Get Your Gunn


 

Boy, America sure is a fucked up society.

I saw a post on Facebook yesterday that said: “The claim that there has been one mass shooting per day this year is based on people altering the criteria for what a mass shooting is. The standard is 4 people killed, not 4 people killed or injured. This is an attempt to alter the perception of gun violence as compared to past reports of mass shooting rates.” *

That really bothered me. If 4 bullets hit people that should qualify as a mass shooting whether they’re killed or injured. And more to the point how awful is it that people seem to think 4 people a day being shot is acceptable? I could understand 4 people a day being shot in a war zone. I’m sure 4 or more people are shot everyday in Syria. Or maybe an area with a lot of gangs. Or a lot of drug cartels. Or inner cities. But we’re talking about people being shot at their company Christmas parties, churches, colleges and elementary schools. (Not htat I’m OK with soldiers, drug dealers or other types of criminals being brutally slaughtered, but it is more acceptable than 8 year olds.)

Seriously, people die all the time and others say things like “Your dead kids don’t trump my constitutional rights.” The fucked up thing about America isn’t that we have all this gun violence, but the way people respond to it.

And the saddest, most frustrating part is that absolutely nothing can or will be done about it. We just accept this as a matter of course and don’t even try to combat it. I’m finding that people in America aren’t really free thinkers so much as they are talking Tinas programmed by the media of their choice. Some shout that they want tougher gun laws and the other half cry that someone is going to take away their guns.

ipijdI try really hard to be a critical thinker and I’ve found my views on the subject shift considerable in the past few months. A New York Times article made me think that we already have many necessary laws in place and that they’re just not being implemented effectively. Then in the aftermath of the Paris terror attracts I wanted to find something to prove/disprove the statements that if the Parisians had been armed they wouldn’t have been attacked.

I couldn’t find any credible information or data linking gun laws and/or rate of gun ownership to rate of gun deaths. There is absolutely no correlation that I could find. This being a website if you do have some proof you would like to share there is a comments section where you may do so. Please know the difference between a fact and an opinion before doing so. (Before you try to convince me that open carry is the answer bear in mind that I live in a state where open carry is legal and I’ve witnessed a mass shooting. In 32 years I’ve never come across an event that would have turned out differently if I’d been armed.)

So I’ve been leaning toward better enforcement of existing gun laws as opposed to new ones lately. Until I read about a new law that would close some loopholes. Apparently people on the FBI’s terrorist watch list can legally buy guns. There’s also a law that if the FBI doesn’t respond to your background check within 3 days it’s legal to get a gun. I’m not sure why that’s a thing in the age of emails and text messages. They can swipe my drivers licence at the gas station to know if I’m of legal age to buy cigarettes can’t do the same to tell if I’m a felon or an escaped mental patient when I go to buy a gun?

What really confuses me is why nobody wants to spend money or research treating mental illness or studying gun violence. It’s ridiculous that we don’t want to treat sick people or trying to understand why things like this happen. I cannot imagine what would prompt someone to grab a weapon, walk into a classroom and open fire on a group of kindergartners. But that’s the problem – If we look into why stuff like this happens perhaps we can prevent it.

I don’t understand how anyone can be against providing health care and opportunities for the poor and sick among us. I’m sure some don’t want to share their money in the form of taxes, but if poverty and mental disabilities breed violence and crime aren’t you giving them your tax dollars when you pay to lock them up? Let’s try to keep people out of prison and turn them into productive members of society.

But then again, why would you listen to my thoughts and opinions on this matter. I have an Associate of Arts degree. Where are the PhD’s? The social scientists? The police commissioners? How do we separate the researched from the speculated? Why aren’t we calling in experts to ask their opinions on how to solve this crisis? Why aren’t we looking to what has worked and what hasn’t worked in other countries? How has trying to keep people safe turned into a partisan political issue? Where’s the peer-reviewed data to support anyone’s outrageous claims? Where are the armed good guys who are supposed to be stopping these shooters before they kill?

I’m not saying we should ban all guns. I’m a gun owner myself and don’t plan on surrendering my weapons to anyone. I know many other people who are responsible gun owners. But I don’t know how anyone could say that we do a good job of keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people in this country. I can’t point to one for every day of this year, but I know of quite a few instances where that didn’t happen. I’d like to see more funding for mental health treatment. Or tougher background check. Or maybe trying to move our culture away from violence. Or… well anything. Because obviously what we have now isn’t working.

 

* Definitions of mass shootings vary. (Washington Post June 18th 2015)

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SYWSAB 10


Free Shitty AdviceSo You Wanna Start A Band? Part 10

I’ve a lot playing in bands over the years to have some wisdom to pass on. I see bands pass rudeness off as normal behavior and hope I can make the world a better place by helping prevent this. I don’t know everything, if I did I would be writing this from a tour bus and not my apartment. If you disagree with my views I encourage you to share your own. If you have another way of doing things which brings more success I’d love to hear it.

