Monthly Archives: September 2009

Good Tips on Promoting From One of Chicago’s “Good Guys”

I’ve known Matt Pathogen a long time.   I actually did the first show he and the Chicago crew he works with (Kinetik), and honestly it was a bit of clusterfuck due to a bunch o’ reasons, many newbie stuff.  Still, the show went on and the world didn’t end, and I know from doing a good 4-5 others shows with them over the years (and a fest) that, well, they learned a lot.

Read.  Enjoy.  It’s good stuff.


Screaming at the Wall

Here’s some advice to everyone in the whole wide world who loves music:  Release a CD independently, either a physical one or even a digital release.  Put countless hours into it (aka “when you aren’t at your regular job or trying to have a life”), agonizing over the details, the art, the sounds, and put it out.  Go through hours of self-doubt, “Is this good enough?” moments, and emails to people whose help you’ll inevitably need to get the word out.  Go through all the marketing, tenuous promo writing, submission of info to labels, distro houses, and whathaveyou.  Go through the budgeting and rebudgeting and re-rebudgeting to make sure you’ll still have a house or car after you put it out there and it recoups dick because some disrespectful douchetard waving his “I’m big on the internet!” dick got it and put it up on a torrent.

Because if you haven’t done that, don’t fucking tell anyone, especially someone you MAY BARELY KNOW, how to do it.


The amount of “helpful ideas” artists receive from (often well meaning, but) completely ignorant parties is astounding.  I know a guy that runs a club here in Madison, and the amount of “helpful ideas” he has received over the last decade plus of running it could fill the Grand Canyon.

And you know what, 99.9% of them are from people who have never run a club, have one perspective (“I LOVE HOUSE MUSIC SO MORE HOUSE NIGHTS!!!”), don’t understand a SINGLE cost of running the business, and ironically rarely bring out new people to experience the place and get into it like they are.

So, yeah, he doesn’t really listen.  And mind you, this is solely my interpretation of the situation from knowing him and actually working on things in said club. And yes, he occasionally listens to me, because I’m brilliant and shit.

There are so few jobs that people are ready to offer up completely uneducated advice on than anything involving a more subjective business like a club or the arts, where a myriad of reasons can explain why or why not it does well.  To give a slight twist on an old saying- I don’t come to where you work and tell you how to improve your cocksucking technique as I’m not a professional cocksucker (or even amateur– I pulled a hamstring early on and had to drop out of the local league).

I’m not saying suggestions aren’t helpful– hell, I’ve used a few great suggestions that people have given from friends who know me and how my mind works (or stalls), but all I’m saying is that you should strongly consider shutting the hell up before you suggest or criticize something.  Yes, you have a mind and maybe went to college or a DeVry Institute for blacksmithing or some shit, but it doesn’t MEAN YOUR OPINION IS VALID OR EDUCATED.

I know, you may be saying “well Matt this is the DIGITAL AGE and it’s the INTERNET and blahblahblah I love Grey’s Anatomy…”  You know what? It doesn’t make the point any less true, and hiding behind a username doesn’t give your words any more weight than sending an anonymous letter to someone.  I stopped visiting a lot of forums for music that I used to promote on due to the absolute wealth of moronic ideas on there that frankly end up annoying me more than amusing me.  The most common (for industrial forums) is “THIS IS WHY THE SCENE HAS BEEN DYING!”

Okay, let’s address this, as it’s probably been said SINCE THROBBING GRISTLE PUT OUT THEIR FIRST FUCKING RECORD.  The “scene” isn’t dying.  Hell, the “scene” doesn’t actually exist if you want to get right down to it.  YOU’RE EITHER GETTING OLD OR GETTING INTO OTHER MUSIC THAT NOW APPEALS TO YOU.

Why do I know this?  I’m ACTUALLY in the “business” of music, if only on a small,  independent level.  I know what labels are doing and I actually read things about the business to try and understand why things are the way they are.  I know what a lot of people are listening to “in the scene”, even if I am often listening to other stuff myself.

