The Perils Of Solipsistic Success
At around two am this morning, James Rabbit did their last overdubs for "Continental". At around noon this morning, James Rabbit did their actual
last overdubs for "Continental". Conner wakes me up, home from his break from work and says "Tyler, we've made a masterpiece". I say, "actually, no" and give him a list of the problems. We record the cymbal sound we like, I turn down a few keyboard parts, draw a few volume envelopes and let it simmer. Now, we mixdown, we master, we ponder.
There is a bit of time between now and when we can begin to do Cavalier. Conner is starting school in about a week and will no longer have any time to do any recording. Here and there, maybe, we'll be able to eke out a rhythm track or two, but we won't have the semi-free schedule that we had during the past two and a half months until December. August, September, October, November, December, Depressing. What to do until then?
We sit and we think, what next. Max says 'play shows, distribute CDs'. I think that'll have to do. We can be a three-piece, that worked out okay (except the whole losing the voice thing for a week). I've got this plan where I find a protege who has no technical musical talent, but great musical ideas, and I'll produce albums for them and teach them how to play guitar. And then that person can be our guitarist. We'll be patient and we have a lot of time, kind of. But what if I don't want to spend all of my time with six strings and a prayer? What then? I mean, eventually we'll have to spend some time with a guitarist. I will have to sit down and look at a guitarist and say 'okay, this is what I want played'.
I'm tired of the whole solo-artist with a band behind him bit, I want to have a band-band, but I don't want to be in control of it. I want to just be second banana for once. I don't want to have the responsibility of being in charge of every single sound and every single note and every single phrase. I'm pretty good with our ideology, but ideology isn't enough to sell records. And what good does sticking to our ideology give us? I mean, the punks would respect that, if the punks liked our music.
What good does it do for you to be content with yourself? I walked around the house beaming all weekend; even as we nearly lost the entire song "Shootin Star" and had to reconstruct it over a harrowing four hours, I beamed. We set out to record an album that I had visualized entirely in my head, an album that I had sketched out over the first few weeks of Spring Quarter and pencilled in the rest of the way, and we did and it sounds good and it will only sound better from this point on.
There was this moment last night where Max came over, having been really busy with his play for the last few weeks, to do some final harmony overdubs. I said the song name and told him at the end to "Boop bap bee dap boo bat dat dee doo" and then I left the room to burn him a cd and when I came back he and Conner had created this wonderful mischevious harmony part that made me grin from ear to ear. At that moment I was so damn happy, but what does this mean to the rest of the world?
Sometimes I get these big feelings of accomplishment, but I don't know if they are worth anything. I took this programming class my last semester at City College and it was so frustrating because if you put the wrong capitalization or the wrong number in the slight wrong place, upon testing the program it would come back with a message saying "41 Errors 55 Typos" even though you swore you had done it perfectly the first six times you tried it, tested it, swore at it, and fixed it. When I'd finally figure it out, though, and things would work it was like a wave of contentment would wash over my body.
At that moment, when my program for the computation of taxes by state was complete, I wasn't just myself, I was Tyler in his seat in Business Lab 20, the feather of a bird flying by thirty feet above me, a grain of sand in the Sahara desert that had never heard a human being speak, the sulfur igniting on a 7 year old's birthday cake in Stockton, it was this massive feeling of success. But what did it translate to? I got a B on the project and was happy to get it, my having taken the programming class didn't count for anything, quantitatively that is, because I ended up being a literature major and I'd already satisfied the computers general education requirement. Just like James Rabbit doesn't count for anything.
But what bands DO count for anything? Deerhoof? What does it mean for a band to change their sound and method semi-radically for every release? Its important to some of us because we listen to them as valid artists and listen to their music as a valid insight into the artistic process. We have to listen to them as art because none of their songs are good enough yet. The Killers? Do they count for anything? I mean they've got two hit songs! That's got to count for something. When you have a hit song, people know your lyrics and guitar parts. But if having a hit means that snotty teenagers hum the tune as they begrudgingly do the dishes, do I really want that? Of course I might.
So to us, James Rabbit, Conner, Max and I, James Rabbit counts for a lot. Chasing around those elusive moments of clarity, in whatever shape or form they take, this means everything to me. Its when these moments become large enough to share with the rest of the world that you become great. The point of a work of art is to affect, and if your art affects you, that's fine and dandy, but if it only affects you, no museum will have you. You will not see James Rabbit in a museum, yet.
For our ten (or twenty) fans, James Rabbit counts for something. We are their friends, and when we give them a CD, they listen to it and think 'hey, this is something that my friend made, and its actually pretty good'
. So what if James Rabbit doesn't mean as much to them as Dexy's Midnight Runners means to me? They've got their own selves to take care of, and a pretty good band like James Rabbit isn't about to knock a band like Led Zeppelin, or even Modest Mouse off of their record shelves.
For the masses, we don't mean anything yet. But when Cavalier drops, so will they. To their knees. (How convenient it is for the next
album to always be the good one. If Cavalier doesn't work out, the album after that is going to be killer. I promise)