Inspiration?

It’s pretty often that I’m overcome with a feeling of creativity. I feel like doing something, but I can never quite figure out what it is I should be doing. And maybe there isn’t even a should, but the feeling can result in the cleaning of my desk, manipulating a photo in Photoshop, writing, staring into space or whatever. The main problem is that I never feel satisfied. I never feel like I’m accomplishing much of anything. Sometimes I want to re-design this site or rearrange furniture, but I don’t. I just sit and stare at the screen waiting for that great idea to just hit me. Once it hits me, there’s usually no stopping me. I just wish it would hit.

Inspired By Will

I’ve been reading Dave Eggars’ latest book, You Shall Know Our Velocity. I started it sometime ago, put it down and then started over again. I was only 28 pages in, so I didn’t feel like starting over was unreasonable. Will, one of the two main characters in the book has these conversations with himself. I suppose everyone has conversations with themselves.

I had just finished, or was finishing the last cigarette in a pack.

– You know these things are going to kill you.
– Yeah, thanks dad.
– Hey, dont be an asshole. Im just trying to look out for you.
– I really appreciate it.
– You’re kind of in denial, eh?
– No. I know these things are going to kill me. Sometimes I even think that maybe they are already killing me. I get mad at myself for allowing myself to become addicted again. I want to blame someone else for it.
– You’ve got no one to blame but yourself.
– Yeah, I know. I’ve thought about it though. I can trace it back to dating someone who smoked and instead of being bothered by it, I just smoked with her. You know, so it didn’t taste so bad when I kissed her.
– That’s kind of pathetic.
– Yeah, but she was pretty hot and I still think smoking looks sexy.
– But you quit smoking cold turkey several years ago. Why would you think you wouldn’t become addicted again?
– I didn’t give it much thought really. I think I smoke because I’m at home all the time. If I had a 9 to 5 and I had to actually make an effort to smoke, I don’t think I would smoke as much as I do now.
– You give it plenty of thought. You’re lying.
– Well, yeah, now I give it plenty of thought. The sore throat I have could be throat cancer.
– I think you’re being a little dramatic.
– I know, but it’s crossed my mind.
– So what’s going to happen when you finish that last cigarette in your pack?
– The yellow pack screaming at me right now?
– Yeah, that one.
– I’ll quit smoking.
– For good?
– I don’t know. Probably not.
– You’re going to die.
– I know.
– That’s a rough way to go.
– I know. We’ve been through this before.
– We’ll probably go through it again. I just hope you don’t keep struggling with it. Make the decision and stick to it.
– I have every intention of that, but I like to smoke.
– You like to stink?
– No. I just said I like to smoke.
– Smoking stinks. Your office smells like a fucking ashtray.
– I’m going to have a cigarette.
– It’s the last one in the pack. How long do you figure it’ll be until you buy another one?
– I dont know.
– I bet you buy one tomorrow.
– Asshole.

Tops

It seems like the first half of 2002 was pretty uneventful, or maybe I just remember the last half better. Instead of just putting the copyright year on the back of albums, I sure wish they would print the full date. There were a host of albums that just carried over from late last year. I can’t tell you how bracing it was to hear bands like Trail Of The Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, Sparta and others putting the R-A-W-K back in rock. It was also refreshing to have albums from the likes of Josh Rouse, Neil Finn, Candidate and Coldplay making some plain ‘ole good music. It’s been a good year for songs. I probably write that somewhere every year, but I’m saying it again.

One of the difficult things about being a music lover is that I want to listen to everything out there, but there just aren’t enough hours. There are albums by bands like My Morning Jacket, Bright Eyes, The Roots and several others that I just never got around to picking up until recently. I’m certainly not going to justify my picks for 2002. I think they stand just fine on their own, though I do have a few words about them. When I originally posted this list, there was a numbered order, but I’ve since decided that I simply cannot decide on an order. There also used to be 20, but I changed it to 10 and put the rest in with the other essential albums.

The Top 10 Albums of 2002

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Source Tags and Codes: There are certain people’s opinions on music I almost always agree with. One of those people wrote such an impassioned review of this album, I really had no choice but to go out and get myself a copy. The coordinated chaos and massive melody canít be described in words. It’s aggressive, loud and so luscious. I can listen to it at high or low volume and it just shines. There may be others out there creating similar sounds, but I hear something a bit more emotional from TOD.

