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Calling It Quits
May 23, 2013 3:27 PM   Subscribe

The former singer for Freshkills talks about playing in a band no one likes
posted by Pruitt-Igoe (96 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
This reads like a Mefi poster sort of vaguely wishing they had more favourites.

'I did some good posts. Few top-thread zingers, a couple that really caught people's attention. I did an AskMefi about good childrens' books, got a couple of hundred - did you see it? No? I mean I'm no Zarq or elizardbits, but there's always the chance. Y'know.'
posted by Sebmojo at 3:35 PM on May 23, 2013 [12 favorites]


I almost read three paragraphs, but then I didn't want to read it anymore. I was committed to reading it initially, and I was pretty good at the reading. But, at some point, I just didn't enjoy it anymore, and I wasn't sure if I liked it so I wondered, "should I stop reading this?" and eventually, I just had to say to myself "I'm not going to read this anymore" and so I just stopped reading.
posted by four panels at 3:40 PM on May 23, 2013 [32 favorites]


Funny, I actually thought I heard of them until he pointed out that it's the name of a dump and that's what I'd heard of. Sadly, I would have to guess that most bands are bands no one likes (at least not liked well enough to continue).
posted by doctor_negative at 3:44 PM on May 23, 2013


"What kind of music do you guys play?"
"You know the kind of music people like?"
"Uh, yeah"
"We play the other kind".
posted by thelonius at 3:55 PM on May 23, 2013 [41 favorites]


Liked this line: "I wanted to die semi-young and leave a semi-successful corpse for my mother to cry over."
posted by larrybob at 3:59 PM on May 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I honestly expected a bit more than "Man, I wish I was successful! I meant well! Oh well." The article started out promisingly enough, then just kinda rambled along and was finally over without making any sort of coherent point that I could discern.

If anyone is interested, here's a video of theirs that I quickly Googled. I wasn't able to sit through it all.
posted by Reversible Diamond-Encrusted Ermine Codpiece at 4:00 PM on May 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


It was an ok article, but I got a bit worried when he said that he was now writing about music. Because what I just read badly needed an editor.
posted by The River Ivel at 4:02 PM on May 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


No one likes your band because it sounds like every other generic indie car-commercial-sounding band.
posted by wcfields at 4:03 PM on May 23, 2013


I had never heard of them until this article and now Im playing them on Spotify and really liking what I hear.
I never would have given them the time of day otherwise because the name makes them sound like a band that is silly and for 12 year olds.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 4:04 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


"hey. breaking up is an idea that has occurred to far too few groups, sometimes to the wrong ones." - Steve Albini, liner notes to Big Black's last album.
posted by larrybob at 4:04 PM on May 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


here's a video of theirs that I quickly Googled

I know a few people who would have been super into them in 1996. More than they were into the band I was in at the time, anyway.

I think maybe being in a band that nobody likes is such a common experience for the people who would want to read an article about that subject that it really takes a more self-deprecating, jokey you-understand-because-you've-been-there-too tone than this guy's giving it. I mean, yes, I get it. I've been in that band, too. Hasn't everyone?
posted by The World Famous at 4:05 PM on May 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Two takes on it:

One is, you have to know when to say when, not throw good money after bad, et cetera. There are some things that will never work, no matter how hard you try. You may not know what they are at first, but you usually have a pretty good idea after you've been trying a while. Not the rage-quit, not the despair-quit; the moment of clarity quit.

The other is -- to paraphrase what Nathan Rabin said on twitter a few weeks ago -- there is no one in the world who would have guessed ten years ago that today Robert Downey, Jr. would be one of our most respected (and most paid) actors. I can't imagine the incredible faith in himself he must have had just to attempt a comeback. This was a guy who at one point was almost certainly not even insurable. So if some revered sage from a band who I, to be frank, have never heard of...if that guy tells you maybe your band's problem is that people just don't like it...maybe that guy is himself a bitter tool who wants to drag you down with him, and maybe if you listen, you get played. That's also a thing. Maybe if you hang in there, stuff turns around. It can happen. It happens with some frequency.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:06 PM on May 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


On the other hand, Robert Downey, Jr.'s comeback owes quite a bit to his having identified the things he was doing that people didn't like and stopped doing them. Maybe that's good advice for bands.
posted by The World Famous at 4:11 PM on May 23, 2013 [22 favorites]


Focus group your band to unlock financial success.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 4:13 PM on May 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I think he has it the wrong way around ; he thinks that the details of his story are boring and that his general conclusions about the experience are interesting. The most interesting part of the article is the specific story about Jim White.

