A Non-Permanent Perspective of Music

By the end of 1988, I had mostly given up on the pursuit of an industry-focused music project. I did get pulled back into it in 1996 by a Filipina artist who went by Ruby Cassidy and is now known as “Mystica.”

This attempt ended with her ripping me off. Plus, she is a Malignant Narcissist and compulsive liar, so I went through the three phases of a Narcissistic relationship: Love-bombing, Devalue, and Discard. It was ugly.

Over time, I learned that anyone who wants to be a “star” must have an excessively huge ego. Speaking of being a star, I’d like to invite you to pick up my book, The PDF, on Amazon today, for only one dollar. I promise to spend the 28 cents that I get to keep in a very responsible manner.

Back to the topic.

When I stopped trying to cater to a corrupt industry, I found that I began to enjoy music a great deal more. Certainly, there must be a connection between the two.

It’s kind of like how I one day realized that the further away from Los Angeles I would perform, the more the audiences loved the music. Sure, they would buy shirts and CDs. That was enough to cover the gas and hotel, so it wasn’t a big money-making thing.

For the longest time, I struggled with how I should approach music and what I should do with it or about it. Getting away from the idea of trying to get industry recognition and signing a deal was obviously a health move.

There were three specific life events that got me to change my attitude about music.

1 of 3: NOODLE MUFFIN [2002]
When I joined Noodle Muffin in 2002, I was thrilled because they had professional packaging of their music, the production was solid, and they would actually get played on the radio. Dr. Demento absolutely loves the band.

During the first band meeting, one of the band leaders told us about an opportunity where we’d fly to Canada, play a few songs on a radio show, and then come back.

Bands travel, so this is no big deal. However, I wasn’t quite clear on my status in the band, so I didn’t yet know how the trip expenses were going to be handled.

So I asked one of the band’s leaders, Dan, about this. He said that every band member would be responsible for their own airline tickets, passports, hotel room, and other expenses. My mind began reeling about the idea of shipping a stripped-down drum kit to Canada and back.

We hadn’t even really discussed pay yet, so I had no idea about any of the business aspects. So I asked him a straight-up question.

“Okay, so best case scenario: We go to Canada and do this radio show. People get interested and 20,000 units get sold. What’s in it for me?”

It was a fair question, but also a reasonable question, given the fact that I didn’t know where I stood.

His response spoke volumes about the situation.

“If that were to happen, then you’d not get paid anything, because we need to recoup all of the expenses that we’ve incurred since we formed the band in 1988.”

Oh. Really.

I wasn’t a hired gun, because I wasn’t getting paid. At the same time, I was also not a full-on band member because I would not see a cut from any profits. This lead me to an existential inquiry about why I was involved with this band in the first place.

I had a decision to make, so I asked myself realistic questions and attempted to give myself realistic ansers.

Would they actually make any money from this? No, they would not. Not only would this project not make money because of industry corruption, but also because the brothers who own the band were and are more invested in their careers as energy executives.

That was just one of many questions. Once I had my answers, I took my response to the band the next time we got together. I told them that I could not go to Canada because I wasn’t working at the time. That said, I told them that I would be their drummer, and would not require any payment, so long as they do not require me to invest any money myself.

They agreed. This was the best deal for me, because I could just show up, be creative, and participate in that creative process, without being involved in any business aspects of the band. Outside of making a few flyers, and the one time I was paid to make phone calls, this deal stuck.

One might ask why I would make such a horrible business deal. The answer to this would be that it wasn’t a business deal, so much as it was a musical or creative deal.

2 of 3: The Fishing Trip [2010]
It was an early morning, as most fishing trips go. The purpose of the trip was to just get away from it all for a weekend.

We had barely gotten the boat onto the water, when we saw this other boat. It was a professional bass fisherman’s boat. The person I was fishing with knew a good deal about it.

The guy was focusing intently on his equipment, fish radar, and other things. But he didn’t seem to be enjoying what he was doing at all. The expression on his face lead me to conclude that he was working.

Without thinking about my words, I said to the guy I was fishing with, “Wow, looks like he took something he truly loved and turned it into a 9-5 grind.”

That’s when it hit me: This is what I was doing with my music. I was going to turn it into something I hated. Not only that, but in the past I had been actively looking forward to it.

3 of 3: A GROOVY JAM MASTER [2012]
The thing about the guy I was fishing with was that we were building a recording studio together. We started in late 2010, and by mid-2013 it was ready for full use.

BEFORE: The wall mostly knocked down, between the garage and the extra room.

I spent a good deal of time either working on the studio or talking about the studio. I would dream about the music that I could record in the facility.

Of course, this dream came crashing down in late 2013, when the guy who owned the property told me to my face that I never contributed anything. He changed the locks and spread lies about me on Facebook, so that he could hang on to my $5,000 cash investment, as well as the physical work that I put into it, AND all of the gear I had contributed. The total came up to at least $10,000.

But that’s another story.

AFTER: Same wall as above. The work involved took about 3 years.

We’ll go back to 2012, when I was still raving about the studio and telling everyone I knew about it.

