Daydreaming

Listen

 

I leave the gym and its fluorescent grey body behind me and enter the cool air, rain spitting on me. A little old lady is ahead of me, stooped over as she walks. I think it rude to overtake her on the narrow footpath and instead give her time. There’s a kind of sorrow to the way she walks. At least, it is what a I would feel. How does the back arch like that? The answer’s obvious—it is tired. She is tired. I wonder if she feels a sadness when she’s surrounded by the young, full of vigour and energy. I suppose for a time she probably cared, maybe not anymore. Why remind yourself that your own End Times are closer than you care to think about? I wait for her and take in the grey sky. Her walk is a bent-over shuffle. Her life is a bent-over shuffle. I hate this place.

~

I ease on the breaks and bring my car to a stop at the lights. Dusk is fast approaching, casting a polluted orange across the suburbs. The clouds above and ahead are wispy and, I think, dirty. I look to my left and into the car next to me. The driver sits still, staring out into the traffic, into the road, the sky. She is elsewhere. There is nothing notable in her appearance. The hair is set back, the eyes are hazel, the clothes are charcoal grey. No necklace or earrings adorn her. No totems hang from the mirror. There’s nothing notable in the life I imagine. I see an office, a middle-class job, maybe a partner, or even a family at home. I see that she’s been here a thousand times before and she’ll be here a thousand times more. Waiting at the lights. She does not see me watching. All at once I feel so blue for her and I have no idea why. The light turns green and I leave her behind.

~

I have a strange memory of a man I once saw when I was young. He stood in a large doorway of a warehouse. The afternoon was in its silent death rows. There was some kind of street event, a small one. Music and food. He was aside from the people. It was cold yet he only wore an old looking t-shirt and an unzipped, thin jacket, a pair of old shorts and sneakers. It was windy and his clothes fluttered. His enormous gut was exposed and he just stood there, smoking. He had an old plastic bag at his side. I could see the smell on him. Upon his grizzly and unshaven face was a look of sustained exertion and heavy breathing. He dragged on his cigarette often, looking around at nothing in particular. I thought, isn’t he cold? He was alone. Children ran around, teenagers stood around. Down the road was a cemetery, resting at the bottom of the hill. You could gaze into it and all the stones. The dead, the dead, the dead. Stacked up.

~

I take a walk on a winter’s afternoon. I go past the diggers clearing way for a new wetlands. I cross the suspension bridge that spans the creek and stop for a moment to watch the brown water ripple. I walk on to the gravel path and to the glade I sometimes wander. There are two oaks, naked in the cold. I take the path around the glade, up the hill to the top of it and among the pine trees I take my place on the lone bench. In the middle of the glade, in the middle of the hill, there is one pine tree standing, wide and old. The background is trees and transmission lines. I sit for some time, looking at it, as if expecting a whisper or a wise word. A murmur, a secret. Waiting, waiting, waiting. The breeze cools me and no one passes.

~

I am mired by the inner view, searching myself, looking in reflections and seeing only wobbled characters—mirrors in the water. I imagine the marshlands of my mind and, as I stand in it, the characters within. I watch them. They are all different versions of myself, wading and stomping through the mud and black water. Pale skin, knotted hair. One of them is bent over with his hands in the water. He looks up at me, mud smeared across his cheeks, with fierce eyes as if to ask ‘what the fuck are you doing?’ I don’t know, I say, my words stumbling. I don’t know, I don’t know. He turns away and begins to sink into the mud. Knees, hands, arms, body, face. He does not seem frightened. There are plenty of me walking around. What am I doing here? Shell-shocked landscapes and charcoal clouds, red-setting suns and grey horizons. I lie back in a soup of earth and sink into the next scene.

~

Thoughts on Failure

An old friend calls me up for advice. What do you think, he asks, of me moving to Germany, to work? He tells me he’s unhappy where he is, an office where the people a nice enough but stuck in their ways. Nothing is challenging, nothing’s invigorating. I imagine the place and see a monotone of grey and dull eyes, a vacant meeting room and sticky notes. Cubicles. Beige and black computers towers. He talks of taking the chance to go abroad, to find something that is challenging, raw, and interesting, to find a place where he can thrive. What should I do? He asks me.
The answer is obvious to me: go, do it, be free, be wild and industrious. The thing I am always incredulous about is the fact that someone, anyone, might consider not trying at all. Why wouldn’t someone ever try to chase the thing they wanted most or if not, why not try to work towards it as best as one can? Why wouldn’t you do it? The alternative seems always to be, in its essential form, safety. Safety in the mundane, the expected. It’s understandable, though I feel almost no sympathy for it. There is safety in settling for the ordinary job for the median income for the average downpayment for the standard mortgage, all at some central cost to the self.
I am cynical and it is unfair. And it’s obvious to anyone that I am projecting my own fears. I know this. Maybe people are happy enough with all of these accomodations, perhaps they are okay with every little sacrifice. And despite all the lofty rhetoric, necessity bears heavily on the necks of many.
Though for me, the question remains: if there is potential to do so, why wouldn’t you try? Is it fear? Fear of failure. Fear that, in pursuing that greatest ideal, that true love of yours, you’ll stumble, falling in the dark and upon hitting the floor you imagine calling out in pain as lights shine on you from above and a chorus of laughter falls on you like a bucket of slime, that you’ll look around and see, know, that you have failed and that the thing you wanted most cannot be yours.

You fear knowing. Yet knowing that you failed is the same as knowing that you tried.

I’ve begun to think it takes a certain kind of courage to pursue the thing you really want, in spite of expectations. Throughout one’s life there is a constant throb in the ear, a constant prodding that tells you it is unwise to pursue the unlikely, and to even shame you for doing so by way of disparagement, of the constant and judging eye. But it is honourable, I think, to take the step towards the unlikely.
Another friend of mind has only recently decided that he will take this step. For years it has been a tinkering around the edges, flirting with the idea. The fear of failure, he tells me, is so much to contend with. The possible costs are high. There is no guarantee, despite the obvious talent, that success stands as the outcome.
But of course, if you don’t try, failure is the guarantee. In fact, it is worse than that. Failure implies an attempt. To not try at all is even less than a failure. It’s fundamentally more frightening than knowing. It is the opposite. It is without body, taste, or sight. It is nothing. It is not knowing. It’s quite the thing to picture yourself at some distant point in your life, in a swell of grief at realising it is too late, that the time for setting out on your ever-dreamt-of endeavour is gone, dust to time. Imagine the hollow and unedifying feeling of never knowing what could’ve been, your dream no better than an apparition.

