When the pre-orders and tour for the recently released Circa Survive album were announced, I sent a text to Colin Frangicetto saying how I was excited to see him here in town again, and what a hell of a line-up the tour had backing it. In his response he told me about how he enjoyed my column on the package deals and wanted to know if he wanted to sit down and talk about art and music. Well, yeah, of course. So months later, we had a chat after the show. Since Frangicetto and I have a pretty agreeable sense of where music stands between art and our love of the physical medium, the interview came out great, but not a lot of new information and just sort of how we currently stand with a way to open even more discussion. But something happened during the interview that caught my attention more so. As we stood outside the bus discussing the absence of labels and the work put into the special packages of Violent Waves, there were two attendees who had been waiting around to get the band's autograph. He paused, talked a bit to the two and a few minutes later we finished the interview.
Now, I'm not putting Frangicetto or his band on a pedestal, because anyone in any band on that level of success ever could and have been that gracious. But there's an intimacy to the whole meeting that makes the dollars spent on music that much more special to someone. Even on Warped Tour this summer, some of our site's tabloid greats graciously welcomed photographs and autographs traveling from their equipment breakdown back to the bus and even vice versa. Now, the bigger you get, the harder that becomes. But interaction in some form is everything. In interaction lies some substance of integrity. Even if that interaction is between the conveyed message, thought, or idea executed on an album and the interpretation of the fan thereafter, we lead ourselves to believe that there's a bout of integrity within the "art," as some of us put it.
For those with dollar signs and ways to manipulate any art in a bastardized way of making lots of money and degrading the whole thing, it's entertainment. It's the Clear Channel way. Sometimes you just get bought and sold even when you're part of the elite bundle of money makers. I commend bands like Circa Survive. They went through the system, learned a few things and came out self sufficient. I say bands "like," because they're not the only ones to do it. As I commented in the aforementioned column Frangicetto and I discussed, mewithoutYou took a similar and still successful route this year as well.
As much as we try to couple the terms "art" and "integrity" together to give us a warm sense of comfort and satisfaction, any type of art, whether it be film, music or graphic, has the ability to get bought and sold for profit to eat, sleep, live and repeat. As I was working on finishing this column last night, I was sidetracked by yet another column (last article, scroll all the way down) by Kevin Dunn. For weeks, I feel like I haven't heard the end of it. Whether it's been discussion amongst close friends about how I feel about the situation or the hoards of editorials and tweets for and against both sides. Dunn's column caught me. First off, it's very well put together. He brings up some very vibrant points of punk culture and the buy and sell lifestyle of what "punk" is and what it isn't. That's just in the first two paragraphs. But if you know your history well enough, you know that the Sex Pistols were put together and managed by a boutique owner, Blondie became a hit radio band outside the dirty clubs of the Northeast and if you're around my age and reading this, you know that some of the first images of "punk" were and still are a bit unclear. Once anything has been taken notice by a larger minority, the majority will eventually gain curiosity and figure out what it is, and bam, you are now a marketable audience.
"Punk" has always been that taboo market where the elitist trust fund crust kids will argue for hours how those suburban middle class losers don't know what that "sacred" term really means. Punk was once part of the counter-culture, and now there are so many various forms of "Black Flag" satire t-shirts, it's about as counter-culture as Disney's Joy Division t-shirts. But I know the real point trying to be made in the "Buzzmedia buy-out of all things punk on the Web." There are the unpaid and the underprivileged that are deemed "staff" on these websites. Well, I'm one of those people. In fact, in two hours I have to be at my part-time job, which sucks so much that tomorrow I have an interview for another one. I should be at Austin City Limits this weekend, but financially it wasn't an option. That's okay, for the most part. I say "for the most part" because it's tough, stressful and sometimes depressing. But what I've learned in the past few years is that freelance writers and musicians are the poorest ones in this industry. If you think bands make little to nothing, then writers are making less and still hold part-time positions. They don't tell you this in college. They don't tell you this at the job fairs. You have a choice to enter the reality of signing an office card for Becky's birthday at the cubicle job because that's the American dream we can't detach ourselves from, or watch At the Drive In's first ever reunion show.
That credit card commercial was right. Some things are priceless. Not sure why now my credit card can get me closer to hooking up with Alicia Keys, but times change I guess.
At the end of the day, someone took a chance on me and continues to do so. Equal Vision and Atlantic took a chance on Circa Survive. Circa Survive used those outlets to learn and grow as artists and almost ten years later they've figured out how to make each lesson a prosperous one. Success doesn't come over night in this industry. It may take ten years for some of us to hone our craft and finally make a living off our talents. Mine is still growing. I'm still experimenting. I can sit here and be mad that after three years of service and what I think, or at least most of you have told me, has been quality work, the "internship" should be over. But who else has offered me a paying gig for my services? Has anyone who has complained about how I get used reached out to say, "Hey, here's a paying gig you may be interested in." No. We just sit and complain about how art, writing, intellectual property and all those things aren't raking in the big bucks.
I could sit around complaining (which I do enough of), or I could spend my time in sharing my wisdom - or lack of - through a vehicle of communication that has been given to me, and by some strange account, hasn't been taken away. You can buy and sell punk all you want, but you'll never truly change anything, catch people's attention or bury your roots deep until you find that vehicle in the system to use. Early in the interview, I think Frangicetto hit the nail on the head, "As an artist, you have to realize that sometimes your portals of communication are going to shift and change due to technology and lots of people wanting it a certain way." All four of those sites wanted to grow and make the thing they created become a full time thing. It's no different then when a band signs to a bigger label.
What can I get out of this deal to further this piece of property I hold dear?
I just want to write. Frangicetto wants to make music and paint. My friends are upstairs right now recording demos on a laptop. Somewhere, right now, someone is jamming out to the new Deathgrips record for free and before the label that gave them the money to record it even heard it. Too many people talk about how the system fucks people over, but this week I realized how much I selfishly use the system for my own needs. It may not be stealing credit cards to book tours like punk bands back in the '80s, but it's a start.
Print is dying, but zines are making a comeback. CDs are dying, but some people want a limited packaged vinyl. Somewhere in between lies the Internet: Digital music that both parties can agree on and up-to-date jackassery on pages of Tumblrs and music blogs alike. A couple of car ads aren't going to bastardized that. Is it free labor? Yes and no. I'm certainly to the point in my life where the benefits don't pay for my college debt, but it's the decision I have made and choose to live with. Jacob Bannon said something that really hit me in an interview with Pitchfork a week ago, "I don't regret the decisions or direction I've chosen, but I feel it's important to be self aware."
When you become self aware, you grow. You gain success. Here's to the future. Maybe it's all the post-rock, instrumental music this week, but I'm as excited as I am fearful for that future.