Coldplay – A Rush Of Blood To The Head: I was afraid for Coldplay. Parachutes was such a wonderful album that I wasn’t very confident that they could follow it. There was gigantic potential, but I thought they might blow it. I should have had more faith. Once I heard this album, I regretted my earlier doubts. What I heard was a band that had become closer. They played better together and played off one another with so much more coherence this time around. Each song on this album has its own legs, but it’s just such a exquisite whole.

Doves – The Last Broadcast: Like Coldplay, Doves is a band that had a tremendous, critically acclaimed debut album. Again, I didn’t know if their sophomore effort would be as compelling. Wrong again. Not only did they deliver, but they seemed a bit more cheerful this time around. Lead vocals were shared and they maintained everything that made them one of my favorites with Lost Souls. Doves are pros at pulling it off on stage as well, which always gives me more respect for a band.

Neil Finn – One All: Neil Finn is one of the greatest songwriters of my lifetime, if not one of the best of all time. While he may be more familiar as part of Crowded House or Split Enz, his music is undeniable. Delicious harmonies and guitar playing add to the overall warmth of this album. Employing the genius of Tchad Blake as co-producer and the likes of Lisa Germano, Sheryl Crow, Sharon Finn, Wendy Melvoin and Jim Keltner (among others) make this heartfelt album that much better. If I had to explain this album in one word, it would be ‘human.’ It could very well be the finest moment of his solo career.

Interpol – Turn On The Bright Lights: This wasnít an album of which I was initially a huge fan. It took me a few listens before I discovered its greatness. Its magnitude was reinforced once I experienced the live show. The album is not one I use as a sonic backdrop. I like to focus on it. The songs are masterful and even a little artsy, but it’s all done so tastefully and free of pretense that it just works.

Queens Of The Stone Age – Songs For The Deaf: Simply put, this is one of the best rock records I have heard. Ever. The chemistry on this album is so intense that I get chills every single time I hear it, and I’ve listened to it hundreds of times. The addition of Dave Grohl’s drumming genius just makes it all that much better, but make no mistake — QOTSA are Josh and Nick. The crust around that core may change with each album, but I think it’s safe to assume that it’s going to rock no matter what. This album is best listened to at maximum decibel levels.

Josh Rouse – Under Cold Blue Stars: I don’t remember how I first heard of Josh, but when I listened to his album I was elated. It was a dreamy mix of unique vocals, simplicity and some of the loveliest songs I had heard all year. I could count on this album to lift me when I was down and inspire me to write when my tank felt empty. I could certainly count on someone thanking me for introducing them to this album — it just feels like home. I can’t say that about many, but it’s such a cozy bunch of songs.

The Soundtrack Of Our Lives – Behind The Music: I debated whether or not to put this album at the top of the heap. It was up there a few times, but when the dust settled there were titles that I had spent more time with. Others were just better albums, plain and simple. This will be one of those that I play quite often in the future. Every song is timeless. Yeah, I know that’s just so cliché, but listen to it and try to tell me otherwise. I could recommend this album to almost anyone I know. It’s accessible without being too calculated and it’s just damn good rock ‘n’ roll.

Superdrag – Last Call For Vitriol: If I chose a few bands that I could count on for great records nearly every single time they made one, Superdrag would be near the top of the list. I still cannot figure out for the life of me why more people don’t know who this band is and why they aren’t as popular as they should be. This album is just good rock ‘n’ roll. It’s so catchy, you’ll be singing along within a few listens and it sounds great at ear drum-piercing volume. I’m still convinced that Superdrag are rock saviors and this album just reaffirms it. Pop sensibility intact, this band will not give up (until they die of lung cancer or sorosis of the liver).

Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot: Color me a fan of Jeff Tweedy (Uncle Tupelo and Wilco included). While this album may not be for everyone, if you strip away the sometimes overdone atmospherics, you are left with some of Tweedy’s finest. Don’t get me wrong, I think the creative and stark production is fine, for the most part. The album stands as a whole. Take one of the songs away and you’d be left with something incomplete. It sounds and even feels epic at times. One thing you can count on is Tweedy’s uncompromising vision and knack for writing some great songs. Admittedly, it took me quite a few listens to really enjoy this album, but the moment the enjoyment began, it never stopped.

