Britain’s Arctic Monkeys rock lager, throw feces onto polycarbonate.
The folksmarch for Chatterton may begin... here.
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Any chance that the humongous ’net community’s bosses will save rock ’n’ roll has been highly exaggerated.
I love MySpace. I really do. The web page-hosting site is great for local musicians wanting to show off new music, promote shows, and keep in touch with fans — and for groupies to obtain sexual healing. Ask a few of your swingin’ single local music buffs: I bet some of them have developed reliable booty-calls via the site, musicians included. Hey: Anything that fosters love and not war is OK by me. (Seriously, though, be careful. There are more than a few stories of women who’ve been raped or worse by acquaintances met on MySpace.)
The admittedly less serious though nonetheless aggravating problem is that, contrary to popular opinion, the site isn’t going to save the music industry. Actually, nothing will. Like Hollywood, the art world, and Broadway, the pop music machine’s only source of fuel is chaotic, senseless, illogical momentum. As a result, a lot of crap undoubtedly filters through. Bitching about the sorry state of mainstream music is kind of like berating water for being wet. MySpace won’t change a damn thing. As part of the machine now, the site will probably make everything worse.
By now y’all have probably heard of Britain’s Arctic Monkeys, one of the shittiest garage-rock charlatans of all time. The inaugural full-length disc they released a few months ago now holds the record for the largest first-week sales of a debut album in the United Kingdom. In addition to having evidently sold their souls to the devil, the four Sheffield lads had applied an elegantly simple music business model: Give away lots and lots of music. To help push the free downloads and also interact directly with fans, the band, as you can surmise, used MySpace.
The history of music is not a single quarter-note richer now that it includes The Arctic Monkeys. (Just the name itself is beyond stupid.) Even now that they’re “signed” and their music gets polished to the point at which it doesn’t make your ears puke, the band won’t matter. But are the Monkeys ever gonna have to work another day in their pathetic lives? If there’s a God in heaven, yes and as waiters at the most obnoxious restaurant in Beverly Hills, but it’s highly unlikely.
Here’s a huge fear of mine, one I’ve been fretting over for years now: I get the feeling that in the near future, during the four major labels’ slow and inevitable descent into insignificance, both what we music lovers are spoonfed and what we seek out will be determined primarily by mainstream media — journalism, product placement, and, most frighteningly, advertising. At least the major labels provided some form of quality control. With the advent of a new model, a vast majority of the artists we’ll be hearing about and listening to will belong solely to the entities that can afford advertising space in Rolling Stone. (Labels may be dying, but music magazines, oddly enough, are thriving.) Maybe these new labels will be better stewards of art than the four existing majors. Maybe, but what if they aren’t?
Remember that today’s rebel always becomes tomorrow’s dictator. To wit: A new record label was recently launched, and it has all the makings of an industry giant. Though run largely by Interscope/Universal, MySpace Records will have at its helm two dudes who by all accounts know absolutely shit about music. Their names? Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolffe. How do you know them? They’re the guys who created MySpace.
As the old saying goes: Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.
If you’re like me, and you love Fort Worth as much as I do and want the world to appreciate your civic passion, then Weekly staff writer Jeff Prince’s tale of a recent run-in with a legendary cowboy poet will warm your heart.
In his dispatch from the front lines, Prince said: I was at the White Elephant Saloon one night last week, standing at the bar and listening to Brad Hines do a solo set, when a rancher-looking guy wearing a denim shirt, jeans, and boots ambled up next to me and waited for the bartender. I thought I recognized him but did a double-take. Yep, I said to myself, that’s him all right, Sam Shepard, Oscar-nominated actor (The Right Stuff) and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright (Buried Child). Kind of stupidly, I stated the obvious. “Hey,” I said. “You’re Sam.”
He glanced over my way, annoyed. “Yes,” he muttered and then walked to the other end of the bar and stood alone.
A guy at the bar who overheard the exchange leaned over to me and said, “Who is that guy? He looks familiar.”
Again, I stated the obvious: “That’s Sam Shepard.”
“Yeah!” the guy said. “The actor.” He then promptly turned to the girl next to him. “Hey, that’s Sam Shepard.”
Shepard, obviously aware of the buzz that had begun spreading, tried to remain oblivious in his little corner of the world.
