Monday, February 19, 2007

J3 - Jonesy's Jukebox Jury from 2-19-07

Due to technical difficulties beyond our control, there are no songs involving alpakas or kangaroos today.

This week's Jonesy's Jukebox Jury panel:

John Taylor (Duran Duran)
Shepard Fairey (Obey Giant)
Kate Sullivan (LA Weekly)
Bob Lefsetz (The Lefsetz Letter)

(A song has just finished playing and it's time to critique it)

Steve: You’re listening to Jonesy’s Jukebox Jury. Kate Sullivan, Bob Lefsetz, John Taylor, Shepard Fairey. Kate Sullivan, what did you think of that song?

Kate: Oh, I have to go first again, okay. Um…sorry, not “my thing” again. When it was like, really, really lyrically oriented but without a lot going on melodically and no hooks -- for me, you know, for my…

Steve: No femininity for you? (general laughter)

Kate: They were not hitting my hooky sweet-spot there. But I think I’ve seen this band…

Steve: Oh, rully?

Kate: I think I saw this band on Letterman and they’re so, so aggressively nerdy that I kind of had to end up liking them somehow because the lead guy is so unlikely as a lead guy in a band. You can tell he’s smart and it’s just, it’s just not for me. It’s not rock. It’s not rockin’, you know what I mean?

Steve: I know what you mean.

Kate: All right.

Steve: It’s not up your strasse.

Kate: It’s very cerebral.

Steve: Yeah. Shepard Fairey.

Shepard: Um, it had elements of rock, um…but it wasn’t rocking. Or “rockin”. (Kate laughs). That’s the hipster: “rockin”. I felt like it just wasn’t that compelling in general. It was okay. It wasn’t offensive, but it wasn’t compelling, either.

Steve: Mmmm. So, pantaloonies, I would imagine?

Shepard: Yes. Pants on that one.

Steve: And definitely from Kate, pantaloonies?

Kate: Yes.

Steve: Bob Lefsetz.

Bob: You know, this is very problematic. The first thing I’d say about this record is:

Who. Cares.

Okay, we have gone on, we played eight records so far. Not one of them has been any good. So let’s go to the viewpoint of the listener. They’re listening to the station. We’re doing good entertainment about how bad the records are. But you tune into a station and record after record after record doesn’t hit you, it’s the opposite of the Sixties and Top 40 radio where every record was a killer. Yet we have the people who foist these records upon the public saying, “Oh, it’s great! You’re just an old fart. You just don’t get it”. I mean, I didn’t mind the guitars, but…meaningless and irrelevant.

Kate: Right.

John: He’s not a people pleaser is he?

Steve: He’s not. (general laughter) He is not a people pleaser, Bob.

Bob: That’s not a good way to the (pap?). It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll.

Steve: But we’re just, I mean, you know, Jonesy’s Jukebox and Indie, we’re just reviewing songs that come to the station for airplay.

Bob: But I think it proves the point, because all day long people email me tracks. They always want to send you the cd’s, as if I can’t listen online on MySpace or something and they really believe this stuff is good. It goes from everyone at the labels to the promotion men to the independent people. There’s no arbiter of reality. We need you, Jonesy, to be sitting on the top of the music scene and separating the wheat from the chaff. There is good stuff out there. There’s 60,000 albums a year BUT, someone’s got to take 59,500 and push ‘em aside so we’re not inundated with all the crap because otherwise we’d say, “Man, I’d rather watch CSI, I’d rather play the video game, I’d rather skateboard” because it’s too dense. It’s too overwhelming. It’s too crappy.

Steve: Well, that’s a good point and that’s partly what we’re trying to do here. You know what I mean?

Bob: Great.

Shepard: I like to be optimistic about new music but you know, when it’s not great, it’s not great.

Steve: Exactly. I would love to love every song that come at me. But unfortunately that’s an impossibility, especially in this day and age.

Bob: But don’t they tell you when you’re on this station, when you don’t like it, there’s something wrong with you?

Steve: No.

Bob: I hear that all the time. “If you don’t like it, you just don’t get it, you’re too old…” You’re this, you’re that, whatever.

Steve: No, not with me. I just play what I want.

Bob: They’re afraid of you.

Kate: You’re not too old, their music just sucks.

Bob: Okay, I’m going to send the email to you and you (?) to them from now on.

Steve: I know what you’re saying though, Bob. I know exactly what you’re saying. That is definitely…

John: But you know, the Sixties, was entirely different. I mean, Led Zeppelin hadn’t happened yet.

Bob: Led Zeppelin’s first record came out in 1969.

John: Yeah, but you know what I mean…electric guitars and drum kits and its, you know, a lot’s been done and it’s very hard to, I mean, for me, the records that have come out that have really grabbed me have not really had guitars and drums and I’m a guitar player. I do it for a living but I feel I’m some kind of, I’m holding onto something that is fading.

Bob: I don’t want to be too stylized here, but the point is, Clive Davis – and I hate the records he makes – he says, “They have to have a verse, a chorus, a hook, a melody” and these are basics. A bridge. If you listen to some of those great Beatles albums the songs have bridges. You can play in any style of music and still have a bridge. You can have some of the building blocks that make the songs palatable.

