Write Yer Ane Zine

Words about DIY punk; records, shows, interviews, whatever.

On Dialogue; Bloc and Trans Punks

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I don’t really want to be writing this post but feel I have to. Without retreading well-worn ground, MTAT and myself as an individual are very concerned about the incident, statements and subsequent fall-out pertaining the misgendering of a trans person in relation to bathroom usage at Bloc a couple of weeks ago.

I’ve been reluctant to post anything online in an “official” capacity, although must admit that I did share Chris’s (Bloc venue manager) statement on my FB page. The discussions which followed were illuminating and reinforced my feeling that there must be an open and honest dialogue about things, to use this as an opportunity for learning, less we descend into binary tribalism.

I have been in discussion with friends from the trans community, the PR staff and in-house promoters at Bloc, fellow promoters in the DIY punk scene and many others with a vested emotional interest. I believe that the only way we can move forward in a positive fashion is through dialogue, discourse and showing respect. I have spoken with Bloc and have been assured that there will be a staff training day run by the Scottish Transgender Alliance on September 29th. They are also keen to organise a meeting with the trans punks, promoters and those affected by the situation. I am grateful to all involved for their willingness to discuss the situation.

On a personal level, I’d suggest that we could all benefit from being a little more reflective and mindful of how our behaviour, acts and words can impact others.

In the interest of transparency, this is the email I sent to Bloc (with names removed);

  • I just wanted to get in touch to discuss the issues that have been raised since the unfortunate bathroom incident at Bloc last weekend. I have spoken at length with *in-house promoter* and various friends and allies within the trans community and feel that it would be inappropriate of me not to voice the concerns I’ve been feeling. MTAT have always been allies of the trans community and of Bloc. Not for one second do I believe that Bloc harbours a transphobic ideology, however, I do feel that the statement issued by *Bloc* was somewhat ill-judged, especially given the current social climate. Now, while I absolutely do feel there is merit in some of the ideas expressed within said statement (the idea of the “regressive left”, “the mob”, etc), I don’t believe that this was the time or place to express these ideas. Had the statement ended after the apology and details pertaining how Bloc was going to use the experience to further develop learning, then I don’t think there would have been nearly the fallout there has been. However, the emotive rant which constituted the lion’s share of the statement was unnecessarily divisive and really didn’t contribute positively to an already messy situation. My concerns are not merely passive; MTAT is involved in two upcoming shows at Bloc, the Scottish Indie Sampler launch night next month and the pre-Book Yer Ane Fest show on Thursday 1st December. I feel that we have a responsibility to both the trans community and Bloc to engage with this issue, rather than adopt the ostrich approach. I feel it is always better to engage in discourse so as to create greater understanding and dialogue than it is to fall into the binaries of “us vs them” or “good guys and bad guys”. MTAT has no intention of boycotting Bloc or withdrawing, but I do feel that it would be an abdication of responsibility if we were to leave these issues completely unaddressed. *In-house promoter* assured me that Bloc will be meeting with representatives from the Scottish Transgender Alliance later this month and I’d be very keen to know how that meeting pans out. Being a “big picture thinker”, I think there is a middle way here. I don’t think anyone has come out of this situation well, from “the mob” to Bloc, but we must be mindful of the fact that violence against transgender people, especially in regards to bathroom usage, is a very real life issue and should not be dismissed as simply an error. I just wanted to clue you in to my thinking as it is inevitable that questions will be asked when MTAT appears on the posters for the launch show and I have to act to protect the best interests of MTAT, just as Bloc do. As such, I shall be writing a statement outlining our position that echoes what I’ve said here.I believe that with open minds and hearts we can all engage in progressive discourse and use this as a learning experience for the betterment of all. Apologies for the long, somewhat rambling email, but I thought it prudent to clue you in on my thought process, so not to come flying out of left-field and add fuel to an already burning inferno of online noise.

    Thanks a lot, Derrick Johnston (MTAT)

As it stands, this is all a fluid situation, for which providing a running commentary has little benefit. However, I feel as though my hand has been forced as the launch night for the Scottish Indie Sampler has been announced and that is something that we are part of. I have been in contact with those involved and the announcement was made without my prior knowledge, despite my reservations. As such, I feel it important that I post something pro-actively, as opposed to adding to the dissonance of emotionally reactive “management”. Once a final decision has been made, we shall update our position.

Hopefully, through reasoned discourse, we can create a little more unity.

 

A Love Letter To Bangers (2008-2016)

 

Ahead of their final show at the Specialist Subject Records all-dayer in London tomorrow, I felt it prudent to write a few words about how wonderful I believe the three humans that comprise Bangers to be, how great I thought their band was and how bummed I am that they are calling it a day. I just wanted to write a little something to express how bummed I am but also to express my gratitude for their existence and for all the inspiration they’ve unwittingly gifted to me across the years.

I’m fairly certain that the first time I saw Bangers live was when they supported Iron Chic alongside Shields Up and Citizens at a This Is Our Battlefield show at the 13th Note in Glasgow in June 2011. That was the same night that we decided that we were going to form Uniforms, so pumped were we after the show driving back to Dundee in big G’s motor. They always exuded a weirdness unlike many of their UK punk contemporaries and I know that Jonny was always a big fan of Hit The Beach from back in the day. That show was the first time I felt that they had a profound impact on me; there was something about the live show that transmitted their oddness more directly than their recordings allowed. From that moment on, they had me!

