TRIP: I'm a guy who can sell rock n roll very well. Which means I'm gonna help your band. And for all the music lovers who are starving for rock n roll, I'm gonna help you find it.
D: Before we even talk about how you're gonna do that, why do you assume that people aren't sold on rock n roll? Before you even answer that, what is rock n roll to you? What are you selling?
T: It's all semantics. And for the rest of this interview I'm just gonna avoid describing rock n roll as "rock n roll" because everybody has a different definition. I'm not really a "salesman" either so the word "selling" needs to be looked at in a different light too. I guess a better term for myself would be an activist. I wouldn't call myself merely a music activist either because I'm not just championing a sonic experience, I'm championing a spirit. And I wanna breathe that spirit in the landscape of the youth culture, in the landscape of pop culture in general.
D: And what is that spirit?
D: You think the landscape of pop culture lacks madness?
D: Is that all you champion?
T: Madness, glamor, charming character, superstardom, spectacle, sex, fun, sense of humor, thrill, danger, sophistication, craft, talent, soul, intellectualism, defiance, rebellion, decadence, charisma.
D: In that order?
T: If it's in order I'd probably put the sex first.
D: Even before the intellectualism?
D: Tell me more about the problem you have with the current landscape of pop culture?
T: I don't like how all the "hip things" are being branded.
D: What do you mean?
T: Oh boy you just opened pandora's box here. Ok, take "The Deli" or "Brooklyn Vegan" for instance. Let me say that again: "Brooklyn Vegan." "Brooklyn Vegan." Or "Pitchfork".
For all the stupid people out there, these are all music news websites that report on indie bands.
Yeah "Pitchfork", "Brooklyn Vegan". Let's brand rock n roll as "health" and "agriculture". Because health and agriculture is the new hip thing. That's really dangerous and thrilling. It's so badass. Agriculture, fuck me, I feel like I'm on top of mount olympus. Eat your heart out James Dean. Eat your heart out Clint Eastwood. Let's create a cult movie that rivals Shaft and James Bond. Here's the premise. An exciting indie rock musician is a normal person by day . . . and a normal person by night! After he's done playing a show, the chicks go backstage with him. Then wildness ensues. They platonically watch Netflix and discuss health tips! Fuckin' wild bro! Then they kiss each other on the cheek and they meet up the next day for coffee! (Because they don't wanna stay up late). Holy shit I didn't realize how the landscape of the music world could be this exciting! Health and agriculture wow that's so hip!
D: Haha! So you just have a problem with how indie rock is branded?
T: I think golf is more exciting than indie rock. Maybe it's just me but it really feels like the entire cultural significance of indie rock is meant to build a soundtrack for coffee shops.
But no, it's not just indie rock. I have a problem with Hot Topic and Ozzfest and Blabbermouth.com and Warped Tour and Revolver magazine and all those other brands too. Shit even "Cruefest" rebranded itself from tattoos, babes and tequila to the same shit Ozzfest and Warped Tour and Hot Topic are branding themselves around: Blood, Horror and Vampires.
And look, I understand. The defenders of that stuff all say the same thing: "No! You don't understand! Anne Rice novels are much cooler than Twilight! The Lost Boys is a great movie! Halloween is a great movie! The Hot Topic assholes just exploited it and cheapened it! But if you look into it, vampires and horror movies are really, really cool!"
I understand. I acknowledge that Anne Rice can write. I acknowledge that The Lost Boys is a badass movie and that Elvira is baddass. I acknowledge that. I acknowledge that the Misfits are cool. But I still think we've been milking the holy hell out of this gloomy bullshit too much for too long that the fantasy realms of rock ‘n’ roll need to be revitalized with something else. The gloom can still exist fine, but it shouldn't be the only realm in the aesthetic of those brands.
I love fantasy. And normality is my enemy. I get it. But KISS had a comic book superhero fantasy realm. Bowie had an outer space fantasy realm. So did T Rex. The Rolling Stones had some cool gypsy thing going. The Beatles did a Maharishi thing. A bunch of bands did an oriental Tibetan thing. Ritchie Blackmore did a Medieval thing. The New York Dolls did a cross-dresser transvestite thing. Iron Maiden with a Biblical and Tolkenian and Comic Book thing. And Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart were just batshit weird with monkeys and toilet seats and pepperoni pizza and God knows what else. And within all of the diversity of those fantasy realms it was ok for Alice Cooper to do a gloomy thing because in such a context he came off as a standout which, consequently, made him a legitimate attraction.
You can quote Alice Cooper all you want. You can quote Pantera and Slayer and Cannibal Corpse and Death all you want. And you can keep correcting me that goth isn't Marilyn Manson, and that it's really Sisters Of Mercy and Ministry. You can keep correcting me on the differences between death metal and screamo. You can say all of that all you want. And you can quote The Lost Boys and Elvira and Anne Rice all you want, but still, if you brand your shit around that it's still gonna be super hard for you to stand out and be distinctive amongst the humongous sea of mediocrity who are branding themselves the same way. The audiences who are fed up by all of that are still gonna dismiss you right off the bat as "some Screamo shit".
There really needs to be new fantasy realms that's an alternative to all of that. I, for instance, I'm branding myself with a different fantasy realm. And it's not something that's overly done to death in our landscape like gloom.