~

I can see in my friend’s eye a feeling of emancipation. Finally he is setting out for something good, something that has potential for greatness. ‘Maybe I will fail,’ he supposes, ‘but the idea of never knowing if I don’t try—it’s terrible.’
You might think it unsafe, stepping into the dark. No one can pretend it is. Yet no one can pretend they did not wonder what lay in the dark and beyond. It’s like walking barefoot with only a candle in your hand, wind howling in your face, your hand shielding the naked flame. You are frightened in this moment, but so too you feel excitement and awe. You feel the way forward and you are alive in pursuit. And among all the uncertainties and anxieties that are likely to follow there is, suddenly, the possibility of success. 

Teddy Bear

The hills are the green-blue they ought to be and it’s my favourite season, Autumn. The drive is beautiful. Greg lives in Christmas Hills, close to the Yarra Glen township. He’s going to be our sound engineer, recommended to us by our manager. The road up to his property is steep and vertiginous, casting a lovely view on the surrounds. His home and studio, two seperate buildings, have a rustic, homely feel, a lot of it built by Greg himself. Greg is tall, mild mannered, and looks like a mix of Daniel Day Lewis and Peter Capaldi. He likes to listen intently, sprinkling his attention with lots of nods and hums as he concurs.
There’s a lot depending on this new EP, titled Teddy Bear. I’m either making the mistake or wise decision of banking big on the whole drumming thing. It’s hard, requires some dumb luck, but I think it’s possible. When we start tracking I have trouble on the first track, ‘Save Yourself’. I’ve practiced these songs to death, both with Olivia and on my own, but I’m rushing the triple kick strokes at 100bpm—not good enough. I manage to calm my giddy right calf after a few takes and get it done. We lose half the day trying to sort out backing tracks and Logic projects so we only have time for one more song, ‘Wake Up’. I do three good takes and I’m finished, the last of them being the best. It’s my favourite song, over seven minutes long and, not to boast but I am rather proud, I designed it’s finally-decided-on structure. At the end of the day Greg shows me some rough EQs and plugins on the drums and they’re sounding good already.
I drive up with Liv a day later for the next three tracks. ‘Broken’ doesn’t give me much trouble, neither does ‘Distance’, all of them done in a few takes with a couple of small parts redone for clarity. We swap out my Spaun 14×6.5″ steel snare for a Ludwig Black Beauty for the last track, ‘Where I’d Rather Be’ (I prefer it’s original name along with all its warm and friendly associations, ‘Beach House’). At a lower tuning it has a fatter sound that fits the vibe. With Liv working on the guitars and synth at home and with drums finished, vocals are next.
We’re playing our next show on July 1st as a kind of retrospective launch for our First EP. We have to admit, ‘Finally’ still sounds good to our ears and to lesser extent ‘Flare’ too (I still love the long outro in ‘Funky’, but the rest of the song feels a little careless). That said, we’re over it. Anyone in attendance will hear the earlier material but also the new stuff, still being mixed as I write. I like the idea of Liv not even mentioning that a song about to be played will appear on the next EP, that she might only say ‘this is new’ before we step off and into the water that the music often feels like.
Liv knocks the vocals out in one day, despite the big room we recorded in being too cold that day for comfort. Greg takes some footage of Liv singing. He did the same for me when I tracked the drums. We might put something together one day, using this footage and much more. I like the idea of many different clips playing in small cuts, all mixed up: Liv and I playing, hanging out, laughing, our friends, the sky, the woods, the clouds, night lights, parties. Moments and times, glimpses and flashes, of where you’d rather be.

Drums

I’m in my 25th year and I haven’t much to show for myself. Thus the hopes pinned to this endeavour—will I finally be proud of something? I guess the odds are that I’ll feel as I do now when our investments and strains are met with a vacuum—deflated and blue. I keep thinking that I’m the only sane one around, that for anyone else to think that anything less than all of my energy and time being dedicated to the thing I love is childish or ill-wrought are those merely despondent and forlorn in their own long-ago-abandoned ideal; that anyone closer who doubts me can only see time enough to only flirt with the ideal. Where are my fellow martyrs to the cause? Maybe that’s the problem. Perhaps I am too keen. I suppose the odds are that I’ll be one more leaf floating down the draft without anything much happening at all along the way. What are the odds? Where is my Numbers Man? Punch in the data, give me an answer and I’ll act accordingly—wouldn’t I?

Cracks in the glass from fires sweeping past the studio some years ago

I sometimes wonder if drums on their own can produce narrative. If, on their own, they can deliver real emotional cues in some order. I think it’s possible. Drums are what you first hear when the Fellowship realises Pippin’s mistake, signalling the coming forth of some grisly menace from the depths. Drums are what you first hear in Whiplash, twisting and snapping in a solitary space—loneliness. There is something in particular rhythms, along with their architecture—their tones, echoes, pitches— that denote emotion, perhaps because it echoes the natural rhythms of our world. I can think of the first there ever has been—your heart: Ka-thump, ka-thump, ka-thump; da-dum, da-dum, da-dum. There’s more. The sound in your step as you descend the stair, the rumbling of engines on the highway. And does not the feel of jazz resemble the flutter of speech, the feel of ambient deep thinking? Are there not rhythms that feel like actual thoughts, following the same internal highs and lows, crescendos, accents.  The crash of the cymbals sounds like waves breaking and bass drum is always the heart.
I think it’s possible. I’d like to try.

~

I’m obsessed with greatness—what it takes, what it is, who it is. If it is anything, it must be pure and utter devotion. There is time only for that one thing, that one pursuit or craft that you’ve chosen, or whatever has seemingly chosen you. It must also be terrible. Nature calls to the senses scenes so huge, so overwhelming and awe-inspiring that it is, and cannot otherwise be without, terror. The twisting storms, the fire, the tallest mountains, the smashing of stars, the distance between worlds, the majesty of the sky. Likewise, greatness.
I hope this doesn’t appear as a measure of conceit. I am only interested, I like thinking about it. Know that I hold my own life in small regard. I’ve done nothing so far. I am, on the kit and elsewhere, painfully average. My Numbers Man: you cannot escape the laws of means and averages, not easily.
Teddy Bear is in the mixing stage right now—a lot of back and forth, lots of waiting. Meanwhile we’re preparing for a show on July 1st. I’ve been worrying intensely about there being just the two of us: are there too many layers in the backing tracks? Will we look like a real band? Will it sound any good? My worries are settled by our manager, who can only use other peoples’ comments as measurement. We sound good, apparently. And it’s not the 90’s anymore, not nearly so many people look down on using backing track material in a live setting. Besides, the drums are on stage, he says. It looks good, sounds dynamic. And at this stage in the band’s life—in our fledgling nature—it’s passable.
It’s with all this in the back of my mind that I operate, doing ordinary things, trying crawl into some corner of progress. Time rolls on and everyone I know is moving forward in some way. Jobs, property, money. I feel often like a child, thinking idly about music, greatness, looking at the clouds from behind the car window, only I’m driving now.