John: But it wasn’t self-conscious when the Beatles did it. It was just coming out of them and it was instinct. It’s not like people sitting around like, teams of guys that are sitting in studios, as we speak, thinking, “When’s the hook? When’s the hook coming? It’s got to come to the hook. How long is the hook?”

Steve: But does that happen anymore though? A bunch of guys in big record labels, sitting around, as far as on an indie level?

John: I think so…

Steve: Or do they just let these bands get on with it, cos it sounds like they’re just letting them get on with it.

Bob: If you’re on a major label, unlike in the Seventies when the artists took all the rights back, they have a clause in the contract where there’s no guarantee to put the record out, with almost every record. So if they don’t believe they can market the record, which, on the worst record it’s gonna cost them a minimum of $100,000, more like $250,000-$500,000. They will work, they will put you together with Diane Warren, Max Martin co-writing, whatever and they will rape all the soul from your record.

Steve: Right.

Bob: Okay, but I agree with John’s point: the Sixties and Seventies were like the Renaissance. There was only one Renaissance. But Picasso came hundreds of years after the Renaissance and he did new things. Maybe you can’t innovate quite to the degree…you don’t have the Golden Age and I believe there are certain building blocks of music that we have gotten too far away from. And I don’t care how the guitars sound, whatever. But it’s become about the image and the style. You said, these guys went on Letterman and they had a nerdy look, whatever. It’s like, when you try out for a symphony orchestra what they do is, they do blind auditions. You play behind a curtain. (its about) How good you are. That’s what we should do with these bands. Then people could say, “Well, okay. It’s not about the image and how many friends on MySpace”. It’s like, “Are you any good?”

Kate: Well, I’m curious about you guys. Like, when you were first starting with Duran Duran, was there a lot of label oversight for your songwriting or…

John: No. There was no label oversight. They put us with a producer that they felt could guide us and could help us make a better record than what we would have been capable of, left to our own devices. But nobody ever got in our faces about what our songs should sound like until things started going south. You know and then everybody had an idea and that’s the worst thing. Once you let in one person’s opinion, then you let in everybody’s opinion.

Bob: But the fascinating thing with Duran Duran is, you had your heyday, starting with “Girls On Film” and “Rio”, etc. And then the band splintered into varying things and you reunited and the sneak preview was…you did about 45 minutes at “Acoustic Christmas” in 1991 and you put out a new record and you hit again. You had two great tracks. So after all that time, it’s not like when your starting and you’re trying to get out of the hole, trying to get out of art school, whatever. What was the process…could you throw off all the history? How did you end up with two great songs?

John: Well I think that’s part of - that’s the problem with anybody that’s been around for awhile. It’s like you want to hold onto the core of what you are, whatever that is, assuming you know what that is. But want to make something that plays in the marketplace, right? That’s sort of like, that speaks to…whatever it is that’s out there and I think that’s the line that you have to walk.

Steve: But didn’t you do that process the second time around? “Oh, we need a single. Oh, we need this, oh, we need that…”?

John: Well very much so. I mean, we hadn’t played together for ten, twelve years. I mean, I learned how to play bass with that drummer you know, and I felt that, and everybody needed to play the way that they used to play for each of us to play the way we played, if you know what I mean. It’s like, if the drummer comes back and says, “No, I’m not that drummer anymore, I’ve been listening to Chad from the Chili Peppers…”

(whatever he was saying had to be dumped from the live broadcast by Mr. Shovel)

Steve: You would have to swear wouldn’t you, John. You would have to swear.

John: (Continues, unfazed) It’s tricky. I mean, the smartest bands like U2 have very clever people around them saying, “Why don’t you try working with this guy” and “Why don’t you try working with that guy?”

Bob: I’m actually down on U2. I loved “Achtung Baby” which was completely different from anything that they’d done previously and I believe they’ve been playing it safe…thereafter. But if I go to your record that came out in ’92 I believe it was, you had that song, “Ordinary World” which was (a) phenomenal record. Didn’t sound like anything you’d done before. How did you come up with that record?

John: Just…throwing stuff up against the wall, you know. You just show up and you write and you write and you write and you try to write a song every day and then hopefully one of those songs, people go, “Oh, I like that one”. In fact, that was the first record we made where…we had to go to the record label every week and play them what we’d done and if they liked it, they’d write a check for another week’s studio time (all react with laughs) because we’d just blown so much money. I mean, we made a lot of money the first three albums and then we completely lost our way and we spent sooo much money making really crap records. So they said, “Okay well, this time we’re going to keep you on a tight leash” and...when we wrote that one they said, “Okay, here’s the check for the rest of the album.”

Bob: I have this radio show and we had this guy John Boylan who produced the Boston records…

Steve: Just before we go too far off track, are we giving it a pants or mustard? The band was called The Hold Steady.

Bob: That’s a very hip band. People have really good things to say about them, but not me.

Kate: Pants. Pants.

