I’m going to start “interviewing” music people I like and posting the conversations on this page. I put that word in quotes because since I can’t shut the fuck up, the back-and-forth will be a little less one-sided than most interviews with bands you can read online. I hope these will be conversations from which everyone involved can learn something or come to see something from a different angle (including you, dear imagined reader). In other words, I’m hoping they will be the sort of conversations I used to have face-to-face with other artists more regularly before the virus.
One odd personal development over this lost year has been that in some ways, the thing I miss most about going to shows isn’t watching the bands: it’s talking about music and art with other people invested in those worlds. Most people probably haven’t been too surprised by the countless ways the internet has proved to be a poor substitute for the real thing over the past year. But one thing that has been a little surprising to me is how much I’ve felt that loss particularly in the way the ADD panopticon of social media remains totally unconducive to the delicate dance between talking shop and talking shit that can really round out an evening of live music. The whole point of something like Twitter ought to be talking shop and talking shit, but of course in reality it’s actually about promoting your Patreon or your GoFundMe—chalk one up to “lost utopian promise of the internet” I guess. Regardless, one strategy for counteracting an attention-deficient, all-seeing eye seems clear: going long on a blog that nobody reads. (I have my own attention deficiencies, though, so I’ve managed to post something on here like twice in the last year.)
In that spirit, what I would like to do with these interviews is to offer interesting people in my orbit a chance to talk about their work, their scene, and themselves in a venue that is hopefully free from the contrivances that bog down most music journalism—and not just the contrivance of “having readers.” I’m thinking specifically of the deference paid to the “album cycle” as well as the seemingly standard operating assumption that the journalist/writer acts as some expert third party who can mediate the relationship between the artist and the reader (who of course is assumed to be a completely separate entity from “journalist” or “artist”). Why bother with that shit? Nearly everyone who writes about underground music—and I suspect the average person who reads about it—has played in bands at some point. The stakes are personal in a different kind of way than they’re personal for, say, a Sixers fan reading The Ringer, or even for someone who wants a stimulus check reading Politico. I don’t understand why some of the publications that cover underground music seem committed to pretending that’s not the case. They could be asking interesting, uncomfortable questions instead of just being like “so, describe for our readers this thing you call ‘tour’ … I hear there’s lots of fast food involved?”
I want to have fun with this—and anyone who knows me knows I’m always down to talk drive-thrus—but I also want to keep it as real as possible. A little contentious even, if the people I talk to have an axe to grind. So without further ado, I present: Confirmation Bias, an interview series. First one goes up tomorrow, see you then.