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 all my reflections on them, these differing tastes and perspectives seem to have a stimulant effect. So instead of trying to hide our differences, or to avoid or suppress them, we seem to go with them. This avoidance of avoidance, this denial of denial, seems to come quite naturally to us, and is the source, I think, of our commitment to truth, our integrity.
Early on, I seem to recall, we approached the theme of integrity in this negative or double-negative way: a revulsion from bullshit. Does that mean that the history of Louder Than Dirt is a round of unbroken harmony? Of course not, but honestly, fans 1. I’m not going publish any damaging details here, and 2. Louder Than Dirt gets along as well as any four people I’ve ever known. We respect each other as people, we like each other as friends, and we share a powerful ambition for artistic achievement. Admittedly, our artistic ambitions vastly outweigh our commercial ambitions, and the modesty of our commercial success has become a source of frustration though not, let be said, of friction. Indeed, when four talents collaborate as intensely as the members of Louder Than Dirt, the outcome is destiny, and not mere success.
On the other hand, talent, even collective talent, without regulation is unlikely either to succeed or to attain destiny. “Regulation” is a dirty word, no doubt, connotative of rule, i.e., tyranny, whether from without or from within. Again we face the conundrum of “direction”: is it possible to focus, to channel energy, to harness enthusiasm while practicing “truth to imagination”? I say yes. This is why the analysis of taste is so important. So Joseph, a few rehearsals ago, plays for us a recording of a song by The Gap Band. I like funk, but Joseph is an enthusiast. I listen, I like what I hear, and Joseph, even though it is difficult to put musical concepts into words, points out the rawness, the passion, the no-bullshit integrity, and the generally beautiful badass sound, and I love it, as does Julian—I think Adam had already departed, but he’ll surely get another chance to listen to his brother’s latest enthusiasm. The point is that the judgments of taste are instructive, more instructive than other value-statements, if the person issuing them has good judgment. As Joseph has, Adam has, and Julian has. And these three good judgments consent to mine, so then my own judgment must not be devoid of value.
It’s been like this for seven, going on eight, years. It’s not like some organized seminar. It’s we rehearse, we listen to some tunes, we chat. We hang out. And hanging out has become an intuitive regulatory principle. Interestingly, we laugh and joke constantly, but it’s not bullshit in the sense of false knowledge or meaningless banter. Mostly it’s shared cultural reference and self-deprecating zaniness. Our work ethic is solid. Now, I admit that I have given free rein to the pedantic, authoritative side of my character in these pages. But a brief exposure to Madness and Morals or to a live show will disabuse any listener of the impression that Louder Than Dirt has anything of the pious or sanctimonious about it. While the emphasis in this post falls on integrity, regulation, and the Apollonian, one would have to be insensitive indeed to miss the raw, the creative, and the Dionysian. Indeed, the latter topic, the wild and the free, is harder to put into words and therefore deserving of its own post.
So. Whereas we the members of Louder Than Dirt all have enjoyed a wealth of eventful life (as all adults have), and whereas we all like and respect each other, and whereas we are all well-versed in various regions of cultural-historical (especially musical) lore, and whereas we are each technically capable of substantial self-expression in words and music, be it resolved that our artistic collaboration proceeds objectively at an advanced level. Hence, our broad experience, our interpersonal virtuosity, our deep cultural-historical-musical knowledge, and our considerable capacity for execution, make Louder Than Dirt’s music the culmination of all that has come before. Even while commercial success eludes our grasp, Louder Than Dirt is destiny.

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