I took an extended weekend off from working on the studio to go up to San Francisco to hang out and jam with my friend, Aaron. He and I had worked at MySpace together. I consider him to be an actual genius with a life view and intelligence that far exceeds that of the average human being.

The Drum Room

He told me, in so many words, that he didn’t like the recording studio idea, because he didn’t like the idea of recording music!

When we got back to his place from the airport, we went upstairs so that he could show me his jam set-up.

There were a series of 4 or 5 stations. Each station had a mechanical desk that would rise up and down, a touch-screen monitor, and a JamHub. This gave every musician in the jam session full control over their sound, the mix, and their experience.

It enabled every musician to have their own individual experience, as well as maintain the group experience.

We both pick instruments, choose a station, and get settled in. Before too long, we are jamming, as I figure out certain aspects of this new system along the way.

He asked what I thought of the system after we finished our session. Of course, I was blown away by the intricacy and control of the network. After I told him that I was truly impressed, he decided to land another nail in the coffin of the recording studio.

“Did we make some music? Yes! Did we have fun? Most definitely. Did we make some mistakes? Probably, but do they matter? No!”

He went on to pontificate about a near future, where people will not pay for music, but rather exclusively for streaming services, which will not compensate musicians in a way that honest or meaningful. As I write this in 2021, I can only say that he was correct. Then again, I also suspect him of being the Architect for this type of business model. That’s another story.

He also noted that the future of music will be tribal. There will be digital tribes on the internet, as well as analog tribes in one’s own local community. The musician and listeners will have a shared goal of fun and community. Maintaining music as a product for sale is quickly becoming a failed idea.

He concluded, “The future of music has nothing to do with recordings, being good or perfect, and instead are about the moment, the experience, and the exchange of data between the musicians and their audiences.

Basically, get some musicians together, go play somewhere, abandon the idea of putting on a perfect show, and even forget about forcing the concept of songs.

Play, create, enjoy.

For the longest time, I’ve loved and enjoyed music writing, recording, and performing, within the context of songs, or even having a collection of songs as an album.

As the landscape of music and art change within the context of the internet, I am finding that songs are becoming an old idea, and that recording is almost rendered meaningless. Today, people are recording at home and doing some interesting things. And many who make music aren’t even musicians.

Or, maybe they are musicians, just not in the traditional sense.

As I write this, I am reminded of a time in the mid-2000s, when my band WHIPLADS played at The Gig in Hollywood, on Melrose. On one particular night, this Emo band opened for us.

The drum set was very small, and partially electronic. The guitar, bass, and keyboard players all sat on the ground. They would mess with their tunings, pedal settings, and more, as they droned on for a full half hour.

Someone who came out to see my band asked, “What the hell is this?” I told them, “It’s a vibe, man; an aura.” At the time, I considered this a throw-away answer because I wanted to get back into what they were doing.

Now that I look back on it, I consider this response to be accurate. It was a vibe. The thing about a vibe, as a musician friend recently said, is that sometimes it works, and sometimes it does not.

I would add that even if it does work, it will probably not work for everyone. I see no difference between this and a band performing their songs. Not everyone will like every song. Not everyone will enjoy the show.

The SINGLE most important thing in all of this is that I enjoy what I am doing, that I feel the energy of having the creative outlet, and the idea that some people will connect with it.

Music is my social vehicle, and connection is essential.

None of this is to say that I am attempting to gatekeep anything. This entry isn’t about telling people what to do. It is merely to share my perspective on it all, and write a bit about how I am approaching things in the future.

Bands will still form, write songs, perform songs, and record songs. That’s fine for them. Meanwhile, there will be the jammers, the experimentalists, the tech-savvy programmers, the multimedia artists, pedal doodlers, string frackers, head crackers, outsiders, and more, doing their thing. And the world is better for all of it to exist.

When I would think about my past with music, I would often times lament the fact that, in some cases I don’t have any photographs or recordings. All I have is my memories and some anecdotes. Telling a story is sometimes met by someone who says, “Pics, or it didn’t happen.”

I really have no time for people who are this needy. But what I do have time for is people who want to be creative. As things begin to open up, I can see myself doing something that is live performance and stream-of-consciousness. Maybe solo, maybe a duo, or may as many who want to show up. There are no limits or expectations, beyond being creative and enjoying it.

And if I don’t enjoy it, then I won’t waste another minute.

So if you’re creative and would like to make make some music on-the-fly, do feel free to message me at drumwild@gmail.com. More and more, I’m feeling that it’s time to do something.

It won’t be perfect. It won’t be a top-notch produced recording. At best, it will be a live jam, possibly with video. It can also be something that is not recorded and just lives in that moment. Who knows. I’m open to just about anything.

The best way I can think to close this entry is with a video of a live performance of a duo known as Beat Debris. I’ve known the guy on guitar [Tom] since forever, and his words got me thinking in a way that inspired this entry. To me, this is very inspiring when it comes to thinking about what I’d like to do next.

Beat Debris

Published by DrumWild

Writing about drums, music, and philosophy.

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