“I’m not particularly interested in punk rock as a sound…but what I think is enduringly interesting and valuable is punk thought”

A good reminder from Jason Farrell:

The Dischord work ethic is very similar to skateboarding when I came to know it. If you wanted to ride something, you had to build it. So you had to learn how to build. A ton of enthusiasm, coupled with a crude understanding of hammer, nails, and wood gleaned from building tree forts would be the basis for a series of horrible ramps. But each one got a little better. Eventually, you’re good enough to build a house. It’s the same with music: it’s borrowed instruments plus a little talent, and bash it out until your skills catch up with your enthusiasm. I still live by that way of thinking: Don’t let not knowing how to do something stop you from doing something. Just get started—figure it out.

Source: Dischord Records: A Roundtable « Bandcamp Daily

“If you’re in a small town, you have to get down on your hands and knees and dig a ditch so that the water can run”

With no foreseeable end in sight for rising rents in the cities, expect this trend to continue.

But with the same cities stricken by intensifying affordability crises – premiums on space that make somewhere to live, let alone rehearse and perform, available to a dwindling few – they don’t beckon young punks like they used to. And though reports of music scenes’ deaths tend to overstate, news of shuttering venues (see eulogies for The Smell, The Know, and LoBot) deters some of the intrepid transplants needed for invigoration. Dissipating metropolitan allure, however, helps account for the strength of scenes in outlying towns.

Source: Rock in the suburbs: why punk moved out of the city and into the cul-de-sac | Music | The Guardian

“It was people like Joe Strummer who became the news for a lot of young people.” – Henry Rollins

Good read on politics and punk below:

“It’s important to remember that the musicians within the punk movement — and any artist for that matter — are first and foremost a citizens of the world,” Antonino D’Ambrosio, who edited the book “Let Fury Have the Hour: Joe Strummer, Punk, and the Movement that Shook the World,” told ATTN:. “For this reason, they serve as a mirror reflecting back the issues that dominate the social, political, cultural landscape of their time (and open a window into a different world),” he said.

D’Ambrosio explained that many bands were dealing with the “fallout of industrialization and havoc post-industrialization” that created the income inequality and power inequality we see today. Some punk bands took on a more nihilistic “we’re all screwed” kind of attitude, but other artists like Joe Strummer of The Clash used music to promote resistance and change.

Source: How Punk Bred Generations of Political Thinking

Glen E. Friedman: ‘I’m Trying To Wake People Up’

Inspiring words from one of my favorite photographers:

I guess I live for just continuing to inspire people with things that I’ve learned. I have a particular lifestyle, I have a particular view of the world, and I would like to inspire more people to think for themselves — and maybe in the same direction that I do. Not to have copycats or something, but a way that I see we could all make the world a better place. Stop eating animals. Care about the environment. Do things from the heart, have some integrity. These are touchstones that I believe that people are lacking these days, unfortunately.I don’t think the word “integrity” is even in the vernacular anymore. It’s like, people don’t get it. They consider it a success if someone comes to them to sponsor their tour or if they have some brand behind them. To me, that’s the antithesis of what we want.

Source: Counterculture Photographer Glen E. Friedman: ‘I’m Trying To Wake People Up’ | Bandwidth

Ian MacKaye: “Never in the history of the world have people worked ten hours and nothing has moved.”

This is one of the best interviews with Ian MacKaye that I’ve read. So much food for thought. The full interview is linked below.

You got me thinking. When I mentioned this issue was about survival, you said that wasn’t something you could relate to. It’s the word survival – the idea you would ‘survive’ something. I understand that people, melodramatically, may consider life something one has to survive. But you’re alive, that’s what life is, you are surviving. It plays into this idea that people’s lives are narratives – that it’s a film or book and you have to survive all this craziness. I think it’s a disservice, ultimately, because it makes others feel like their lives aren’t crazy enough. In my mind, life is not a war – although human beings create conditions that make it feel that way – and I think that navigation is a fairer term. I see life essentially as an empty field. The construct of that empty space has to do with society, but it also has to do with us. The only real question is how are we going to navigate that space, from beginning to end. If people thought of themselves as navigators, maybe they would have more purchase. Navigation is about having a say in the matter, whereas surviving is about dealing with things being thrown at you. With navigation you get to decide whether you want to be in that situation in the first place.