 

In the five years since then I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Bangers play countless times. They’ve released three quality LPs (all of which come highly recommended) and a slew of 7″s and interesting releases, including the massively inspiring “Mysterious Ways” album that was conceived, written and recorded in 48 hours, with tremendous results. That creative spirit, that playfulness and willingness to actively engage in silliness, was a massive part of their appeal, yet they rarely strayed too far from the underlying existential questioning and cynicism that pervaded their narrative; a juxtaposition of light and shade. By allowing themselves that creative freedom to experiment, to conform to no standards but their own, excited and engaged me. By bowing out on their own terms, they continue this tradition. I think over the years I’ve managed to track down all of the vinyl releases they’ve done, although I suspect I may still be missing something.

They always had their own way of doing things, marched to the beat of their own drum, and that was hugely inspiring, especially to us in Uniforms. I think we felt a kinship; here was another bunch of weirdos from outwith the metropolitan centre weaving their own eccentricities and, crucially, humour, into the fabric of punk rock. I’ve always thought there was something of an idealistic, somewhat whimsical yet cosmically contemplative folk influence within Bangers, a unique storytelling narrative that could only be forged in isolation. Most importantly, however, they rocked and certainly *ahem* knew their way around a banger.

Their work ethic was also an inspiration; in the eight years they were together, they toured all over the UK, Europe and the USA (I think I saw them play at Fest 10 in Gainesville, although I cannot be absolutely sure) and played over 450+ shows. These dudes know and there’s no enlightenment can be attained like that from meditative time spent in stinking transit. Uniforms had the pleasure of playing loads of shows with them, including a DIY Rock Shop matinee show in Perth where Roo imparted the sagacious words of “take all the free drugs you can” to an audience of entranced teenagers. We were lucky enough to have them come and play Book Yer Ane Fest on two occasions, first at BYAF V with Leatherface in 2011 and again two years later at BYAF VII, which remains in my mind one of the craziest and most memorable sets in BYAF history.

Photo by GGM Photography.

Photo by GGM Photography.

Specialist Subject Records is the best punk label in the UK and have been an inspiration to us at MTAT. It can’t be overstated how much of a help Andrew was to me when MTAT transitioned from being an informal collective to a “business” and I’m not sure that I’ve ever adequately thanked him for his assistance and patience. So Andrew, thank you so much for all your help; you guys are an paragon of virtue and self-determination. To me, Specialist Subject is the prime of example of how to run a record label; it’s a family that nurtures a community and unifies people whilst prodigiously releasing records from some of the UK’s finest bands. Just check out their catalogue and you’ll see what I’m talking about; Great Cynics, The Arteries, Muncie Girls, The Fairweather Band, Sam Russo, Above Them; gem after gem. I’ve spent a lot of money on the Specialist Subject webstore and I’d recommend that you do the same.

I got my copy of the “Last Songs” 7″ in the mail this week, threw it on the turntable and felt a sadness unlike any other I’ve felt in some time when it comes to listening to a band’s final recordings. One of the best British punk bands ever, they will be a loss to our community. Three of the nicest, most intelligent and engaging punks I know (and impeccable house guests) I’m very grateful that I have had the chance to get to know them through punk rock and for the memories that they’ve created for me over the years; whether it’s Abbie and Hamish sharing the last of the pop tarts, screaming along in the front row while trying to ensure crowd surfers don’t hurt themselves and/or kick the mic into Roo’s teeth or just listening to their records at home, I’m thankful for everything they’ve created and the times we’ve had together.

I unreservedly feel that Bangers have been one of the most important bands in UK punk over the last eight years, certainly for me personally, and I’m real sad that I won’t be able to see them one last time. Everyone who can make it to The Lexington in London tomorrow should certainly do so.

RIP Bangers, it’s been rare.

 

Thank you Andrew, Hamish and Roo. See you in hell.

LUCK AND COURAGE; An Essay by Jonny Domino

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The following is the latest in the current series of guest essays, this time written by Jonny Domino, latterly of Uniforms and long-time member of the MTAT collective. Jonny is one of my best friends and am grateful to have had him by my side during some of the most difficult periods of my life, even when he’s been on the receiving end he remains (mostly) a paragon of zen-like calm. One of the true believers, I’m very pleased to share Jonny’s essay concerning punk rock and mental health through WYAZ.

As ever, all comments/shares/discussion welcome.

 

LUCK AND COURAGE

For a long time I’ve been fascinated by the piece that mental health plays in the creative process. As much as it’s more prevalent in punk rock, and in my time in the punk scene I’ve noticed that issues of mental health can be as much an inspiration for musicians as punk rock can be a tool for confronting a variety of mental health issues, there is a long-standing relationship between the arts and mental health. I should preface this by saying that I count myself lucky to have had a very plain sailing life mental health-wise, but I have watched some of my closest friends and family try to cope with various problems in their own ways and I’d like to think that my position, outside looking in, has provided me a chance to look at things in a more unique way.

At this point it’s hard to avoid being derailed because I could vent all day about how I feel that frontline healthcare professionals are almost universally not doing their part. At the time of writing, the NHS remains one of the finest healthcare systems in the world but it definitely has its failings, and one of the main problems I have with it is this – in the winter of 2010 I broke my collarbone in a snowboarding accident (the “accident” in question being that I said ‘yes’ when the guy in the hire shop asked me if I knew what I was doing when what I actually meant was ‘I’ve never done this before and I hardly even know which way up this goes’, if you’re curious). I got treated by some very nice people in Accident and Emergency very quickly, I grudgingly went along to Fracture Clinic appointments fortnightly for the first 6 weeks and I grumbled my way through follow-ups at my GP for 3 months after that. The point of this story is not to sound ungrateful for the help I got but this – up until very recently there was no maximum waiting time limit for mental health referrals within the NHS. I have seen friends wait months, bordering into years, to see a psychologist. I knew what I was doing was dangerous and I did it anyway. I got all the help I asked for and more straight away while people who were desperate to see someone for something that they have no control over were left hanging on for months. To this day, if an NHS administrator had stopped me in the A&E department and asked if I could never darken their doorstep again so they could use the time and resources they devoted to me to try and clear some of the backlog, my answer would’ve been an unequivocal yes. It still would.

