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

New lyrics: Nobody That Well

Joseph and I had a most enjoyable conversation tonight.  We discussed the great good fortune of having found our passions, our calling, Joe’s movies, my music at a young age.  (Which is not to say that Joe, who is a great filmmaker who uses Louder Than Dirt music exclusively, is not passionate about music, but that he is intensely passionate about movies, nor that I am not passionate about music, for I certainly am, so we make movies and music together, GET IT?)  And other topics followed, Joseph emphasizing more the anomy that accompanies the excess of consumable, disposable content, and I emphasizing more LOUDER THAN DIRT IS THE GREATEST ROCK BAND IN THE WORD and afterward wrote the song that contains these lyrics.  Ah, but first I quoted Yeats

And so I must go down where all the ladders start,

In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.

And so I give you: lyrics of the new Louder Than Dirt song!!! 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

Madness and Morals: DK covers it all — finally!

It kind of bums me out (DK here) that blogs are displayed in reverse chronological order since a post often refers to the preceding one.  Nevertheless, let’s refer away.  In the last post I tried to survey Madness and Morals as a whole and instead ended up surveying my (boring) biography.  What I love about blogs is that they allow for what some people might consider a degeneracy: a public self-reflection.  Like many (song)writers, I have done the journal thing for years, and it’s both therapeutic and artistically productive to reflect, complain, worry, rhapsodize, and expose guilty feelings in writing.  New(ish) technology allows that sort of thing to made public, a fact that strikes some as both a threat to privacy and a massive new wave of narcissism—Google-Facebook and reality TV.  The fact is, as Continue reading

Madness & Morals: DK bares his soul

DK here.  These pages are supposed to be devoted to Louder Than Dirt, but in typical DK fashion I have made them about me.  Hopefully I won’t neglect my dear co-workers in the sonic vineyard.

What do I want to say about Madness and Morals?  First I want to say that what I’ve been saying in these pages is an attempt to tell the truth, not to promote.  So there is a complication and indeed a conflict within me: the conflict of artistic and commercial motives.  Well, my commercial motives are virtually nil; I’m long past the desire to be rich and famous.  Now cynics in the world will remain unpersuaded, but I’ve never really had Continue reading