Posts in For The Love Of Music
[RANT] Cancel Culture & Community Accountability: Inaction Isn't An Option, Band Dudes
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I have to talk about this shit with Morrissey because a band I have invested a lot of time and invested a ton both emotional and financial energy into is now involved with this.

For folks catching up at home, Morrissey has publicly outed himself as, well…..a fucking racist. If you’re publicly rocking swag from a far-right organization in the UK that was founded by an anti-Islam activist not just once on national TV but actually multiple times at shows and are quoted saying things like (and I kid you the fuck not), “I don’t think the word ‘racist’ has any meaning any more, other than to say ‘you don’t agree with me, so you’re a racist.’ People can be utterly, utterly stupid.”, either you’re a fucking racist, or, as you yourself would say….are utterly, utterly stupid.

This stuff has been swirling for a minute that dude was problematic af, but has really come to a head shortly after it was announced that aforementioned band I’ve invested a lot of energy into, Interpol, was heading out on tour with this racist turd of a human in the US. Yesterday, Pitchfork pointed out a little ditty in which Hot Press very directly asked Paulie Banks what his thoughts were on the reactions from folks who weren’t pleased that they agreed to hit the road with someone who’s trending at the moment because he’s a bigot. Dude’s response?

"We thought it would be a good show for our band. That's how I'm looking at it. I don't get too much into the other stuff."

My guy, are you for real?

You live in New York fucking City, one of the most famous if not actually the most famous cultural melting pots, full of immigrants and people that your headliner has very strong and troubling opinions on, and you’re just gonna white privilege your way through this shit and cash your checks without a second thought? I expected way more than this from you.

To muddle this even more, Nick Cave decided to chime in on the subject via a response to a fan-submitted letter about separating the art from the artist, essentially saying that Morrissey’s political views are “irrelevant” to him as a musician.

…….uggghhhhh

Just so we’re clear, that’s the tl;dr version of what he said. He definitely stated very bluntly that Morrissey’s views were hella problematic af and even encourages fans to try and reason with Moz, but his whole thing is he believes it’s a disservice to oneself as a fan to deprive yourself of art you’ve become invested in just because they suck. His whole rationale is that once a song is in the wild that essentially there’s an immediate disassociation of art from artist. Here’s his direct quote:

“I think perhaps it would be helpful to you if you saw the proprietorship of a song in a different way. Personally, when I write a song and release it to the public, I feel it stops being my song. It has been offered up to my audience and they, if they care to, take possession of that song and become its custodian. The integrity of the song now rests not with the artist, but with the listener.”

While this is certainly an earnest argument,  imma have to call bullshit on this, or at the very least kind of point out how many holes there are in this argument.

Before I go off, I’m just going to give Nick Cave the benefit of not knowing what it’s like to *solely* be a music fan. I certainly respect his perspective and am grateful to hear the thought process behind his artistic expression. Unfortunately, I feel like when your self-determined role in the symbiotic relationship that is fandom is mostly to receive, react, support, and provide feedback, that disassociating is basically next to impossible.

This line of thinking he’s trying to semi-sell through here says that when I went to see Interpol for the 7th time at Madison Square Garden and bought a tank top dress and an enamel pin that I was there giving my money directly to “PDA”, “Not Even Jail”, “Cmere”, or “The Heinrich Maneuver”.

Nope. Not even close.

Fans operate under the notion that in order for more of the notes and words mixed together that makes their heart happy, that they have to feed, clothe, encourage, etc. the human persons who contribute to that art, which is why we are told to support artists by buying albums/merch, to attend their shows, and so on. I did not walk into Madison Square Garden to be in the presence of sounds I love that have a lot of meaning behind them. Music isn't something we all simply appreciate on our own in private. Music is literally everywhere all day every day. It's so embedded deeply in our culture that while Netflix can somehow get away with taking ‘The Office’ away on Netflix, if a popular album were to be pulled indefinitely the general public would have an even bigger meltdown before probably running off to pirate said album because we can’t live without it. Within the cult of celebrity we looove to love a rockstar, all the way to we collectively mourn them when they pass away. Music festivals are now the hottest events of the summer.

Speaking of festivals, live performances specifically are all about human connection. The experience of seeing the persons who made the art you like recreate it directly in front of you. We take for granted the amount of skill that is needed for these kinds performances. On top of that you’re in a room full of people who connected to the same thing as you, so it’s fair to assume that you have common interests with all of these future friends (also read: strangers).

It’s important to also consider that fans default at the assumption that when they’re at shows that they will be safe when they’re there. While recent gun related events make that assumption waver a bit, people go into a show with the understanding that that everyone will be remotely pleasant, accepting, and welcoming. If someone at the show sucks, well…..

….do you see where I’m going with this?

When someone comes in and spoils the fun at a show, what happens? They (hopefully) get ejected (hopefully) immediately.

It’s really hard to keep enjoying something when the experience has been tainted for you, especially when the person who wrecked it for you happens to be center stage. I still think about the dude who flailed around in front of me when I saw Alt-J at Mercury Lounge or the guy who groped a close friend at Fidlar. It’s really unfortunate that those experiences stick out very distinctly with those events because I wasn’t allowed to simply get lost in the art like I wanted to.

