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HuffPost Video Exclusive: Only Son's "It's A Boy," Plus Conversations With Tom Higgenson of Plain White T's, Cake's John McCrea, and The Cult's Ian Astbury

Posted: 12/09/10 12:46 AM ET

Only Son is the music of NYC-based songwriter Jack Dishel (former lead guitarist for The Moldy Peaches.) Only Son's sophomore record, Searchlight, will be released January 18, 2011. Searchlight features standout tracks like "Magic" and "It's a Boy" as well as guest appearances by Regina Spektor and members of The Strokes and Of Montreal.

The video for "It's a Boy," premiering here today, stars Aleksa Palladino (of Boardwalk Empire) and was directed by Peter Sand (who's worked with the likes of Michel Gondry and Daft Punk on various projects). The video on its own is an intense work of art and science, and coupled with the song, we're treated to quite the experience.

Jack Dishel says of the song and video:

"I've always been interested in the way that technology and human beings relate to one another. It seems that those roads are definitely converging and its only a matter of time before it makes its way into our bodies permanently. I tried to imagine what life would or could be like if people were able to design their children piece by piece, adding or deleting attributes as they pleased. Since the world is so divided economically I thought that would definitely play a role in what happened--sort of like a DNA arms race. The abuse of power could actually make its way into us. This is gonna be the party jam of the winter!!! And for the record, I've never seen Gattaca but now I want to..."

Only Son's "Magic" video

You can find out more about Only Son here:
www.onlysonmusic.com
www.facebook.com/onlysonmusic
www.myspace.com/only_son
www.twitter.com/onlysonmusic

http://www.onlysonmusic.com/


2010-12-09-41x8FZ789bL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Tracks:
1. Magic:
2. Searchlight
3. It's A Boy
4. Stamp Your Name On It
5. Solo Mission
6. The Same Two Places
7. Someone
8. All Is Holy
9. Call Them Brothers (featuring Regina Spektor)
10. You Stayed At Home
11. Pop The Reins
12. Falling Behind In The Game
13. Kick 'Em Out (Bonus Track)


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A Conversation with Tom Higgenson from Plain White T's

Mike Ragogna: Everybody knows Plain White T's from "Hey There Delilah." When you had that hit were you surprised at how big it was?

Tom Higgenson: Of course, we've been a band for ten years before that song really blew up, so that was huge for us. I mean, even as big as that song became, I still don't really comprehend that. It was #1 in ten countries around the world, I can't even wrap my brain around that. It's pretty crazy. We're all pretty happy about that one.

MR: Weren't you guys also on Greek?

TH: Yeah, we did a bunch of episodes on Greek. We would have a couple lines and then play a song or two.

MR: Now, the new album is called Wonders Of The Younger. What's behind the title?

TH: I don't know, I've just been feeling very nostalgic lately. A lot of where my head is always at is in the past, I live in memories a lot, reminiscing about the good times and that kind of thing. I'm a nostalgic guy. I kind of wrote a whole album about that, memories of being younger. The idea is when you're young, the world is so exciting; you don't know anything, you haven't gone through life, you don't have those responsibilities weighing you down, you haven't learned all there is to know. Obviously, we still haven't, we're still learning. Just being naive, innocent, and young, you look at the world differently. The album is kind of a throwback to when times were like that, when you lived more in your imagination, you could imagine the way the world was--you didn't have to actually live them, see them, and find them out for yourself. It's a very creative, imaginative album.

MR: I love how it starts off with "Irrational Anthem," where I imagine everybody knows what they're getting into by the song's end.

TH: It's kind of a take on the national anthem, obviously, but it's for all those people that don't want to follow the rules. They don't want to go along with the crowd. It's our anthem together, we can be whoever we want to still. It's never too late.

MR: This album strays a little bit from your other albums in that it seems more conceptual.

TH: Yeah, I think it has a lot more weight than any other album we've made.

MR: I love that you slipped "Welcome To Mystery" from Alice In Wonderland on there.