It's kind of a sad article. I wish there were more ways to play music live without being in a band, a band that becomes a total commitment and identity until it breaks up. I guess there are people who manage to put together a more fluid situation and make it work, more or less. When everyone's focus is on the idiosyncratic arrangement of original songs, though, it's kind of difficult to just have, say, stray guitar players show up and do the gig, the way that you can in jazz or latin music.
posted by thelonius at 4:13 PM on May 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


I kinda liked the song Reversible Diamond linked to. It's stuck inmy head. 'We came outta the woods together. Something something bla bla bla!'

In another dimension they were indie darlings for a few months.
posted by ian1977 at 4:26 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think most bands in the world are familiar with the experience already.
posted by spitbull at 4:28 PM on May 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


Did this guy have appreciably less success than Robert Pollard did in the first eight or nine years of GbV's existence?

I'm not trying to torture the starving artists of the world by saying maybe the carrot on the stick was just another few steps away, but sometimes... it is.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:28 PM on May 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Man do I painfully relate to some of that, especially the whole "we did all this stuff, but at our own expense and for only our own benefit, never because anyone asked us to." For all you do what you do "for yourself" and no matter how much you work, at some point success or validation is something that can only be whimsically handed to you from totally outside, and the experience of not ever getting that can wear you the fuck down. Edge cases like Pollard or Jandek or people who seemed to succeed wildly and utterly on only their own terms are probably not the best models to cling to in the face of that.
posted by anazgnos at 4:33 PM on May 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


Given the choice, would you rather be a member of:
a) a band that's pretty good but nobody's ever heard of them, or
b) Nickelback?
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:39 PM on May 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Why don't they have a reality show where someone can yell at the band a lot and tell them how to not be shit?
posted by orme at 4:39 PM on May 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Faint of Butt: "Given the choice, would you rather be a member of:
....
b) Nickelback?
"

I imagine myself as one of the vacuum cleaning dinosaurs from the Flintstones that mugs for the camera and says in a pathetic voice "It's a living..."
posted by wcfields at 4:44 PM on May 23, 2013 [17 favorites]


We started as a proper Nation of Ulysses tribute band

That's your problem right there, sonny.
posted by doublesix at 4:49 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Like others here, I started off enjoying the article well enough, but it just kind of gradually drifted into me not caring. I think it would have been more interesting had he gone into some of the specifics that he kept saying nobody would find interesting.
posted by Flunkie at 4:49 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thing is that somebody will like you. There are a few bands that are amazingly important to me that nobody gives a shit about. and i'm not talking about the bands i usually talk about. i mean guys like The Ripping Dylans, who played utterly passionate heart on your sleeve rock and roll constantly to indifferent crowds who wanted electro. even their friends didn't like their music. but they were the real fucking thing, and meant so much to me, and when they broke up even the members didn't care. or Capital City, a band from Perth who convinced me to break up with an abuse girlfriend through the power of Ramones pop punk. they played to 5 people in Sydney, and nobody gave a shit.

so remember, your band could be somebody's life

like listening to Freshkills from the first riff i can tell i'll be listening to these guys all day
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:51 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


come on, now, people liked you - why, 3 of your youtube videos have 40 likes between them and no dislikes

from what i could hear you were fairly good - not real original, but not real unoriginal - not great, but not pedestrian - not mediocre, but not memorable or much above average

yeah, you had to ask to do a lot of the things that people let you do, but many of them said "yes", didn't they?

you had a good run for an obscure rock band

the real problem is people didn't love you - or hate you - or stare at you and say WTF? - (also that the kind of post-punk music you play is pretty played out)
posted by pyramid termite at 4:54 PM on May 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


actually sorry the first album i found was great but by the 3rd album they turned into Franz fucking Ferdinand
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:56 PM on May 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


hey cool they use the phrase 'interventionist god' in a song... second group after Nick CAve to do that
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:00 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


All of my bands for 30 years have been his band. He's nobody special in that regard. You've got to learn to not give a shit at all if anybody likes what you play. Otherwise, you just shrivel up inside & die. Play what you want because you want to. If they come, great. If they don't, fuck 'em.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:08 PM on May 23, 2013 [13 favorites]


Jim White is awesome. My favorite drummer in the woild.
posted by dobbs at 5:18 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Plenty of musicians should take a long walk with Jim White.
posted by misterbee at 5:24 PM on May 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


As someone who occasionally veers into holding a barely-secret delusion that artists (particularly musicians) truly must exist on a higher/superior plane of existence than I do, I really wanted to be sympathetic to this article. I read about it before I actually read it, and it sounded a lot like something that could make me and my she's an indie rocker, and nothing's gonna stop her, obsessive record collector-type brethren shake our fists at the uncaring sky as we righteously seethed along with the author. I have championed more than a few terminal underdogs with financial and social support, and generally empathize with all unpopular bands, because I know it hurts when you put something you love out into the world and no one gives a fuck.