D: And what's the fantasy realm your branding yourself as?
T: Ok so imagine Mel Blanc ..
(For all the stupid people Mel Blanc is the voice actor that did the voices of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin the Martian, Pepé Le Pew, Speedy Gonzales, the Tasmanian Devil, and many of the other characters in Looney Tunes)
Ok so imagine Mel Blanc in a blaxploitation movie.
D: You're branding your fantasy realm as Mel Blanc in a blaxpoitation movie?
T: In the 1800's.
D: You're branding yourself as Mel Blanc in a blaxpoitation movie in the 1800's?
T: Yes. Absolutely.
D: So you wanna change the landscape of pop culture from health, agriculture and gloom to Mel Blanc in a blaxpoitation movie in the 1800's?
T: Something like that, yeah.
D: You weren't kidding about the madness.
T: Thank you.
D: So hold on, if you were a festival or a press outlet or a rock n roll clothing store chain, how would you run that kind of operation? And how is it gonna say Mel Blanc blaxpoitation in the 1800's?
T: Look at Creem magazine back in the day. The fonts were circular and friendly and "baloony" (if that's a word). The fonts weren't too metallic and aggressive. Yellows and reds in the aesthetic. The photographers told their subjects to make silly faces instead of standing lifelessly and seriously in front of the camera. The editors made it say "Party", they made it say "Glamor". It had a mascot, Boy Howdy, which was a beer can with a smiling face. Their writers weren't academic at all. They were humorous and obnoxious and mad and philosophical. Boy Howdy = Mel Blanc. Reds and Yellows = Blaxpoitation. Philosophical bright writers = 1800's.
You can put a gloomy band like Sisters of Mercy or Ministry in it. You can put a bland, serious band in it like Bruce Springsteen. You can put a wacky band in it like Van Halen or Jethro Tull. And the readers would like it all just the same. Creem was perfect. It was universal. It wasn't niche.
Pitchfork and The Deli would only have Bruce Springsteen.
Ozzfest and Blabbermouth and Hot Topic would only have Ministry.
They're too fucking niche-based and not universal at all.
And this is the problem with our current music landscape. I call it "The Tyranny Of The Outlets". It's all a branding problem really. The entire landscape just needs to be rebranded. And I think I have what it takes to do that.
Think about the significance of rock n roll then vs now. Civil rights movements had a soundtrack full of rock n roll (Lennon, Hendrix, Neil Young, Dylan). The nightlife party scene was full of rock n roll (T Rex, Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Sweet, Slade, Cheap Trick). It was the soundtrack for the badasses and the streets (Punk, Metal). It was even the soundtrack for sports (We Will Rock You & We Are The Champions / Queen, Rock n Roll Part 2 / Gary Glitter). It had so much cultural significance because it supplied all aspects of culture with songs. It was on cartoons like Thundercats and Ninja Turtles. It was the entrance themes of awesome wrestlers like The Ultimate Warrior. It was everywhere.
Right now? Right now rock's significance is just commercials of aggressive action movies and coffee shop atmosphere music. And it's all Pitchfork's and Revolver magazine's fault and the people behind the branding of that bullshit.
D: Well do you blame the outlets or do you blame the bands?
T: The bands don't have the balls and the integrity to pursue their own authentic and passionate and natural impulses. Some bullshit producer or some asshole publicist is gonna use some hocus pocus euphemisms like "being current" and "being modern" to mold the bands into exactly what those outlets want us to be and the dumbass, stupid, dipshit, moron, desperate bands are gonna always fall for it so that they can reach those markets. Whether the bands are conscious that they're doing this or not, they're all doing it. They'll never pursue their own creative freedom in a natural progression and an authentic evolution to the unknown. Ever. They'll placate. They'll "crossover". They're too stupid and they're too desperate to challenge the current construct or defy it.
And Coachella/Pitchfork and Warped Tour/Hot Topic aren't the only 2 brand types in the music landscape. You got Bamboozle, which is for wholesome clean "punk rock" that you can score Nerf commercials and teen sitcoms with. You got Burning Man, don't even get me started with that. And you got shit like Bonaroo, I still don't know how that's branded and what kind of gatekeeping goes on in the programming, but I'm pretty sure that Bonaroo would never push a new young rock n roll spectacle band that's doing a spectacle shtick like KISS.
D: So you're the guy that's planning to be behind the outlets that pushes bands that have a rock n roll spectacle shtick like KISS?
D: Interesting. So what exactly did your "activism" involve so far?
T: Well, a documentary, preproduction on a music news website like blabbermouth/pitchfork, events, my writing in my blog, networking with bands and promoters on a national and international level, my showcasing on my YouTube page -and an usual form of activism- being the Broadway Danny Rose guy.
Now for all the stupid people out there, Broadway Danny Rose is a Woody Allen movie about a guy that used to help people in the underground in show business. He used to keep their morale up, he used to be the guy that everybody used to vent to, he used to push and promote and plug all his discoveries everywhere he went. So that's one of the things I do.
