Aside

The demos for the new CD are nearly complete. With the last CD, …AND YOU WILL KNOW ME BY THE TRAIL OF VOMIT, I wanted to see how inexpensively I could put a professional CD out where I did most all the work (short of mastering it), from writing and recording the music to drawing and laying out all the art. I did it as a personal challenge and to show other artists, especially new ones, that it was an alternative to going massively into debt for a CD yet still make something valid artistically. Overall I was really happy with the results. It was also a really personal CD for me and honestly ended up being a perfect closure to a lot of the hell I’d let my life become over the last decade, since shortly after I ended up hitting rock bottom, quit drinking, and finally started taking care of a lot of shit I should have taken care of long ago.

So I’m in a much better place now and my music is reflecting that in many ways. I’ve just been cutting loose and have some fucking FUN on this CD and actually write a bunch of “club music” inspired by all the music I love in industrial/ebm, from old Meat Beat Manifesto and Nitzer Ebb to Underworld to rhythmic noise and the current harder stuff EBM…and all sorts of stuff in between.

THIS IS JIZZCORE was written for the live shows. …TRAIL OF VOMIT was written to just be listened to. The new one is to pump on the dancefloor.

I’ve of course written “club music” before but generally it wasn’t as deliberate as this and that has been an amazing challenge for me. I’ve learned so damn much in terms of crafting and production, and since clubs are what I’m trying to hit I’m actually bringing in people with significantly more polished production skills to help mix the CD for maximum effect. This explains why I’m doing the http://www.kickstarter.com campaign in a few weeks– there’s actual COSTS on this CD! But because of that it’s gonna be big and shiny and the baddest motherfucking motherfucker I can put out.

The whole experience has been like raiding someone else’s wardrobe and seeing how everything fits you. It’s been a really exciting and positive time in my life and I think all that energy will translate. There’s still a ways to go, but I’m extremely excited to announce everything on this CD in the next couple months and get the Kickstarter campaign going.

If all goes to plan it’ll beat the ever-living hell out of y’all in early 2011.:)

Thanks.

Aside

The Caustic http://www.kickstarter.com pledge campaign, starting in a few weeks, is looking to raise $2500 for the new CD. Truthfully I could use a bit more, but I think $2500 is attainable and the bare minimum to make this asskicking CD kick the right amount of ass.

There are some seriously fun/ridiculous premiums, especially a few of the limited ones, which I’ll probably announce prior to the campaign rocking.

DESIGNATED DRINKER shot glasses coming!

These are going to be in stock in 2 weeks:
PROOF of the new shot glasses!

Guaranteed dishwasher safe!

ONE for $5 + $2.50 U.S. shipping = $7.50 TOTAL
TWO for $9 + $4 U.S. shipping = $13 TOTAL
FOUR for $17 + $6 US shipping = $23 TOTAL

PAYPAL causticmerch@gmail.com and make sure to include CORRECT ADDRESS!

OVERSEAS shipping rates: $5 for the first glass (so $10 USD) and $3.50 per glass over that.

I’m done drinking, so now you have to drink for two…or something.

Aside

We’re recording the SECOND PART of the Caustic live DVD on October 23rd here in Madison at INFERNO NIGHTCLUB. We’re playing with SENSUOUS ENEMY (who are having a release party for their new PARITY EP) and THE LIGHT ASYLUM opening up. $5. 21 and up. Caustic’s up 2nd.

The reason it’s the 2nd part is that we ended up doing a massively abbreviated (yet mega-fun) set at Kinetik and I think it’d be stupid releasing like a 24 fuckin’ minute live DVD. We’re punk in some ways, but that would still be lame as hell.

Inferno’s website is right here, y0.

Aside

Since my regular website’s ridiculously outdated and in need of an overhaul I decided to tweak this as the current “main site” for Caustic, where I’ll be making new announcements and all that shit for the time being. I’ll also be updating with a ton of blogs off my Facebook page.

Thanks.

NOBODY CARES ABOUT YOUR MUSIC! YAAAYYY!!!