 

What about when that perpetual state is propelled by an imperative of growth. Capitalism seems to be founded on this idea that you have to grow in order to keep moving forward. Have you ever felt those pressures?
I reject that concept wholeheartedly. Dischord was just some kids who put out records that nobody cared about, except for those kids and their friends. But it was such a valid time for me. When you are the one actually glueing the records, that’s the record industry for real. All the money generated stayed in the label, but it never occurred to me that it wasn’t working. I had something I wanted to do every day – what more could you ask for in life? Ten years later we were selling hundreds of thousands of records and that presented other challenges, but I didn’t feel like, ‘Oh, now we’re successful!’ I thought, ‘Now, it’s today.’ The label is smaller now, but it doesn’t feel any less significant. The hardest part is the observer’s perception of the situation. Relevancy, or irrelevancy, isn’t a concern for the participants. The people who are actually the doers don’t do it for relevancy, but they are judged by a society that focuses on abstract and ridiculous concepts of what is or isn’t relevant. This is fucking art, people! If it speaks to you, it speaks to you, even if it doesn’t speak to other people.  The idea that you have to grow all the time… I mean, visualise a person, you or me, perpetually growing. It’s not a pretty picture. At some point we’re going to burst. And that is true of all things. The real issue here is a different word that starts with G R. Greed. That’s what we talk about when we talk about growth. More for me – that’s the concept.


Do you think technology is a good thing for the culture you have been a part of?

There will always be people who identify themselves as punk who recognise that technology is a tool not a lifestyle. So, I think punk will survive, or navigate that just fine. But when you say,  ‘This culture that you are a part of,’ I don’t think that you can define what that culture is. I mean… could you?

It depends on how you define the idea of punk, or DIY. To me, it’s about whether you value self-reliance above anything else. I think all kinds of people would be inspired by that, beyond music. Is it a good time for young people to make something happen for themselves?
I think it’s always a good time for that. My definition of punk is the free space. It’s an area in which new ideas can be presented without having to go through the filtration or perversion of profiteering. So, if we’re not worried about selling things, then we can actually think. The problem with new ideas is that they don’t have audiences. And in terms of the marketplace, an audience equals clientele. If you have no audience, it’s not profitable. Punk was an area, for me at least, where it didn’t seem to matter. I didn’t know any punk rocker who thought, ‘I’m gonna make a living out of this.’ The ones that did quickly left. What I received from the counterculture was a gift; the permission to create freely. And my reaction was to take care of this gift and keep it alive because it continues to give. Of course, there were some people who thought, ‘Wow. If I polish it, I can sell it.’ And then it ceases to be a gift.


Self-reliance is an amazing navigation tool, but what advice would you have for somehow who was crippled with self-doubt?
I have this concept about changing the source of light. The way things appear has a lot to do with where the light is. Sometimes things seem impenetrable, but maybe we just need to change the source of light. For instance, if you felt paralysed by your work – you’re miserable but you’re scared to leave your situation, because  you think you’d become irrelevant – then I would say: stand back. Change the source of light. Look at the situation and realise that, though it is important to you – and I will say this to myself  – though it is important to you, your work is ridiculous. And your fears are unfounded. You said, ‘People are inspired by you,’ but however one rates my ‘celebritydom’ or fame or whatever the fuck I have, it’s worth pointing out that 99.9 per cent of the population of the world never has, doesn’t and never will know of me. I don’t exist. There are entire giant cities in Indonesia where not a single person has ever heard of me. The music I make does not matter. And if it’s causing me duress, I should realise it’s ridiculous and that my fears are unfounded. Because what’s the worse thing that could happen. Like, what would be the worst thing that could happen to you?

That I miss my deadline. I have anxiety every week before we go to print – which is now. One voice in my head says, ‘You’re gonna miss it! You’re a failure!’ The other voice is like, ‘It’s a magazine, get a grip.’
Exactly, it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. Life is just a straight line. There are two definitive points, one at the beginning and one at the end. It could be argued that should you decide to procreate that may merit another point. Everything else is affection – accoutrements, add-ons, additives. The way we speak, the things we own, the way we identify ourselves, they’re all artifices on some level… While we’ve been talking maybe 100 people have been killed, maybe 1,000, who knows, and yet this development hasn’t affected our conversation whatsoever. If you put things in perspective one realises how it just doesn’t matter. So the value is up to us, and if we’re gonna assign the value, then why would we assign negative values?


