Archive for the ‘Toxicity’ Category

Anna Bulbrook photo by Curtis Buchanan, Distinct Daily

Anna Bulbrook photo by Curtis Buchanan, Distinct Daily

By Glen

One year ago today, The Airborne Toxic Event hit the stage in Santa Ana, CA for the one and only complete album performance of Songs of God and Whiskey. No such excitement this year, unfortunately, but it’s been two months since our last Toxicity, so I figured it was time to catch up on a few things.

Coming Soon: Toxic History – The Book

Yup, it’s been painfully quiet around here lately, and it’s not just because The Airborne Toxic Event is way off the grid at the moment. All of my spare time has been directed towards another TATE project: Toxic History – the book!

That’s right… our massive trip down Airborne Toxic memory lane is coming soon to a bookshelf near you. I am just in the process of polishing up the manuscript and preparing to publish with Lulu. Much more news coming soon. In the meantime, if you want to catch up on the blog series, you’d best do it soon. Most of it will be going offline soon, in preparation for the book launch. The last few chapters will be saved for the book – we’ve gone as far as we’re going to go with publishing it here on the blog.

All of this means that things will probably be even slower here at TIN over the summer, unless of course the band kicks back into action. But stay connected to us on social media (Facebook|Twitter|Instagram), where, over the next year, we’ll be celebrating memorable dates in Toxic History.

Stay tuned for more!

Getting to Know Anna Bulbrook

We all know Mikel Jollett’s back story, but one thing that struck me in the process of writing Toxic History is how little is out there about the other band members, at least in comparison to the lead man. But Anna Bulbrook has been doing her best to remedy that, with a couple of illuminating features.

First came Distinct Daily, with an artsy but very informative video feature on the violinist/keyboardist/tambourinist/guitarist/singer/songwriter/feminist ambassador/festival organizer. Shortly thereafter, Anna wrote her own story for 21cm. Together, these two excellent pieces chart Anna’s journey from classical music student to music dropout to Kanye West support to The Airborne Toxic Event, and finally to the front woman of The Bulls.

Anna sums up her journey so far thusly:

So, at 33, I’m technically the worst violinist that I’ve ever been in the traditional sense but the best musician that I’ve ever been. I’ve been humbled in the process more times than I can count, and I’m sure I’ll be humbled a few thousand more – but I can’t wait to find out where music will take me next.

We can’t wait, either.

Drinking the Lemonade

One other quick Bulbrook note… One of the biggest musical happenings this spring was the release of Beyonce’s Lemonade. Shortly after the album dropped, Anna revealed on Instagram that she contributed viola to one of the tracks on the record. A scan of the album’s extensive credits reveals that she played on the first song, “Pray You Catch Me.”

Toxic Gold

As always, we’ll round out Toxicity with some video goodies. First up, while Anna is talking about herself, here’s an interview she did for Girl Rock Nation around the time of All At Once:

And now a couple of thrilling performances by The Airborne Toxic Event: the potent punk rock of “The Kids Are Ready to Die”/”Welcome to Your Wedding Day” from Roxwell, and an acoustic “This Losing”/”Sometime Around Midnight” combo from Live Daily Sessions, circa 2008.

GlenGlen is the founder and editor of This Is Nowhere. He’s grateful for an understanding wife and kids who indulge his silly compulsion to chase a band all over the Pacific Northwest (and occasionally beyond) every time the opportunity arises.

Anna Bulbrook bends over backwards, with a little help from Adrian Rodriguez, to give Airborne fans a great show. Photo by Ryan Tuttle.

Anna Bulbrook bends over backwards, with a little help from Adrian Rodriguez, to give Airborne fans a great show. Photo by Ryan Tuttle.

By Glen

As winter gives way to spring, there is still nary a peep out of Camp Airborne Toxic Event. But six weeks between Toxicity updates seems like just about enough, so let’s see what we can scrounge up.

Not So Epic

There actually is one legit piece of Airborne news – or non-news, as it were. A recent visit to the website of Epic Records led to the discovery that The Airborne Toxic Event is no longer anywhere to be found on the website. Not only are they absent from Epic’s artist listing, but a search for the band’s name yields zero results anywhere on the site.

One can only conclude that, if and when The Airborne Toxic Event releases another record, it will not be under the Epic banner. After the wildly popular, self-released Songs of God and Whiskey, not to mention the smash success of their independently released debut album, one wonders whether the band would be better off just going it alone next time around. Time will tell.

Wrong is Right

In our last Toxicity, way back when we were still munching on Valentine’s candy, we shared a couple live TATE videos aired on PromoWest Live. An alert reader uncovered the fact that there was another TATE video hiding away in their archives. Jump to 14:25 for “Wrong.”

Dope Machines

Mikel Jollett has a love/hate relationship with mobile devices. On the ‘pro’ side, jumping into the crowd and stealing someone’s phone for a smirking selfie has become a staple of “Does This Mean You’re Moving On?” And he’s intrigued enough by the omnipresent technology to have based an entire album around it.

On the other hand, he has made it known in no uncertain terms that he would prefer the audience to keep the damn things in their pockets and experience the performance through their eyeballs rather than through a tiny rectangular screen. And he has a point. In my early days of TATE gigdom, I couldn’t seem to stop myself from trying to capture every moment for posterity, even though 98% of my photos turned out to be complete and utter crap. Lately, I’ve become more disciplined about it. I usually pre-select a couple of songs in which I’ll snap a few photos to use in my TIN reviews, and apart from that I try to leave it alone.

Vocativ recently printed a thought provoking piece considering both sides of this issue. They note that some artists are taking matters into their own hands to force their fans to live in the moment.

Over and over, artists cite the disconnect phones create. “It seems stupid to have something happening in front of you and look at it on a screen that’s smaller than the size of a cigarette packet,” the Guardian quoted Pulp singer Jarvis Cocker as saying. “If anything, it undermines the experience because it seemed like a really good moment, and now I can see it were crap. It’s like wedding videos.”

In April of 2013, art-rock trio the Yeah Yeah Yeahs made headlines when they posted a flyer at a Webster Hall show that asked fans, “Please do not watch the show through a screen on your smart device/camera. Put that shit away as a courtesy to the person behind you and to Nick, Karen and Brian.”

According to Spin, Karen O reiterated the message when, after the second song, she told fans to snap away for the next couple of minutes, then “put those motherfuckers away.” The crowd mostly complied.

Other artists demand no phone use, and include threat of removal if the request isn’t heeded. That was the case on a recent Prince tour, when ticket buyers were reportedly warned by venues in Australia and New Zealand in advance via email that “The use of mobile phones will not be permitted during the show,” according to the Mercury News. “Any person using a mobile phone or camera/video device will be identified by security and asked to leave the venue immediately.”

