Howdy, friends. It’s a rainy Monday here in the valley of the Shenandoah. I painted some porch ceilings this morning and don’t have anything I have to do until later when I gotta show up for a meeting at the collectively-owned, democratically-run restaurant where I occasionally cook, but mostly wash dishes and complain about the godawful music the hip(pies/sters) have on. I’m trying to get back into the habit of thinking about this thing and actually writing a piece once in a while. It’s not a hardship or anything, but I do tend to fill my schedule to overflowing and there’re always a bunch of creative pots simmering so getting one more on can be tricky.
I’m also listening to the current BDSR project – one of the current BDSR projects – Twin Infinities (Feel God About Your Body), which will end up being a goddam double cd release. This one consists of shorter pieces, individually titled, sort of like songs. It’s a radical departure from our usual method of structuring cd’s as one giant, ridiculously bloated track. The impetus for the change was BDSR’s entry into the Bandcamp arena, which was in turn inspired by our desire to release a couple things – Tohu Wa Bohu and The Theatre Of Infernal Music – that nobody was interested in. After signing up with Bandcamp, we realized that we couldn’t put either of those up there because they’re too fuckin’ huge, so those are available through Internet Archives along with a lot of great movies. The fact that we had signed up for Bandcamp and hadn’t used it then led to the creation of a handful of tracks specifically for that venue and another handful because doing shorter tracks and releasing them immediately has some instant gratifications that are pleasing and then it started seeming like a good time to start putting together an actual release and “Twin Infinities (Feel God About Your Body)” had been on the list of possible titles for a while. Doing short tracks is kinda fun, but it won’t become the norm. We’ve got a couple poor quality live recordings which we’ll try to fix up and overdub into something listenable and those will eventually be some of a release to be titled Nevermind The Brahmins, Here’s The Big Drum In The Sky Religion, which will either be three or four longish tracks or one longerish. Also waiting to see the light of day are three that were recorded last year: Fear Of A Sacred Planet, three tracks; Sweetheart Of The Ashvamedha, two tracks; and 666th Century Schizoid Shaman, a grotesque and inexcusable bit of bloated cacophony in one loooooonnnnnggggggg, unlistenable track. There was a netlabel up around DC interested in that one – interested in hearing it based on our synopsis. We sent it and now those guys won’t answer our emails, so it’s unlikely they’ll be releasing it which is perfectly understandable. That we are still planning on putting it out there is testimony to our commitment to commercial failure with naked people cover art.
Actually, let me state here and now that we will release 666th Century… in a week. I don’t know the exact date I received the inspiration for The Big Drum In The Sky Religion, but it was about the middle of April, 2007, so we call 15 April BDSR’s birthday. 666th Century… will be our 7th anniversary release, reaffirming our undying dedication to bringing you, both of you, the very best in shamanically inspired musical self-sabotage. BDSR will never have a hit, we promise.
This is on my mind at least partly because we just passed the first weekend in April, which in Harrisonburg, VA, means MACRock, the Mid-Atlantic Conference of Rock, when a shitload of unknown bands and a shittier shitload of hipsters converge on our otherwise sleepy town to pander to each other, the bands all hoping to get signed to a label so they can be the Next Big Thing. It’s kinda like SXSW, but smaller. We, the locals, view it as an opportunity to separate fools from their money. The restaurant where I work was a venue. We had hardcore bands. One of my co-workers was pretty delighted; the others, the ones who enjoy Ani Difranco, were horrified. I found it somewhat boring. The hardcore bands were certainly hardcore enough, but I didn’t hear anything that I hadn’t heard before. I talked with some of the band members and they seemed like good folks. I was glad to run into a young lady who I met a few years ago when her band played with BDSR. Hardcore can be fun; I’m just not especially moved by it anymore, especially when it is happening in a context of such blatant suck-uppery.
BDSR might play MACRock. If they contacted us and there was money involved. I’d rather get paid to play a MACRock show than wash dishes at one. But BDSR will never try to get a MACRock show. The whole process of sending a demo and bio and all that shit to get a show to possibly impress some label guy and hopefully get fucked over just doesn’t make any sense to me. Commercial success is artistic failure. No one succeeds in music without selling out. No one can serve both God and mammon, and BDSR serves God/gods.
I should mention Tom Waits. Tom Waits is the only currently active musician I know of who is commercially successful and worthy of my respect. I haven’t liked much of what Mr. Waits has released in the past decade, but I do believe that he is following his own course, though heavily indebted to Cap’n Beefheart. Waits is famously contemptuous of the music industry. He has likened it to swimming in shark-infested waters. That he can continue to navigate it without being eaten alive just shows that our suspicions were correct: Tom Waits is not human.
That aside aside, I ain’t saying BDSR will never work with a label. Obviously, we’ve worked with many micro-labels, here and abroad, and will continue to do so. Micro-labels tend to be individuals burning cdr’s in their homes, running off covers at the local copy shop. That’s the label version of what we do. The deals are done without contracts and I have no choice but to assume the labels are motivated to put out our music because they like it and believe it has value. Certainly, I hope they recoup their investment, but I can’t imagine anybody is making any money. BDSR sure ain’t.
I haven’t gotten any emails from bigger-than-micro-labels, but I have thought about it. If some medium-sized indie label expressed an interest, I would consider it. The switch from “we” to “I” is because it’s my decision, not ours. BDSR is not a democracy. I, Brown Hat the Espresso Shaman, aka browny, received the inspiration, seven years minus a week ago, and I have the only vote. Of course, I take into consideration everything the other participants have to say, follow their leads in performance, take the chance when they have ideas and generally welcome their input, but I always have the power to veto. I haven’t had to exercise it much. Mostly, the people who get involved are on a similar wave, but it has happened that I had to say “no, that doesn’t fit BDSR”.
I would consider working with a larger label. I want people to be able to hear BDSR. I think the music is good and the message behind the music is better. I am trying to alter the world with sound, after all, and it would be a lot easier if more people heard that sound. But I would have to have a lot of control over all stages of the process: the recording – where, when, how – the production, cover art, tour support, if any, probably not because I got shit to do around town and going off on a tour seems like work. I suspect that my demands for final say-so at all levels would cause any hypothetical label to say “no, thanks”. I’m fine with that. If the sharks won’t play Marco Polo according to my rules, I’ll stay out of the water.
That said, as I mentioned, there’re a few titles ready to hit the shelves, so if you wanna put ‘em out, drop a line. Twin Infinities (Feel God About Your Body) sounds great so far. It’s about ¾ finished. If you know the albums that title refers to, you are an old punk.
Brown Hat the Espresso Shaman
The pun is always intended.