Grow Up

As I’m sure some of you know, I was in a band called Bastard Friendly. Since that band dissolved I’ve been looking for a new band. I love playing in bands; it’s a lot of fun, a great way to express myself artistically and a great way to meet new people.

Unfortunately, most of the people you meet replying to craigslist adds are not the types of people you really want to meet. The first guy I met didn’t seem to know anything about rock music. He liked Nickelback and had an apartment that reeked of pot smoke. I don’t think we’re a good fit. I jammed with a Christian band about a month ago, but I wasn’t quite Christian enough for them.

black-white-little-girl-crying-middle-fingerThe last person I met was the worst. We did the prerequisite emailing and I listened to some demos. They were really bad demos; recorded on a boom box tape deck. They sounded awful, but the songs were pretty good and the type I would love to play.

Then I met the person putting the group together.

I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. You might meet someone on a bad day. Just because a person rubs you the wrong way on the first phone call or first meeting doesn’t mean they’re an immature, loudmouth, drifter. There were a few red flags: The ad said ‘punk band getting back together,’ which was completely untrue. She was starting a completely new band in Northeast Ohio but using the same name and songs as a band formed years ago in Austin, Texas. A moot point, but something that bothers me.

I also wondered why there was so much moving and bouncing around from Los Angeles to Colorado to Kansas City to Canton, but I never did get an answer. It was hard to get a word in edgewise. She was quite boisterous and loud.

But, in spite of singing so loudly in the restaurant I manage to feel a twinge of embarrassment (something quite difficult to do, but obviously not impossible. (Also something I thought may have been a sign of a good front woman.)), name dropping all sorts of celebrities, brushing aside any ideas I may have had for the bandand generally coming off as a total flake, I was still interested in jamming.

I’m getting pretty desperate for a band and the guitar player seemed like a cool guy. I even checked out his other project and found them pretty good.

But then I woke up the next morning and found a disturbing text. Screenshot_2015-07-26

My first reaction is to think people are joking. That’s usually what I do. But something about the way the word ‘dumb ass’ was stretched out for nearly two lines told me this was a serious message.

I wanted to respond, but found myself speechless. Was my offhand comment saying “Hey, that’s the Ramones” when “I Wanna Be Sedated” came on the jukebox that big of an insult? I hadn’t thought so, but apparently it was. And I hadn’t meant to come off as negative. I like to think of myself as a realist. I’ve played a few shows and have learned a few things over the years. I don’t expect the world handed to me on a silver platter and know I have to work for it.

I also think I’ve already accomplished a few good things in my life. I’m very proud of that Bastard Friendly EP. I’m also very proud of this blog.

This is the first time I’ve ever had a ‘bitch you don’t know me so don’t be telling me how to raise my kid’ moment, but I’ve thought about it and realize I’m just glad my daughter isn’t being raised by someone who’ll get so upset by an offhand comment that they’ll get drunk and text someone at 3:30 in the morning.

At first I felt a little angry, but the more I thought about it my feelings turned to pity. I hope she gets her shit together and grows up a little. And I have ways of dealing with this stuff. I may write a song using that text as lyrics. And of course, you’re reading another big way I deal with this kind of negativity.

I have to agree with her though, attitude is everything. Make sure yours is good.

 

 

More Shitty Advice:

Part 2 – So You Wanna Join A Band?

Part 9 – No Excuses

Part 8 – The Covers Debate

Part 7 – Take Advice

Part 6 – Learn to Play an Instrument

Part 5 – People Love Stupid Costumes

Part 4 – Stop Trying To Look Cool

Part 3 – Get Over It

Part 1 – The Right Reasons

 

SYWSAB 9


Free Shitty AdviceSo You Wanna Start A Band? Part 9

I’ve learned enough playing in bands over the years to have some wisdom to pass on. I see a lot of awful things bands pass off as normal behavior and hope I can make the world a better place by helping prevent this. I don’t know everything about ‘how to make it in the music biz.’ If I did I would be writing this from a tour bus and not my apartment. If you disagree with my views I encourage you to share your own. If you have another way of doing things which brings more success I’d love to hear it.

No Excuses

Have you ever walked up to a band after a gig and said “Gee, you guys really screwed the pooch,” or “Wow, you really suck!”

No, of course you haven’t. That would be rude. For the most part whenever a band has a bad gig you probably just slip out a side door and head home to avoid having to talk to them afterward. It’s much easier to lie and say “You guys really rocked” on Facebook or via text message.

But if you were to tell one of the thousands of awful bands that their performance was anything less than stellar you would no doubt be inundated with a slew of excuses as to why their performance didn’t rock your socks off.