It’s certainly a lovely notion to try and pretend like the possibility of Morrissey attempting to not to sway people to his beliefs, but just like fans of music proudly wear band swag often in hopes of finding fellow fans, fans are also advertising and evangelizing with their merch, too. Ol’ Moz coulda been racist and kept his trap shut leaving fans none the wiser about his beliefs so they could continue to idolize and support him, but obviously he’s hoping that his recent behavior has a specific reaction and it’s not exactly the one I’m having right now. It’s pretty clear that he’s trying to elicit and enlist support for his troublesome beliefs, and honestly that might as well be a dude dumping beer on your head during your favorite song every fucking time it comes on.

So no, I’m sorry Mr. Cave (we’re not close enough yet for me to call you Nick), but it’s a little impossible to separate the art from the artist and their problematic behavior. Ain’t gonna happen. The part that the community has control over, on the other hand, is how we choose to use this kind of information to make educated decisions. In the same way that most fans these days know that if you buy albums directly from the band vs at a store or by streaming that the bands get more money and are then given the option to decide how they want to support, we get to look at Morrissey tightly bound to his bigotry right now, and decide if he deserves our attention anymore. We get to ponder whether or not we think it’s distasteful that Paul Banks doesn’t think it’s that big of a deal to earn money off an outspoken racist and not at the very least try to have the guts to speak directly to whether or not they share the same beliefs. In the face of discriminating against the marginalized, silence can literally be deadly.

Cave closes the fan letter with, “We should thank God that there are some among us that create works of beauty beyond anything most of us can barely imagine, even as some of those same people fall prey to regressive and dangerous belief systems.” Call-out/cancel culture in its current state doesn’t exactly have a universally agreed upon roadmap for what happens next when it becomes public knowledge that someone among us is being hateful or harmful with no intent to stop any time soon. We especially don’t know how to effectively handle the people who idly stood by and didn’t do anything to stop or prevent them from acting maliciously.

Swiftly smacking down on the cancel button could be really easy here. I mean I’ve never exactly been huge on The Smiths or Morrissey, but in his current state of personal growth I can’t consider stepping within even a mile radius of that kind of toxicity. There’s always a chance that he could come around, but at this point given his track record….not gonna hold my breath on that one.

With regards the other two who have a lot more eyes on them than I probably ever will, I really hope that Paulie Banks takes time to reflect on the amount impact he has on his fans. If I still have the occasional residual panicky moment from that time Interpol got trapped inside their tour bus in a blizzard, unfortunately this current missed opportunity to take a stand against discrimination is gonna be part of my Interpol fandom history as well. I hope the next page with them is that they take advantage of the platform that they have and take a stand against discrimination. There are ways to tour with a bigot and still take a stand. They can speak directly against their headliner’s beliefs, they can donate a portion of their merch to combat Islamophobia, or they can do something even more creative and unique to who they are that I haven’t thought of yet but would probably love them all the more for choosing to respond in that way. For now, no button smashing, but the button is definitely not being put away just yet.

As for Mr. Cave, while I appreciate his thoughtful follow up response to his fan’s question, I hope he comes to realize through this experience how deeply he is loved as person by learning that his fans can’t possibly love his music without involving him in that lovefest. I hope that message is relayed so loudly to him that the love-filled lesson stays with him forever.

To fellow concerned fans, you have your tweets, your likes, your comments, your attendance, your dollars, and all sorts of other methods to respond to this. If you’re feeling guilty about being in the mood for some Moz, you can offset his intent to spread harmful beliefs by donating to a charity that combats Islamophobia and even opt to donate on his behalf. You definitely should let him know that you don’t share his beliefs and that he should consider the root of why he holds them. How you choose to approach your feedback to Nick Cave and Interpol are up to you, but I definitely urge you to not stay silent or cancel them and then check out.

The only way that our community stays safe and inclusive is if we hold each other accountable.

[SONG OF THE DAY] Tycho - "Japan"
photo credit: Scott Hansen

photo credit: Scott Hansen

San Francisco soundscape crafters Tycho have returned with a new track, “Japan”, from their forthcoming album WEATHER, out on July 12th. "I had just returned from spending some time in Hakone, Japan with my wife's Japanese relatives," shares project brainchild Scott Hansen. "I was thinking a lot about the kinds of electronic music instruments I had been using when I first started making music in the late '90s. With 'Japan,' I was trying to recapture a part of that sound and combine it with the imagery and experiences from my trip to Hakone. I sent the song to Hannah with nothing more than the title of 'Japan' and she wrote all of the lyrics." As with the recent string of singles they’ve released from this album cycle, the band has offered a 2-pack, which includes the album version and an accompanying instrumental.