In LA the bands really like talking to me. If there's any nightlife promoters out there, I just wanna say if you hire me as a host, I'm probably not gonna have much drawing power with girls or with general customers, but I am a name that the band community loves to be around. Because they know I'm honest and they know my insights are real and they know I'm not some cut throat pay-to-play asshole that's gonna abuse them. I document them in my media and I push them, through my interviews and my conversations with them. They can see what kind of influence I'm gonna have and who I can hook them up with. And they know that I understand them more than anyone else and they know that I understand rock n roll and that I have an undying passion for it and they know that I can sell them and that I can sell rock n roll in general very well. And they know that I'm honest. They know that I'm loyal to them, and in return, they're loyal to me. And it's all because I was the Broadway Danny Rose guy of LA.
There's also my documentary. Now I can be the minister of propaganda for this cause entirely by myself, or I can be the minister of propaganda for this entire cause with evidence that this movement is real. And by including the voices and opinions and footage of everyone else in this movement as well. From Berkley Music Business students to ex label employees to band managers to ex magazine editors to nightlife kingpins to radio hosts to independent label owners to clothing designers and to - most importantly - the bands. This documentary is a complete 360 insight on this movement and a proposal and detailed blueprint for a grassroots course of action to cultivate and prosper our market. This documentary is gonna save us a lot of time and effort in the war of spin against our skeptics. That way we don't have to do any exhausting interpersonal word of mouth to market ourselves. All we have to do is send a facebook link of the documentary and we're turning people on to our grassroots counter culture.
Then there's my news website project. If you type one of our bands like "Bigelf" for instance on Pitchfork, (who were highlighted in Classic Rock magazine and booked in big festivals) the search engine is gonna report that there are no results found. Whether you’re impressed by their work or not, veteran bands who are doing "our shtick" like Buckcherry and The Last Vegas who have a ton of buzz aren't in their database either. So for all the bands who have the spirit that I'm trying to push that are just floating around in complete obscurity, they need a news website that follows up and reports on their shit. That's when the birth of "The Bathroom Wall" came up.
"The Bathroom Wall" is perfect branding. First of all it's not branded around health or agriculture or vampires. What happens in the bathroom of rock n roll bars? Lines of cocaine, blowjobs, maybe even outright fucking. And what's on the wall of these bathrooms? Band stickers of bands that wanna put themselves out there. It's perfect branding. It's dangerous, it's sexual, it's decadent, it's wild spirited. It says all the right things as a brand for press. I talked to a website developer and he told me: "You need content before you can upload anything". And that's the phase of pre-production I'm in now. I need at least 60 discoveries first. 60 bands. That means 60 photoshoots and 60 EPKs and 60 twitter accounts and 60 YouTube channels and 60 facebook fanpages where I can assemble my news from. And all those 60 bands have to be curated and they all have to be good so they can give the brand legitimacy and merit. That's a huge undertaking. But the current alpha-phase it's in now is a private Facebook group that you can request to join here.
Then there's my nightlife promotion brand and my webshow: "Soul Parade". Here's the branding strategy behind that. Our nightlife "scene" might happen in fixed locations like St. Jerome's in New York City or The Rainbow Bar & Grill in LA. But guess what? All those places, no matter how much of a historic landmark they are, all those places are gonna turn into either a Chase bank or a McDonalds someday. It's just inevitable. And that can't be a reason to kill our morale.
That's the reason I didn't brand it as "Soul Asylum" or "Soul Launchpad" or some bullshit like that. I wanted to say that our nightlife scene is not attached to physical venues, fuck that, it's attached to our community. And our community can move around like a parade to colonize different venues or apartment building rooftops or basements or open green landscapes if we have to. That way our nightlife party scene will not be dependent on the tyranny of cut throat venue owners. That way we are unstoppable. And the reason I said "Soul" is because that's the one thing that the Blabbermouth brand doesn't have. They have a lot of angst and a lot of aggression but they don't have any soul. It's a way to make my brand distinctive from theirs.
Soul Parade is also a media thing of mine on the internet where I'll be showcasing the bands in an Old Grey Whistle Test fashion. Now for all the stupid people out there, the Old Grey Whistle Test used to be a program on TV dedicated entirely for a band to play an entire set of maybe more than 6 songs live on the program. Unlike Jimmy Kimmel or Conan O'Brien where they only play one song. I'll be doing the same thing as Old Grey Whistle Test for our generation with Soul Parade. This initiative of mine however is another project still in development because the showcasing of these bands needs sound recording resources that requires decent money from investors.
There's also my networking activism. Luckily in L.A., diehards from all around the world visit the Rainbow Bar & Grill. From Scandinavia and Australia and Canada and Germany and England and Latin America and even France and Eastern Europe. Also from Indiana and Kentucky and the rest of middle and southern America too. I've been investigating with many of these guys to get cued in on our type of scene in their local hometowns because I'm working on a TOURING CIRCUIT. I wanna establish a network with our collective promoters and collective nightlife operations to build our market. A comprehensive yelp.com national venue research is on the to-do list as well. After which, I'm developing a BOOKING AGENCY where that touring circuit can operate under. Unfortunately the most common answer I got from my investigation is "We got nothing brah! That's why we came to L.A.!" The good news is there are operations and connections in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Toronto, New York (obviously), L.A. (obviously), San Francisco, Stockholm, Gothenburg and Melbourne. I haven't heard any good indications from London and weirdly, I haven't met anyone from music capitals Nashville and Austin that can cue me in on the news of our scene and our market over there.