And then I RTFA.

And I thought, Goddamnit, this is the absolute least sympathetic account of an independent band's existence I have ever seen. WHY? Some of my all-time favorite bands spent their entire careers, excitable forward-looking start to exhausted and/or jaded finish, languishing in utter obscurity. When those beloved-but-broke bands ultimately parted ways, the attitude was nearly a sigh -- weary, "hey, at least we made some friends and had a lot of fun" resignation mixed with relief and disappointment. I'd roadtrip out to all of their last shows along with the usual group of die-hards, and we'd have a hell of a time -- it never mattered that there were only 25 people there because we were there. Sometimes the newly solo musicians would start other bands, sometimes they'd go back into retail or food service or insurance or whatever, but we had that last night, and it was always awesome. The end-of-the-world parties you can have at an unpopular band's last show are a massive breath of fresh air compared to this whole inexplicably entitled-sounding cruel and impenetrable music listeners, why hath thou forsaken me? ploy.
"The world is a vampire and you are a bucket of blood sitting in the corner, unattended yet still strangely ignored, until you go bad and somebody inadvertently kicks you over and the floor is incredibly sticky and still the vampiric world fails to pay you a morsel of mind."
Still the vampiric world fails? Because people didn't like your band? I don't want to be dismissive of the starving artist struggle, which I have seen and experienced, and I'm way into the whole 'referring to yourself as a bucket of blood' thing, but: Dude, for real?
The kicker is at the end, where he finally admits "... it would be churlish to complain." Indeed -- and on preview, what Devils Rancher said.

Addendum: Looked the author up online to see just how omg so srsly un-famous he truly is and this was one of the first results, a purportedly nonfiction letter entailing his resignation from The Strand: "The reasons for my self-termination are plenty fold. Firstly, I do not enjoy going to work. On time or at all."

It is, of course, an excerpt from his latest book. And suddenly, the article makes a lot more sense...
posted by divined by radio at 5:34 PM on May 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


This reads like a Mefi poster sort of vaguely wishing they had more favourites.

I've come to accept that I'm the type of niche poster whose comments only appeal to one or two especially savvy and intelligent favoriters at a time.
posted by drezdn at 5:35 PM on May 23, 2013 [21 favorites]


I do entirely sympathize with this guy until he gets to the part about stupid/American it is to want to just be happy. After I let myself, I realized that being happy instead of great is actually a pretty fair bargain. Also it helps to be playing music in a town where none of your friends are famous on a national scale. If Freshkills was in Tulsa they'd be the best band in Tulsa. That's a fun thing to be if you ask me.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:36 PM on May 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


Looked the author up online to see just how omg so srsly un-famous he truly is and this was one of the first results, a purportedly nonfiction letter entailing his resignation from The Strand:

Wait, he worked at the Strand? I wonder if any Metafilter members know him.
posted by drezdn at 5:38 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I imagine myself as one of the vacuum cleaning dinosaurs from the Flintstones that mugs for the camera and says in a pathetic voice "It's a living..."

They were mastodons.

(Which -- "They Were Mastodons" -- is actually a pretty good name for this kind of angular post-postpunk band, come to think of it.)
posted by Sys Rq at 5:57 PM on May 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'd read an article called 'We Were Mastodon' about, well, being in Mastodon
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:00 PM on May 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


out of sympathy i played a few of their songs while reading and watched a couple of videos after. it all just made me think of the movie Office Space. if you can't really rock out in your own videos and just shuffle around like some kind of schlub then you kind of get out what you put in.

i think "adequate" is the most energy i can muster towards voicing an opinion about them. plenty of boring, uninvested people think they're special. i know a ton of failed NY musicians, people who had success thrown at them in the early '00's and blew it through inaction or drug use or laziness or infighting, and every single one of those people is worlds more interesting and talented than this poor band.

when i was in drug rehab as a youngster i lived with my super-christian mom and her husband. i would occasionally go to church with them and my step brothers. my littlest step brother had a voice like a frog. flat and tone deaf but he loved singing so much that he would just belt it out at an almost inappropriate volume. he was a more interesting singer than this guy.
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 6:18 PM on May 23, 2013


I spent all of the two minutes and change listening to that song, and found myself slightly more engaged with the music than I expected - then I realized that the part of my brain that was engaged was the part that was trying to figure out what other, slightly better band this reminded me of. Then it stopped and I stopped caring. Something tells me that's the exact same footprint they left in the psyche of everyone who's come across them.
posted by FatherDagon at 6:22 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