Some Other Essential Albums From 2002

The Actual Tigers – Gravelled And Green
Ryan Adams – Demolition
Tori Amos – Scarlet’s Walk
Beck – Sea Change
Brenden Benson – Lapalco
Bright Eyes – Lifted
Candidate – Tiger Flies
The Chemical Brothers – Come With Us
Clinic – Walking With Thee
The Cooper Temple Clause – See This Through And Leave
The Coral – The Coral
Elvis Costello – When I Was Cruel
DJ Shadow – The Private Press
The Donnas – Spend The Night
The Electric Soft Parade – Holes In The Wall
The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
Foo Fighters – One By One
Frou Frou – Details
Missy Eliott – Under Construction
Haven – Between The Senses
Hot Snakes – Suicide Invoice
Idlewild – The Remote Part
Ben Kweller – Sha Sha
Low – Trust
Aimee Mann – Lost In Space
Mastodon – Remission
Tom McRae – Tom McRae
Mellowdrone – A Demonstration Of Intellectual Property
Tift Merrit – Bramble Rose
Rhett Miller – The Instigator
My Vitriol – Finelines
Nirvana – Nirvana
Oasis – Heathen Chemistry
Pulp – We Love Life
Red Hot Chili Peppers – By The Way
The Roots – Phrenology
Röyksopp – Melody A.M.
Sigur Rös – ()
Sparta – Wiretap Scars
Spoon – Kill The Moonlight
The Vines – Highly Evolved
Paul Westerberg – Stereo/Mono

Top 10 Concerts Attended In 2002

01) Thom Yorke (Bridge School Benefit Performance) @ Shoreline Amphitheater
02) The Soundtrack Of Our Lives @ The Troubadour
03) Coldplay @ The Greek Theater
04) Interpol @ The Troubadour
05) The Hives @ The Roxy Theater
06) And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead @ The El Rey Theater
07) The Foo Fighters @ House Of Blues (Anaheim, CA)
08) Sparta @ The Troubadour
09) Superdrag @ The Troubadour
10) Doves/Elbow @ The Mayan Theater

The Tops (Slightly Revised)

It seems like the first half of 2002 was pretty uneventful, or maybe I just remember the last half better. Instead of just putting the copyright year on the back of albums, I sure wish they would print the full date. There were a host of albums that just carried over from late last year. I can’t tell you how bracing it was to hear bands like Trail Of The Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, Sparta and others putting the R-A-W-K back in rock. It was also refreshing to have albums from the likes of Josh Rouse, Neil Finn, Candidate and Coldplay making some plain ‘ole good music. It’s been a good year for songs. I probably write that somewhere every year, but I’m saying it again.

One of the difficult things about being a music lover is that I want to listen to everything out there, but there just aren’t enough hours. There are albums by bands like My Morning Jacket, Bright Eyes, The Roots and several others that I just never got around to picking up until recently. I’m certainly not going to justify my picks for 2002. I think they stand just fine on their own, though I do have a few words about them. When I originally posted this list, there was a numbered order, but I’ve since decided that I simply cannot decide on an order. There also used to be 20, but I changed it to 10 and put the rest in with the other essential albums.

The Top 10 Albums of 2002

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Source Tags and Codes: There are certain people’s opinions on music I almost always agree with. One of those people wrote such an impassioned review of this album, I really had no choice but to go out and get myself a copy. The coordinated chaos and massive melody can’t be described in words. It’s aggressive, loud and so luscious. I can listen to it at high or low volume and it just shines. There may be others out there creating similar sounds, but I hear something a bit more emotional from TOD.

Coldplay – A Rush Of Blood To The Head: I was afraid for Coldplay. Parachutes was such a wonderful album that I wasn’t very confident that they could follow it. There was gigantic potential, but I thought they might blow it. I should have had more faith. Once I heard this album, I regretted my earlier doubts. What I heard was a band that had become closer. They played better together and played off one another with so much more coherence this time around. Each song on this album has its own legs, but it’s just such a exquisite whole.

Doves – The Last Broadcast: Like Coldplay, Doves is a band that had a tremendous, critically acclaimed debut album. Again, I didn’t know if their sophomore effort would be as compelling. Wrong again. Not only did they deliver, but they seemed a bit more cheerful this time around. Lead vocals were shared and they maintained everything that made them one of my favorites with Lost Souls. Doves are pros at pulling it off on stage as well, which always gives me more respect for a band.

