Friday, February 25, 2005

Musical thoughts or what sucks about Seattle's scene

MOTHERF*CKER. I had this great long post about music and stuff and hit the wrong button. Poof. It's gone.

Let's see if I can recapture the magic.

Last night I met with Brett, Nelson and Brew for rehersal. I wrote about this guy, Brew, here, in a previous post. He's an Irishman (by way of NY) and he's in the States to play music. Back in Dooblin (as he says), he was in a band called Blue Sun, and they had some success playing there. Radio airplay, lots of gigs, but apparently, in Ireland, they're afraid of success, so that's as far as Blue Sun got. So Brew left for the Spacious Skies of the good ol' USA.

He's an interesting cat. I get the feeling sometimes that he's putting us on with his Irish accent. It seems forced to me, but I guess 15 years in a different country will affect your speech whether you like it or not. Still, to me it's like, "Hey! Look at me! I'm Irish. Where're me Lucky Charms, mate?"

So Brew has a little stable of indie pop tunes. 4 chords and a cloud of dust. You've heard it before. Nothing groundbreaking, or even terribly original, but they are catchy (and better than I can do, so don't jump on the "Why don't you do something better" bandwagon). What Brew has that can do him some good is a lot of charisma, especially as a frontman (though I think his singing and guitarplaying need some work). Charisma goes a long way, though: see David Lee Roth.

Now, this isn't a bitch session about Brew. He's been great at our rehersals, bringing an energy that we haven't seen for awhile, so it's quite welcome. What's funny is that he thinks he can go out (with us or another band) and really knock Seattle on its ass. I hope he can. But, being the jaded industry vet that I am (sarcasm on +10), I can't see it happening. In order to succeed in this town (with a big in my opinion just to be safe), here are some things you need:
  1. fewer showers
  2. tight, poorly fitting leather jackets
  3. boys: Buddy Holly glasses
  4. girls: rainbow colored wristbands
  5. lip piercings
  6. clunky shoes
  7. marginal musical talent
The less cool you are in Seattle, the cooler you are. The sloppier you are, the better you sound. All your cool ass friends with skinny ties and ripped Scorpions t-shirts will come out and cross their arms and bob their heads to your music (the Seattle Salute!).

Do I sound bitter???

Johnny Low, from our bands Ethyl and StarChief, was a master at writing the cynical rock scene rock song. I can think of 3 he wrote that were just awesome commentaries on the Seattle Music Scene (or lack thereof). Bonehead Rocker, The Failure and Jaded, were all songs we recorded that he wrote with killer lyrics that I loved. Here are the words for Bonehead Rocker:

You got your bitchin' little haircut
And your downtown indie cred
Friday night shows at the hotspots
With your trendy little friends
Don't get me wrong I'm very happy for your localized success

Well, me, I'm just a bonehead rocker
Your late eighties bastard son
Any association with me could be the end to all you've done

Well, we were livin' in the same world
Havin' fun, I feel no shame, feel no shame
I'm just tryin' to keep it real, man
Hey, what's my name?

And when you look inside of strangers' eyes for comfort
You'll find that time and time again they'll let you down
Unless, of course, you've got that indie cred they all dream about

And just to think for me to make it in this town
I've got to kiss your ass,
Basically change everything that I'm about,
Don't get me wrong I'm really hopin' for some localized success

Well, we were livin' in the same world
Havin' fun, I feel no shame, feel no shame
I'm just tryin' to keep it real, man
Hey, what's my name?

Don't want a revolution
Just you to sing along
This is my institution
And it's called rock 'n' roll

I always loved that song. So fun to play. Loved to hear Johnny sing it. Some nights, he'd really go for it and it was great to be out and about with him. People would rock out to it, but no one really "got" it.

So, what is being successful, then? Playing to 200 people on a Friday night? Sometimes. You get paid more that way. For me, though, it's about staying power. Too many times Ethyl/StarChief would play a gig, impress people, and really have a good time. Where were those people the next show? Who knows? Do they need to come to each show? Of course not. But it would really float my boat for someone to come up after a gig and say, "You guys were great." And then, 2 or 3 shows down the road, come up again and say, "Remember me? You guys were great." Repeaters, I guess. Too many "one and dones" for me. One show and that's it. Can it be done in this town? Sure it can. Who's gonna do it? We'll see.

I'm going to bed. If you want to hear Bonehead Rocker, you can check it out here.