Steve: Was that the band you thought it was (indecipherable, Kate speaks over him)…

Kate: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And now I regret talking about their look because I hate bands that look like nerds. I like bands that look like Duran Duran that look super cool.

John: Is there an actor in that band?

Steve: An actor? I don’t know.

Shepard: No, that band used to be Lifter Puller. They’re from Minneapolis and they were more of a punk band and now they’ve kind of gone in this kind of more classic rock direction that seems to be working really well for them but it hasn’t really resonated with me.

Steve: I just want to know one thing. All the bands we’ve been critiquing, lets just say Pearl Jam for instance, if Eddie Vedder was sitting in the corner would we all say the same things or would it be slightly more polite?

John: Oh, come on…

Bob: Absolutely. I would say the same thing. I’d love to get into it with Eddie Vedder.

Steve: So you’d be like, so you’d say exactly the same thing…

Bob: This guy is rich. He can get laid every night of the week even though he happens to be married and me, little unknown person in Santa Monica has to be worried about what Eddie Vedder has to say?

Steve: So you wouldn’t care if he was standing in the room, you’d say exactly the same thing.

Bob: No, because as I say, what you find with these people, they do one of a few things. Either they try to you know, intimidate you, or else they kind of laugh along. That’s what you have to do when you get…that’s what America…England really specializes. When you get to the top people try to tear you down and you have to have a sense of humor about yourself or you can’t make it and that’s what we hate about Eddie Vedder. He’s got no sense of humor on himself and even though he doesn’t have one, I’m gonna still try to make him have one.

Steve: Yeah…you’ve got to be light on yourself. You know what I mean? You’ve got to be able to take, making fun of yourself. That’s what I think, anyway. Good point.

Bob: But if Eddie Vedder were here, would you be honest?

Steve: I didn’t hate it, I didn’t hate the song. I’ve actually had him on the show and we did an acoustic song that was really good and his voice, I actually thought when we sung acoustic I thought his voice was very heartfelt and I don’t think it was phony. I really thought he had a good heartfelt voice so I’m not going to slag him off. I like him.

Bob: Isn’t he just Sting (but) twenty years younger?

Steve: Um, I don’t know. I don’t think so.

Bob: Don’t people hate Sting just as much as they hate Eddie Vedder?

Steve: I don’t think so, I don’t think so.

Shepard: I like The Police. The Police you know, within the punk paradigm were hated but I really liked them within the pop paradigm, even though I was more of a punk rocker. They were a pop band I loved. I think The Police are good songwriters.

Steve: He’s coming on The Jukebox Wednesday, Andy Summers.

Shepard: You know, one thing I have to say about all this, whether your critiquing or making…it’s easy to criticize. But to make art I think that whether it’s music or visual art you just have to trust your instincts and you have to feel, you have to feel good about what you’re doing and then you know, maybe the peanut gallery hates it but you really have to trust your own sense of whether you accomplished what you want and I think that when you feel good about it is the only time that it’s going to work for other people. When you second-guess yourself, you fail.

Bob: I totally agree with your concept but the first half of what you said, saying “it’s easy to criticize”. Most people are crap and you have to know inside whether you’re good or crap and if you’re good, if you’re in the league, a professional, follow your instincts, okay? But just because you made something…you know a four year-old makes something with all his power, doesn’t mean it’s good.

Steve: Do people not like you, Bob?

Bob: People love me. Love me. Because I’m speaking the truth. We live in a society where everybody’s kissing butt. You have a boss. Everybody’s got a boss, no one can speak the truth. That used to be the rock stars. They used to go around…now the rock stars are phony people. Even the hip hop guys. They make deal with corporations, they’re doing all these endorsements, you say, “I can’t believe in that guy, I’m struggling in my real life”. So I’m saying what people think. Maybe they only say it in bed to their wives or girlfriends but this is what people think.

Steve: Who did you look up to?

Bob: You have to look up to Bob Dylan because of the lyrics in some of those songs. I do not like the new music, I don’t want to go see him again because he changes his stuff but he’s great. I think, if we’re talking about people…Sting’s a phenomenal song writer, I don’t want to hear him going on about having tantric sex for seven hours.

Steve: I don’t either. I just want ten minutes, I’m done. Kate, what do you think? Last couple of words.

Kate: I pretty much agree with everything that Bob said but I think you can be outrageous and honest and still be stylish. And kind. And that’s what I wanna be someday.

Steve: Right. Well, I want to thank you lot all for coming by. That was really good and uplifting, exciting. Hopefully next time we can have some more famous music (that) we can critique. I mean, a lot of them was like, unknown bands. I think there was only two on here that anyone knew, maybe. Goldfrapp and Pearl Jam. But nevertheless, that was the second Jonesy’s Jukebox Jury and I appreciate you guys coming on a holiday, President’s Day, when you could be doing better things but it’s good. So we are gonna sign off now and start Jonesy’s Jukebox mometarily. Thanks for listening.

1 comment:

chiSPa said...

oh thanks Floratina
Dictionary slang is great.
you saved me one more time.
I wish you the best