In July 2007 I did an interview with a rather talented veteran musician I considered a friend. Haven’t spoken to him since, and I’m guessing it’s because he saw the blog below – originally posted on MySpace – and didn’t have the balls to call me and say “Y’know what, doodness, you have a point, I’m sorry I was a douche-nozzle.” This being the fourth anniversary of the incident recapped below, I thought I’d celebrate my ever-present righteous disdain for self-absorbed oh-woe-is-me people. Enjoy….
I recently did an “interview” with a guy I’ve known for a long time. His band is gearing up to release a new album, and because I’m a fan and a friend I elected to do a story for BW&BK. As much as I was looking forward to speaking to him again, however, I was also dreading it because during the last three of four interviews we’d done he started ranting about how the music industry has gone to hell, how the artists are getting fucked, how no one is buying music anymore, and on and on. I still have all these interviews on tape and they’re completely interchangeable because of this incessant bitching.
Sure enough, five minutes into our latest chat he started in on the industry. I tried to steer the conversation back to the new album three or four times, but he managed to turn things around so we were back discussing how the music industry is fucked. I probably should have said something, but out of respect for the man and his music I kept my mouth shut, gritted my teeth and dealt with it. It was an excruciatingly painful 35 minutes.
As we were wrapping up, however, he had the audacity to tell me he was going to email me the concept for the new album “so I could send him more questions for a better interview” because I didn’t ask him about the album concept. I said “fine, cool, no problem,” but I was stunned, insulted, and over the last week have become increasingly pissed off.
I have no problem with people criticizing me, but it seems to me that if someone would stop whining and moaning so much about his chosen profession and how the world is so goddamn unfair there might be room to ask pertinent questions.
There’s no argument that the music industry is in trouble. Doesn’t matter if it’s metal or not, thanks to illegal downloading the artists and labels are losing money, everyone in a position to sign or sell bands is scrambling and cutting corners, anything to slow or hopefully stop a domino effect that is doing major damage to everyone involved. I’m not on the receiving end of a lot of that, so I don’t know the extent of just how deep the damage goes (my best bud Paco could probably right a book on it…), but I can see how a musician who has been in the biz for over 20 years would become embittered and disillusioned. Especially when he’s seen bands that used to be on the same level as himself enjoying some ridiculously amazing success in recent years.
That said, the way I see it, the present industry situation is like a bad relationship: if you’re unhappy and it’s killing you, hopefully you’ll have the sense to get out and find something better. If you choose to stay because of the kids, money or those weekly Hi-Def no-teeth blowjobs before Sunday brunch, shut the fuck up, grin and bear it. That was your choice and nobody needs to hear about how unhappy you are.
There are plenty of bands and artists that can’t hack the present day state of the music industry, and with good reason. I’ve seen several bow out publicly and admit they couldn’t deal with the new grind, or make a quiet exit and go on with their lives, never to be heard from on a musical level ever again.
On the other side, there are plenty of metal and rock bands that are putting skull to grindstone and suffering for their art. I’ve spoken to more of these acts than I can count, and I’m always amazed and in awe of the fact that they are not only willing but actually able to carve a life out of their art when the industry is in a state of decline. They love what they do and it shows not only in their music but in the way they present themselves. Are they getting screwed? A lot of ’em are. So what’s the payoff? I have no idea, but they have my respect.
These bands / artists are also the reason I love my job.
Bottom line: as a professional musician, to do nothing but whine every time you release an album…in this case five or six years running…maybe it’s time to move on. Scratch that. It is DEFINITELY time to move on. Make music because you love it, not because feeling sorry for yourself is second nature, or because you think the industry owes you one.
Sadly, I’m not professional enough to separate my personal feelings from business. There will not be a story in BW&BK with the subject of this blog because the “interview” is a sad and bitter rant that no one needs. There won’t be an album review because the record is mediocre at best and I’m no longer able to focus on the positive aspects of the music.
And there won’t be another interview done by me with the individual in question until he pulls his head out of his ass and gets his shit together.