TH: Actually, I wrote that song for the album, and it went along perfectly with what I wanted the album to say. And it just so happened that a few days after I wrote it, we got a call from the label, and they were putting together the Alice In Wonderland soundtrack. They asked if we had anything and it seemed like the perfect fit for the movie, but also the perfect fit for our album. In a way, I kind of wanted the album to feel like a Tim Burton movie--it kind of has elements throughout of that creepy Danny Elfman vibe. I think that's a big part of being a kid too. I remember being in third grade and sneaking into my friend's house to watch Nightmare On Elm Street or something. When you're a kid, you want to be creeped-out. You want to be scared, it's a fun feeling. So, we tried to get that feeling on the album as well.

MR: There seem to be a lot of Beatles nods as well.

TH: Sure, it's a very eclectic album. We wanted it to be all over the place, we wanted it to be a roller coaster, not knowing where the next turn was going to take you. We've always had that kind of oldies influence to our music, whether it's The Beatles or The Beach Boys, all kinds of stuff from the '50s and '60s--we love that stuff. We wanted to take that and give it more of a direction and give more of a modern sound to that.

MR: You're coming off of the album's first single, "Rhythm Of Love" and headed into your next, "Boomerang." Can you give us a little history about that track?

TH: That was actually one of the first songs written for the entire album. It's funny, the song "Welcome To Mystery" is very thematic and is very wonderful, it's full of that imagination. But I knew I wasn't going to make a whole album full of songs that were so out there; people expect the love songs, they expect that Plain White T's sound that they know. We didn't want to throw them a complete curve ball, even in songs that I wrote like "Boomerang." It's more of a boy/girl relationship song, but I thought in the back of my head I still have to tie it in to Wonders Of The Younger. So, I made the arrangement different, like after the first chorus, there's this great little piano hook that happens and at the end of the song. They're quite whimsical and you don't expect to hear it in a straight-up pop song. So, arrangement-wise, we tried to change it up a little bit, even with the lyrics, like the line, "Your treating me like I'm your little toy," lines that are a little more useful and childish. With the wordplay in the songs, I tried to tie-in the theme. In relationships, sometimes you know the girl or the guy isn't right for you, but there are just some people that you keep coming back to. They just have that control over you and you're just helpless to that. I know that happens to me in life and relationships, so that's what "Boomerang" is really about.

MR: Let's run through the albums you have put out. There are Come On Over, Stop, All That We Needed, Every Second Counts, Big Bad World...

TH: That's where the gray area is, Come On Over. That was never released. We made that record ourselves and we released it around Chicago. With the Internet, it kind of got out there as one of our releases. I mean, we made it as an album, as a band, so I guess that counts right?

MR: Sounds right to me. So Tom, where do you go from here, what are the plans?

TH: We're really excited to tour this album. It's such a visual album, there is so much to draw from the themes and lyrics of the songs. If we can incorporate some of that into the actual show, the possibilities are endless. So, we are already talking about planning out the show, trying to make it more of a show rather then just going up there and playing a bunch of songs--actually thinking about it visually, actually tying-in a set to the theme of the album. We are really excited to get on the road, we're planning a tour right now that's going to start at the end of January, and we're going to try and hit everywhere we can in America.

MR: Do you still play "Hey There Delilah" and "1,2,3,4" out on the road?

TH: Of course, you've got to play the songs that people love. They're still fun to play because people still want to hear them. You play "...Delilah" and people sing along to every word. You can't really beat that feeling as a musician to play that song and have the whole audience sing it back to you.

MR: Any advice for new artists?

TH: We got advice once from the first manager we ever had. That was stay together, that's the most important thing to do. It might take three albums to make it or to get somewhere, but if you're doing something you believe in, just do it. We obviously took that advice to heart and here we are.

Tracks:
1. Irrational Anthem
2. Boomerang
3. Welcome To Mystery
4. Rhythm Of Love
5. Map Of The World
6. Killer
7. Last Breath
8. Broken Record
9. Our Song
10. Airplane
11. Cirque Dans La Rue
12. Body Parts
13. Make It Up As You Go
14. Wonders Of The Younger

(transcribed by Theo Shier)


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A Conversation with Cake's John McCrea

Mike Ragogna: John, how are you?

John McCrea: I'm doing great. I just got home and it's great to be home from being on the road.

MR: You were on tour for a while?

JM: Not for too long, but we just played a TV show last night, so I'm tired and really glad to be home.

MR: What show did you do?

JM: We did Conan.

