One of the biggest talking points surrounding Paste Magazine’s list of “30 Great Athens Bands” (besides the criminal absence of *insert band here*) was the inclusion of the Flat Duo Jets as an “Athens band”. You could argue for or against the case here. But whether or not you include FDJ as an Athens band, it does bring up the question “Just what is an Athens band?”
It’s a tricky question because the guidelines are very blurry. You can’t use city of residence as the be all end all, that’s for sure. What if half of the band resides elsewhere but calls Athens home base *cough REMWidespread cough*? Or what if none of them live here at all anymore (see B-52s)? What if they just have the misfortune to be from Winterville? *ducks incoming flying pots and pans*
Ok, so city of residence is a little tricky. But we certainly can’t put limits on the type of sound an Athens band makes. You’ve got pop like the Warm Fuzzies, songwriters like Don Chambers, hard rocking Hayride, and Mouser who… um…are Mouser. There’s no one quality that hooks all of these together.
Success level is out too. You’ve got top tier earners, steadily employed pickers, weekend rockers, and half-employed players out there in the mess, scrapping with each other to headline the 40 Watt on a Friday night.
So how exactly can you pick up a band and say “This is Athens and that other one is not”? It’s difficult. I try to think about where the band was located/associated with during the most important parts of its career. But I’d love to know, how do you define an “Athens band”?