In truth, I feel as if I don’t know what I’m doing, that I don’t know anything at all.

Glorious suburbia

Something changes in the air once Summer passes and Autumn falls. There’s a cool clarity in the way the sun shines through ambers and reds, the pale clouds. Something seems to change enough for my mind to wander about, floating through thoughts and ideas. Dreams. Falling through my hands. Watery.

I wish to take take more walks under pines and oaks. I take kindly to the cool afternoons and cold evenings.

This is Work

I spent last Friday night behind the drum kit and worked on the same section of a song for close to three hours. I was trying to lay it down in the hardwire of my brain, trying to heap cement among the steel. This new song is full of instrumental detail and I’m finicky. My manager (and boss) can hear me on the other side of the wall. He stresses that I get the dynamics right so we can really elicit feeling in an audience. I get all of my practice done at the rehearsal studio these days. The drum room at home is in a state of raw plaster, saw dust, glue, timber and screws. So whilst progress on a soundproofed, room-within-a-room drum room is steady, it is also slow, and I stay late after work on the kit and go over each track.
We recorded our First EP around a year ago. It has a compressed sound and relatively average song structures—we were never that happy with it. It’s finish was delayed unreasonably so and once it was, we were, as writers and players, done with it. It was the first effort, the first meek and mild step into the studio and it was, as first-time adventures go, average. It’s an awkward sounding thing.
I’ve taken to practicing with the lights off with only a lamp illuminating the chrome steel and brass. I have a favourite ambient track I like to play through the PA whilst I warm up and methodically work through my exercises. It’s something without much beat. It has to be consistent, strong in tones but subtle too. For practice is, to me these days, a kind of meditation. That’s what the darkness is about—isolation. Me and drums, the drums and me. My latin grooves are slowly improving, the triple push-pull strokes are gathering speed, my linear and quintuplet patterns are sneaking their way into any freestyle moments that come to me. I’ve read somewhere that drummers are apparently more in tune ‘naturally’ with rhythm, that they can tap into the innate rhythm of the environment and themselves. It sounds empirically dubious but my intuition tells me otherwise—I can feel it, like blood in the veins and light in my eyes.


It is tiresome, going over the same section, the same movement again and again. I get nerves on stage (based on my limited experience) so I want to know every bar, every stroke so that it’s one long muscle memory, so that I don’t have to think, panic stricken, about every section, so that I don’t feel that pukey feeling, so that my hands and neck don’t sweat cold.
We’re hoping to have all the tracking done by the end of April and to have a finished product soon after. We can’t wait. We adore these songs, much more so than we ever did those on the first EP. We feel confident, but who knows? Maybe it’s all shit. Maybe we’ve looked in the mirror long enough and said it enough times for it to be so: ‘This will be great! This will be great!’ We rebound off each other a lot, echoing the sentiment. But we disagree at times, we discuss. We flesh out songs, we deliberate (shall we turn a 2:30 intro into a 7:19 monster track? Yes, of course). This is what gives me some hope—work, difficulties, progress. And I often think how much of a dream it really is to me, as I stand bare foot on the grass in the backyard, how surreal the thought is, to imagine a moment, maybe on a stage somewhere in some distant country, when you might think ‘this is it.’ How much like a dream it would be then to think back to now—ordinary things. How this wishful thinking isn’t setting me up for trouble, I don’t know…
When I take a break and sit in the empty foyer, in a cavernous space with with two vending machines for company, I can sometimes hear the building breathe, groaning and shifting, as if to ask, what are you still doing here? I look around the place, its green walls and exposed brick, the red doors and white floor; I look at the trolleys, the bins, the old stacks and amps, drumkits and sticks; I look into my cheap instant coffee and think, is this the dawn before the day, the way the light looks before it gives it all some shape? Maybe. You’ve got to believe, says my manager. If you don’t believe, if you don’t think something is doable, that you’re not capable, then you will fail. But if you do, if you really think it’s possible, you might just succeed.

I walk back to my drumkit waiting in the shadows, poised for me.

This is work.

Dead Things

If you approach Alisha Abate’s installation, Negative Spaces, from one side, you’re presented first with the steel frame. It immediately reminds one of a doorway. The biggest space forms a wall, and two smaller spaces a doorway and perhaps a window. The barest of lines are there in the frame, enough to suggest structure. Once one recognises a doorway, there is a slight urge to use it. Of course, one could just as easily walk any which way as there is no actual wall. But there is direction. There is an immediate ‘what-for?’ response from me. Am I being herded through?
If my imaginary wall was real, it would be hiding the human hair affixed to a square concrete slab on the floor. At first it was peculiar, odd, but the longer I looked the more perturbed I became, yet still interested. Where did it come from? How many heads of hair? Very soon I was thinking about the holocaust—hair, shoes, hairbrushes, the thin steel wire frames of glasses, toothbrushes, hats. More generally however, it brought to mind the architecture of it. By this I mean how bare everything was, as if it had been stripped away of its previous material, leaving only the remnants of something living: hair, negative space. When faced with a collection of human detritus like this, it’s hard not to mention Auschwitz with its enormous piles of hair clippings that sit behind glass, looking out onto a wide-open room full of curiously stunned visitors.

Photography by Lauren Dunn

Directly opposite from the hair, and farther still from the steel frame, is an old wooden chair and atop sits a concrete block, its insides containing an irregular negative space exposed to the viewer. The space inside was, again, peculiar and made me curious as to what formed it. It could’ve easily been something living—a creature, an organ, a limb. The fact that it sits atop an old wooden chair only adds to this. I lean over, hands on my knees, trying to get a look in.
In fact, everything in the installation can be said to make you move in a certain way. The steel frame looks so much like a wall, doorway and window that you feel pulled towards the doorway, wanting to walk under the frame. When approaching the hair and after examining it for a time, you’re tempted to kneel down and take a closer look. The same goes for the negative space in the concrete atop the chair—something was there. It’s as if we’re being prompted.

Photography by Lauren Dunn

There is a bodily, even deathly feeling to it, this direction through object and architecture, along with the plausible signs of life having once been. Dead things, dead people, empty space. I might be tempted to draw out the comparison even further and say that whilst it may represent how something like the holocaust used direction for the destruction of people—through this door, off with your hair—ordinary architecture and objects push us in such a way that kills the possibility of other things, or at least guarantees the actioning  of certain actions: through the door, kneel down, look in.
Whatever the case, there seems to be a question of body and space. I’m left asking myself why? Why this direction? Why this action? Perhaps it’s my naivety—I’m terrible with art. On the other hand, maybe that’s the point, to question how the spaces around us, framed by architecture and filled with objects, affect us, how they make us act and feel in certain ways. We move through spaces shaped by forces aside from our own every day and rarely do we consider how we’re motivated or not because of it.

