Olde British Isles author Jonathan Swift was excommunicated for his "Modest Proposal," a brief, black bit of humor written during one of the multiple Irish potato famines. Swift"s black and white ink on paper was Technicolor in its ramifications.
Photo by Shanna LeJeune
The gist of the proposal was that the English should deal with "surplus" Irish populations by cooking and eating Irish babies, complete with menu suggestions. I think I remember a line about "tender ass of newborn," but it could also be just my imagination, runnin" away with me Ö The point about all this blather about subjects no longer taught in school is that I recently drove to Bloomington, Ind., to see The Slurs play, and began to think about how bands might be drawn and quartered by the music industry - and then served up piping hot with a side of ranch. Something about tender ass of young punk guitarist or leg o" lead singer began to cross my mind as I considered what fate has in store for many bands. Actually, what fate has in store for most bands is nothing. Nada, sweet fuck all, dick. Zed, baby, zed. That doesn"t seem to be the case with The Slurs, who are the subject of misleading headlines in the daily, "Slurs Courted by Major Labels," and have actually received e-mail from various self-identified label underlings and demi weasels. Not that anyone who might care about this actually READS the daily too often or that it takes a whole lot more than an underling or a demi weasel to begin the courtship process. Still, ink is ink and the antithesis of zed, baby, zed. Probably had their names spelled right, too. Will The Slurs become radio ready? The list of the fallen who sprung from Hoosier soils and for all it"s any of my bizness, corn-fed loins, is legion. Many are called, few are chosen and fewer still survive the first cut: Henry Lee Summer, Sweet F.A., Mysteries of Life and a couple of new projects that are showing signs of dying a-borning. No pulse, choked off money supply, no radio play and no fan base, hypertrophy of artist"s ego, and congenital absence of interest at the label. Can The Slurs overcome the general music biz perception that if something works well in Indiana, it"s irrevocably fucked for the rest of the country? Can these sons of corn-fed loins a go go rock the house (of our nation) or will they labor in fashionable Zed boy-like obscurity, mute inglorious jaggers? Will the community (including radio) rally around this last best hope or will it all degenerate to the usual recriminative wankfest? Only you, o" entertainment consumers of Indy and actual music fans, know the answer. Will Justin be bigger than Britney? All punnin" aside, most careers are built off of radio airplay and most bands are signed under the often temporary impression that they could deliver the same. Can The Slurists make music that can be played on rock radio without diluting their essence? Most great bands do. Some chose not to and the list of musicians who would sell their grandmother"s souls for a crack (or for crack) at the Billboard Top 200 is too long to require further comment. How it works. The music biz, like all other multinational entertainment conglomerates (film, publishing, sports leagues) is set up entirely for home runs - gold and platinum records, my friends, are the bottom line - and the average major label release (with a mid six-figure budget) sells 2,000 copies or less. This won"t keep the doors open for long, so bring in the Britneys. One Britney can deliver the profitably for an entire label, thus funding many a Sonic Youth, Elliot Smith, Miles Davis and entire profitless jazz divisions. If you have a song with a strong (radio-friendly) chorus that works at rock radio, you could walk into any label covered with oozing syphillic sores, clutching a crack pipe in chattering teeth, a sex toy wedged in your nether regions and "organize and smash the state with the record companies" money" tattooed on your forehead and not only will they give you the money, they"ll help you refine and amplify your message, and everyone will really get paid if it works. This is the American way, so sit down, shut up, don"t you dare cry, things will get better if you really try. Did I mention that I also have strong feelings about paving Iraq with your tax dollars?