People coming out of my local IGA Supermarket said 'there's food in there!'
Yeah, there is.
Society has not broken down. It's taking a pause.
And we could do with one.
Since the internet took off like a rocket and we all wound up with hand held devices, we have been interconnected to information at a fast pace.
This hasn't all been to our benefit.
Now, in the face of a fact that cannot be denied we have found that spinning the truth into what suit ratings, or opinions, is just bad news.
Not fake, bad. Malevolent even.
It is as much a virus to be feared as COVID.
Panic is infectious, and so are we.
So without minimising the reality of risk, we can at least manage it in a survival minded way.
Listening to actual Doctors and experts, making changes in our behaviour.
For Cellar Dwellers, this makes some sense.
We've always been a retreat from the tempest, as we are now.
I'd say it's likely that we will see some gigs cancelled. Quite likely, even if only from an abundance of caution.
We have been working on a streaming idea for a while, more shortly. It'll be a bit of fun and you can join in safely, remotely.
Writing and mixing are still in progress, slowly.
I have higher hopes for the work and it's taking me some time to find something that suits how I feel about it. No rush. Comes when it comes.
We'll be streaming some of that work too, as we work on it.
Practising some simple precautions, staying calm, using the tools to stay connected even when we have to be a little further apart, all of these things will help us still be here, when this stuff has passed, together.
So they've cancelled the Dark MOFO festival in Tasmania.
Anything where people get together is now a no no.
Turns out the month off we have is perfectly timed with the Zombie Epidemic. So either our gigs will get cancelled later, or they won't because it will have passed, or we'll all be Zombies.
All in all, it's the introverts paradise.
Not having to go anywhere and no one thinking you odd for not going anywhere :-)
Cup of tea?
Meanwhile it's mixing and writing.
The material we recorded in Clarksdale has been awaiting space for mixing, looks like that's starting to happen. No rush.
Any time before the apocalypse suits me just fine.
In fact this down time and quiet time is just the ticket.
Of course if civilisation collapses in the interim, well, that will present some new challenges.
On the plus side, it will certainly provide a new direction for writing.
'Tales of the apocalypse'
We're going to have to get our information systems in order at some point.
It'd be good to be able to have better faith in our media and in what some governments tell us.
Meanwhile, the global village is moving into quarantine and face masks.
Valiantly, and with little regard for my personal safety, I shall continue to blog, not leaving my bunker unless it is to fight for TP and Paper Towels amongst the wastelanders of what was once our proud state, now reduced to ordering in pizza and watching cable.
When we're onto DVD's of star trek re-runs you know it's the end times for sure.
Hmm. Maybe I'd better get a hustle on finishing this album.
In case every other media system hasn't got you panicked,
or, as it's the 42nd anniversary of Hitchikers guide to the Galaxy, with the large friendly letters on the cover -
We may be undergoing the End Times/Zombie-apocalypse/Corona-virus-flu-zapalooza, true.
And our political system seems irreparably skewed to the control of kleptocrat authoritarians.
Ok yes I will grant you that.
Ah yes and the climate might be up the creek.
But other than Worldwide Pandemic, Political Looting and Carpet-baggery, the destruction of the ecosystem, what have the Romans ever done for us?
It's taking us a little time, collectively, to work out that the words we have around us, the things we pay attention to, shape us in ways we may not fully be aware of.
It's still early days in the development of the online collective mind, and we're still learning to filter.
We get told we're weak, that we can't effect change, we're told to fear, to fear other people, to consume, to envy.
I mean Fear Of Missing Out has its own acronym (FOMO) and is a regular part of marketing discussions.
Magicians rely on our human blindspots. Social media does too.
The main stream press has become reliant on Clickbait and easy-to-swallow headlines that don't have to be true, because who cares, right?
Nothing's true, it's all fake news, it's all fake truths.
Except for gravity.
Nope, that still works. My coffee cup does not float off my table because someone has a differing opinion.
We're finding out what happens when the old 20th century structures finally collapse. oops. Looks messy.
I'm liking what Sacha Baron Cohen is doing about holding Facebook accountable. Takes a comedian to tell the truth sometimes huh?
