Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Pair of Past-related Reviews- Part 1: You and I, Walk by the Ocean; Back-Catalog, Back-story.

I recently received a link from Cameron Audet, informing me that his acoustic-project’s new record is complete and currently being released. You may or may not remember Cameron as one of the two singer/ guitarists who fronted Rusted Tricycle, an emo/ pop-punk outfit that I played bass for, the better part of ten years ago. The project that the link featured has existed for a while under the name Audet, but, according to the website, is in the process of being re-titled Armor and Rage.

In recent months, I have heard similar updates from Jason Hebert, the other of the Tricycle’s former frontmen. He seems to be most currently active with a project called Action and the Red Baron, who have also recently released a new record.

By this point, the three of us that comprised Rusted Tricycle’s front-stage trifecta have played with quite a few different projects, and each have a fairly diverse back-catalog, of which our time with the Tricycle provides merely a blip in the far-removed past.

Nevertheless, the Tricycle definitely had its place, and provides an important piece in each of our musical evolutions. And, hey, since returning to New Hampshire last fall, no matter how much time has passed, I’ve received at least a few surprising “I know you from somewhere... Aren’t you the guy from...”’s, about that band, more often than any other from my past.

Reviews of the most recent records from these two of my fellow Tricyclists will follow in coming entries. (Unfortunately, I know nothing currently about the post-Rusted musical careers of Mike 59 or Benny, the two R.T. drummers… do you? If so, be in touch, and I’ll try to touch on that as well.)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Art and Ideas in an Economic Recession.

Everyone I know seems to be scrimping a bit financially right now. This is probably redundant; something that goes without saying... and it's probably also a fairly obvious assertion that among those affected are "artists," a group who are often labelled and stereotyped as "starving" to begin with.

These artists, however, seem to me to be in a better place to use the economic hard-times as a growth-period: Rather than dollars-signs, the commerce of our trade and the coin-scale of our success is composed of ideas and creativity. These things are not intrinsically tied to economic fortunes. In fact, I think there are gains to be made by being forced to limit our resources, to need to separate our intellectual capital from our fiscal.

This is a great time to change our cultural thought-processes, to finally make the moves away from consumerism that we've been toying with the hypotheticals of for so long. This economic downturn could function as a golden-period of innovation in arts and ideas, particularly if we strive to view our limited expendable incomes not as a factor that constrains our creative outputs, but instead as a factor that provides much-needed opportunities to reassess the way that we think about and engage in creative tasks.

This is a good time to really enact the old credo that's deep in and important to most of our artistic subconsciouses by now; that we learn the rules so that we know how to best break them. This is an ideal time to utilize all the rules that we've learned in order to break those same rules more thoroughly, and in more creative ways, than ever before.

Think: Do I need this tool? How can I do this differently? What less-orthodox medium can I use to make my point more poignantly? What means can I use to get my message out that could attract more attention than the tried-and-true by way of their unusual and un-tested methods?

In the past, the "starving artist" mantra/ cliche usually involved scrimping on food to buy art-supplies. What I'm saying is rather, for the overall benefit of your artwork, and the potential to say something truly progressive and innovative with it, try not to buy conventional art-supplies. Figure out alternatives.

Is it for any reason, besides past rules that you learned as a foundation for your skill set that, if you're a painter, for instance, you need to purchase canvasses to paint on? What else could be used to fulfill the same purpose, but more creatively, and perhaps to the better demonstration of the concept of the piece (not to mention more economically)? I promise, there are plenty of things, and I definitely feel that more artists being coerced to think this way will produce far more interesting art.

As another example, it would greatly benefit most musical acts to re concentrate their attention on creating more genuinely interesting sounds by stopping dishing out unrealistic sums of money to record in pro- or semi-pro studios to make "radio-ready" demos when they're still quite a few rungs on the industry ladder down from radio-play. Adhering to current "professional quality standards" does not always equate to a more listenable (or even more marketable) product. More creative-sounding recordings and noise-making that not only cost less money, but come about because they cost less money??? How can you go wrong? How are we ever going to hear anything new or original again when even the lowest-caliber local bands in any given city pay to record in the same sort of studios which are stocked with same sort of gear as everything on the radio? Conventional machines (which cost money) make conventional sounds (which sound like money, rather than ideas or creativity).

Utilize this tight time-period. Make it your opportunity. Change the way that we think. This is a great opportunity to remove dollar-signs from the creative-exchange, to make the idea-market decidedly and intentionally our own.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Slow Season, But Cold.

“It looks like
Summer’s come early
This year,” I mumbled,
Through silver smoke
I can’t discern from
My breath in the cold,
By sub-arctic dumpsters
Behind the mall-attached
Restaurant I work in,
As a coworker and I
Smoked frigid boredom,
Waiting for tables that
Wouldn’t come, reflecting
How similar, though brittle,
It was, to the warmer
Season, the one we expected
To be this very quiet and still.

While waiting to find out where I head next for, I work in a restaurant that's attached to a shopping mall. Summers are always slow. Last year, this month was still smack in the middle of our busy-season, which didn't end until long after the snow had melted. The last couple of weeks have felt like the summer, in terms of business. I've been trying to put off writing about the current economic situation that we're all grappling with for as long as possible (mostly because I hadn't completely made up my mind if the issue had already been over-tread by the media and blogosphere-at-large, or if the attention has been, and is, warranted because of the all-encompassing nature of the changes in our social-climate). I've had alot of time lately to think about how and why people aren't spending money, while standing around waiting for them to come through our doors and spend the money that, in turn, allows me to spend money. The poem above is a brief musing I jotted down while sitting by the dumpster, grabbing some polluted air... I post it less because of my pride in how it turned out, and more because I felt that it worked as a fitting preface-piece to my next entry, which will feature some musings about the place and potential of arts and ideas in times of economic recession.

Stay tuned.