I reviewed a few more albums for Perfect Porridge. Check’em out! We’ve got a little Pestilence for you, along a nice slab of Sadus! Fuck yeah! Some thrash metal from the late 80s/early 90s for ya! You know you love it.
I’ve been thinking about music a lot lately. Okay, I always do that, since I’m obsessed with music, but you wouldn’t know it from this blog. I don’t know why, but I don’t usually like to write about music (it’s like “dancing about architecture” or so says Frank Zappa).
There’s an article over on Slashdot that got me thinking. It’s about the decline of the CD as a medium. Yeah, an article on that subject comes out every couple weeks, but I didn’t even read it. More important, I thought, was the ensuing discussion. It seems everybody has a different take on the state of the music industry. For me, no, CDs are not dead. I prefer my music uncompressed and pre-backed-up before I put it on my iPod. Plus, if you count CD-Rs, CDs are more popular than ever. I burn CDs all the time, whether its a copy of a CD a friend gave me or mixes from my band’s recording sessions.
Band Update – finally
Speaking of the band, I know I haven’t posted about us in awhile, probably because I didn’t want to jinx anything. People have been asking me when our album’s coming out for years and I keep telling them, “pretty soon. It’s right around the corner!” For the last few months I’ve been saying, “in a few months!” Well, it’s been a few months and it’s not out yet, but not for lack of effort. To be honest, we don’t know what the fuck we’re doing, but whatever we’re doing is shaping up pretty nice. We’ve got about 7 songs pretty much in the can — which is to say 90% or more recorded. They all need some mixing, but we’re going to try to bust out 2 more tracks before mixing begins in earnest. The songs are heavy but not punishing. They are melodic, but not sappy. They are all fairly unique but I think they will sound pretty cohesive together on an album (except for maybe one oddball).
We’ve learned so much about recording over the last 7 months, I don’t know where to begin. But we’ve also had some setbacks. I’m not blaming anybody (*coughMattcough*), but my Digi 001 suddenly went from an 8 track recorder to 6 tracks. Not good. But we’ll pull through. We’re recording all of the instruments separately for maximum flexibility (and it just sounds better in my opinion), so this shouldn’t cause too many problems. After all of the overdubs are added on we typically end up with over 20 tracks anyway, now we’re just limited to recording 6 tracks at a time.
So anyway, the band: I haven’t even told you the name yet. We’re Darkfold. We’re on UnderUtopia Records, which is our own independent net-based label and our album is yet to be named. Darkfold consists of me, Matthew R. Coon (esquire) and Andy Riedinger (esquilax). We trade off instruments. Matt does much of our singing, but I do a bunch, too. We play heavy rock music, at least that’s what we’re focusing on at the moment. The second album could be totally different; who knows?
Anyway, I’ll try to keep y’all better informed as the album nears completion. We hope to start gigging soon, but we want to get this album done before Armageddon (which could be any day now… in fact… we’d better hurry!). This making an album thing is fucking difficult, especially with 3 fulltime jobs between us. Of course, it would be impossible without money coming in. I really respect anybody who can start a band, even a shitty one, because there’s so much that goes into making it work.
Music, Money & Class
I’ve been thinking about music and money — more specifically, music and class. A question to ponder: How much music is the world being robbed of because the would-be musicians are too poor to start a band? I mean, becoming a professional musician is basically like taking a vow of poverty to begin with (unless your name is “Paul McCartney”), but you have to have a certain level of wealth before you can even take that plunge. Buying guitars, drums, amps and assorted gear is expensive. So is buying recording equipment and practice space and a van for touring. Then, after doing that you need to find time to practice — but how can you do that if you’re working all the time to afford food, clothing and shelter, let alone the aforementioned gear/space?