MR: Nice.

JM: They were really pretty nice to us, which is unusual for television shows.

MR: You've been around for a while. I remember your debut album when I was working at Razor & Tie. I remember everybody making a fuss about it, and you could hear it being played down every hall.

JM: Well, that's reassuring.

MR: (laughs) Your new album is titled Showroom Of Compassion. Was there a mission with that title?

JM: Our album titles have to do with narrative, but it's not always really explainable, in a way. I hate to ruin it for some people who think it's one thing. For me though, it's mostly about the phonetics of the words, a little about the meaning of the words, and about the way they intersect with the picture on the album cover which is a tiger devouring a human being. So, I thought that somehow worked well with the idea of compassion. I can't explain it anymore than that.

MR: Maybe that was the Bush years' version of compassion.

JM: Yeah. You know, it creates a bit of cognitive dissonance, and I enjoy cognitive dissonance.

MR: It's been since 2004 since your last album Pressure Chief.

JM: We did try out having our own label a couple of years ago with the B-Sides album. It was sticking our foot in the water to see if we could do this on our own, so yes, this is our first studio album in quite a while. We wanted to make sure that we could actually pull it off going independent. We did it years ago with our first album, that was an independent release. We did everything ourselves, at first. It's a lot of work that maybe musicians shouldn't have to do, but with the music industry imploding the way it is, we felt like we didn't want to be tied to a sinking ship.

MR: I hear you brother. I still consider myself sort of in the business but not so much in the business of making money off of music.

JM: That is a smart thing for you because, really, I think it's going to be a hobby soon.

MR: For a while, it seemed to be a ritual, a rite of passage. You have your first prom, your first car, and your first record deal...

JM: ...yeah, and then something bad happens and you go back to real life.

MR: (laughs) Let's talk about the reality of having your own label. What are the rewarding elements?

JM: Well, I guess the most rewarding element is that you are doing things on your own schedule and you are not at the whim of some sort of exterior corporate schedule or structure. That's the most infuriating thing for musicians that I have talked to over the years. You put your whole life into this record and you release it, then there is some sort of scheduling conflict or corporate rivalry between this person or that person who both work at your record company, and you happen to be aligned with the wrong side of the power struggle and suddenly, songs that you wrote over a 20 year period are just being flushed down the toilet. It's nice to be free of that.

MR: It seems like so few artists, especially when they are starting out, know anything or care about the ramifications of a lot of business decisions. They just want that deal.

JM: I think that people romanticize musicians. I think they want us to be somewhat impractical, maybe on drugs or self-destructive. It's sort of a Van Gogh cutting off his ear kind of value that's added to a musician who ignores his own safety or comfort and is just crazy about music only, or self-destruction only, or there's some sort of emotional caricature that we are wanting that music to represent for us. I think there is a little bit of a burden that is placed on musicians that I think is somewhat unnecessary to be clueless and be children about these things. It's a perfect set-up for unscrupulous business people to take advantage of. It's been happening for decades and decades and decades.

MR: Yeah, since the beginning of rock 'n' roll. The term "Car Hood Signing" evokes that.

JM: Yes. But if you talk to a musician who has got any brains, who has been in the business for more than five years, there is steam coming out of his or her ears. At first, you are in the cloud of narcissism and your own thing and your own music. Then, after a certain point, you realize that the whole thing is rigged. We are hoping that we can sort of navigate around that somewhat and not be crushed because we are doing that.

MR: Well, there's that wide-eyed, naive expectation of daddy or mommy taking care of you.

JM: Yeah, that's bulls**t.

MR: Exactly. After all my years in the biz, I'm dying to teach a music course that approaches the business side from a holistic angle.

JM: You're going to have to dispel this really entrenched momentum of the idea of the musician as being somehow separated from reality and pragmatism. People don't want to hear musicians being concerned about their own welfare. That's not sexy. They don't mind if we overdose on drugs but they don't want us to be smart about business. So, that is a tough one to counteract.

MR: Like you said, you have seen it from the inside, and now, you're seeing it from the other side of taking back your own career. Most new artists really need to be doing that if they're going to survive.

JM: Especially right now, especially these days. If the music business was somewhat more stable, you could probably, here and there, see success stories from people with the current structure. But the current structure is in the process of imploding so I think you have to, unfortunately, 'cause I would really like it if musicians, myself included, could just think about music.

