MERRY SKULL BITES: NEW INVISIBLE ROCK STAR
"He's a rock star, alright, the real kind. You might get lucky and hear him slumming with us at one of our infrequent shows, or you might get really lucky and see one of his even less frequent performances with his noise duo, but you'll never hear his songs on the radio, or see him front a band, or hang the hacks with his wit in the national media the way Cobain or Lennon did. That band he was in never recorded. They never wanted to."
by Tamra Spivey
COPYRIGHT © 2002, 3 A.M. MAGAZINE. ALL RIGHTS
Since the 1950s every generation has spawned rock stars. These days rock star means just about any really successful and glamorous performer, but rock star means something else, too. That peculiar androgyny (Jung believed humanity evolves toward androgyny), that rare blend of sexuality and something mystical (Jung's anima and animus), a real rock star excites your brain as much as your nads! Take this kind of rock star out of the story of rock and roll and it's a bleak assembly line of party favors. From Morrison to Morrissey, real rock stars put new rules to old games.
Today's character sketch is of a real rock star of a lost generation. Not Gertrude Stein's lost generation, a new lost generation: rock stars born when the business is famously odious, when every once exhilarating riff has become a cliche inescapably linked to advertising. If you met him I wouldn't have to explain, you'd know immediately. Taller than tall, skinnier than skinny, sensitive eyes and mouth, great skin, he rolls out of bed with yesterday's clothes and last week's hair to find himself followed around at work by Hollywood stylists sketching his look for the latest movies.
When he sits at your kitchen table absent-mindedly puffing a cigarette his conversation favors Lev Manovich, new media theory applied to the aesthetics of decentralized art. But he puts it all in simple words. His ideas for music installations at art galleries astonish you. Soft spoken, polite, equalist, charming, witty, brilliant, everything a rock star needs to be to fulfill the role of psychopomp for a soulsick society. All that and he's just a kid.
He can play pretty much any instrument in the conventional way but prefers to lay guitars down and use pedals and other devices to make them noise generators unleashing new melodies and rhythms that chime together the way orchestras do when they unison a theme. His first band, a trio of skinny beautiful boys, used to pack the clubs around LA. When they'd play in front of the Glendale Galleria on acoustics and water bottles a couple hundred kids would gather around to moon over them.
He's a rock star, alright, the real kind. You might get lucky and hear him slumming with us at one of our infrequent shows, or you might get really lucky and see one of his even less frequent performances with his noise duo, but you'll never hear his songs on the radio, or see him front a band, or hang the hacks with his wit in the national media the way Cobain or Lennon did. That band he was in never recorded. They never wanted to.
See, he and his friends think anyone who wants to be a rock star is stupid. The gas guzzling tours, the boxes of product hurdling across highways airways railways, the publicity machine, stocking the shelves, paying for placement, the repetitious grind of promotion and performance, all laughable to a new generation of what would have been rock stars? They are too smart to play the game the old fashioned way. The best part is how pure their relationship with music remains. Fun as play, sacred as prayer, seeking transformations in the invention of new sounds, the music is beautiful because it's small. It's not mass consumption, it's soul elevation.
So what's he going to do with his life? He's working on a degree in environmental science, of course, specifically the rehabilitation of habitats; as he puts it, something that really matters.
WANT TO CONTRIBUTE?
If you would like to submit your own account of how music can act as the soundtrack to our lives, please contact Kim Nichols.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tamra Spivey is, in the words of 3am's Kimberly Nichols, "a feisty blonde artist whose idea of music is all about collaboration of voice." For more information, please take a look at the Lucid Nation website.