So needless to say, I’m kinda shocked anybody can afford to start a rock band these days. That’s why I wasn’t too surprised to find out that many successful rock musicians were wealthy before they hit the top of the charts. Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst, for instance, had rich parents to help him out when he was just getting started:
Conor: Dark? Not really. Actually I had a great childhood. My parents were wonderful. I went to a Catholic school. They have, I had money, so it was all easy. I basically had everything that I wanted anytime
Gee, wouldn’t that be nice. If my parents were bankrolling my musical endeavors I think we would’ve released 5 albums by now. Curse my middle-class upbringing! (j/k) It seems like every other star is the child of someone famous, from Norah Jones to Jakob Dylan. Rock and roll music was sparked by working class kids like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Elvis. Would those same kids have a chance in today’s cut-throat economy with all its barriers to entry?
America’s Famous Poverty Machine
So my question is: Do you have to be upper-class or at least well-off to have a good chance of making it in music these days? Do the rich people in America make the rules? Music has evolved and the bar for “good” music has been raised and if you don’t want to sign your soul away to a near-extinct dinosaur of a record label what choice do you have?
Personally, I get the feeling that we’re being fucked. The economy seems to be devised to deprive of us our hard-earned money. After inflation, college loans, housing bubbles, gas prices and the fucked up healthcare system, most people are barely scraping by. I have several friends who are still living with their parents because moving out just doesn’t make economic sense. Rent is sky-high and wages are down (even as productivity is up!). Most of my other friends have massive debt (myself included) and no easy way out.
This is the richest, most prosperous nation on earth?! Bullshit. We are being fucked by the rich. The fascist/capitalist oligarchy that controls our government is all about extracting ever more money from the poor and the middle class, not because the rich need another yacht (they don’t) but because the whole system is set up this way. It all needs to come crashing down. And at the rate the dollar is falling, it might just do exactly that. And we’ll have Bush to blame. The “legacy” they keep talking about will be one of fascism, terrorism, poverty and incompetence.
Music and class is not something most people like to talk about. It’s fair to ask, “does it matter? If the music is good, so what?” I would argue that it does matter, and we miss their unique perspectives. If you need a lot of equipment or players (like rock
and classical, respectively) the poor simply can’t play that game. And music education is already cut to the bone in inner city schools.
We’d be condemned to hearing only music created by the offspring of rich people if it wasn’t for hip-hop. Hip-hop, thankfully, can be made on the cheap if you know your way around the software (and if you have a computer) or mixer. But not everybody wants to be (or can be) a rapper. And what is the manifest goal of almost every single rapper on the radio — that’s right; getting filthy rich. (not every rapper is like that)
I don’t wanna be rich; I just want to make some music. I would love to do it for a living, but that just doesn’t seem possible these days. Signing a record contract is a great way to feel rich for a couple years before you discover the terms of the contract have impoverished you and stolen the most valuable thing you have — the copyright to your own songs. So we’re going the indie route, even if it kills us (and it might). In the meantime, I urge you to give some thought to the idea that lower and middle class folks are being shut out of the music game. Just like the other games.
I should make it clear that the most valuable commodity the rich have is time; specifically the time that comes from not having to work.
If only rich people are able to make popular, radio-friendly music we’d lose about 90% of all potential music, and we’d be subjected to endless songs about Jacuzzis, Mercedes Benz’s and Courvoisier. Thankfully, there are a lot bands out there struggling against impossible odds and making songs about real shit, like trying to pay the rent, finding their way in the world and dealing with relationships. Shit, music used to be the province of poor folks — look at all those old blues albums. Leadbelly was poor as piss, but now people think there’s a lot of money in the music game so the rich’s kids have invaded… and conquered.
Shit, the music business ain’t even worth that much, monetarily. But its cultural and entertainment value is immense! I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m whining, but I certainly have a new respect for musicians of modest means who have managed to carve out a good living for themselves without signing to a major label. I just don’t know who those bands are… -
In my years upon this planet I have discovered that there are two basic types of people in this world: Those who talk about starting a hardcore death metal band with a parrot for a lead singer, and those who actually do it. Hatebeak, my friends, is the latter.