Anyway, with Soul Parade, TheBathroomWall.com, the yet-to-be-branded-booking-agency, my documentary, my blog The Dead Notes, my nightlife activism, and the nightlife activism of all the other promoters around the country and around the world in our network, I'm hoping our market will prosper with the collective fanbases and followings of all the bands and promoters and bloggers I'm pushing from all the different parts of the world I'm discovering them from. And once our market is prosperous enough, we'll have our very own Burning Man, our very own Ibiza, our very own Coachella and Ozzfest. Our own yet-to-be-branded super-bowl-esque annual event. Our own festival. Which is gonna be buzzed and hyped heavily in the radars and zeitgeist of pop culture. Then after AAAAAAAAAAAAAAALL of that, the landscape of pop culture is finally gonna be cool again.
D: Jesus, you’re like Wile E. Coyote on the drawing board.
T: Yeah I think too much.
D: You're gonna do all of that by yourself?
T: I hope not. The reason I'm making a documentary about this and that I blog about this is because I'm hoping it could inspire an army of promoters and bloggers and entrepreneurs of outlets and investors and players in the industry that push our shit. I'm surprised how nobody has ever talked about this before I did. I know people who promoted events, I know people who blog. I just don't know anyone who addressed or talked about a strategy to campaign ourselves and build industry for us. I remember my friend, Guy Malim, once said: "Trip, your whole world is full of monkeys. They're all monkeys, Trip. You're the only one who can lead them because you're the only one who can write a clear mission statement". And I'd love to be "a leader" but I sure as fuck don't wanna be "the leader". Fuck that. That scares the shit out of me.
It's really important that this becomes a grassroots uprising. The gloomy bands aren't just pushed by Hot Topic alone. They're pushed by Hot Topic, Warped Tour, Ozzfest, Sonisphere, Wacken, Download Festival, Revolver Magazine, Golden God Awards, Metal Hammer, NME, Kerrang, Blabbermouth.com ... etc. etc. etc. All those brands are operations that have gigantic staff and gigantic teams behind it. And they're not all lead by "a leader". They're all brands that just all believe in the same music culture. Their collective operations are brought together by a cause and a love for a certain genre, not a leader.
Back in '09 I used to think that our only saving grace was Classic Rock magazine and Cruefest. I didn't think the works of Buckcherry, The Last Vegas and Charm City Devils stand up to Jimi Hendrix or Led Zeppelin, but you know what? They were all doing a shtick similar to mine. And I was so full of hope that Nikki Sixx would be the figurehead of our outlet. Sixx pushing Papa Roach and Trapt and Theory of a Deadman bothered me a little bit but I let that go. Then I saw Sixx do an emo shtick with Sixx AM and I still chose to be in denial and justify and rationalize his actions. Then he started pushing Black Veil Brides. That was it. Right now, Nikki Sixx has absolutely no street cred anymore. And all my hopes that he would be the saving grace of rock n roll just died right there.
It was clear to me that he never really wanted to save rock n roll for us. He just wanted to selfishly cultivate a more youthful draw for himself. The new rock n roll bands didn't really get anything from him because his draw were all old geezers. He used us, not vice versa. He needed us, not the other way around.
Then it dawned on me, the reason Ozzfest and Lollapalooza had huge markets with the built-in crowds of Ozzy and Perry Farrell was because in the early 90's Ozzy and Perry Farrell still had relatively youthful markets. But now none of the heritage acts built-in markets are youthful anymore. So them pushing us is not really our saving grace. Not in 2012. Not anymore.
(For all the stupid people, Perry Farrell is the singer of Jane's Addiction and he is the figurehead and impresario behind Lollapalooza).
They can't help us anymore. They need us to be big so that they can book themselves with us so they can be on the radar again. They need us more than we need them. Even if they retire, they know that bands like ours can keep their legacy and memory alive more than the indie bands can. They know that if our shtick is cultivated and it's prosperous, they don't have to do an emo shtick to be relevant. Chris Cornell won't have to resort to do an album like "Scream" to be relevant. Bon Jovi and Pearl Jam won't have to resort to doing Pop Punk albums to be relevant. So we're pretty fucking important to their destiny and to their legacy and to the destiny of rock n roll in general. And they need us more than ever.
You think Eddie Trunk can make you famous? You think he's our saving grace? Look at the crowd of That Metal Show. Pick any episode you want. They're all old. Check out a band like ZO2. They're young and they're sexy and they're hard rock. What was their career moves? Paulie Z’s podcast had Glenn Hughes, Dee Snider, Marky Ramone and Sebastian Bach as guests. Their reality show in IFC had Dee Snider and Dave Navarro among others as well. Paul Stanley paid them to open for KISS in an entire North American tour. They did an entire North American tour with Poison as well. And ZO2 was also pushed by Eddie Trunk on Q 104.3.
Then what happened? Just take one glance at the crowd of ZO2. They're all old people. Old people that all came to see a young band. It's absurd. None of our legends and heroes can help us anymore. None of them can make us famous or relevant anymore. They don't have that influence anymore.
It's smarter to book ourselves with The Black Crowes and The Darkness than it is to book ourselves with Motley Crue. Or we can book ourselves with heritage acts that still draw youth like AC/DC or the Stooges or Michael Monroe or Aerosmith. But still, we can't really count on that.
