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Getting Past the Industry to Love Music Again
Consequential Apathy: In Defense of the Comments
05/03/12 at 02:22 AM by Adam Pfleider
The idea of being part of the mass media leaves me with onset anxiety most days. It's not just being a voice streaming in the babbling brook of blogs, magazines and op-ed pieces such as this, but it's also knowing that somewhere someone is pondering, questioning, agreeing or even disagreeing with your opinion. Once you write, record, film or capture anything and put it out into the world, it becomes part of a conversation that can run as smoothly as a pleasant game of bridge with the ladies or as insane as a 150 cap room during one of the most intense Trash Talk sets you've ever been a part of. There's reason and there's chaos. It's a spectrum that makes up the comment section of just about any given Monday of news and gossip to start off our week. It takes one voice to state an opinion and a million to deconstruct it and overly think outside the context of the original statement. We do it because we're human and we have to attach ourselves to something to express anything. It's the basic neurotic structure we are all made up of whether we are conscious about our actions and thoughts, or unknowingly living in our own shell of a lie. It's quite fascinating.

On Sunday I went to see the guys in Say Anything on their Anarchy, My Dear tour. I especially went to have a chat with a friend. See, every time I talk to Max Bemis or read an interview he's done where someone (which that someone has been me) grills him about the music industry, he always has something reasonable to say. (I can't say that about some rock stars out there who think they have a grasp on things, even as they're riding the "contemporary" sweet life as we see it.) Bemis has certainly been through the ringer: On top of his mental set backs and through an unhealthy bout with drugs, it seemed Bemis also struggled with what the industry and his fans wanted him and his music to be, and through it all, it's always been about what he wants it to end up being. He wrote a debut that many want him to still live up to as their standard of him as an artist. His new compositions have been met with a mixture of praise and loathing by not only critics, but fans as well - fans that feel like Bemis owes them a direct re-connect each round of songs he diligently works on - and not just for himself, but the "Song Shop" some fans directly pay him for. That has to be a lot of stress on a person who continues to get up and keep walking after every opinion in the world about his songwriting has been thrown as blunt stones of regress both on the Internet, in print and - I would presume - in a passive-aggressive smirk in person as well.

As I sat there on the bus talking to Bemis about how I'm still trying to find a grip with the "Why's" and "How's" of this industry on one level, and our attachment to music on another - he's still calmly stating a sense of comfortable numbness to all that's been plaguing my anxiety as of late. There's a state of nirvana when I spoke with him on Sunday evening that I now envy. But I also acknowledge that he's in a state of the "creation," while I'm in the state of "judgement." It's a bit easier to shut the world out and focus when you're not focusing on the world and your expectations as judge, jury and best new music floating around your head as some pedestal of what is it and what isn't it. The context changes depending on what shoes you're wearing - the ones on stage or the ones standing on the side of it.

In reading my favorite column this week, I began to ponder the above with the reasons for why we keep our opinions as sharp as knives in every thread of every site. (read: shit storm with a chance of "Spider-man Thread") We fight for what we feel is comfortable. In talking last week (or last month, or always) about the challenge our favorite bands have the ability to put us in, I didn't mention where the challenge actually lies. I think it's our level of comfort. It's that simple. It's why some of us drag our feet to impress a girl that wouldn't normally give us as much time in the same relationship we should end. It's why we're afraid to jump ship if a job is keeping us afloat. It's paying a bit extra on your re-lease for our apartment so we don't have to go through the hassle of moving again this year. It's our favorite shirt, and it's lying on the couch on our only day off watching Arrested Development Season 2 for the 18th time. When it comes to music, we want to feel the same warm blanket we needed last winter as we will need through this one as well. It's not that we want the same album twice, it's that we want the same level of comfort the last one brought us. That comfort can be measured from knowing we're listening to the most technical, new-age thing still, or we're going through a hard time (work, relationships, etc.) and we're lost without some new answers we're just expected to be given because they were all there last time.

Like music, when you begin to tear back the variables and subjectivity, our problems are quite universal. We all live through some sort of fear and are destined to feel love many times in our life at many levels. With the weight of social media and comment sections marinating our thoughts on every one of those feelings and what we should be and what we are meant to listen to and not listen to and what we should watch and not watch and what we should create and hesitate in building - it truly is why we fight. At some point we all lost the fact that each and every one of us has a story, a problem or an adventure to tell through words, music, fashion and hell - even baking one hell of a cake! I envy Bemis because he's one of the few people I've met in this industry that has seemed to figure out how to live the dream and not everyone else's version of it. As we grow older, we begin to grow into the shell that we fought in angst against when we were young. We become the noise we wanted to tune out. Lately, I've been tuning out. Apparently that makes me look concerned about things. Really - I'm just doing this. If we did more of that, our anxiety would probably ease and the comfort of a less than stellar radio hit might just be the most comforting thing in the moment...

Well, unless it's that Gym Class Heroes song featuring Adam Levine...

- love and respect
Tags: Consequential Apathy, Say Anything, Life, Comfort
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Last Updated: 03/04/13 (367,173 Views)
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