I’m going to share something that motivates me to do what I want with my music.

In the grand scheme of things…hell, in the MINOR scheme of things, get this….

NOBODY GIVES A SHIT ABOUT YOUR MUSIC.

NONE. NADA. NOT EVEN HALF A SHIT.

While this seems disheartening (and if you actually want to make money doing this find another genre to try and “make it” and see how much harder THAT is) it’s actually 100% liberating. Sure sure, even people who say “I don’t give a fuck” actually kinda-sorta-a-lil-bit actually DO care, otherwise they wouldn’t even put out music. Yes, this applies to me. I care a LOT about what people think of my music despite the “oh look at me I’m so gosh darned punk rawk” bullshit I constantly spew. Of course I care. Don’t be a moron.

The difference is that I don’t try and let that dictate what I DO with my music.

Notice I say “try”. While some artists pretend that they’re in some little glowing bubble of creativity and every note and decision comes from their Eternal Artistic Soul….well that’s total bullshit. I’m not necessarily talking Censorship with a capitol “C”, I’m talking simple human insecurity creeping in subconsciously and saying “okay, this will NOT go over well much as I dig it. This alternative will work a bit better.”

It affects some people a little and others a lot, and the longer you do it the more confident you are with your instincts. If you’ve ever been around enough creative people you’ll realize you’re dealing with quite possibly the most fucked up, insecure, low-self-esteem-havin’ bunch of freaks on earth. It’ll seriously make you long to chill out with some fucking accountants for a while at times. But it’s the nature of the beast. As Insecure Artists we generally feel like we have Something Worth Saying and would love the world to fellate our creativity and give us rainbows of accolades. After all, it’s scary as hell to put yourself out there and try and push past Simply What’s Expected Of You as a person and do something that is IN YOUR MIND an extraordinary feat and feel like it’s appreciated appropriately (which it rarely is– creative people are totally egotistical like that.)

If you’ve never tried it, just do this: Simply find a poem you like and go to an open mic. Not even a poem YOU WROTE, necessarily. Just a poem that you feel sincerely speaks to YOU. Announce that it means a lot to you and just READ IT to people with as much feeling as you can.

Easy to say. Easy to contemplate. Not so easy to do for a majority of people.

Now try and write your own and do it. Even harder.

Hell, just think about how tense you got doing a fucking BOOK REPORT in gradeschool. I’m a freakish extrovert and I still recall the dread.

So back to the point: Nobody cares about your music.

I hate to break it to anyone (including myself, because I’m as wacked out and delusional as any artist), but the recording industry will most likely NOT be knocking on your door anytime soon to see if you’ll sign a 10 CD deal and tour with Depeche Mode and Jesus Christ’s awesome new electro project. In fact the chances of you even getting accidentally mentioned in Rolling Stone or Spin is about the same as me winning the lottery in a state I didn’t even buy a lottery ticket in.

Yeah, you’re fucked. And, better yet, not at all.

I look at someone like Katy Perry, who I think is about as low as they go in terms of fleeting pop status, and go “WHY THE FUCK IS THIS IDIOT POPULAR?!?!” Then I think about how this woman is just a “lucky” victim of the industry. She’s ferreted around by the label non-stop doing press, photo shoots, and letting dozens of people craft her image. She probably barely sleeps, can never just gorge on pizza without fear of some paparazzi filming her being a quarter pound heavier, and is constantly criticized by a million pricks like me daily.

And all she probably thinks about is “How long before nobody cares about me anymore and I’m dropped for the next perky-titted idiot?”

She has no control. I haven’t checked but I doubt she even writes her own songs, so she’s at the mercy of what she’s given and what the label feels like PAYING for her music.

See, as artists we don’t have the problem of shelf life or thinking this is a “career”. The only expiration dates that most of us have are when either the band breaks up or we just don’t feel like doing this anymore. Since a good portion of us can and do put out CDs in small runs or, even better, digitally, we aren’t beholden to massive labels desperate to make their massive investments back on someone who they’ve invested THOUSANDS of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars on.