Speaking of said instrumental, I wanna talk about how frustrating it was to watch a large portion of the Tycho fandom essentially have a total fucking meltdown about the addition of angelic vocalist Saint Sinner to the mix. As previously mentioned, Hansen has shared how he’s really excited about incorporating the most “organic instrument” on the planet into the Tycho soundscape. I even admitted it was gonna take me a second to get used to the idea. That all said, as someone who lives to watch bands evolve and challenge themselves to push beyond any self or fan-made boundaries, to say I’m disappointed that some folks can’t see the opportunity the band is giving us to reflect on how truly powerful either type of performance is would be an understatement. Hansen is quick to detail the amount of thought that goes into each version, "I wanted to explore the idea of approaching songs from two entirely different perspectives,” he explains, “Similar to 'Pink & Blue,' the instrumental versions are not just the songs with vocals muted, they are different arrangements with different instrumentation and melodies in place of the vocals."

Even before skimming the press release to do this post, just this morning (almost a full month since the “Pink & Blue” writeup mind you) I found myself lost in thought while listening to both versions of “Japan”. I couldn’t help but reflect on how fascinating it is to watch this band begin to be able to articulate into words certain things that maybe their music hadn’t been able to previously. Maybe prior to now Tycho music was akin to those in religious settings who speak in tongues, not sure the exact or best way to fully express themselves, but deep down the sound does enough to speak for itself.

It’s certainly a concept that is worth taking some time to sit with, if only to deepen your appreciation for the band. I hope that those who were upset come around. Personally it just makes me love this band all the more knowing that they’re the ultra meticulous musicians I’ve grown to appreciate them to be busily fretting over every painstaking detail every step of the way with this release.

PS - have you pre-ordered Weather yet? Do you have your tickets for their extensive af world tour coming up? If not, get on that shit, fam!

TYCHO

"WEATHER WORLD TOUR"

2019

JULY

21 - Byron Bay, Australia - Splendour In The Grass *

23 - Melbourne, Australia - Forum Melbourne

24 - Sydney, Australia - Sydney Opera House

26 - Niigata Prefecture, Japan - Fuji Rock Festival '19 *

SEPTEMBER

5 - Los Angeles, CA - Greek Theatre **

6 - Berkeley, CA - Greek Theatre #

7 - Portland, OR - Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall #

8 - Seattle, WA - Paramount Theatre #

11 - Denver, CO - The Mission Ballroom #

13 - Minneapolis, MN - Palace Theatre #

15 - Chicago, IL - Aragon Ballroom #

16 - Toronto, ON - Sony Centre for the Performing Arts #

18 - Boston, MA - Wang Theatre - Boch Center #

19 - New York, NY - Summerstage #

20 - Philadelphia, PA - Franklin Music Hall #

21 - Slippery Rock, PA - Resonance Music & Arts Festival *

23 - Detroit, MI - The Masonic #

24 - Columbus, OH - Express Live #

26 - St Louis, MO - The Pageant #

27 - Kansas City, MO - CrossroadsKC #

2020

FEBRUARY

9 - Oslo, Norway - Rockefeller #

10 - Stockholm, Sweden - Vasteatern #

11 - Copenhagen, Denmark - Vega Main Hall #

13 - Hamburg, Germany - Uebel & Gefahrlich #

14 - Cologne, Germany - Live Music Hall #

15 - Paris, France - Elyse Montmartre #

17 - Brussels, Belgium - AB Ballroom @ Ancienne Belgique #

18 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - Paradiso #

19 - Berlin, Germany - Huxley's #

21 - Warsaw, Poland - Praga Centrum #

23 - Prague, Czech Republic - Roxy #

24 - Budapest, Hungary - Akvarium #

25 - Vienna, Austria - WUK #

27 - Milan, Italy - Fabrique #

28 - Bologna, Italy - Estragon #

MARCH

1 - Barcelona, Spain - Sala Apolo #

5 - London, UK - Printworks #

* Festival Performance

** Chrome Sparks

# Poolside

[RANT] Please Stop Downgrading Women’s Fandom To Romantic Adoration
See this man? I love his music and therefore love and support him in every way I can. That doesn’t mean I want to have sex with him. I can’t believe I have to even say this. 🤦🏼‍♀️

See this man? I love his music and therefore love and support him in every way I can. That doesn’t mean I want to have sex with him. I can’t believe I have to even say this. 🤦🏼‍♀️

Over the weekend, news broke that seven time Grammy winner and one of the most important artists in my life, Beck, had filed for divorce from his wife of 17 years.

Less than a week prior, the world saw him snag 2 of said Grammys at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards show. Earlier in the week I had been discussing with fellow Beck superfans how great it must feel to finally be seeing the amount of success and recognition for his art that we all thought he should’ve had for basically decades now. In my mind, Beck had to be super happy, therefore I was super happy for him.

Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

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I don’t know why they’re getting divorced and frankly I don’t care because it’s none of my business.

What I do care about, is that I couldn’t have a moment of empathy for someone who means a lot to me without having to be on the defensive for my level of fandom and feeling the need to tweet something like this when the news broke:

The quick “cute” comments I’ve received from people I either barely know or are relatively close to have been all something to the effect of, “Get in there, girl!”, “You’re in”, “Where’s my wedding invite?”, and my new favorite from today where someone suggested that the reason I finally changed my profile picture across the internet after 10 years is because I “didn’t want Beck to get the wrong idea now that he’s getting a divorce”.