The only way we can make ourselves relevant is if we stop waiting for an illusionary "saving grace" and we start doing it ourselves. If we start building our own industry ourselves. By the youth and for the youth. Michael Lang did Woodstock. Michael Lang was never a name with a huge built-in crowd. And he got all his crowd from scratch. Don Cornelius did Soul Train. Don Cornelius was not a name that had a huge built-in crowd. And he built an entire market for Soul music from scratch. Defying the tyranny of the outlets of his time like American Bandstand. Legs McNeil and Malcom McLaren built a whole market for punk from scratch as well. They never waited for The Who or The Kinks to come and push them.
And that's who we have to be. That's what we have to do. If we don't, then those producers and publicists are right. We're gonna have to crossover to the stagnant and worn out landscapes of Coachella and Warped Tour and appeal to them to make a living.
D: That's interesting. What do you mean by the "stagnant and worn out landscapes"? And I also want to know your thoughts and ideas about what "relevance" is too.
T: Ok so if you’re in 1981, it's an exciting thing to be in a Heavy Metal band, because you’re in the fresh stages of it. However, if it's 1991 and you’re doing Heavy Metal, it's still technically "relevant", all the infrastructures of it are set up everywhere, but the consumer attitudes towards it are fed up and bored. Therefore it is in its stagnant stages.
The consumer attitudes towards indie and let's call it "gloom rock" has been in a state of absolute resentment and boredom not only recently but ever since the mid 2000's. The festivals aren't making money off the new bands by mere booking. They had to make money through buy-ons because the new bands don't draw anymore and the consumers only show up to see a heritage act headliner.
If this was 1992, and Lollapalooza never happened, and Nirvana was never aired on MTV, then we'd still be in the further stagnant stages of Hair Metal. So this is what needs to happen. Once you showcase ANY EXCITING ALTERNATIVE against the current stagnant infrastructure, the whole of the masses will shift towards the new exciting thing. The reason the stagnant structure of gloom rock and indie is still around is because they were unchallenged for the longest time. All the bands and all the entrepreneurs and all the music activists were too chickenshit to challenge it. And they're still chickenshit to challenge it. They all think they have to give in to it and mold themselves to the kind of product they want.
I challenge the definition of relevance. I don't think relevance is the current tyranny and power of the big juggernaut infrastructures. That doesn't prove relevant for shit. Relevance is the attitudes and demand and resentments of the consumer behavior in the market. And who do the market go to see when they go to the festivals? They go see the HERITAGE ACTS. That's who they're buying tickets to see. That's where the demand is. We're talking age groups of people in their late teens and early twenties here. This is not the consumer attitude, behavior and demand of old geezers we're talking about.
Who won the band scout competition in Rolling Stone magazine? The Sheepdogs, who were deemed a "nostalgia act". Who won Motley Crue's "Make Rock History" competition? The two leading bands were The Last Vegas and The Dirty Pearls, both of whom are deemed to have a "classic rock" sound and image. The two biggest names in rock right now is The Black Keys and Jack White. Both of whom have classic rock sounds. What does that indicate?
If we define relevancy as market demand then we're more relevant and we're more in demand than any of what the tyrant infrastructures are pushing. Sure there are new generations of kids who are unexposed to better music that are gonna eat up tween packaged products like Avenged Sevenfold and Black Veil Brides and Asking Alexandria but the same backers that are pushing those tween darlings are gonna replace them with different tween darlings 3 years from now then they're gonna fade into obscurity. Just like the Jonas Brothers faded into obscurity when Bieber came in.
That's what I mean by stagnant landscapes. The best time to be a part of Ozzfest was 97 to 2002. The best time to be a part of indie rock was the mid 90's. Those times are gone now bro. Now it's too worn out. Everything is stagnant and nothing is exciting.
D: So you think the bands that you're pushing are relevant?
T: No I don't.
D: You don't?
T: There are bands who are behind the times, there are bands who are in the right time and there are bands who are ahead of their time. I think the bands that I'm pushing are ahead of their time.
And I think that the bands who are appealing to the Coachella landscape and the Warped Tour landscape are behind the times. And I think no one is in the right time. We're in a weird time. We're in a very, very weird time.
D: What do you mean that the bands that you're pushing are ahead of their time.
T: Well, the MC5, for instance, were influenced by The Troggs, and the MC5 influenced The Ramones and The Sex Pistols. And Nirvana was influenced by The Melvins. The Melvins were untimely and the Troggs were untimely and even the Mc5 were untimely. They sparked an underground market from scratch. Bands like the Ramones and Nirvana came in on a prosperous enough underground that their primordial predecessors built first. That's who we're gonna be. We're those primordial bands and activists who are gonna start that market from scratch. And I doubt that our hard work will ever see the pay off we dream of. We're only gonna pave the way for those who come after us.
D: That's heartbreaking. It doesn't sound very motivating at all.
T: Well think of it this way. If we stick to our authenticity, we're never gonna make it. If we placate and crossover to the stagnant landscapes, we're still not gonna make it. I'd rather not make it with my authenticity preserved. I'd rather help and be a part of a bright future for music. Even if I'll never live young enough to be the star of that bright future.
In the internet piracy age and the media consolidation age markets take much more time to develop. Look at dubstep, it started in 95 and it only broke into mainstream last year. That's more than 15 YEARS of building a market. That's how long it's gonna take to build an alternative market from scratch.