Now who wants to buy a EMI/Capitol subsidiary with me?
So it's coming up on three years (or something) that I've been a staff member here. It's crazy to think of the things that I've accomplished in these three years: the friends I've made, the things I've written and how it's gotten stronger but not quite to the point of excellence, and the challenges I've given to myself in each field of interviews to reviews to even this run down old blog. Pushing myself and pushing myself and pushing myself. It begins to tear, creating exhaustion and a rundown engine of sorts. This is being in a touring band. This is pushing your bands on your label that aren't selling as well as other bands, yet you still believe in their talent and poise. This is the hustle of the industry.
I hate it. I loathe it. I breathe it through my inbox every goddamn day.
This past week there's been a heated discussion about the workings of this site and other sites, for which we have partnered with to craft a larger community of news, ideas, features, thoughts, anguish and joy of our love of music. The right selection when we get in the car, or we want playing when we attempt to nervously land that kiss we've been thinking about all night. It's a sense that runs through many of us, but when I talk to many - I feel like it runs through few so deeply. Those people that I think it effects the most are the people I work with. It runs through our "Voices" sites. There is a wall called the Internet, and we're all sitting here yelling at it. Sometimes it talks back. Whether we tend to agree with it or not, we also tend to believe what it says most of the time. That's a scary thought for many reasons I can neither condone nor explain fully.
As one of those "free writers" for which half my networks know nothing of my lack of pay - nor do I think they care, because let's face it, at the end of the day it's a job to pedal. That's why you get paid, and I understand that. But through the muck and negative (a lot of which has been tossed around the social feed as of late), there is opportunity. Opportunity to be a complete ass clown of an opinion strewn across pages and pages of utter bullshit and contempt of uneducated and unmovable fandom alike. Every time someone questions my fiber to continue doing what I do for "free," I think of my friends in bands who have shitty part-time jobs like me; I think of my networks who have worked their way up from nothing; I think of the kind words I've been given - hesitant if they were in vain of personal gain - and just smile.
Writing for a huge publication used to be king. Then someone said, "Fuck it. I'll start my own." The variable that people tend to forget that separates one blog from another is content. Content is fucking king. Content is the fucking Walter White Jr. of this industry. It shocks, intrigues, stirs shit up and never backs down from its stance on or off of a contemporary and/or historical topic. When you're the master of your own domain (pun intended), you can run free and see what works and what doesn't. In the fast paced world of the Web, shit changes every day you're not paying attention. This is a game of chess you should plan on losing if you're not keen to a sense of surprise or uncomfortable feeling.
The truth is, I'm not sure what's next for me. I'm not sure if it lies here within the confines of AbsolutePunk or somewhere else. But no matter the location, I'm determine to make you all think. I'm even more determine to push my writing further. To question my own convictions on music, while testing your patience to hold a conversation without lashing out with your heart, instead of finding an understanding between the layers of the mixes. Lester Bangs died at the age of 33 taking three drugs and (supposedly) listening to the Human League's Dare. I wonder what his last thoughts were on the record, the song, the moment in time before his last breath. Was it understanding or was it nothing but more questions? Can I beat that? Can I write my best by the time I'm 32 and mix it with four drugs?
One of my co-workers is in his Fifties. While we were discussing a song playing over the speaker, he brought up a point when thinking of who the artist was: He not only remembered when he heard the song, he connected it to a time in his life and how old he was. He told me that's how he remembers music, by remembering the time in his life. That's his documentation. That thought hit me hard, because I sometimes think I'm the only one who thinks that as well. I work in an industry of hip denoucers. I work in a "buzz" time and "best new music" of sorts. I'm not that person. I'm just a sixteen year old kid who thinks NOFX's Pump Up the Valuum is the best fucking record he's ever heard - and it's damn funny too!
But now I sit here listening to Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band's 13 Blues For Thirteen Moons. That's far apart from my adolescence. That feeling of discovery and excitement still embeds itself in each new record I hear though. As I grow older, I always tend to think in the aforementioned mindset. To put it bluntly, that's the coolest fucking part of music. That's why I get up and write and put together features and shell out reviews for "nothing." I do it because I want people to be as excited about something as I am. I want people to connect to a sound, a destruction and a bloom of something special.
This is one of the most exciting times in music, and I'm truly grateful every day that I'm somehow a part of it. As one of my favorite bands once said, "The best things in life are free."
I'm not sure if I want to do this anymore. The moment money crossed my mind, I had to take a step back. Maybe I need to step away for a bit. I don't know. I wish I had more to say. I wish I had more to say lately especially.
Music, right now, is really good. We're going to be okay.
I'll be behind the scenes for a while after my next column. A few reviews. Not much more unless the moment strikes me.
Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, seriously, thank you.
Last night I received the much anticipated Pianos Become the Teeth album, The Lack Long After. While I was talking with some of the band's friends about the album last night (some people I was with had heard it), I knew it was something special to sit down with, read and listen through. My options were reduced to a cheap pair of headphones I bought the other day, and eventually succumbing to staring at the ceiling while not falling asleep. I decided to give it a spin while laying in bed. With no lyrics in front of me and slowly drifting into dream land, the music itself was just taking over my senses in some parts making me pull the plugs out my ears and making a conscious decision to listen to it the next morning. After a quick e-mail, the lyrics in front of me and completely taking 40 minutes of my lunch time to experience this, I plugged in my stereo system and just sat on my floor in front of the speakers.
This is what started a moving day.
The way vocalist Kyle Durfey comes off on The Lack Long After is incredible. The band has written one of the most beautifully melodic pieces of anguish in the album's closer. A lot of the writing seems to center around Durfey getting over his father's death. If you were moved by Wildlife, The Lack Long After will be as gripping and dramatic - if not more uncomfortable.
Then later in the day, the news came through the wires about the death of Steve Jobs. No matter how you feel about or how much you use Apple's iTunes system - it revolutionized the game. It's not just about the iPod, it's about turning music consumption into a customizable purchase. Why buy five albums for ten songs, when you can buy just the ten songs? Could it have directly caused some artists to build albums again instead of filler? Who knows. Jobs was always looking to outsmart others and try something new. He used the system to his advantage and kept reinventing the wheel one after the other. He is a contemporary punk in my eyes.
While learning of the news, I was thirty minutes from seeing 50/50 - a movie that I'd been anticipating since seeing the trailer about a guy named Adam who had cancer. I knew the movie would bring back memories, but in the scene where the character is about to go into surgery and he's getting nervous with anxiety as the morphine goes through the system was terrifying. For the first time ever with a movie, I teared up a bit. 50/50 does an excellent job with capturing the emotion of going through something like that. For someone who has gone through it or was there when it happened, I'm sure they would feel the same way about the aforementioned scene. I know I was only 6 years old, but I remember sitting with other patients getting chemotherapy. I remember my mom finally shaving my head because my pillow was completely full of hair. I was the baldest kid in first grade.