No, I’m not kidding. After you’ve heard their music you’ll know what awaits you in the bowls of helllllll!!!!! They sound like Cock & Ball Torture, but the unholy screeches are like the howls of demon…. uh parrots. Seriously, give it a listen. Download a copy. Play it at your prom. Let your grandma jump in the pit. Fuck yeaaah.
Personally, I think we should give Hatebeak the keys to the kingdom. Who else has given so much to humanity? There should be parades, fireworks, medals of honor, world acclaim and they should get their choice of our finest virgins.
Fuck your Britney Spears records. Her time is over. It’s time for… HATEBEAK!!!
Fucking sweet, I love it! Can you spot Eddie? Looks don’t mean shit in music, but from what I’ve seen so far it looks like a classic Maiden album. I don’t wanna get my hopes up too high, but damn… can’t wait.
I admit it; I am a total Iron Maiden fan. Ain’t nothin’ to be ashamed of though, as they totally fucking rock. And they still rule after all these years. Looking at the track list for the new album gave me shivers!
Different Worlds (Smith/Harris – 4.17)
These Colours Don’t Run (Smith/Harris/Dickinson – 6.52)
Brighter Than a Thousand Suns (Smith/Harris/Dickinson – 8.44)
The Pilgrim (Gers/Harris – 5.07)
The Longest Day (Smith/Harris/Dickinson – 7.48)
Out Of the Shadows (Dickinson/Harris – 5.36)
The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg (Murray/Harris – 7.21)
For The Greater Good Of God (Harris – 9.24)
Lord Of Light (Smith/Harris/Dickinson – 7.23)
The Legacy (Gers/Harris – 9.20)
Fucking right! Up the Irons! Those song names sound really cool, and my God some of those songs are loooong! Gotta love epic Maiden songs; they usually rule. Nothing quite as long as Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which is 13 and a half minutes long, but not bad none the less.
I’m stoked. I hope it’s a concept album. I can already see some themes emerging: Light and Darkness, Death and Rebirth, Time and Change….
Looks fucking great. I can’t wait. But it looks like I will have to wait until it’s released in September.
This is the most fucked up thing I’ve ever heard. The gang members have named their gangs after all these heavy metal bands — like Judas Priest — and made alliances based upon which bands they thought were good and which weren’t, leading to constant gang warfare about who’s music is better, along with terrorizing the populace in response to hundreds of years of colonialism.
But the Port Keats people were too strong to fully succumb to the church. Autonomous forces survived and, over the past 20 years, gangs have come to steer the undercurrent of life in the town. “They never sleep,” Perdjert says. “They’re always causing problems. Everyone stays up till daylight waiting for them to go to sleep. When the daylight comes, that’s when we sleep.”
On October 23, 2002, after a policeman shot dead a Judas Priest gang member in Port Keats, the JPs – who that day had been fighting the Evil Warriors – turned savagely on anyone with links to the Warriors. Perdjert felt their wrath due to her marriage to Eugenio Kurungaiyi, the deputy commander of the Evil Warriors.
“They [Judas Priest members] smashed my house, all my property, everything. They trashed my washing machine, my deep freezer, DVD and video machine, TV, table, chairs, everything,” she says. “They burned my clothes, mattresses, blankets. I was there.”
It was anything but a casual going over. Twelve houses were destroyed and eight cars burned. The message was clear: the traditional owners of Port Keats were no longer welcome on their own land. “They smashed everything,” Perdjert says. “They smashed the toilet, the sink, the fan, even the power points – everything.”
Six weeks ago, she sneaked back into Port Keats to visit her sick grandmother. But she was quickly found out and Judas Priest gangsters went to her aunt’s home, where she was hiding. Perdjert was punched three times in the head. The boys said they were looking for her husband. Her aunt’s house was trashed as punishment for shielding Perdjert, who immediately chartered an aircraft back to Wyndham.