The Eagles banned cellphones during a 2014 tour, employing security guards to shine flashlights at offenders, issue warnings, and then throw them out. Don Henley recently applauded Mumford & Sons decision to follow suit, saying “the madness, the rudeness, the thoughtlessness… must stop. Constantly looking at the world through a viewfinder is not seeing. Listening to live music while recording on a ‘smartphone’ (or texting every 5 seconds) is not hearing. Experiencing life second-hand is not living. Be here now.”

Some artists simply deal with the nuisance on a case-by-case basis. Neil Young angrily doused two women with water in 2012 because they wouldn’t quit texting during a show even after he gave them the stink eye. In April of 2014, Peter Frampton reportedly scolded two fans in Carmel, Indiana, who arrived late to front-row seats, having missed or ignoring the warning prior to the concert beginning that flash photography wasn’t allowed. They took loads of pictures; Frampton asked them to stop. When they didn’t, he asked them to let him see the pictures, and when the fan handed Frampton his phone, he flung it across stage.

On the other end of the spectrum are these examples:

Brad Paisley encourages fan cellphones at his shows, going into the audience to sing into them, or take selfies that show up on big screens, telling Rolling Stone, “I want to see it. Get a good one. Get good audio if you can. Your videos [are] a memory, something you can have, and what an amazing experience. Yeah, you see people looking at the concert through their phone. But that’s what they want to do. And what YouTube video of a concert ever made you not go?”

Taylor Swift said in a Wall Street Journal op-ed in 2014 that the use of cellphones, and therefore the widely available recordings of her shows, setlists and secret guests every night, was actually the impetus for changing things up every night. “In the YouTube generation we live in, I walked out onstage every night of my stadium tour last year knowing almost every fan had already seen the show online,” she wrote.

“To continue to show them something they had never seen before, I brought out dozens of special guest performers to sing their hits with me. My generation was raised being able to flip channels if we got bored, and we read the last page of the book when we got impatient. We want to be caught off guard, delighted, left in awe. I hope the next generation’s artists will continue to think of inventive ways of keeping their audiences on their toes, as challenging as that might be.”

What’s your take? Would you like to see The Airborne Toxic Event put some regulations in place, or just leave it up to the fans to experience the show as they see fit?

Toxic Gold to the Max!

If you’re currently experiencing Airborne Toxic Withdrawal (and let’s face it: if you’re reading Toxicity during the dark days of the band’s hiatus, it’s safe to assume you are), Murray Jay Siskind has the cure for what ails you. The YouTuber has become a must-follow for Airborne fans, unearthing one rare gem after another.

A couple years ago we reviewed an Airborne acoustic recording from Montreal that is only available for purchase from iTunes Canada. Thanks to MJS, those of you outside our fair country can now lay ears on it. While you listen, enjoy a bevy of TATE trivia and photos. (And watch for the shout out to TIN!)

For years I’ve been beating the drum for the full length concert video Live from Koko, which features, among other things, the world premiere performance of “All I Ever Wanted.” Now, courtesy of MJS, here’s the only professional recording of the ultra rare “Echo Park.”

And another oldie-but-goodie – one that I’m still surprised didn’t make the cut for Songs of God and Whiskey: “Days of Wine and Poses.”

Last but not least, here’s a double shot of “Papillon” and “Gasoline” from Paris, circa 2009.

GlenGlen is the founder and editor of This Is Nowhere. He’s grateful for an understanding wife and kids who indulge his silly compulsion to chase a band all over the Pacific Northwest (and occasionally beyond) every time the opportunity arises.

Mikel Jollett and Steven Chen of The Airborne Toxic Event. Photo by Ryan Tuttle.

Mikel Jollett and Steven Chen of The Airborne Toxic Event. Photo by Ryan Tuttle.

By Glen

Stop the press – there was an actual sighting of The Airborne Toxic Event this week!

Live from Ohio

The band emerged from hibernation just long enough to announce that a live performance would be airing after last weekend’s Saturday Night Live, on the Ohio-only television program PromoWest Live. The announcement gave the impression that it would be an extended feature; as it turns out, the show only aired one song, amongst performances from a variety of other bands.

Nevertheless, for parched Airborne fans, the sight of our favorite band belting out “Changing” was welcome indeed. Jump to the 48-second mark of the video below.

A quick perusal of the video playlist also revealed that the show had also aired “Gasoline” and “Happiness is Overrated) a couple months ago (starting at the 4:07 and 17:40 marks of the video below, respectively). All songs were recorded at the band’s gig in Columbus last spring – a performance that Colleen and Andy reviewed for us.

While it would have been nice to see some of the newer material get some exposure, beggars can’t be choosers!

Small Problems, Big Video

After slacking off for like, an entire day, Anna Bulbrook was back in the spotlight this week with the release of the Bulls’ long-awaited video for “Small Problems,” which was shot way back in June in 115F temperatures. The video is described by the band’s publicity company as follows:

Directed by Evan Mathis, the video is one long tracking shot of Anna and bandmate Marc Sallis strutting through Joshua Tree that anyone from one of the colder parts of the country will yearn for this time of year. Special shout out to Sallis’ “November Rain” power stance during the guitar solo.

Said Anna to Flood Magazine, which premiered the video: “Evan (our director) came up with the visual of eternally walking through different desert moonscapes in different washes of transitional sunlight to illustrate the song’s lyrical themes—which are endlessly, cyclically, desiring a change that isn’t going to come and wishing for a chance to go back and do things over again.”

Speaking of Anna, Vinyl District posted another extensive photo set of her in action at the recent Girlschool Festival.

Toxic Gold

Speaking of under-exposed newer TATE songs, here’s a rare live performance of “Strangers” from last fall’s Shazam contest pre-show in Philadelphia, courtesy of Rick.

GlenGlen is the founder and editor of This Is Nowhere. He’s grateful for an understanding wife and kids who indulge his silly compulsion to chase a band all over the Pacific Northwest (and occasionally beyond) every time the opportunity arises.

Toxicity 93

Posted: February 12, 2016 in Toxicity
Tags: , , , ,
Anna Bulbrook's Girlschool artist portrait, by Jen Rosenstein.

Anna Bulbrook’s Girlschool artist portrait, by Jen Rosenstein.

By Glen

It’s the dead of winter – literally and figuratively, as the tumbleweeds blow across The Airborne Toxic Event landscape. Even the ever-trusty Anna Bulbrook has gone quiet of late – though we do have a bit more Girlschool coverage to catch up on. But first, my 15-seconds of fame…

TIN Hits the Radio Waves

A couple weeks ago, my fellow British Columbian (represent!) Tim de Monkey gave me the heads up that CBC Radio was looking for stories about bands that are tragically underrated. One thing led to another and before I knew it, my letter was being read on air, as a lead-in to “Sometime Around Midnight.”

