What is Butt Rock? This is the question Shim and I discuss in the latest episode of Rockstar 101. You can check out the Rockstar 101 podcast wherever you get your podcasts, or over on Shim's YouTube channel. Here are the links:

This question was brought up because I soon realized that my definition of Butt Rock might be different than most. For me, Butt Rock and Hair Metal and Glam Rock were synonymous. Interchangeable. The spandex wearing, massive amounts hair spraying, makeup rockin' bands from the 80's. You know, bands like:

  • Twisted Sister
  • Motley Crue
  • Def Leppard
  • Warrant
  • Poison

But come to find out, my definition is vastly different than what seems to be the consensus definition for the term Butt Rock. It has morphed into a description of bands from the late 90s and early 2000s. Urban Dictionary has an official definition:

A style of hard rock & heavy metal music that is watered down both musically and lyrically to garner maximum radio play and mainstream acceptance. Lyrical themes are drawn from a put-on “tough guy / bro” persona, and include being a badass, getting lots of pussy, strippers, partying, and being betrayed or alone. Image wise, butt rock bands typically consist of guys in their mid-30s with spiky hair, Affliction t-shirts, and bad tattoos (usually barbed wire or tribal). The typical fan emulates this fashion style and exhibits what they think are “manly” personality traits, such as frequently drinking energy drinks, driving an unnecessarily large truck, and otherwise overcompensating for an insecurity in their masculinity. They also tend to have a superficial knowledge of metal music, being familiar only with bands that receive regular radio rotation. Examples of butt rock bands include Five Finger Death Punch, Three Days Grace, Buckcherry, Nickelback, Disturbed, and Three Doors Down.

After I read this, I started to wonder how my definition could have been so far off. But it doesn't seem like they really are. When we used the term back in the 90s and 2000s, it was more-or-less used in a mocking sort of way to those bands from the 80s. The definition seemed to keep that point of mocking, it just moved forward in the musical time frame to the late 90s, early 2000s. So maybe the definition isn't the actual music, it's pointing to the fans of a specific type of music. And honestly, this definition feels like it was written by someone who takes their music far too seriously. You know who I'm talking about. Here are some check boxes for these people:

  • A lot of random tattoos (things like birds, and trees)
  • Skinny jeans
  • They rave about how music sounds so much better on vinyl
  • Every time you go drinking they talk your ear off about IPAs
  • Some sort of facial hair that was big a century ago and they're trying to bring it back

I'm not saying any of these groups are bad. But hey, if we're going to be stereotyping, let's get everybody involved.