It's been quite of week of death and negativity. It's only been the first month, and the decade has begun with great musicians breaking up, and those losing their life. On top of that, we've started the first month, of the first year of the new decade with a tragedy that effected an entire nation, and those with a microphone - who get a paycheck for it - have the audacity to say the most insensitive things in the wake of complete tragedy.
I took Keith Buckley's advice, and thought back again to that quote...What Would Converge Do?
"It would be a really simple thing - just leave your own mark in this world. That's it. Let it be a positive one. It's really, truly as simple as that. If you stick to that, and you stay focused on that as an individual and the positive aspects of life and positive music...just positive anything. There's so much negativity in this world, I just don't want us to help spread that. I want us to take negative experiences as people and help turn that into positive music and positive art. I want to be able to help people. That's been my way of being able to leave what I would say is a positive mark in this world...I'm not rich. I'm not trying to get rich. If it was about money, I wouldn't be in this community, because there is none. I wouldn't run an independent record label because there's no financial gain in that. Things pay for themselves, and you get by. It's about doing something positive. Being able to sleep at night with a good conscience, like I'm being able to do something fulfilling to me, and hopefully meaningful to other people. That's really it. If I can leave that mark and be a positive, than I have done something right. There are a lot of people that are either dormant or doing something negative in this world..."
So in the aftermath of all the negative in this world, I ask that this weekend, just do something really positive! It doesn't have to be huge, and it may not cost a dime - Lord knows I'm broke as can be right now! - just do spread some love this weekend. I think we could all use it right now.
Last night was a great night of work. See, we are allowed to play whatever (short of vulgar language) through iTunes, Pandora, or where ever.
Last night I introduced my co-workers to Lala.com. Something I've been behind the ball on as of late until a few weeks ago. It's something Pitchfork has incorporated into their reviews, and will hopefully have in ours soon. It may not be the plug in the leak, but it gives us an honest chance with our conscious backing the waiting game.
What Lala.com offers is a free service to listen to full albums and not just 30 second clips. So if Drew tells you the epic build in a new album he is reviewing is the greatest thing all year, you might just be able to preview it, and not feel guilty. The program allows you to not only purchase music, but purchase the idea of which tracks you really want, and what filler you'd rather spend a buck on the value menu at one in the morning.
Today I posted my interview with Chad Johnson, former Tooth and Nail A&R, and current label maker with Come&Live! Records. Spiritual beliefs aside, Johnson's new label is going to offer its music free to the public, a bold move, but one that was once seen with Team Love some years ago, which has since then seen great success.
Does Lala.com and the Come&Live!/Team Love business model support the idea of music being free, or a legal doorway to the response of "Well, I only download to hear the album before I buy it," said by many pirates?
I think the industry is moving in a good direction, but time will still tell if it keeps progressing forward. There's still a lot to be done on the consumer end as well. I'm not living the high life, but my last dime will usually go in the jukebox of good music because it brings an unconditioned joy untouched by the wads of quarters that go into the laundry machine.
What is pop music? Is it the Tiger Beat full spread photos that are strung up across thirteen year old girls walls, and the pedophiles who stalk them? Is it the bubble gum pop hits of The Partridge Family? Maybe it's the circus of melody across some of my favorite records like Dog Problems and Black Foliage: Animation Music Vol. 1.
When conducting an interview with Jaguar Love, I asked them if they could define pop music, if there is any distaste toward it and how they felt about it being ladened across their debut record Take Me to the Sea. I got surprising answers across the board.
The members didn't seem to mind the pigeonholed. In fact, Jay Clark had a hard time singling out the genre, stating that he doesn't go in recording anything with a mindset of a genre. As for Cody Votolato and Johnny Whitney, they felt that sometimes pop music can show signs of maturity.
And then, there's Hannah Montana. What I would guess is the next generation's Britney Spears. So I know two things about this: 1) It's the new sixteen-year-old boy fantasy and 2) she'll be doing coke lines and showing up Spears by literally marrying a pile of trash from a trailer park. A fucking heap of trash!
But is it the processing of the the labels that give pop the bad name? Should we blame the voices, the millions that votes for American Idol, the marketers or the artist themselves? Is it wrong to have melody? Sure, I love the post-hardcore scene that continues to tear down the epileptic seizure it creates, but man, I can always go for some good melody.
But I guess it really comes down to the shiny accessible road that most can drive their ears along. So how do we tell the difference between the individually wrapped slices of cheese and a well thought out progression in a C major scale.
Well, I guess in the end it all comes with that maturity that Votolato and Whitney were speaking about. How many 21+ Hannah Montana fans are out there? The ones that aren't fans because of the "cool-to-be-lame" montage of thought, but the die-hard creepers.
Pop music on a large scale has always been big with a younger audience because of its appeal both visually and audibly. Here's a humble moment: when I was a little kid, I owned the New Kids on the Block album. I fucking loved the "Right Stuff" and it made me think I was the shit at the tender age of six. I liked my mom's Paula Abdul, Jackson (Micheal and Janet) and George Micheal albums. As a kid they appealed to me on a fun level. Sure, I didn't understand the sexual undertones of all of them, but they were fun!
Then a record changed the way I looked at music. One morning, while my mom was cleaning the house, she slipped into the record player The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour. It was fun on a whole new level. It was pop on a whole new level. It was as accessible as the other less critical records I was listening to just a few years ago. This is where I stepped over the line of the processed meat grinder to the creative community.
Maybe I can't answer what pop music is myself. But according to Dictionary.com, it is defined as: "music of general appeal to teenagers; a bland watered-down version of rock'n'roll with more rhythm and harmony and an emphasis on romantic love."
Well, fuck. I think even that's right and wrong. We'll never define this shit. I'm going to toss in New Found Glory, I can always get a grasp on that, and never feel bad.