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.
My 2xLP copy of The Shape of Punk to Come is sitting at the post office. Tomorrow will be an early Christmas for me. I haven't stopped listening to said record all day. Doing work, driving to work, closing the restaurant, driving home, writing this...well, you get the point.
The Shape of Punk to Come is arguably the Sgt. Peppers of punk music. The name was bold. The attempts were bolder. The pay off has stuck to this day and ironically the ideas that went into the system aren't seen by many. Even one of the creators of the album thinks the worship is all talk and no show.
The Shape of Punk to Come is a solid album under many pretenses. For one, it is driving and heightening. It has the power to set itself off like carefully placed bombs of passion. Did any of us really care what Lyxzén had to say? It wasn't what he had to say, but more of how hard it hit with the rest of the music behind it. We didn't believe in "the new beat," we yearned for the new BEAT!
If there's one thing special about the album that artists should take away, it was that it attempted something. Sure, there's tons of influence from the American hardcore circuit of the early to mid-90's, but it was meld into its own thing by four different artists blending and even fighting for different ideas to come into the mix. They challenged themselves which in turn challenged their listeners.
Punk has always been about the challenge. Whether it was the Sex Pistol's disgust or The Clash's political siren to no-wave, Fugazi's angular instrumentation and hardcore kids learning how to actually play their instruments with equal parts creativity and aggression.
A few years later we were introduced to albums like Relationship of Command and Worship and Tribute, once again challenging our tastes and what we think "punk" is in the end. The Shape of Punk to Come will stand as that album that changed the next ten years for better or worse. Seriously, look around you. Look at this site. Look at your hometown garage band start-ups. Look at the flavors of the week.
In the last month I've been kind of longing for another shape to come. I guess I'll have to be patient, or are we too far gone? Time will tell I presume. Until then, there is one line that is forever burned into my brain..."Where do we go from here?! Just about anywhere!"
God. I sure as hell hope so, because Refused are Fucking Dead!
thanks for reading my work. I can't wait to share more!
I thought of doing something nice for you guys. Since the day is filled with so many pranks and gags, and I remember I had to keep a promise in my blog a long time ago, I'm going to finally let the public in on what I've been working on for the past year. With the workload in the interview section and SXSW, I haven't been able to sit down and work on it in a while. Guaranteed, it's more than half way done and will be hoofing it this summer to finish before the year's end.
I recently got confirmation from both The Blood Brothers and David Sandstrom of Refused for my fact/quote checks on their chapters, so I today, I'm going to give you guys some excerpts I uploaded here and here.
About a month ago, I informed Jason that I was taking a hiatus from AP.net, after six months (give or take) of posting interviews from Say Anything to Converge to AFI, having what seems to be a successful Friday column and an overwhelming warm reception by not only my networks, but you, the users and viewers and shit talkers of the site.
There was more to be conquered. I had started a book a year ago, and it was sitting in the muddy banks of my computer - untouched, unloved and without a progression forward. With South By Southwest ahead of me, I figured getting SOMETHING done to reveal would be great.
Here I am. I can't get away from AP, I am behind on my work, and behind on my goal for March.
We press on. Hiatus is just a word to lower expectations from not only the public's view of our work, but to lessen stress upon our own busy lives.
I'm unsure where all my time goes. Ambition can be a great quality, but taking too much initiative can also find oneself tripping over missed critiques.
The book is now halfway done. Again, I'm still waiting on the second half of interviews to roll in, and fact checks that leave me staring at my Inbox, patiently not receiving.
With all this said, I have a new plan for a SXSW release, just to get some more word and interest out. It is time to get back to this job. I'm going to bust my ass to get two big interviews up later this week, and some of you have no idea what I have coming in March.
I am ending my failed hiatus on AP.net, because there was never a hiatus to begin with, just a self-conscious worry about outside expectation.
I've been pretty stressed with work on top of work on top of work lately, but music is a beautiful relaxer. Below are the videos for Grizzly Bear's Take Away Show shot some years back. They're amazing. "Plans" is definitely my favorite.
After a very frustrating start to the year, things are beginning to roll for the most part. There are a lot of things I cannot reveal at this time, but AP.net is in for some amazing things in the next few months. Thanks for the awesome response (negative or not) to a new column I tried out on Wednesday. This was really cool to cap everything off as well.
As for the book, I'm running ahead, yet behind. The rest of my interviews are slowly falling into place, and the writing has been rolling, yet completely fucking up my sleep schedule. I'll go to work around 5 p.m., come home around 12:30 a.m. and stay up until 4 a.m., sleep and then try to get up early, only to roll to a bowl of cereal around 11 a.m.
The cycle has repeated itself for the past few weeks. Healthy? I'm not sure, but it has been somewhat progressive.
I'm working on the chapter about Botch's We Are the Romans and Coalesce's Revolution in Just Listening right now. The reason I'm so behind is the bulk of information I got about these two albums, and how I'm trying to piece them together. I haven't really touched the Coalesce part of the second half, but the Botch part has me thinking.
Landing at around the beginning of the decade, We Are the Romans' ideas are one of frustration shaped into creativity to move itself outside the box of what the band was observing around the hardcore scene. Already this year, I've been able to preview some albums that are doing just that. There are bands stirring to create something more meaningful and less fashionable.
It seems that this cyclical idea has been pertinent in the last few decades, and I began wondering if the second half of each decade will only be a processed downer to the ideas and creativity of its beginning few years?
