“Life is without objective meaning, purpose or intrinsic value. Morality does not inherently exist, and that any established moral values are abstractly contrived. Knowledge is not possible and some aspect of reality does not exist as such.”
“Everything breaks, and that’s just the way it is.” – Etc.
I don’t really have a lot to say today, apart from today’s curated day is probably one of the bleakest things I’ve put together on this blog. Whether there’s beauty in that, is open to interpretation.
I was searching for GY!BE’s quote about how “The Internet is a petty and tyrannical monster”, and I found this probably rare email interview that they did with The Guardian. For a band that rarely gives interviews (or never), this is somewhat gold, that everybody else can find by adding to The Guardian’s traffic ratings.
Awfully bleak, but I just respect them even more so for somehow still existing as music makers in this rather commodified world of art and/or craft. I’m still not too sure if they’re simply throwing themselves into the tempest, of if they ARE the tempest.
A thing a lot of people got wrong about us – when we did it the first time, a whole lot of what we were about was joy. We tried to make heavy music, joyously. Times were heavy but the party line was everything was OK. There were a lot of bands that reacted to that by making moaning “heavy” music that rang false. We hated that music, we hated that privileging of individual angst, we wanted to make music like Ornette’s Friends and Neighbours, a joyous, difficult noise that acknowledged the current predicament but dismissed it at the same time. A music about all of us together or not at all. We hated that we got characterised as a bummer thing. But we knew that was other people’s baggage. For us every tune started with the blues but pointed to heaven near the end, because how could you find heaven without acknowledging the current blues, right?
But now we all live in harder times, now a whole lot of bands react to the current heaviness by privileging the party times, like some weird Scientology will-to-power bullshit, hit that hi-hat with a square’s fist until we all make it to heaven, until Sunday morning’s bringdown. Self-conscious good vibes like love-handles poking through some 22-year-old’s American Apparel T-shirt at some joint where you can only dance once you pay a $10 cover charge just to listen to some internet king’s iPod.
And so now we thrum our joyous tension in opposition to all of that. Things are not OK. Music should be about things are not OK, or else shouldn’t exist at all. The best songs ever are the songs that ride that line. We just try to get close to that perfection. We drive all night just to get closer to that perfect joyous noise, just to kiss the hem of that garment. We love music, we love people, we love the noise we make.
About the bleakness of society, and the place of music amidst the chaos.
In a lot of crucial ways, it’s easier to find common cause than it was 10 or 20 years ago. You talk to strangers in bars or on the street, and you realise that we’re all up to our eyeballs in it, right? So that right now, there’s more of us than ever. It’s a true fact. Every day it gets a little harder to pretend that everything’s OK. The rich keep getting more and we keep getting less. Post-9/11, post-7/7, there’s a police state that tightens more every day, and in our day-to-days, we’re all witnesses to the demeaning outcomes of debauched governance – random traffic stops, collapsing infrastructure, corrupt bureaucrats and milk-fed police with their petty intrusions. Our cities are broke, they lay patches on top of patches of concrete, our forests cut down and sold to make newspapers just to tell us about traffic that we get stuck in. You get a parking ticket and you waste a day in line. Cop shoots kid, kid shoots kid, homeless man dies waiting to see a doctor, old men lay in hospital beds while a broken bureaucracy steals away what’s left of their dignity. Folks flee to our shores, running from the messes we’ve made in their countries, and we treat them like thieves. Mostly it feels like whatever you love is just going to get torn away. Turn on the radio, and it’s a fucking horror show, the things our governments do in our name, just to fatten themselves on our steady decline. Meanwhile, most of us are hammering away at a terrible self-alienation, mistreated, lied to and blamed. Burning fields and a sky filled with drones. The fruit rots on the vine while millions starve.
So we’re at a particular junction in history now where it’s clear that something has to give – problem is that things could tip any which way. We’re excited and terrified, we sit down and try to make a joyous noise. But fuck us, we make instrumental music, means that we have to work hard at creating a context that fucks with the document and points in the general direction of resistance and freedom. Otherwise it’s just pretty noise saddled to whatever horse comes along. A lot of the time all’s we know is that we won’t play the stupid game. Someone tells us we’re special, we say: “Fuck no, we aren’t special.” Someone asks us what the thing we made means, we say figure it out for yourself, the clues are all there. We think that stubbornness is a virtue. We know that this can be frustrating. It’s fine. We don’t think in terms of narrative so much. We try to play arrangements that are little out of our reach. We try to make sure the songs ring true or not at all.
This part sort-of spoke to me playing in the band I’m in. Somehow arriving at a similar answer when personally, I’ve been involved in music for more than a decade, and will find some way to make the next decade.
These days we’re lucky old-timers, we throw our amps on stage, put our heads down and play. After this many years of saying no, those carpetbaggers don’t bother with us much any more. We work with people we trust and hope that they trust us in return. We don’t fleece, we don’t slack, we don’t privilege our worries above the worries of the kids in the front row. We play to the kids in the front row because we used to be the kids in the front row. Everything else is just static, everything else is just dancing specks of white and black skating on dead TV screens.
A little something for Fleetwood Mac fans:
The recording of its follow-up, Rumours, saw the soap opera at its most lurid: Fleetwood had discovered that his wife was having an affair with his best friend; bassist John McVie and keyboard player and singerChristine McVie had split up after eight years of marriage, and Nicks and Buckingham’s relationship kept hitting the rocks – all this played out in a blizzard of cocaine. “Christine and I refused to be the second-class citizens,” says Nicks of the prosaic business of actually making the record. “But it was different for her, because she was one of the musicians – absolutely as big an influence as Lindsey or John or Mick; the four pieces were equal. I’d sit around and crochet or draw while they were out there working stuff out. And that’s fine, because I wanted to be a lead singer – I didn’t really want to carry around a 21lb Les Paul.”
In line with our rather nihilistic or anarchic curated day, here’s a number from one of my favourite SG bands, Etc. called, “Everything Breaks.” Sometimes, I just listen to this when I feel like society and standards are getting the better of me, and I find acceptance in this bleak joy.
Here’s something funny that my girlfriend stumbled upon. I’m still undecided if he’s doing satire or being totally serious.
The folk from Amnesty put out a pretty amazing video from Fred Perry’s 60th anniversary party, held at the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station last December. I wasn’t there, though after watching this video, I wished I was.
It’s also a nice counterpoint between the GY!BE interview, and this video roundup. They both exist as music and making, but what they both stand for could be worlds apart.