The Evil Warriors align themselves musically to the heavy metal bands Pantera, Iced Earth and Testament. Outcrops of graffiti across the Top End testify that Pantera’s Cowboys From Hell album is regarded as a seminal work. Iced Earth, a shock-rock band, has albums called The Dark Saga, Dark Genesis and Burnt Offerings. Testament album titles include Demonic and Signs of Chaos, all of it suggesting the gangs rejoice in concepts forbidden and reviled by the church.
The Judas Priest boys take their name from the leather-and-chain British band. Metallica, the band that screams against injustice over studiously disjointed machine-gun bursts of sound, is also rated highly by JP. Both groups reject the other’s music as crap.
Beneath the two dominant gangs are sub-gangs with names like the Lica (from Metallica) Warriors, Mad Warriors, Fear Factory, Big T (taken from the band Testament), the German Punks, the White Lions and the Cowboys From Hell – a small group of young boys from just up the road at Palumpa. They are variously aligned to the two main groups.
“These smaller gangs,” says a lawyer with experience in the area, “represent the small Port Keats family groupings or clans that aren’t terribly powerful. They form their small gangs almost as a defence against the larger family gangs but inevitably they need to align themselves to the bigger groups.” In a power switch that came after October 2002, when the Evil Warriors lost influence in Port Keats, most of the smaller gangs got onside with Judas Priest as a matter of survival.
Wyndham exile Peter Cumaiyi confirms the lawyer’s assessment. “The reason why they’re in a gang is to protect themselves from other gangs,” he says. While his sons and nephews are members of the Evil Warriors, Cumaiyi, 47, insists he is too old to be in the gang – even though, when it comes down to it, he has stood alongside his boys and fought Judas Priest.
This is really weird, eh? Check the article out, man. It’s seriously weird. And it gets weirder:
For a start, these are bush kids who don’t speak English well enough to explain themselves. The church sent their parents – like Cumaiyi – to Catholic boarding school in Darwin. But then came the era of self-determination, which demanded the church move aside so that Aborigines could do things for themselves. What in fact happened was that a whole generation – these very boys – fell into a vacuum. They got to grade six and seven then disappeared into the bush.
They deal with problems the best way they know how – through confrontation, using their clan numbers, or forming allegiances with others, much as their ancestors did. But their life as bush gangsters has bitten back.
So you can actually trace much of this back to the Catholic Church’s insistence on “christianizing” the Aboriginal population. Interesting… The Aboriginal youth were probably warned by the church that heavy metal was evil. So naturally, when the church lost control, the youths embraced that which they had been denied. It’s very interesting, but it’s too bad that it’s degenerated into a series of tense, violent, stand-offs with white settlers and each other.
I can assure you that most of the bands mentioned in the article kick ass. I’m sure they would not want to see such destruction in their name. But they understand oppression, as do the gangbangers:
When they first emerged in the 1980s, the gangs were not seen as a threat. Because each gang is tied to one of the region’s 20 clans, or wider family groupings, it was thought the boys had simply updated clan names along contemporary lines. Recent events have forced a reappraisal.
“The music they’re listening to is the music of the oppressed and disadvantaged and these kids really heavily identify,” the lawyer says. “It’s anti-authority, angry, violent and rebellious and these are sentiments a lot of Aboriginal people can identify with. I’m no musicologist but that’s what it seems to be. You just better hope they don’t find Islam.” The lawyer pauses and adds: “I think I’m joking.”
The best way they can explain the love of heavy metal is, in the words of Francis, the “inspiration” it gives them. It needs no beer or ganja to kick it along. He says the music “works” when they are sitting at their outstations, bored and in search of a shared muse. Most like to be seen wearing Kmart-issue camouflage gear they pick up on occasional trips to Darwin. The militia costume would appear to send the message that the boys are combat-ready at all times.
By and large, Port Keats men have lean, hard-cut phy
siques, with veins that rope in their biceps and powerful shoulders. The boys are careful to highlight these features in spray-on clothes. The men of Groote Eylandt, off Arnhem Land, and the Walpiri tribesmen of the Tanami enjoy their reputations as hard men. But for the men of Port Keats – nowadays the most jailed people of any NT community – a special respect is reserved.
