What is this all about then?
This blog is my attempt to talk about playing music and musicians and music communities without ALWAYS tying it back to career, industry, punk, mythology or success. It seems to me that most of the people who play music in the world, aren’t professionals or bona fide artistes. Yet, most of what I read about musicians is about career-orientated music entrepreneurialism or punk-rock separatism. I think there’s room for discussion about some sort of third zone of music-making where it’s readily and completely accepted that a lot of people play music for fun. They’re not aspiring career musicians. They’re not share-house punks. They’re something else, something only tangentially related to those other things.
You can read a longer (and better) explanation for this in the blog’s introduction.
Who are you to tell me what to do?
Generally speaking, I’m an academic. That’s what I tell people at parties if I’m invited and they ask. I have a PhD in cultural studies and have been studying musicians and music-making communities for about a decade. Further to which, I play music myself. So I’m coming at this stuff I write about from a few different angles. But I’m not really telling you what to do. I’m telling you what I think and you’re reading this blog so that’s all the permission I need from you. There’s an easy way to withdraw that permission.
I also write fiction.
I don’t agree with what you wrote.
That’s fine. It’s more of a comment than a question but that’s totally fine. If a question comes to you, I suggested emailing me: firstname.lastname@example.org or you can make a comment. PS: If you use prejudiced language or are act like a total numb-nut, I’ll delete your comments. The internet is already dumb enough, don’t you think?
Can I ask you a question?
Yes. Email me here: email@example.com
I’m lonely, can I still ask you a question?
No, probably not.
Who took the photo of you rocking out like it’s 1992 in the banner?
Stephen Booth took that photo. Last year.
Are you a full-time musician?
Ah, no. I play music out of office hours, generally speaking. I still tour and release albums and play shows but it’s a hobby. Well, I think it’s a hobby. It feels more important than that but…maybe it isn’t.
What bands were you in?
Does it really matter? I suppose it does. It’s always good sense to judge any advice or argument or story in context. I currently play in three projects: sludge-noise-rock band No Anchor, my solo ambient-electronic laptop project Ambrose Chapel and pop ‘super-group’ (The Birthday Party) Party. Before that I was briefly in AXXONN, a band I co-founded with Tom Hall. I started playing live, recording and touring in indie-pop band Iron On. Before that I played in garage bands with guys I knew from high-school.
But hang on a sec, your own band didn’t do what you said in that post?
I’ve never been in complete control of any of my bands. Nor have I always been in possession of the years and years of experience and schooling I now have. And it’s music, it always gets weird. And messy. Some of the mistakes were the good parts. That said, I stand by everything I write here. This is how I think about music in light of everything that has or hasn’t happened.
Are you an egomaniac?
YES! No, not really. I’m a teacher. There’s nicer ways to put this but why beat around the bush: you can’t be a teacher unless you feel comfortable telling people what to do. It’s not possible. That said, it is a performance and only a minor part of my personality. Don’t expect me to start sprouting off advice if we ever meet in a bar.
Speaking of which, if I see you in a bar should I buy you drinks?
Do you make any money out of this blog?
Not directly. I am in the business of what we call ‘popular music studies’ within the academy. Having a forum where I can promote and workshop my ideas and the like is good for my career and I get paid to conduct that career. It’s also part of my schooling. I was brought up through cultural studies. That means I have Stuart Hall looking over my shoulder the whole time. I can’t really do him justice here (you should read him) but in short: Stuart Hall thinks that if you work in a university and the people you’re studying / trying to teach / trying to liberate etc can’t understand you, you’re part of the problem. My academic writing isn’t super-wordy (I think) but it’s absolutely written in that style. So it’s not for everyone. This is.
Does this mean you think you’re smarter than me?
No, I’m probably not smarter than you. I just ended up where I did and you ended up wherever you did. I do come from an aspirant middle-class family that valued education. And I’m an only child. If you know anything about sociology: that’s kind of like a lottery ticket. Except I had to go to university for a decade to ‘win’.
Is there anything else you can tell us about yourself?