If nothing else, I think we converted Stephen Quinn, the program’s host, who tweeted: “The letter was brilliant. Thank you! I know them but will now dig deeper.” And on having to cut the song short: “So pissed we had to fade it under. My note for the early fade outcue was, ‘No! Don’t do it!'” Agreed, Stephen!

Anna Bulbrook’s Girlschool: Smashing Barriers, Smashing Success

Anna Bulbrook’s little festival grew into quite a big news event, generating an impressive amount of coverage – universally positive. There is clearly a thirst for what she is doing for the female music community.

As the festival opened, Dazed published an insightful interview with the founder. I had to laugh at her response to the question of whether it’s harder to collaborate with women than men; I assume she had her Airborne bandmates in mind when she said:

I think I semi-expected that to be true, because it’s a stereotype that exists. But I have found collaborating with women on writing music for the Bulls, or working with my crackerjack team at Girlschool, to actually be a far more free and direct process than some of my recent collaborations with men. Men have their own dynamics, egos, emotions, and politics as well. Everyone does! Making art is emotional, whatever gender you are, and bands are emotionally supercharged environments.

On the subject of the sadly still sexist music industry, Anna had some pointed comments, but also an inspiring vision.

Why aren’t there more women artists graduating from their local scenes to the next level? We supposedly “handled” this back in the 90s!

I think that music should be a safe space for everyone. Period. So I think standing up for what’s right – whether it’s standing up for yourself or someone else – is a good place to start. I also think creating intentionally positive pathways or environments for music, which is what we are trying to do with Girlschool, is another answer. And by the way, these pathways don’t have to be “female-themed” to be positive, either. There are myriad ways we can increase consciousness in our art form and the industry that surrounds it, and to make the world a more safe and free space for everyone.

I say: if the world doesn’t reach its arms out to you, then make your own, better one! And after a while, your new world will maybe grow to become the real one.

Anna also sat down with Take Part, with whom she shared a disheartening but unfortunately unsurprising truth about what she’s faced at times as a member of The Airborne Toxic Event:

“In the alternative rock world, there are very few female voices… There are also very few female side members in bands… People would think I was a girlfriend, or they would think I was the singer,” Bulbrook said, noting that as a classical  violinist who began playing at the age of four, she has the most professional music training of any of the members of the Airborne Toxic Event.

“I’ve been in the position where I was sort of asked to dress a little more provocatively to get a label executive to consider us more seriously,” Bulbrook added.

Like she said to Dazed, you would like to think we’d gotten past this kind of garbage, but clearly there is a long way to go – which makes her efforts all the more important.

“I call this the vitamin gummy approach to feminism,” Bulbrook said of creating an event stacked with a lineup of talented female musicians. “You make something that looks delicious, tastes delicious, but it also just happens to be really good for you.”

Live Nation TV combined their own interview with Anna with coverage from the first night of the festival. Asked about the future of the collective, Anna says there is definitely more to come.

We couldn’t plan this weekend without talking about all the other things we want to do. Unless lightening strikes, there will be a future for Girlschool. What that exactly entails, we’ll probably start planning it 24 hours after this weekend.

Finally, to tie a bow on our Girlschool coverage, here are a couple photo galleries worth checking out. LA Record provides a glimpse inside the event, while Jen Rosenstein took striking portraits of each Girlschool artist.

Toxic Gold

Missing Mikel? Us too. Remember that time he took the encore out to the street behind the venue?

GlenGlen is the founder and editor of This Is Nowhere. He’s grateful for an understanding wife and kids who indulge his silly compulsion to chase a band all over the Pacific Northwest (and occasionally beyond) every time the opportunity arises.

Anna Bulbrook is ready for #GIRLSCHOOL. From Anna's Facebook page.

Anna Bulbrook is ready for #GIRLSCHOOL. From Anna’s Facebook page.

By Glen

So, I had an interesting discussion with a reader on Facebook yesterday, and I thought it would be worth bringing up in Toxicity, as I suspect there are other fans of The Airborne Toxic Event with similar questions.

If I may paraphrase my conversation partner, he is worried that Anna Bulbrook’s focus on The Bulls may jeopardize the future of The Airborne Toxic Event, and wondered why I am covering Anna’s band on a site that is dedicated to all things Airborne.

They are fair questions, fueled no doubt by a number of ominous-sounding posts from Mikel Jollett and other band members back in the fall when the Whiskey Machine tour came to a close.

I’ve written before that I firmly believe there is more to come from this band; no need to rehash my reasons why. While it’s entirely possible that I’ll be the Last Naive Man Standing (it would hardly be the first time), in the absence of any solid evidence to the contrary, I see no reason to believe that the break is anything other than what they have said it is: a temporary reprieve.

More to the point, I also don’t believe that Anna’s dedication to The Bulls precludes her from continuing to be a vital part of Airborne for a long time to come. It is exceedingly common these days for musicians to have multiple projects on the go aside from their primary gig. Just looking at some other artists that I follow: Arcade Fire fans recently flocked to support Will Butler as he embarked on a between-albums solo career; Killers fans do the same for Brandon Flowers; and Gaslight Anthem fans are currently packing clubs for Brian Fallon’s solo jaunt. Nils Lofgren of the E Street Band actually had his own winter tour booked, and then had to cancel it when The Boss abruptly announced that he was calling the gang back together for the River Tour. All of these artists and countless others manage to juggle a double career, and with Anna’s ridiculous work ethic, I have little doubt she can do the same.

Artists have a drive to create and to perform, and sometimes their art leads them to places that just don’t fit well within the context of their “day job.” It gives them a chance to show off a different side that we wouldn’t otherwise get to see.

Mikel has said that 75% of the music he writes, he doesn’t bring to the band because it’s not in Airborne’s wheelhouse. What if he were to come out later this year and announce that he’s putting out a moody solo album, and embarking on an intimate tour with nothing but his voice, a guitar and a bar stool? I for one would love to see it. Of course I would desperately miss the full Airborne experience in the meantime, and I would hope to hell that they would all be back after he got that bug out of his system. But it would be spectacular in a different way, and you can bet your ass I would cover it closely here.

It’s the same with Anna. Airborne Anna is my favorite Anna, and that’s never going to change. But for now, I’m enjoying seeing her shine in a different way than she does with the guys. And we can hardly hold it against her for following her artistic instincts and her heart’s passion – as much as it would devastate me if doing so ever led her away from Airborne.