MR: Yes, excellent. Hopefully, it will get back to that state. And, you know, you can surround yourself with people who can take some initiative and care about your career, it's almost like having family involved, you know?

JM: I think you can, but you shouldn't really trust anyone too much, I hate to say it. You can, and hopefully, navigate that way intuitively to know that yes, these people are my friends. But you would be surprised about how many times you can be surprised.

MR: I've been very lucky over the years, and I mostly know more stories of that working than the other, thank God.

JM: Oh good.

MR: John, let's get back to Showroom Of Compassion. At what point did you decide it was time for a new project?

JM: Well, actually, I dragged my feet on this album because it just felt wrong...part of it was I really didn't believe in the music business, I didn't believe in a lot of things that maybe I had taken for granted. I mean, I don't think I ever believed in the music business, but there was just something uncertain and unstable and I didn't want to release my children into this scenario that I thought existed. Part of it was I really wanted to go back to releasing albums independently. But I also was aware of what happens to bands that try to do that. Sometimes, they just disappear in a really mysterious way. So, I guess I have had a lot of cynicism about the way the business is structured, and thought that we may get squashed like a bug. I think I just dragged my feet. About two to three years ago, when we started recording in earnest, I thought, you know what? Even though I thought the music business was crapping out, we would give it a try anyway and see what happens.

MR: Let's talk solar power since you've been into it for a while.

JM: Two or three years ago, before we started working on the album, one of the things we wanted to get done, and part of the reason why it took us so long to make this album, was we wanted to reconfigure our studio and make it 100% solar and be able to say on our album, "This has been recorded, rehearsed and produced with 100% solar energy." Living in California, it seemed like the least we could do.

MR: Yes. KRUU is the only solar-powered station in the Midwest, and some people still don't understand how we can stay on the air on a cloudy day. (laughs)

JM: I don't know if you are aware of this or not, but Germany is the number one producer of solar electricity, and if you've been there, you know that it's not a very sunny climate. It occurred to us that if Germany could be #1 in the world, then a lot of places in the United States could be #1. I think it is a matter of being #1. We have to move very quickly as a nation in order to remain prosperous and happy.

MR: You know, it's so hard, because we are not only entrenched in the old ways, but I think we are a conservative country overall despite moments of progressive clarity. It's so hard for us to let go of old systems when there's so much fear.

JM: And we are a big country. There is a lot of momentum, and people are relying on the status quo to put food on their table and I understand that. Having said that, sometimes the national interest has to usurp special interests.

MR: I think you are so right. And as far as those who bit the bullet in the beginning and put a lot of money into the initial investment? For the most part, you don't hear a lot of horror stories from those people.

JM: It's really easy. We never think about it other than the fact of feeling that this is a lot cleaner and feeling better about ourselves. The other thing is there are other organizations now like 1bog.org that do leverage-buying which reduces the cost significantly. They will aggregate a whole bunch of people that want to go solar, and rather than buying just one solar rig, they will buy a thousand and get the deal you would get buying thousands of rigs. There is also Solar City that will allow you to get solar on your roof without the big investment and you just pay monthly. There are less and less excuses to not go solar.

MR: And probably more pressure from the oil industry to make sure that we don't go that direction.

JM: Yeah, but how great would it be to go in that direction. How excellent not to be potentially funding terrorism with our energy purchases.

MR: Ah, yes. The tentacles of that industry are so scary, so cloak and dagger, that no one even knows how to begin that conversation.

JM: Yes, that's right, it is a very powerful industry. And you are right, you have to be careful you could disappear.

MR: Although these days, they would have to disappear a lot more people.

JM: (laughs) I hope you're right.

MR: Hey John, let's again get back to the record. The title Showroom of Compassion is my favorite since Jason Mraz's We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.

JM: That is a great album title.

MR: I wanted to ask you about a really interesting song the album called Federal Funding.

JM: That is a song I wrote a long time ago before everyone started getting into an uproar, before hating all government and regulation. It's an ambiguous song to me. There are a lot of great things about government. It kept us out of a Great Depression for 70 years. The laws that were written following the Great Depression were really effective. I don't want the song to be misinterpreted as some general "dis" on government. There is a lot of gradation.

