“Whenever we choose to tell [a narrative], we are choosing to silence others.” Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus.
My diaries are an example of that, because I will always have the feeling that I’ve missed something out, or am superficially meandering so I’ll try to keep it brief.
Though this is a diary for documenting, accounting for and posturing experiences around the world, it is also where I review drums, cymbals, hardware, the sound set up and whatever else might happen. It is not always worth mentioning that the kit is a Yamaha Maple Custom Absolute, maybe because they have become so commonplace. But I am lucky enough to play on a huge variety of kits including Ludwig, Gretsch New Classic, Sonor drums, Tama Star Classic… I recently bought a Liberty birch custom and I am so very pleased with it.
These posts are self-moderated by the late-night whims of an uninformed musician attempting to remember something. There is no formula; I’m not satisfied with my knowledge, point of view or attitude. As I go I pare them down, and keep them orderly.
The modern view of happiness, and a music career, conflates economic growth with consumption and competition. People automatically think that any music work is ideal and maybe that’s why we are considered privileged just because we play even when hard work is unpaid. I agree playing music is rewarding. But as a job it is like anything else, you are forced to carry it out at the time and place, under the specifications of the boss, which natural. I don’t believe in unlimited freedom. But since there is usually no alternative to sacrificing a bit of income for doing the type of music you love the most, a gig that pays is harder to turn down for the sake of something more healthy / honest. That is the bent of the system we operate in and call it democratic, liberal, secular, leftist, but there is too much ideology. Everything is a hot slice of pepperoni, fighting others to get out of the way.
Being employed playing a famous bands’ songs has its positive and negative aspects like any other occupation, and is not heaven. Sometimes it might feel heavenly, but if I don’t find meaning in the time in between, my mind will get into trouble.
Lately I solve this problem by using time to read. Maybe I’m getting thicker skin. Maybe i’m just getting thicker (the most plausible). It’s also practice for dying: leaving, leaving, and leaving places behind, getting a feel for this by appreciating what there is, drawing some memory. If not, it’s really okay. So the challenging things are different than they were before. Writing is like a lot of things, digging through cuttings in the trash to find all the pieces of a puzzle, and learning to think aloud. Memories occur in the mind at seemingly random times, with no relation to the activity being done.
We all have to be vigilant about who our friends are, especially when you work with a lot of people. It makes sense that actors will traditionally not often meet the audience after they’ve spent all their energy being the story and establishing the mythical relationship with the audience. So why break the spell trying to get personal recognition? We are a funny species, moving between personal glory and an actual cause.
I’m meeting genuine people around the world with common interests, intelligent and hard working technicians most of the time with an unfaltering sense of teamwork. The microcosm of one show on one night brings a local community together. Music is cohesive for society, it brings out people’s honesty and magic. I wonder what else we would pull together for? Tiger Lillies has some solidarity with the audience: freedom of thought and expression, a sense of humour in the face of hubris ideology, austerity and conservatism, irresponsible liberalism. Tiger Lillies seems to follow moderately socialist ideals, but without necessarily motivating the audience to think their way out of a rigged election.
Professionals sacrifice our potential of further study and imminent development in exchange for definition of our regular income (the more busy you are, the better you must be doing in life), revolving around infinite economic growth (at some point you take off the mask again). We don’t find a shangri-la of meaning by making a great band, even if the paying audience passionately believes so, and even if it has some objective meaning. The fact that we pay to see a band makes us more willing to believe in their stories, their infallibility. Isn’t it funny how we repeat the meaningful art until it becomes less meaningful for us, so that others find the same meaning in it once again, as if it was fresh? I sense a bit of crowd manipulation in this formula. No wonder performers end up in mental asylums.
And that doesn’t make the band the expert on the subjects that the songs are about, and they don’t have to be. The same goes for writing. We don’t live in a world where people only do one job anymore, even though we specialise more than ever. The knowledge and cross pollination of subjects are growing faster than we can read or get degrees in universities. Then technology is making our expertise irrelevant, and we have to reinvent ourselves. Finnish education has for years now been teaching in topics that are modular between lessons that share them. They don’t need to all be separated in the same ways. But as networked computers take over even more middle class expertise, we need to remember that people are what make it all worthwhile. With such rapid development, we are under pressure to become experts in things we cannot. But we try because we have to. We must learn to fix our things, farm our food, and stop worshiping ourselves. Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier has some amazing insight into this.
I have to spell out reality because I don’t know reality
Sitting in Das Triest in Vienna, in a room I have stayed in on two different tours managed by Alfred Wihalm. I think the management knows that I have stayed in this room and it feels like another home, it feels like no one else has stayed in here since I was here. They must know how it feels like that and keep it the same, stagnant, full of ways to forget the life at home, the one that is the opposite of being on their side.