After leaving the movie, I put in the end of Wildlife and just sort of absorbed everything I had observed all day, as well as taking in the last few days with seeing friends from out of town on tour or seeing how things are slowly getting better as a whole. Death is the greatest fear for some - both our own and the ones around us. As horrible as the Final Destination movies put it, fate can hit us at any time. It's making something out of the days we have that counts. Whether that something is music or writing or fashion or public service - do your best at it, grow and make a footprint in this world. Listening to The Lack Long After and reading through those lyrics this morning made me think of my grandmother who is really at the cliff of her health. I will always remember the greatest thing she ever told me was that I was destined for something and that she always believed in me. She didn't know what it was, but she knew I'd figure it out one day.
It doesn't matter the mark, just make it special enough and maybe it'll be a bigger print than you think.
What a morning to wake up to: I've got $6 in my bank account until Friday, have been struggling at both my jobs and have been having the worst writers block since my head's been clogged with a lot of financial and job related issues as of late. But through it all, someone out there loves me (and is possibly in a lot of trouble) and leaked the new Blink 182 album a couple of weeks early. First thing I scoured the vortex of Google today for, and upon first listen...well...second listen...okay....third listen...yeah, I really like this one track...fourth listen...okay, finding some favorites...
Through all of these listens, I've been thinking about a lot of things: longevity, nostalgia, excitement, disappointment, criticism, expectations, past and present projects, etc. Every little judgmental detail that was processing in my head before the album even finished downloading on my computer. I was just as nervous as I was excited. It was like not seeing a longtime friend you had grown up with and shared a lot of your fears, good times and adolescent spurts of emotion with for so long. One day - they just disappeared. Then you fell apart. You'd revisit good times and bad. Their voice and actions came up in casual conversation and it would sound nostalgic thinking about the close connection.
Listening to Neighborhoods, so much comes rushing back all at once: the last time you met, the last you heard from the person and what they've grown into. For most of us that really grew up with the band like we may have grown up with a certain television show or batch of childhood movies or teen comedies - this is something we hold as sacred as pop fundamentalist see The Beatles or paintings by Andy Warhol. In context, we do appreciate it more because we grew up alongside it.
Today marks my second year anniversary with the site. A site that of course was built around this band. (It should be noted that the week of my first anniversary as staff I actually interviewed Mark Hoppus.) But it's not about the site, and the exclusives and music and interviews and all this paralegal bullshit - it's about the feelings I stay up until 4 in the morning writing sometimes. I'm not the best writer and I continue to struggle to somewhat come close to my idols. Those idols have taught me two great things: don't bullshit and speak from your heart. This industry is complete bullshit sometimes. The way it's shaping every day, it's just a bunch of frustrated people trying to keep some sort of control that is absolutely out of their hands and far beyond the technology that someone has already figured out how to hack (how punk rock) before they figure out the next move.
The members of Blink 182 don't need anymore money. They went in the studio to make another album because they wanted to do so. Neighborhoods will sound familiar at times and leave you gritting your teeth at others - but I think it's still honest all around. Honest music will continue to thrive. Honesty and longevity go hand and hand. It's absolutely too early to say if this next wave of bands making music will make such a lasting impression - and I'm not saying that a few of them won't. At the end of the day, whether we received another Blink 182 record, or it ended with their self-titled, they already made their mark. Neighborhoods is just another notch in the band's career no matter how you personally take it.
The most aggravating thing - yet biggest laugh - about life is that there is no true reflection without a great distance of time between the initial event and any sort of action or reaction thereafter. The same can be said about anyone's career and where it fits in the grand scheme of a small portrait or larger mural of any practice, skill or market. Blink 182 hasn't just been there for me when I needed simple answers and reflections on current digressions and joyous occasions, they've really showed me that growing up is going to be okay - even if you make some enemies and falter along the way. Lucky for me, I've made so many great friends, been fortunate enough to live my dream and somehow have had people connect to the words spewed across the open forum of ideas that is the Internet. I really don't know how to react when people say that stuff to me - so to those people who have, don't take my reaction as offense. Thank you.
In 2002 my best friend and I recorded a cover version of "Dick Lips" on his computer. Guitar and vocals only. I found the CD the other day going through some boxes and cleaning up. I was just a kid who loved music then, and I'm still a kid who loves music now. It's good to hear a familiar voice almost 10 years later.
I've had the fine pleasure of messing around with the new site for the past week like much of the staff, and I can tell you that what Jason has put together is living up to my expectations and more. There's a few things I would personally change design-wise that I brought up, but they're so miniscule, and they don't take away from the experience, so it really doesn't matter. The way you move through the site; the clean feel of it. It's like knowing where everything in your dirty room is if you're looking for it, but one day finally just cleaning it the fuck up. That's the biggest part of AP.net 3.0 - it's the progressive version of what I think Jason wanted this site to be over time.
With progression will come minor offense by us spectators. "Oh, well I liked this minor thing here," or "I liked how raw this looked, sounded, felt, etc.," and it just continues like that from generation to generation. It's the one drawback for having a creative intellect and a judgmental one at that. If you really want to stand out, you'll move forward. Will anyone care about the third album from "insert band that gets so much shit but only has 15-year-old fans that will grow out of their music here," in five years? Ten? Seriously, Millionaires has a Kickstarter with shitty incentives. These things are called a "flash in the pan."
Good art (subjectively speaking on a larger or cult like scale) will only be herald over time. One album doesn't mean shit. Ten albums and eight really good or close to solid ones means more. Three solid ones that birthed influence but never sold means even more than the ones that garnered immediate sales and dropped off. Good art is also produced by people who won't give up on their ideas. I wonder what Loveless would have sounded like if Kevin Shields didn't bankrupt the record label. What if Black Flag never learned how to play their instruments? What if bands like Young Widows or Jesus Lizard or Jawbox never aimed for the perfect tones in their recordings?
Hearing some of O'Brother's songs last night off their upcoming record Garden Window and listening to Circle Takes the Squares nearly flawless layering of only the first third of their new album, it made me think of a new perspective of all my pissing and moaning. There wasn't a time in the late 2000s where music was awful - it just didn't have any heart anymore for some of us. It seemed like for a second that the majority (not all) bands were making music for the sake of making it. (note: the italicized statement can be taken two ways.) I think that's what I'm beginning to see when talking to some of these artists that are releasing some phenomenal music this year - there's heart and desire in it again. Bands are going out of their way for a certain showmanship of overcoming their own challenged ideas.