Neil Finn – One All: Neil Finn is one of the greatest songwriters of my lifetime, if not one of the best of all time. While he may be more familiar as part of Crowded House or Split Enz, his music is undeniable. Delicious harmonies and guitar playing add to the overall warmth of this album. Employing the genius of Tchad Blake as co-producer and the likes of Lisa Germano, Sheryl Crow, Sharon Finn, Wendy Melvoin and Jim Keltner (among others) make this heartfelt album that much better. If I had to explain this album in one word, it would be ‘human.’ It could very well be the finest moment of his solo career.

Interpol – Turn On The Bright Lights: This wasn’t an album of which I was initially a huge fan. It took me a few listens before I discovered its greatness. Its magnitude was reinforced once I experienced the live show. The album is not one I use as a sonic backdrop. I like to focus on it. The songs are masterful and even a little artsy, but it’s all done so tastefully and free of pretense that it just works.

Queens Of The Stone Age – Songs For The Deaf: Simply put, this is one of the best rock records I have heard. Ever. The chemistry on this album is so intense that I get chills every single time I hear it, and I’ve listened to it hundreds of times. The addition of Dave Grohl’s drumming genius just makes it all that much better, but make no mistake — QOTSA are Josh and Nick. The crust around that core may change with each album, but I think it’s safe to assume that it’s going to rock no matter what. This album is best listened to at maximum decibel levels.

Josh Rouse – Under Cold Blue Stars: I don’t remember how I first heard of Josh, but when I listened to his album I was elated. It was a dreamy mix of unique vocals, simplicity and some of the loveliest songs I had heard all year. I could count on this album to lift me when I was down and inspire me to write when my tank felt empty. I could certainly count on someone thanking me for introducing them to this album — it just feels like home. I can’t say that about many, but it’s such a cozy bunch of songs.

The Soundtrack Of Our Lives – Behind The Music: I debated whether or not to put this album at the top of the heap. It was up there a few times, but when the dust settled there were titles that I had spent more time with. Others were just better albums, plain and simple. This will be one of those that I play quite often in the future. Every song is timeless. Yeah, I know that’s just so cliché, but listen to it and try to tell me otherwise. I could recommend this album to almost anyone I know. It’s accessible without being too calculated and it’s just damn good rock ‘n’ roll.

Superdrag – Last Call For Vitriol: If I chose a few bands that I could count on for great records nearly every single time they made one, Superdrag would be near the top of the list. I still cannot figure out for the life of me why more people don’t know who this band is and why they aren’t as popular as they should be. This album is just good rock ‘n’ roll. It’s so catchy, you’ll be singing along within a few listens and it sounds great at ear drum-piercing volume. I’m still convinced that Superdrag are rock saviors and this album just reaffirms it. Pop sensibility intact, this band will not give up (until they die of lung cancer or sorosis of the liver).

Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot: Color me a fan of Jeff Tweedy (Uncle Tupelo and Wilco included). While this album may not be for everyone, if you strip away the sometimes overdone atmospherics, you are left with some of Tweedy’s finest. Don’t get me wrong, I think the creative and stark production is fine, for the most part. The album stands as a whole. Take one of the songs away and you’d be left with something incomplete. It sounds and even feels epic at times. One thing you can count on is Tweedy’s uncompromising vision and knack for writing some great songs. Admittedly, it took me quite a few listens to really enjoy this album, but the moment the enjoyment began, it never stopped.

Some Other Essential Albums From 2002

The Actual Tigers – Gravelled And Green

Ryan Adams – Demolition

Tori Amos – Scarlet’s Walk

Beck – Sea Change

Brenden Benson – Lapalco

Bright Eyes – Lifted

Candidate – Tiger Flies

The Chemical Brothers – Come With Us

Clinic – Walking With Thee

The Cooper Temple Clause – See This Through And Leave

The Coral – The Coral

Elvis Costello – When I Was Cruel

DJ Shadow – The Private Press

The Donnas – Spend The Night

The Electric Soft Parade – Holes In The Wall

The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

Foo Fighters – One By One

Frou Frou – Details

Missy Eliott – Under Construction

Haven – Between The Senses

Hot Snakes – Suicide Invoice

Idlewild – The Remote Part

Ben Kweller – Sha Sha

Low – Trust

Aimee Mann – Lost In Space

Mastodon – Remission

Tom McRae – Tom McRae

Mellowdrone – A Demonstration Of Intellectual Property

Tift Merrit – Bramble Rose

Rhett Miller – The Instigator

My Vitriol – Finelines

Nirvana – Nirvana

Oasis – Heathen Chemistry

Pulp – We Love Life

Red Hot Chili Peppers – By The Way

The Roots – Phrenology

Röyksopp – Melody A.M.

