Chris Randall: Musician, Writer, User Interface Designer, Inventor, Photographer, Complainer. Not necessarily in that order.
 
March 9, 2008

FUUUUCK!!!!

by Chris Randall
 

I cracked the god-damn neck on my J-Bass. That sucks. Well, not the neck so much; really the headstock. Right from where the nut is on the low side to the center of the hole for the E tuner. This doesn't really affect much, but it makes the low E buzz.


We hates the buzz, Precious.


The question is thus: is this actually fixable? I mean, I know damn well I could slap a replacement neck in there from Warmoth or Stew-Mac or whatever, but that really isn't the same thing, is it? And this one plays so well largely because it's been played for 30-odd years. A new one would be teh sux0r.


 
March 9, 2008

A Spirited Defense of an Utter Lack Of Skill...

by Chris Randall
 

In my normal Sunday morning trawl of the NYT (which differs from my daily trawl of the NYT inasmuch as I generally don't read the op-ed shit on a weekday) I came across this amusing piece. In it, the author describes his participation in the Really Terrible Orchestra. While the concept is reasonably sound (paypal me $1 for that pun, please) I find their intrinsic realism about the whole thing quite refreshing. The founder is quoted, in Classical Music magazine, as saying "[w]e also discovered there?s a place in the market for a really bad amateur orchestra. After all who wants to go to a concert by a good amateur orchestra when you can hear a professional orchestra?"


This brings to mind an interesting point. If there's one thing I can't stand, even a tiny bit, it's the incredibly earnest bar band. Bar bands are, by their very nature, amateur, and the people that play in them are never very relaxed because they don't get on stage enough to treat it like the workmanlike entertainment job that it is. Thus, it's an uncomfortable experience for both performers and audience. Now, if a bar band was named "We Fucking Suck" or something, ("slaughtering the classic rock hits since 1995!") I'd have a whole different opinion of the matter, and could actually revel in the parts they got right.


Note to aspiring bar-band performers: take a page from the Really Terrible Orchestra's songbook, and plainly wallow in the inherent humor of your position. It'll make things much more pleasant, and you might even actually get somewhere with it. After all, look at Ween.


 
March 7, 2008

Stylistic Schizophrenia Open Thread...

by Chris Randall
 

I'm going snowboarding today, largely because I can, so this is an open thread. The topic: as was mention often and vigorously in the previous thread (but one), I've made a reasonable career despite having the consistency of, well, nothing springs to mind. I've made single albums that had both big-band swing and 135 bpm 4-on-the-floor industrial stompers on them, and somehow managed to do it rather unironically, at least in my own head. When do you draw the line? Should you rein in your less reasonable creative impulses to suit your chosen genre? Or should you just let it all hang out, and fight the good fight, which is invariably a losing battle?

 
March 6, 2008

The Corner Of No And Where...

by Chris Randall
 



And I just wanna say "Big Up!" to our Melanesian Massive. Who is that one person from New Caledonia?


 
March 6, 2008

The Long(er) Tail...

by Chris Randall
 

darklordjames just turned me on to this article, which has apparently been making the rounds of the creative community today. (And with good reason.) Obviously, I have some thoughts about this, but first things first, go read the entire article, because there will be a test later. Go ahead. I'll wait.


Now, setting aside for the moment that this article has been quickly adopted by the BoingBoing set (a member of which, as you all know, I most certainly am not), and it does trend a little Disney, the concept is absolutely sound. Between when I was dropped from TVT and when I finally gave up on SMG, I made most of my living in exactly the manner described in that article, and can state from personal experience that it rings true. Mr. Kelly has, in fact, hit the nail on the head for the most part.


There are caveats to his plan, which he fails to mention. BoingBoingers and their ilk will fall all over themselves setting up tip jars and having a group hug, but getting those thousand people to pony up whenever you poop out a track is no easy task. The SMG fan base, which numbered in the several hundred thousands at one time, has rendered down after a decade of abuse on my part to about 800 people I can count on to put up with most anything I do, and another 3000 or so that will turn up eventually. Of those 800 people, I know at least 200 by sight, and am on a first name basis with almost all of them once I'm reminded of who they are. Elle knows them all and then some; she's better with names and faces than I am. She can even remember specific things about many, like what size shirt they wear, where they live, what they said to her the last time they saw her, and things like that.


I'm left with the nagging suspicion that I squandered a lot of "true fans" as Mr. Kelly states it, by either my musical schizophrenia or my short temper, and of course there's a certain amount of regret there. This brings me to the caveats in a roundabout way:


1: Master your craft. You can't suck to begin with. The article semi-implies that you have a right to these thousand people. In actual fact, you need to move heaven and earth to not suck.


2: Hold your tongue. I swear to christ I've gotten to the point (particularly on my last tour) where I was gonna gouge out the eyes of the next person that came up to me and said "dude, the first time I heard you was..." I mean, seriously. That kind of shit can put a motherfucker over the edge. Being humble in person when you're really not is a true art form that has to be practiced. You have to continually remind yourself that you're being paid to entertain, and being a complete prick isn't very entertaining. That is a lesson learned the hard way. (Truthfully, it may not seem like it, but I'm quite affable in person. Ask anyone. Except this one dude in Albany who got on my bad side. Or Lubbock. Or...)


3: Consistency counts. Your fans don't actually want you to experiment, I've found out. Or, at least, they think they don't. I acquired a reputation for abrupt left turns, musically, within the rather confining genre that was Industrial in the 90s. This annoyed many people. I lost roughly 90% of my fan base by deciding for about six months that I'd really rather be in War than Sister Machine Gun. If you're gonna subvert the Long Tail, you can't really pull that shit. If I stuck to ripping off Roli Mossimann productions I'd still have a vibrant career. I would have probably hung myself, too, but there's art in that as well, and that sort of thing never hurts your back catalog.


Long story short, TANSTAAFL as always. The "1000 True Fans" model is absolutely viable, but comes with baggage. Take it from someone that has lived it for two decades. It's hard out here for a pimp.

 

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