The lack of time to devote to dealing with referrals is something there’s no control over, I get that, but I also think that in the first instance people who raise concerns about their mental health are poorly treated by the healthcare system. The prevailing method seems to be for a GP to write a script for the hottest anti-depressant and get people out with the quickest turnaround, which I have always thought does more harm than good. It’s a short-term fix which, like all drugs, all too often becomes a long term problem. Increasingly people who have never wanted to rely on anti-depressants long term find themselves doing exactly that, purely because they know they can go back to it and it’ll work, plus it’s much easier than getting any other help. Even once you’ve been through the wait for a referral, getting any kind of treatment or therapy from the NHS can be an uphill struggle, and quite often the people who need it most are not equipped for the fight. Again, if I need medical assistance and I think the person delivering it isn’t up to the task, I would have no problem saying “take this doctor away and get me a real one”, but someone who has mustered all their courage to overcome the anxiety they feel about just going to their appointment in the first place is much more likely to just accept whatever calibre of help that they’re offered, and more often than not they’re drastically undersold.

The difficulty in obtaining professional help for these issues, I guess brings us to the idea of how the creative process is so appealing. From Van Gogh to Cobain, there’s nothing more exciting than the idea of the tortured artist, and for some reason the punk scene has always seemed to have that in spades. Maybe it’s the idea that you’re encouraged to speak your mind and share your feelings, the fact that no-one has any hangups about just being themselves, or the raw energy associated with the scene, but punk has always grabbed the attention of people struggling to get comfortable in their own minds, their own bodies or society at large. It’s one of the things I love about the punk scene, but I’ve come to realise that it can sometimes be dangerous. There’s a feeling building recently that it’s almost like a great last hope, that there’s some kind of all-or-nothing approach to punk rock and that it had better work. This has never sat well with me and I’m glad that anyone who I hold dear has so far managed to avoid this kind of attitude, but it’s punctuated with sadness as more and more frequently we see people who subscribe to that idea and come back to earth with the hardest of bangs when they don’t find the salvation they expected.

This isn’t to say that music, art, film or any other outlet that anyone has isn’t an overwhelmingly healthy idea – sometimes screaming down the walls and a punk rock show can be exactly what you need. Sometimes a quite night of doodling can have the same effect. A much wiser man than me (my dad actually, so maybe not that much wiser…) likes to say “extremism in any form is not a good way to live” and it’s something that I have always thought is a very reasonable worldview. When you let something take over your life, you are often setting yourself up for a fall, and that’s something that’s always dangerous. Ever since my early teens I’ve always been a part of the punk scene, but I’ve always been able to remove myself and I never expected it to be able to solve every single problem I encounter. Maybe some day I’ll find something that can, but I doubt it.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that there’s no “magic bullet” that can solve all your problems, be they anxiety, depression or something else entirely, but that doesn’t mean stop trying. You might (you probably will) have to fight tooth and nail to get the help you deserve from the professionals. When you get it, it might not even help. Don’t be disheartened by that, don’t stop trying. Shouting until your hoarse at a punk rock show or in a punk rock band might help you for a night, or a year, or longer. It might not though, and that’s okay. Filling in a whole adult colouring book (or a children’s colouring book, I bet you love the Turtles) might relax you for long enough that you can think clearly about something that you couldn’t focus on all day and that’s great, if it doesn’t though then something else will. Find what works for you and do it, if everything works then do them all. I hope that punk rock helps for everyone though, we’ll see you all down the front.

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THE STRENGTH IS ALWAYS THERE; An Essay by Barry Kydd

I went to see The Smith Street Band last night (last week), for maybe the 5th or 6th time. I will always make the effort to go and see those guys as they are wonderful humans and an awesome band but mostly because so many of their songs have connected with me on levels reserved for only a select few. And it struck me, with something Wil said last night as to possibly why : so many of us punks are damaged and need release. His exact speech was about his anxiety and depression and how the last time he was in the very same room (Audio in Glasgow) he suffered the only onstage panic attack he’s ever experienced. For reasons unconnected to the environment or the people there, these things just happen sometimes regardless of where you are. He went on to say how good it felt to now be back in the same room and feeling well again, and how his primary source of release is in his writing and performing of songs. He encouraged everyone in the room to reach out for that same release and to use creativity as a positive vehicle for change in our lives. Something I have strived to do since starting my first band 15 or so years ago. It has never felt as though it was the right time to write about this, but as I sat today thinking of my own journey and how it could have ended it very differently, I felt I now needed to. I am nervous about people reading this, but with hopes this may help some others, here goes.

I’ve never really ever considered “whats wrong with me” to be a mental health issue, but of course it is. I suppose as with many other issues I have, I just never wanted to admit what it was and put a label on it, let alone seek any help. All stemming back to the loss of my mother as a 9 year old child, I have been racked with a crippling grief since then. Deepening and evolving with every passing year, and with every further passing family member or friend. I could carry on with day to day life easy enough, but at night trying to sleep, my mind would fill with thoughts of what happens once you die. I would panic about being in a box, underground, never breathing air or seeing light again forever. Not just for a few years, until the end of time itself. I would think back the way to my earliest memory and realise that it gets to a point where there is nothing, no recollection of anything beginning or being born. So that must be what happens at the end, it all just stops, and thats it. So whats the fucking point? I thought of my mother, and every subsequent person I lost, having those fears invade them at the very end. I had to just force myself to think of anything else at all for as long as I could and eventually I would fall asleep. Most nights I would manage to fall asleep, other times I would have (and continue to have) night terrors, waking up suddenly convinced someone was in my room. I would swing wildly in the dark until I could reach a light and turn it on. I still cannot control them to this day, and although they are rare they do happen and it wrecks me to know I have scared my wife many times during them.