For a lot of you, moving onto the new site will seem strange and weird. It's not raw anymore. It's been remasterd in the best way possible. As we spend our last few weeks or months with this house, cherish the qualities it's given to us as a community. Those same values are in the next site, it's just perfecting those qualities. When you first get into punk rock, it's all about fucking the system over and creating anarchy and making it about us against them. The truth is that that sort of idealism is complete bullshit. Take it from someone who once had that ideal. The truth is that punk rock is about taking what is wrong, and making it right and building a community around positive ideals of how to do things properly. When you're young, noise is cool and new; when you grow older, learning how to control it in your favor is even better. That's the real art of punk rock - breaking the rules without anyone even knowing you're doing so.
If you told 17-19 year old me what an iPod playlist was, that kid would probably look at you like you were speaking in tongue. More so than that, the idea of even downloading full albums from file-hosting sites as a means of discovery would be future news opposite searching for an album with track-by-track downloads on file swapping programs. My last few years of high school and early years of college were spent with mix CDs made up of my favorite tracks still played on a CD player (this ancient brick of a device) through a tape deck on my drives home in my '91 Buick LaSabre (probably the closest I'll ever come to owning a tank).
So these are five of the best CDs my friends found in my apartment and car and how I feel about them today. I'm including full track listings as to not hide any sort of shame. I will say this, I had to download the Shazam app for the iPhone because I didn't recognize some of these songs. (Writer's note: Shazam didn't work for a lot of the tracks.)
1) Sharpie Title: Too Brutal Even For Me Score: 15/17 Thoughts: Maybe at the time this was "too brutal for me," but I thought this was the heaviest stuff I'd ever come in contact with and like everything, I was being hyperbolic. The end of "Floater" into the back to back Poison the Well tracks transition pretty awesomely. Having DEP and CTtS right before the Collision Course tracks are pretty amazing in my eyes. Rock out with some technical heaviness and then party? Why the fuck not? All in all, I pretty sure there was a lot of air guitar going on in the years this CD existed in rotation.
2) Sharpie Title: Bad A Mix Score: 11/12 Thoughts: This is definitely one bad ass mix! 19-year-old me probably rocked this one out at least nine out of the seven days a week. "Admission:Regret" is still one of my favorite As Cities Burn songs and the AC/DC cut is because of my love of Empire Records. Hearing that opening track by Fear Before does make me wish they'd write another record already. I used to jam that one out after every awful test.
3) Sharpie Title: She said that I was the brightest little firefly in her jar… Score: 7/13 Thoughts: Okay, so this one, my buddy Drake immediately laughed at the title when he found it. Once we started spinning it, the jokes kept coming. Obviously a mix I made when I was young and heartbroken, it kind of makes me realize why certain music thrives today - and somehow always will. I still very much love about half the tracks on this (Clarity Process was one of Rise Records' finest and underrated first acts, and go download everything from Blueprint Car Crash), but I'm not buying a lot of the sentiments now. It just goes to show you though, music has a way of connecting with people - even if you might think some of it is shit years down the line. (It should be noted that some of the tracks I find awful and were earlier cuts of bands I think went on to do better.)
4) Sharpie Title: Sing me something soft sad and delicate loud and out of key sing me anything… Score: 8/10 Thoughts: This is quite an irony. I made this CD when I met the girl who broke my heart for which I made the previous CD for. So I guess this is 18-year-old me being in love for the first time. Kind of funny both albums ended on the same song. I believe I used the TBS demo just for the intro as well. Also, that ACB song is from their very first demo if you can find it. I also remember liking the demo version of that Straylight Run song a lot more than the studio version. Now I really can't tell too much of a difference. Young me used to think he knew it all.
5) Sharpie Title: Who Wants a Body Massage? Score: N/A Thoughts: Okay, so of the five CDs, and after going through as many as I could, I realized this one was one of the ones that was made my senior year of high school/summer before college. I know this for two reasons: 1) The bands that make up the release and 2) A lot of the mixes I found from my senior year of high school were tracked like this. Instead of one song from a number of bands, there were a couple songs per few bands and a usually a couple of single tracks scattered towards the end. It's an unfortunate thing really, because it shows how into specific bands I would get, and now as my inbox swells and I seek out music I know I will probably enjoy or are interested in, it goes to show how our means of discovery and how much time we spend with specific bands lasts. Back then it was downloading track by track. Now you can sit down with a full album on a stream service or illegally obtain it through a file-hosting search on Google. How the times have changed...
Ah, 25. As my car insurance is lowered and I can legally now rent a car and…well, I guess that's it really. I guess it's that age when you really begin looking back and worrying about moving forward. It's that scene in Fight Club where Brad Pitt is telling Edward Norton about how he kept asking his dad, "Well, what now?" and in succession he just keeps doing what his father said until there was no real answer. Around this age, it seems like if you haven't chosen some sort of path now, you better make the best compass out of a paperclip somehow and get a bit of direction somewhere.
This past month I was fired from my part-time job and entered the world of unemployment for about a month now. With a new sales and marketing job and starting another small part-time job next week, it was an emotionally wrecked month of rest. Through all of it, it made me realize how important it is to have a sort of drive and to take risks. As I was sitting in two of my interviews this week discussing my knowledge of the evolving industry model, it began to hit me just how the last ten years has really morphed (and possibly animorphed) into different avenues. At the end of the day it was just a lot of people fed up with the norms. This industry is a lot more dog-eat-dog than most of you want to lead yourself to believe. You have to be punk with your business if you want to survive.
Reading this last week's interview with pg.99 over at NPR.org was very refreshing. See, the thing about interviewing all these bands from the '90s and early 2000's is that a lot of them just had a "do it" attitude. Sure, they were trying new things, but there wasn't a "sophomore slump" or "expectation" to live up to. In fact, some fans hated Document #7 for its shift into some more "experimental" territory. That sort of critique is only echoed daily from publication to publication from writer to writer and so forth and so on without any knowledge of true timely reflection. Now we have Circle Takes the Square's highly anticipated return. From someone who's spent two days with the first chapter/EP from Decompositions Vol. 1, Rites of Initiation is incredible. This is a band that has learned to craft their sound in the studio without losing any of their chops and identity along the way.
What I'm getting at in all of this is that looking back on the last two years out of college, and even what I've achieved a few years before that along the way, I can't even believe it. I put myself in some ruts because I kept wanting to fight the system instead of embracing its progression mixed with my knowledge and ideas. That's what I'm just now beginning to understand this past year: You can fight the norms, but you have to be prepared for the consequences for doing so. I was catching up on Louie today on Hulu, and a line really hit me:
"I don't know why you don't wanna just keep your mouth shut and keep the money?" - Casino Manager
"I don't know either." Louie C.K.
