“Music is the wine that fills the cup of silence.”
- Robert Fripp
We stand on the edge of national metamorphosis armed with hope and lengthy dreams, and the desire to leave the mistakes of the past far, far behind us. Some wake to a blessed plague of amnesia hoping never to recover the damage that was done. Some keep marching forward feeling the heavy ache of everything they wish to change about themselves and our nation dragging behind them like a long, prolonged shadow. And still others shine above the sun, sparkling like raging cosmonauts, propelled by the strength and power of their pathological optimism.
I tend to slingshot between all 3 of these distinct planets with unruly fortitude. This is where art comes in. It helps me deal with my compulsive randomness, and allows me to abate life’s repressions while exploring all possibilities of transformation and growth.
And for this, I am eternally grateful.
When I first began thinking of putting a band together it was out of sheer panic. I was almost homeless, jobless, a sadistic scribbler, my life had no direction, and I was headed negative north with a bullet. To top it off, the energies that had fed my hungry soul through illustration and poetry had all but dried up. I knew, without the magic of creativity, I would surely be lost. And then I rediscovered a band, The Velvet Underground, and was transformed. They were painting pictures on silence. They were writing poetry with sound. Then it hit me. Whatever I could create in prose, whatever I could lay down on paper in the form of a sketch or rambling tirade would come alive if shaped and remodeled into something hallowed, into song.
Madness? Sure. But I am one of those insatiable heretics that still perceive art as sacred. For me, making music is not recreational. It is a powerful spiritual experience that permeates every atom of my being. Each note that we write, every syllable that slips from my lips, every riff change, bridge, intro, outro, chorus, and interlude is as important to me as transcribing sacred verses was to the prophets of old. Through song, I am attempting to speak with forgotten gods and heroes, to uncover the great mysteries of existence, to seduce a lover, slay a tyrant, write a wrong, or to unravel the hidden places of my being. In doing so, I can explore all of the spiritual, philosophical, sexual, and intellectual freedom that I secretly hunger for.
This is why plankton like Britney, Lindsey, and the rest of the Slack Pack sicken me. Granted, collectively, they have sold more records worldwide than the number of Mormons in Utah, but that does little to sway my opinion of these swine or their music. These prefabricated plastic mammoths of industry (& their handlers) have learned the Lemming song and know just how to change it so it appears somewhat different on every lazy album that dribbles from their noses.
But I digress.
Music is the fluid in the spine of imagination. Its origin predates written history. Some believe the first songs were imitations of nature. Crude flutes and other wind instruments have been discovered at paleolithic dig sites. The earliest written records of musical expression have been found in India, China, and Mesopotamia. For me, music is the secret language of the soul. It transcends time. Empires may fall, but their art persists. Music is the grand uniter. People from all varieties of background, socioeconomic status, religion, race, sexual orientation can find solidarity in one piece of music. Throughout history, music has been used to strike the emotional chords needed to propagate revolutions, to celebrate victories, commemorate tragedies, motivate, seduce, destroy, and invigorate.
It seems, as a species, we have always needed music.
Many ask me for advice on how to write, how to start a band, how to kill the demon of writers block. I think the simplest and most powerful method is to begin a foundation of immovable principles. One of my literary heros, Charles Bukowski, wrote:
“if you’re doing it for the money or fame, don’t do it. if you’re doing it because you want women in your bed, don’t do it….when it is truly time, and if you have been chosen, it will do it by itself and it will keep doing it until you die or it dies in you. there is no other way. and there never was.”