The biggest factor of all, and one I never ever envisioned, has been reaching milestones in my life without these people by my side. It absolutely wretched me and has played havoc with my brain. Various methods of self medicating have been explored over the years, some work sometimes, some make it worse, some have never worked. The one thing that has always helped, has done more than anything else to help, and that continues to help, is music. Beginning with listening and developing into writing and performing, I had never experienced anything like it. At first it began as a teenager with bands like Green Day, Pearl Jam and Nirvana, something connected me to the combination of the words and the noise I was hearing. It soon became apparent what the difference was between those bands and what I heard on the radio and around the home. Two things ; the subject matter and the delivery. Suddenly I could hear all these words put together that were making me feel things I had never experienced before, and this harsh delivery, so full of emotion, so desperate, longing to be heard. It burst open the walls I had put up around me and absolutely flooded into every fibre of my body. Hairs stood on end, heart began racing and pounding and my eyes welled up with water, for the first time moved by joy. I knew nothing would be the same again. In my naivety I thought that no one had ever felt as bad as I did about these things. To find I was so far from being alone was a huge milestone in my life.

I became obsessed over the next few years, from around 15-18. I just wanted to hear it all, and all at once. I bought, copied and stole anything that looked remotely similar to what I had been listening to, back when everything came as a hard copy I would trawl through liner notes and lyrics, devouring it all. I used to go through the thanks list that bands would include and write down every band I hadn’t heard of before, making them next on my list to discover. It took me in so many different directions and so many variants of “punk” that I never knew existed.

Seeing these bands playing, and the release it offered me to scream along in the crowd was so intense, I had finally found a way to get so much of this out of me.

As my collection grew, it still never completely satisfied me. I wasn’t getting EVERY answer I needed. I got plenty, sure, and discovering all of this new and exciting world had been enough to tide me over and help me suppress a lot of my mental aches and pains, but still not enough.

I had always kept diaries and journals as a young teen. I thought it would be funny to look back on as an adult and remember each day, and so that has proved! Cringingly embarrassing for the most part, there are glimmers in there of why I was really writing down my innermost thoughts and musings. I found these things very tough to talk about, so in a sense, I would talk to myself about them. Writing down the feelings that were tearing me apart internally was allowing me to make a lot of sense of them. I was realising that I could answer a lot of my own questions if I wrote about them enough. It would take me another 15 years before I would realise it was ok to talk to people about these things, but for so long it was just me and my pencil thrashing out the details and setting myself straight. I don’t like to dwell too long on thoughts of what could have happened if I had never figured this out for myself. Fuck, I came closer than I’d ever imagined to breaking point as it was, with using all my coping mechanisms, so with no outlet at all I doubt very much I would still be here today. And that will surprise a lot of folk probably, who know me and know my persona and outlook on life. That’s the ticker with a mental health issue, people can go about everyday life and function as human beings without anyone ever being aware of what is raging inside of them, threatening to implode at any time.

The more and more I was actively going to see live bands, the more I was meeting and making friends with people who were actually in bands. This was a new and exciting prospect for me. Imagine that, being IN a band, how cool would that be. But I had never picked up an instrument in my life, and I was already into my late teens, so many people in my peer group had a huge amount of experience already. Once again I felt left out and just couldn’t see a way in which I could participate. Maybe I could sing? Could I even sing? I didn’t even know. Would it even matter if I could? I had seen bands who had lone singers, some of them were pretty bad but they had fun anyway running about the stage and jumping into the crowd. I could probably do that part ok. I had seen AFI, H20, Lagwagon and The Bouncing Souls, they all had lone singers and it looked pretty cool. Fuck it, it was the only way I could participate and I wanted in so badly so I started casually mentioning to people that we should start a band. Late summer 2001, some friends and I formed Tearjerk, my first ever band. As first bands go, we did a lot of the cliched mistakes : terrible name (my fault), terrible first show, terrible first recordings and some terrible songs. But after the first year or so we started to find our feet and I started feeling more comfortable with performing. I had up until that point written pretty throw away material about girls, being a loner, hometown blues, being an awkward teen basically. The live shows were fun, but I was terribly nervous before gigs, getting blind drunk or hiding somewhere in the venue right up until it was time to play was not uncommon. I never knew what to do with my body while I was onstage so I just threw myself around the stage area, ran into the crowd, jumped on tables, bars, drumkits, speaker stacks. If there was balcony in the venue I’d try to climb it and jump off, I was pretty reckless. It became my thing and I felt accepted so I kept on doing it. I broke ribs during a gig once, fell off so many stages and hit my head off so many lighting rigs and beams. This was starting to fill in the gaps of satisfying my thirst for an outlet for all my rage, hurt and anger. This was what I had been missing.