Yes, I celebrate the man’s birthday like it’s a friend’s birthday. Yes, I was the person who claimed /r/Beck from becoming a portal for Glenn Beck on Reddit. Yes, I occasionally sit in private Facebook groups analyzing his Instagram posts. Yes, I have a stockpile of bootlegs. Yes, I’ve seen him perform live over a dozen times. Yes, I will most likely mourn his inevitable death to the same level I have for friends and family (perhaps more tbh).

Yes, I am a superfan to the extent that people in my life think of me when his music comes on.

….so why the HELL does that equate to me wanting to essentially just fuck the man?

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Let me do my best to explain to what happens in my brain simultaneously when people make comments like this to me.

On a top level:

  • I’m immediately downgraded from a full human being to a female sex object. Am I really just on the planet to be sexualized and fuck a lot? NO.

  • I’m frustrated that my career in the music business isn’t where I hoped it would be at my age and a lot of that has to do with not getting afforded the same chances men get in music thanks to sexism.

  • I relive dodging gropey men at music industry winter holiday parties.

  • I remember how many times I’ve had to shrink my level of interest talking about music at label jobs because I didn’t want to get dismissed as a “groupie”.

  • Speaking of that triggering ass word, I remember how many times I’ve had someone say. “Oh so are you like a groupie for them or something?” When I spoke passionately about a band that had men in it.

  • I remember the time I had to tell a band whose label brought me out to meet them for potential coverage that seemed uncomfortable to my general friendly demeanor, “I don’t wanna suck your dick. I just want to help you get famous” and how their mood changed immediately.

  • I remember the time I co-hosted a CMJ showcase with The Audio Perv and all the other music blogger dudes who showed up thought I was someone’s girlfriend instead of the person who bought this domain, built the site, solicited pitches from publicists, etc. etc.

  • I get angry on behalf of the women in music who have had it much worse than I have.

  • Most importantly my capacity for love is immediately confined. Not just my capacity for love, but for every woman who loves music.

That’s really depressing if you think about it and that’s just me as a HUMAN PERSON!!! As a woman who has to choose every day to interact with male musicians, there is so much of my head space that I occupy with trying to overcome the above as I write reviews, leave meaningful comments on artists social posts, and just generally try to be the person I know I am. Imagine if I could just like….spend all my brain power seeking and reporting on Turkish goth bands carving out a space in the Turkish music scene, the badass house DJ who helped pioneer the first music production course at a Girls Rock Camp, or any of the other artists out there that could end up being the thing that YOU get as hopelessly devoted to as I am to Beck.

I wanna talk about that, too. Since I’ve addressed above the way my capacity for love gets shrunken to whatever box people think my fandom should fit in. When my fandom gets discounted as something silly or seen as anything other than just, well, fandom, it dismisses:

  • The degree of loyalty that I am capable of.

  • The fact that I’m not sure if I’d be where I am today writing this very thing without Midnite Vultures because that record gave me the permission to be as different or weird as I wanted to be.

  • The transformative power music has over me and my desire to share that with others.

  • The money I’ve invested in something I believed in.

  • The love-centered the community I have to turn to for more than just Beck’s music.

  • The ways his music informed details in my methods of self-expression.

….and a ton of other things that I can easily identify has deeply rooted bits that factor into my identity. Whether we want to admit to it or not, music shapes all of us to some varying degree. Just because I express my gratitude for that by providing as much support as I am able to should not make me less of a person. I’d say it’s the opposite, honestly.

So please. For the love of the song that makes you feel things the most, just let me love whatever music I want to, however hard I want to, without your preconceived ideas of how you think loving art works or any assumptions rooted in patriarchal garbage nonsense.

[Interview] Goo Goo Dolls Bassist Robby Takac: "Life's Good In The Bubble, Man"
Robby Takac @ Beacon Theatre 10/15/2018. Photo credit: Angela Cranford/MSG Photos

Robby Takac @ Beacon Theatre 10/15/2018. Photo credit: Angela Cranford/MSG Photos

After speaking with Goo Goo Dolls bassist Robby Takac the Friday before their show at Beacon Theater as part of their 20th Anniversary Dizzy Up The Girl Tour, I can confirm that he is indeed Some Kind of Awesome. The music community, not just Goo Goo Dolls, are truly beyond blessed to have someone so passionate about music the way that he is. In addition to his rhythmic duties in a band whose career spans across more than three decades, he's also been running the music non-profit Music Is Art and the boutique record label Good Charamel Records for over 15 years in addition to owning the recording studio GCR Audio in his hometown of Buffalo, New York. "You know, owning a recording studio is very akin to owning a boat," Takac jokes over the phone last Friday, "You do it because you enjoy it. It's not necessarily a cash cow, that's for sure."

Some people would find keeping themselves so busy to be exhausting, especially given the extensive amount of touring that Goo Goo Dolls do (including the tour they’re currently on), but it actually has the opposite sort of effect on Takac. "All these things, Music Is Art included," he explains, "helps to exercise parts of my brain, my emotions, my creativity, that probably might have driven me crazy to not be able to exercise." 