I could have gone the route of working for a newspaper. I could have gone the route of getting a job I wouldn't be happy in just because that's what we're carved out to do. But this scene, these ideals are too ingrained in my blood to do that. Having a good friend write "He’s an avid supporter of the underground punk community and is praised for his coverage of the bands involved," really touched me. To be told that a band gravitated toward me because of my attitude and ideals really hit me hard. I don't think much of myself, and I don't want this to even seem like I'm e-jerking myself off, so in one week for two people to say that to me means so much I can't even articulate a thank-you.
It means I must be doing something right. Past all the copy-edit problems and questioning how close I'm going to come to just make rent this month as the bank is calling me three times a day since I haven't paid my credit card payments, I know its all trite in the end. I want you guys to have that same attitude as well. In this industry you can be a flash in the pan, or you can resonate for years to come. It doesn't matter if you're playing music or writing about it or managing bands that have stuck behind you for years on end. If there's one thing I will take of myself this last year, it's that integrity goes a long way. I'll leave you with one last line from the same episode of Louie:
"I wish I could tell you it gets better. It doesn't get better. YOU get better." - Joan Rivers
It's the excuse that's used by so many that have been critiqued by the new age of bloggers not unlike myself. It's still weird that some people think of Absolutepunk.net as a blog though. I just think it's a website as a daily, paperless publication. So on the surface, I'm not hiding behind a computer, it's just that my job output happens to be on one. For too long some people have asked me why I don't get paid, and certain people look at it as Jason getting free labor from the staff that make up the site.
I look at it as this: I don't have to please any advertiser or set market to make sure that the magazine I work for sells x number of copies to turn a profit. Now, a lot of you will take that statement as a jab at a certain rival publication that is slowly moving some of its content online, but I want to assure you that it's a statement based on any and all publications from the smallest of town circulations to Rolling Stone magazine and the New York Times. The mass media runs on one of the strangest of forms of turnover in any business: advertisement. That's mass communication day one stuff.
So all that said, I'm happy to babble on and on whether you or Jason or any of the staff agree or disagree with me. I don't have to answer to anyone except for my own critique. The important thing to look at here is that doesn't mean I don't harbor some sort of "power." That's mainly what bothers me about the whole job of being a critic is that form of power. With great power comes something or other…I forget how that one goes, but I do know with some kind of power comes a certain social hierarchy that can be seen by not only the writer depending on how humble or caring they tend to think about their work, but in the ripple effect it has as well. For example, everyone wants to know what Jason thinks of a new album, especially when it's from either a) a band he's had praise in bringing up before or b) simply a big name with a lot of following. What I don't understand is why does it matter what he or Drew or Thomas or I or any of us think? In the end, we're technically free publicity. Our words are like hyped ad space. I understand that we do have the ability to persuade in our writing and that somehow makes us this social marker for the greater good (whatever that may be), but as a listener who should form their own opinion anyway, do you really need our opinion to form your own? The answer is yes, if it's done in a "let's throw the ball across the room," form.
Okay. So now that you're all caught up. Maybe you already know who and what I'm talking about. Either way, names aside, the final statement further proves my point of having this harnessed power that I can't even begin to fathom having this day and age. What disturbs me is that i don't inherently give myself the power, for I am no greater than an advertisement made by Tim and Eric - if you don't want to look, you won't. When you turn away, the piece looses meaning and fades away. Or (for some reason) it sticks. Unfortunately it makes your band look kind of bad and shows you wear thin skin in an otherwise gruesome industry. Look at all the shit The Dangerous Summer has taken over the last year if you want to take about "bad publicity," and they still managed to write an album that makes kids forget how much of a dick some of the guys have been.
All this rambling - and especially that last thought - comes down to this: If you're a real artist doing it for the music, then your skin better be made of leather and more importantly, you need to let the music speak for itself. Once you get it mastered and shipped to press and then probably illegally downloaded days, weeks or months down the road, opinions will be held and thrown around like the worst food fight on a 106 degree day. I'm just not sure one writer on one website should be held accountable for his opinion, especially when they're putting gas in your tank or money in your hand to pay back loans from the label if there were any accumulated. Seriously? You want to be like that? I heard a story the other day that Hatred Surge wouldn't sell merchandise to kids at shows if they didn't look tough enough. At least be as br00tal as that band when it comes to running the business of your band instead the business of your Twit.
Calling out a reviewer for his opinion doesn't make you look like you're defending your music, it just makes you look like an asshole. Going out every night and touring as many months out of the year and playing to crowds at least 200 people deep and swelling defends your right to do what you do. Russell Hammond said it best: "This is the circus, everybody's trying not to go home." He was talking about that shit back in the early '70s broseph! For realz!
I've been working on my book the last few months and yesterday I updated my Tumblr with an entry of something I wrote just the other afternoon. It was crazy to see the comments on a thought that dawned on me while watching television and eating lunch. Even more insane that someone just "picked it up" on a blog feed. I've become more and more paranoid about my writing over the last year not because of how people react to it, but what effect it causes on a greater scale - and what effect it might not have. We all foresaw the Internet as this powerful machine, but as writers, advertisers, press, etc., I don't think we've fully grasped its greatest contribution - the open forum.
It's all here. The town meetings (Absolutepunk.net, Bridge 9 board), the silly underground debauchery (4chan, IsAnyoneUp?) and of course the social circles (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc.) all stationed to breed new ideas from regurgitated thoughts that could fall through the cracks or hopefully stick through "sharing" and "reposting" of ideas and building upon them to make them smarter, or at the very least, continue the laughter. (see also: Internet memes) If you hold water to everything that's said "behind a computer," then you probably don't have the brain power capable of owning and operating the device. In the end, everyone is usually wrong (including myself) and it's only about slowly building on top of the fragments. I'm not here to give you the picture, I'm here to disassemble it and help mold its features into something else entirely.
I'm mainly here to clear my head. I'm here to take my feelings out on the screen, and hell, maybe someone will feel the same way - or maybe someone will help make sense of my confusion. This is a dangerous playground. It makes circle pit fights during the Acacia Strain seem like grade school dodgeball games. If you want to get your opinion across around here, you have to be honest and you have to sometimes look the other way or take that scrutiny and take it constructively.
This has been another installment of When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong.