So we’re not going anywhere, literally and figuratively. And that’s a great thing. Use that. Push yourselves harder. Fuck playing it safe.

Or, more specifically: DO WHAT YOU WANT.

Why? If for no other reason because YOU CAN.

And that, my friends, is true creative freedom. Nobody gives a shit, so you don’t have to either.

I love this world.

Labels: Oui ou Non?

Being on a label means many things: Most of all it’s a status symbol, a badge saying “someone believes in my music enough to pay their own money to put it out.” It’s an ego thing as well; a validation. And I’d be a massive hypocrite if it wasn’t fun to say “Oh, my label’s putting out my new CD in March” to zillions of people.

But, really, do you need a label, and what do you get out of it?

Labels in this genre (and I’ll assume most genres where you’re selling less than a few thousand CDs) can be a massive benefit if you as an artist know what you’re getting from them and they deliver. Let’s start with what you most likely won’t be getting, just to get it out of the way:

-Any advances for production costs, new gear, etc

-Tour support of any sort, meaning the label will chip in anything short of maybe donating a bunch of CDs so you can hopefully sell them for gas money. This includes t-shirts and other stuff.

-More than a couple album deal.

-Much in terms of a promotional budget (and note this is different than promotional SUPPORT).

-A huge, Depeche Mode 50/50 split royalty rate.

But let’s look at the positives of what you DO get:

-The status of “being signed”, which should NOT necessarily be taken lightly.

-Someone paying for the production of your CD and getting it online to major digital distros and, if they are even still around, into indie stores willing to stock the CD.

-Promotional support in terms of getting review copies out, release parties, listservs, online pimping, and possible handbills and helping get your music in the hands of bands that may want you to tour with them.

-A family of hopefully like-minded artists to work and cross-promote with under a single banner.

Due to diminishing returns in CD sales and the rise of digital albums as a more prominent means of getting music in fan’s ears, a lot of labels have either shut their doors completely or gone digital like my current label Crunch Pod. While this makes sense due to many factors, one being the still heavy cost of CD production (see my mildly aged yet still mostly relevant rant from years ago on the costs that go into putting out CDs– http://causticmusic.wordpress.com/2009/07/10/mega-rant-on-downloading-and-actual-costs-for-small-labels/), it also begs the question “Why the hell do I need a label when I can pay for all my shit myself and just chuck it up on itunes through Tunecore?”

Well, in essence, you don’t…IF you’re willing to put in an ass-ton of work to get the word out on it.

See, just because you have a bandcamp site and are on amazon, itunes, emusic, etc, doesn’t mean anyone will give a shit. Why? EVERYTHING is on there, so you’re not even a needle in a haystack– you’re the hay. And while some bands get hooked onto by the masses and every door seemingly opens for them and the world just loves ‘em to death, that’s few and far between.

So if you want to take the DIY route, be prepared to get your hands dirty, be ready to call in favor after favor if you can and whore so relentlessly you’ll feel like you’ve sucked the equivalent of a Vegas plumber’s convention of lonely cock.

Know what though? Welcome to DIY. Nobody owes you anything, and if your music isn’t ready or what people want to hear they’ll just bounce to the next band they can listen to for free and judge harshly or just press “don’t like” on whatever streaming site they’re pumping through their shitty, low-quality earbuds at work. Tenacity is the key to success, and anyone saying anything different isn’t selling for shit.

The benefits of DIY are pretty awesome if it works (and the IF is a big one) — you can potentially cover costs faster as you get to keep all the money, you get bragging rights that you rule and have a fanbase big enough to support your art, and like people bragging that they’re signed, you can say “oh, I don’t NEED a label to kick ass.”

*raises hand*

The thing is, while I know I don’t necessarily “need” a label, I wouldn’t be able to self-release without conceding a massive amount of humble gratitude towards Crunch Pod for helping me GAIN that following to begin with. Without Crunch Pod I wouldn’t have had many, many opportunities AND I know I would have lost a LOT of money in production costs at first, as even to gain my meager but luckily devoted fanbase I would have pissed through a ton of cash putting out CDs and pimping them solo.

