This blog is going to be three fold, as cleverly suggested by the title.
The first musing I have is on the howie&scott (or as I like to call them, Scott Money Big, or S$B) double-disc, signs.comets. I have listened to the CD plenty of times, and although I know they were seperated into two CDs for a reason, I still listen to them as if they were a whole work (like, I won’t usually listen to just one or the other; usually it’s the two right in a row). I remember being at Howie’s house, helping him EQ some of his uncle band’s songs, and Howie mentioned something to me about the “signs” disc from signs.comets being, in his opinion, the single most important artistic achievement he has made thus far.
To Howie, signs is not just a better CD musically- it meant more to him to write, I believe, and from what it looks like, it sounds like he’s poured just about 100% of himself into signs, emotionally. Not that he didn’t with any other musical effort he’s done, but I know what he means- there are some moments when you write a song, and you can’t believe how accurately it describes how you feel. It doesn’t happen often for me that I write a song and say, “Holy sh*t- this is EXACTLY how I feel!” Language and music are tough to manipulate sometimes, but for Howie, it sounds like he was able to do just that for the creation of “signs.”
Final paragraph on signs.comets- I was listening to “comets” a few weeks ago in my car on the way to work, and I had a realization that went against what Howie had said, at least at first, and my realization was this: that “comets” was probably the better record of the two. I know this probably doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to most people, but it’s a rare occurance when I don’t agree with Howie on which albums are better, especially when it comes to the records we’ve written. For example, “Prove It” > “Mixed-Up Head.” But I bet even Scott Stapp could tell that. Actually, for some reason, I bet he would like “Mixed-Up Head” better. Anyway, the point is, I believe that there’s a good chance that “comets” is the better record- it’s more accessable without being too accessable, the lyrics and songwriting are wonderful, and it’s cohesive in a way that signs doesn’t accomplish. But after mentioning this possibility to Howie, and thinking about it afterwards, I came to the conclusion that just because “comets” might be better than “signs” doesn’t mean that “signs” shouldn’t mean more to Howie as the songwriter than “comets.” (as an aside, Howie should feel free and, well, obligated to correct or amend anything I’ve written here).
Dance Parties- Sometimes I get bored at my favorite band’s concerts. I’ve gotten bored while Cursive, Death Cab for Cutie, Radiohead, Nada Surf, Ben Kweller, Bright Eyes, and countless other “favorite” bands have played. Why is that? Because at a live show, I need something more than just the songs. I need an atmosphere. I need energy. I NEED HEART. And that’s why, out of all of the concerts I’ve ever been to, stupid punk shows and ESPECIALLY hip-hop shows have been the best. Even if I don’t know the song, I usually enjoy watching an Honorable Mention song live better than watching some Bright Eyes songs. The best concert I’ve ever been to was The Streets- it’s the only one that I was never bored at. In fact, I was PUMPED. It was awesome. So much energy, and I was dancing the whole time. What do you guys think?
Finally, ambition. Is it wrong to want everyone in the world to hear your song or read your cool, funny Noose article? Is it wrong to want to consider demo-submitting and/or newsletter advertising to get your name out there? When we step on stage to perform a show, we are not only silently admitting that we believe our songs are worth listening to- we have taken it upon ourselves to make sure that people DO listen to our songs. We’re making these songs for more than just ourselves. Although the songwriter should be the only one truly concerned with his or her own work, it doesn’t really work like that- after all, why would MFR even bother to post our music if we didn’t believe it ought to be heard by others?
Is ambition in music a bad thing? I think these questions can all be answered by studying motives. Some people start bands because they want to “make it big.” Others start bands because they want to create new, original exciting music. These two types of people blur in a lot of ways. I’m perfectly happy to be a part of the MFR community, giving away music, but really (and possibly hypocritically), if Robb Nansel from Saddle Creek called me tomorrow and said “I want to sign Benjamin Axeface,” I’d do it in a heartbeat. Mostly because I want as many people to hear my music as possible. Plus, imagine the possibilities- if Benjamin Axeface or any other MFR artist got signed, that opens a door for every other MFR artist as well. Also, a small part of all of us (no matter how focused on what really matters in music, I believe) would like to spend our days reading and writing music and volunteering and doing things that matter to the world, rather than working crappy 9-5 corporate jobs that don’t do too much for the good of society. Maybe this sentiment is tainted with an unhealthy kind of ambition, but I can’t lie about how I would act if the opportunity presented itself. Maybe the difference is in whether being signed or getting big is the main goal or simply a by-product of music.
I know there’s a lot in this blog- please feel free to pick and choose what to comment and/or reply to. Just some thoughts for a Sunday night.