DK goes song-by-song thru Twirling Like a Hurricane: Auditory Man

Yo! DK again. In the last post I made a claim that I expect readers to view skeptically, namely, that I am not praising myself when I praise a song I have written or a part I have played. Honestly, Dear Reader, it’s critical judgment, not boasting. Auditory Man is a very good song, so I guess it follows that whoever wrote it is a good songwriter. I don’t really believe it. I mean, I think I’m a good songwriter, but it’s is not really true that the song or the part is the result of what the creator of it has put into it. I know this to be the case with improvised solo, of which Auditory Man provides an excellent example. Quite simply, while I’m playing the part, I’m just thinking about the part. I’m not thinking about a critical judgment—my own or anybody else’s—that might arise weeks, months, or years later. And to be fully sincere, the guitar solo that we kept in Auditory Man was one instance (yes, the best instance, in my judgment) of many attempts (many “takes” in studio jargon) at that improvised solo. I did probably thirty takes of that solo, and the one that I selected as best made it on to the album. So note the two correctives to my arrogance: first, that it took me thirty tries, and second, that an unsympathetic critic might sneer, “That’s the best you could do?” But the primary factor is that while I’m making all those attempts, I’m not Continue reading

DK goes song-by-song through Twirling Like a Hurricane: No Easy Way

Hi, Dirtbags!

Long time no blog!  DK here, full of cheery cheeriness because Louder Than Dirt just finished a new CD.  This one’s an EP, I guess: about 19 minutes of music against the, what, 45 minutes that comprised Madness and Morals.  It’s called Twirling Like a Hurricane.  We decided to spend three or four months to put out 6 or 9 songs instead of over a year for 16.  Since we know that every song is great, we like the idea of presenting fewer songs at a time so that each gets the attention that it deserves.  I predict that in four or five months we’ll put out another short CD.  I say CD: we’re not going to press this one in plastic, and we’re going with a pay-what-you-want-to-pay scheme for distribution at  I’m very proud of this EP, and I’m incontinently proud of the group that made it.  Maybe after I go into some detail about the various songs I will attempt some generalities about how this record surpasses in quality even its excellent predecessors, but first I do want to talk about the songs, starting with the opener, No Easy Way. Continue reading


I (DK y’know) listen to Madness and Morals all the time.  Driving in my car, performing mundane tasks, after rehearsing, or finding an unoccupied hour, I slip on the headphones and enjoy the tunes.  Ostensibly this activity aims to subject the work to critical analysis, to discover opportunities for improvement.  But as soon as the opening chords to “Suspicions” hit, Pong Pong Kaponk Ponk, I escape into a world of pleasure.  Now, there is in this world horror and conflict aplenty, along with laughter, doubt, and craving, but because I have escaped into this alternative universe, I experience these feelings without the practical costs that usually accompany them.  And when it is over, every time, I say, “Ah!  That was good!”  Later, I tell my friends (usually my bandmates), “You know, the guitar solo that ends ‘Bacteria’ is really spectacular.”  And I am a little embarrassed to praise myself in this way, but only a little.  While I’m listening, I’m not playing that solo or even remembering playing that solo.  It’s as if it’s some other guy.  And if I’m arrogant, the Continue reading

Too much macho posturing in rock?

First off I must make the usual disclaimer that while this is the Louder Than Dirt blog, the primary contributor so far is DK. Since there is little drama among the members of the band, who are hardworking comrades, I find that the conflicts that affect me in my relations with the band are internal to me.
My daughter recently wrote a song for her excellent band The Romero Sisters with the refrain, “Rock and roll is a masculine artform.” The song asserts that women should occupy a more prominent place in the manner of music my daughter loves. She professes to enjoy LTD shows, and I’m not so egotistical as to think that that the song is about me. Nevertheless, Louder Than Dirt consists entirely of men, and manly men we are too. Julian is tall, tan, and athletic. Both Lawsky brothers sport ultra-masculine shaven pates. Continue reading

The Courage of Horrible Sounds: A Gonzo Meditation

My favorite record by Radiohead is Kid A, not, I take it, their most famous record, but in my opinion a sleeper.  That album contains many sounds that, taken in isolation, sound horrible, but in their contexts are sublime.  Supposedly, at the time that album emerged, the members of Radiohead were much taken with Autechre and the whole genre of digitally created blips and blorps.  Now, the blip-blorp school of music is indeed boring and trivial, but Kid A is a deeply moving artifact.  Here, as is so often the case, influence and genesis are truly quite irrelevant.  All that matters is the individual achievement.  Keats, for example, was greatly influenced by Edmund Spenser, who is worth a look, and the Continue reading

