As feared, as predicted; three years of hits and memories have damaged my ability to write music. Three years is longer than most bands last in total. It’s enough time that synapses can burn out by repeated robotic renditions of Dead Eyes Opened. Hell, maybe my entire cerebral music centre is gone.
It’s not that I can’t make music. I’m just making things with all the presence of an IKEA chair or the seventh disc of a Prince album. After a while it gets pretty easy to adjust the panning and velocity level on the alternate closed hats. Splurt – here’s some more music for the sonic landfill.
I wondered why bands went into decline. The cause is now obvious – once you are successful at something you are required to repeat it ad-nauseum, which kills off the ability to do anything else. The treatment is to (a) just keep doing that forever – the European cure, or (b) become an academic – the Anglo cure, or (c) punch through the block and somehow reach a new level – which is most often about as effective as herbal remedies. Myself, exhibit A. Which is why I’m suffering (b) for the while, and feeling pretty down about it.
It was fun to play in Belgium (so long as you ignore 60 odd hours of air travel in one week). The people love their scene and they age gracefully – look at Front 242, who have kept their vim and vigour despite looking like some kid’s embarrassing dads. And if we looked like two old guys sitting at a bar eating peanuts, well we always looked like that. But you have to wise up and ask how long it’s possible to keep the museum travelling.
Chatting with Suicide Commando, they have gigs lined up back and forth over Europe, cities all in a row with crowds ready to punch the air. We have nothing like that in Australia; a population of 22m is condensed into the east coast and a tour can last a week before you’re all fished out. But even if we had a European population there comes a time when your audience has arthritis of the air punching arms and what then? I am jealous of our European friends but fear for their retirement years.
No, I’m not part of that EBM scene. Nor am I in with the monome-arduino-blip-twiddlers that are the arse end of the post digital movement. (Actually, the whole post digital movement – have you gone back and listened to any of that recently? Isn’t the whole glitch/micro-sound thing as embarrassing as DX-7 horns? Jesus that stuff was a tepid gruel propped up by vacuous talk and The Goethe Institute).
This all gets very depressing, but here on Christmas Day hope comes from an unexpected quarter. I usually read Create Digital Music just make myself angry enough to get out of bed. It’s the epicentre of smug and twiddlers and I can usually rely on at least one fatuous young thing prating about how they just discovered both ears. But recently they covered Mannheim Steamroller, that cheese pump of Christmas schmaltz and damn it the guy sounds like he’s completely aligned in his own universe. Or as Bradbury would say – he is utterly what he is. That doesn’t mean that I am inspired to get into Christmas jingles. It means by age 65 I would also like to be entirely comfortable making whatever the hell I want despite being told it doesn’t fit with the expectations of the marketplace. I’d like to free from (a)(b)(c)’s, scenes and the baggage that holds you, me and everyone else down.
Instead of being preoccupied by how I can’t seem to align with anything around me, I need to be more like Saint Chip, to follow my own inner dag. To wear the grin and beard of a man that gives not a fuck about what is cool this week. This sounds like an attitude adjustment, easy to prescribe but hard to achieve without the right community and dammit that’s exactly what is going to happen. Who else will follow Chip Davis to freedom from the confines of good taste?