MB204 - Bait Kids

The guest on the show today, John Roderick, is a musician, a podcaster, an author, a raconteur, a friend, a father figure to some, and a herbalist. All of that is 100% true, which is also the name of his autobiography. They had asked the audience for questions and because they left it quite open ended, they got a lot of duds. But what they might think is a dud question could be a coded message about John's impending death or to activate him Manchurian-Candidate-style or it might be one of John’s agents checking in with him. It might also be a question that they think is a dud because they haven’t heard John’s answer yet!

Listener questions (MB204)

Question: I’m a musician. I make this noise music. It fits well in the cliché of atonal ambient noise, although it’s got a drive to it that’s accessible, and I like to think I transcend the norm, but I’m just not getting heard. I know that music is all about the art of persistence, so do you have any tips on how I can sell myself, how to solicit venues for gigs, how to get paid. Should I spam my poor twitter following? More hash tags? — Amy Vibes in Vermont

There is a lot of underselling language for sure, like using the word Cliché to describe their own music might be a cultural signifier because they don’t want to seem like they are too hungry. Also, the term noise music, although being a genre, sounds very pejorative. Noise is what your shitty upstairs neighbor calls the music you produce. It is such a broad and meaningless word, like Indie Music is. Half the soundtracks these days are what you would call noise music, like the one from the movie ”There Will be Blood” which contains of the noises from inside an oil well. Is there a truth to the thought that you need to get successful right away because after a couple of years of not getting heard, maybe you got no future? Not necessarily! By the time anyone will have heard of a music scene, that scene will already be over and will not be accepting any new members. For most musicians, that is the reality. They identify with a scene and want to be part of it, but no chance! Those doors are closed! The question is why people still make Rock music? It is the oldest music ever and it is even called ”rock”?

This is the way for people to hear your music: It is very rare that somebody just makes genius music. This is the fantasy. John’s ex-girlfriend used to say that if your music is any good, you will just make it and then people will come running. Her version of reality was that somebody who happens to be a record executive would be walking by your house and hear you playing. A is a video game journalist which is sort of the rockstars of fat people, but even there you hope that you are going to get discovered and you make it. A still tells people that if you work really hard at it and make something good, the cream will rise, but is that naive? Anybody who actually makes it will revise their origin story and will take out all the parts where their mom really helped them and their dad gave them $8000 and they knew a guy who knew a guy who got them on an elevator with a guy. None of that is very interesting and people mistakenly feel like they want to erase that part, because it exposes the degree to which you need a leg up or it exposes their advantage, however small.

You can not go out and personally shake the hand of 30.000 people and count that every one of those people will hear and love your music. Even in the Internet future land, the reason you hear about bands is because they are part of a community of other musicians and you like one and then you are drawn to see who their friends are and who they associate with. Most scenes are formed by bands that are initially unwelcome anywhere else, so they form their own scene. You form a collective of other struggling musicians. Every music scene starts out as an island of Misfit toys and most of the time, those other bands may not sound like you and maybe you are only friends because you are proximate to one another, but then a scene comes out of it and other people will find a connective sound between those acts and it ends up being the next sound.

Can you con people into thinking there is a scene? Everybody who wants to get into show business feels like there is some kind of chemtrails-based conspiracy and it is all a con job. They are out there buying Facebook likes or whatever, but it is much more likely that if you go to see bands that interest you and that support your friends and other musicians that you like, then all that stuff happens very organically. Pretty soon you are putting on shows playing with your friend’s bands. You will not be worried about penetrating the big show business, because you are making your own little show business. Then the big show business comes looking for you. John has not mentioned putting your music into an Apple commercial, because that seems to work.

Question: Me and a close-knit group of friends formed a rock band, but the problem is our drummer friend is super flakey and rarely shows up to practice. I don’t want to lose him as a friend, but we’ll never get out of the garage with him as our drummer. How do I politely give him the ol’ boot? — Dropping The Drummer In Utah

This question seems to be based on the Rock Industry myth that you have to practice your music. Instead, you should get together to smoke some weed and start designing your logo. The number one thing any band needs to do is get out a notebook of lined paper and start designing their logo, because that is where you get on an Apple commercial. Maybe your logo is you kicking the drummer out the door. Maybe you make a contest in your band and whoever draws the worst logo is out, even if the drummer is a graphic artist! Do The Long Winters have a logo? Like an eskimo style guy shrugging ”What gives?” The initial logo of The Long Winters was a guy in an eskimo style coat pushing a snow blower and the snow blower produced a big snow cloud with the name of the band written in it. If you look at the Nirvana logo, it is just the name Nirvana in some kind of font, and your first thought is that Nirvana is the stupidest band name in the history of band names. It seems reasonable now, but at the time it was totally ridiculous. Still, it looked good, it was in a font that just looked right and they put that same exact logo on everything they did. Look at them compared to The Long Winters who had some inscrutable eskimo!