Grunge's primordial phases started in the early 80's in Seattle. It didn't break in the early 80's. It broke at least after 8 years. And that's before internet piracy. And the primordial bands that started it never broke into mainstream. Because they were ahead of their time. That's who we're gonna be.
With the current industry conditions, at best, we can only hope to be as big as The Darkness. But how long did it take for them to to get where they are now? 10 years maybe? Shit look at Kings of Leon and Florence and The Machine. Those are bands that have an outlet and it took them close to 10 years to break too.
It's possible for us to have a faster pay off. We just need the investors to come sooner. We need the band roster to fill up quicker (and stay authentic and not crossover), and the activists and impresarios to increase in numbers and spread around everywhere and network faster. Then our cultivating of our alternative market will be prosperous much faster.
And really, this is the main battlecry of this whole interview.
D: Yeah but I don't think we're the same case because we're not doing anything that new. We're mostly nostalgia acts and throwback acts.
T: The Punks were accused as throwbacks to greasers, rockers and mods. The metal bands were accused as throwbacks to arena rock acts like Zeppelin and Purple. And the Seattle bands were accused as throwbacks to punk. The same is happening to us. Everything great starts out as a throwback then they organically evolve into terra incognita and to the unknown later. You just have to leave it alone and let it develop with the impulses of it's own authenticity organically and naturally. We are gonna be a new breakthrough in music and culture. It's gonna happen. You just need someone to tell the bands to stick to their authenticity and not be tempted to crossover to the tyranny of the outlets. You just need to keep them authentic instead of letting them kill their own potential by letting them placate to the current stagnant infrastructure. And that's where I come in. Every new wave of music starts out by defying the thing that everyone's fed up with by going back to the thing that everyone misses. Then they'll organically and naturally have their own spin on the thing that everyone misses and, consequently, become something fresh. That's how music evolves.
D: So you're pushing breakthrough artists?
T: I'm pushing madness. Whether it achieves a breakthrough or not. For instance I wouldn't give two fucks about a band like Fugazi. Are they experimental? Did they achieve a breakthrough? Maybe. But they're not charming and they're not glamorous and they're not sexy and they're not larger than life and they're not party spirited and they're too serious. There's nothing about them that has anything to do with the spirit that I'm trying to campaign in pop culture so I don't care if they achieve a breakthrough or not. I still don't want anything to do with them.
I only care about bands that achieve a breakthrough in charming character, party spirit, spectacle, sense of humor, glamor ... etc. I want bands to have their own spin on THAT. Their own breakthrough on THAT.
D: Doesn't that leave you vulnerable to accusations that you’re advocating shallowness and pretentiousness?
T: No I'm not advocating shallowness and pretentiousness I'm just against seriousness and blandness and boredom. I love a meaningful and enlightening and profound message but I want that profound message to CAPTIVATE me not bore me. If you look at the values that I'm campaigning in the beginning of this interview I included "intellectualism" and "soul".
And this is a problem I have with a lot of people in our scene that worship Motley Crue too much. Listen, I'm not discounting Motley Crue's merit. I think they accomplished a great cultural significance with strip clubs. And I love listening to Crue after my 3rd tequila shot with a stripper's fake tits on my face. They're great. But I don't think they should be the grand idol that we should all model ourselves after. There's nothing more to them than that.
My favorite band is Deep Purple, but just because they're my favorite band doesn't make it ok for me to quote them as the example that we should all model ourselves after. Deep Purple never had any sociological resonance with anything. Their resonance was merely with virtuosos in the musician community, they were only quoted a lot amongst that group of people.
You know who's a great example that I think we should all model ourselves after? David Bowie. And I barely ever listen to Bowie. If you look at my iTunes records you'll find that my play count on fuckin' Gangam Style is more than all the play count on all the Bowie songs that I have combined. But I'd still quote him as a model and example for us more than anybody else. Because he's a MASTER in cultural significance in EVERYTHING. He restores both respect and spectacle. With all the spectacle and glamor that Bowie had, can you accuse him that he's an airhead? Can you accuse him that he's shallow?
D: I see your point.
T: I also wanna clear something else up. Hendrix and The Rolling Stones and a lot of other bands didn't stop at writing party songs. They didn't stop at writing socially conscious songs. They didn't stop at writing sad consoling songs. Their catalog had all of it. That's why they're closer to universal appeal than many other bands. But Hendrix and The Stones and The Beatles and The Who and Zeppelin who, yes, despite having sad songs and serious songs, all branded themselves GLAMOROUSLY and gave the landscape of pop culture a sense of BEAUTY and WONDERMENT. They were never bland. I'm not against profundity and soul. I'm just against blandness and boredom.
D: What do you think of acts like Lana Del Rey and such? Don't you think they're achieving the glamor and merit you're talking about?
T: I think Lana Del Rey is great. I like Florence and The Machine, I like the Gorrilaz, I like Basement Jaxx, I like Jamiroquai, I like Amy Winehouse, I like Adele, I even like the debut album of the Black Eyed Peas. I hate Kesha, I hate Rihanna, I hate Akon, I hate Lil Wayne and I hate Katy Perry. I love her firework tits but I hate her songs. Same goes for Lady Gaga, I love her shock antics and glamor and I love her activism and I love how she helps other bands but I hate her songs. Maybe Gaga should learn a thing or two from Lana Del Rey.
