The release of California hardcore-punk act Trash Talk’s newest album shows what signing with a major record label imprint and joining forces with a social media loud mouth can do for an underground band’s popularity.
If you’re a fan of classic, Cali-based hardcore punk (think Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys) and are hoping for a revival, your dreams may be coming true in the form of a band named Trash Talk. The underground group focuses on themes such as police brutality and social injustice, just like its forefathers did, and on Tuesday, the abrasive Sacramento foursome launched 119, their biggest release to date and the first with major-label backing from Sony by way of Odd Future Records.
If Odd Future Records sounds familiar that is probably because it’s the imprint named after Odd Future (OFWGKTA), the often-controversial hip-hop group featuring Tyler, The Creator and his hooligan friends. Moreover, it might seem an unlikely match to mix hardcore punk and hip-hop. But both sides have embraced their commonalities, focusing on similarities in fan demographics, subject matter and gritty lifestyles - i.e., plenty of weed, skateboarding and vandalism.
Joining Odd Future may have seemed like a questionable move, but Trash Talk has since propelled to a level of notoriety the band had never previously seen, beginning almost immediately after Odd Future announced their signing in late May 2012. Tyler and his minions took to the social media universe to announce their newest additions, repeatedly proclaiming “Trash Wang,” a play on the group’s slogan “Golf Wang.” As you can see on the graph below, that alone caused a tremendous spike in Trash Talk’s social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and Wikipedia.
Trash Talk is by no means a new act. In fact, they have been around since 2005 releasing little-known, underground albums on independent labels, including their own Trash Talk Collective. Last year, the band made some buzz when they played a wild show at the CMJ Music Marathon in New York City, earning a spot on the front page of the New York Times’ Arts section.
But looking at the band’s social media presence over the last two years, none of it’s early career even compares to the popularity it has gained since joining Odd Future. A graph of the band’s social media data since the beginning of 2011 reveals continual growth after signing with Odd Future. And to re-emphasize the impact Odd Future has had on Trash Talk, a significant spike in data - in late December 2011 - correlates to an Odd Future Christmas show the band played, during which they joined Tyler, The Creator on stage for the finale. The most recent spike on the graph correlates with the release of 119 on Tuesday.
Trash Talk has cashed in, and it’s not hard to see why. Not only does the band get major label distribution in Sony, but also the promotion of a major social media pundit in Tyler, The Creator. Although Tyler’s tweets are often repulsive and incomprehensible, when he sends out several a day telling his million-plus followers - many of whom are impressionable teenagers - to buy the new Trash Talk album, it creates hoards of new fans for the band. And so, with the endorsement of one major hip-hop artist, Trash Talk hit a growth spurt of popularity going from a little-known hardcore band to Odd Future’s newest hell-raisers overnight.
Photo Credit: Screen Grab from Trash Talk-Slander
Billy Mitchell is the data journalism intern for music analytics company Next Big Sound. Mitchell is currently a graduate student at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute focusing on magazine writing. Before joining the Next Big Sound team, the Newport News, VA native worked with CMJ and Rolling Stone.