On a positive note, if this theory holds true, then the next few years will be very exciting in not only the musical aspect, but the industry one. I contacted EqualVision today for some business, and to see if the press release for Portugal. The Man's American Ghetto held true to "no advances for review." Sadly for this fan, it is, yet in a way, it is exciting to see a band take the step forward in the new decade of D.I.Y. and placing the fans, critics, casual listeners and publishers all on the same level. Sure, a few of you spawn my jealousy due to a listening party, but that's the exciting thing about the model that is being moved forward.
Some ideals are coming full circle, and I couldn't have it any other way. It's 3 a.m. I think I'm going to shower and fall asleep to Robot Chicken --- there's writing to be had tomorrow.
In honor, this a great quote from the book I've been working on, from the chapter on Oxeneers:
“I don’t like electronic music, I like music where when you see a drum hit, you see it on stage. I don’t like it when you press a button and it makes a big sound with no relativity to how hard you are hitting something as to how loud the sound is,” [Cook] says. Cook, and the rest of the band had a change of heart for their first full length. After playing around with the keyboards in the process of the [This is Meant to Hurt You] EP, there was a shift from a cold machine, to a warm fun factory. “It was like, wow, keyboards are cool, because you can manipulate something this way,” Cook laughs. “Then we start to think the way writing music turns into this whole sonic territory, that they’re not this inherently soulless tool. You can do really cool stuff with them.”
So I'm two days in and the chapter on Poison the Well is almost done. Hopefully will finish the chapter on Coalesce/Botch this weekend. That'll put me more than halfway complete. I'll be working hard this week trying to collect the last of my interviews this month.
This is what I have planned for release, before anything is proper and goes to a publisher. I want to release a limited edition of the book. I'm really about tangible ideas. I love screen prints and old 7" records that were made by hand. I also like the idea of the unconventional. So, this is what I have planned...but remember my New Years Resolution, so take it with a grain of salt...instead of printing it up, I'm going to throw all the files on on a CD-R with pictures and linear notes and stuff and release it with a screen printed cover as a run of 100. Where? Hopefully at a showcase at this year's South by Southwest.
Now. That's only two and half months of completing the writing, fact/quote check, copy editing and even obtaining the last of my interviews in a due time. On top of a forward written by someone very special.
That's one hell of a task. I'm up for anything at this point.
All that said, I'm retiring my weekly industry column. Just check Late Night Thoughts. I want to keep running Five and Alive, but time is a factor, so here's the deal. PM me your ideas. It's very simple. It has to be about music (duh) and contain a top five something (dur) and be creative! The most creative one that will gain the most discussion on the front page will win. Users, get thinking of ideas. I've got this week covered, but I need something for the following two months!
The next few months will be exciting. We can't always control our fates, but we can get damn close to a positive one.
Are your stomachs aching from all that candy? It's okay. Like everything, that too shall pass.
This week, expect my 40 minute interview with These Arms Are Snakes tomorrow. Oh, and I'm reviewing some big album for the site that will go up late tonight when I get off work. It's some huge band I've never heard of, it's no Beach Boys, but it's okay - I guess.
My interview with John Nolan will be up on Thursday, and a special guest Five and Alive will go up Friday, because there's still so much more good music to discover!
This weekend I will be attending Austin's fourth annual Fun Fun Fun Fest. I will be conducting interviews with just Young Widows and Coalesce because there are so many bands I want to see to show you guys, that I felt that was more important.
I'll be interviewing Converge next week, and hopefully that band I'm reviewing in the week to come.
Now, for some me time: In the following months, I will be completing 90% of the interviews I've been waiting for so I can finish my book. In January, I'll be taking a leave from the site (popping up here and there) to completely focus on finishing the majority of the book, probably sans two chapters. I will be looking to tentatively release some self published copies at a showcase for South by Southwest this year. We'll see. Who knows what the future brings.
Other than that, thanks for reading! Life is good, and music is greater. Being alive is the best!
Well, I'm happy to say that the book is coming along very nicely. Since my move out to Austin, I've taken my time off to begin writing again, and by the end of next month, I'm looking to be 75% complete.
The experience of doing this has taught me a lot about myself as a writer (I write like I talk, apparently) and the joy of discovering why I fell in love with music, and continue to analyze it for a living.
I'm also thinking of ways to release it through either a record company or management group or something. I figure if the music industry is changing, then why can't I publish a new way.
Or maybe, just maybe, I'll end up doing a Reznor thing and give it away for free with option for a hard copy.
I don't know, it's too early to tell, but I can tell you that I've been writing about Glassjaw and Poison the Well for the past few days.
You can add me on Myspace if you like, and I hope to have more great news in the months to come.
Thanks for all the support, and thanks for keeping up with the blog. I sometimes wish there was more discussion going on in this thing matched to the views, but the fact that people are reading is grand enough.
I forgo the industry this week to talk about an eventful weekend.
This weekend, my best friend, roommate, and honorary brother was assumed to be attacked on his way back from the bar on Friday night. He was on his way back to our apartment, by himself, when a friend of ours found him. He is doing well, but his recovery will be for some months. Hope is good since his progress has been better than what was expected.
The event has put a lot of things in perspective for me. With graduation near, the job market close, and a move out into a new city on my own, I have been thinking hard lately about life's predictability, and as of this weekend, it's unpredictability.
It's all scary, but it's all fun. We want reasons, but there may not be reasons. We want answers to questions that have solutions longer than the calculation of pi.
I am lucky, and you should be to, to have music as a fall back. It speaks to us in ways both lyrically and instrumentally. Sure, there are forums among forums among arguments of what music is good and what music is bad. As much as I'll critique bands and albums all day, some music just hits people in their special way.
I'm stoked on this book. I'm stoked about my prospect in Austin. I'm stoked that my friend is progressing better.
I've also posted my "thesis" on my independent study. Check it out, let me know what you think.