The Builders and the Butchers ::: photo by Josh Lovseth
I’m a terrible singer. My mother once booed me at my 2nd grade talent show because nobody else in the audience had the guts to do it. My unique vocals have been compared to a fox that is getting run over by a lawn rider mower (with a Hemi — no less!). I love to sing and I’m tired of people telling me to shut my mouth. Don’t people realize that this is Earth? There are so many people on this planet, there has to be someone with worst vocals than me. If that’s not the case, there has to be a niche for someone with unique vocals…what about the Cave Singers and Clap Your Hands And Say Yeah?
- Contemplating Buying a Talkbox on Ebay (Auburn, Wa.)
As someone that may or may not sing in a crappy local band, I know what you mean. People think just because I’m black I’m supposed to sound like John Legend or Marvin Gaye. I open my mouth to sing and it sounds like one of the guys from Yaphet Kotto doing a bad impression of Guy Picciotto. Every time I play a show I hope the microphone gives way so nobody can hear me. There is hope for people like us, if you play music that is good enough, people will overlook your vocals and enjoy what you have to offer. Are you familiar with The Builders and The Butchers? They are playing a Noise for the Needy benefit show tonight at the Tractor with “math folk” (new genre! mind explosion!) rockstars Ravenna Woods. Ryan Sollee has a better voice than you (sorry, I’m still on the lookout for someone as bad as you are). He should offer you inspiration to achieve greater things and a temporary refuge from your own shortcomings. This is going to be one hell of a show. The last time I saw Ravenna Woods at the Tractor they brought the house down.
I’m not of age and I hate everything. I hate Sound on the Sound because you’re a bunch of sellouts that only talk about “Americana” and “Folk.” I hate you because your writing has nothing to do with the music you’re covering. I hate your photographers because they take pictures. I hate my parents because they brought me into this world. I need to get out of here. Consider this hate mail. Sellout.
- Get Bent (Bellevue, Wa.)
Your grievances are noted. It seems to me that the label “gentle reader” does not apply to a young ruffian like yourself. There was once a time when I was just like you, smoking cigarettes at the bus stop to be cool, sneaking into R-rated movies, stealing hundreds of CD’s from Best Buy and Sam Goody, leaving my porn stash in my sister’s swim bag, completely forgetting that she was on a year-round all-star swim team. I’ve been there, kid. I relied on Fu Manchu (The Action Is Go) and Jack Endino’s (probably long forgotten by him) e-mailing list to get me through adolescence. What you need is a license to bear arms are raw forms of self-expression. Local bands that I happen to think you’d like and the places you can catch them. Please note that not all these bands sound as “angry” as your letter to me. I am concerned for the safety of others.
Mercy Ties -This is probably my favorite local band right now. Do you like Ed Gein circa It’s A Shame…? Mercy Ties are in a similar vein only much more creative. There’s a vulnerability in their songs that remind me of the legendary Saetia. This is the point of the conversation where I patronize you by saying you’re too young to know how to deal with emotions. I want you to go to their show at the Old Redmond Firehouse tonight, it’s an American Red Cross benefit show for Japanese tsunami victims. Don’t fret, it’s all-ages. I want you to rock out really hard and then buy their 12″ split with Grenades (another band you’d like, who are also playing with Mercy Ties tonight). Spillway - There is an intense discussion taking place in the scientific community about what exactly “Spillway” is. Are they indie rock? Do they sound like the big city version of Modest Mouse (what is this)? Are Doug Barber’s screams that of a tortured genius, eager to bury his past or an unassuming madman, bent on the destruction of Seattle? You are a misguided young soul that can’t get into bars. The next time you have a chance to see Spillway will be at a party at an undisclosed location. Use your internet smarts to find out the top-secret, very hush-hush, location. Don’t forget your chaps. I’m assuming that you’re planning on riding two horses at the same time.
Bat Country – You are a teenager, therefore Judging by your letter, two things are true: 1) You are a soap opera unto yourself. 2) If it sounds “dark,” it’s in your wheelhouse. Let Bat Country be the soundtrack to your angry bedroom brooding. They could never be described as “evil” like Mercy Ties or Grenades but the darkness is there my aging friend. This is the sound of the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression, families failing to make gains, dying in their place in every sense of the word. Bleakness achieved, but is it enough for your wild heart? Bat Country is the sound of miner’s drinking themselves to death because their pans remained absent of gold. We’re not on Skype but I can see that the misfortune of others brings a slight grin to your face. I can only think of Bat Country in storyline form because they have too many hooks to considered “Country,” and are too theatrical to be considered “Americana.” Genre-defying. Very classical, macabre and beautiful. I would never encourage buying a fake I.D. and sneaking into the Conor Byrne on a Saturday night. But if you do…
Some friends and I were talking the other day about musical trends. Currently there seems to be a lot of the “multi-instrumentalist” thing going on. What do you think of that and what do you think the next trend is going to be?
- Inquisitive Thick Black-Rimmed Glasses That Are Worn Strictly Because Of A Stigmatism And Not For Fashion I Swear To God (Seattle, Wa.)
The multi-instrumentalist thing is something that has taken me some time to get used to. Call me old fashioned but I am of the “band nazi” generation. You have one person who is a controlling force in the band. That person brings a majority of their ideas to the other band members as a blueprint for a majority of their songs. With each new song written, the primary songwriter grows in power and prestige. Eventually “the conductor” oversteps their role, comes to the conclusion that they can play all the band roles by their lonesome and transforms into the “band nazi.” Everyone is fired. A solo project ensues. That’s it. Call it “The Axl Rose Process” or whatever tickles your fancy. Having a multi-instrumentalist in your band is almost like a concession of power. You’re coming to the realization that other people may be almost as gifted as you are. In fact, they may even share your same musical goals and enhance your compositions?!? Who would’ve thought so adventurously back in 1997? People that would burn at the stake or be tied to large stones so they could drown, that’s who.
With that being said, the next musical trend is — and write this down — people not playing music. In the year 2012 people will stop playing music altogether. Every live musical experience will feature pre-recorded music with performance art instead of musicians. After the presentation is over, the “musicians” will sit at a round table drinking cheap beer and talking amongst themselves about the importance of their own art. As an audience member your job is to watch as they are flooded in self-centered trivialities. Do not save them. You will remain standing in steadfast admiration throughout, refusing to hand them an olive branch for rescue. Mark my words, this is the future.
Until next time, keep those letters coming.