These include (but are not limited to): Joey got too drunk before the show, the sound guy is an asshole, We sound better in the studio, Steve got too drunk before the show and fell off the stage, I couldn’t hear myself in the monitors, It was San Andreas fault, Tom got too drunk before the show and was out of tune, Steve was just yelling a lot to try and get the crowd riled up, the sound guy is incompetent, Joe got really wasted before the show, there weren’t enough people in the venue to soak up the ambient sound and make the acoustics work properly, you’re a total dick and don’t understand what we’re trying to do or that acid was a lot stronger than you said.

I love how Scott Weiland blames that awful performance on bad monitors. Dude, you’ve been singing “Vaseline” for 21 years!

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a band say ‘we just really weren’t prepared. We should have practiced more.’ Or ‘Sorry man. We just had a really off night.’ But then again taking ownership of your actions requires a level of maturity most people in bands don’t have.

Of course, if you walk up to a band after a show and say “Hey man, great show” they just say “Thanks.” Because bands that are great and know what they’re doing have no excuses.

 

More Shitty Advice:

Part 8 – The Covers Debate

Part 7 – Take Advice

Part 6 – Learn to Play an Instrument

Part 5 – People Love Stupid Costumes

Part 4 – Stop Trying To Look Cool

Part 3 – Get Over It

Part 2 – So You Wanna Join A Band?

Part 1 – The Right Reasons

SYWSAB 8


imagesSo You Wanna Start A Band? Part 8

I’ve learned enough playing in bands over the years to have some wisdom to pass on. I see a lot of awful things bands pass off as normal behavior and hope I can make the world a better place by helping prevent this. I don’t know everything about ‘how to make it in the music biz.’ If I did I would be writing this from a tour bus and not my apartment. If you disagree with my views I encourage you to share your own. If you have another way of doing things which brings more success I’d love to hear it.

The Covers Debate

You probably don’t know this, but there is a war going on in your local scene. Bands aren’t fighting over the best venues, genres or turf; they’re just badmouthing each other based on the type of material they play.

You see, cover bands hate original bands because they think they’re too untalented and lazy to learn to play other peoples’ music and original bands hate cover bands because they think they’re too untalented and lazy to write their own music.

So who’s right? They both are, silly. I’ve always wanted to be in a band that was 50% covers and 50% originals, but I always come across assholes who agree 100% with the above paragraph.

rockemsockemrobotsOf course, if I have to pick a side I’d go with the cover bands. I’ve heard criticism that it doesn’t take any talent to learn someone else’s music, but I’m pretty sure it takes just as much talent as picking up an instrument and playing your own awful racket. Plus, cover band usually play good songs. Songs that people know and love. I like to think I’m a decent songwriter, but the best tune I’ve ever written was called “Our Band Sucks.” And that little ditty is nowhere near as good as some of the crap written by John Lennon, Paul McCartney or George Harrison. Although it may be somewhere close to some of Ringo Starr’s crap.

Hell, even Dave Grohl who is for all intents and purposes a very,very talented and successful songwriter (even if you don’t like the music you have to admit that he’s had a very prolific and profitable career) took a back seat in Nirvana because he felt that Kurt Cobain was a better song-smith. If it was good enough for Dave Grohl, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Ray Charles and even Nirvana to play covers I don’t think there’s any person anywhere who is too good for it.

Your band sucksElvis never even wrote his own songs. Elton John can’t write lyrics for shit. Neither can Meat Loaf. The difference between all of these great artists and every shitty original local band is that they admit they can’t write music. I’m all for artistic expression, but I don’t like hearing local bands playing crap because they think they’re too good to play a Ramones song.

The secret is that while it is very, very easy to play the main riff to “Smoke on the Water” it is nearly impossible to write something as catchy, simple and timeless. And most people in original bands are too lazy and self involved to learn other peoples’ music.

SYWSAB 7


images

So You Wanna Start A Band? Part 7

I’ve learned enough playing in bands over the years to have some wisdom to pass on. I notice a lot of awful things bands pass off as normal behavior and hope I can make the world a better place by helping prevent this. I don’t know everything about ‘how to make it in the music biz.’ If I did I would be writing this from a tour bus and not my apartment. If you disagree with my views I encourage you to share your own. If you have another way of doing things which brings more success I’d love to hear it.

Part 7: Take Advice

I think it’s important in any venture to find someone who knows more than you and learn from them. I know a few people who adamantly refuse to take advice or suggestions from anyone and only run around in circles chasing their own tails.

All you have to do is keep your eyes open and see what others are doing to learn from them. Unfortunately, all I’ve seen lately is advice on what not to do. If you feel like a few chuckles, head on down the rabbit hole with me…

The Top 39 Annoying Things That (Local) Bands Do

Some Band is Tired of you Leaving Before Their Set 

How is Anything You’re Saying Supposed to Make me Want to be in a Band With You?

