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

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DK goes song-by-song thru Madness & Morals: Patience on Approval

I admit it: I like show tunes.  I like opera, I like classical music and I like Tin Pan Alley.  I like Gilbert and Sullivan and I like The Wizard of Oz.  I hate that The Beatles did “’Til There Was You,” but I like The Music Man.  So when the inspiration for “Patience on Approval” hit, I decided to see how far I could go with the melodies and modulations that I associate with pit orchestras.  Specifically, I decided to admit as many chord changes as the melody might demand.  Now, I’m quite proud to have written a pretty good blues song with a verse and a chorus (unbluesy, that) but zero chord changes, namely, “Criminal Character.”  But as soon as I received the inspiration for “Pat on App,” I knew that the song would have a lot of chord changes. 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.

Continue reading

DK goes song-by-song thru Madness & Morals: Marche Pacifiste

Music is different from the other arts, isn’t it?  “It’s here and then it’s gone,” sings the speaker of “No Expectations,” one of the Rolling Stones’ great ballads.  But not quite accurately.  I’m not sure that you can capture this quality of music, which is also the quality of our experience of time.  Not, first here then gone; only, passingly here.  Some of these ideas are in the background of “Marche Pacifiste.”  Now I’ve complained elsewhere about the difficulties of discussing instrumental music, but I think that “Marche Pacifiste” actually gives me plenty to talk about.  And so I was noodling around on the guitar, or perhaps dumplinging, because I was playing in my beloved mid-tempo (the tempo of “Cathy Ann” and the folk song “East Viginia”) fat chords, not long, skinny lines of single notes.  In the key of B no less.  And I thought how hymnlike sounded the chords I was playing.  And I Continue reading

DK goes song-by-song thru Madness and Morals: “I’m Hurting”

“I’m Hurting” is probably the most traditional song on Madness and Morals.  My Communicative Education partner, Shane http://communicativeed.wordpress.com/, heard it for the first time last night and observed that it sounds like “Elvira” by the Oak Ridge Boys.  He’s totally right, I discovered to my consternation.  The beat is certainly the same, but then virtually all of what in the U.S. we call “country music” has the bum-chicka bum-chicka rhythm.  The melody, at least of the first line or two, is pretty explicitly that of “Mercy, Mercy,” the first song on the Rolling Stones’ Out of Our Heads (1965), but the beat is the old timey bum-chicka.  So today’s issue, Dear Reader, is the problem of intellectual property and copyright and ultimately the nature of creativity.  On one hand, authors legitimately demand to be recognized for their Continue reading

DK goes song-by song thru Madness and Morals: Disco Superman (Michel Foucault)

Now this is a weird song.  I remember next to nothing about writing it, although it is one of the most recent songs on Madness and Morals.  And yet the refrain

Go head on

and even the melody of the refrain have been on my mind since I was a teenager.  (I’m 39 now, approximately.  Har.)  Where to begin?  I guess I should begin with the question of my attitude toward Michel Foucault, but a more interesting question is that of how (and whether) an author’s attitudes—or any of his conscious thoughts—manifest themselves in the work of art.  Obviously, there is no general answer to the question: various artists impose themselves variously in their artworks.  Equally obviously, the negatively connotative word “impose” tips the hand of my own taste.  In an earlier post I went on quite Continue reading

DK goes song-by-song thru Madness and Morals: Half in Two

One of the cool, unusual things about Louder Than Dirt is that everybody sings.  I want to start today’s post with a discussion of what a great singer Adam, who sings “Half in Two,” is.  Adam is half of the Lawsky brothers—all the great southern bands have brothers in them—and he’s the youngest member of Louder Than Dirt.  He is what in baseball you would call a student of the game.  He grew up listening to the popular bands of the grunge and post-grunge eras (he still loves the Red Hot Chili Peppers), and the cool, almost affectless tone can be heard in Adam’s singing.  He doesn’t use a big vibrato and he doesn’t bend a lot of notes.  He doesn’t sing with gush.  But he sings with great sincerity (“Integrity”: one of LTD’s cardinal virtues); he is himself.  He himself has a lot of feeling, a lot of soul, but he doesn’t use vocal gimmicks to portray his soulful feelings.  One could Continue reading