Me and my brother have both been in the NME lately, what’s going on this is weird, also hooray for Boston-area music DIY
It’s a Saturday night in August and my third-floor apartment is packed with the usual mix of friends and strangers, neighbors and college kids, traveling band members and Boston DIY scene staples. The room feels heavy and humid. There are 50 people in a room meant to hold 15, it’s 90 degrees outside, we have no AC, and the windows are sealed so as to not leak sound. The neighbors already threatened to call the cops once tonight. One of my favorite local bands, Krill, are playing through songs from their new-ish album Lucky Leaves, smart and sad and noisy as hell rock songs fit more for a basement than our living room. “This is our last DIY show with Luke,” Krill singer Jonah Furman says about the band’s drummer, a/k/a Lucky, who is about to move to London for grad school. (His drum set takes up half of the room.) Jonah hops over an amp and gives Luke a kiss goodbye, before tearing into “Theme From Krill,” wherein the whole living room sings along: “Krill / Krill / Krill / Forever / Krill krill / forever and ever,” the absurdity of which is only really apparent now that I’m writing it down. Tonight is also one of the last shows at Dreamahus, where I’ve been living and throwing shows with my friends for two years.
Three weeks later, it’s a Thursday night, almost 10pm, and I’m sitting in the passenger seat of my former editor’s car. We’ve just left an MIT panel on the history and legacy of Boston’s legendary alt-weekly newspaper The Phoenix, where we both worked in March when the paper folded. Now, we’re headed to pick up a salvaged red Phoenix news box; tomorrow night, ‘pallbearers’ will carry the news box in a procession downtown for the Phoenix Funeral. On our way, we pass the apartment that was once Dreamhaus. I think about the Krill show, and the long list of local and touring bands that played over the years: Quilt and Mutual Benefit, Tomboy and Bent Shapes, Majical Cloudz and Squarehead. “They’ll never know,” I think out loud, staring at the shadows of anonymous new tenants in the windows.
Anonymous asked: Do you believe in God?
My answer is “yes.” Now allow me to critique the question.
It may become more clear how very complicated it is to answer this question by changing the word “God” to the word “Love,” so that the question becomes, “Do you believe in Love?”
Imagine answering this question. You might want to say “yes,” but it’s not really clear what the question means, exactly. Even if the question is “Do you believe that Love exists?” it is a tricky proposition. Because, as certain techno songs have asked before me, what is Love? Or really, what does the question mean by Love? What sense of the word is being used? Romantic love? Familial love? General goodwill toward others? Is it some kind of cosmic Love, or is it just the Love between humans? Can animals experience/practice this Love? The question seems to need clarification before it can be properly answered. Are you asking about a Love that is human in its origin, or does it exist independently of human life and the human mind in its current state?
There is also the problem that I feel something indescribable about the question. It is a very short, five-word question about something that is beyond words, something transcendent. Speaking personally, Love is an essential part of who I am and all that I hold dear about what it means to be human. I have felt it in ways that can never be put into words. When I say “I love you” and really mean it, it means something very deep. But do I believe that it exists? Like, really exists? Or is it just (“just”) part of my imagination? And that brings up a probably-potentially-endless conversation about what it means for a transcendent concept/thing to really exist.
All of which leads one either to: a) clarify the question, which maybe can never fully be done, or b) change the question to something that will be more relevant to the issue. Such as: What do you intend to do about your ever-changing thoughts, feelings and longings on the matter of whether and how Love exists?
“What do you intend to do?” is the real question here. Anyone can believe that Love or God exists. Hitler might have believed in both of them; that doesn’t change what happened with that guy. I don’t really care what you believe in. What I want to know is, how do you behave? What rules do you follow? What practices do you engage in? How do you treat people? And are you working on becoming better at life?
As for me, I’m interested in God, I think about God, and I try to live up to what I suspect God might want from me, all without really knowing what I am talking about, thinking about, or doing. I’m fumbling in the darkness every step of the way. But yes, I believe in God very often, and I recommend giving it a try if you are interested.
campustroubador asked: First of all, I am a big fan and respect you immensely both as a songwriter and musician. I’ve noticed your guitar parts are in general very simple, you play nearly exclusively in standard tuning and rarely stray from the rudimentary 9 or 10 open chord shapes. Do you think using a more complex chordal structure would make you a better artist? or is the simplicity a conscious choice? or something else?
I tend to use guitar chords as just a kind of platform for the song to stand on. To me, the interesting stuff is elsewhere, in the arrangement, the lyrics, the feel, the mood. I could play more complex chords but I don’t think it would make me a better artist or make my songs more interesting. Thinking too much about the way I play guitar tends to distract me from my real job, which is to be compelling and alive and real.
Anonymous asked: If someone is not gay, but they are also not straight, what the fuck are they?