So yeah, I guess it must suck playing in a band no one likes.
posted by dobie at 6:28 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


You've got to learn to not give a shit at all if anybody likes what you play.

furthermore, if you don't have hardly any audience, you can do whatever the hell you want and no one cares

it's kind of liberating
posted by pyramid termite at 6:30 PM on May 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


It sucks to say it because I want to champion passionate but obscure art rock bands and all that stuff, but listening to their bandcamp page, man. They're bland to the point of barely existing at all, and there's nothing "art rock" about it, which at least implies something interesting going on. Nothing ever barely rises above a generic semi-shout monotone, and there's no sense that any of them even care at all. The singer's voice is pretty grating (I must be listening to the Franz Ferdinand-ish album someone mentioned upthread?) My (non-)advice would be to start a new project and this time have the balls to do something people REALLY despise. Go fucking full force into unpleasant painful ear bleeding or something. Hate your audience. Just give a fuck, I guess.
posted by naju at 6:33 PM on May 23, 2013


I feel bad now cuz some of the earlier stuff sounds decent (ie "Future In Publishing")
posted by naju at 6:43 PM on May 23, 2013


Making a living as a musician is always going to be more difficult if you're trying to be a rock star. I know choices are more restricted these days for working musicians, e.g., not as much session work, but plenty of people are willing to pay for live music they like. In other words, you may not like being in a house band or on a cruise ship, but those guys make a living, just like the annoying wedding DJs. You can still carve out your own space and make a name for yourself, but I think that should be a secondary goal for anyone who truly wants to make a living doing creative work. Like, make the gigs with steady pay your day job, and make your personal creative outlets your side gigs. If you work hard and you are lucky, you'll get to make your creative outlet into your day job to a greater degree, but even if that doesn't work out (because it's almost certain it won't pay the bills), you can still make a living in music, if you're willing to take on the work that pays rather than insist on the work you like. In the meantime you can explore a lot of different projects knowing your basic needs are being met. A lot of creative people can't do this and be happy, and that's OK, but it does limit your chances of working in a creative field for a living to almost zero.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:43 PM on May 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nobody's favorite band sucks.
posted by spitbull at 6:53 PM on May 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


I mean, I get it, it's hard, I've been there. I can't knock anyone for trying and insisting on doing their thing. There's nothing remarkable about this band or their story to me, but I felt like it was the most important thing in the world when a similar dream fell through for me, and it probably looked just as unremarkable to anyone outside of our circles and in our day. But if you really care about making music and not so much about your ego, you can let go of this kind of dream without giving up being an artist. I guess it depends on what you want out of it.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:55 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


My take home point: NYC is a shitty place to be in a band.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:04 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is a great sequence in "Our Band Could Be Your Life" in the Mudhoney section about how all the 90's Seattle bands basically performed for each other and almost nobody else right before they all broke.

The difference between being the band nobody likes and the band that everybody knows seems to be a capricious thing based less on talent and more on a combination of tenacity, ability and luck.

Anyhow, speaking as a fellow lead singer in a band that about fifty people really like (which is functionally, the same as nobody liking us), if you don't do it for love, you're always going to be disappointed even if you do make a crummy living at it.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:14 PM on May 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


Buried within it, though, is a hell of a point. Or I'm extrapolating it, but here goes. Everyone tells you to follow your dreams--save the internet, which tells you to major in engineering or computer science or you'll die in the gutter--but no one ever tells you what to do when you do that and you're just not good enough and/or nobody cares.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:14 PM on May 23, 2013 [21 favorites]


Buried within it, though, is a hell of a point. Or I'm extrapolating it, but here goes. Everyone tells you to follow your dreams--save the internet, which tells you to major in engineering or computer science or you'll die in the gutter--but no one ever tells you what to do when you do that and you're just not good enough and/or nobody cares.

Ironically, the greatest lesson of my life was my first year of college when I failed out of an engineering major. I had been an unqualified academic success my entire life until I hit college level differential equations. I poured my heart into that class, hours upon hours of study and tutoring and office hours with professors and I am pretty sure I got literally nothing right on the final exam. I was given a C- by the professor simply for effort and with the unspoken agreement that I would be changing majors.

Anyway, failure is such an important lesson to learn, and fortunately for like nearly everyone in the U.S. at least, you get another chance at something else.

Also, being able to handle failure makes it much easier to continue playing in a band that no one likes.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:23 PM on May 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


. If Freshkills was in Tulsa they'd be the best band in Tulsa. That's a fun thing to be if you ask me.