Before leaving I bent down towards the hair for one more closer look. Disturbed slightly by feelings of human decay and waste, I stand up and leave.

 More from Alisha

Wanted:

’60 dollars’ I say. He hands me a bankcard through the reception window. We both wait in in silence as the eftpos works. ‘Receipt?’
‘Nah man,’ he says, ‘cheers.’ A door somewhere down the hall slams shut and it’s quickly followed by a guitar whirring into life. Big metal chords. Drums start up from another room somewhere, then singing, more guitar. When the studio rooms are all occupied the sound bleeds out into the corridor and mixes into one droning mash. Pulses, all mixed up and garbled. I listen to it in reception, flicking through band ads to kill the time.

Serious band looking for rock/metal drummer.
Alternative rock—looking for drummer and bassist to form a band.
Punk Rock, western suburbs. Green Day, Blink 182, The 1975, Paramore, Jimmy Eat World
Mature cover band looking for drummer

I close the browser and look out through the reception window. Two vending machines look back at me. Blank faces. There’s laughter down the hall from some band members. I’ve been looking for another project. Maybe I’ll start something completely new. Seattle Fix, the band I’ve been in for around three years now, can’t go full time, not yet (I have my hopes). I need something else to fill the time so that my time isn’t wasted. My 20s seem to be drifting by with nothing much to show for it. But it’s hard to find something interesting, something that isn’t a cliché.
I put the word out and I get a response every so often. I even watched one band read out loud the ad I put up at the studio where I work, not realising that ‘Drummer, 23’ was me, watching them from reception. ‘Bit young,’ they said, ‘ 13 years playing though!’
Bit old, I thought. They send me an email. I don’t answer. Another band gets in touch. They’ve got that big Violent Soho feel. Other side of the city. I’m tempted. They sound good, but too far. Too punk.
I’ve been thinking about music a lot. I can’t stop listening to Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool. It, and other albums, have recently made me think harder about the sound, to listen closely. I’m beginning to think of certain songs as real compositions as opposed to simple songs. Radiohead’s recent release is, unsurprisingly, a fine composition. It’s a favourite for when I’m alone on the train, alone in my room, alone, driving late at night. It’s that kind of album. It sings to you a kind of sadness, loneliness. Best enjoyed in solitude. But putting aside the album’s emotion, I listen closely to the details, to the layers and how they work—how they morph into one another, what kind of rhythm they have, their tone, how loud or soft.
I listen closely to a song like “Ful Stop”, the song building into a finely layered, up-beat movement. I count the different guitars as they come in. One, two, then three. There are, I think, five guitar layers working at its height, as well as two, maybe three vocal layers, all of them placed so deliberately, answering each other. It might sound obvious to say so, but realising a song’s deliberate mastering, with all its different parts, has an impression on me. The guitar layers drop off to just one, signalling the song’s imminent closure.
In other tracks I notice the tinier details. It was only the other day that I noticed a sound in “Daydreaming” that I hadn’t before. I was sitting on the train at the time. Was it the carriage I was hearing as it moved along the tracks, rocking back and forth? I turned the volume up and yes, it was there. A clicking. No, a ticking. When I got home I listened closer again, honing in on the sound. If you listen closely to something and begin to pick it apart, the sound you’re looking for will suddenly come through to you, as if you suddenly realise it—a detail in a painting, a remote figure in the landscape, yet now, to your eyes, so distinct. It’s the sound of a clock I can hear, gears working in the background. It’s there. Listen closely.
I’m obsessed with this track. There are odd sounding voices at the beginning and the ending sounds distinctly like a warped Thom Yorke saying ‘half of my life’, backwards. Tick, tock. Tock, tick. The last track, “True Love Awaits” I’ve played more than any other on the album. Even in a track as stripped as this, there are details. Is it the sound of the keys being pressed on the piano that I can hear? I listen for the length of the echo in Yorke’s voice. And there’s something about that stumbling set of keys playing alongside the main progression that perfects the melancholy.

but yeah let us know if you think it might be something  you’d be keen to—
Here’s the link to my latest band, an EP and—

Have a few things recorded here have a listen mostly acoustic stuff but—

Warpaint’s Heads Up—more layers, a lot of beautiful harmonies. The details I enjoy are often in the combined lyrical effort of the members. Echoing each other, harmonising; there are three, maybe even four voices sounding off at times, some subtle, some striking. I still hear small vocal licks I hadn’t heard before. Mastering the details in Synth Pop pays off. That one piano stroke in “Don’t Wanna” is the cream on a dreamy crop of interwoven words. Throughout the whole album I admire the composition of a myriad different percussion samples. Again, I play the isolation the game. To take note of that previously unnoticed synth-pad, that one scratch across the guitar strings, that one chord on the keys, is hearing the song for the first time. Details of a universe.
They certainly followed their sophomore effort with something to die for. It’s delicious, their art definitely improving. I wonder how long it takes to weave together all their voices. It’s not as if the lines are always long and simple. It’s a mix of lyric, moans, hums, harmonies, echoes. They’re another band that make me appreciate music as more composed. They also make me think how profitable it can be to go against the usual format of a band as a boys club. Whenever a woman walks through the door of the rehearsal studio, I’m almost always surprised.

Forums / Musicians Available / Drummers available
Forums / Musicians Wanted / Drummers wanted 

My thoughts on Heads Up are interrupted when I stumble across a 20 year old and his Soundcloud. He’s looking for a band and his Soundcloud account is full of gold—shredding on guitar, electronica, synth. There’s a crazy-fast disco/funk arrangement, a 15 minute ambient track titled “Financial Report 2016/2017”, an ‘experimental’ track that sounds like a guitar dreaming, a track called “New Spell Acquired” with vocal samples and a old-school hip-hop style percussion. Even a ‘psytrance’ track. Wants to be like Frank Zappa. He’s far far west of Melbourne. Too far. I keep looking.