As a result of the 20th-century-gold-rush to the internet & the turn-of-the-21st-Century Attention Wars, once again, Truth was the casualty.
It's up to us, individually, to start listening to that smaller voice inside us that chimes up when the news is too pat, too perfect, too click-baity.
We have so much information available to us it's hard to shut the noise out.
That requires a more mature viewpoint.
Perhaps, over time, our natural inclination will be towards less freaking out and panic, and as a result, our news services will start to phrase things in facts rather than appealing tidbits, and we'll start to once again agree that facts are facts, and gravity is not subject to speculation without consequence, or assertion without proof.
After two weeks back from tour, I am enjoying not doing things. It's blissful. My tea cup runneth over and the local sour dough is still the bomb.
Planes, trains and venues empty, for the end times are upon us.
When I ran out of milk for my tea, I had to risk a journey outside.
Brave are the few who leave the house now, flocks of armed women struggle for the last 4 ply toilet paper in Chullora.
This is how Australia goes Road Warrior? First it's the loo paper, next thing we're all pieced nippled and shotgun toting wasteland warriors??
Don't get me wrong, as a fan of Mencken's (paraphrased) thought 'there comes a time when even civilised men must hoist the black flag' and having been raised on Mad Max, I for one welcome the new Australian post-apocalyptic music scene as I think it will be more open to original songs.
It surprised me greatly when buying a loaf of bread and some milk proved Zombie Free, Mad Max Free and I still had to pay with my EFTPOS card rather than with the blood of my enemies or tanks of gas, shotgun shells or antibiotics.
Rule of law has not yet broken down beyond its present state, which may be secretly acknowledged as merely a continues of business as usual since 1788.
Due to the current panic I even got a spot at that cool cafe place for breakfast on a Saturday.
Mr Wizard has been scheduling the rest of 2020 and we're even peering into the dim mists of the future for various things.
There comes a point where concepts and the future drop below the event horizon. and it becomes a Best Hope, rather than a Plan.
Carl said to me during the tour, we have a 60% hit rate on set lists, in terms of varying from the printed order.
I asserted that 60% is a good strike rate, considering the variable types of shows and locations, times, crowd and vibes. That in fact our ability to shift to find the right rhythm for the right moment is a strength.
I may have also indicated that anyone else who wants to drive the bus is welcome to take the wheel. I may have used another metaphor and more colorful language, but that comes with the territory.
This is illustrative of 'planning'.
Whatever our intentions may be, circumstances quickly supersede proposed direction.
The 5th US tour was all about the unexpected. Amen to that.
Making another album was predictable, we like that sort of thing after all, yet doing it in Clarksdale, and with songs we'd written in Memphis was quite unexpected.
The chain of causality was hard to follow - We cancelled some shows after Millage's son got sick and Millage had to cancel, leaving us with time to finish writing. We had a gap in our schedule as a result and...well...so.
This brings us to the current discussion of 'What makes an album'
What Makes an Album
See? It's even got its own title.
For Theo & Mr Wizard: an album is about quantity.
We have 4 tracks recorded in Clarksdale, another 4-6 written/worked on in Memphis or on tour and then everything else.
Sonic quality and Concept are more my kind of categories.
I reckon we can call 7 songs, all in the same basic mental concept, with some sort of sonic relationship, an album.
I prefer the term 'record', as it's a record of where we were and what we were into.
Dr Rock has started me thinking in "era's".
Each of the albums has been it's own sonic and thought concept.
Allow me to repeat and refine from an earlier blog I may have expressed these opinions in -
1. Whiskey Talking was Blues without 12 Bars. Recorded inexpensively, one studio, no particular sound in mind.
2. Spacejunk - Analogue lunacy. Shredding tapes, motor control issues, live sound problems. Everything was recorded and mixed analogue. Why? Cos that's what we were into. I also note that Mr Wizard & Theo don't consider this an album, but an EP as it's only 6 tracks. The Marketing Department begs to differ.
3. Nuevo Retro - Blues without borders. Our first time finding our own style and taking bigger risks. Same studio production quality, some sonic flaws when things went wrong with the rhythm section.
4. Carl's Chair - Live, on location sound and when we went all O Brother Where Art Thou. That's where we got into trouble for writing Trans Genre pieces. Oops.