Tearjerk developed from a snotty sneering teen punk band into a bruising hardcore punk sound pretty quickly. I discovered fast how much anger I had and what I was going to have to do to expel it from me. I was developing as a writer, I was understanding so much more about why I was so hurt and lost all of the time. We had moved home to the town in which my mother was buried, her wish was to be buried there and not in the town we lived in at the time as she feared we would spent too much time visiting her and not focus on moving on with our lives. Cruel twist of fate perhaps that we followed her down the road in the end anyway, but it happened. I spent hours on end there, sitting by her graveside chatting. Again, answering my own questions and figuring things out for myself. I would get off the bus home from work and sit with her for hours before going home, claiming to my Dad that I had stayed on late at work. I don’t know why I felt the need to lie, perhaps I knew deep down I had these issues that would maybe trouble my family if they knew, so I kept doing things privately. I wrote and wrote and wrote and built up books of my innermost, intensely personal feelings about death, despair, grief and sometimes life. None of that made it into songs however.

I had the perfect social and political distraction to focus my writings on for the band, Tony Blair and George Bush Jnr were about to take us into an illegal and immoral war in Iraq. I had become actively political for the first time in my life due to my outrage at this situation, I was reading Chomsky and attending protests. Our songs reflected this and I loved how I could now justify my fury at live shows by giving little speeches before songs explaining what they were about. Yet I still lay alone each night and obsessed over death and dying and what was the point in dragging on the inevitable?

I let the odd glimpse of personal subject material drip out with Tearjerk, but not much. Once the band ended around 2005/6 I was pretty distraught. I had done so much, and grown so much in that band, what was I gonna do now? I had lost my outlet and already felt uneasy at that prospect.

I kept writing and my influences kept changing. Mike (guitarist in TJ) and I knew we wanted to keep playing somehow so we started writing some songs just the 2 of us and his acoustic guitar. We eventually decided that we didn’t actually need anyone else to be able to perform these songs so we set out writing a set that worked with me on vocals and Mike playing his acoustic. Pretty unusual set up, but it worked for us and folk seemed to like it. We called the project 15 Minutes, in reference to a Broadways song of the same name. The whole idea being you can sit and let your life dwindle away 15 minutes at a time or you can pick up what you have and do something with it. We did what we could with what we had.

I definitely let a lot more personal material through the net this time. It felt right. We had recently lost another friend, Graham Motion from the band Allergo, in tragic circumstances. Graham loved Tearjerk and it absolutely delighted me to see him down the front singing along when we played. It was going to feel surreal to never experience that again. Something clicked and I needed to start singing about some of these personal experiences or it was going to consume me. I wrote songs about losing my mother, one about all the things I wished I’d been able to tell my Dad, we also made a song out of the first words I wrote down after hearing Graham had passed. I burst into tears onstage a few time playing some of these songs, but fuck it, I wasn’t hiding anymore. This was me, and these songs meant a lot to me and I was gonna get them out of me with all the fire that put them there in the first place. I figured people would appreciate not being bullshitted by another band so we gave it as it came, raw and unfiltered. I have always insisted, in all of my bands, that I need to write all the words. It needs to come from me because I am the one delivering it and I need to believe in what I’m singing. The most important part of playing live, for me, has always been to do it was the utmost sincerity. When I’m up there I need to be bleeding out those words and I couldn’t give a fuck what it sounds like, so long as we mean every word and feel every note. This is my therapy and it means too much to me to fake it or go through the motions. It wont happen.

Lachance are my current active band. In many ways its the band I always wanted to be in, sound wise. Its the perfect mix of all the things I love about punk rock and in terms of writing words for Lachance, I’ve come full circle almost and am the closest I ever have been to filling that void I’ve always had. I have learned the most important lesson yet about my writing, I can take a bad situation or memory and make it better. I have been able to tap into the very essence of why I began writing in the first place, to give myself some answers and some direction in my life. All these years of hurt and confusion have dug some deep wounds into me and in turn, I am now comfortable including songs that open up these scars and let them breathe. I don’t feel suffocated anymore, I don’t feel as though I need to hide anything about what Im scared of, what I worry about and what I lie awake and cry about sometimes. I have learned that writing about these things naturally leads me to a far more positive mindset, it confirms to me that the issue is present but it can be addressed. It should be talked about openly and if it is, its generally far easier to come to a positive conclusion. A much preferred outcome over letting it fester for years and play havoc with your mental state. A lot of the Lachance subject material is openly about my struggles over the years but each song generally concludes with an overall feeling of hope rather than despair. And thats the piece I have always been missing. I still feel hopeless from time to time but with my writing, I have managed to address so many of the questions I didn’t have answers for at the start of my musical journey. I am far more able to deal with bouts of anxiety, and far more equipped to keep my mind from wandering down the dark paths it used to. Even though our band is not terribly active, I still have it as my outlet, I know it is still there and that is a massive comfort. I am very like that as a person and friend, I don’t need to see you everyday, so long as I know you are still there if I need you, I’m good with that. Our latest release “Sunrise” is a culmination of some of the songs I had always wanted to get out there from my notebooks. It feels wonderful to know it is out there in the world now and that people seem to be enjoying it. To finally have pretty much fully opened the door and let the world in feels like a huge turning point for me. To feel comfortable enough to even write this piece, and let go of all these secrets is testament again to the ground that has been covered since this process began. Im at the point now where I realise I have come through this experience and that speaking about it now, may actually do some good and possibly even help someone else. I would wish for nothing more. Without a shadow of any doubt, the catharsis I gained through music, gigs, writing, recording and performing where it is socially accepted to be able to scream my lungs out and beat my heart with my first, has literally changed and saved my life. It has taken me from a scared and nervous boy, constantly worried about how my time on earth would end to being able to stand in a room full of people and sing songs about how music has made me better.

