gotta give credit where credit is due…
I’ve noticed that a lot of the lyric websites have pretty off-base interpretations of “Praise Be Man”. Here’s the actual lyrics, for anyone that gives a shit:
praise be man, he lives in milk.
take heed, young soul. and do what thou wilt.
smoke hangs along the ceiling.
the floor and walls are breathing in with you
grind your teeth, son. taste the dirt and tires.
tread on with ease, boys. rooftop babes on wires.
tar and earthen treasures yield forbidden pleasures.
all is kin.
The first albums I ever bought were on cassette. It was the mid-’80s, and that was the dominant format. You could still buy LPs, but everyone wanted to listen to music on Walkmans, or in their car, or on a boom box. Vinyl wasn’t a very portable format.
Then the CD came out. Overnight, vinyl shelves were cleared out to make room for CD longboxes. We were told that CDs were permanent. It was the pinnacle of music technology. The grooves would never wear out; the tape would never get tangled in your car’s cassette deck. But they were noticeably more expensive than LPs and tapes. Big Black dubbed the compact disc as “the rich man’s 8-track”, a snide prediction that the format would eventually be seen as outdated.
That prediction came true with the rise of the mp3. Granted, even in 2014 the compact disc makes up the majority of music sales (or at least that’s the case for my bands), but most folks prefer to listen to music on their phone, computer, or mp3 player. CDs just take up space. Plus, we were told that mp3s were permanent. It is the pinnacle of music technology. Mp3s don’t get scratched; your friend can’t borrow it and never return it. As long as you have your library backed up on a hard drive, and as long as you can cart that hard drive around for the rest of your life without it crashing, then your music library will last forever.
Some folks put up a stink about how they favored physical formats. They liked the tactile experience of putting a record on the turntable, or making a mixtape on a dual tape deck, or hand-building custom art for the CD demo instead of just dumping it somewhere online. Those people were labeled as old fashioned, stubborn, and stupid.
Now everything is streaming. You don’t need to use up precious hard drive space with mp3s. You just need Spotify. You don’t need to own anything, because we’ve arrived at the pinnacle of music technology. Streaming services will be around forever. Just like 8-tracks, Walkmans, CD longboxes, your first generation iPod, Napster, and Myspace.
escapistrecords asked: Any chance of Roy resurfacing, even in the form of releasing new music? Was there any unreleased material? Been on a huge kick the past few weeks and would love to hear something new.
Nice! Thanks for the Roy love.
Roy never broke up or went on an official hiatus. We just kinda realized that we weren’t a very strong live band and consequently stopped playing shows unless it was a very special occasion. I think we’ve played 3 shows in the last 7 years. Every so often someone in the band will suggest getting together and recording more songs, but things are kinda tricky with touring schedules, full-time jobs, families, and living in different cities.
There are a few unreleased songs out there. Sean from FYF Fest was supposed to release a 7” single of “Reno, I’m Coming Home” with two b-side songs. I’m not really sure what happened with that project. There are a few rough demos floating around too, but nothing really worth sharing with the public.
I actually showed an early version of “Praise Be Man” to the guys at one of the last Roy practices as it seemed like an appropriate song for the band. But then it was allocated to a solo thing I was working on. When I ditched that idea, I ran it by Russian Circles. Lo and behold…
Long story short, the band might resurface, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for it. I think all the three EPs and both full-length CDs are officially out of print. I’d love to see them come out on vinyl, though I don’t think the demand for it exists. And there is no new material in the works at present.
I do suggest Roy fans scoping out Helms Alee and Canyon Canon. You can hear vestiges of Ben’s songs in his work with Helms Alee, and Canyon Canon is Mike’s solo project. Good stuff on both counts.
There’s been a lot of online discussion about YouTube’s aggressive move against independent artists today, and a friend of mine mentioned that he wouldn’t miss streaming music if it disappeared tomorrow. While I definitely think the ability to share and check out music online is a positive thing, it got me thinking about the last time I heard something online that really blew me away. It’s been a while. Just today I checked out the new How To Dress Well album that everyone’s freaking out over and felt literally nothing while listening to it.
I read a handful of music blogs every morning. I check out bands that people mention on social media. I’m on email lists for several music PR firms. I hear new music online every day. But where do I hear new music that actually makes me feel something? At a party. Out at a bar. In a club. At a record store. At a friend’s house. On the radio in the car. Really, just about anywhere besides in front of my computer. Most of the new music that catches my ear is playing in a context that doesn’t involve me sitting at a desk staring at a screen. I hear a song and I associate it with a time and place. It serves as a soundtrack to a moment.
The irony is that I post music online all the time. I share videos. I talk about bands I like. I hope that people will check out my recommendations and feel the same way I do about the songs. But ultimately, I realize that music sounds best when you’re experiencing it away from your desk.
Time & Place: Jawbreaker Dear You
My senior year of high school was over. My parents were moving three timezones away. I had just picked up a copy of Jawbreaker’s 24 Hour Revenge Therapy before going to go see some local bands play in downtown Tacoma a few days after graduation. The next day I packed up my room while listening to the album on repeat. That record will forever remind me of leaving home and starting my freshman year at the University of Puget Sound. When Blake Schwarzenbach sang “these days the people I love are spread so far apart”, I knew exactly how he felt.
I loved 24 Hour Revenge Therapy so much that it was difficult to not be disappointed by their major label follow-up Dear You. It came out my first semester of college, while I was DJing at the campus radio station. It was too slick, too glossy, too rock n’ roll. I still caught the band on tour, hoping to catch old songs. But “Save Your Generation” and “Fireman” couldn’t hold a candle to “Boat Dreams From The Hill” and “Ache”. I never bought Dear You and never gave it more than a cursory listen.
A lot happened over the next five years. Jawbreaker broke up. Jets To Brazil put out two records. I took two semesters off from school to go on tour with my band. I met my husband. And I finished college.
It was finals week, but I had wrapped up my last test before the week was through. It was a strange feeling. There was enormous relief with being through with school. There was some anxiety over the future. But more than anything, there was this sense of reflection and sadness. Another chapter of my life was over, and it was a chapter in which a lot of really amazing things had happened. This was all swirling around in my head as I drove home from school in my truck late one evening. I tuned the radio to the campus radio station and “Fireman” was playing. I hadn’t heard the song in five years—since my freshman year—and it sounded a lot better than I’d remembered. I was pulling up in front of my house when the song ended and segued into the next track off the record, “Accident Prone”. I’d never heard that track before, and it struck me as a perfect continuation of the melancholic angst that characterized Bivouac and 24 Hour Revenge Therapy. I sat in my truck outside of my house listening to the song play, kicking myself for not having given the album another chance 5 years ago. “Accident Prone” ended and “Chemistry” came on. It occurred to me that the DJ was playing the whole album, which, as a fellow DJ at the station, I knew was a big no-no with the manager. But I also understoond that it was finals week, and the DJ was either stressed out and trying to cram some studying in on his shift, or the next DJ hadn’t bothered to show up and the person with the earlier shift was merely playing a whole album until their replacement showed up. Either way, this DJ decided that Dear You was the ideal album to spin in its entirety, and I wound up sitting in the dark interior of my truck listening to it until the last track ended.
Jawbreaker had already made a record that defined my life at the age of eighteen. I left home and started college with 24 Hour Revenge Therapy as my soundtrack. And that night, Dear You became the record that I forever associate with the end of my college years and moving on to the next stage of adulthood.