About that time, Hines spotted me in the crowd and, into the mic, asked if I wanted to come onstage and do a few numbers. Once I hit the stage and saddled up to my guitar, the first song that popped into my head was Waylon’s “Lonesome, On’ry, and Mean.” Unfortunately, the irony was lost on Shepard, who by then had gotten his drink and taken a seat at a small table. Before I started my second song, I summoned up my most courteous voice and said, “There’s a master storyteller in this bar tonight, but I’m not going to tell you who he is because he probably just wants to drink a beer and have fun. But this next song is a story song, and it goes out to Sam.”
I played an original called “The Roach,” a Kafka-esque ditty written from the perspective of the insect in the legendary Prague author’s most famous novel. About three or four songs later, I thanked the audience and returned to my seat at the bar. As I was ordering another round, a rangy, lean figured appeared in my peripheral vision. Next thing I knew, there was a hand on my back, and I heard, “Good song, ‘The Roach.’ ” It was him. Smiling, Shepard then extended his hand for a shake, and I gladly obliged.
The coolest part was that he stayed until close. Some folks asked for autographs, but most were content to leave him alone or approach him shyly to shake his hand and offer a quick compliment. I guess I could’ve hit him up for some Hollywood contacts, but that would have been so ... Hollywood.”
Shepard’s latest silver-screen acting job, in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, is in post-production. Shepard plays Frank James to Brad Pitt’s Jesse.
Radio, What’s New?
For indie alt-rockers, commercial radio appears to be on its death bed. Chatterton’s Kevin Aldridge says that if he and his band had released their new five-song e.p. about a year ago, one of his first concerns would have been: “OK, we need to hire an indie promoter to get our record on the radio.” Having released Chatterton last week, the first thought that came into his head was: “What radio?”
For a band like Chatterton, the streets are where the action is. “The idea was to get something to sell at shows, a business card of sorts,” he said. “We need to concentrate on getting grassroots support.”
To illustrate the depths of mod-rock’s terrestrial radio woe, Aldridge cites the fact that neither New York City nor Los Angeles, the country’s two largest media markets, supports a mod-rock station. Classic rock? Yes. Rap? Hells yeah. Reggaeton? Si. But modern rock like the kind of stuff occasionally spun here on The Edge? Fuh’get about it.
For indie alt-rockers, exploring non-traditional avenues is highly recommended. Everybody’s heard the stories of bands whose songs went from providing the sonic backdrop for pixilated images of Volkswagens to top-40 charts. In May, one of Chatterton’s tunes, probably “A Good Place to Start,” will appear on a compilation c.d. sent to various types of retail businesses for potential use in myriad ways. “It’s a good way to circulate the music,” Aldridge said, who notes that, until recently, he was not aware of the idea of retail comp c.d.’s. “It doesn’t hurt. I don’t know if it’s good for people, the fans. But in the industry, it might mean something.
Music lovers and industry folks, he said, “are two different worlds to please.”
Word up, my brotha. For more on Chatterton, visit www.myspace.com/chatterton.
Awesome shtick rockers Sally Majestic are taking their rowdy stage show to, uh, Stage West. The Cowtown trio’s music will accompany the troupe’s latest production, Puppet Boy, an original by 26-year-old Dallas playwright Lee Trull. Set in fascist-era Italy, the piece is said to be an irreverent take on Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio story. Lies and long noses — sounds perfectly Mussolini-an. The show opens Friday, March 31, and will run until mid-April, at Sanders Theater, 1300 Gendy Street, in Fort Worth. For more info, call 817-784-9378. ... Don’t forget: Spring Gallery Night is this weekend, and the good folks at the Fort Worth Arts Consortium are once again providing the transportation to help ensure safe gallery hopping and boxed-wine quaffing. On the list of stops are the Firehouse Art Studio and Gallery, Untitled #1518, Warehouse Gallery, Heliotrope, William Campbell Contemporary Art, Arts Fifth Avenue, and Studio 4. The tour shoves off at 4 p.m. from #1518 at 1518 E. Lancaster Ave. and will end around 8 p.m. Space is limited, FWAC says, so RSVP ASAP at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cost is $10 per person, and proceeds benefit the organization. ... Time for a correction. In The Show (March 1, 2006), Associate Editor Anthony Mariani described the three guys from avant-rockers Eaton Lake Tonics in the worst, wrongest way — he said they’re from Dallas, when, apparently, they’re from Fort Worth. What a jerk. The Weekly regrets the error.
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