Punk Rock Proletariat
A Modern Music Manifesto
We use it everyday, consciously or not, you are absorbing it like air in a restaurant or coffee shop. In our times of grieving and drinking ourselves to sleep it is there. When we wake up and rub the boogers from our eyelids we use it with a cup of coffee to invigorate us.
We use it when we have dinner, when we have sex, when we attend sporting events, when we graduate from high school, when we learn to drive, when we kiss our first time, when we are withered and gray and draw a final, shallow breath it is there. Film and movies, all the things we use to distract us from the realities of life would not be the same without it.
It is music.
Music is a conundrum for me to think about. It is one of the greatest joys of my life (apart from my wife) and music is also one of the greatest so-called thorns or banes in my side. Why?
To jump into its creation is to wade into the deep. It is dauntingly massive and too much collective knowledge to understand every facet in one life time.
To record it, to make it a tangible thing with 0’s and 1’s in the digital realm and to share the product of hours of anxious creation to the world is another difficult task.
Thats why we are here. To create and leave a legacy. But why I am currently writing this is another matter entirely.
We as consumers, western or non-western, affluent or poor, need a better understanding of the model of music consumption that we presently face. For an artisanal craft, usually passed down from sage to student throughout its course of history, Music has been devalued, defaced and devoid of any commercial value or integrity for more than 99% of those that create it. We bastardized one of the most beautiful of human creations. Millennia of culture, folk lore and traditions have become the plastic bullshit bargain bin “throw away”, one and done, mass produced flavors of the week. And I am calling it out. We need to be better.
We will be better.
Much like the food industry complex, we spend and consume, waste and throw away without knowing the painstaking process of creation. The growth from the seed in the dirty earth, cultivated to become a singular tomato for us to scoff at its flavor.
Music is this exactly.
Years of tribulation, tumult and doubt of whether or not we will harvest. For those of you who are music creators, you know exactly of what I speak of, time seemingly wasted in a vacuous industry where only Drake and corporate controlled radio stations shovel their sonic fodder with monstrous finance budgets. The independent artist is a drop of sand in the swirling sea of constant consumption. This leaves the humble, working musician distraught and disappointed, angry at the status quo and at the constructs of which their precious art is lost in the digital void of oblivion.
Even when the musician or collective manages to birth an album or song, there are mavens, gatekeepers and tastemakers who have the pseudo”final say” as to what is good. The blogs, the critics, those that judge from their screens, another hurdle to pass on an unmapped road to reaching your audience. We actually made a video for our new song “Woo Hoo” that brings light to this very issue. We took all the negative reviews and petty comments from blogs and record labels and slapped them on some footage from our friend Are Jay.
Watch it here:
It is how we consume, how we interact with Music. I am not calling out all users of whichever poison they picked, whatever platform suited your fancy be it Spotify, Google Play, Apple Music, Soundcloud etc. There are those that are active seekers in the endless noise. But it is the majority, the groupthink mentality of glazing over the details and not engaging with the art they are consuming. It is a tired argument “Spotify only pays 0.0001 per play!” This is the current climate and technology the masses use to listen, and instead of griping about it, lets use the advantages of its convenience as an asset. Don’t believe the tired “Rock Star” American Dream Story of rags-to-riches from yesteryear. That age is dead, and we live in the working class musicians era, where we have the tools and the means to create our own history, our own legacies.
I started recording music, not knowing what I was doing with my friend Blake Miller when I was 22 in a garage littered with stale beer and cigarette ash. I saw Wilco and Radiohead in concert at Golden Gate Park, and the muse of inspiration lit inside me and I wanted to make an audience encounter the same things I felt when I was stoned in a large crowd. Ten years have passed since then, after forming a band called Castle Pines with my friends, playing greasy dive-bars and recording several albums, I have the memory and legacy of these moments embedded in me. A much different reward than I thought I would obtain when I was a young, dumb 20-something.
I went through homeless years, living out of my car years, drunk years, years with court cases, assaulted years, meandering years of self doubt and whatever meaningless office art thats says “Discovery” years. And throughout these years I had the comfort of faith and music. I have seen the transition from buying albums and music in person at a record store to the digital streaming model, and although they are very different, the latter can still hold value and provide somewhat of a living for the millions of creators that can’t turn a buck.
How do we consume music ethically and consciously?
Rule # 1: if you appreciate the art, show gratitude to the artist.
As self-serving and indulgent as it sounds, the common trope and meme of “artists need to eat too!” is true. If you can, buy the song or the album. If you can’t share it. We are constantly engaged in the dribbling faucet of social media, so share the music, how it effected you, how it made you feel a certain way at a certain time. Share the emotions a song illicit in your everyday, and this is an invaluable and free method of support. We live in this weird period, where the most popular music being consumed is being infiltrated by corporations where it is repackaged and sold in the vein of authenticity. You need a lot of money to turn a head, and financing to get attention. This is the arms race for “Cool”, the stock market of social transactions peddling less than desirable lifestyles to the youth and the world.
The popular green, sustainability movement of eating and shopping locally should be applied here. The rise of the microbrew beer and etsy shop, handmade craft should be a lesson we use in listening. Listen small. Listen to the handcrafted and the workers.
Rule #2, stray off the beaten path.
This is one is hard because it asks something of the audience. You skip the lines and fervor of the industry giants if you do a minimum amount of research and discover. Whatever you use to listen, dig deeper and find something new, it could be the best song you’ve ever heard by a band that you’ve never heard of.
Rule #3, Know what you like and grow it.
I don’t know if it political divisiveness, social constructs of genre affiliation or what, but I do know that EVERY single genre, style and practice has VALUE. We can go into how rock and roll, Hip-hop and mainly Black American artists formed the modern musical language and how we don’t appreciate or know where it comes from. But all we need to do is “Anthony Bourdain” it, try a new dish, or flavor or something you are scared of. Only listen to Rap and R&B? Put some Black Metal on and listen to it without prejudgement or preconceived notions on what it should be. And vice versa, whatever genre you are stuck in, break out of it and try something completely new. You are doing an injustice to yourself by going to the same party everyday. Your music tastes are a combination of that nature nurture thing, your environment, what mom would play when you were still in the belly and what you heard at junior high dances.
Grow your musical genre vocabulary.
I see so many artists, creators and musicians get discouraged or feel downtrodden, and I hope this brought some levity and lightness to your struggle and journey. We are all in this together.
Our next song “Swim Team Sucker” drops
Friday, September 14.
Pre-save it here:
Thank you for all of your support, and remember
Castle Pines is for life homies.
SMART URL-ALL MUSIC: http://bit.ly/woohoo-cp
Hype Machine: http://bit.ly/Castle-Pines-Press