Yeah, that's what I felt. The article was full of name dropping - the bands they hung out with, toured with as supporting acts, taking a long walk with Jim White. I get the impression they just cared too damn much about being successful, measured by the bog-standard boring metric of success that the cool band kids measure themselves by. And part of that came from the scene they were trying to be in. It's actually much more fun being the big fish in a little pond, if you know what I mean.

I played in a number of bands, the peak of success being landing a couple of Saturday night gigs at a reasonably popular pub in a small city. It was bloody great, as far as I was concerned - I didn't seek any validation from Jim White. I also played in a band where one member, the singer, had dreams of real success. This led him down some annoying paths (constantly coming along to rehearsals, and dropping new songs he had explicitly written in the style of [Insert Name Of Band Who Are Getting Airplay On Alternative Radio This Week]), and some dangerous paths (trying to talk us into taking up an "opportunity" some dude had offered him, where we could pay $6000 to be featured on a compilation album this dude was putting together, which he would then send to "industry heavyweights"). He was never really happy, and still isn't, as far as I'm aware.
posted by Jimbob at 7:28 PM on May 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also, being able to handle failure makes it much easier to continue playing in a band that no one likes.

Yeah, this.
posted by Jimbob at 7:29 PM on May 23, 2013


"You know, I've seen the same bands so many dozens of times, but with dozens of different names across dozens of different state lines.
And I won't always admit it, but I think that the world's better off with them in it.
And so if we're picking sides, I guess that I am for every shitty three-chord high school punk band.
Oh yes I am, oh yes I am."

posted by Grandysaur at 7:30 PM on May 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


The D, as usual, have the answers.
posted by lrobertjones at 8:03 PM on May 23, 2013


In other words, you may not like being in a house band or on a cruise ship, but those guys make a living

I made $500.00 playing jazz standards & dance hits of the 60's, 70's & 80's last Saturday night, and had a pretty good time doing it. If I could get that kind of work 3 nights a week, I could quit my job. Getting paid to play an instrument is really wonderful. Inverse of the original band thing though, you've got to learn to not give a shit if you don't personally like a song like My Girl, and put your spirit into playing it right anyway because you can, & that and a packed dance floor, & it's all ok.

This Saturday night, I'm going to a hole in the wall on the east side & play 13th Floor Elevators songs to no one for an hour, make zero dollars, and probably levitate.

What the fuck are "fame" & "Making it," anyway? They're bullshit unattainable fantasies sold to you by a giant corporate machine. Just fucking play, or don't.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:07 PM on May 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


I so want to be in a band with MeFi people. I don't care if nobody likes us.
posted by The World Famous at 8:22 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I so want to be in a band with MeFi people. I don't care if nobody likes us.
posted by The World Famous at 11:22 PM on May 23 [+] [!]


You don't fool us!
posted by milarepa at 8:24 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


My band story.

You probably never heard of us.

I was in a couple bands in high school (Puking Fetus/Burnt Youth, Blender). After school, Matt, the guitarist for another local band we loved, Shades of Green (Dropbox - mp3s of their one and only tape... 91-92 "alternative" sound whatever that means) did an acoustic tape with this guy I'd never heard of. I bought the tape. Later on, he and the guy show up at my place and ask if I wanna play bass for them (we had played with Matt for a talent show at school and had opened for Shades of Green once). It was a shock. I had played guitar until then. I said sure. We practiced. My friend, the drummer from our old high school band(s), joined us after his first year in college. We practiced alot, recorded on an old Fostex four track (Dropbox Link if you like 90s alternative pop with a minor-key edge, played a couple small gigs (by small, I mean, like a Frat House gig... Small village fair type thing, a birthday party for the one of the guys in the band (which included all his college buddies). the first and second Skate Park benefit for our area... that kinda stuff). We were pretty fortunate to have been able to play before Pat MacDonald(SLYT of a current performance of his) of Timbuk3 fame at the Skate Park benefit. Then we moved to Madison, a bigger city to have a better chance at exposure.

This was mid-late 90s. We were a bit of an alternative-pop sound. We started as Corduroy Joy, named after this book, then eventually named ourselves donnareed. Lots of practicing that year. I kept thinking, like this guy, it was just "gonna happen" that magically we would get some gigs. I didn't realize how sloppy we still were. I didn't realize the amount of dedication it really took to be GOOD. And I certainly didn't realize the work it entailed to GET gigs. As time went on, my enthusiasm waned, I admit.

One day, after practice we were all just shooting the shit, and then... they drop the question...

"Are you really into it?"

"Well of course I am!" I say incredulously.

"Because, it seems like... well you're hearts not in it, you don't really show up to practice on time..." (and this is really sad, you see, because at this point, 3 out of 4 of us literally lived in the same house, and I WAS ONE OF THOSE THREE).