Drummer wanted for Pop punk/melodic hardcore band.
CENTRAL VICTORIA – TECH DEATH
Wanted female musicians to jam with
Looking for a drummer who just gets it (cover band)

I’ve been getting drum lessons again. My new teacher is introducing me to linear drumming. The idea is that every stroke is separate, your hands and feet rarely striking at the same time. At first you might think this would slow you down but it actually means speed—you can roll the groove across the kit, learning it like a rudimental combination, pushing it out through muscle memory, fast and hectic. One of the two bands he is in just played at Strawberry Fields and his other, a metal outfit with a couple thousand likes on Facebook, rehearses at the studio. I’ve probably seen him around. He’s of a similar age to me. This makes me want to work harder, to get on with it.
Sometimes I think back to the moments that made me want to drum. It’s always the memory of my parents’ old records playing. Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, R.E.M. The DMA’s 2016 release, Hills End, reminds me of R.E.M. in a big way. I like to blast it out loud when I’m home alone, cleaning up the kitchen. It’s where those moments are in the archive of my brain. Dishes, meals, laughter, songs—that’s me in the corner… night swimming… this one goes out to the one I love

More wandering among the neurons in the shadow of my skull.

Same.

Natalie texts me, she’s just pulled up outside. ‘Here now burnsie!!’
‘Two shakes of my bottom,’ I reply. We’re on our way to a 21st, somewhere bayside. One of the hosts (it was a joint 21st) is James. He’s the one I bumped into in Budapest last year in the wee hours of the morning. ‘Is that Luke Burns?’ I remember him saying, his voice coming at me from shadows, a streetlight holding him aglow. Neither of us knew we were in Budapest, or in Europe.
It’s a good little story. Natalie and I try to remember when we each first met him. We can’t quite recall. We do know the party is going to be ‘hipster as fuck’ and this doesn’t surprise nor discourage us. It feels good to get to a house party again—something I always say when I arrive at one, pushing my way through a gate I’ve never touched before, sheepishly navigating my way through some garage or garden path.
The idea is a bit rubbish, that to turn 21 is the burgeoning of our adulthood. Boy oh boy, does it make me feel young. It’s the sound of young people, definitely no longer teenagers, but not quite adults, talking excitedly about life; it’s the site of people sitting on the grass, rolling cigarettes and drinking tinnies; it’s a fire; it’s music; it’s a fair evening, just cool enough for a jacket. The presence of a blue sky, friends, alcohol and even just the slight smell of tobacco on the air hauls me back in time. I take a deep breath and feel good.
The music is different to what I’m used to. What am I used to hearing being spun at 21st’s? The same boring suburban garbage. What I heard this evening was what I think of as a mix of House and Nu Disco. James and his friends take turns mixing vinyls. He’s tall, 6’1 or 6’2 maybe, and he looms over the decks in shorts and a massive, outstanding short-sleeved shirt that I wish I could pull off. Admittedly I know little about the music so I asked James later for some recommendations, for somewhere to get me started. Like the gentleman he is, he was happy to do so. In total he recommended five different labels.
The first is Dark Entries Records, working mostly with reissues from the 80’s and 90’s. They’re ‘bangers,’ James tells me, ‘that for whatever reason, never got huge.’ Recommended is Victrola and Severed Heads to start with. This stuff feels slightly like a novelty, but it’s still good. Next is Fit Sound, based in Detroit and headed by Aaron ‘fit’ Siegel. It’s House/Techno/Experimental, and I’m told to start with Siegel himself, A Drummer From Detroit, and Marcellus Pittman. I love Siegel’s “Carmine” straight off the bat—there’s always something about a soft, ambient synth moving in the background that gets me (and reminds me instantly of Aphex Twin). A Drummer From Detroit’s “Part One” seems like an obvious place to start and offers what you think: drums. It’s tribal, it’s groove and it’s sustained by the bongo loops, good percussion, accompanied by wailing guitars and strong keys. “Part Two” (same link) I like even better—good vocal samples, groovy bass line, and the keys are fun.
I have a feeling I’m going to be listening to a lot of Marcellus Pittman. At a glance he looks like a prolific producer and I’m won over immediately. Pittman also appears under Sound Signature, a label that I take to be rather iconic, having been around for about 20 years and headed by Theo Parish, a well-known producer known for his genre jumping. It’s ‘complex, gritty, dynamic, arty house and techno,’ James tells me. I come across a track titled “Lost Angel“. It has that simplistic build I like, minimalist and meditative. I quickly discover that Pittman and Parish have worked together to produce tracks like “Questions Comments”, part of a three-track 2002 vinyl release. I know Parish works with Jazz also. I’ll have to look into this.
There’s still more for me to explore. Mood Hut, springing out of Vancouver in 2012. Newer, and releasing stuff from a range of different genres. I’m told to start with Aquarian Foundation, Pender Street Steppers, and Jack J. And lastly, there’s Tusk Wax, a rather curious sounding label that, according to James, is run by ‘one bloke in Nottingham, limited to 4 track house/disco/edit compilations, no digital, no repress.’ That considered, I’m going to have to hunt down the tracks, previews of which are here (also, mixes). Tusk Gold, Tusk Wax 1, 19, and 20 are my recommended starting points.
But enough of that. Back at the party, the people are different, I do realise, from those I’ve happened to mix with. I feel more at home for some reason, more than I do farther out in the suburbs. Of course, I love the friends from my youth, from east-side. It’s the general difference, a feeling. There’s a staggering uniformity about the outer suburbs, facile and crude. The closer in you go, the greater difference you encounter.
I think this and I quickly inquire of myself, ‘is it just wealth you like the look of?’ Is it some kind of liberal bias associated with the coast and inner suburbs, the city? I don’t know. I’m not sure that I care. It does, however, make me yearn to move on from the burbs, the land of listless dreams. The land of the same.
Natalie drives me home. Free wine and beer has its way with me and I’m jolly and talkative. We carry on about the music and whatever else. It’s a 40 minute drive back home. We say goodbye and I step onto the street, my street. I walk down the drive, feel the crunch of the stones under my boots, hear the familiar sound. I dig my hand into my pocket, feel for the right key. I don’t turn on any lights. I tap the walls as I go, feeling my way through the same rooms—the same as ever in the dark.

familiar, familiar, familiar.

Trumplandia

A young white male wakes up on November 9th. It’s a big day. By day’s end a woman will be the president elect of the United States. It’s all but assured. He takes the safe bet that things will remain as they are, that the outsider will be left in tatters, that the establishment will reign supreme and that Lady Liberty will recover from the trauma. It was, in many ways, an ordinary morning.