Sigur Rös – ()

Sparta – Wiretap Scars

Spoon – Kill The Moonlight

The Vines – Highly Evolved

Paul Westerberg – Stereo/Mono

Top 10 Concerts Attended In 2002

01) Thom Yorke (Bridge School Benefit Performance) @ Shoreline Amphitheater

02) The Soundtrack Of Our Lives @ The Troubadour

03) Coldplay @ The Greek Theater

04) Interpol @ The Troubadour

05) The Hives @ The Roxy Theater

06) And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead @ The El Rey Theater

07) The Foo Fighters @ House Of Blues (Anaheim, CA)

08) Sparta @ The Troubadour

09) Superdrag @ The Troubadour

10) Doves/Elbow @ The Mayan Theater

Secret Auf der Maur Shows In Los Angeles

We wanted to be the first to let you know (if you don’t already) that Melissa Auf der Maur (former bass player for Hole and Smashing Pumpkins) has a new band, Auf der Maur. They will be playing a couple of secret shows in the Los Angeles area under the name On The Wall.

The first show is at 9pm on Thursday, December 12th with local favorites Wild Gift @ The Echo, 1822 Sunset Blvd. The other show is at 9pm Sunday, December 15th @ The Derby, 4500 Loz Feliz Blvd. These are not-to-be-missed shows for you L.A. folks.

Nic Harcourt Sounds Off

Back in October when I was at KCRW to do a small feature on Spoon, I had the opportunity to speak with Nic Harcourt, KCRW’s Music Director and host of the world-famous radio show, Morning Becomes Eclectic. In case you’re not in the know, KCRW is a community-supported radio station out of Santa Monica, CA. The station has a tremendous reputation for showcasing some of the best music in the world. KCRW also happens to be one of the few redeeming stations in the sprawling metropolis that is Los Angeles.

I sat down with Nic just after he had finished the show to talk about KCRW’s influence, the music industry and of course his own music preferences. The following interview was conducted on October 23, 2002.

Brad: Tell me a little bit about how you got started at KCRW. I know that Chris [Douridas] was doing the show before you came in. What were you doing before you got here?

Nic: I was up in Woodstock, New York running a small-market, modern-rock station. I’d been there for almost 10 years. I started off as a part-timer, working overnights and weekends. Through persistence, sticking around and hopefully knowing what I was doing, I ended up being the morning guy, the music director and the program director, all at the same time I might add. That’s small-market radio for you.

I was pretty happy there. I was a big fish in a little pond and it was fun. I was living in a house on 7 acres in the woods of the Catskills and then the opportunity to come to do this job came up for me. It was suggested to me by a friend that I should apply for the job. They had been looking for somebody for a while because Chris was busy doing other things and couldn’t juggle everything. I didn’t immediately respond to it because I was kind of happy where I was, but I thought about it some more and I figured I should really go out and have a look at the opportunity. So, I applied for the job and to cut a long story short, I got the job and came to L.A.

Brad: You’ve become a pretty important part of the music community here in L.A. just because of KCRW’s influence on the music scene and the Los Angeles community. There’s a lack of good radio in L.A. and KCRW fills that void in a lot of ways. As the Music Director and host of Morning Becomes Eclectic, what do you feel you bring to the table? Did you have any goals when you took the job?

Nic: I didn’t really come here with a plan. There was no agenda when I got here. The first thing I wanted to do when I got here was just sit tight and wait for all the people that were pissed off that Chris had left to relax and then sort of chart my own course. Whether you’re doing it in this market or your doing it in Poughkeepsie [New York], at the end of the day what you bring to it is yourself. It so happens we’re in Los Angeles, probably the most important music market in the country. That’s partially because the entertainment industry is here it’s even more important because of the influence of the people that listen to the radio station.