Artistry aside, as a working class band, the members of The Airborne Toxic Event are not rich. If Mikel needs a year off the road and out of the spotlight to focus on writing new material (not to mention his own life), the others need to stay busy, and to continue to put food on their respective tables. Having irons in other fires is not only natural – it’s essential.

As to why I’m covering The Bulls, I guess I would ask, “Why not?” I’m a fan of The Airborne Toxic Event, obviously, and to me that means supporting each of the band members individually. I am inspired by their art in all its forms, and I want to cheer them on in whatever they choose to do. As a father of three girls, I find what Anna is doing with #GIRLSCHOOL to be particularly important and well worth trumpeting with whatever meager voice I’ve gained through This Is Nowhere.

And really, what’s the alternative? Things with TATE are so deadly quiet right now, I’ve essentially got two choices at the moment: cover Anna and The Bulls, or shutter TIN until whenever The Airborne Toxic Event emerges from their cave. I totally understand that there are fans who may tune out until Airborne takes center stage again, but I’d prefer to keep things rolling here for those who are interested.

Make no mistake: The Airborne Toxic Event is and will always be the raison d’être of This Is Nowhere. As I told a friend the other day, when Airborne is out, I am out. But until that day comes, I’ll be behind each member of the band, wherever their muse takes them.


If you’re still with me, thanks for sticking around!

Anna really is the only game in town these days as it pertains to Airborne-related news. With her #GIRLSCHOOL residency beginning tonight in L.A., she has garnered lots of media attention of late. In the past week alone, she has been featured in four major articles, from Impose Magazine, Lenny, Spur and Goad, and All four interviews cover similar territory, so I’ll pick and choose from them as Anna explains how #GIRLSCHOOL came to be, and why it means so much to her.

When we were planning the [August 2015] residency, I had just visited Rock Camp and experienced the mind-altering force of a 9-year-old confidently asking me who my feminist icons were in rock music. The idea to make the residency female-fronted was originally a dare to myself and the team managing the Bulls at the time. I’m ashamed of this now, but we actually posed the question: Will we be able to find enough quality female artists to make this residency great? And the answer was a resounding yes, and then some! I didn’t have enough hours to program all the artists I wanted to include. So, while the idea pushed me to take risks on new artists and new genres of music, I was also blown away by the quality of every single band. All of these projects were excellent, on or above par with most of the male-fronted bands in the local scene. And the feeling in the room felt completely right — like the beginnings of something worthwhile. So, during the course of that month, the idea started to take on a life of its own.

No one put a gun to my head and said hey you have to make GIRLSCHOOL happen. It came out of a desire to do it and after we did the test run in August with the residency, it really took a life of its own. It’s been nothing but fun and inspiring.

When the residency wrapped up in August, I felt so much positivity from the artists and so much love from everyone and I felt I wanted to do it again and people were interested in doing it again. The residency was an idea I had and I put it together with the people who were managing the Bulls at the time. From there I was fantasizing about this festival and I started working on it with Kyle and then these two girls Jasmine and Adrien just started showing up. Talk about force multipliers, they’re insane, they’re amazing. So we were able to do a lot more. As we started talking about it we went from seeing what we could do for a day to two days to, screw it, let’s add Friday, let’s add a second stage too. We could have kept going with adding bands but we wanted to bite off something we could chew, make sure the bands could all get soundchecks and have a good experience because everyone is volunteering. I’m hoping that it’s great.

Rock in particular is pretty gendered still. One of the reasons I love GIRLSCHOOL is because at the local level there are so many incredible female artists and bandleaders and songwriters and performers. Every project at the residency was really high quality, and I was blown away by that. But then once you get beyond the local level, the bands that graduate tend to be male-fronted bands. As someone who is a woman on stage as a “sideman” for my job, I can’t answer the question as to why it’s so, but I have noticed that it is so, and I would like to be able to be part of creating critical mass to push more women out beyond the local level.

I personally feel incredibly lucky to be part of this connective nest that is arising. So. I want to know: how can women support each other? What are the shared experiences (or disparate experiences) in our professional lives? And most important: how can we make positive changes together to influence culture and legitimately shift the needle for the next generations of women? How can we show young women a variety of ways to be successful in the music industry, or in their professional lives? What things did we have, or wish we had, supporting us in our paths?

When you have a nine-year-old look you in the eye and talk to you about feminism and ask you questions about what it’s like to be a woman further down the road, it really makes you think. In fact, it inspired me to participate and create and not just sit back and be just a random person in a band. I mean, I love playing music, and music is really meaningful to me, but I want other people to feel empowered to do what they want to do in life, whatever it is!

Notice that Anna referred to herself as a “sideman” for her job. We all know she’s much more than that, but still – we can take comfort in the fact that she was speaking in the present tense about being part of Airborne!

Toxic Gold

Finally, because we could all use an Airborne fix, here’s an acoustic “Changing” – back when it was known as “Something You Own.”

GlenGlen is the founder and editor of This Is Nowhere. He’s grateful for an understanding wife and kids who indulge his silly compulsion to chase a band all over the Pacific Northwest (and occasionally beyond) every time the opportunity arises.

BowieBy Glen

Virtually every modern day musician cites David Bowie as an influence, and The Airborne Toxic Event is certainly no exception. Today we explore the connections between TATE and Bowie, before catching up again with Anna Bulbrook and The Bulls.

Jollett on Bowie

As tributes poured in for the dearly departed Starman on Monday, Mikel Jollett added his voice to the despondent chorus.

The meeting of which Mikel speaks took place in the summer of 2003, when he met up with the legend at his Soho studio for a Filter Magazine interview and sneak peak of Bowie’s new album, Reality. Here’s the full version of his Twitter-abbreviated story:

AND THAT’S WHEN THE clocks began to melt. We’d moved on to a discussion of the end of rock and roll. The fact that rock music was now caught in this self-referential spiral in which new artists no longer merely referenced older ones, but straight-up copied them – the exact same sort of denouement suffered by jazz and classical music, two art forms far more obsessed with their past than with their present or future. And just then, the publicist leaned in through the door, looked at me, pointed discreetly at her watch. The time was almost up. And it occurred to me that it was all ending too soon: the interview, rock and roll, David Bowie. And so it was at that point when we were discussing it, and at this point when we are documenting it, when it is perhaps best to get out of the way, and simply let the man speak, because he says great things and there is precious little time left…

“Let’s put it down to post-modernism. It’s almost like the cat is really set among the pigeons. When Nietzsche said, ‘There is no God.’ That really disturbed the 20th century. And it f**ked everything up – philosophically and spiritually – when he said that. And I think when the post-modernists in the early ’60s put around the idea that nothing new will ever be devised again, it kind of f**ked things up too. It’s a trickle down thing. That idea has definitely become part of our way of thinking. (He paused here, sensing a change in theme. A crossing over:) And you know, you do start to wonder: Radiohead, as much as I love them, is it basically a kind of Aphex Twin with a backbeat? You know, I mean, how new is that? And is that important anymore, I wonder. Should we not be quite so keen to think that the original is the be all and the end all? Our culture is put together… it’s style, not fashion – I’m very emphatic about that – style is how we put our culture together. It’s why we choose a chair. Because it looks a certain way. I mean, why bother? Why do we have a choice of chairs? We need to have that to kind of say so much about ourselves.”