***

When I first sat down and began writing this piece I had a different intention. I wanted to illustrate how sick and tired I was of politics, Australian and otherwise. It’s a notion repeated ad nauseam by many and it comes at no surprise. When Turnbull pulled the grubby rug from under Abbott’s feet I thought okay, things might get interesting, maybe even better. He had been touted as ‘progressive’ and ‘moderate’, at least by his own party’s standards. And man, he wore the sickest leather jacket. But nothing much seemed to change. In fact, things appeared to get worse in more than a few ways. I wanted to write about this and more, that it was all becoming rather boring, because it is expected. Of course One Nation received a not-so insignificant number of votes, and of course senator Malcom Roberts is wasting the senate’s and the CSIRO’s time with climate denial (tip of the iceberg really when it comes to senate shenanigans); of course the president of the Human Rights Commission is made a political plaything; of course coal is said to be important to us for ‘decades and decades’ to come; of course there won’t be a free vote in parliament for marriage equality. Then there is, of course, the continued suffering of those on Manus and Nauru—when did the insufferable treatment of others become so tiresome to think about? Expected evil, I keep thinking.
It definitely has something to do with the political language of our time. Obfuscation, euphemism, polls, slogans (oh, the beauty of template campaigning). It’s become so normative and so insisting that it’s become the same monotoned, garbled mess that hardly seems worth listening to. I even think politicians as a group, especially Australian politicians, have developed their own normative form of intonation, of speech patterns. They literally sound the same. Even the younger politicians like James Paterson sound like their older peers. And Turnbull, once the man of promise, has emerged as one of the most feckless and weakest leaders in a generation. It’s all just so boring and it’s what I now expect. There is, as I like to say, not enough puke in the world…
But something has happened.
When it dawned on me that the UK had voted to leave the EU it felt like a dream. No, I thought, that can’t be right. It was similar to the feeling I had watching state after state fall red on November 9 (Australia being ahead in time). Right up until the Rust Belt was called I thought surely not. But it happened and we now live in Trumplandia, Upside-Down Land. It’s all topsy-turvy and doesn’t feel right, yet there it is. The weirdest of dreams have come true and not even the writers at South Park could’ve guessed it right.
I watched the live updates all day and as Florida fell to Trump my jaw dropped. By day’s end, he was the President Elect of the most powerful nation on Earth, a man who is probably racist, definitely doesn’t read, who has shown very little composure or self-control; he’s a man who is convincingly sexist, a man who warms to authoritarianism… but we know this, all of it. We can all argue about the details of a man who is so obviously unfit for the highest office on Earth, but it’s too late.

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It’s part of something bigger. Grubby populism and isolationism has reemerged. There’s Brexit, there’s Trump, and the growing strength of the Reactionary Right in the West. It’s happening in France with Front National, it’s happening in Germany with a backlash against immigration and it’s happening again here with the reemergence of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.
Though there are other world events and trends that have contributed to this, I think something has gone wrong on the Left, which I consider myself loosely a part of. I think it has staled, I think it’s weak and distracted, falling for the same traps. You can see it in the microcosms of our culture, in tiny instances of our social media. A friend posts a status decrying the labelling of all Trump supporters by a group of feminists as all sexist and racist. Another argues the problem of other’s reducing the issue to gender alone. Another offers the nuance of ‘it’s part of the problem.’ Another again vents their frustration to me about the black-and-white nature of the discussion. Because it can’t be true, can it—it cannot all boil down to race or gender. Sure, every racist who voted voted for Trump. But many others who are just as conscientious as you and I voted for him too. Take, for example, Asra Q. Nomani, a Muslim, an immigrant, and a woman, also a Wall Street Journal reporter and a self-proclaimed liberal (small L) who voted for Obama. She voted Trump. Why? She’s sick of a broken healthcare system (or lack thereof); she’s feeling the mortgage squeeze; she’s sick of watching working American’s suffer still, after eight years of an Obama administration; and she’s sick of the double-think involved in omitting Islam, the word and the doctrine, from talk of terrorism. Does she particularly like Trump? Not really. It was a protest vote, of sorts. I think she knows, like many of us, that a vote for Trump was a vote against the status-quo.
This is the Left’s growing problem: a sickly, collectivist status-quo. Take another small sample, another microcosm. The Flight Facilities, well-known electronic music duo, weighed in on the outcome of the election. They talk of how it should stand as a ‘wake up call’ for us all, that rather than ‘kicking and screaming’ we should ask sincerely what it is that led to Trump’s victory rather than ‘pigeonholing’ others who don’t agree with us. They suggest that it is perhaps we, the Left, the progressives, who are the ones really out of touch. What do they call for? Respect, tolerance of others, especially of those with opinions contrary to our own. Fine and dandy, surely.
The response: ‘an uninformed and incredibly privileged take’; ‘it’s easy for white, straight men to shout their opinions at the world, but that doesn’t mean they should’; ‘thanks for the privileged pov’; ‘…you are white males with no understanding of how hard life really can be’; ‘protesting and rioting are two very different things, guys.’ It goes on with most comments hinging on the FF’s whiteness and gender, as if this proves their point. This isn’t to say that racist mantras and misogyny should be accepted but decrying them as the central issues is missing the point (and arguing gender or skin colour as disqualifying is a simple non-sequitur). It lacks nuance. It’s also one of the easiest ways to deflect criticism.
I have mixed feelings about people protesting the results of a democratic election (one that is flawed, I know). Of course people can protest and should do so if they want. It’s important to make it clear to Trump that he has no sweeping mandate—he lost the popular vote. But other than that, what does it accomplish? And I daresay that some of the protests did turn riotous. There was damage done and even some flag burning, something that’s usually the preserve of angry extremists. This is, I’m afraid to say, ‘kicking and screaming.’
This is where the Left is getting it wrong. It’s the incorrect reaction and it’s a reaction that proves the distractions we are laden by. We need a real debate, a discussion, not a continuous protest. The Left needs to reform into something strong and cohesive, not petty and disparate. We can’t always reduce our opponents to labels and we need to kill identity politics. Sam Harris makes this point well, and he does it again and again. One’s argument does not depend on who or what they are. It depends on the argument, it depends on the evidence. Everything else—and yes, I say this as another useless white male—is absolutely irrelevant.
Harris also talks of the need for intellectual honesty. We need to have an honest and open discussion about Political Correctness and how it obfuscates the consequences of a doctrine—Islam. Calling Harris or anyone else an ‘Islamaphobe’ for insisting that certain ideas have material consequences doesn’t actually do anything. In fact, it’s now a very popular form of distraction. It also has an ironic effect, isolating those of the opposing view, creating an echo chamber for real bigots to flourish, for views to flow untempered by reason. How can one honestly debate something properly when they continually face accusations of ‘racism’? (As if race is equivalent to religion.)
There is an urgent need to end the act of silencing: reducing arguments to identity politics, filthying and slandering those who think differently to you, and even protesting or blocking someone from talking. This is cowardice. Any thinking person should take any chance they can to listen to the opposing point of view. Christopher Hitchens made some of the most touching and eloquent defences of free speech I’ve ever heard and read and he made it clear, echoing other greats before him, that the right to speak also includes the right to listen. (A small but energised debate over speech is occurring in Canada. Look into Jordan Peterson’s stance against the legislation of speech by both the University of Toronto and the government.) To curtail the speech of someone else is in effect a knife for your own back. And it’s important to listen to those who oppose you. Speaking of the foul treatment of historian David Irving (a holocaust denier and revisionist), Hitchens suggested that listening to him, like any other heretic, is important because it might ‘offer a grain’ of historical truth, that it obviously took some effort to come up with, and most important of all it forces us to consider what we think we know: how do I know the holocaust happened? How do I know the Earth isn’t flat? Come to think of it, what would I say to a climate denier or to someone arguing the inferiority of women?
If you want to fight your enemies you must know them. Calling 59 million people a bunch of bigots won’t do. Listen to them. It’s the only way you can improve your side of the house. We mustn’t be afraid to listen and we especially can’t be afraid of admitting when things go awry, when we’re wrong. Why is there a political divide between city and country? Are there sections of Feminism that err towards the extreme? Might Islam have something to do with Islamic Extremism? Is it a good idea to legislate our speech?
We can’t keep coddling and insulating ourselves form ideas and things we don’t like. It makes us worry about the wrong things—trigger warnings and weird hate speech laws. These are frivolous exercises that ultimately soften us. It’s a battle of ideas, big ideas, that we need. It’s about culture and economics. The Left is under attack throughout the West and we need to defend it, but we have to change our ways first. It is a battle being fought often on university campuses and for this reason we might be tempted to think ‘bah, they’re just kids, there’s nothing to worry about’, but those that are winning, those outlandish student unions and political groups, those arguing most vehemently for regulating our speech, who represent the worst of the Left (and Right), are winning. And it’s these people who are going to run the place.