This is what I need to do to keep balance. This is what helps me and allows me to make sense of intense issues. Aside from one 6 month spell with a therapist, I have managed to contain this, almost, myself, through the inspiration and exhilaration of listening to, writing, recording and performing music. I have faltered and failed along the way, many times, and I know what its like to want to die. I made a pact with myself to never ever entertain those thoughts again and not seek help immediately. The Lachance song “Spirals” is directly about this incident. It was my lowest ebb, and I got out of that hole somehow thanks to hearing a record that made me want to be alive again. I cannot begin to describe how powerful that feels. I have phenomenal support in the form of my wife. She has suffered so much of my bullshit over the years but has always encouraged me to look at things from different angles, to see another perspective and to try things I haven’t done yet. In so many aspects, I am lucky. But for every story like mine there is one that goes the other way. Just this weekend we learn again of a talented and respected punk musician who has taken their own life, tragically feeling there was no where left to turn. It made me stop and think about Wil’s words again, and how even though this young person was a writer and a performer it was not enough to stop the tide from overpowering them. Sometimes it isn’t. We need to create and nurture methods within our community where there can always be a path to reach out to if we feel hopeless. I urge you, to reach out to all your friends and family to let them know they can reach out to you if they need to. It could be the words that save a life.

Punk rock, for many, is a phase of rebellion. I knew the second I heard that explosion of noise that I would need this in my life for as long as possible. My musical tastes have grown and developed over the years but the essence of everything I latch onto remains the same. Heart, soul, passion and meaning. I met some of my best friends via the music scene. I first met my wife Gemma after a Tearjerk show when she asked me for one of our Cds. How different my life would be without it all. I urge each and every one of you, if you discover something in this life that awakens you and stirs your soul, pursue it. Make it part of your life, however you need to do it, just make it happen. If you are thinking of starting a band, do it. If you don’t think you can, you can. If you are worried how bad you will sound, don’t be. I’ll send you the first Tearjerk CD, trust me it wont be worse than that. Do it with heart, soul and passion and no one can ever hold anything against you. You do it for you, not for anyone else. If like me, you find it hard right now to speak up about what is bothering you, write it down and see if that helps. You always, ALWAYS have options, even when you think you don’t. Someone will care enough to be there for you, please know that it is absolutely fine to ask for help.

At the end of the record I played that made me want to stay alive, even if only just to hear it again at that point, there is a line that is repeated over and over again. Its impact has never left me and it is now tattooed onto my leg. Human bodies are tough and we can punish them often enough and they will quickly recover. A humans spirit can spend decades broken and not realise what it needs to heal, if you can find what you need to get better, go to it and let it in, and never be ashamed of who you are or how you got here. Because you DID get here.

We cant always make our lives seem happy all the time, just remember….

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“The strength is always there”

AGAINST IMMISERATION; An Essay by Dom Kaddish

WYAZ presents the second post-EU referendum essay by Dom Kaddish. Please read, consider, respond and circulate as you deem necessary. Discussion and discourse is actively encouraged.

End, As In Aim.

So picture the gravest fear and dread.
Here hope is the lie that keeps its head.

Say you’ve got a hope.
Say you want an end to fear.

An end to fear.

Say you’ve got a hope.
Say you want an end to fear.

Photo by J. Cumiskey

AGAINST IMMISERATION

What’s the fucking point of playing in a band when your body is ageing and your hearing damaged? What’s the fucking point of going to gigs and chatting, on the level, to people of different ages, genders, colours, cultures, and backgrounds when the media constantly chastens us with images of violence, and enjoins us to hate others and be suspicious of them? What’s the fucking point of voting in a referendum where the crunch matter appears to have come down to an entitled Tory elite masturbating over how to convince one of their female members to reheat the tired ghost of Margaret fucking Thatcher?

Here’s a suggestion: couldn’t it be that the deluded little spaces in which we play, chat, act, think and commit ourselves are more political by a long shot than the black hole at Westminster that awaits the next bunch of careerists perverse enough to get sucked into it? The fucking point, then, would be that our whole conception of politics has to change. For example, what created the current constitutional crisis in the UK was misplaced faith in an out-of-date form of representative government centred on individuals as well-informed agents, capable of making rational choices in their own best interests, and of acting in the best interests of others when presented with a crude either/or choice on an issue of massive complexity. This model was co-opted by greed, self-interest, stupidity, lack of information, and a giant dose of the negative affects of shame, fear and hate. Given the fallout, perhaps it is now time to try to do something paradoxical, different, and more excitingly difficult: to try, at one and the same time, to think and act both above and below the out-of-date model of politics.

By ‘above’, I mean this: we have to aspire to have the courage and the temerity to look the complexity of our world straight in the face. That is, we have to aspire to a culture, not where no-one is an expert (à la Gove), but where everyone is. This would be a culture in which everyone aspires to learn something about such heady things as economics, statistics, as well as big data patterns in demographics and human geography, and where an understanding of the role of nonhuman actors in politics would be encouraged (e.g. the role of such actors in the current UK crisis as mobile computing, agricultural and fishing yields, the English Channel, globalisation, the ecological crisis, etc. etc.). This would not be a culture where knowledge of such things was used to baffle and belittle; rather, since no one single actor could feasibly claim a knowledge of the whole, it would be a culture where everyone takes some responsibility for educating themselves and others, and where each is empowered and encouraged to do.