I’m sure there’s advice out there for good things to do, but I don’t have any of that bookmarked.

The point of this lesson is to keep your eyes open and see what makes others successful. If someone is having better shows than you, find out why and incorporate that into your shows. And if someone is having worse shows than you, find out why and avoid that.

Remember, you can take advice from both of these types. But sometimes the advice is what not to do.

 

More Shitty Advice:

Part 6 – Learn to Play an Instrument

Part 5 – People Love Stupid Costumes

Part 4 – Stop Trying To Look Cool

Part 3 – Get Over It

Part 2 – So You Wanna Join A Band?

Part 1 – The Right Reasons

The Problem With Your Local Scene


Recently I’ve seen a blog post making it’s rounds on Facebook explaining the problem with local music. I won’t blame you if you only read the first few paragraphs here, it’s pretty long winded. Really, all of it can be summed up in the opening of the second paragraph: “One of the main things we need in order to get a better music scene is for people to get off their asses, stop complaining, and go to a show. That’s it, it really is that simple.”

yddhfl

I agree with this statement, but I disagree with the way of thinking. Sure, the main thing needed to have a vibrant local scene is an audience, but it is wrong to place all the blame of a scenes failure on the inability of anyone to come to shows. If people aren’t coming to shows there’s probably a reason…

We’re given a few examples: laziness, Netflix, cheapness… probably a few more. Like I said, it wasn’t an extremely interesting post. I’m assuming that most people don’t show up to see the bands because they’re boring. I’m not surprised this post has gained traction among my friends in local bands because it does something they’ve been doing for years; blaming others for their failures.

I find that a lot of my friends in local bands are extremely opposed to constructive criticism. All they want is for people to blow smoke up their asses and tell them they make great music. I’ve heard a lot of excuses for why people don’t come to shows (many of them the same ones features in the No One Likes Your Band Post), and why people will drive 90 miles to see Mushroomhead but not 30 miles to see their band.

But you all miss the point… the problem is that your band isn’t that good. People do pay $200 to see major acts like Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles because they write damn good songs that connect with people. And I have seen a few local bands that connect with people pull in some impressive crowds. They don’t go to see your band for $10 because your band sucks. People go to see Mushroomhead, Dax Riggs, Katy Perry, One Direction or whoever because they enjoy seeing this band and find them worth their time and money.

If no one is coming to see your band it’s because no one feels you’re worth their time or money. 

Don’t get me wrong, I understand how these guys feel. My last band, Bastard Friendly, didn’t achieve the success I hoped we would. But unlike a lot of my peers I don’t blame my audience. I appreciate the people that gave us some time and listened to us. I just wish we could have continued to grow, write and develop so that we could have become the type of band people would spent $10 and an evening with. Because when we went on hiatus, we weren’t.

47057723The sad fact of the matter is that watching Arrested Development on Netflix is a lot more fun than going to see most local bands. And that’s not the fault of Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, Ron Howard, Mitchell Hurwitz or some Netflix fat-cat, but the fault of all these local bands that don’t work hard to create great music and just want to coast to super stardom.

You get out of it what you put into it.

So You Wanna Start A Band 6


imagesI’ve learned enough playing in bands over the years to have some wisdom to pass on. I notice a lot of awful things bands pass off as normal behavior and hope I can make the world a better place by helping to prevent this. I don’t profess to know everything about ‘how to make it in the music biz.’ If I did I would be writing this from a tour bus and not my apartment. If you disagree with my views I encourage you to share your own. This tutorial is intended to help people catch up with where I’m at or surpass me. If you have another way of doing things which will bring more success I’d love to hear it.

PART 6: LEARN TO PLAY AN INSTRUMENT

I apologize for getting into ethics, looks and the right reasons for wanting to play in a band before focusing on what’s really important.

The first thing you have to do If you want to play in a band is learn to play an instrument.

Buy a cheap guitar, bass, keyboard, kazoo, recorder or triangle. And LEARN TO PLAY IT! Even if your goal is to be a lead singer it will help you to understand music theory and help you with composition.

Don’t just buy expensive equipment and hope for the best. You can suck just as well on a First Act as a Gibson Les Paul; and trust me, you’re going to suck at first. Don’t just learn to program drum machines and copy and paste samples. We already have enough bullshit in the world; don’t perpetuate it by making copies of it.

I’m glad I learned to play an instrument because I can express myself musically. If I have an idea I can sit with my guitar and bring it to fruition. While I see a lot of my friends grasping at straws trying to find the right sounds and melodies with no vision or idea of what the finished product will be.

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty”    -Teddy Roosevelt

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More Shitty Advice:

Part 5 – People Love Stupid Costumes

Part 4 – Stop Trying To Look Cool

Part 3 – Get Over It

Part 2 – So You Wanna Join A Band?

Part 1 – The Right Reasons