He was staring down at his hands, folding a piece of paper, caught up in it. “But that’s what’s interesting about it. I’m older and the sense of idealism was so clear-cut in the ’60s. I remember when I was 16 or 17 years old. I was such an idealist about what could happen in the future and all that. I just don’t know. I can’t read whether younger people – and I won’t say “young people” because I would include you as “younger people” (he looked up at me) – actually can feel that sense of idealism in the same way that I probably felt it back in the ’60s. (So here was this odd little paternal moment between me and David Bowie. And it occurred to me that it could have been with just about anyone who reads Filter. I just happened to be there. He was thinking, and he kind of looked up and said) Is it harder for you guys to feel that there definitely are certain things that we should abide by?”

I answered him. It’s not important what I said. Feel free to fill in your own answer here:




“Yeah, the contradiction really f**ks you all up doesn’t it?” is his reply.

You could probably mail your answer to him. I’m sure he’d love to hear from you. Because Jesus, the guy is a sponge for the zeitgeist – chaos theory in mathematics, the search for a unification theory in physics (to no avail), the evolution of post-modernism to post-post-modernism to a return to a classicism and a search for meaning. I don’t know if he reads these books or talks to these people or if he’s just the sort of person that senses such things when he walks down the street – but one way or another, he knows it. He gets it. He’s soaked it up.

“I think now, we don’t have a God. We don’t have a trust in any kind of politics. We are completely and totally at sea, philosophically. And I don’t think we want new things. I think we’re kind of scrounging around among the things we know to see if we can salvage some kind of civilization which will help us endure and survive into the future. We don’t need new. (And then, emphatically) We are f**ked. We’ve got enough new. Enough! (He yelled into the ceiling. This is the moment, remember it.) I think we will feel a lot more content when we are able to accept that life is chaos. I think it was an awful thought 10 or 15 years ago. But I think we are beginning to become more comfortable with the idea that life is chaos and it’s as simple as that: it is chaos. There is no structure. There is no plan. We are not evolving. We have to make the best of what we got. And if we can become happy about that, I think we ought to be able to establish a lifestyle in which we are more content.”

Bowie’s inspiration of Jollett was more than merely theoretical. Rather, he had a very specific role to play in the genesis of The Airborne Toxic Event’s most recent record, Dope Machines.

Every so often, one song can change everything. For The Airborne Toxic Event, that particular number happened to be an A Capella version of Queen and David Bowie’s classic duet “Under Pressure”.

“Somebody played it for me, and it blew my mind,” declares vocalist and guitarist Mikel Jollett. “I made a decision to change my whole approach to music. I just wanted to be joyful about it. I wasn’t going to worry anymore. For the first three records, I thought mostly like writer. My mindset changed. It was about inventing a musical logic that was unabashedly catchy and rhythmic, but way weirder than anything we’ve done in the past.”

The closing lines of Mikel’s interview with the master are particularly poignant, given the events of this past week.

I began to review, but then the time was up. He said – “It’s lovely to have talked with you. I’m so sorry we don’t have longer…”

We are all sorry.

Condolences and Reflections

Of course, Mikel is not the only member of The Airborne Toxic Event to be touched by Bowie’s death. We already discussed the fingerprints Bowie left on Anna’s serendipitously released new single, “Prudence.” She also took to Twitter on Monday to share her thoughts:

Steven Chen had this to say:

Adrian Rodriguez, meanwhile, posted a tribute on Instagram, while Daren Taylor said all that needed to be said: “fuck.”

Anna Bulbrook: Blazing a Trail for Women in Rock

While the biggest news from Anna this week was the Bulls’ unexpected release of “Prudence” and its b-side “Alright,” the songstress also continued to beat the drum (metaphorically and, I suppose, literally) for her fellow female musicians.

After all the talk about the reigning perceptions of women in the music industry, and after my 9 years of being the lone female performer at the alternative radio festivals much of the time, I felt called to do something purely positive for other women and with other women. Getting to fashion this little celebratory nest for a community of brilliant, driven, and talented people to connect and ‘do’ with one another has been the most meaningful and satisfying project I’ve taken on in a really long time. There are a lot of formidable female minds out there doing incredible things; we just want to highlight and give weight to the excellence we already see around us. There is a power and a magic in getting everyone together. We hope to continue growing our community and its impact for a long time to come, and I should add that people of all gender identities are a warmly welcomed part of our whole thing! As we like to say, a rising tide raises all boats.

Anna is quickly becoming a spokesperson for women in rock, but it’s far from empty words. As the driving force behind this month’s #GIRLSCHOOL festival, she is not only giving other artists an opportunity to showcase their talents, but also raising much-needed funds for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls LA. It makes a fan proud.

Toxic Gold

Somehow Anna also found time this week to drop in on a local Dear Boy gig, where she joined the former TATE openers on stage for a rendition of “Ghost in You.” HT to Sean and Veronica for the recording, and to Elva for pointing us to it.

GlenGlen is the founder and editor of This Is Nowhere. He’s grateful for an understanding wife and kids who indulge his silly compulsion to chase a band all over the Pacific Northwest (and occasionally beyond) every time the opportunity arises.

The Bulls: PrudenceHat tip to TIN reader Sarah for today’s big news:

Anna Bulbrook’s band The Bulls is set to release two new songs a week from today, Jan. 15! The new song titles are “Prudence” and “Alright,” and they are now available for pre-order on iTunes. 90-second previews of the upbeat tunes are also available for your listening pleasure.

Pre-order Prudence – Single – The Bulls

Toxicity 90

Posted: January 8, 2016 in Toxicity
Tags: , ,
Anna Bulbrook and The Bulls will play the GIRLSCHOOL Collective's Field Day Weekend later this month.

Anna Bulbrook and The Bulls will play the GIRLSCHOOL Collective’s Field Day Weekend later this month.

By Glen

As expected, 2016 has come in like a church mouse for The Airborne Toxic Event. But while we all wait to see what the future will bring, a certain violinist is still here to keep us entertained.