So after discussion, and Matt and Kit saying that they didn't want to be sticking around in a band that didn't have the dedication... So I didn't feel it was fair to make them cling and I thought they were just gonna let me go and get a new bass player, but...

The band broke up.

Because of the fucking Bass Player.

Matt and Kit went back to Door County to gig under their old name, doing small shows at bars and building a local following for a bit. Tony (the drummer) ended up befriending a fellow gamer who needed a drummer in his band and now they rock hard as the party-stoner band Droids Attack.

But about a year after Tony joined up with Brad for Droids (at the time under a different band name), I got a call while Tony was out of town over Christmas time. It was Kit. Matt ended up taking his life after struggling with depression for many years. It was rough to hear that. To see such a talent like that. He was a good guy, and I still think of him often and fondly.

Anyways, for the past 14 years I have seen Droids Attack hussle and bust ass, writing complex rhythmic music. And guess which instrument-player they've had to change the most? Yup. The Bassist. But almost everything they've done has been on their own dime, for the most part. They've gotten a few favors called in from people here and there. But being in a band is an investment. To do it for the love, not the fame or money, is what keeps people going with dedication.

----------------------

When I read him complaining about having to work for it and they always had to ask and nobody asked them, I had to stop. THAT'S WHAT BEING IN A BAND IS! Unless you're delusional and think you're the next "big thing" and you're magically gonna have a national tour automatically given to you on a silver platter when you announce your next album, well.. Yeah, no.

There's a reason you're disillusioned.

Because you were illusioned in the first place.
posted by symbioid at 8:29 PM on May 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


A Nation of Ulysses cover band? Is that a joke? I mean I love NOU, but their whole thing was none of them really knew how to play their instruments except the drummer and sort of the bass player. Their shit is impossible to cover, it doesn't even really use regular chords or scales.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:34 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I married a guy who was in a lot of bands that never quite took. He toured the country, played all the showcases, got signed and dropped, the basic story. He took what he learned as a musician and parlayed it into a career as a sound engineer which then he managed to transform into a career in Silicon Valley and beyond.

And I love him, but I swear to you, in his heart, he is still a failed musician and he's never going to get over that. And part of me supports that (I'm a failed novelist!) and part of me doesn't get it at all (I've done a lot of other really cool things and I'm okay with the things I haven't!).

There is just something about rock stardom that is impossible to let go of.
posted by padraigin at 8:35 PM on May 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Because when you're hitting on the rock star thing, it's an iconic thing, and you are, if only for a moment the incarnation of the icon. And maybe your hero, or somebody's hero notices it and acknowledges you after the show. Hell of a good time when it works.
posted by wotsac at 8:45 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Songs. Hooks. They didn't have 'em.

That's all of it, right there.
posted by unSane at 8:52 PM on May 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


I haven't heard of the band, and since I am not cool I probably wouldn't be into them anyway because what do I know about bands? But I felt for the dude. I don't know how y'all's hearts didn't break a little reading this:

"But more than all of that — and believe me when I say I want all that badly — more than I wish for health and happiness for myself, more than I wish to achieve any sort of gnosis in an unfathomable void of a universe, more than I wish to no longer fear death, awful, awful death, at all times, constantly without recess, what I really wish, I mean really, is that you had liked my band."

Aw man.

There are three questions that you can ask yourself when you’re in an unpopular band:
1. Why don’t people like me?
2. Are they right?
3. Is our existence dependent on the answers to questions 1 and 2?



I think a lot of things apply to this one.
Like many other people on the planet, I have a "settle for" life that I am fairly meh about. I suspect I am not good enough to be a professional showoff, and don't know how I'd make a living at it anyway (plus since I'm single, I gotta provide my own income and health insurance). I don't really have an entrepreneurial knack to DIY that anyway, hated trying to. But this dude was throwing it all in and was doing his best to live the dream, but....they weren't that good. I mean, I do a lot of shit in life that I am not good at for my own amusement (i.e. my entire teenage ballet career when my body was clearly not designed to do ballet), but I wasn't trying to make a living off of it, was aware that I sucked and other people clearly thought I sucked too, and knew I was just there for my own amusement. I'm trying to learn guitar right now and I really don't have much musical aptitude and am way lost at this shit. But....at least I'm not trying to make what I love and am bad at my life.

