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.

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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

How to write lyrics good like DK

A young songwriter friend of mine (you know this is DK speaking unless otherwise noted, right?) asked me how to write better lyrics, “to use metaphors and stuff.”  Kind of a big mistake, given my lust for commentary.  Indeed, I’m afraid that’s all I gave him, commentary—I think I just interpreted some of my lyrics instead of a. explaining where the song came from and b. giving general advice for songwriting.  I have noted that I am also (in my humble opinion) a lousy guitar teacher.  Part of the problem is that I’m self-taught, but the bigger part of the problem is that I started playing musical instruments in early childhood and can’t remember, much less come up with a method for, the steps in one’s technical development.  I was rather a late bloomer as a songwriter, but the situation is similar.  I’ve blotted from my memory the bad songs that one must write before establishing a decent batting average.  Well, I’ve been fretting and worrying over this topic, and as I have mentioned in earlier posts, I am all too happy to display my frets and worries Continue reading

Of Piracy and the State of Music

Hey all, Joseph here. I play drums for Louder Than Dirt and I know DK’s been telling you about the songs on our new album, but I just read something and feel the need to say something about it, especially considering some issues that have been brought into the light here in this blog.

I read an interview with @TheBlackKeys about their new album El Camino, and first let me say how excited I am about it, the single is great and these are two guys who have ground it out for a decade and suddenly have more exposure than they probably know what to do with. But they mentioned something I hadn’t heard and it’s all I can do to keep my hackles down.

John Fogerty, former lead of Creedence Clearwater Revival (maybe you’ve heard of them), released a song called The Old Man Down The Road, which has been played at any baseball game you’ve been to. Put me in, coach! You know the one. Anyway, he was sued by his former label for copyright infringement, because his single sounded too much like a Creedence song.

Now, if you haven’t caught it yet, here’s the funny part – HE WROTE BOTH SONGS.

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Interlude: What’s Going On: DK is talking about the songs on Madness and Morals

Yeah.  Louder Than Dirt is a great rock band, if I must say so myself.  “Myself” am DK, who plays guitar for LTD and who wrote the songs on the soon-to-be released CD Madness and Morals.  This is our second CD; the first was last year’s Oily Little Rainbows, like Madness and Morals on the Bottom Floor label and produced by Lord Erudite.  Madness and Morals is scheduled for release in mid-December, so watch Twitter, Facebook, and these pages for more info.  Next up: “Disco Superman (Michel Foucault).”  Louder Than Dirt: Integrity, Creativity, Loudness.