You bring your tastes, you bring your history, you bring your background and when you’re doing free-form radio, that’s really what’s going to come out on the air. So, that’s what I bring to it. I bring myself, my background growing up in England, listening to the Beatles when I was a kid, listening to T. Rex and David Bowie as a teenager and listening to punk rock the first time around. All the other stuff that I was influenced by as a kid, a teenager and a young man is what influences and informs the music that I like and listen to today. That’s what I put on the radio. I try and cast as wide of a net as possible, and I learn all the time as well. My horizons expand by doing the show. At the end of the day it’s all subjective. Whatever you’re going to play on the radio, on this type of a show, is just going to be a subjective decision. If I like it, it gets played. If I don’t, it probably isn’t going to get played. That’s just the way it is.

Brad: Speaking of likes and dislikes, you are a part of The Short List Music Project. Tell me how you got involved in that.

Nic: It was started by two guys. One of them is a publicist (Greg Spotts) and the other guy is an A&R executive at MCA (Tom Sarig), and they’re both music lovers. I knew Tom a little bit and he and Greg were just sort of sitting around talking one night, bemoaning the state of the music industry, the music awards like the Grammys and stuff like that, saying, ‘wouldn’t it be cool if we had an award that reflected artistic merit rather than how many records you sold.’ There’s a similar award in England called the Mercury Music Prize, and they based it on that. Then they came to me and asked me if I would be interested in being one of the List Makers. This was the first time around, last year, and I was obviously honored that they would ask me. When I became involved in making my list and talking to them a little bit more, it became clear that we had the opportunity, with the radio station, to help spread the word about what The Short List was. That’s been my involvement with it last year and this year.

Brad: Who are some of the bands that you are liking a lot this year? What are some of the albums that have come out this year that are your personal favorites?

Nic: Doves and The Flaming Lips records are on The Short List and they’re also two of my favorite records of the year. There are other records that are not on The Short List that I like. The Mexican band, Kinky that I’ve been playing the last year and a half, who I love. I think they’re just so refreshing and exciting and now. I like the DJ Shadow record that came out earlier on this year. I’m looking forward to the new Groove Armada record, which I’ve heard a little bit of. It comes out next year. There’s a lot of really good music out there. I get to hear a lot of bad music as well as good music [laugh]

Brad: [laugh] I would imagine…

Nic: And that’s no reflection on the people making it. I mean there’s a lot of people that want to make music and only so many are actually good at writing songs and performing. Out of all the music that’s out there, there’s a lot of really good music in a lot of different genres. I just mentioned a couple of the people that I like, but there’s a lot of really great stuff out there.

Brad: Some of my favorite records from this year have come out of the UK. Doves is definitely one of my favorites. Bands like The Electric Soft Parade and The Music…

Nic: [interrupts] Yeah, I like some of that stuff. I don’t like all of the stuff on The Music’s record, or The Electric Soft Parade’s record for that matter, but there’s definitely some good songs and music coming out of England, but there’s good music coming out of here as well. There’s a lot of really good lo-fi, alt-country kind of stuff going on now in the middle of America. Bands making records in places you would never expect like Nebraska. There’s a record by a guy whose name I can’t remember, but he calls himself Iron And Wine. He’s got a CD out and he’s doing alt-country lo-fi stuff in Miami, which you would never expect to come from that part of the world. You just have to sort of look around and listen to the music that’s out there.

Brad: The Internet has played a really important part, especially in the last year or two, with breaking new artists. There’s been a lot of discrepancies between the labels and the consumers as far as how they find their music, among other things. I think KCRW provides a amazing service to sample a lot of music that might not normally get heard anywhere else, which I suppose is a nice reflection of you.

Nic: Thank you.

Brad: What’s your feeling about music as it relates to the Internet and how it helps people discover new music.

Nic: The net has provided an outlet for a lot of music that wouldn’t get heard otherwise. Whether it’s kids just file swapping bands they’ve never heard of that have a buzz going on about them or a couple of tracks out there, that’s a way of helping to generate some attention for music that people might not know about. It’s another way, another distribution system and opportunity for people to hear music.

Radio, in general, is so sewn up with corporate money, that bands can’t get heard. College radio is kind of hit and miss. I mean there are some cool college radio stations, but there’s a lot of very self-indulgent college radio out there. There’s a lot of music that doesn’t get heard on college radio. The thing about the Internet is that everything is out there, if you’re prepared to go look. Of course you can find some cool college stations and there’s a lot of great public radio stations and there are stations in France and in England. Radio Nova in France is a great place and Xfm in England is another great place, so through the web people have the opportunity to hear stuff that they wouldn’t ordinarily be exposed to.