Why Louder Than Dirt Is Destiny

Louder Than Dirt is destiny because it is the culmination of all that has come before. This is a noble achievement, but it is not a technical accomplishment alone, nor even an effect, primarily, of education (although the members of LTD are unusually well-educated for rock musicians and certainly not lacking in technical gifts), nor even the product of our personal chemistry. Louder Than Dirt is destiny because of its commitment to truth. The players are each capable of great spontaneity, and every musical phrase in our repertoire is more or less improvised. But the members all share a particular personality trait, namely, a highly reflective habit of mind. Reflection is the opposite of impulse, and so our music manifests a style that is spontaneous and improvisational, but not impulsive. We think about stuff, we talk about the stuff we think about, and our music, energetic and raw though it may be, expresses this thoughtfulness. Four different people will obviously have four different lives’ experiences. But we’ve been together so long, and the interactions that make up our artistic collaboration are so intense, that our lives’ experiences are not, I would say, the main topic of conversation. Mostly we talk about matters of taste, that is, our respective and differing enthusiasms. And for reasons that I, DK, can’t explain despite Continue reading

Is we what Rock is?

Hi, bloggofans!  DK here.  Long time no speak.  Let me assure you that, having completed Madness and Morals, Louder Than Dirt has been busy rehearsing and working up new tunes for our next CD release.  And the thought crossed my mind that we, the band, should consider what direction we want the new record to take.  But I quickly suppressed the thought.  The idea of “direction” has always for me been a source of pain and suffering, fear and loathing, stress and anxiety.  But in the previous post the anonymous author (it was Joseph) confessed that Louder Than Dirt is in fact a rock band, and all the baggage that term implies.

Those skilled in reading between the lines will have discerned from these pages that I have been in the biz for a long time.  And I think back to a time when I wanted to “get signed by a major label” as they used to say.  (This was is the days before Louder Than Dirt, so, more than seven years ago.)  I used to get approval for my song writing.  The bands I was in would gain endorsement for their performances.  But I was always stymied by the question, “What do you see as your artistic [or more likely, commercial] direction.”  And perhaps I have just resolved the problem since, if I’m concerned about direction at all, I’m Continue reading

State of the (Rock) Nation

It’s always been a dream of mine to play in a Rock Band.

I mean, c’mon, I’m a kid of the 90’s and when I used to watch MTV (back when it was a worthy enterprise), I saw guys like Chris Cornell and Kim Thayil, Scott Weiland and the DeLeo brothers, Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl doing what they did best – being absolute Gods of Rock. There were many more, but you get the idea.

But as we, lovers of Rock music, well know, the State of Rock is in constant flux.

One day it’s all the Rage(Against the Machine) and the next, no one wants to hear it. If Rock was a ride at Six Flags, it would definitely be a roller coaster. Or maybe the Free Fall. In any case, since it’s beginnings in the 50’s, the concept of the Death of Rock has been oft-discussed.

Is Rock Dead?

Personally, my answer changes by the day. Radio is certainly on its way out, and it’s spouting off pathetic epithets with its dying breaths. But it’s hard to feel like Rock is alive and well when bands like Nickelback and Seether are considered the peak of Rock. Then again, it’s been hard to figure out what Rock really is since the Alternative label first came into being.

Continue reading

DK’s Hundred Heroes

I recommend this exercise to anybody and everybody. Aside from family members and friends and acquaintances, whom do you regard as most influential in making you who you are? I limited my list to artists and philosophers; I have to admit that political figures and captains of industry don’t really mean that much to me. This is DK’s list: the other members of Louder Than Dirt would obviously have quite different lists. I’m trying to understand who made me who I am as an artist. I’m not saying that I’m an expert in Duke Ellington or Geoffrey Chaucer. I’m just saying that I have enjoyed their works so much that they make their way into my own creative process.

The Rolling Stones
The Beatles
Oscar Wilde
Bob Dylan
John Keats
Jimi Hendrix
Thomas Mann
William Butler Yeats
James Joyce
Eric Clapton
Ludwig van Beethoven
Samuel Johnson
Jeff Beck
Miles Davis
The Kinks Continue reading

Perfection Is for Punks or, Why Artistic Collaboration Is the Way to Go or, What Makes Aristotle So Damned Smart?

So, here’s the problem with having a hundred heroes: that’s a big gang to compete with. I’ll never be the poet Keats was or the philosopher that Aristotle was or the guitar player Hendrix was. I’ll never have the courage of Manet or the intelligence of Wilde. Times 20. Obviously, only a conceited asshole would dream of comparing himself to Keats or Aristotle. And I wish I could say that when I’m absorbed in their works I’m not thinking about myself. But the first time I read Othello I wrote in the margin, “I must despair of ever matching this.” And the first time I saw The Rolling Stones I thought, “That should be me up there.” So we have a word or two for conceited asshole, but what do you call somebody who knows that he is a conceited asshole and loathes himself for the fact? Well, probably something like “suicidal neurotic.” But fear not, Dear Reader! Your humble blogger will not commit self-slaughter! Continue reading