It's a gutpunch to realize you're just not that good, especially after years of trying.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:16 PM on May 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Actually I didn't mean that to sound as dismissive as it came off as. They had a good sound and attitude. But that isn't enough. In the end, in pop music (and that very definitely encompasses what they were doing), the song is king and queen and emperor and all the rest. Without strong, memorable, unique songs, just forget it. So I think on the basis of what I've seen they were a good band who I'd have enjoyed seeing. But B- on the songwriting is nowhere near good enough. You need As and A+s to break through.
posted by unSane at 9:17 PM on May 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also, beginning life as an *ANYTHING* cover band, you lost me right there.
posted by unSane at 9:21 PM on May 23, 2013


fortunately for like nearly everyone in the U.S. at least, you get another chance at something else.

what. you must live in the good US
posted by threeants at 9:21 PM on May 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hipster butthurt.
posted by bardic at 9:30 PM on May 23, 2013


They got a name for the winners in this world, I want a name when I lose.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:41 PM on May 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's A Long Way To The Top if You Want to Rock and Roll - Bon Scott
posted by 445supermag at 9:59 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


DJ-ing, I guess, has eaten a good bite out of the tux casual gig scene. I can't really blame people for wanting the most affordable and reliable provider of Reception Party dance music, either, given the insane cost of a wedding.
posted by thelonius at 10:10 PM on May 23, 2013


I'm assuming you didn't listen to any of the links. This was not a wedding band (although they'd have done OK at mine).
posted by unSane at 10:37 PM on May 23, 2013


We started as a proper Nation of Ulysses tribute band

That's your problem right there, sonny.


Imagine starting a Freshkills tribute band and having more success than the Freshkills.

Ouch!

I sort of liked their video/song. Not enough to buy anything from them but it was still a step above the usual band-dude crap shot at a Beer and Hot Wings strip-mall bar.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:10 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, Robert Downey, Jr.'s comeback owes quite a bit to his having identified the things he was doing that people didn't like and stopped doing them. Maybe that's good advice for bands.

Indeed. I feel like there’s a basic misunderstanding going on here. Playing in a band like this is basically masturbating. Sure, you’re enjoying it, and there will always be someone who wants to watch, but you have to be really good for a large number of people to be interested. "This feels great, why isn’t everyone enjoying watching me do this" is not a realistic view of the situation.

You can do whatever you want, what makes you happy, or you can do something that makes everyone else happy. A few lucky people figure out how do to both, but the most successful are successful because what they want to do is what other people want to see.

There are entertainers (and they’re called that for a reason), there are musicians, there are artists and combinations of those things. There are also bands and people who are not really any of those things but expect to be successful. There are similar situations for writers, painters, etc.
posted by bongo_x at 11:30 PM on May 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


DJ-ing, I guess, has eaten a good bite out of the tux casual gig scene.

Heh. America's 25 years late on this.

And I love him, but I swear to you, in his heart, he is still a failed musician and he's never going to get over that.

Yeah, I still feel a bit like that. I've managed to quell the feeling over the last decade by being a rockstar to myself (and the three people who follow me on Soundcloud). Playing rock guitar still just sounds fucking great, even if its just in your own shed.
posted by Jimbob at 12:27 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not particularly into post-punk-aping indie but I listened to 1 song, and it was boringly unpleasant.
posted by legospaceman at 3:29 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I listened to a couple of songs and liked them - or at least, they were pretty indistinguishable to the post-punk/indie stuff that I've seen actually get airplay, music-wise.

If I had to guess why Freshkills wasn't successful, it's because the band is uglier than successful commercial bands are - they either needed a Fergie or needed to pull a Milli Vanilli.
posted by Veritron at 4:29 AM on May 24, 2013


NYC is a shitty place to be in a band because the competition is so fucking serious.
posted by spitbull at 5:01 AM on May 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I feel like I have tons of annoying acquaintances going down this path and it is remarkable and refreshing to hear one of these types just say "yeah, maybe we just sucked." Everyone knows someone like this, someone who is playing in a band specifically to be able to quit their day job or not have to have one to begin with. They are exponentially less cooler than the dude at work who just plays in a bar band for fun.

You run in to them at parties or at the bar and ALL they want to talk about is how "big things are happening for us man, it's definitely a really exciting time" and how "we actually just opened a show for [somewhat well-known indie band] at [small venue] and people loved it." And you have to nod your head and force smile like "yeah uh huh awesome". They are always just on the verge of some huge success, and by the way, they have a kickstarter going that's going to help fund their next tour so if you have a few bucks we'd really appreciate it.
posted by windbox at 5:20 AM on May 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


What the fuck are "fame" & "Making it," anyway? '

He addresses this in the article. He wanted "Murder City Devils" level of fame. Now, that is probably meaningless to almost all of you, but as someone who played in bands then, lived in Seattle, and knows the people who were in the Murder City Devils, I know exactly what he means.