He went on to detail the beginnings of the Goo Goo Dolls from a business standpoint, " We did everything, you know, Johnny [Rzeznik] and I did 30 years ago. Everything. We had this hilarious briefcase that we used to carry around with us like all our papers, and it was pretty much our whole world was in that briefcase." As the band became more popular obviously the briefcase became an inefficient form of handling the band's business."Little by little we let started letting go of parts," he recounted, "It took many many years, but since then we found people who did it better (...) and all these people took a little piece of what we did in the beginning and started doing a much better job of it, but that didn't mean that those things weren't still inside me, you know, clamoring to be exercised, and so I think that that's why I still keep up with all of this stuff. Because it allows me to be better at being in the Goo Goo Dolls if that makes sense at all."

Of his three side passions, Music Is Art is by far his biggest focus outside of the Goo Goo Dolls. The most admirable part about his approach to the non-profit is his acknowledgement for the need for art/music comes from personal experience. As he shared:

"(...) There are some people (and I was one of them) whose lives could not be shaped correctly if they weren't exposed to these things because that's just where your mind operates. Their minds don't operate in the classroom all that well. You know, they're not debate team folks. They're not gonna star on the college basketball team or even be able to dribble a ball for that matter, you know? BUT, you put a paint brush or a guitar in their hand and they realize that they can move on. So they have that. I think if you rob young people of that then you're really doing an unbelievable disservice to a huge amount of kids out there." 

"(...) There are some people (and I was one of them) whose lives could not be shaped correctly if they weren't exposed to these things because that's just where your mind operates. Their minds don't operate in the classroom all that well. You know, they're not debate team folks. They're not gonna star on the college basketball team or even be able to dribble a ball for that matter, you know? BUT, you put a paint brush or a guitar in their hand and they realize that they can move on. So they have that. I think if you rob young people of that then you're really doing an unbelievable disservice to a huge amount of kids out there." 

To be clear, Music Is Art does incredible things for the music community. In addition to its yearly cornerstone event, the Music Is Art festival, which boasted 20 stages this year, they also organize a variety of battles of the bands both in corporate and public settings. Most importantly, they've been doing instrument drives and to date have donated a half of a million dollars worth of both new and refurbished instruments to schools and communities in the Maryvale School District in Buffalo, New York. While the organization never has an issue with finding volunteers from both musicians and the general public, even with it's rockstar affiliation they share the same struggles that arts-centered not for profits have when it comes to funding. "The hard part is actually keeping it going, you know," he admitted, "and all the realities that you have to face when you go to a lawyer or an accountant. As the festival grows bigger it becomes more and more of a responsibility."

It's not often that I get to speak with someone who has been in the business of music for as long as Takac has, so obviously the conversation drifted to technology. Like any music lover who was  actively collecting music pre-iPod, living in this new era of streaming services is the biggest change in music that has him buzzing with excitement. "(...)Coming from a guy who collected records when I was younger like that is MIND BLOWING man.(...)If you and I are talking about something I could play it for you right now just on my phone. That is MIND BLOWING. Seriously." 

He also had nice things to say about our friend The Algorithm™. He even shared that Discover Weekly had gotten him into The Heavy and Beach Slang recently. He raved, "(...) The ability for Spotify to build algorithms and like expose you to things that it's discovering that you might like, I think that's unbelievable." A kindred spirit, he too has mixed feelings about how algorithms like Discover Weekly are lessening the emotional connection that is made between people when they share music with each other. "(...)It's a little bit sad because I used to have those same experiences but I would have it with my friend Gary Sperrazza down at Apollo Records in Buffalo, or I would have it down at The Record Mine with my friend Dave, you know? It's sad that human interaction is taken from it, but I think the resources that are at hand with music is just unbelievable." 

Another big difference is obviously the way social media has shaken up the music landscape. To an extent Goo Goo Dolls were pioneers in the early age of fan interaction, dating back to the early America OnLine days. Now the band has amassed a massive online fan base, with over 3 million fans on Facebook at the time of print. When they started, fan engagement was primarily about promoting a single, album, or tour. These days Takac observed that having a digital presence has a different impact on musicians, specifically when it comes to access. "You know, we always laugh about guys like Jimmy Page, like you've got this image of Jimmy Page living in his castle somewhere, you know, like whatever," he observed, "Or this weird image of what Led Zepplin was like or all of these bands cause there was a mystique to them, but this current social atmosphere of immediacy, you can't really be that way anymore." He's also a realist when it comes to fans having their smartphones at concerts, as he noted, "It's all out there and it's all out there in unprofessional, unairbrushed, you know, like 'here's our pimples' kinda world. It's changed."

In Takac's mind the archetype for the modern day musician on social media is Kanye West. He further clarified: 

"Kanye makes some cool music but like it's not so much about that with him, you know? A little bit of it is, but it's more about everything else, you know it's about his social media. It's about his wife. It's about his wife's family. It's about their TV show. It's about his sneakers. It's about like all these things that the music is sort of in the background as something that he sort of does, you know? It's why he's such a big star, 'cause I don't think the music can make you that big of a star anymore... It's all this stuff, you know, that figures in now that, you know, didn't figure in when I was thinking about Jimmy Page in his castle. I never thought about any of that stuff with him. He was just that dude in Zepplin. That's what he did, you know? It's way more than that now."

I don't think the music can make you that big of a star anymore...

