I realize that I have been pretty M.I.A. on R.G.H. since about March or so, so here I am, returning once again. Unlike the previous posts that so far resemble this one (this isn’t the first time this has happened), I will not apologize to my few very awesome readers for my absence. First of all, I know they don’t want or expect an apology. Most of them are big kids and can fend for themselves out there in the music world, and usually only frequent R.G.H. to compare their recent listening to mine. The other portion of them, it seems, only come around to slag on what I have written (which, believe me, only makes the job all the more worthwhile).
Secondly, I won’t apologize because I have been incredibly busy doing what I love most in life – music. I spent my entire summer playing in various bands, and for some of those said bands, working on new recordings. I really can’t believe that at this point, 4 different recording projects are either in the works or have already been released. I play drums for a band out of KC called Hidden Pictures, and we just released a new record at the end of July. My main project, The Dead Girls, is awaiting the first round of mixes for our third album, which we hope to have out by fall (but probably won’t get out until spring 2013). I am also in two other bands (a punk band called Stiff Middle Fingers, and a prog/pop band called Many Moods of Dad), both of which are in the finishing stages of recording right now.
Aside from playing all these shows and helping write and record all this material, one of the main things that kept me busy was booking all of the shows for these bands. I don’t book for Hidden Pictures, but in every other case, I am the guy. Now I don’t want to sound bitter or anything, but me and the guys in all these bands have been playing in and around Lawrence/KC for going on 12 years now, and I have found that we still can’t get a show that is worth a shit unless we book and promote the fucker ourselves. A lot of other bands do well because they have strong friendship ties to the local scene, but we don’t. Sure, we have friends in that arena, but our best friends are still the people we grew up with and planted our roots against. We aren’t true Lawrence townies or kiss-asses or fake people, so we are automatically at a disadvantage. So this summer, I made the decision to never, EVER expect anyone to do anything for me EVER again. If we want a good show, we’re going to BOOK a good show, and not just wait around for someone to give us one. If we want to put out and promote an album, we will do it OURSELVES, because no one else cares enough about what we are doing to help us out all that much.
“But if no one cares, then why are you doing it?” someone will inevitably ask. They are missing the point. The point is WE love it. That’s why we do it. That’s what keeps us together for almost 10 years, while other hyped-up bands come and go and fall apart in a matter of months or a couple years. They are doing it for the wrong reasons, we are not.
Basically, this preface is supposed to serve the notion that I am tired of the hype machine. Moreover, I am tired of machines in general. I am tired of the idea that everything must be cranked out for mass consumption. I want to make music I would LIKE to listen to, and I’m going to stick with that because it comes naturally to me and there should be no reason for me to question that. Granted, it keeps me so busy that sometimes I can’t do some things that I love, like keep up with R.G.H. One day, hopefully, I will be able to figure out within myself how to do all of this stuff while still finding some time to relax to keep me from going completely bonkers.
Mmmm, I just got a craving for Bonkers! Remember that candy, those little Starburst-y rectangles with fruit flavors inside? Anyone? Damn, that shit is old now. I AM OLD. Sure, I’m only 30, but that’s old to a lot of people. I’m running out of time and energy, so I may as well just accept that old-person’s attitude of “Who gives a fuck?” and just do the stuff that makes me happy. It’s kinda shitty that what makes me the most happy also has the ability to frustrate me to no end, but I guess that’s all part of the jadedness; and granted, I could have prevented myself from becoming so jaded if I had been more of an asshole to begin with. But it’s kind of a letdown when you are in a scene that talks the talk (“Our scene should be a musical community that we can all be a part of”, etc. etc.) but very rarely walks the walk, or at least for The Dead Girls. Unlike most Lawrence/KC bands, our music has hardly any pretense. We don’t lead anyone to believe that our music writing is the result of some kind of “special power” or anything. We make music for people to absorb, rather than music that is made to go over the listener’s head to make them feel below it, thus leading them to believe it exists on some kind of special plane that needs to be attained to be understood. That’s like, THE indie thing now, and I’m so tired of it. I long for the days when music kicked you in the face, rather than the music of the now, which putters about over your head in a teasing fashion.
It sucks to feel more or less ostracized from a scene you have helped to build for many years, but I guess that is the fate of the power pop band – to go underappreciated. Plus, what the fuck do I expect? I live in Kansas. It’s not like I’m trying to do this shit in New York or LA, places where I actually could have some kind of opportunity to further a musical career. I have nothing to complain about – I am here of my own volition. In reality, I just feel suffocated here. I feel like there are no real opportunities for a songwriter of my style and nature. Lawrence, KS only seems to give a fuck about either side of the extreme. No one gives a shit about your band unless you are a raw, ear-shredding garage rock band that puts no thought into their tunes and releases shitty-sounding recordings, or a totally pretentious electronica-influenced indie band that puts WAY too much thought into their tunes and acts like they have been touched by Jesus. There is no room for any sort of middle ground. And you know, maybe I am just completely delusional and The Dead Girls are actually a really shitty band – I’ve heard it said a few times over the years – but I don’t think that’s the case. I think we do what we do, they do what they do, and those things just don’t really jive all that well.
After living in Lawrence for 12 years and being pushed to the sidelines for so long, I only have a few real options. Option A: I can stay in Lawrence and keep doing what I have been doing, with no real hope of advancement. B: I can move somewhere else and start over, which is horribly scary, but also might be the only way I can feasibly keep doing music as regularly as I want to. C: I can give up music altogether and either stay in Lawrence or move somewhere else, and leave the bullshit behind. I don’t want to do option C, because I truly believe that a certain amount of bullshit comes with EVERYTHING, ESPECIALLY something worked on for so long. To choose option C would be to completely disregard that fact, and I KNOW I am not THAT delusional. At this point, option B, though the scariest, is probably the best choice. I feel like I have worked on this stuff too long and too hard to completely give up and throw everything out like scraps to wolves, and as much as I love Lawrence, I don’t want to feel like I am stuck here in 5 or 10 years. I also don’t want to leave all my best friends who I have been making music with for 15+ years, or to anyone else I have come to know and love in Lawrence in my 12 year stay here. But the fact of the matter is I have lived in Kansas my entire life; I need to see some new places, do some new things, meet some new people, and ROCK with some new people before it’s too late. I want to have that opportunity, and even though I am 30 years old, I’m pretty sure there is still time left to do that.
To be honest, though, I have NO IDEA what I am going to do. I know I’ll be here for at least another year, but I have been saying that for a while. I’ve become pretty used to putting my foot in my mouth, so at this point, I’m just going to say things as they come and deal with them later.