To answer this person’s question: The number of bands who believed that the integrity of their original lineup or of the core group was paramount and who therefore willfully refused to acknowledge that one of the guys was not committed being in the band or just committed enough that they would stick around and thwart the band’s ambitions time and time again until all was destroyed, is a very common problem in collaborative work. This person doesn’t love the band enough to realize that they need to quit, but you got to fire the weak link!

If they would role-play kicking Travis out of this podcast, they could have a guest expert on the show that is funnier and quicker than Travis and after you establish a report where Travis is just going to try to get a word in edgewise and can’t, then it will become clear to him that he is being supplanted. He would get the point pretty fast unless he is a drummer.

Question: Dear brothers and John Roderick, my girlfriend refuses to eat chicken unless it’s been deboned. No wings, legs, thighs - nothing, unless the bones are out of sight and out of mind. She tells me because the bones are gross and morbid. I tell her she is being hypocritical and she should consider vegetarianism if she can’t face facts. Is my girlfriend being hypocritical, and how do I stop picking these dumb fights? — Thanks I Ate The Bones In Texas

John is a chicken fingers eater! He shares the girlfriend’s distaste although he doesn’t think it is gross. If John is given a plate of chicken tenders and next to it would be a plate of whole chicken parts, he always prefers the processing. You take a chicken, you have to kill it, you pull all the feathers out of it, you have to wash it and pull all it’s guts out, then you have to chop it up. That is a lot of processing and John doesn’t see why you would stop processing the fucking thing at that point. Keep processing it until it is just a pile of meat! You are also paying for the bone weight and if John had to pay extra, he would rather pay somebody for processing, taking all that meat in a little pile, breading it and deep-frying it. He doesn’t want to have to sit and eat chicken off the bone! It is the last vestige of feral animal instincts that most of us got to experience. You are sitting at your desk all day in your Aeron chair, you go down to an air-conditioned garage to get in your Prius, you drive to your air-conditioned garage in your subdivision and then you are eating chicken off the bone and think you are a wild man? And you think your girlfriend is some kind of a wuss because she wants it to come to her as some kind of Torino’s pizza roll?

Boatparty cruise 2013 (MB204)

On the way out, John talks about boatparty.biz, the Atlantic Ocean music and comedy festival. The first thing you will see when you go on that boat is some kind of animal, for example a lion or a dolphin carved out of butter, sitting on a bowl of ice next to the swimming pool. That is the degree of luxury you get to experience even on the smallest cruise. It is actual, functional butter that you just go after and they use that butter for the rest of the cruise. If you are eating a scone on the last day of the cruise, it came from the dolphin tail. John goes right for the butter lion and digs right in because that is how you know you are on the boat. John has been on a lot of cruises, but the Boatparty last year has been an absolutely singular cruise experience, it was freaking hilarious! It is a small enough boat that there is a large amount of interaction with the entertainment. There is so much entertainment on the bill that you almost can’t help but interact. If you go into your state room, there is a chance that one of the comedians is actually in there, fluffing your pillow. At the last night of the cruise, all the performers jumped into the swimming pool at 1am. Eugene Mirman jumped in first with a bottle of brandy in one hand and a vape cigarette in the other. They have now added Todd Barry who is going to perform the Eugene Mirman role this year, although he will not have a bottle of brandy or a vape cigarette or get in the pool, but otherwise he will be the spark that ignites it.

The city of Nassau, Bahamas feels a little dangerous, but it has that shabby chic that is so characteristic of the Mediterranean. Last year on Nassau, John rented a scooter and drove to the other side of the island with a beautiful girl in the back and they got caught in a brief warm rainstorm, both getting soaked to the bone. That was so bad! Also, his iPhone got wet, so that now when he takes it in to get serviced, they give him the stink eye at the Apple store. It still works, but they have some litmus paper in there that tells them that this phone is pregnant and you can’t get it fixed anymore. It turned from a Mowgli into a Gremlin and now he has to deal with this fucking angry Gremlin phone all the time.

Why is Lady Bird Lake called a lake? It is a fucking river!

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