It’s not to say I didn’t put in countless hours on my own, but I would be a fool to pretend to have done it all myself.

So am I saying go get signed and then do it yourself? No. I’m saying Know What You Want and Can/Want To Do. If you hate promoting yourself and just wanna be all about the music you should either try and get signed or be satisfied knowing people will hopefully stumble upon your Soundcloud page and enjoy your tunes. I’d recommend NOT investing in getting CDs made if you aren’t willing to shill like a motherfucker to sell them. Personally I’m pretty good at it, but I can’t pretend it always feels good and doesn’t feel like a massive chore at times, especially when I don’t get some good skinner box positive reinforcement. Honestly a lot of the time I just feel like I’m dragging along until another Paypal sale pops up in my inbox and the little voice in my head says “Only 99 more sales until I can be sure my wife doesn’t yell at me for losing more money on Caustic!”

***BIG NOTE before I go further on my rant here– know that I’m speaking GENERALLY of a MASSIVE amount of problems people have with labels– for the most part this isn’t my experience at all with my CURRENT label, luckily.***

Be prepared for the worst if you do DIY, but be prepared for the worst if you’re signed to a label. Be prepared for potential total lack of communication with whoever’s running the label, never seeing royalties or even sales statements, finding out you can’t even buy your OWN cds for a reasonable wholesale price from the label, or realizing that even though the label promised IN WRITING that they’d do X, Y, and Z they never even got to Q and now you’re screwed (and sueing them won’t help because they’re already working 3 jobs to keep the label afloat at all). Be prepared to have that label hold a contract over your head and cripple you creatively because they won’t release your CD until it meets with their approval, or they won’t release you from it because you didn’t read the fine print well enough to know you got locked in like a slave.

Get set to STILL do the lion’s share of the work even though you’re getting a small royalty rate (and before you whine realize it’s STILL probably bigger than someone like Madonna gets on a Big Label), do a massive amount of networking to find gigs and opening spots, begging to get on Some Important Compilation, and possibly, after you’re “established”, being essentially forgotten because the New Hot Thing just got signed to your label and they figure you can chug away on the last album’s momentum.

So what am I saying? Go with someone you feel you can trust, and don’t be afraid to leave. Don’t sign a ten (or even two CD with a two CD option) album deal because you aren’t necessarily getting “security”– you might be getting “stuck in a shitty contract” if that label can’t make even a good faith effort on what they’re promising.

Get it in writing if you’re wary. Personally, I’m not signed to shit with Crunch Pod, and it’s worked out just fine, but I’m more of the “Touch & Go” label mindset (they’re a Chicago-based label– look ‘em up) in terms of contracts, but I DID have one with my first label Statik Sky. Ben’s always been up-front and honorable with me on every front and I’ve done my best to help the label and team by crosspromoting, doing remixes, and soforth. We’re also a small label and a family in many regards, so that’s a great thing.

And yes, I consider Crunch Pod out of the norm in the stories I’ve heard and/or experienced from knowing of a lot of other labels. Not ALL, mind you, but there’s a lot that have risen and gone down or are still around…

The main point here is no matter what you’re going to need to put in a lot of work. One major reason I’ve stuck by Crunch Pod (other than the relationships) is that CP does a lot of the shit work I simply hate doing. I did it all solo on the last CD I self-released to show it COULD be done, but I still lost plenty of sleep while promoting it and especially packaging 100+ preorders. I could have spent that time working on new tracks or spending time staring into the sun to see how long it would take to completely blind myself, but if nothing else doing all that work made me appreciate Crunch Pod all the more.

Just do what’s best for your art and what you want to get out of it. Don’t do what’s best for your ego, much as it’s easy to sometimes confuse the two. For some people just throwing a few tracks up on bandcamp is enough. Some people want total world domination, and others are in between. Whatever you do though, don’t let the bullshit burn you out or make you stop feeling passionate for what you’re creating. I guarantee you it’s not worth it at all if that happens.

<3, Matt