It’s embarrassing that any band writing music today even considers playing more than one chord. One note over and over again is the only rational response to the modern world. Are people still playing riffs? Are those four chords giving anything new to the world? Is post-punk going to rule the world seventh time round?
The music industry is now fully professionalised, from top to bottom. Bands ‘emerge’, like they flopped out of some test tube. Those doing the growing are just using the same old molds, the historically approved sounds of the decade of their twenties but minus the risk, the freshness, the boldness. A recycled dream – sack the bassist, that’s not how Suede did things lad. Jingle, jangle, punk rock make-up brands, photo shoots with lighting techs and ten point plans to success.
A build your own band app, pick the wallpaper and the curtains, pre-formatted matching paint tones. It all hangs together on a melody. A thousand different shades of returning fashion, but all hung around the melody.
That’s the propaganda.It’s the lie. It’s the politicians suit (Are You Awake?) someone in a suit must be doing a job, right? A band with a melody must be talented, right? I feel bored and they are saying nothing that excites me, but look at the clothes and the video and the pure hard stats. It must be me. And besides, who has the time to check? Who am I going to complain to?
You deserve better.
Are You Awake? began life as a literal low B on a piano played over and over. I wondered how long you could play that live before people walked out. If we had more gigs, maybe I could try find out. It was called Russell Howard’s Good News because I saw the TV show Russell Howard’s Good News and marveled at how Russell Howard read a newspaper headline that was shown on the screen and the camera then cut to his face and he said it again but in a loud and shocked and disbelieving voice and that this happened over and over and an unseen audience laughed and it was broadcast on television.
It was one note. Like politics is one note. Like the success trajectory of modern artists. Like shopping centres and fucking everything.
Are you awake to how dull this all is, and how wrong it is, or are the sweet sweet melodies from the bands with their twelfth wave anarchy (video paid for by PRS funding) situationist something something they were told to read by their manager / agent / benefactor in his fifties – are the melodies making it hard to perceive?
Is this even real? Is it beyond the beyond to ask that with a straight face? The track opens with the last reference to the most referenced novel of all time (but I was born at the start of April in 1984, so I’m taking it) and moves through what we glimpse behind the curtain – riots, bones snapping, tear gas and thoughts flicking through your mind like tv channels, desperately trying to grasp onto some sanity. Your poor unevolved brain trying to counter the cognitive dissonance that something is very very wrong. Are you awake?
The rush subsides. You are alone. You always were. The fuzz and buzz of this mad world was never really with you. It was in your brain, in your every waking thought, driving you crazy, but it wasn’t’ there, in your hand, your living room, your reality.
A text – are you awake? A call out to the night. I just want to talk. Maybe everything can be alright if we just talk. I should have been here, in this place with you but for some reason I don’t understand – and now never will – I wasn’t and won’t be.
I don’t know why but they are sending the wagons out for us now. Did I miss something? Was I asleep? The whole world was walking into the gas chamber but I missed it all, or knew it but couldn’t see it. Or knew it but pretended to be asleep whilst reality was knocking on my door, trying to get me out of bed. One knock knocking. One note playing. Are you awake? Are you awake?