This might seem a waste of time, me writing all this. I’m an Australian, not American. I do think we are, at least for the time being, relatively insulated from the populism and nationalism emerging elsewhere. And our politicians are right in saying ‘Australia is not America.’ But it still matters, for whether we like it or not, the West is a community of nations, similar in culture and sharing great values, and what happens in the biggest of these communities affects the rest. I’m not even convinced that the Left is anything more than a name, especially if its traditional core constituents—the white working class—can be so easily hijacked by the demagoguery of Trump. But if it’s still there, like I hope it is, it needs to reimagine itself, it needs to reformulate and articulate something the working and middle classes can get behind, from the economy to free speech to social issues. We need to suggest ways of making government fairer and less vested. We need to form an argument for multiculturalism and globalisation whilst acknowledging what needs to be fixed, where it’s gone wrong.

We can’t afford to be bored anymore and we can’t keep the same habits. We need to fight the good fight and we need to fight it well.

***

On November 9th, in the late afternoon, a young white male wandered out of his room. Trump’s victory was all but confirmed, the whole of America now adorning his yellow hair and orange skin, Lady Liberty feeling the grab. ‘He’s done it,’ he said to his father. He’s at first confused so the young man repeats: ‘he’s done it. He got in.’

‘Ha,’ his father said, shaking his head, crossing his arms. ‘Cheeky cunt.’

 

Deftones, Festival Hall, Nov 11

Deftones ™
Deftones ™

It’s a warm night and my friend looks different—a new beard, hair cut short on the sides. ‘I lost the tickets,’ he tells me. ‘Oh,’ I say. I haven’t seen him for a long time, buddies since high school. He tells me about benching 100kg the other day, a new best. He’s no meat head, just a quiet, big-smiling friend who likes his hard-rock and metal, likes to lift weights. We head to the management office of Festival Hall to get a reprint of the tickets. There’s a girl in reception and I know her from somewhere. She was part of my environment at some point. Was it uni? I think so. She recognises me too and when our eyes meet the looks on our faces acknowledge the fact that we’ve known each other for a long time and know nothing about each other. Weird.
My friend is also named Luke and we’ve both been fans of the Deftones since I can remember knowing him. The first warm-up act I don’t know. The second is Karnivool, another favourite from my high school days though I’ve neglected them in recent years. They sound as tight as they do on their records. Interesting play with time signatures, rhythm and song structure, technically proficient. It’s impressive. “Cote” plays and it takes me back to the time when bands started to impress me musically. The Deftones tap into something a little more: teenage angst, recklessness, excitement, growing up.
The setlist doesn’t surprise me at all, opening up with a handful of tracks from their middle albums: “Diamond Eyes” (Diamond Eyes, 2010), “Digital Bath” (White Pony, 2000), and “Kimdracula” (Saturday Night Wrist, 2006). Diamond Eyes the album was decent but not nearly as ground breaking or original as White Pony or Saturday Night Wrist. It’s great to hear “Digital Bath”, a song both hard-hitting and ambient. It epitomises White Pony‘s mix of the band’s roots with their sojourn into shoegaze. Saturday Night Wrist, on the other hand, saw them further refine their hard-rock on the back of their self-titled album of 2003. It’s what I appreciate about the Deftones for the most part—a familiar formula and a discography that varies.
Gore (2016) is more of the familiar and I think Anthony Fontano from The Needle Drop is right in parking it with Diamond Eyes (though for some different reasons, much to the vitriol of his listeners). That’s the thing with the Deftones. Their fanbase is loyal to the bone, even a bit cultish, and I do admit to being one of them. So, I note my internal bias.
The title track of Gore follows “Kimdracula” and we’re only treated with two other tracks from their latest release. Not long into the set I realise that though the band isn’t breaking any more boundaries, they’ve still got the energy I fell in love with and play the way they should, as seasoned performers. I love seeing Abe trashing the drumheads and brass. None of them seem to tire out. And they constantly play with tempo—up and down, building up, crashing down. There are times when I think it jars, when the chorus is sped up too much. But hey, details.
“Swerve City” from Koi No Yokan (2012) comes soon after and I’m glad. I think the album is underrated as it stands amongst the more well-known in their catalogue. Chino takes up lead guitar for a moment and I think of Carpenter being at first reluctant to share his responsibilities as guitarist when Chino started dabbling some years ago.
We’re then treated with three big ones from Around The Fur (1997), their sophomore hit. We’re told to ‘drive far‘ and the buildup and drop in “Headup” is huge. It’s only after the eleventh track, “Rosemary” (Chino and Carpenter get into it, playing off each other in that cliché duo pose), that the band takes its first of maybe two small breathers before launching into more. There is some banter. Carpenter’s hair is blowing high into the air and Chino remarks: ‘that would be your Native American name: “His Hair Blows.”‘
Soon enough we hear “Change (In The House of Flies)” and “Knife Party”, two big favourites of any fan. The audience joins in for a chorus that tugs at your strings. “Knife Party” has Chino launching himself again into the crowd and he’s illuminated like a prophet as fans reach for him—‘go get your knife, go get your knife, and come in…’
The encore goes like I knew it would: one or two big songs from the catalogue, then something from Adrenaline (1995), their debut album—thrashing and angry. And yup, it was “Hexagram”, the only track played from their self-titled Deftones (2003), followed by “Engine No. 9”. None of this disappointed and the band worked the crowd hard. Look back at videos of them playing in the 90’s and 2000’s and you see the same screaming sweat, the same force.