Things that are also very different than when Robby and Johnny started Goo Goo Dolls over thirty years ago: the two are both sober, with Robby over ten years sober and Johnny around four years sober. It's easy to assume that backstage while on tour is packed with opportunities to slip back into substance abuse, but Takac was quick to shut that fallacy down:

"It is what you make it," he said, "It's your bubble man. You're in a bubble when you're out here [on tour] but it's your bubble. Like we say 'life's good in the bubble, man'. You know, for a lot you get to choose what's there and what's not, you know? So we just kind of keep it sane back there, and there's not a lot of parties and that kind of stuff. Not that there's not but there's not a lot."

Like we say 'life's good in the bubble, man'.

While they've admittedly had a few decades to get heavy partying out of their system, it was refreshing to hear that there are legacy musicians that acknowledge their ability to be personally responsible for the toxicity level of their touring environment. These days Takac's number one tour essential is his teapot, which is his way to bring a piece of home with him while he's out on the extensive touring schedules with Goo Goo Dolls. "It's just you need those kinds of things to keep you warm, you know, keep you happy," he offered, "It's tough but you try to get a little bit out here." 

Make sure you catch Robby Takac with Goo Goo Dolls while they're still out on their 20th Anniversary Dizzy Up The Girl tour. I can attest that it is an energy packed night that you won't want to miss even if you're a casual fan. 

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

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[2016 Recap] A Few Of My Favorite Things
bless Topsters for assembling this graphic infinitely easier than prior years 

bless Topsters for assembling this graphic infinitely easier than prior years 

Surpriiiiseee!! I'm going to do my year end wrap up differently than most of the ones I've seen. Mostly because I have so many to share, but mostly because I like to let the music do the talking and help you get better connected to the artists themselves. Instead of recaps of each record, I'm going to point you to my favorite tracks so if any of these are new to your ears you'll have the best starting point I can give you. 

Personal Observations for 2016

This was a weird year for me in terms of listening/discovery habits. Instead of fighting against music consumption trends, I decided to play along. I dove head first into my Discover Weekly playlist. I even followed some of my friends' in order to see what I would find and set up an IFTTT recipe to archive everything recommended to me so I could go back and reference it later if I wanted. I barely touched my SKOA inbox, which probably upset a lot of publicists. Anyway, according to Last.FM's data (since Spotify never ended up sending me mine), I listened to 1,919 new artists this year, which is ABSOLUTELY INSANE. But really when you think about how much music Discover Weekly puts in front of you, it's really less than what everyone had the potential to check out (which is 1,560 if you figure we get 30 new tracks a week for a year). I am in the 98th percentile in music listening per Last.FM (meaning I listen to more music than 98% of people who still scrobble to Last.FM) and I found myself panicky and overwhelmed by the sheer volume of music that Spotify thinks I can get through on TOP of the music I already love and want to enjoy, or the random rabbit holes I end up falling into that typically bring me great new baby bands. I guess most people approach Discover Weekly differently than I do, letting artists come and go as they please, but knowing the transformative power that music possesses, I'm always wary of passing on an opportunity to be affected and share those experiences with others. 

It's crazy to think that 20% of what stuck with me this year was randomly generated by The Algorithm and not delivered to me by humans. I almost said that the human delivery was through cosmic forces, but really, if music finds its way to your ears/hearts by friend or by Algorithm, both are cosmic in a way, no? 

This is my struggle at present. I value the connection that happens when a humans experience music together, whether it be by recommendation or attending shows together. I worry this experience will continue to be diminished the more we silo ourselves into our algorithm-based echo chambers. I really hope I'm just out of touch and someone will point me to where this is the opposite, but I can't ignore how self-serving shows feel now every time I treat myself to a Night Out. This has been on my heart/mind too much lately to ignore it, so expect some changes to how things go down on the site (starting with making more time for this now that my new job isn't crazy busy for awhile). 

What music moved you this year? Did you like some of these records but different tracks? I'd honestly love to know so please drop me a comment. Also if you want more than favorite tracks out of me for these records, feel free to bug me on Twitter I am happy to share! 

My Favorite Things Of 2016

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Tragame Tierra

Big Black Delta 

Top Tracks: "It's Ok", "RCVR", "Let's Go Home", "I See Fit"

Buy/Listen/Befriend: Spotify | iTunes | Facebook | Twitter

 

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Prism Tats

Prism Tats

Top Tracks: "Pacifist Masochist", "Creep Out // Freak Out", "Death or Fame"

Buy/Listen/Befriend: SpotifyiTunes | Facebook | Twitter

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Still Waters 

Breakbot 

Top Tracks: "Back For More", "2Good4Me",  "My Toy", "Get Lost"

Buy/Listen/Befriend: SpotifyiTunes | Facebook | Twitter

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Ellipsis 

Biffy Clyro

Top Tracks: "Flammable", "On A Bang", "Re-arrange" 

Buy/Listen/Befriend: SpotifyiTunes | Facebook | Twitter

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Grasque

Choir of Young Believers

Top Tracks: "Face Melting", "Serious Lover", "Jer Seg Dig"

Buy/Listen/Befriend: SpotifyiTunes | Facebook 

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Epoch

Tycho

Top Tracks: "Horizon", "Epoch", "Division" 