There's good and bad in every genre but I don't have anything against the genre of pop in general. Or any other genre for that matter. I just hate mediocrity, in every genre. Including mine.
And yes, they are achieving the glamor and I salute them. I just think it's unfair to only allow certain artists in the radars of pop culture only if they're in certain genres and make it super hard to allow others just because they're affiliated with rock n roll. My activism is geared to remedy that unfairness.
D: Ok this is what I wanna know the most. Why are you doing all of this?
T: Well I'll tell you right now, the answer is not really noble and altruistic. It's actually extremely selfish.
D: Hit me.
T: It's because I wanna make a living with my band.
D: You have a band?
T: I used to.
D: I'm confused, so why are you still doing this?
T: Ok here it goes, the reason I moved to America was because I couldn't make it back home. And right now I'm just waiting for my writing partner and guitar player to move here too.
D: The reason you "moved to America"?
T: Yeah I'm not from here.
D: So where are you from?
T: The middle east. And I can't mention the specific country on the record otherwise I'll get sentenced to capital punishment for satan worshipping.
D: You can't be serious.
T: No I ain't kidding, I moved here because I was almost sentenced to capital punishment under accusations of Satan Worshiping. Just because of the way I look and because I attended a secret underground metal event in my hometown. The cops didn't catch me so luckily I wasn't busted. So me and my guitar player Sef decided to move to Dubai. Of course over there we couldn't do a show unless we ran our material through the Ministry of Culture first. They wanted to see if they needed to censor anything "indecent". Since all our songs were about sex we never played a show. So we decided to move to America. I afforded to move here and I'm still waiting for him to afford to come here too. Then we can finally play a goddam show.
D: You were in a band all these years and you were never allowed to play a single show?
T: Not a single show.
T: And it goes back to the Lana Del Rey question you asked me. I actually don't really give a shit about Lana Del Rey. I'm just doing this so I can make a living with my shtick and so that I can pursue my dream on my terms. And the only way for me to do that is for me to establish an entire industry and an entire market rigged to my advantage. That's the real reason I'm doing this. I don't wanna change my shtick for the sake of Ozzfest or Brooklyn Vegan or any other outlet. They can all go fuck themselves.
And I'm not really using the other bands or the other promoters. We're all using each other. We're all helping each other. It's symbiotic, not parasitic. We can all decide to refuse each other's help and tour by ourselves to futile results playing shows to just the bartenders and sound guys across the country or we can bring our draws and expose them to each other's draws and put ourselves on the same bills in the same events as a grassroots movement all around the world. It's your call. Join or die.
You should all be promoters and bloggers in your own hometowns too because that'll cultivate a fanbase for your own band much faster than just playing shows and announcing them on twitter. It's your call.
Or you can still keep waiting for Nikki Sixx to discover you and book you in Crue Fest. Because of course, that's a MUCH BETTER plan. That'll TOTALLY happen. Or you can just entirely kill the thing that you love playing and you love performing by "crossing over" to appeal to Ozzfest or Coachella or Bamboozle. These are your options. I wanna defy everyone and march forward with a middle finger raised high and live and express myself on my terms. You can do whatever the hell you want.
D: Well that was honest.
T: That's another thing that's lacking: honesty. You know who my heroes are? Trey Parker and Matt Stone. For all the stupid people, Trey and Matt are the guys that created South Park. Trey and Matt are guys that managed to be extremely relevant by BASHING every lame thing that's put in their faces in our times. They just reacted honestly. You don't have to like Jersey Shore to be relevant. You can be relevant by tearing Jersey Shore to shreds. Just like Matt and Trey did in an episode of South Park. Look at how Slim Shady became relevant. He didn't have to like Britney and Christina Aguilera to be relevant, he made a video where he tore both of them to shreds.
What happened after that? They became the voice of a generation. They resonated with everybody. It just breaks my heart that they have the balls to react honestly to things going on in the times and we don't. We're too chickenshit to be honest. We resort to saying some bullshit like: "I actually like Nickelback! I genuinely do! That's why I'm relevant!"
As much of a parody act as Steel Panther is, and as much as I think they suck, how did they blow up so fast? Their video, "Death To All But Metal" went viral just as fast as Gangam Style. What's the opening lines of that song? "Fuck the Goo Goo dolls, they can suck my balls". It resonated with EVERYBODY. Voice of a generation.
That's another thing that our bands don't have the balls to do. Honesty. Their desperation for an illusionary fast pay off for fame and fortune conditions them to turn into phony pussies. All because they don't want to "jeopardize" their business opportunities.
D: Is this the spirit that you're trying to breathe into pop culture?
T: Absolutely. If you wanna live, if you want your own happiness, you can't be a pussy in the face of tyranny. There are degrees to this. There are people who defy death, there are people who defy jail, there are people who defy trouble. There are people who defy getting fired. There are degrees. Howard Stern defied everything his bosses told him. Look where he is now. Orson Welles defied everything the studios told him, look at his legacy now. Do you know that there was a time in Great Britain when rock n roll was illegal because it was "indecent"? A bunch of dudes famously known as "Pirate Radio" sailed in the middle of nowhere in the ocean just to broadcast rock n roll on the radio. Talk about defying death.
