailed, xeroxed at Kinkos by a glaring student and placed in a case full of incoherence. Post that cover art with some lyrics about insects and sex crimes and you’re a tumblr teen In Demand. Better yet, there’s some extremely good modern noise musicians you can give your teen the cover art to. Prurient’s Bermuda Drain is an ‘obvious’ starter point, with haunting synth melodies that your weird teen will find as beautiful as others do alienating. Make it a ringtone, each time you call the teen they’ll hear Domick Fernow screaming at them. That will teach your teen about music. That will teach your teen about life. The best thing you can do for your teen is to purchase as much of the Hospital catalog as possible and stack it in strange geometrical configurations around the room of your own teen, a known teen or just a teen you’d like to surprise. Noise is also a flexible term, so that same MP3 folder with Pharmakon‘s hellish wails can also contain Lustmord’s ambient masterpiece The Word as Power. And that’s not even delving into ethereal techno bleakness like Ben Frost or Shapednoise, which I’m not going to because *digital shrug*.
Secret words to write in the margins of your teen’s school notebook: Alberich, Herukrat, Cremation Lily, Navicon Torture Technologies, Puce Mary, The Rita, Trepaneringsritualen, Docs With More Than Ten Holes Look A Bit Lame
NEXT WEEK: Modern adventures in dark synth, post-punk and other things that all the goths reading this were probably hoping to read about in the first place. Ha ha. ~