Buy/Listen/Befriend: SpotifyiTunes | Facebook | Twitter

Warm On A Cold Night

HONNE

Top tracks: "Someone That Loves You", "Warm On A Cold Night", "It Ain't Wrong Loving You", "Good Together"

Buy/Listen/Befriend:  SpotifyiTunes | Facebook | Twitter

Figure EP

Anoraak 

Top Tracks: "We Lost", "Figure"

Buy/Listen/Befriend:  SpotifyiTunesFacebook | Twitter

Peach

Culture Abuse

Top Tracks: "So Jealous", "Dream On", "Peace On Earth" 

Buy/Listen/Befriend:  SpotifyiTunes | Bandcamp |Facebook | Twitter

Man About Town

Mayer Hawthorne

Top Tracks: "Breakfast In Bed", "Love Like That", "Out of Pocket", "Cosmic Love"

Buy/Listen/Befriend:  SpotifyiTunesFacebook | Twitter

Sonderlust

Kishi Bashi

Top Tracks: "Ode To My Next Life", "Statues In A Gallery", "Can't Let Go, Juno", "Say Yeah"

Buy/Listen/Befriend:  SpotifyiTunes | Facebook | Twitter

Weaves

Weaves

Top Tracks: "Tick", "Shithole", "Coo Coo", "One More"

Buy/Listen/Befriend:  Spotify iTunes | Facebook | Twitter

Headlunge

CAPYAC

Top Tracks: "Fascination", "Speed Racer"

Buy/Listen/Befriend:  SpotifyiTunes | Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter

Above Water

Gibbz

Top Tracks: "I Really Love You", "Stay For Awhile", "Feel So Good"

Buy/Listen/Befriend:  SpotifyiTunes | Facebook | Twitter

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Matter

St. Lucia

Top Tracks: "Winds Of Change", "Dancing On Glass", "Help Me Run Away"

Buy/Listen/Befriend:  SpotifyiTunes | Facebook | Twitter

Lemonade

Beyonce

Top Tracks: "Don't Hurt Yourself", "Formation", "All Night" 

Buy/Listen/Befriend:  Tidal | Facebook | Twitter

For All We Know

NAO

Top Tracks: "Girlfriend", "Bad Blood", "Fool To Love"

Buy/Listen/Befriend:  SpotifyiTunes | Facebook | Twitter

New York Fascist Week

BLXPLTN

Top Tracks: "I'm Still Waiting", "Gun Range", "Auf Wiedersehen"

Buy/Listen/Befriend:  Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter

Mossy

Mossy

Top Tracks: "Electric Chair", "Ginsberg", "Shipping Yard"

Buy/Listen/Befriend:  SpotifyiTunes | Facebook | Twitter

Legend EP

Magic Sword

Top Tracks: "The Curse", "Uprising"

Buy/Listen/Befriend:  SpotifyiTunes | Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter

Dame Fortune

RJD2

Top Tracks: "Peace of What", "We Come Alive"

Buy/Listen/Befriend:  SpotifyiTunes | Facebook | Twitter

Sweet Addiction EP 

Yuksek

Top Tracks: "Sweet Addiction", "Make It Easy", "Golden Age"

Buy/Listen/Befriend:  SpotifyiTunes | Facebook | Twitter

Blackstar

David Bowie

Top Tracks: "Blackstar", "Lazarus", "I Can't Give Everything Away"

Buy/Listen/Befriend:  SpotifyiTunes | Facebook | Twitter

The Impossible Kid

Aesop Rock

Top Tracks: "Rings", "Dorks", "Blood Sandwich"

Buy/Listen/Befriend:  Spotify | iTunes | Facebook | Twitter

Michl

Michl

Top Tracks: "Kill Our Way To Heaven", "Tell Me The Same", "When You Loved Me Least"

Buy/Listen/Befriend:  Spotify | iTunes | Facebook | Twitter

Revolutionaries 

You Won't

Top Tracks: "Yah Yah Yah", "1-4-5", "No Divide"

Buy/Listen/Befriend:  SpotifyiTunes | Facebook | Twitter

Cut The Body Loose

Astronautalis

Top Tracks: "Kurt Cobain", "Running Away From God"

Buy/Listen/Befriend:  SpotifyiTunes | Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter

Calm Down

Future Unlimited

Top Tracks: "Calm Me Down", "Tame"

Buy/Listen/Befriend:  Spotify | iTunes | Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter

Death Of A Bachelor

Panic! At The Disco

Top Tracks: "Golden Days", "Death Of A Bachelor" 

Buy/Listen/Befriend:  SpotifyiTunes | Facebook | Twitter

OPERATOR

MSTRKRFT

Top Tracks: "Runaway", "Party Line" 

Buy/Listen/Befriend:  SpotifyiTunes | Facebook | Twitter

Release

SOULS

Top Tracks: "I Wait For You", "Bad Girl", "Down On Me"

Buy/Listen/Befriend:  SpotifyiTunes | Facebook | Twitter

Mirage

Digitalism

Top Tracks: "Arena", "Go Time", "Destination Breakdown" 