Anna Bulbrook Goes Back to GIRLSCHOOL

The multi-talented Anna Bulbrook is quickly becoming a leading ambassador for women in rock. After her band the Bulls successfully hosted the all-female-fronted GIRLSCHOOL residency in Los Angeles last August, they are now taking it to the next level. GIRLSCHOOL is back in session for the 3-day Field Day Weekend festival, Jan. 29-31 at L.A.’s Bootleg Theater. More than a dozen artists will join the Bulls in a smorgasbord of gifted female musicians, with all proceeds to benefit the Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls. Click here for tickets.

Tying a Bow on 2015

As expected, there hasn’t been much in the way of Airborne news as we close the door on 2015 and enter what is expected to be a quiet year for the band. All we’ve been able to dredge up of late is a pair of photo galleries from the group’s set at last month’s Not So Silent Night in Denver, courtesy of Westword and Greeblehaus (Amie Giese, a big TATE fan), and some major kudos from Popdose, which placed both Dope Machines and Songs of God and Whiskey high up its Best of 2015 listing (in a tie for 5th).

The Airborne Toxic Event ranks right up there with The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus in terms of clunky indie pop band names from the 2000’s. But the music, oh the music, is so freaking phenomenal. From their breakthrough single, ‘Sometime Around Midnight’, onward, the band rarely releases anything less than a heartbreaking work of staggering genius. That said — a lot of their best stuff doesn’t wind up on their proper albums. They have a knack for recording one-take ‘Bombastic’ video versions of their songs and scatter them like Easter eggs on the YouTubes for fans to find. As richly as their studio albums are produced, there’s something magical about the Bombastic versions that deserves an eventual box set. I bring this up because this year they released an entire second album as a limited edition digital only bonus to their new album, Dope Machines. This surprise album, Songs of God and Whiskey, was almost immediately out of print. Head to their website to this day and they say it’s not available. Search iTunes or Amazon and you can find it with a little work. I bought it for $10 and it was worth every penny. I don’t get the business model of making your best work in years so damn hard to find (this NEEDS to be released on CD), but I digress. Let’s talk about the music.

Songs from Songs of God and Whiskey, much like Foo Fighters’ Saint Cecilia EP, were written throughout the band’s career — and playing them loud confirms why this band is so damn wonderful in the first place. Every instrument crackles and shines, the band is on fire.

The proper new album, Dope Machines, is a different affair. Their signature guitars and Anna Bulbrook’s viola are downplayed and synths are pushed to front and center. It’s a risky move considering that crescendo of strings IS the band’s sound. But the bold move pays off. Dope Machines is the band’s most uplifting and joyous album since their debut.

I think we can all concur with the author about the urgent need for Songs of God and Whiskey to be released on CD – and vinyl, while they’re at it.

The Sad State of the Music Industry

There’s been many lamentations of late about the current state of the music industry, with its ever-shifting business models and penchant for churning out sound-a-likes heavy on groove but light on content – an environment that is not particularly suited to groups like The Airborne Toxic Event, self-admittedly not a singles band. Now, two more influential figures have added their voices to the growing, ever-concerned chorus.

First to weigh in was award-winning singer, songwriter and producer T Bone Burnett, who had this to say in an op-ed for the Washington Post:

How bad is the problem? Consider this: In 2014, sales from vinyl records made more than all of the ad-supported on-demand streams on services such as YouTube. I’m not running down vinyl — it is still the best-sounding, most durable medium we have for listening to music, by far. But why should a technology most people consider outdated generate more revenue than an Internet service with more than 100 million American users? That’s just wrong.

Just two decades ago, a music superstar was born when her record went gold, selling 500,000 units. Today, experts say it takes 100 million streams to match that kind of success. Even the most relentless year-round touring schedule or advertising licensing deals can’t match the income that a hit record once produced…

For small and up-and-coming artists, the income collapse has been even more severe; copies of one-penny royalty checks are rampant on the Internet. These artists are struggling American small businesses, and the deck is stacked against them.

Noted music critic Neil McCormick, meanwhile, came at it from an artistic angle in The Telegraph:

Adele represents a throwback to a time when the whole world sang the same songs. It is the one album everyone will have heard or heard about. Interestingly, this sales success was achieved while the singer refused to allow her album to be streamed, the new favoured technology of music distribution.

In 2015, subscription services Apple Music and Tidal were launched to compete with the major established (but mainly ad supported) platforms of Spotify and YouTube.

There is nothing inherently bad about streaming. Indeed, if they can get enough subscribers for paid services, then it may yet prove to be the financial saviour of a music business that has been struggling since the internet came along. But streaming is having a negative impact on the kinds of music that people listen to.

When listeners don’t purchase an album, there is very little impetus to lavish love and attention on it or explore the work of artists in depth. Instead, streaming promotes individual tracks, often from curated playlists.

It is a form of internet radio, a competitive listening arena where the idea is to grab attention by any means possible. It favours the hook, the novelty, the high impact sugar rush of instant gratification, whether that involves bold DJ beats, histrionic singers, combative rappers or saccharine ballads from querulous singer-songwriters. It is a singles market, in other words…

Should it concern us that so much of this new pop is utterly formulaic, giving people what they already like with just a subtle twist? It is an odd paradox that an obsession with novelty should create an atmosphere of bland conformity.

According to John Seabrook’s behind-the-scenes look at modern pop production, The Song Machine, the peculiar sameness and banality of singles are a result of the huge teams of songwriters and producers required to craft even the most insignificant hit. Nobody seems worried that the depth, nuance and flavour of a song is sacrificed, as long as it sells….

The slow and sparse maturation of live stars might be a scary reflection of what is happening in the grass roots, slowly dying from lack of care. Down on the ground, small venues are suffering. It is estimated that 40 per cent of music venues in the UK have closed over the past 10 years.

Venerable live forums like the Sheffield Boardwalk and the Cockpit in Leeds have shut their doors. Promoters can complain about business rates and lack of government support, but the bottom line is surely that audiences  are uninspired by fading local and national scenes.

Low-level bands can’t afford to go on the road because tour support from record companies has all but dried up.

Big labels used to spend a lot of money on A&R, nurturing promising talent, and sticking with particularly interesting artists for the long haul. Not any more. So, while the virtual world expands, the physical space where communities of like-minded music fans can interact keeps shrinking. Vital support networks are dying.

And as fewer dynamic new performers with original perspectives break through, live audiences drift further away. It has become a big pop monster eating its own tail…

The year will also be remembered for the awful scenes at Paris’s Bataclan venue, a direct attack on music by forces of terror.