I've been spouting off about nostalgia and such for well over a year now. In a way, it kind of makes me feel old. I finally feel "dated" for the first time in my life. Not only in a sense of "When I was your age," but also looking back on all the bands I've still missed before my time of consumption as well as a few bands I missed during that portion of my time when I was really adhering to new music. What's great about a decade passing is there's some sort of adequate timeline to judge your idols against what came after and those that influenced them before. When you're in the moment, like most of the younger users right now, you have no judgement besides "This music speaks to me. I don't care what you think!" As much as I can have my bitter opinion against yours, you should always strive to have that attitude. When ten years comes creeping up on you, and you have that moment to reflect back, I can only advise you this: take it, be judgmental and see who really stuck with you over the years. Which albums still give you chills? Which artists that changed the way you looked at music are continuing to change the way you look at music? These are the important questions to ask yourself among all the subjectivity that we continue to war over.
At the beginning of the month, I had the privilege to be a guest to go see the Taking Back Sunday/Thursday tour in Houston on the Fourth. Besides having a great night enjoying music and not pandering to every detail of "how well the band was performing," it was really about watching two bands that will always be part of my childhood, and one opener that still excels after discovering the band at their EP release show years ago. There's not enough praise I can talk up when it comes to Colour Revolt. From the first time I saw them, to how each record continues to change course yet still continues to captivate with its blend of raw emotion and executed delicacies, Colour Revolt are one of those bands that are held special to more people than you know and without ever getting some sort of larger recognition. It's a shame, because no matter when I see them, they never disappoint in their live show. No matter how big the room I've seen these guys in, their aura always has a way to fill it and turn quite a few silent until applause.
But Colour Revolt came into my life a few years later, and the two big names of the evening were engrained in my blood since I was sixteen and was at that age of simply eating up new music like it was a bottle of Flintstones vitamins and I was on a binge. Thursday was that band for me when it came to the hardcore genre. Before that I had heard and enjoyed essential albums like The Shape of Punk to Come and Relationship of Command, but Full Collapse was a whole other personal level that isn't detachable to this day. On the band's sixth album, this year's No Devolcion, they have simply reminded many of us how far not only the band have pushed themselves in the truest sense of the word "progression" over the years, but that a quieter and more aural feeling can be just as intense as any heavy guitar riff hammocking under a cathartic scream. With cuts mostly from their new album, the band are just as impacting months after doing a run that reminded us why we fell in love with the band's presence in the first place.
While Thursday has mostly kept a steady fan base throughout the years, it's also always been the same five people (sans the pre-Waiting departure of Bill Henderson and the later inclusion of Andrew Everding soon after Full Collapse) and you wonder what it would have been like if the same stayed true of Taking Back Sunday. Even through all the muck, bad relationships and reunions, the last few years that was Taking Back Sunday still has its memorable moments - you can't deny that. There's some great tunes, and there's some not so great ones - that's music! Music certainly thrives on a natural flow not only in what is processed out, it also has to be experienced among the creative outlet. Watching the "newly reformed" original line-up gave me that feeling. No matter how you feel about the band's self-titled as a product judged against your high expectations (or low ones depending), it certainly feels like the most natural sounding record since the beginning. I felt that standing on stage as well. These were men - years later - reflecting not only on their past few years (the band taking part in Straylight Run's "Existentialism on Prom Night" and Nolan of course singing parts not his own from absence), but they were happy in the present moment as well. That's what shined through the most.
What's mainly been rolling around in my head over the past month (and after seeing the current indefinite hiatus of one of my absolute favorite bands of all time that sits a few notches above the aforementioned) is how some of our most cherished bands exhibit the worst behavior in us (see also: the Glassjaw fiasco of the last few years). We're so passionate about holding onto that special something, that there's a bit of feeling in us that makes us become so judgmental. Most older people will tell you that their favorite bands never made the same record twice. For me, that's easily true. At some point when your musical tastes shift, you start to become a crank about how it used to be and how band X sounds like a refurbished version of your favorite band. What I've yet to understand though is that moment when band Z is no longer a rip off, but reminds you why you fell in love with your favorite bands.
Nostalgia will hit us when we least expect it, but it's a net we always seem to fall in that's triggered by an event most notably associated with a past experience acting as your reference of deja vu. I can hear losing my first love in Beneath Medicine Tree, my parents' divorce in Full Collapse, the best times in my senior year of high school in Through Being Cool, moving to Austin in Mean Everything to Nothing, and even further back, I remember my mother playing records while she cleaned the house on Saturday morning anytime I spin Magical Mystery Tour and Led Zeppelin's II. All those feelings have been rushing back to me in the last year, and I think its surely because enough time has passed. Standing on that stage a few weeks ago seeing two bands I not only grew up with - but grew up with - made me feel that sudden rush of nostalgia to the head.
No matter how fleeting your memories will eventually get, it should eventually lead you to finding the bands that influenced your best kept collections, or appreciating a band you once wrote off years down the line. The Taking Back Sunday/Thursday tour has a lot of different meanings to a variety of people. Some of us saw the headliners in small clubs or practice spaces on the weekend, and some of us are thankfully witnessing two bands that keep pushing themselves years later to refine their sound. 2011 has been a great year for music, but we've yet to see what the next ten years will offer us as a whole. I still think we have yet to see if the next generation has picked up on our influences yet. I think 2021 will be quite interesting to reflect back on. I'll be 35. Wow! Maybe they'll have those mini-Pizza Hut pizzas like in Back to the Future II.
Some of you have caused quite a stir over staff members leaving out scores as of late in some of our reviews. Some of you say we're riding the fence and that we should stop being a fanboy pussy and write the truth in numbers. This week, I was one of those victims of criticism. As I was being criticized for being critical with stature on one end of my life, I was being fired over my job for being critiqued on the other end. I've never been fired from a job before, and it just so happened to be the place that's been the bane of my existence for the last year and more. It was all over an unfortunate incident that led to someone criticizing me (for the record, none of the claims were actually my fault) to get the pink slip.
I don't want anyone to have sympathy for me on this one. I've never worked for a worse establishment all the years I've been a server, so it was really for the best. I just kind of wish I could have gone out in a more grandeur moment, and that's really my only anger in the whole decision itself. But it got me to definitely think about the work I do and the effect it has on the one being criticized on the other end. For some reason, people want to know - they need to know. In the past year, I've been pondering the necessity that someone needs for a meaningless score or rating. Why read what the writer really has to say about the album, and how he or she does their best to bring you through it, when you can just base a simple judgement on a score? You're probably going to get it illegally anyway, right? Has illegal downloading now gotten that lazy that you have to choose which albums you're going to download because you only have so much time to not care that it's on your hard drive anyway?
I'm getting off track. One comment on one website got me canned. It made me think of the playground that is Absolutepunk. I'm not referring to the staff, but I'm more referring to the users. Everyone has an asshole, and it's filled with an opinion. Or is it that everyone is an asshole with an opinion? That's something parents teach their kids that is passed down generation to generation and no one knows what it means anyway - until it's turned into an internet meme or something. I'm not really sure.