I think what the record industry has done (or not done) in the last five years is really disgraceful. They refused to accept that the technology was there and they needed to address it and find a way to work with it. When they realized that it was something that people were rampantly using, and that it was indeed beginning to impinge on their territory, then they tried to kill it. They’ve tried to kill it in a whole bunch of ways, and the radio industry as well. In my opinion, and I can’t prove it, but it seems to me that the radio corporations that own thousands of stations…

Brad: Clear Channel…

Nic: Yeah, Clear Channel, Viacom and all these people, along with all the record companies, have tried to shut down Internet radio, and they’re succeeding. It’s a disgrace. It’s really sad, to be honest with you. The thing about the Internet is that it will find a way around it. It’s mutating and evolving. There’s going to be somebody who finds something. I just think it’s really disingenuous for the record industry to say that Napster and people like that killed the record industry. The record industry killed the record industry because they stopped investing in artists. They stopped promoting careers. They were just looking for hits. When you do that, then you aren’t developing any catalog for the future. The thing that kept the record companies going for the last 10 or 15 years was selling back catalog on CDs. People who had all those albums on vinyl started converting their collections into CDs and [the record companies] were just making money with their back catalog, and that’s fine. The problem is they haven’t created any more back catalog for today. Now they’re in trouble because all they’ve got left are these songs that they’re throwing at radio and most of the stuff is not that interesting.

There are good bands out there. There are important bands out there making careers for themselves. Radiohead is a good example. They’re a band that really believes in reinventing themselves and that music is art.

Brad: Do you think that labels are becoming more obsolete? It seems like more and more bands are taking things into their own hands. A band like Radiohead has the leverage to go off and do something on their own, but the developing artists don’t have that luxury. Do you think that’s something we’re going to see more of in the future, or will the labels provide a service besides just bankrolling artists?

Nic: The thing about record labels is that they do serve a purpose. There are some very basic functions of labels that are important for the music business – tour support and providing the opportunity for bands to…like Radiohead, when they first started, they were bankrolled by money that EMI was making from selling Queen records. That’s a simple fact. They couldn’t have afforded to bankroll this band and put them out on tour if they hadn’t have been making money from something else. So, they serve two purposes: they’re a filter, which is a useful purpose because if you and I have to…well, I actually do have to listen to everything, but if most people had to listen to absolutely everything, you wouldn’t get to the good stuff. So record labels can serve a purpose to filter the music and they can help bands get out there and tour. Obviously, musicians who become wealthy have the opportunity to do things differently. I don’t think the record labels are obsolete. I think that they will re-invent themselves and they will get back to basics and they will find a way to embrace the Internet.

People will be buying downloadable music at some point, but I think that there are other things that will be going on as well. There will be more cooperatives and more artist groups who are putting music out there. I think what really needs to happen is for younger people to stop thinking of a music career as a job or a career opportunity. You know, ‘oh, I wanna be a rock star!’ It’s like, ‘no, if you want to be an artist, then you can probably have a career.’ Then you are doing stuff that’s worth while and people are going to want to listen to you. If you just want to dress up and be on Teen Idol or whatever it’s called, then there’s no future in that stuff.

Brad: Thank you very much for your time, Nic.

Nic: No problem. It was my pleasure.

November’s Mix Has Been Posted

I’ll go so far as to say this is one of the finer mixes I have compiled in some time. A gigantic thank you to Shayna for doing some quick sketching. Get to downloading.

Next month’s will be a double disc. One disc will be the regular monthly mix and the other will be selections from the top 20 albums of 2002. A very special artist will be doing the artwork for the mix. Guest List members will have a chance to win a few copies with full artwork, so if you aren’t on the list now, you best be gettin’ on it. Just click on the magic words.

Getting Rid Of More Stuff

In the spirit of getting rid of stuff I don’t need*, I sold nearly half of my DVD collection to the good people at Amoeba. To be exact, it was worth $353.00 (of store credit). There’s nothing like walking into Amoeba with no money in your pocket and walking out with 18 new/used CDs and credit to spare for the next buying spree.

*Just so we’re clear, DVDs are of little to no importance to me, while music fits somewhere in the food, clothing and shelter thing.