It should serve as a reminder of how important music actually is in the fabric of our lives, and why we need the freedom, creativity and community it represents more than ever. Somewhere, somehow, the spirit of great, world-beating, popular music with ideas, emotion and substance has to rise again.

Not to be outdone, our friend Julie posted her own thoughtful musings on the subject, exploring a number of alternative approaches that have allowed some artists to continue to produce meaningful work while actually not having to worry about whether it’s time to go look for a day job.

According to Nielson SoundScan’s 2012 report, the three remaining major record companies of the once “Big Six” now control 88.5% of the global music market (sales of CDs, music videos and MP3s). That would be Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group. In the age of the Internet, with rampant illegal downloading, music sharing on social media and the popularity of streaming services like Spotify and Pandora, sales, even of MP3s, have steadily decreased. There is no doubt that this is what has led to the current climate of label desperation, in their last-gasp efforts to maintain big profits.

This desperation has created, as I see it, an adversarial relationship between the artist and their fans. At the very least, these corporations, through their own petty financial fears and insecurities over losing their market stronghold (which began a long time ago), have bred a culture of distrust. Fans are viewed by these conglomerates much the same way that I see the squirrels in my backyard — running off with the goods (or the bird food) without so much as a “how do you do.” It then becomes the sole sales strategy of the label to find a way to force music consumers to pay for their music and punish them when they don’t, rather than trying to develop new business models and marketing strategies that adapt to the changing environment and cater to the specific tastes of each artist’s fanbase.

The music industry “old guard” has also set requirements for musicians that are so unrealistic and myopic that all but a small handful of top earners churning out mainstream dreck are destined to fall short. This includes expected sales figures, radio airplay, Shazam numbers and other metrics, demographics and analytics — while dismissing old-fashioned ideas of community building and consumer loyalty.

Even as The Airborne Toxic Event celebrates 10 years as a band in 2016, these issues are no doubt weighing heavily on the minds of the musicians as they plot a course for the future.

Toxic Gold

According to last fall’s TATE fan survey, a slight majority of us are traditionalists: we like our Airborne Toxins pure, not remixed. Nevertheless, here for your consideration is “Sometime Around Midnight: Robo Patrole Remix.”

GlenGlen is the founder and editor of This Is Nowhere. He’s grateful for an understanding wife and kids who indulge his silly compulsion to chase a band all over the Pacific Northwest (and occasionally beyond) every time the opportunity arises.

By Glen

For fans of The Airborne Toxic Event, 2015 was anything but dull. With two albums released, four videos and three tours, the TATE news machine rarely stopped churning – that is, until late in the year, when the band entered an extended break that has fans wondering what the future holds. Here are the highlights of The Airborne Toxic Event’s 2015.

Jan. 13: The Airborne Toxic Event announces the track listing to their fourth studio album, Dope Machines, with pre-orders to start the following Tuesday

Jan. 16: The band invites fans to uncover the album artwork for Dope Machines by Shazamming their current single, “Wrong”

Jan. 19: The closing track of Dope Machines, “Chains,” premieres on

Jan. 20: Dope Machines pre-orders begin; digital pre-orders include immediate download of “Wrong” and “Chains”

Jan. 30: The Airborne Toxic Event performs a benefit show at the Troubadour in Los Angeles for the Songs for Kids Foundation; the show includes the live premieres of “Chains” and “One Time Thing”

Feb. 3: “One Time Thing” is made available for download with Dope Machines pre-orders

Feb. 18: The Airborne Toxic Event announces a 10-date European tour for April

Feb. 20: The Airborne Toxic Event’s fourth studio album, Dope Machines, is released in Mainland Europe

The Airborne Toxic Event, Dope Machines

Feb. 22: The newly redesigned band website is launched

Feb. 23: The Airborne Toxic Event announces a surprise second album, Songs of God and Whiskey, to be released at midnight; the all-acoustic album is only available digitally, paired with Dope Machines, through the band’s website

Feb. 24:
Dope Machines is released in North America

Feb. 24: The Airborne Toxic Event’s fifth studio album, Songs of God and Whiskey, is released through the band’s website

The Airborne Toxic Event, Songs of God and Whiskey

Feb. 25: The Airborne Toxic Event celebrates their double release with a free show and album signing at LA’s Amoeba Music

Feb. 25: The Airborne Toxic Event announces a 10-date North American tour for March, with Dope Machines to be played in full each night, accompanied by a special video presentation

Mar. 11: The Dope Machines Tour begins in Brooklyn, NY, featuring the live premieres of “Time to Be a Man,” “My Childish Bride,” “The Thing About Dreams” and “Something You Lost”

Mar. 13: The Airborne Toxic Event appears on VH1’s Big Morning Buzz, performing “One Time Thing”

Mar. 13: The Airborne Toxic Event appears on The David Letterman Show, performing “Wrong”

Mar. 14: The band’s show in Boston, MA features the live premiere of SOGAW track “Change and Change and Change and Change”

Mar. 19: The Airborne Toxic Event is the subject of a full-length feature on WHYY-TV’s On Tour

Mar. 23: The Airborne Toxic Event tapes a segment for Revolt TV, which airs Mar. 24

Mar. 24: The North American Dope Machines Tour ends in San Diego

Mar. 30-31: The Airborne Toxic Event shoots acoustic Bombastic videos for various Dope Machines and Songs of God and Whiskey tunes, in and around Los Angeles

Apr. 6: Dope Machines is released in the U.K.

Apr. 7: The Airborne Toxic Event’s European tour begins at Muffathalle, Munchen, Germany

Apr. 19: The European tour ends at Academy, Dublin, Ireland

Apr. 24: Songs of God and Whiskey is released on iTunes and other digital outlets in Europe

Apr. 28: Songs of God and Whiskey is released on iTunes and other digital outlets in North America

Apr. 28: The Airborne Toxic Event releases the Bombastic video for “California”

May 4: The Airborne Toxic Event releases the Bombastic video for “The Fall of Rome”

May 11: The Airborne Toxic Event releases the official music video for “California”

May 31: The Airborne Toxic Event plays Songs of God and Whiskey in full for the first and only time, at a special show in Santa Ana, CA – a show that features the live premieres of “Cocaine and Abel,” “A Certain Type of Girl,” “Strangers” and “Why Why Why”

June 22: The Airborne Toxic Event releases the Bombastic video for “One Time Thing”

June 22: The Airborne Toxic Event announces the fall Whiskey Machine Tour of North America

July 20: Anna Bulbrook’s band, The Bulls, announces their Small Problems EP release for Aug. 28, and debuts the title track on Soundcloud


July 24: As part of a short acoustic set in Atlantic City, NJ, The Airborne Toxic Event debuts a cover of Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness,” which would be a staple of their live performances through the rest of the year

July 24: The Bulls officially release the single “Small Problems”

July 25: The Whiskey Machine Tour begins at the Kerfuffle in Buffalo, NY

Aug. 28: The Bulls release their debut EP, Small Problems

Small Problems, the debut EP from Anna Bulbrook and Marc Sallis' group The Bulls, drops Aug. 28, with the title track available now.