Back to "Being a dick for the sake of being a dick and not actually furthering conversation with opinion." I write very openly, and I try to see as many sides of the issue as possible. When it comes to art and the interpretation therein, there's so many sides because of the infinite number of personal reflections of an album. As I was having a conversation with a close friend today, some of my favorite albums are ones that juggle hope and sheer desperation: The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, Catch For Us the Foxes, Emergency and I, Full Collapse, and so many more. Sometimes we latch on too much, and we never let an album give us an experience. We instead try to over think and decipher what an album is doing or needs to do to have it gain our attention in such a fast paced world of digital playlists and 99 cent crap shoots.
I've been wrong about many albums in my day, and it took some walking away from (especially "my expectations") to give an album a chance. That's how I felt about In the Mountain, In the Cloud. At the same time, I knew both sides of the listening spectrum, and I think it was the first time I really caught myself with those expectations and told myself "Stop!" before further judgement. Sometimes we get so caught up in the moment, and our quick judgements could be the death of something or someone else.
Every once and a while it opens better doors though. Some musicians can look back at some criticism and come to realization and move on. Those are usually the ones that are always thinking toward the future, next step, next progression - their next standout move. I'm very excited about the future. Not just my job prospect, but the future of music right now. There's a ton of competition out there right now among the underground. So far, I'm liking what I see.
If you keep up with my blog (I feel sorry for you), but you'll realize that this next entry isn't where the last one left off. It's a shame. It's sitting on my desktop, but in a quick decision to spend time with a friend that's moving tomorrow, I switched shifts at work and completely turned my second life of writing compliments on one end of the spectrum against the negative apathy I have for most on the other end, on its head.
I want you for a second to think of one song that reminds you of a special time. For some it could be what you did after class in high school each day and for others, it's about the adventures and growth spurts of college. I want you to think about the most painful and most pleasant articles of music that went with it. Keep it broad and truthful though. There's no room for egos here ever - only honesty.
Thomas wrote a few words the other night in his blog, and Jason had mentioned something in a Twitter post along the same lines a few weeks backs. I'm sure I've blogged these thoughts before, but the nostalgic factor really has to account some sort of time within its workings. Sometimes we have immediate issues in a song's appreciation based on so many factors, that it's time's relevance later down the line that plays us all for fools.
These past few weeks have certainly been nostalgic in their own right: RX Bandits laying down their instruments for some time; Hanging out with one of my favorite bands of all time; Seeing a line-up I never thought I'd see years ago ignite a room again was something else. Then there's the awe of hearing something like My Disco blow eardrums and realizing it's a once a year experience across many continents. You remember the people who introduced you to these bands, and for a second, you forget the music and reconnect to something bigger.
Music is not only subjective, it's also a very perspective medium of indulgence and security. Through each person's subjectivity lies a unique connection that's felt by many, but easily differs in reaction based on each individual person. With over or a little under or over a million people taking in your music daily, that's a lot of different embraces to something they could have easily misinterpreted from the authors' original meaning of the presented work.
That's art, and everyone is going to have their separate opinions and embraces of a song, album or religiously held lyric among the masses - or even minor individual harnessing.
One of the biggest complaints I get from bands - equally praised and butchered - is how negative users can be on our site not only towards any sort of music in discussion, but to each other. My reaction is the same each time: "Yup, it's the one thing I hate about the site myself."
The new site has a lot of new advantages in the ability to share and discover - the main reason I started following this site so many years ago. The Internet has given us a canvas to archive, but much of the time I only see a battleground of opinion opposite the expansion of discussion.
Music is a very sacred thing to me. There are songs that have stuck over the years; there are albums that define a certain event or growing pain in my life as it has done to many others. As I'm one of the elder staffers for the site, I like watching the excitement of some of my younger peers and thinking, "Wow! That album is probably for them at that age as album X was for me around the same time."
There's something we tend to push aside sometimes that seems minor, but is very major in the scheme of not only musical consumption, but a very important and continually thriving musical soundtrack to our individual lives. We can sometimes pit music against other presentations both past and present in a trivial judgement instead of letting it sink into our everyday background. Some tunes will stick, and others will not.
Please take this weekend to revisit an album that's hard for you to get through; revisit an album that reminds you of the best party you've ever attended; even more importantly, revisit a piece of music that connects you to a person close or now distant in your life and reconnect with them, or at least cherish the memories you had at the time.
Every year we're presented with new tunes, and they're getting more and more disposable as our hard drives get larger and larger with each overlooked moment. The older I get, I realize that friends, acquaintances and even the most casual of people have impacted my life in some way. I'm beginning to have spurts of regression and nostalgia not only for the tunes I scroll through, but the people and times they're associated with.
There are moments we won't appreciate until after their impact, and there are tunes we will never let go because of that beautiful association.
So this is my 500th entry in this trivial thing since starting it a few years ago. 499 entries of probably pure babble that made sense in my head at the time, but as I sift back through some "classic" ones, what the fuck was I talking about? Even as I scroll back through some even older stuff I wrote for some of the first publications I wrote for, it's kind of gut wrenching.
So, for the sake of argument, let's call Absolutepunk.net my first real writing job. Easily, the most memorable thing about doing all of this is the ability to talk music with the industry and the musicians that take the ride on it. Over the years, I've made some close and casual friendships with the bands I admired and grew up on. Seriously, tell this to the stupid kid that couldn't play sports ten years ago when he decided writing about music was going to be that thing to make him, er, successful?
Then you get caught up in the gears. There's outside forces, obligations that you take on, and the thrill and flow of the writing itself becomes harder. Not only do you find yourself repeating yourself (fear that your barely readable typing keeps making circles upon itself), but you also begin to become more of a critic by association instead of choice.
Then you can't come up with the right words for something you've been writing and rewriting for a few weeks now.
See, I was hoping my 500th entry would be my farewell feature for the RX Bandits (AP.net username: duffmanrxbandit) and instead I just don't think at what I'm staring at to be the justice I want it to serve to a band that not only was my first ever interview when I was a dumb naive kid back in high school working for the paper; a band that serves as that turning point for looking at music not as entertainment and awe, but with jaw on the floor, learning how to play guitar better and think about views with a broader lens; a band that never let me down in their progression, live show or side projects. To this day, the band's discography still sits as one of the most honest pieces of work in my audible library.
A hopeful bombshell was dropped on me last night - "never say never." As I looked at Matt and said, "No one knows what the future holds," he repeated it back to me, and there was an understanding that the band's hiatus is simply that: a break. Flipping through a full feature in this month's Alternative Press on band reunions, there's no shortage of picking back up the instruments and making some noise again as we've seen and heard in the past few years.