In other words, just because something died INSIDE YOU doesn’t mean IT’S “DEAD” EVERYWHERE.

For instance, I used to love reading comic books.  I stopped for several reasons, but that doesn’t mean “The Comic Scene Is Dead”.  It simply means “I have to spend money on other stuff like dogfood and beer.”

Got it?

So please, I implore you, ONLY listen to people who actually have experience in the area.  This goes for ANY field.  Nobody’s giving random advice to brain surgeons that should be taken seriously, so don’t take (or give) advice if you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.


A Great Post on Creativity and Success from Faderhead

Really great speech regarding process, success, creativity, and depression.  More uplifting than I described it:)

Trusting the Process

The process by which an artist creates is always fascinating to me.  I devour interviews and “X-ARTIST on X-ARTIST” books as I love learning the thought process and methods that other creative types (whether visual artists, musicians, writers, or whatever) use to achieve their works.  Sometimes I don’t even like the artist but still love reading about how they make their shitty art, as the process is completely separate in some ways than the piece itself.

Personally, I just have a notebook that’s pretty much exclusively for dumb ideas.  I’m on my 4th or 5th one now, and usually go through one a CD.  I write and revise lyrics constantly in a sort of mental churning and regurgitation to come up with something better or iron out where they simply just don’t work and/or suck.  Sometimes I have a line or a chorus and just sit on that until inspiration hits and I spurt out the rest of the lyrics.  Booze Up and Riot was, if I recall, just a title (from Milk and Cheese, if you know the awesome Evan Dorkin comic book.  If not you should check it out) and I had the basic chorus, but it totally took form when I read an interview with Maynard from Tool somewhere where he said something along the lines of “You piss me off, we start a riot,” regarding a show where the promoters were being dicks.

Eureka.  The lyrics just poured out…well, mostly.  I had a point of reference and a basis to work everything else off of.  Luckily for the music I also had a bassline from a song I’d tried to work out a year earlier and even though the song itself failed the bassline was cool as hell, so it all came together due to not discarding ideas and just working through the process.

Similar situations happened with Pull the Pin and The Bible, The Bottle, The Bomb, the title on the latter from a piece by Black Flag artist Raymond Pettibon that I read about in a book somewhere and loved.

Point is, don’t keep your ears or eyes closed for inspiration.  If something hits you as a cool phrase or idea WRITE IT DOWN.  My notebooks are probably 75% shit– discarded ideas, doodles, and crappy drunken lyrics.

But still, even if it’s a stupid idea, WRITE IT DOWN.

Brainstorming is a massively gratifying way to mine your noggin.  There are no stupid ideas, as an idea you may never use may inspire another which could be brilliant or at least exactly what you’re looking for.

I came out of a decade of improvisational comedy and so trusting ideas, writing them down without judgment, and building on the good ones is a key part of the process.  Just get it out there.  It’s a draft.  It’s a purging.  It’s Ex Lax for the creative bowels.

Just get it out of you.

I still use lyrics and ideas I came up with YEARS ago.  Sometimes from over a DECADE.  Why?  It stuck with me.  And I WROTE IT DOWN.

I get frustrated that I can’t always come up with the music that suits the lyrics or the lyrics that suit the music, but having the confidence in your process and some major patience occasionally allows your brain the time to work through shit to the best results.  Redneck Pussyhouse took me FOREVER to write.  I had the idea “gabber with haikus” and the title, but I went through probably 10 different versions of that bitch before I hit paydirt.  I’m sure some people can just pump song after song out when they get their ideas, and by comparison to many I actually look like it’s what I do, but it’s a long process regardless of the outcome, and for me the process is entirely more gratifying and fun than the finished product.  Hell, the final songs are mostly just cool because that’s when they can be shared and played live finally, but by then they’re also totally out of me and I’m on another zillion bad ideas.

So trust your process, whatever it is, but ALWAYS write it down.