Early Sept.: Mikel Jollett gets in a serious car crash, luckily avoiding major injury

Sept. 8: The Airborne Toxic Event announces a “One Time Thing” Shazam contest, with the winner earning the opportunity to choose the setlist for a private gig in Philadelphia

Sept. 26: The private Shazam show for 20 contest winners and their guests includes seldom played songs “The Secret” (long version), “Tokyo Radio,” “Strangers,” “A Letter to Georgia,” “The Thing About Dreams,” “The Fifth Day” and more

Oct. 7: The Bulls debut the music video for their latest single, “Rumors”

Oct. 22: The Whiskey Machine Tour comes to an end at the Wiltern in Los Angeles

Oct. 24: Mikel Jollett announces that the band will be taking a break of undetermined length: “Going dark for a bit now to hovel and rest and write”

Dec. 5: The Airborne Toxic Event ends their year with a short, controversial set at Denver’s Not So Silent Night

What was your personal TATE highlight of 2015? Was it one of the events listed here, or something else entirely? What do you think 2016 has in store? Comment below!

For a complete listing of 2015 tour dates, including setlists for every show, visit our TATE setlist archive.

Glen, Fan of The Airborne Toxic EventGlen is the founder and editor of This Is Nowhere. He’s grateful for an understanding wife and kids who indulge his silly compulsion to chase a band all over the Pacific Northwest (and occasionally beyond) every time the opportunity arises.

The Airborne Toxic Event was at the height of their powers on the Whiskey Machine Tour. Photo by Ryan Macchione.

The Airborne Toxic Event was at the height of their powers on the Whiskey Machine Tour. Photo by Ryan Macchione.

By Glen

In case there was any doubt that The Airborne Toxic Event meant it when they said in late October that they were going quiet, we did not have cause to write a single issue of Toxicity during the month of November – the longest break we’ve taken in over two years. Even this post is probably better titled Tox-ish-ity, as much of this “news” is more Airborne-adjacent than truly focused on the band. But, we’ve got a backlog of stuff to clear out before the holidays, so here we go.

In California

Under the heading of ‘Better Late Than Never’ comes Pop Matters’ late breaking review of the final show of Airborne’s Whiskey Machine Tour, way back on Oct. 22 at the Wiltern in Los Angeles. It’s not often that TATE and Guns ‘N’ Roses are cited together, but reviewer Greg Schwartz does just that:

“It’s nice to be home in Los Angeles, where no one understands you and everyone understands you,” Jollett noted as an intro to “California” (a tune that appears on both of the new albums with differing arrangements.) Jollett was tapping into a deeper concept of LA here, with its multi-dimensional nature of being “stuck in the same scene of nightmares and daydreams.” The song’s mixed emotions recalled Axl Rose’s sentiment at the end of Guns ‘N’ Roses summer ‘91 tour at the LA Forum when he said that “LA is a place where all your dreams can come true, but it can also be the loneliest place in the world.”

TATE Fan provides the video evidence:

Tomorrow night, the band’s exile ends very briefly when they return to action at Denver’s Not So Silent Night. It’s likely to be a fairly short set, but ten lucky fans (and their plus-ones’) will be more than satisfied after having dinner with the band, thanks to their latest “One Time Thing” Shazam contest.

Toxish News

In slightly Airborne-related news…

  • If you’re interested in learning more about the environment from whence The Airborne Toxic Event sprung, you’ll want to check out Pass the Music. The feature-length documentary examines the prolific Eastside Los Angeles music scene around the time of Airborne’s birth; in fact, there’s even a TATE-sighting in the first few minutes of the film. I confess, I haven’t actually had time to watch it yet myself, but I’ve heard good things and it’s definitely on my holiday To Do list.
  • Singer-songwriter Dar Williams penned a heartfelt editorial for American Songwriter, explicating the economic realities faced by middle-class touring musicians like Airborne. It’s eye-opening to be sure, even for those who are already familiar with the issues. So much to chew on here. It gives you even more appreciation for the sacrifices these artists make to fill our lives with music.

The Attitude of Gratitude will not fix what’s happened here.  Our industry is not sustainable right now.  Patronage helps (you know who you are). People who still believe in buying music help (you truly do—you make all the difference at this moment).  Crowd-sourcing campaigns have varying levels of success (I had a good run and am grateful). Thank goodness for flush car companies whose ads depict couples doing happy things to the soundtrack of artists under forty.

But to the ethos of endless music consumption with no investment: BOO. To bloggers who tell David Byrne to keep playing his pretty music but leave the income distribution math to the experts: BOO. To the industry people who tell us there is still money, it’s just in different places: BOO.  And to ALL streaming entities right now: BOO BOO BOO.

Yes, you can still jump in your car (gas is even at 1995 prices) and gig around the country, and the road food you find is likely to have less cholesterol and gluten. Yes, the world out there, in my experience, is greener, kinder, and more emotionally sophisticated than when I began.  You can go gig to gig and live hand to mouth and then some.  But when you want to grow that career to bring in a wider palette of sound, pay for a motel room, hire a person to keep things organized so that your creative spirit doesn’t collapse under a load of traveling minutiae, or make music that blows out of the speakers and transforms a listener, that’s when touring is much, much harder.  And I think the world will miss seeing full indie bands on stage (I’m not talking about PepsiCo funded Katy Perry spectacles, beautiful as they are), not to mention the luxuriant, idolatrous, complicated, intelligent production of XTC albums (they stopped touring) or Beatles albums (ditto).  There’s only so much a cool band t-shirt will pay for in a world that doesn’t want to buy that band’s recorded music.

  • Finally, if your love of The Airborne Toxic Event turned you on to author Don DeLillo (White Noise), here’s something to look forward to: his next novel, Zero K, will hit store shelves in May.

Toxic Gold

Most of Anna Bulbrook’s attention of late has been devoted to recording with the Bulls. While we wait for their debut album, the final recording from their fall session at Blind Blind Tiger has been released. Here is “Small Problems.”

GlenGlen is the founder and editor of This Is Nowhere. He’s grateful for an understanding wife and kids who indulge his silly compulsion to chase a band all over the Pacific Northwest (and occasionally beyond) every time the opportunity arises.