We recently got an opportunity to audition for a showcase where we would be playing for a bunch of reps from Major labels. At first the prospect seemed really enticing, Lord knows we could use the money, but as we began to go forward with the whole process, I started to get a sick feeling in my stomach.
the interviewers were clear that they were looking for bands that had
the right look, a good sound and that were definitely label ready. The
initial thing that struck me as odd was that they had mentioned the
look before the sound. The look was obviously more important than the
sound. And then I started thinking about whether or not our sound was
"hip" enough, whether or not we sounded like the next big thing. And
then we started working on a promo pack, and taking photo's of the
band, and the lighting was all wrong, and I was dressed on the slacks I
wear to work, etc. etc., and pretty soon I realized that my focus was
suddenly entirely in the wrong place.
I really wanted to begin with was to make good music, play some shows
and put out some CD's. And the whole reason I wanted to work with a
Major Label is because I wanted the money to pay my bills so that I
could spend more time playing, writing practicing and recording, and
less time selling vacations to make ends meet. But in the process of
pondering an attempt to court the major labels my focus had started to
shift from actually making the music that inspires me to tailoring our
sound and image so that it appeals to a vast audience. This was the
beginning of a revelation.
I picked up a copy of the most recent Spin magazine, the one with
"Panic! At the Disco" on the cover. I thought "This should be cool,
it's a music magazine, should be interesting, maybe I'll find out about
some new band that I might like." but as I flipped through it, read the
reviews, looked at the pictures and stuff I really started getting
first thing I noticed is how overly image concious everyone looks. I couldn't tell the
difference between the bands and the models it was weird. The second
thing I noticed, was that I had never heard of a single band in there
(aside from Panic! At the Disco). I was like "What's going on? Am I
totally out of touch or what?".
when I came to an important realization. I may be out of touch, but it
doesn't really matter because the whole goal of Spin magazine is to
insure that I feel like I'm out of touch, whether or not I really am.
Everything from the photos to the writing to the constant dropping of
names that I've never heard is a planned tactic to make the reader feel
like they are out in the cold, missing out on something that is really
new, and exciting, and is only available to a select few. Why?
Because if they can successfully convince me that I am out of touch,
then they have succeeded in convincing me that I have a need that only
they can meet. The message is "You're out of it. And the only way to
get into it is by purchasing said CD, going to said music festival, and
wearing said clothes."
The third event that led to the crystallization in my consciousness, was a radio show I heard the night before last. I was running some errands, and I wasn't paying my fullest attention, so I didn't catch the exact point the guy was making, but this is what I got out of it:
We have reached the end of the enlightenment. The marketing departments of the corporate world have been become so slick that they have actually succeeded in brainwashing us into choosing and accepting a poorer quality of life. The consumer is no longer in an environment where he or she is capable of making rational decisions. We have been hypnotized, and we now make our decisions in a state of induced trance obedience.
In the former age there was an ideal business model that was based on a quality product. In this age the ideal business model is based on a good marketing department, as a result what we have wound up with is shit in a fancy box, which amounts to lower quality of life. But what's worse than the fact that we have seen a decline in the quality of life, is the fact the whole system has become dishonest. We now have a culture of dishonesty, everything you see and read in popular culture is an insidious attempt to make you buy something that you don't actually want. And when we participate in the insidious lie, when we believe the lie and act in the ways that we have been programmed to act we forfeit our status as free agents. We lose our souls.
there is a counter culture, that's where punk rock comes in. Punk rock
is considered a style of music, but its not. If you listen to what was
considered punk 25 years ago, and compare it to what is considered punk
today, it's obvious that they are totally different styles of music.
Punk Rock in its purest form is an ideology. It's a rejection of the
insidious lie that has come to be status quo, and an embracing of
honesty in the form of anti-status quo.
However you have to be wise to decipher the actual counter culture from the insidious lie. For example, when I was reading Spin magazine, there was a lot of attention being directed to Lollapalooza. What better example of counter culture than Lollapalooza Right? WRONG! In this case Lollapalooza was the Man in disguise! How do I know? I know because of the tactics that Spin was using. The whole unsaid point of their article was that Lollapalooza was this really cool thing that you missed out on, and that even if you were there you weren't a part of the really cool clique, and so you were basically just someone who was lucky enough to observe without really actually participating.
That's not to say that there wasn't some actual culture going on at Lollapalooza, I'm sure there was plenty. But what you have to watch out for is the fact that the corporate lie machine is especially adept at taking anything that is wholesome and good and incorporating it into the lie
So the question that remains, is How do you recognize the good from the bad? How do you find the pure amidst all the false? Honestly, I don't know, but I think it has to do with following your instinct and the instinct of those you trust. Word of mouth, man. If something is truly inspiring it will come to you through a person you know and trust who has been inspired through it. Whereas if something comes to you through television advertising etc., you have good reason to doubt that it has any value. That's not to say that good things can't be found in those media either… Its an enigma either way. And I honestly don't know the answer.
But here is one thing that I do know. From
the very beginning it has been Craig's Brother's intention and hope, to
stand in opposition to the insidious lie by making the best, highest
quality music we could muster. Whether we have lived up to
that goal is for you to decide. But I think it is worth noting that
quality is our intention, and our primary motivation.
And given the nature of the revelation I have described in this blog, I also take solace in the fact that we are not the most popular band out there. We live in a world where quality is no longer recognized. The hard working, the innovative and the honest are being pushed out by the Wal-Marts and the Spin Magazines of the world. If Craig's Brother had wanted to be popular we would have focused our efforts on our marketing and not on the quality of our product. But we chose quality over popularity and so here we are.
That said, if you've read this far, then you can consider yourself lucky. You're lucky because you have the sense to recognize quality when you see it. And for that I thank you. Keep up the support. Don't give in to the insidious lie.