By ‘below’, I mean this: the UK referendum of 23 June 2016 was a coup for a reactive form of politics that traded on affects and gut reactions, instead of on concepts tied to the out-of-date model of politics mentioned above (e.g. the concept of the transparently well-informed and rational voter; or that of a ‘minister’ who is ‘prime’ in the sense of being the first and most powerful person to look after the needs of all the people in his or her polity, when the then incumbent was exposed by events for an incompetent beholding to the interests of Tory bigots of depressing resilience and longevity). What was far more effective than concepts and reason in swaying the campaigning in this instance was the propagation of the aforesaid negative affects of shame, fear and hate. Faced with these affects, the fatal mistake of left/liberal sections of the media/social media/the Twitterati was a retreat into the echo chamber of fatalistic intellectualism (consider the typical Brexit crisis moves made by these sections of the media: black humour, condescension, introspection and soul searching, cod philosophy, historical musings, irony, droll memes, the attempt at agonised liberal ‘understanding’ of what could have driven the dispossessed and disenfranchised to it, etc., etc.). The result was two modes of political address that comprehensively talked past one another: one employing the ‘post-fact’ logic of icons, hates, and anxieties; the other employing a form of reason that had become too clever and self-reflexive by half.

One solution to this impasse, I am suggesting (the one that goes ‘above’), is to aspire to better education, in terms of better concepts that have a better purchase on the complexities of our interconnected and interdependent world. Here’s another solution for how we might simultaneously get ‘below’ the impasse: first, let’s give up old concepts tied to the values of liberal/humanistic education and grand parliamentary politics; second, let’s avoid propagating negative affects in their place; third, let’s focus instead on the creation and nurturing of positive affects, such as joy, love, and openness. If such an agenda seems liberal, Christian, ‘new agey’ or out of step with what I said above about the necessity of arriving at better concepts, then you have simply missed the point. This is because what is at stake here is not how ‘good’ or ‘wise’ you or I might be, nor how much right we might have to the moral high ground, nor how much we might like the recourse to safe, comfortable, and ultimately hopelessly out of touch old political categories. Rather, what is at stake is what should be termed the ‘ecology’ of our mental health, well-being and fellow feeling, and by ‘our’ here, I mean the mental health of everyone with a stake in the issues of which the current UK constitutional crisis is symptomatic, including everyone else in the world right now, and all future generations.

The ecology of mental health concerns how one’s mindset, mood, and general sense of affect relates to the world in which it finds itself. This ecology has not, we should admit, been in a good way, globally, for some time now, and its problems predate the 2008 financial crisis by some way (in fact, they feed into it as conditions of its possibility). Here’s a suggestion as to what has eroded it: spaces of immiseration. Under this concept, we could group any number of environments that go into shaping the character of the contemporary globalised world, including, but far from limited to: factories in China; Coltan mines in the Congo; sweatshops in Turkey and Bangladesh; battlefields in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria; Social Security offices and dole queues in any ‘developed’ country; all that urban sprawl that was so ripe for sub-priming in the US pre-2008; open-plan offices; bookies; grey and ill-equipped classrooms; call centres; slaughterhouses; Amazon depots; police cells; and the countless situations in which way too much solitude is frittered away in front of a TV or a computer. Here’s a suggestion as to what might act as the antidote: spaces of possibility. Such spaces, to start from the highly dubious base of idealising what I personally know and esteem, might include: live music spaces; classrooms where participants are encouraged and equipped to learn from all others present and not simply shut their mouths and act as consumers of information spoon fed by the guy mansplaining at the front; parks; wilderness; sports pitches where moments of team creativity emerge; seashores; long walks through places either familiar or unfamiliar, with or without guiding thread; art galleries, studios, and workshops where you might actually stand the chance of speaking and interacting with artists and craftspeople; book shops, record shops and libraries; day centres, drop-in centres, and clinics where you can bump into people all too burned out by the state of it all not to speak themselves honestly, with heart.

I said that it was dubious to start from what I personally know and esteem. You are therefore entirely free to take issue with the list I have just contrived, as too ‘male’, ‘romantic’, ‘liberal’, ‘hipster’ (God forbid), or whatever. This apart, however, let me extend two invitations to you that are centred on the concepts mentioned above, and not on what I have grouped under them. First, to reflect on the spaces of possibility that matter most to you. Second, and far more importantly, to reflect and act on how we might convert spaces of immiseration into spaces of possibility. The first of these tasks, undertaken collectively, would amount to an inventory of our weapons: a stocktake of the spaces that matter to us, and that renew our sense of health and possibility for the living of meaningful lives. The second task would involve using these weapons on the battlefields where the real politics of our lives get fought out (and not in exclusive, outmoded, rarefied political vacuums such as Westminster, where fractions of the battles of our lives get misrepresented and used as pawns in games played by self-serving political cadres).

Fear of the other. Fear of the self. Fear of death. Fear of the unknown. Fear of technology and the pace of change. Fear of not ‘being a man’, whatever that means. Fear of irrelevance and poverty in an age of celebrity and the ‘super rich’. Fear of being fat, stupid, old, or useless. Fear of gun and knife crimes, rape, and hate. ETC. FUCKING ETC. These are the negative affects that spaces of immiseration nurture like cancer. How do we take the love, hope, joy, respect, and sense of other possible worlds and horizons that spaces of possibility involve and use them to bring out the possibilities that spaces of immiseration keep repressed under the increasingly shabby and disingenuous veneer of consensus and polite society? And what makes this struggle both worthwhile and eminently doable, on an everyday basis, and from this very instant?

