Joan of Arc, Steve Albini & Jeff Buckley/Elizabeth Fraser Duet


Chicago mainstay and indie stalwart Joan of Arc has turned to the sometimes effective to varying degrees site Kickstarter to try to finance a session with indie Chicago super-producer/conscience of rock music guru Steve Albini., You can get all kinds of great merchandise depending on how much you donate so go check it out. Here is the project description:

Re-invention has remained the only constant through Joan of Arc’s history. Simple constraints and practical technical decisions have more often than not determined the aesthetics of a particular record or period of activity. Integrating the continued practice of being in a band into the lives of all the members necessarily warps and evolves the band’s output.

And now, the way to be a band that makes sense is playing a lot, every day – playing a lot in private and playing a lot in public. Whereas the studio has in the past been a ground for exploration and experimentation, it’s now needed simply to document in the cleanest manner possible the sound of the band as it exists live. Steve Albini is of course the foremost specialist in this field.

But as the availability and ease of recording technologies has proliferated exponentially, the cost of a more traditional approach has become more restrictive. This is especially true for a band like Joan of Arc attempting to sustain itself by the most modest means possible, depending on a small number of dedicated enthusiasts.

This approach is the necessary contradiction to past approaches to keep Joan of Arc making.

He thinks you're a sellout.

Albini, who probably hates everything you stand for, is fresh off his curmudgeonly and hilarious but brief interview in GQ. The interview is more or less one long series of great quotes/ truisms but here are some juicy ones:

“You don’t act like an asshole when you go to the barber. So why act like an asshole when you’re in a band?”

On Sonic Youth:

But a lot of the things they were involved with as part of the mainstream were distasteful to me. And a lot of the things that happened as a direct result of their association with the mainstream music industry gave credibility to some of the nonsense notions that hover around the star-making machinery. A lot of that stuff was offensive to me and I saw it as a sellout and a corruption of a perfectly valid, well-oiled music scene. Sonic Youth chose to abandon it in order to become a modestly successful mainstream band—as opposed to being a quite successful independent band that could have used their resources and influence to extend that end of the culture. They chose to join the mainstream culture and become a foot soldier for that culture’s encroachment into my neck of the woods by acting as scouts. I thought it was crass and I thought it reflected poorly on them.

Ouch. He also disagrees with Prince about the interwebz, which he thinks is great for music:

This is a terrific time to be in a band. Every band has access to the entire world by default. I know quite a few bands that have been able to establish themselves internationally based on nothing other their web presence. It’s an incredible tool. It’s also revived the careers of a lot of bands that came before the Internet era and never had enough penetration to find their natural audience. But because the music survived, some people were interested in disseminating it for no other reason than because they like it. People put stuff on YouTube or torrent clients or whatever, not because they’re going to make money off of it, which is the only reason the mainstream industry would do something, but because they think it’s good. It’s a like a worldwide mix tape. An awful lot of bands that had no audience in their first incarnation were able to revive their careers and have a second lap. It’s so exceedingly rare that somebody gets more than one bite at an apple like that. I think it’s fantastic.

Anyway, if you have the greenbacks to spare you ought to help Joan of Arc out, who were one the bands I didn’t like as much as I should have for years and have just recently truly come to appreciate. And if you haven’t read Albini’s famous “The Problem With Music” essay from the 90s where he breaks down how the music industry is basically structured to exploit the artists check it out here.

As a special treat for all of you super loyal readers here is this pretty great duet between Jeff Buckley and Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins from waaaay back in the day.

Jeff Buckley & Elizabeth Fraser: “All Flowers in Time Bend Toward the Sun”