Monday I'll be attending the Taking Back Sunday/Thursday tour in Houston, and it will be a nostalgic night for sure. As much as it gets exciting to hear about a reunion, we can tend to hang ourselves up on the past. With my time off from the site in the past few weeks working on the book again, it has really reminded me about the moment - the moment the music was made, the stories that go with each song that was made, and most importantly, the stories we share alongside each song that is made as it shifts hands from someone else's creation into our own judgement and property.
We have so many expectations sometimes that we tend to get tied up in them. Will it sound like this other record? Will the signature sound stand-up against the contemporary sound of bands that are influenced by reunion band x's originally captivating sound? Am I still digging on the music, because I'm aware my personal tastes have changed?
Time is a bitch, and the hell spawn of anticipation and foreshadowing is not and will never be on our side. As I'm reaching into year 25 of my life in a little over a month, I'm beginning to understand the concept of time just a little bit more, not much, but peacefully enough. I feel like that initial ten years of musical consumption that mattered has passed, and I now I have to be smart enough not to get caught up in over analyzing what I (think I) know, and begin to listen to the moment, whether that means a new band or recently reformed one.
I will say this, as you grow older, you do realize what bands continue to matter without time as a variable. Every Time I Die continues to be my Anthrax; Brand New continues to be my love of post and alternative rock from my adolescence; Blink 182 still has the answers to all of life's first world problems and heartbreak; I can say, without a doubt, RX Bandits are my personal Fugazi...
..so this is where this (for lack of a better word) landmark entry ends, and where it will pick up with entry 501.
I guess I should update you all on my last week on the site until August. You won't be seeing much work from me, and any progress I have on the book will be seen over on a Tumblr I'm going to start (when I get time) at the beginning of the month. It'll be a check system. This way I can reveal some things as the book comes along on the last 30-40%, and maybe reminiscing to myself as to why I fell in love with music. I think I'm hitting a rut again in my writing, and unfortunately it's not good to be uninspired when you really have to push those meaningless words out. Last night, I was cleaning my apartment and decided to spin Poison the Well's Tear From the Red for the first time in a long time. The drums at the end of "Turn Down Elliott" and the complete heavy to harmonic shift in the closing "Parks and What You Meant to Me" sparked something again in my head.
While I missed Krazy Fest this past weekend, looking at the line-up is both amazing and unfortunate with two ways you look at it. First off, you have so many great bands out there right now, and so many veterans coming back to wow us again. Like anything, we eventually have to hit a "I want to do that" mentality in younger bands. Even when the wash of all that is horrible happens, we will hit the top of the peak and another sheet of cookies will taste bitter in time.
For now, all is well. Take a band like Fireworks, who took their mediocre sound and pushed it into something way brighter and outstanding. Touche Amore's new album might contain some of the best lyrics in hardcore right now. There's still high anticipation for upcoming releases from La Dispute, Pianos Become the Teeth, Cave In and Circle Takes the Square. Hell, we should get a new Converge album soon, right? Seems about due.
I feel young again, but there are jaded thoughts running through my head at the moment. I think taking two months to revisit some of my favorite records and really delve into why they excited me is going to be good for my writing in the long run - hopefully it can't get any worse at this point.
Stay tuned. There is a lot of things you'll be seeing from me here at the end of the month. A lot of those things I've been very behind on, but a lot I'm happy to reveal. Then I'm going to step away, because I think it's much needed on my end. I don't want to be jaded, and I don't want to dwell on the past, but only look forward to the future of what the art of music has to offer.
Hey, maybe in two months I'll think neon strings on a guitar are cool and revolutionary.
I'm a drinker. No "edge" here at all. I enjoy a good beer like I enjoy a good record. While I'll never fully shake the sensation of a good brew, I realize the fiscal cost of the bar scene and its impact on my disposable income. Now, in no way do I intend this to be the start of an A.A. meeting, it got me thinking about living in the moment. Furthermore, as Black Flag and Murder City Devils and the Misfits are playing off the jukebox at one of my favorite local bars as I sit outside and write this, I'm dwelling on "music at the moment."
See, every year, we as critics, bloggers, professionally paid elitists and free PR all dwell on a "best of," and I wonder if it's worth anything. By saying that, I'm now dwelling on the questions of "Has it already been done?" and "Will this album make an impact like (insert classic here) once did for music." What the fuck is an impact for that matter? Impact how? Did it change the landscape? Did it defy a genre? Or, for whatever innate reason, it was the perfect soundtrack to a break-up/engagement/life changing event for some person in B.F. nowhere? Maybe it united a group of individual or collective thought?
[side bar: Some guy is just creating a painting on the outside patio of this bar. I love this city!]
What does "relativity" mean in music? Is its impact better served to the individual or is it greater in being worthwhile to the general whole? Ten million smokers can't be wrong right? (Replace smokers with Jack Johnson fans.) I've been throwing around "subjectivity" a lot lately in these blogs, but I feel a sense of recklessness because that word has such a vague statement stacked like turtles upon turtles of variant questions.
At the end of the month, I'll be stepping away from the site to work on another project - that book I keep trying to finish. It's a bitter sweet situation. See, I think I really need to step away from writing for a few months, but the reason I'm stepping away is to write. What does it even mean? It's probably going to be something that "this many people" will end up bitching about in the end anyway, because in reality, we're all sort of conceited fucks in our own right - I'm guilty and waiting in line for the gallows.
Surely most of you, including my colleagues are thinking, "Well, if you don't want to do this, move over, because there are tons of people lined-up wanting your position." That's the thing. Just like the digital age of bands and hit counters, there's an equally bigger pool of William Miller wannabes like myself looking to be the next writer for Magazine XYZ that may or may not exist years from now.
I've been questioning my writing a lot lately. Not only my voice - that thing that makes any of this gibberish somewhat standout - but why does my voice matter? The only reason I ever wanted to do this job was just to do it. The only reason I wanted to write a book was to write it. Somewhere down the line, people (networks, friends, Internet strangers/stalkers/trolls) started expecting a certain level from me.
The thing is, I just want to live in the moment. I want to have causal conversations that just so happen to be interviews. I want to tell you why I'm excited about a record because it's what's on my mind and on my iPod and the CD stuck in my car stereo and blaring at work annoying my co-workers by playing it multiple times during the week.
To me, music and booze stir up similar neurons in my senses; it's all about the moment. The last year has produced some incredible moments for me. This site has garnered individual achievements that I wake up every day thinking about how lucky I am. In every moment there's a song or album that goes with it. That's what matters. It's not how well the string section is put together or how epic certain crescendos can build, it really comes down to the casual connection we feel with something. That's a part of my writing I never want to give up. It's why I won't quit drinking any time soon.