Buy/Listen/Befriend:  SpotifyiTunes | Facebook | Twitter

Building A Beginning

Jamie Lidell

Top Tracks: "Don't Let Me Let You Go", "I Live To Make You Smile", "Walk Right Back"

Buy/Listen/Befriend:  SpotifyiTunes | Facebook | Twitter

Who Sold My Generation

Night Beats

Top Tracks: "Sunday Mourning", "Right/Wrong", "Bad Love"

Buy/Listen/Befriend:  SpotifyiTunes | Facebook | Twitter

Alas Salvation

Yak

Top Tracks: "Harbour The Feeling", "Victorious", "Alas Salvation"

Buy/Listen/Befriend:  SpotifyiTunes | Facebook | Twitter

Golden Days: Remembering Loved Ones Through Music Even After They're Gone

Growing up I had a friend named Clint. He was the drummer for a hardcore band in Central Florida (which is where I grew up). He was my first "musician friend" and one of my favorite people to share music with on the planet. We weren't the kind of best friends that hung out incessantly, but when we spent time together at shows or playing music for each other it was like it had been mere minutes not months since we last saw each other. As #teens living in a state notorious for its plethora of retirees, we were huge fans of all things Fueled By Ramen because it felt like there was a glimmer of hope that Florida wouldn't suck forever. People used to tease him a lot that he looked a lot like Patrick Stump, singer of Fall Out Boy, which as a huge fan of Take This To Your Grave at the time he wore as a badge of honor. 

Clint and I stayed in touch after I headed to Nashville for college, reuniting during holiday breaks to share the records we had discovered while we were apart. Just before I headed home for Christmas in 2005, he excitedly called me to play, "The Only Difference Between Martyrdom And Suicide Is Press Coverage", from Panic! At The Disco's debut album, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out. Just like him, I was hooked within seconds. I made sure to grab the record before I headed south so that when we hung out we could sing along to the record together driving around - a thing we always did. 

Even after I moved to New York in 2006. Our ritual stayed the same. Any time I was in town we hung out and played music for each other. In 2007, homegrown label Fueled By Ramen became an imprint label of Warner Music Group and yours truly was called in as a temp executive assistant to help them set up their New York offices. That Christmas I came home with the latest FBR releases to give him, including the deluxe box set version of AFYCSO. We continued to keep in touch despite going back to Florida less and less, checking in when a band we both loved released new material to share our critiques of it. Most of the time it was us gushing to each other about our favorite songs on the records. 

Clint and I, circa October 2007

In the fall of 2009, Clint very abruptly passed away. It was a very sudden thing that literally no one could have seen coming. He was my first close friend to die, so it hit me incredibly hard. I was so upset that I had to leave work early and could barely walk to the subway to go home. I wasn't able to attend his funeral, so I mourned in the most fitting way - by listening to the music we shared with each other: hand crafted mixes I made him and vice versa, records that I knew were his favorite, anything I could get my hands on. 

Despite it being almost 7 years since Clint's been gone, my habitual desire to talk to him about records from artists we both loved hasn't gone away. About a month after his passing, Paramore released their third studio album, Brand New Eyes. That first time I felt the kneejerk reaction to text/call him but couldn't was hard, but it has gotten easier to acknowledge as a beautiful learned behavior that I hope I have somewhat successfully both demonstrated and inspired in others. Memorizing and publicly lauding an album is a wonderful thing, but the level of intimacy that comes from very intentionally sharing music with someone is something that no algorithm can reproduce (not yet anyway). 

This past New Music Friday, PATD released their 5th studio album, Death Of A Bachelor. Of all the FBR artists that have released albums since he passed, I'm always the most anxious to hear their albums immediately. I think it was because of that eager phone call in 2005. Either way, the trail of singles leading to DOAB's release had me anxious to feast my ears on it. It's been fun to watch this band evolve over the years. Singer Brendon Urie's voice continues to blow my mind just as much as it did with that first taste in '05, if not more. I'd like to think that Clint would share this sentiment. 

Like I have with all of their previous records, I've carefully poured over every word and note, taking a mental inventory of sorts of what I think Clint would appreciate. I'm fairly certain that this would have been his favorite of the ones that have been released since his passing. It's been an equally difficult and exciting few days binge listening to the record, especially with all of the recent deaths that the music community is still recoving from. Even still, I hear songs like, "Victorious" and can practically see him air drumming in his red pickup truck with carefully chosen band stickers. I think of how we'd laugh at the absurdity of our attempts to falsetto as well as Urie during, "Emperor's New Clothes", "Death Of A Bachelor", or "Hallelujah". 

At the time of publishing this, I'm still unable to get through the entire record without crying a little bit because I know he would have appreciated this record as much as I do. This usually happens during, "Golden Days", which appropriately enough features a line that Urie's voice soothingly reassures that, "time can never break your heart but it can take the pain away", which to an extent it has been the case of missing one of my favorite music comrades. That said, knowing that even after someone is gone that it's possible to still feel connected to them through music both old and new is something that will always be priceless to me. 

Death Of A Bachelor is in stores worldwide. Panic! At The Disco is heading out on tour with Weezer this summer. You can head here for dates.