Blending the symbols of hard-edged western cultures, gang members – perhaps surprisingly – prefer the angry guitar sound of white metal bands to the tempered black ghetto beat. Rap music, they say, is for kids – even though the shot-dead gangster-musician Tupac Shakur is singled out as an affectionate exception.
They reject the idea that the allegedly demonic nature of the metal bands puts them in the Devil’s hand. “We can be Evil Warriors and we can still go to church,” says Gerard Cumaiyi. “We go to church every Sunday here in Wyndham. We are strong believers. It’s that mob [Judas Priest]. They don’t believe. They never go to church.”
Wow. I think these kids need to get into reggae music, mon. Bob Marley, man. They need to get that aggression out. I think they still need the heavy metal. It provides solace in a world of shit. But reggae offers sunshine, even in the depths of oppression and cruelty. As this article makes clear, skin color doesn’t matter. Music speaks to you, and sound doesn’t have a color.
Shelvey is far from pleased that JP have the upper hand in his town. “All sorts of people in Wadeye are absolutely shit-scared of him getting out,” says an observer. “The Jongmins, as a matter of pride, would say bring it on – but it’s the women and kids generally who are afraid of being caught in the crossfire.”
The Wyndham-based Evil Warriors say they are depending on Shelvey to lead them back to Port Keats. “What the boys are suggesting,” says Gerard Cumaiyi, “is that we need a fair fight with them [Judas Priest] and then there might be peace.” After that, he says it’s over. “We want no more Evil Warriors, no more Judas Priest, no more gangs. We’ll settle down with true family.”
Gerard is asked if he hates the boys from Judas Priest. “We don’t hate them,” he says. “They’re the same mob as us – same language, but different country.” “It’s very hard,” says Peter Cumaiyi. “They can be right, we can be right. It’s a seesaw. Who is right? Which way does it go? We just want to be equal.”
Much of it comes down to how young Port Keats men see their place in the world. They have all been through manhood ceremonies and many have known the inside of Berrimah prison. Yet they are so strongly connected to ceremonial business that other communities rely on Port Keats people to guide them through correct ceremonial performance.
It’s a cycle of violence, as they say. And not much good comes of it. Can’t they get together and put this feud asside? Probably not. The warring gangs each have families where the rule is concentrated, and they get their power through conflict. We should not expect to see an end to this conflict as long as it is so profitable (power-wise) for certain gang families.
The ending is hopeful, however:
Same for the heavy metal gangster culture. These young warriors will fight, will go to jail and will go to jail again for their clans. But they are not beyond reach. There is none of the lethargy among Port Keats people that so demoralises many others. The boys are feared by other communities, seen by the cops as trouble, but are nevertheless warm and intelligent and would surely prefer to be doing more than fighting each other. As such, the heavy metal scene could be read as an attempt to engage in the world beyond their fishbowl existence in a community at the end of a long, dirt road. In a startling admission, it turns out there are Elvis Presley and Hank Williams lovers hiding beneath the furious wall of sound. “Yes, we like angry music,” says Gerard Cumaiyi. “But we also like the crooners.”
Good to know they’re finding other good bands and singers. They need to spread their wings and find the good that exists in all kinds of music. Maybe then they can learn to appreciate the good that exists in all kinds of peoples throughout the world.
This is bullshit. I can’t believe this. Sharon Osbourne must be out of her fucking twisted mind. What a bunch of crap – I will never go to another Ozzfest after this shit.
It seems that Iron Maiden was pelted with eggs, ice, bottlecaps, cups and other trash during their set. That’s so fucking disrespectful I can’t even speak. Iron Maiden are metal gods, no doubt – but more to the point, they are human beings, and deserve a lot more respect than that. Sharon was simply jealous because they go out and kick ass every night, unlike Ozzy. Let the old meal-ticket retire already.
Next time Maiden comes through town, I will see them. Can’t say the same for Ozzy. He’s gotta stand up to his wife for once. This time she has clearly gone too far.