I got what I expected. There were no big surprises. Maybe that was the appeal for a fan like me—something I know and love, something I often retreat into. The Deftones have been a working band for decades now and don’t seem to have lost any of their zeal. Abe still thrashes; Sergio’s eyes open wide; Chino screams, squeals as hard as he ever did, taking every chance to leap into into the crowd; Carpenter makes 8 strings bellow out something massive, and Delgado works quietly, hardly noticed (though if he does his job well he shouldn’t be). Yes, their best albums are well and truly behind them but they still play red-raw, enough to throw your neck out.

Luke and I walk back to the train station in the balmy rain, happy with nostalgia.

Setlist:

  1. Diamond Eyes
  2. Digital Bath
  3. Kimdracula
  4. Gore
  5. Rocket Skates
  6. Tempest
  7. Swerve City
  8. Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)
  9. Headup
  10. My Own Summer (Shove It)
  11. Rosemary
  12. Prince
  13. (L)MIRL
  14. Acid Hologram
  15. Change (In The House of Flies)
  16. Knife Party

Encore:
17. Hexagram
18. Engine No. 9

Then There Were Two

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Jimmy Chamberlin was 24 years old when the Smashing Pumpkins put out their debut album, Gish. Chamberlin is one of the giants of drumming that I look up to most and is the one I’m most often trying to emulate. I’m hurting the most when I’m trying to match his single-stroke rolls stroke for stroke at those awesome speeds, when I’m trying to match those insane combos across the kit. I think most drummers know it, the feeling of having past greats hovering behind them like a poltergeist when they’re punishing their drumheads, trying to improve, urging on the sinews in their forearms. The standards they set are something to work towards or, sometimes, even surpass. They’re also a reminder, not of how great they were, but of how hard you have to work and that it’s just not possible without moving as fast as you can. When I think of this salient point I am always reminded of the words spoken by an unlikely figure in this context, Paul Keating. He once paraphrased the advice his own hero gave him when he was a young man, at a time when he was unsure of what to do first: people say you’re young, that you have time. But the truth is, you haven’t got a moment to lose.

My own band, Seattle Fix, is on the verge of releasing our debut EP. Four tracks, one intro. It’s a kind of mix of synth pop and alternative rock—that’s if you ask me the question that I hate answering: what do you sound like? I don’t really know. You will soon be able to decide for yourself.
It took a few days to record and around six months to produce. Listening to the final mastered tracks is exciting. We have a long way to go as a band, so much to improve upon, but it sounds pretty good. Not bad. But it is a frustrating experience in some ways. It takes time to make and in that time we’ve been writing newer and, in our opinion, much better songs. I listen to the drumming on those tracks and six months feels like an eternity of difference—I play those songs so much better (much more so when I’m on my own, too. This is agonising: I need to play that well in front of others). I shouldn’t complain about the lag between the finished product and the works in progress, it just means I’m always thinking: ‘you need to hear the new stuff.’ I remember listening to Martin Amis talking about this problem, expressing his disinterest at best when talking about a recently-released book, for all he can think about is what he’s currently writing. We love the tracks on the EP, but we’re continuously finding something better. At least we finally have a product we can push and the newer songs will be the hints of greater things when we finally start playing live again.
Of course, the road is never as smooth as you’d like. The first time a member quit, I was at the gym. I go every now and again, especially to keep the back in check. Drumming can create all sorts of problems (sitting down for long periods of time does this anyway), pulling the back and shoulder muscles forward, creating a bio-mechanical problem. I was also at the gym when I received the latest letter of departure. Nicholas’s time in the band was going to come to an end, but we didn’t expect it so soon, nor did he, I suspect, until very recently. It’s not as you might think: no one is angry, no one is bitter. There is a general understanding between musicians about these things. Getting upset about creative differences is like crying over the weather—no point. And besides, Nicholas is a friend of mine. It’s just the nature of the business, especially for a young band going through its long and gruelling teething process. A band’s childhood is often exciting but its adolescence is a bitch and the adulthood that follows isn’t as certain as you might think. At a time when we finally have in our hands a brand new EP, our first well-recorded and well-produced product, music that people might genuinely enjoy, there are suddenly only two of us left. We can play as two, we have thought of this, and we are more or less ready for it. To have three, however, delivers a greater presence on stage and offers more balance in the creative sphere.
There’s still so much to do. Promotion, shoot a music video, invest in merchandise, organise shows, play shows, not to mention writing and more writing, practice and more practice. Now the band has to set about rebuilding itself. This means, we hope, eventually welcoming a new member. This will take time. But that’s just the way it is. I can view it only as an inconvenience or I can see it as just another part of the band’s evolution, that the band can only remain the same or improve. I can also see it as part of my own evolution as a drummer, something I can’t imagine ever stopping. Difficulties are, as I’ve suggested before, just a sign of progress. None of it is meant to be a breeze and nothing worth doing is meant to be easy. Something better might lie around the corner, or not.
Speaking of his drumming at the time of Gish‘s recording, Chamberlin said in 2000, ‘I made Gish when I was twenty-four—eleven years ago—I was just out of control then.’ His drumming, in the time that followed, matured, becoming more refined, a process all drummers and musicians go through, undoubtedly. At the time of Gish Chamberlin was going full throttle on the drums (though it’s hard to believe it was his hardest or most complex, listening to some of the drumming tracks on Melon Colie and Machina). He looked back and saw a young man holding nothing in reserve. It’s also the album that arguably gave them the base to launch their break-out album, Siamese Dream. I’m around the same age and don’t at all mind the thought of holding nothing back. I’m worlds away from being anything like Chamberlin—hero of rhythm to me—but I want to leave my mark on the kit, on the band, on the music that I hope will mean something to someone. I want to build something. I’m 23 and though we finally have an EP ready to go, we just lost a member and though we’re feeling more and more confident in our sound, the future isn’t set. Who knows what will happen. There is no album, no Gish up our sleeves. Not yet. At times it makes me think, makes me worry, that as hard as I might be trying it might not be enough, that though I’m ‘young’ I am fast running out of time.

Maybe the standard I’m setting is too high, maybe I want too much too soon. All I know is that I want it.

Seattle Fix‘s First EP comes out 27 September