Thursday, October 08, 2009

Humans and Bands

Jay Reatard fired his whole band. As you can see, Jay's a class act.

Been there, though. Sometimes you gotta give 'em the boot. They have a job to do, they're supposed to do it. In Jay's case, they're not "contributing". Jay writes the music. The band is named after him - it's his group.

It's not easy managing a band. It's somewhere between running a volunteer organization and being married to multiple partners. A tricky balance, requiring a wide personnel/personal skill set.

Many bands like to talk about how they're "democracies" where everyone writes and contributes to the music, vision, etc. It's true some bands do work this way, but very few. Or at least very few successful bands.

Look, Picasso didn't have a bunch of other people coming in to doodle on "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon". Shakespeare and Stephen King didn't have some of their teenage school friends dropping by to scribble a few lines or tell them they didn't think the second verse "worked". Frank Lloyd Wright didn't bring in some "session architects" to add some parts to the Johnson Wax building.

Heard of "the auteur theory"? It applies to bands, too. I've met a lot of band members and musicians in my day. Hell, I've been a lot of band members and musicians in my day. Mostly they want to stand in the back and play. And sleep with the significant others of the rest of the band members. Sure, they're all egomaniacs, but not all of them crave the spotlight enough to do the work.

But they're still people. Messy, fucked up people. So here's the inevitable solution.

To be honest, this isn't exactly new. When The Pants were touring through Germany, Florian from Kraftwerk got a little tore up on schnapps and gin and started talking about how he was going to replace his whole band with what he called "Bandroids".

Typically, he was overreaching and way beyond what the technology could deliver - he talked about creating an entire label of Bandroid acts, eventually evolving things to what he called "maschine für maschine" - music by and for machines. Then he started talking about robot bicycles. I left him with T What?! and went back to the bar. That's all I remember.

Anyhow. Bandroids replacing humans - it's closer than we think!

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