The people in MCD never quit their jobs. They never lived off making music. I worked with two of them at a bar. But, they did put out some records that sold well and when they toured they could reliably sell out a 500-1000 seat hall in every town. They were successful enough that they still get paid money for reuniting every so often.
posted by josher71 at 6:33 AM on May 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hey, I'm about to put out a third album with my band and none of you have heard of us. We are about to play on a Tue night in front of a marginally more successful band that hates us. I love it.

I treat being in a band like a lot of people treat playing basketball. Sure, it'd be great to be in the NBA. But you better like playing streetball that only you and the other players care about, because that's the only part you can count on.
posted by lumpenprole at 8:24 AM on May 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


furthermore, if you don't have hardly any audience, you can do whatever the hell you want and no one cares

Sometimes I think like this, but I really don't want to disappoint my fan.
posted by malocchio at 8:52 AM on May 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Fun read... that band, I can't say that they're not good because they seem perfectly competent. That dude was right -- their music, just not into it. Not sure who would be. I guess nobody.
posted by ph00dz at 8:58 AM on May 24, 2013


Does this guy wear a fedora on stage? Because this article makes him sound like the "Nice Guy" of music.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:10 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not music. It's mehsic.
posted by symbioid at 9:15 PM on May 24, 2013


I have been in three bands like this. The second one, by a fluke, we had more people at our last gig than we had ever had. We slayed everyone and then people afterwards were coming up saying "oh man if only I'd heard of you before!".

It was all i could do not to scream at them. We'd put so much effort into trying to get people to come to our shows, and it was like pushing shit uphill. This in a town where there were only about 10 venues for live original music. But no matter the band, people would rarely come out for live music.

Now I'm in the third band and again it's stupefyingly hard. So hard to find a venue that will have us, hard to get people to come even if you do get a gig.

So yeah - just doing it for the fun of playing. Counting on anything else is insane.
posted by awfurby at 2:25 AM on May 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


no one ever tells you what to do when you do that and you're just not good enough and/or nobody cares

Traditionally, the answer to this was easy: law school! But now that's apparently no better than starting another band, actually worse because of the loans.
posted by thelonius at 8:10 AM on May 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I actually know someone who is doing this now. Curious to see how it works out for him. He was in some bands that were not too big but better known and more successful than Freshkills. I'm going to name drop: Mukilteo Fairies, Behead the Prophet No Lord Shall Live, Tight Bros from Way Back When were the bands he was in. Ring a bell? Yep, didn't think so.

They are all really good, though.
posted by josher71 at 9:33 AM on May 25, 2013


It was all i could do not to scream at them. We'd put so much effort into trying to get people to come to our shows, and it was like pushing shit uphill. This in a town where there were only about 10 venues for live original music.

How do you think people who open restaurants feel? Or Authors? 10 live venues? Sounds like you lived in a music mecca. Seriously.
posted by bongo_x at 9:46 AM on May 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm going to name drop: Mukilteo Fairies, Behead the Prophet No Lord Shall Live, Tight Bros from Way Back When were the bands he was in. Ring a bell?

of course not - they're too long and/or obscure for rock band names

got to keep it simple
posted by pyramid termite at 5:55 PM on May 25, 2013



got to keep it simple


Seemed to work for Godspeed, You Black Emperor.
posted by josher71 at 6:09 AM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


My band refuses to have a name. We insist on having no words or letters whatsoever associated with anything we do. It's pure that way. We'll never sell out.

How come people don't come see us.
posted by naju at 9:09 AM on May 26, 2013


I thought Follow Them To The Edge Of The Desert was a funny joke until I heard And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:19 AM on May 26, 2013



My band refuses to have a name. We insist on having no words or letters whatsoever associated with anything we do. It's pure that way. We'll never sell out.

How come people don't come see us.


No idea, since !!! and ∆ are doing pretty well for themselves.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:57 PM on May 26, 2013


pssh, symbols can just be co-opted and turned into a series of organized letters like Chk Chk Chk. corporate scum.
posted by naju at 8:55 AM on May 27, 2013


I actually know someone who is doing this now. Curious to see how it works out for him. He was in some bands that were not too big but better known and more successful than Freshkills. I'm going to name drop: Mukilteo Fairies, Behead the Prophet No Lord Shall Live, Tight Bros from Way Back When were the bands he was in. Ring a bell? Yep, didn't think so.

They are all really good, though.


I know of all three of these bands, and have seen the Tight Bros live, but then again, I grew up in Oly...;)
posted by stenseng at 4:17 PM on May 28, 2013


Ps, Quitty is a cool dude.
posted by stenseng at 4:18 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


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