The Almighty's Blessing Of A New York Garage Rock Band

I don’t remember writing “God Bless The Strokes,” which became the first echoes song (I didn’t know at the time it was the start of something new).  Scottie and I had bought the core equipment for our studio, and I’d been unpacking it and starting to fool around with it on Thanksgiving break 02.  The song just happened in a few minutes, which is not my usual writing style, the chime-y lead chords with the phrase “God bless the Strokes…” popping out like nobody’s business.  It was too much fun to play; I couldn’t get it out of my head.
 
Naturally, with the new recording gear, the new tune was perfect material for testing everything out.  I set up my little gold drum kit with just an overhead mic, and made a quick drum loop.  Taking Cory’s (Shacker) old guitar through a fuzz pedal (Boss DS-1) straight into ProTools (I didn’t have an amp around – sinful) I tracked the first version of “God Bless The Strokes” in a couple hours with no bass.  That original recording was really lo-fi, of course, but it had spirit.  Enough that when I was re-recording the song for echoes’ “nickel EP”, I used the same solo I’d recorded that Thanksgiving.  That’s why it has such a dirty sound; it’s just Cory’s old Yamaha axe through a pedal.  I hadn’t tuned too carefully (or at all), so the whole track is 1/4 step flat or so.  What a headache when it came to re-recording for the “nickel EP”, but worth it to keep that solo.  I can’t play lead worth a damn, but there is just something about the way those notes and jangly intervals tickle my ear.  It always reminds me of the jams on Weezer’s “Only In Dreams” – “God Bless The Strokes” uses the same kind of chords in the same key, dancing around the tonic without hitting it.  Lyrically, what can I say?  The image of somebody feeling moved to invoke the Eternal Spirit to bless hipster bands-of-the-moment (in Nov 02 no less) just kills me.
 
What poigancy it has must come from a grain of truth.

It feels better, thanks for the haircut

So I was listening to the Echoes EP by my good friend Howie, and something else that I had been thinking about clicked inside my head and made me pretty excited about life in general (not the band, but you know, life, although I like LIG too). When I’m at work, and I’m spending my time making copies and filing reports and all of this, I always thought to myself, “why can’t I be part of some sort of musical collective, like Barsuk, or Saddle Creek, or even something as bare-bones as Elephant Six? Just a name or a “label” that I can be a part of and use instrumentally to get my music out there and available for whoever might be interested? Why can’t I be a part of something like that will distribute and promote what I’ve been working hard on for so many years now?” I have come to the point now where I know that the point of music is not recognition or fame or monetary compensation; it’s a kind of self-gratification. I mean, not in a sick sense, but when you write a song, it’s for you above anyone else. Even if no else listens, you still have that song for you, and it’s something exciting because it’s part of you out there, outside of your inner thoughts and feelings. But even further than that (bear with me, it’s been a rough, taxing weekend) it has to do with raw emotion in the form of notes, chords, harmonies, melodies and all of that, and the important thing about all of that is that it’s a pure form of human expression ideally, untainted and unclogged by want of money or fame or any of that.

That’s why Mr. Furious is such a good idea in the first place. I mean, not because I think we’re any more special or worth listening to than other labels or whatever. But because it takes the whole negative sideƂ of music away from making music. I no longer have to rely on dreams of being a rock star or selling millions of albums or having people I don’t know look up to me and know my name. The thing that I now think of when I think of what I want to do with music is something first and foremost for me, but also for my loved ones who might care about what I do. I finally now see music as something non-profit and something that is there for the sake of itself. It’s a thing for and by us that is instrinsically good, as opposed to some sort of means to come by all of those things usually associated with the music industry, all of those things that cheapen what we’re trying to accomplish with music. I mean, after all, music is something done because there’s something inside of us, and the most fun, effective, honest way to get it out is to express it through notes and things. And we know this is something good and honest and true because we all like listening to music made by others, and it’s not because of anything selfish or superficial, it’s because something they are saying or because of the way they are playing notes that tugs at our heartstrings and reminds us why we are involved in this life in the first place. It feels like I am reaching a huge breakthrough, something I have always “known” was right but never really understood why, and now I do. Music is the one thing I can say that will never betray me, and now, by seperating it from capitalism, greed, strategy, marketing, fame, money, and all of those things, we finally have something pure, free, and for everyone. I finally get what Fugazi is talking about when they say they don’t want to profit from their music, but that they just want to be able to eat and have a warm place to sleep. So I say, spread the music around, and don’t worry about paying me, just keep spreading it around; your music, mine, whoever’s. Just get it out there for everyone and anyone who might want to listen.

That’s all for now-
Cory

Voice

Finding a real voice in music (or any other art) is what engages our aesthetic attention. An artist must say something meaningful, whatever it may be. It may fall anywhere from “Let’s shake baby” to “We are all fundamentally, existentially, disconnected from each other” to a sound-sculpture that transcends language, but it’s got to be there to open possibilities for aesthetic response. Works have multiple, and even mysterious meanings. Voice gives shape to the artistic “object” that is presented, and plays over us when we listen.

A colorful voice is what I want to hear when I listen to music, and it’s what I try to put into mine.

For example, h&s played with Westside Proletariat ( http://wsphardcore.com ) in Lincoln last year. I’m not a huge hardcore listener but I rocked, loving it, believing it, hearing their voice. Scott, plus the friends who came for h&s, left the club rather than hear WSP. I think for them, the aggressive presentation covered their authentic voice.

Writing about the various musical voices taking part in Mr. Furious Records (h&s, “signs,” echoes, Shacker, and others…) will be happening. Struggling for a voice is important. It’s where real art happens.

Mic Check

We continue to add things to Mr. Furious, and this blog won’t be the last (i.e. art & lyrics, shopping cart, NEW MUSIC). I’m imagining a space to tell a little about the music, the recording process, and what I’m working on in a given week; it takes quite a while to bring a project from the writing the first songs to releasing it. Often, it’s been over a year. signs.comets was that way. Knowing Her Best was close. The nickel EP was even longer – I wrote “God Bless The Strokes” in November of 02 as I unpacked the first ProTools equipment Scottie and I bought for the studio.

This morning I bounced down a full mastered copy of Shacker’s Dimly Lit Room to check out on some different stereos, to see if it sounds finished. That will be the next thing up on MFR, maybe in a month or a little longer. We’ll have to take something down to make room for it, but you’ll think it’s worth it. See you,

-h