Well, when last i wrote, i was playing bari sax for Inspecter 7, but sadly, that has come to an end. Now, I play guitar for The Cosmic Brotherhood of Ra, a space rock band based in central New Jersey. Among the other changes that have occurred, I now work a major recording studio in Manhattan. Let me tell you, if you have any doubt in your heads that now is the time support local music, let me be the ones to dispel those doubts. I have worked with the enemy, I have seen the evil ones at work.
An example: I had the joy of being in the recording studio while a certain high-profile singer was working on the DAT of her 'live' vocals which would be played while she 'performed' at some concert (it may have been a benefit, and this is surprisingly common, so I don't really mind the scenario....yet.) Well, they had her singing along with an instrumental version of one of her hit tracks. Her vocals were running through a TC Electronics Intonator, a great tool for bring errant notes into tune (i hated the idea of these until my old band used them on a solo here and there, and really cleaned things up without wasting a ton of studio time to recapture the energy of an otherwise amazing take.) Well, this star singer was so GodAWFUL that she was confusing the intonators, making them produce all sorts of even wronger notes than they were fixing. She was the worst singer I have ever heard, and yet she manages to sell millions and millions of albums. The big labels would rather spend hundreds of thousands of dollars doctoring up horrible no-talents like this than try to find any real talent. And you wonder why your favorite band can't get signed? Most label people wouldn't know what to do with a good band if it fell in their laps (remember, most of the great bands and artists you know of today all started their careers on independent labels, because the big ones didn't know what to make of them [U2, Metallica, Bruce Springsteen, to name a few]).
Another example of how screwed up things can be. I am an employee of the studio. Yet, when one of the biggest stars in pop history showed up to do a session one night, we had a member of management come into our office, and tell us to go walk around the studio and look busy. When I pointed out that it might look stupid having people wandering around with nothing particular to do, we were then told to not leave the mic locker unless it was an 'emergency.' When one of the higher ups in the company came by, I jokingly asked if he would introduce me to this star. He panicked, and said, 'oh, if he's here, I guess I have to take the stairs back up,' because to get to the elevator, he would have had to walk past the studio where this 'star' was working/hiding. Are you kidding me? This guy from management is one of the highest ranking guys in this corporation, a known commodity in the sound industry (he's invented quite a few very useful things!) and an employee of the studio, and yet even he was all made to walk on eggshells. That is screwed up.
In comparison, I have met several artists who were the epitome of cool. Old school rockers going into their 4th decade together, singers who were just so thrilled to be where they were, aspiring singer-songwriters who were just glad to work with skilled producers and engineers, happy to learn and grow.
This is the attitude I wish I could expect from local bands. It should be an adventure, this is music, ITS SUPPOSED TO BE FUCKING FUN!!! Well, maybe not if you're in a goth band that actually takes itself seriously. But otherwise, where did the fun go? I see too many kids who I guess have never worked really lame jobs, and can't see music for what it is...an escape. Can it solve all your problems? Probably not, unless the only thing lacking from your life is people staring at you. Then, get in a band, be a lead guitarist or a singer, and get the hell up there!
The other thing lacking from the local music scene, at least as far as I can tell, is any real sort of community or cohesion. Sure, the same bands may play together, but I don't think too many of them are really friends with each other. And I'm not sure everyone has to be best friends, but its not even as though there is any friendly competition, or even real acknowledgement that there are other bands....its weird, and I'm not sure this will come across the way I'm feeling it. I've just played a couple of gigs where I managed to go the whole night without talking to anyone other than the guys in my band, our respective girlfriends and friends. Oh sure, there was the obligatory "hey man, nice job' and 'wow, great set.' but that was it. It always feels lame when that is the case.
Back when I played in the Schematics up near Poughkeepsie, NY, (their new
album should be out summer '02!!) the scene, if not completely tightly knit, was pretty cool compared to what I see today. Bands knew the names of
everyone in the other bands...we tried to get each other gigs, we we glad to
play with each other and would happily jump on a benefit line-up for another band, just because we knew them, and if they asked, we would gladly do a
favor for musical friends. Maybe I'm just still getting my feet wet in a new
scene, but that was the same situation I was in back in '99, and the transition was seamless then. I was welcomed with no problem, and in this
scene, I don't even see anyone who would be doing that welcoming. Maybe
that will be my job. Put up or shut up...ok, I'll pick up the gauntlet that
I've thrown, and I hope you all join me. Because this shit is fun. And fun
is better when you are with friends, and its best when its with a lot of
friends, all having fun. So, I'll see you at the next gig, and you'd best
say hello, cuz I'm gonna come up to you and find out what's been going on. Cool?