MR: Right, it's not exactly a Tea Party anthem.

JM: It's not. I worry that it may become that, so I'm just preemptively saying it's a touchy subject for me and everyone. There is a lot that has been demonized over the last 20 years, there has been a lot to sort of undermine the entire idea of regulation or government or rules. I think rules are great. There is corruption in government. Democrats made a really lame attempt at getting rid of earmarks a couple of years ago, and obviously, they weren't trying very hard. There are things that could become less corrupt. I think, overall, we do need government to protect the weak from the strong.

MR: Excellent, beautifully said. Do you have any advice for new artists?

JM: Well, I'm not sure where things are headed with the music business. I do think it's exciting that you can take your own career into your own hands. I think the most important thing to focus on is write a good collection of songs and record them into an album or however you want to do it, but just get yourself a bunch of really good songs and figure out how to record and produce them. I really think that's more important than waiting for somebody else to come lift you up and make you into a star.

MR: Thank you again. You are a really smart guy.

JM: I have been thinking about this for a while but I appreciate your compliment. Thank you.

Tracks:
1. Federal Funding
2. Long Time
3. Got To Move
4. What's Now Is Now
5. Mustache Man (Wasted)
6. Teenage Pregnancy
7. Sick Of You
8. Easy To Crash
9. Bound Away
10. The Winter
11. Italian Guy

(transcribed by Erika Richards)


2010-12-09-CULT_CAPSULE2.png

A Conversation with The Cult's Ian Astbury

Mike Ragogna: It's interesting to jump into this conversation with you because its not so much that you have a new album, but a new project. It's a nice spin on the delivery of music. Can you go into a description of this whole "Capsule 2" concept?

Ian Astbury: We wanted to release less music, and what we arrived at was that the album format is becoming less and less relevant. When it goes through iTunes, it's cannibalized. The integrity of the album format is lost because the audience wants to come pick and choose what they want. From an artist's perspective, we as The Cult could spend six months to two years making a record. So, by the time that information comes out in the marketplace, it's stale, we're over it, and we have to go out to promote it.

The term "EP" didn't seem to fit. The EP is a final format and eludes to elongated play. The idea of a "capsule" was that now, with the digital medium, you can deliver more than just music, you can deliver digital elements as well. That was the idea, to encapsulate visual and audio elements in a package, and a capsule being like a tight compartment. The actual term "capsule" came up from the fashion world because many lines put out what they call "capsule collections" which are usually edited versions of their creativity, where they put out only a few pieces. In a regular show, they will put out five or ten, so it's a much more tight philosophy as apposed to a long-labored philosophy. So, we released our first capsule about two months ago.

Another idea was to put these capsules up for a few months and then take them down and make them officially unavailable. It then gives the people that want to participate in purchasing it kind of a commercial window. After that, files are shared and things fly around. I think the capsule format is more in harmony in the times we live in. It's a quicker delivery system, and it's a quick strike and moves away from the cumbersome release of an album. We kind of focus on the digital aspect of it. We are releasing MP3s and MP4s, but we also have made hard copy available. We have done vinyl and we did do a duel-disc which is a CD/DVD for people who like that format. We made limited amounts, we've pressed a thousand pieces of vinyl and five-thousand pieces in the duel-disc format. So, we are really kind of pushing the digital format, but like I said, we take it down after two months. So, something else comes up and that's why we are in capsule 2 now.

MR: Do you feel like there is anything getting lost between how you used to release CDs and how you're approaching releases now? Or do you feel this is a situation of the approach being much better than the CD format ever was?

IA: The opportunity that technology has given us is this wonderful gift to be more instantaneous in the culture. You can pretty much write a song in the afternoon and have it out by the evening if you want to. The problem now is that everybody and their dog has that format available to them. You have so much traffic that you have to wade through a lot of average and mediocre so-called "art" to find that little gem, and you have to rely on these cultural commentators and everybody and their dog is a social commentator now, everybody has an opinion, and they let you know, and they set themselves up shop.