Our scene's very own Sam Valentine, you know what he did? A bunch of girls were getting really rowdy and they flashed their tits. The staff of the venue fucked with him about it and pushed him around, you know what he did? He stood up for his crowd and he punched the guy in the face. Talk about defying trouble. I fucking love Sam for that.
The Towers of London boys, they always get harassed on the streets of London because of the way they dress, whenever anyone fucks with them about it they just simply walk up to them and kick their asses. Talk about defiance.
Those are all guys that defy trouble and defy the tyranny of anything. I'm defying capital punishment and deportation and persecution just because I wanna rock, and you're nagging that your payoff of fame and fortune didn't prosper in your second year in? You’re nagging that Revolver or Pitchfork are too powerful so you’re just gonna give in to what they want? Where the hell is your defiance?
You know what the spirit of rock n roll is? A buddy of mine, Scarlet O'Hara, came to L.A. from Winnipeg just because he felt like going to Compton and hanging out with a bunch of Bloods and Crips (I'm not sure which gang lives in Compton). An he DID! He took pictures of it on his iPhone with a smile on his face. I don't know how the hell he didn't get his scrawny white ass shot. That's the spirit of rock n roll.
You know what the spirit of rock n roll is? My buddy Joey Friedman hit me up one day so we can seduce cougars who were opening up their houses in the Hollywood Hills so that they can sell it. And we go there, completely broke, acting like we're gonna buy these gigantic mansions. Joey looks at the rich cougar straight in the face with his aviators on and asks: "What's over there?". She goes: "The attic". Then he says: "Is that where you keep the gimp?". Then he SMIRKS! That's the spirit of rock n roll!!
You know what I wanna do? I wanna rent a helicopter, I wanna fly on top of the Manhattan skyline at night with my sharpest rock star clothes, I wanna unzip my pants and have my dick sucked by a gorgeous Eastern European chick. And she has to be an ex-nun. Then I wanna shoot my load all over the manhattan skyline. How's that for "making it rain"? THAT'S the spirit of rock n roll. It's both death and life at the same time. It's fucking poetic.
That's what I wanna breathe into the landscape of pop culture. Not vampires, not health tips. Madness. Life.
You know what my buddy Blitch told me? He said: "It's a funny thing, taking risks. If you succeed at it you're a hero but if you fail at it you're a fool.” Well I'm not afraid of being a fool. I understand if people don't wanna defy death. I understand if they don't wanna defy jail or trouble or losing their job. But you've gotta be the biggest pussy on the planet if you're afraid of defying the fear of being a fool. If you're afraid of defying the fear of being embarrassed.
If you tell a joke in front of strangers you might bomb and come off as an embarrassment or you might kill and make them laugh. If you take a pass on a girl you might bomb and come off like a creep or you might charm her and win her over. If you wear something flamboyant some people are gonna say you look great and some people are gonna say you look ridiculous. And worst of all, most people are afraid of having the honesty to say what they really think about everything because of what people are gonna think about them. I say just defy everything and do it anyway. Don't be afraid to be embarrassed, don't be afraid to live. Fear of embarrassment is the very thing that made our entire landscape bland and boring. It's because everybody is afraid at bombing when they attempt to captivate others.
I get rejected at least 37 times a night by all the girls I hit on. Then I catch my little rabbit eventually. And here's the funny part, the girl that I get is usually the same girl that rejected me two weeks ago. I'm the guy that everyone is weirded out by when they experience me at first. Then when I'm absent everybody starts to miss me because nobody has the balls to be as crazy as I am. They all get bored with each other and they want me back so I can captivate them again. I once had a girl that acted all annoyed by me in front of her friends then when they all started walking away she crept her hand in real quick to grab my hand and squeezed it before she left. The SAME GIRL that acted like she was annoyed by me. I was persona non grata in my own school and the class clown that nobody wanted to associate themselves with but on the weekend they'd all hit me up and hang out with me in secret. It's absurd.
People all love being spectators of madness, and they secretly wanna be mad themselves but they don't have the balls to do it. They'll bash and talk shit about reality shows yet they're all still addicted to watching it. It's because our lives are so boring and we're just begging for something to shake things up. I'm the guy that's gonna shake things up. The name of my band is Qlown. And I'm Trip Loon. And I defy embarrassment and I'm not afraid to be a fool.
My gut tells me that all the bands I'm gonna count on are gonna get desperate at some point and crossover. Completely fucking up our entire operation to build our own market. Either that or they're gonna break up in -at most- their third year in. If they're not gonna sell out for money they're gonna sell out for pussy. And the Rainbow in L.A. and St. Jerome's in New York City are gonna eventually turn into McDonalds. I'm not optimistic at all about any of this. I know that I'll never be mentioned in the history books of rock n roll. Neither the legacy of my band (if we ever actually make it to play one single show) nor the legacy of my character will ever make it. I think all of this is futile and we're doomed and we're never gonna make it. And I'm probably gonna end up getting deported and executed for satan worshipping.
But here's my message to keep everyone's morale up:
Let's just be fools. Let's defy. Let's just try this anyway and see what happens.
D: Great, plug my party.
T: Yeah come to Rumors tomorrow/Tuesday at Hotel Chantelle, my homecoming, I miss you.