I used to have a t-shirt that read “a public service announcement relevant to the apocalypse of modern music. IF YOU DON’T LIKE SHOWBREAD YOU’RE AN IDIOT. thank you and may raw rock kill you forever and ever amen.” I loved that shirt (my mom, of course, hated it). I thought I was so cool walking around school and church youth group with that shirt on. It was like I was in on a secret that all these other kids didn’t know about; the greatest, coolest, weirdest, band of all time was right in front of their eyes and they didn’t even know, AND I was making fun of them for not listening to Showbread! I loved it. I prided myself in being a Showbread fan, they were my hometown heroes. Now, over 10 years later, the band played their final show on August 20 2016. Looking back on that kid who sharpied his fingernails black and thrashed about to Showbread while mowing the lawn, at the time I had no idea how much of an impact that band was making and would make on my musical tastes and, overall, my life.
There aren’t many bands that I remember hearing for the first time. Showbread is a different story. I was in the car with my brother Matt (I remember where we were on the road, oddly enough, but can’t remember exactly which car it was). He said something along the lines of ‘Check this song out, I used to work at the YMCA with a guy in the band,’ then put in a CD and clicked to track 3 as ‘Mouth Like A Magazine’ from Showbread’s sophomore album No Sir, Nihilism Is Not Practical.
Up until this point in life, I had pretty much been listening to whatever was on the radio with a tiny bit of pop-punk thrown in, MxPx, Relient K, New Found Glory, etc. It was mostly music that was polished and catchy, stuff that was easily accessible and more-or-less simple. Showbread, however, was an entirely different beast. It was chaos. It was unabashedly weird. It was, as best described by the band, raw rock. I didn’t realize music could be like this. That entire record, from start to finish, is a rollercoaster of noise. I fell so hard into this band. We went to as many concerts as we could, bought all the t-shirts, introduced my friends to the band (some liked it, most didn’t), and played it as loud as I could from my car stereo.
When Showbread released their next album Age of Reptiles 2 years later, it was completely different. It retained the same fervor and energy as Nihilism but was less chaotic. The record was weird and strange and beautiful in a totally different way than its predecessor, and I loved it. My passion for the band grew and grew.
In 2008 the band put out their strangest and most ambitious release to date, a double concept album called Anorexia/Nervosa. The lyrics of the record itself tell a fairy tale-esque story of two sisters; one who is digging a hole and another who is building a tower. Along the way they meet similar characters and each comes to a similar revelation at the end. Within the lyric booklet, however, another version of the story is told. Below the lyrics to each song the story of the sisters are told in the real world, one sister building a children’s hospital, while the other becomes a stripper. The story has time stamps for each song, showing you at what point in each song you should be reading the story as the music ebbs and flows with events that correspond in both stories. It’s a strange concept and i’m doing a very poor job explaining it. What you need to know is that it is very weird and very beautiful.
And that is the most important thing that Showbread taught me. They opened my eyes to an entire other world of music. Music that is weird and kind of bizarre. Music that can be unpolished and chaotic. Without those 3 Showbread records I mentioned, I never would have gotten into bands like mewithoutYou, Norma Jean, La Dispute, Every Time I Die, The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, and countless other bands that make music that connects on some weird, chaotic, and riotous level.
Even though I may not listen to them all that often anymore, and I haven’t really LOVED any of the albums since 2009, I will always be thankful to Showbread and for how they shaped who I am today. I hope that in 30 years when I am working some miserably boring desk job in some office, somewhere deep within me I’ll still feel the strange anarchic chaos that Showbread’s brand of raw rock imparted onto me.
Thank you, and may raw rock kill you forever and ever. Amen.