1) They like indie music. Obviously.
2) Their regulation thick-frame black glasses. No more breakable item of nosewear has ever been invented: on slow afternoons I could happily cruise the streets for hours walking up to indie kids, lifting these ridiculous excuses for spectacles from their filthy-pored noses and breaking them at the bridge. How the indie kid would howl! Perhaps they would threaten to “kick my ass”. Needless to say all indie kids have adequate eyesight: any slight impairment of vision is due entirely to their regime of perpetual masturbation.
3) Indie kids are at it like rabbits. Or want to be. Scratch any ‘community’ or ‘scene’ of indie kids and you will find a seething cauldron of sexual frustration and backstabbing. Most indie kids are vile to look upon: I think this because I am enslaved by societal standards of beauty.
4) Societal standards of anything are bad, pretty much. Unless it gets you a shag. Or earns you – or more likely your parents – the vast amount of money needed to get through college on some no-mark computer games degree AND buy a billion useless identical records.
5) On the rare occasions when an indie kid does get it on it at least distracts them from listening to indie music. Or making it. All indie kids are in indie bands.
6) Indie is short for independent, because indie kids are not mainstream. No sir. They are individuals. A quick look at an indie kid website will reassure you of that.
7) All indie kids are unique. They are however looking for other indie kids who are unique in exactly the same way as them – cool, huh?
8) Among the unique things about indie kids are their haircuts. The square mainstream observer might mistake the uniform dyed bobs and crops of indieland as the sinister hairstyles of a clone army hell-bent on taking over teenage america and making it listen to At The Drive-In. But such an observer would be a fool. There are crucial differences in the haircuts. Some are, like, really expensive.
9) Some records are really expensive, too. You must really love the music to spend $200 on eBay on a one-sided seven-inch, right? It shows your dedication to music is for real and unique, like your taste.
10) Indie fashions are individual and unique too, and are marked by the indie kid’s strong sense of irony. For example, a lot of indie kids like wearing overalls and workshirts as worn by real live working class people. As the indie kid finishes a two-hour shift at Border’s they feel solidarity with their working-class brothers and sisters in the bakeries and pizza delivery companies all across the nation.
11) They don’t feel solidarity with the suits working in offices, though. Those people are a plastic fake herd of manufactured, soulless brainwashed lemming robot drone sheep enslaved to mass culture pap. (This is true, obviously. But sorry, indie kids are worse.)
12) Not all mass culture is pap, though. Hey! What about those cool Powerpuff Girls?
13) Infantilism is endemic to the indie kids. When was the last time you heard one of them use the word ‘man’ or ‘woman’. Nope, it’s always ‘boys’ and ‘girls’. Some girls are ‘cute’. Some boys are ‘cute’ too. The more incurable indie kids use the words ‘grrrl’ and – shudder – ‘boi’, for all the world as if they were living in a Disneyworld 1994 Experience ride or fell into a copy of Sassy once and never escaped.
14) When indie kids pair off with a cute grrrl or boi (all indie kids are in theory bisexual, of course. Just don’t ask them to do anything about it.) they tend to treat each other like shit and then write it up on their web pages (“I am SUCH the geek”). This is because they are very sensitive, not as the casual observer might have guessed because they are emotional dwarves with no concept of human interaction outside a fanzine problem page. You become sensitive by listening to Belle And Sebastian a lot.
15) All their records sound the same, due to influence inbreeding. The gene pool of influences on indie rock has been shrinking steadily since 1977, thanks to paranoid scenester tastemaking. The constant slathering praise directed at the likes of the Get Up Kids and Sleater-Kinney is the critical equivalent of a one-eyed chinless inbred mutant winning a beauty contest.
16) Indie kids like experimentation, but not too much experimentation. They like extremity, but not too much extremity. They like songs, but they like them to be a bit shy and fuzzed-up and nervous and not too songish. Best of all they like bands which sound comfortingly like the other ones they already know are cool.
17) Of course they listen to other stuff too, carefully weighing it up for its purity of motive and general indie-ness. Other genres are assessed with a practised eye, and only the records which have the most spiritual kinship to indie are acceptable – no attempt is made to take these musics on their own terms, since indie is in any case superior. Eventually a fashionably anti-PC stance allows the indie kid to reject even bothering with hip-hop or dance records – that would after all be ‘tokenism’.
18) The worst thing about indie kids is how apalling they are at even being indie kids. After idling their college years going to ‘shows’ every other day and then spending two years in retail working on a screenplay or writing a novel about following a band or recording a thousand tinny songs on a hundred cheap cassettes and giving them to people they fancy in the hope that a rare Braid EP track might get them a quick fuck on some other indie kid’s sofa and pretending to like the Spice Girls and pretending to like the Magnetic Fields and pretending to like each other – after all that they suddenly get a job and start listening to Moby and Aimee Mann. What I ask you is the fucking point?
Tom Ewing and Maura Johnston
SPECIAL 2007 EDIT FOR THE COMMENTS BOX MASSIVE:
1. This was written in 2001. So don’t complain that we’re talking about emo not indie. Back in 2001, this stuff was indie, and emo was merely a gleam in a marketer’s eye.
2. I don’t know whether the View and the Fratellis are indie or not, but I do know that you should be ashamed to listen to them.