So, I think the difference of what we're doing now and the previous period, which was more analog-based, is that you had to physically walk to purchase the music. I think something is lost because the entitlement in the culture has forced artists to respond to that, they now have a different philosophy in terms of how to make music. I think, generally speaking, the philosophy is to try and engage the culture and where it's at right now. I mean, the whole idea of the way it was, was that you would wait for a release with great anticipation. You would have to physically go to your record store and buy your vinyl. And the interesting thing with vinyl is that you couldn't even hear it until you got home and put it on the record player. After twenty minutes, you would be engaged in that piece of vinyl. You wouldn't move, you weren't texting, you weren't washing the dog. You were sitting there listening to music.

MR: Yes, it seems there's something lost in the literacy of listening to groupings of music as the artist wanted them to be listened too.

IA: Information moved more slowly, there was less information coming in, therefore, your time was spent in a much more focused environment. Now, there's so much information coming in for distraction. It's almost difficult to set that space for yourself to be creative and to be disciplined in that way. Then again, I'm not going to moan the fact that we've moved on, I'm going to accept that and embrace that, and that's what we're doing. Instead of crying about it, we've done something about it in that we've created this capsule format. I think it's going to evolve. I know the applications, and I think it's going to be the delivery system for many artists. I'm sure this will be the novelty of vinyl and audio files, and they will still be making CDs until people don't want CDs anymore. I see the application as being a multi-dimensional delivery format as well. So, obviously, artists put out applications and you pay a subscription and you're entering into that realm. And you will have everything from that artist from their biography to music to film or stories about that pet cat. It will all be in there.

MR: Your latest capsule, Capsule 2: New Blood Deep Cuts, features "Embers" and "Where The Light Takes Us." What other elements will you include?

IA: We're putting out two of my tracks, "White," and then a short film for "Black Angel." It was actually shot by our manager. On our first Capsule, the short film is a part of a longer form, almost like a montage, a film I've been working on called Ruins. So, the idea of this one is two fresh new songs accompanied by several live songs, accompanied by a visual element, which is the film. Again, it's like the quick cycle philosophy--after two months, we will pull this down, and at some point, you never know, it could evolve into a fully blown album if we have the momentum. The thing I'm finding is because we have engaged in this format, it's forcing us to produce more material in terms of graphic elements and visual elements, and that's also driving our industry imagination to do more studio work. It's becoming an exciting thing. When we get to the next one, what are we going to do on it? We'll throw a few ideas around, but it's (about) driving our industry more, which is what I see is the solution for most artists in this modern time...to embrace it.

MR: Embrace it...

IA: ...challenge yourself in terms of your industry and in terms of your output. I like to get into things like split singles, where they have major artists that collaborate. They do a lot of that in hip-hop, but what I'm talking about is having two pieces of vinyl--have one artist on one side and the other artist on the other side. It's not so much a collaboration on one track together, but they put their music together as a singular release. It's an interesting format. The most progressive elements in our culture are in hip-hop. We have Kanye West mimicking cultural trends that are happening in Japan. But there are few cultural savants that do that who feel that kind of affect. Not so much in the rock and indie community; they are still pretty much linear, although Arcade Fire did that film where you could Google Earth your location and interact it with the video. But that's all novelty to me. I much more consider brass tacks in terms of how to deliver your real truth. We're making these films ourselves, nobody is making these films for us.

MR: Are you already thinking of a Capsule 3?

IA: We have a couple of ideas. We have already been in the studio...we are going to go back into the studio and finish-up two of the songs we will putting out in January. Whenever they're ready, we will bring them out and do another film production to maintain that philosophy. It's not so much that we came up with the format to try and be revolutionary and to garner attention, it's something that came up organically that I really tried to pioneer and push for. We lost a record deal, we were going to sign with a major label; the deal that was on the table was a very traditional one. They all know your music, they tell you when to put it out and how they're going to market it. It was a constant battle with the label to get what you want. Obviously, they're investing financially in it, they want to drive it down a certain portal. There seems to be less and less interest. If you look at the Billboard 200 right now, there's no real coherence to it. It's also because a lot of artists are a lot of mucky artists that are trying to hold any kind of position, and I'm saying why even engage in that, why engage in these old institutions that are completely irrelevant? They don't reflect the culture the way it is. Giving genres of music stupid tag lines like "post-modern alternative indie pop" or something like that is completely asinine. The artists have never been consulted on what they feel. Who decided that a piece of art was worth ninety-nine cents? I don't know if Steve Jobs has been to a ninety-nine cent store recently, but you can get yourself a nice set of toilet rolls for ninety-nine cents. And who decides whether an artist is worth a dollar twenty-nine and who is worth ninety-nine cents? Who determines that?