Possible answers to this:
1) I don’t know
3) A human being
4) Fuck you leave me the fuck alone
I woke up this morning hungover, softly singing “Sunday Morning”— not an unusual occurrence. I heard this afternoon that Lou Reed died. I’m crying; I don’t know what to do.
Lou Reed is, possibly more than anyone, the person who gave me the keys to rock’n’roll. His songs let me in and opened doors and showed me, when I was still just a kid, a view of a world I had previously known nothing about except in dark corners of my heart. A world with more possibility, with more ways to be alive, full of adventure and music and imagination and sex and some kinda love that would change my life forever.
This really hurts. My hero is dead. I wouldn’t be in a band if it weren’t for Lou Reed. I probably wouldn’t have wrote any songs, or at least not gotten anywhere good. I might not even be wearing sunglasses right now. I definitely wouldn’t sing the way I do, at all, and singing this way is what’s given my life meaning in the past ten years.
I wouldn’t be as brave, and I guess that’s what hurts most about losing him.
I was fifteen. The girl I liked and her cool friends would drive aimlessly around the suburbs, looking for something to do and not finding much, and I wedged myself into the backseat because I wanted to be near her. I remember Loaded was always playing. I don’t know if that’s the first Velvet Underground record I heard, or if I heard the one with Nico first. But it was Loaded that really fucking killed me, that opened a part of my brain that I had not yet discovered. It was “Sweet Jane” followed by “Rock and Roll” that made me understand how much a personality could shine through on a record and make you feel less alone. How a voice and its peculiar inflections could change your life by suggestively alluding to an entirely different way of living and thinking. Like the girl in the song, my life was saved by rock and roll.
It’s hard to explain why the Velvets meant that to me. I guess I was probably ripe for it. I was restless in the teenage life that had grown up around me that didn’t suit me at all. But I didn’t want to be one of those punk rock kids with the piercings and the anarchy patches and the nihilism. I wasn’t gay, but I wasn’t straight. I didn’t hate my parents, but I needed to destroy and reclaim my life as my own. Lou wasn’t in any of these categories either. He was free. “Me, I’m in a rock’n’roll band.” You could hear it in his voice. You could hear so much in his voice.
Lou Reed’s personality came to me just in time. I can’t believe he’s gone. Throughout my life his music has been a comfort to me, and has opened doors as I’ve heard more and more of it. It has always suggested total freedom, has held that out as a possibility just at the moments that freedom seemed most remote to me. I remember in college, during my first or second panic attack (of many more to come), working a shift alone in the music library, I turned on “Vicious” and turned the volume all the way up and thrashed around until it passed and I could breathe again. The sheer razorblade energy and yet total calm of that song healed me. It hit me with a flower. Hard to explain.
I met Lou Reed just once, and only for a minute. It was at South-by-Southwest in 2008, the first time I went, as me and my band were just entering the sordid wider world of the music-makers. Somehow we got a gig playing Lou Reed covers with a bunch of other bands. Lou Reed was the “keynote speaker” at the festival, and this was a party thrown in tribute to him. We played “New Age” as a band, and I played “Heroin” alone on an acoustic guitar. Lou watched us and took photographs, forever the music lover and curious observer. When I was done, he asked me if I was on heroin. I told him no and he told me that was good. Then he said he loved my version of his song. I said, “You probably say that to all the bands.” He said, “Don’t bet on it.” Very cool and sincere. I melted into a puddle, and that was it. My music career had reached its peak and entirely justified itself. But I wish I had talked to him more.
I’m crying because he’s gone. Because I played with my vicious rock’n’roll band last night in Marietta, Ohio and tonight I’m going to Yellow Springs, Ohio, and there’s this whole world of places I would have never gone near if it weren’t for him, this whole wild life I never would have known. I’m beat up and tired and alone and free and alive. This is what I owe to Lou.
My hero is dead. There’s not much more to do but listen to the records again and again, and thank my lucky stars I found him.
Anonymous asked: What's Job Mukkada up to? He has a lovely voice. Is he doing any singing/playing? Singing/playing that is recorded? That I could listen to/purchase?
I wish. Mukkada kicks ass. He always avoided the spotlight. He’s the mysterious one. I’ve recently heard him allude to recordings he’s been making, but I think he mentioned it by in a lapse of judgment and won’t say anything more about it. I’ll ask him if I can post some (great) old songs of his, but I kind of doubt he’ll be into the idea.
Anonymous asked: are you planning on touring europe for this album? any ideas when? the world needs to hear your new stuff asap
Does February work for you? Good, me too.
DAY OF THE DOG -
"The Day of the Dog" by Archie Weller, 1981.
"The Day of the Dog" by George Barr McCutcheon, 1910.