 

What is the most important navigation tool that people should rely on?
I would never pretend to have an answer for you. But at some point in my life I decided that the basis of all my reasoning is this: pain hurts. That’s true for you and it’s true for me; I don’t wanna hurt other people because I don’t wanna be hurt. Keep things simple and they suddenly seem doable. I read this book in my early twenties – by C.S. Lewis, I think. There was this image of life as a tree and each decision we made was a branch. And then every decision we made, once we were on that branch, were smaller branches and smaller branches until you got down to the twigs. The author explained that if you are on the wrong branch, if you made a bad decision, you have to go back to the trunk – because once you’re on that branch, every decision will be wrong. That was such a great thing for me. I was just navigating, I made a mistake, so I have to go back to the trunk. Because back at the trunk, life – simple life – is always right.

Source: A meaningless conversation with life navigator Ian MacKaye

What If We Made Concert Venues More Fan-Friendly?

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“You are one of us”

This quote from Sean Agnew, a promoter in Philly, got me thinking about music venues and how they make money:

The idea is to get people to become fans of the venue so they want to come back, versus, “Oh, we can make an extra $4 if we charge them this fee at the box office.”


There’s a common misconception when you’re running a club that more is always better. More shows + higher ticket prices + ticketing fees + higher drink prices = more money, right?

The idea is that once someone has come into your venue they’re yours – stuck there for the three to five hours from when doors open until the show ends. A few clubs even charge ticket fees even when you schlep to the box office. A beer that was $4 a few years ago is now $7 and so on…


But what if you flip the script?

What if you book less shows, but they’re all quality shows? Wouldn’t your club is known for good music? And wouldn’t that help create a scene around your venue?

What if you kept ticket prices low so that more people could come? Wouldn’t the number of tickets you sold in a year increase?

And once the fans are there, what if you treated them not just like bodies in the room, but actual music fans? What if you made it comfortable for them to see the shows? What if your venue had good sound, good sight lines, and room to move around? What if you hired staff who are music fans too so they actually know what it’s like to go to shows? What if you started shows at reasonable hours and ended in time for them to take public transportation home? What if you offered free water so they could hydrate? And what if you offered late-night food options to help soak up the beer?

What if you treated your guests as fans not consumers? What if you made the entire concert-going experience more fan-friendly? 

What if? 

Indeed.

My 20 Favorite Songs of 2013

1. THE BRONX – “Style Over Everything”

2. SLAINE – “Nothin’ But Business”

3. DIRECT HIT! – “The World is Ending (No One Cares)”

4. TWO COW GARAGE – “Stars and Gutters”

5. ASHLEY MONROE – “Weed Instead of Roses”

6. JASON ISBELL – “Elephant”

7. STEVE EARLE – “Burning It Down”

8. I CAN LICK ANY SONOFABITCH IN THE HOUSE – “Mayberry”

9. MATT POND – “Love to Get Used”

10. AIRBOURNE – “Animalize”

11. THE FLATLINERS – “Drown in Blood”

12. THE FRATELLIS – “Halloween Blues”

13. FRIGHTENED RABBIT – “The Woodpile”

14. THE NIGHT MARCHERS – “All Hits”

15. BLACK JOE LEWIS – “Come to My Party”

16. THE WEEKS – “Brother in the Night”

17. FRANK TURNER – “Plain Sailing Weather”

18. LUCERO – “Texas and Tennessee”

19. WILLY MOON – “Railroad Track”

20. WAXAHATCHEE – “Peace and Quiet”

My Favorite Albums of 2012

1. Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball

2. Bob Mould – Silver Age

3. Baroness – Yellow & Green

4. P.O.S. – We Don’t Even Live Here

5. Tim Barry – 40 Miler

6. You Won’t – Skeptic Goodbye

7. The Hives – Lex Hives

8. High on Fire – De Vermis Mysteriis

9. The Casket Lottery – Real Fear

10. (tie)
alt-J – An Awesome Wave

Campaign – The Black Album

Caseracer – Caseracer
Caseracer cover art

JEFF the Brotherhood – Hypnotic Nights

Metz – Metz

Pilot to Gunner – Guilty Guilty

Propagandhi – Failed States

Riverboat Gamblers – The Wolf You Feed

The Evens – The Odds

The Jealous Sound – A Gentle Reminder

Torche – Harmonicraft