MR: Traditionally, artist consent and control has been limited.

IA: If anything the middleman is trying to engage the youth market by saying, "Hi, we are your friendly uncle, we can help you out," and the kids are going, "No thanks, we don't need you. Then again, there are these huge institutions that everybody uses like Vimeo, Myspace, Facebook and all the social networks. For the price of entry, they will take your information and they will inundate you with advertisers and product. That's become pretty extensive. The real deal isn't really about art, it's about email addresses. The industry has gone from producing art to collecting information--your information--so they can sell you garbage. That's really what it's about. The art falls by the wayside. The delusion is that you're up there being incredibly earnest while the management is collecting the email addresses of your audience. It's the time that we live in and it is what it is. It's the lowest common denominator, especially in the United States. It's amazing. The amount of talk about politics in the media we see today? Very little of that talks about the arts and the importance of culture. It's about the commodification of it and the buying and selling of it. The fact that the biggest thing on the Internet is pornography and online gambling and the baseline ground of it all is "ladies and gentlemen, please pay attention."

MR: So, you're talking to us in Fairfield, Iowa and we have a community here where if you throw a stone, you will hit a musician or an artist. It's that type of town.

IA: It's a revolution. A real cultural revolution is something that cannot be suppressed, it's human expression. My observation is that these generations that are growing up with the next delivery system, that system gradually will become "Quitter." They aren't going to be concerned about the next delivery system but about what the content is of that next delivery system. Engage us about content, we want content, stop giving us the bread without the meat. I, at home, have a drawer full of various iPods, and cell phones and various computer parts are littered throughout the house, all over the place. There are about five dead laptops. Every few years, it's amazing how many hard drives go down in my MacBooks. Then you see that its not even an American made product, but you get the impression that it's American design and American made though none of it is actually made in America, the point being that the human soul starts having an illness, a disease. As much of the reaction in the 1960s was depressed about a repressed culture of the post war generation, I think we are going to see a new mass turn. It's not this kind of snobby cultural elite that's deciding what's relevant and not relevant because the generation of young people doesn't even care about that. They care about what their friends are doing and what their communities are doing. That's the generation that's going to have the real power, the real consumers. I think that the middlemen are going to have a hard time keeping up with youth moving in that direction, and that's nature.

Nature will have its way. You think that we have control of this? Absolutely not. Let's look into the sweet '60s. There's a 360 here, it's not just a myopic "what's in front of you," multifaceted, multidimensional time we live in. Eventually, kids are going to start going into the new psychedelia, going inside, going inside themselves and realizing that the marketing man is completely disingenuous and it really is about when the parents are out of the house, you have to make your own peanut butter and jelly sandwich. They have a complete irreverence to the past or future because they don't care, and that's fantastic. Whether The Cult gets caught up in that, I don't know, but certainly, as a fan of cultural change, I'm excited for that. We might actually see some movement in the environmental and the cultural movement, instead of it being I'm Celebrity X, I want to talk to you about my latest cause I'm involved in to promote my new recording, hair dryer, or smart car, whatever they're promoting. It's interesting how these things all seem to coincide with somebody else's misfortune.

MR: Do you have any advice for new artists?

IA: Wow, well, the first thing I say to someone who engages me in conversation and ask, "Like, wow, where do you think I should start?" and I say, "Back to the airport, go to India. Don't stay in these open environments, it's not here, it's inside of you. What you have to do is go to environments that are going to flip that switch within you." That's why the kids in the Pacific Northwest are super-busy and super-industrious right now. I mean, there's an amazing music scene, very, very progressive. An incredible amount of the Pacific Northwest is surrounded by Super Nature, you only have to walk out the door and it's there.

Tracks:
1. Embers
2. Until the Light Takes Us
3. White (Live)
4. Nirvana (Live)
Film - Black Angel

(transcribed by Theo Shier)

 
 
 

Follow Mike Ragogna on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ragz2008