5. Hired Guns & Borrowed Glory - on location again, fusions styles. Guitar amps housed inside massive boxes to insulate the drums sound, madness.
6. The Curious Assembly. Rule book out the window. Each song with it's own sonic style. The differences were the point. The consistent element was change. 11 studios.
7. Everywhere Feels Like Home - a sound track. Recorded here, there, a sonic travelogue.
8. Kansas City Gold - a production disaster on top of a tour disaster (hi Qantas) turned into a triumph thanks to some hard core technical work and perseverance. We'll never get that sound twice because it's a never to be repeated process. No, seriously.
9. Defiance - The Mid Western sound, we-wish-we-were-tom-petty and beyond. Sonically impeccable. The precise opposite of what we experienced with KCG. Smooth sailing, easy, well planned, well executed. Would 100% do it again the same way.
10. Safe Harbour - Artsy beyond all reasonable belief, experimentation with location sounds, real world locations effects on writing, hoo boy some completely wacko stuff. Flamenco, Trance.
11. Rogue State - Rules? Nah. Sonic quality? Wall of sound. No mercy. A tribute to Sydney and Aussie Rock. Nostalgic, bittersweet, a real chunk of 'white city' (hi Pete!) but about our own hometown.
So where to from here?
L, our favourite Aztec, said that Rogue State was completely unexpected. That's a compliment.
PL was listening to the double release of Safe Harbour/Rogue State and wrote me initially, 'this first one is boring' and then shortly after 'but this 2nd one is exciting' to which I replied 'yeah, you got it' - hence the double release. From calm to hectic.
Make Voyages, attempt them, there is nothing else
Before we wound up heading to Memphis, we had a backlog of songs to record.
Getting 'Crossfire' done took aaaaages, a little similar to the finalisation of Kansas City gold.
It's not a problem, it's an exercise in patience. It's ready when it's ready.
As a result of going to Memphis and planning the shows with Millage, we started writing stuff to suit.
'Get on home' was written for him, all bout the proposed journey and it's relevance, the things he'd told me about touring the circuit back in the 60's.
As we travelled, new stuff emerged and that meant putting aside all the other songs in the pipeline and doing the things that related to the time and place.
That's yielded some good new directions.
If we hadn't gone, we wouldn't have the songs.
Same same with Defiance, in fact, looking back over the catalogue, we have always been keenly and voluntarily affected by location.
Now that we're back, Mr Wizard wants to add another 3 songs to the Memphis/Clarksdale batch and call it an album.
For me, I'd rather see the stuff that's mentally consistent and sonically consistent grouped together.
So is an Album even relevant?
Is an Album a 20th century hold over? Does it matter?
Video games are thew new rockstars
Music, once the province of Led Zeppelin and stratospheric monies, is now the smaller player in an increasingly fragmented market.
Humans still love music, but the 20/21st centuries + technology + societal shifts are not yet done and it's turmoil in access land.
Billions of hours of self made material being churned out, and small numbers of high value AI generated predictive winners pushed with money to try and catch a little of the last rain.
ML said to me, and ML is a smart cookie. He said 'Paint. You're a painter. Paint.'
k so that was symbolic. I mean I'm not a painter (does photoshop count?) and he's a mastering engineer, but the idea was solid.
So we paint.
Streaming? Singles? I dunno.
Can't solve that one. Beyond event horizon.
is 7 songs an album?
Do people buy albums?
Is it even something to entertain?
As I cannot work that out, I propose instead to finish the work and then see what happens.
What's the worst it could be? We release two?
It's good to be active, working, and following a path.
This will take the time it takes; our resources are not unlimited.
I read somewhere 'let thy limitations be thine art'. I am not sure what that means exactly, but it comes to mind.
When we were in Clarksdale, Gary and I had some discussions on sonic quality. I'm interested in their sound.
I'd like to keep the stuff that's connected in that way together. I can't hold back the torrent of other work that's out there and we can't do everything at once.
Aaaaand were back to planning and scheduling.
See what I did there?
TL:DR - making album 12 is prompting album 13 and maybe albums don't exist and it's just a bunch of songs, but I still have to arrange studio time and also finish writing.