Friday, September 18, 2009

Article: What is Stoner Rock?

I want to shed some light on the subject of stoner rock. I’m no expert but I’ve been discussing this topic for quite some time and have heard some interesting, enlightening and some downright misinformed opinions on the subject. Maybe placing so much importance on labeling a genre will rub some people the wrong way, but it always intrigued me how one of the most specific sounding genres could have so many ill fitting labels, and how so many people dislike the origins and what it implies yet is constantly used.

First of all, since the term “stoner rock” is misused so frequently I feel that it’s important to talk a bit about its origins. I don’t know the entire history of where it came from, but I do know it is basically a term started by record labels as a gimmick. So it started this way... and now stoner rock has evolved into a somewhat legitimate genre. I’m not really saying it’s a good thing or a bad thing; it’s just kind of a strange thing.

Obviously there are negative connotations and whatnot since “stoner rock” started in such a gimmicky way: it conjures images of your typical pothead sitting on a beanbag chair in a tie dye shirt, spinning some Black Sabbath-esque album, smoking out of a ridiculous bong... and while that may be the case for some people, it’s really not something that real fans of the music want to spread around. The real problem, however, is that it’s an enigma of a genre - constantly being thrown around and interchanged with genres like doom. I guess it’s because they have similarities, and categorizing real doom can sometimes be somewhat of a puzzle on its own.

My point here is: there’s a draw to using the term because it’s easy and convenient. Do I really want to say I like stoner rock? No. Do I? Yes. I just don’t really know what else to call it. It’s kind of doom but not really. It’s psychedelic but not the same as psychedelic rock. There’s the term desert rock but stoner and desert rock don’t really parallel as much as they used to. There are a ton of bands coming out of labels like Tee Pee that are hard to place into anything but stoner rock. There are even documentaries being released on the subject like “Such Hawks, Such Hounds.” I think the reason that stoner rock has become such a phenomenon is that it has evolved in such a strange way. Some people love the term, some people hate it, but it's not going anywhere.

Note: this is just my 2 cents - If you have an opinion on the subject please e-mail me at


  1. hi,

    i've downloaded a lot o' things from your blog today, so thought the right thing to do was come here and say 'hi'. loved what i saw and gonna try to be here more times.
    i got a not so well taken care blog,, if you want go there. i also play on a band, very stooges/mc5/early- laughing hyenas oriented, the orange disaster. again, if you get curious, www,

    hope ya the best,


  2. I really don't like the term 'Stoner Rock' as it sounds like a cartoony put down of those who make 60's 70's derived proto-metal / noise rock / grunge. That and the fact that most of the bands who label themselves 'Stoner Rock' are the cliche made flesh: cartoony nuevo faux hippies playing some Kiss cum Black sabbath bullshit.

    I can't help but be reminded of that old K-Tel ad for Freedom Rock.

    "Hey Man, Is That STONER ROCK? Well TURN IT UP!"

    That's what I think when I hear the term. I play in a group that carries elements of Proto-Metal (which is a MUCH cooler term, IMO), but if someone said we were 'Stoner Rock' I'd probably get depressed - then VIOLENT!

    Nice article, cool blog!

  3. Hey -

    Julio.. it'd definitly be cool if you kept reading. Your blog is pretty cool.

    Mars.. i always like hearing your opinions. Cheers!

  4. Satan Stole My Teddybear website used the term "Sab-Rock" instead of "stoner rock" because they didn't like the implication that you have to be stoned to listen to this sort of music.