12 July 2010




PREFACE: Whilst in Minneapolis performing with Schwinntonation this weekend, our van was broken into & my Macbook stolen. This is going to set the label back a month or two, not to mention the loss of projects, information & music that was going to be released. sigh. Now, on with your regularly scheduled blog post:
I've been, for weeks, trying to think about how I was going to start this post. I gave myself rather disparate-sounding bullet points last time, and kinda painted myself into a corner. I know I wanted to talk about what prompted me to start seriously thinking of myself (or this idea) as a business. A large part of this insecurity that plagued my 20's was due to my inherent lack of focused ability. I was born in 1980; so, not only were there not yet accurate definitions, but they also weren't really looking for ADD & ADHD in the Chicago Public Schools. So what skills I've accrued have less to do with discipline than obsessiveness, and then only about the things I REALLY REALLY care about, that can maintain my attention for more than a couple minutes. So I'm a decent musician, I play a few instruments, and I know recording. But there are many many more skills necessary to achieve anything close to a sustainable lifestyle that I simply don't have, and have been trying to learn (with difficulty) for the last ten years. Long story short, it was the example of others that have come from similar circumstances and have accomplished (what I consider to be) MUCH with their seemingly limited skill set, that finally put me over the top. ("If THEY can do it....!") Some examples (with lessons I've taken from them):
My Parents: Two Chicagoans from working-class families who provided a loving, encouraging, free childhood for an incredibly bright underachiever who couldn't commit to anything except music. Across 40 years, my mom has worked herself up from a bank secretary (out of high school) to the office manager of a business consulting firm that separated from Ernst & Young 10 years ago.  My dad got a double Masters' degree at the age of 23, and has pursued his talents & interests as a poet, editor of Down Beat magazine, jazz writer/critic, record producer, and integral part of Chicago's world-famous experimental music/jazz scene. Thanks to them, I had medical & dental insurance; a house with a yard to grow up in; a dog (don't underestimate how important that is to a child); I had INCREDIBLE access to art & culture that even the most educated children don't pursue; and the knowledge that whatever work I ultimately decided to do, I had the time to decide & the support to work through any problems that could possibly arise. Love & self-determination will help you build a life & provide a foundation for those you care about.

Henry Rollins: Self-described mediocre singer, his attitude & drive are of a level of intensity that I can only imagine. He sang for one of the most culturally & historically important hardcore bands of all time; self-published books until attracting a publisher; started a record label & distributed much more than just his own projects; he's practically solely responsible for bringing the genre 'spoken word' to the masses; he has a film/TV career (albeit not that well-known); and continues to be relevant to people like myself thru books, speaking engagements, USO tours, and radio. Geez. If you're brave enough (or don't have any other options) you can turn what you do naturally into your life's work.

Andrew WK: Just in the last couple years, this guy, with only his ideas & drive to make them happen, has inspired thousands of guys & girls just like me. Besides being a musician of pretty high caliber, he's relentlessly positive & optimistic, and his philosophy starts with partying! He makes non-music videos constantly; putting up (on youtube) strange interview/experimental footage collages, putting biographical narration to behind-the-scenes footage of himself, homemade exercise videos, concert footage and fan interviews. Now, AWK had a little help getting a national platform, but as I see it, he's combining the skills he has RIGHT NOW with his INCREDIBLE ambition to make something happen, and it turns out that the whole (his end result) is much more than the sum of the parts he has available to put in. You don't have to have a degree (or very much knowledge) in video art, online business, or design to make something meaningful.

Steve Albini: Boy, a lot of people don't like this guy. He's opinionated (downright mean on occasion), straightforward, uncompromising, and doesn't seem interested in ingratiating himself to anyone for any reason. And yet, he's one of the most well-known, well-respected producers in modern music; he owns his own (rather large, well-equipped) studio in an excellent location in Chicago; and he's highly sought-after for the qualities he brings to anyone's recording. (FYI: he produced "16 Stone" by Bush; "IN UTERO" by Nirvana; "GOAT" by Jesus Lizard; all his own albums across all his projects [Big Black, Rapeman, SHELLAC] and MANY MANY more bands & albums than you've heard of.)  Flying in the face of convention in the music industry, he won't work on a project unless he ACTUALLY likes the band & wants to have his name on the resulting release, and he'll adjust his rates to what the band can afford when he wants to work with them. By defining your principles & following thru on them, you can whittle away the bad or unhelpful elements & attract positive & gainful opportunities.

Now, there are a few more examples I have in mind, but this more or less gave me the groundwork to start seriously pursuing my desire to distribute & disseminate music. I guess what I'm trying to describe here is that I don't necessarily feel like I know what I'm doing, but I'm finally at the point where I'm no longer afraid of failing.

I'm going to go into describing the process of designing and manufacturing our cover art next time. It's a pretty expansive subject, and I need to focus on getting a new computer before I really feel on track again. Here's a little entertainment for you in the meantime: lookatthisfuckinghipster.com.