I love reading a good interview with a musician that actually has some good ideas and philosophies about music, art, what-have-you, instead of just talking about the mundane aspects of their current work. A recent couple interviews with Dylan Carlson of Earth have been especially thoughtful and I thought I’d share a couple of my favorite bits from this Q & A from Alarm Magazine that was posted to Facebook the other day:
on talent and authenticity:
We have all these myths and representations of music and art, like it’s something for other people to do rather than for everybody. Like the Amadeus myth that there are just born these phenomenal musicians, and the rest of us can only mash our teeth and plot to murder them because they’ve been given this gift that we don’t have. I absolutely abhor that whole myth.
The reason Mozart was Mozart was because his dad started training him when he was four. The reason Jimi Hendrix was a great guitarist was because he played guitar 18 hours a day. They put in the work; that’s why they were good. Everyone wants to go out and be on American Idol and be a star and believe there are people that are somehow just naturally gifted, but that’s bullshit. Ultimately, if you want to do music, and you put in the work, you’ll do something worthwhile.
on the meditative aspect of Earth’s music:
I remember a brief time when I was homeless, and the most frustrating thing of that whole experience was that there was just no place that you were allowed to be, where you didn’t have to be buying something, or paying for something.
There are no more places in the world for people to just be; you have to be doing something or spending money or being involved in an exchange. It’s really frustrating. In the old days in England, before the Enclosure Act, there used to be a thing called “the commons,” which no one was allowed to own, and anyone could use it, or they could just leave it alone [laughs]. That whole concept is gone
on whether bands need to tour more to stay “financially solvent:”
My hope is that live music will become more important, like it used to be, but the economics of that don’t always work out. Back when music was big live, there was no TV, no radio; we didn’t have 24 hours of Internet porn [laughs], so we’ve got competition now.
I definitely think people seem more excited about live music than they used to be, and they want to see bands that can actually play their instruments as opposed to backing tracks and dance routines, and that kind of spectacle.
I’m not sure where I stand on that last one, I mean, I love live music, but when you live outside the small few major urban centers of the country, the bigger or even mid-level bands aren’t coming to play where you can easily get to. I hear of so many bands I really want to see just passing by (or even right through) Des Moines or even all of Iowa like we don’t matter. So to be a music fan out here, you kinda have to be a bit of a record nerd, or else stick pretty heavily to your regional acts. Also it’s hard to say how the profitability of touring will hold up against the continuing rising cost of fuel. But it’s definitely all worth thinking about.