Consider whether something like the following might work for you (if not, invent your own tactic, as is your right and your want): the next time you realise you are in a space of immiseration (and the gut sinking feeling will be sufficient to establish it), think about how you typically act in a space of possibility, and insinuate one such way of acting into the space of immiseration. The next time after this, insinuate two acts. After that, insinuate three. After that, four. And so on, and so on, until new possibilities have reached such a pitch that they have somehow cracked open the space of immiseration in favour of something better and more liveable. The acts I have in mind here can be crude or sophisticated, and might include: making passionate music, for purposes other than consumption; being playful; thinking tangentially; daydreaming; humour; kindness; openness; interest in others and their stories and fates; acts that are revelatory of self and history without tipping into narcissism; expressions of wonder, weakness, and astonishment; recognitions of limitations and ignorance; the construction of a shared focus or creative goal between you and others that adds some measure of dignity to the space, however small; the vigilant attempt to keep the spectre of the profit motive to a minimum. And so on, and so on, etc., etc.

What’s especially funny about such acts is when they work subliminally – that is, when others within the space recognise that a new possibility has been introduced, but resist it, preferring instead the tendencies of immiseration as a kind of short-term comfy/long-term deadly safety net. Because the roboticisms of immiseration cannot recognise new possibilities, you can rest assured that there will be no immediate explicit reproach for the possibility you have introduced (that is, no shared recognition that the recognition has taken place individually within the separate actors in the space). What there might be, however, is a more or less collective implicit recognition – a seed planted that will grow with time. In this case, the words, actions and affects you use to make spaces of immiseration become spaces of possibility will take on the character of a sort of gentle and subtle guerrilla warfare: a thousand little harrying tactics intended to perplex and provoke others into giving up the dubious safety net of immiseration.

To sum up:
Stop thinking in terms of redundant concepts representative of a bygone age of politics.

Start aspiring to think in terms of the complex concepts that we all know are required to think the world in which we live.

Stop tolerating the poisonous effects of negative affects through inaction and resignation.

Start spreading positive affects in any practicable way you can, because they are sufficient to convert spaces of immiseration, however overwhelming, ubiquitous and monolithic these spaces may seem in the contemporary world, into spaces rich in open and positive possibilities for new forms of life.

***

ASTHENIA PDF-page-001

Kaddish play Conroy’s Basement in Dundee with Asthenia (Japan), Human Hands (eng) and Arkless (eng) on Wednesday 17th August.

The New Situation; An Essay by Dom Kaddish

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The world we live in is not the world we were born into. The following is an essay written by a man for whom I have the deepest of respect in all capacities; musically, artistically, professionally, as a thinker, as a peer, as a human; and someone I am grateful to call a good friend, Dom Kaddish.

In solidarity and hope, I am humbled to provide WYAZ as a platform.

The New Situation.

[Dear All, the following is overtly, and not allusively political. If you disagree with it in style or substance, come along to, for example, a punk rock show or a University class room and tell us or someone else why. In other words, use every available opportunity to keep up the impetus for a new grass roots progressive politics to emerge in the UK and elsewhere post-23 June 2016. It is necessary but not sufficient for us to discuss such things through the Internet. We also need to make them count in building a better society, through our actions and words in the spaces where we actually commit our bodies].

Yesterday, 1 July 2016, the Conservative party in the UK attempted to assure us that politics in the UK is ‘back to business’ in the wake of Brexit. A Mr. Gove invoked further deluded promises about the NHS, when discretion suggested this was a thing best avoided. A Mrs. May invoked her talents as a hard worker, as well as her gender (this last point being important in the context of the obnoxious ‘boy’s club’ that led to Brexit, but Mrs May’s party is attempting to cash in on it in a way that superficially emulates but actually runs counter to the progressive female strand of politics running through, say, Holyrood).

None of this can stand: we simply cannot allow the elite of the Conservative party to try to convince us that they are operating on the basis of a post-Brexit consensus, and that they have our interests at heart in any way at all. We cannot allow politics to return to a state of unscrutinised Tory-led ‘management’. Doing so will only validate what has always been at the heart of the Tory party: upstairs privilege over downstairs servitude.

Instead of building a consensus and helping the people of the UK, the Conservative party has perpetrated an act of unparalleled violence against the social ontology of the UK in the lead up to, and in the wake of, the referendum of 23 June 2016. That is, they have effected a shift in the way that every entity related to the entity ‘the UK’ relates to every other entity related to this entity. They have done it by instrumentalising a mode of politics (the either/or referendum) that was always too crude to deal with the complexities of this ontology, and the consequence of this is that neighbours, words, glances, embraces, sighs, stares, handshakes, schools, immigrants, jobs, friends, taxis, hopes, fears, pensions, pounds and Euros (etc., etc., ad infinitum) no longer relate in the same way as before.

Given this violence, attempts to move on are appropriate. These include: humour; changing the topic of conversation; smiling a bit more; feeling a bit more driven to think, write or feel something; being warmer and more open to people who don’t look and think like you; wanting to strive for a better and more tolerant society that doesn’t condone or cynically instrumentalise racism, etc., etc. These attempts to move on are not attempts to move backwards. On the contrary, attempts to move backwards are, by definition, ‘conservative’, and if there is one entity that events since 23 June have comprehensively destroyed, it is the party that bears that name.

There can be no ‘business as usual’ on behalf of the Conservative party because there is no Conservative party. Instead, the convulsing psychotic ghost that persists in the wake of that party has no consensus, no mandate, and no real vision at all, and this makes it a deeply dangerous, reactionary, and volatile force (witness May’s party’s instrumentalisation of the female card, one of the few apparently progressive moves that was left to it). That said, it also makes it a potentially weak and waning force, provided we, the progressive and internationalist forces in the game, play our cards right, and cease to be so haunted.

There can be no business as usual in the wake of 23 June, in whatever sense (as resigned, as alienated, as disenfranchised, as relieved, as whatever). We have to lay claim to our changed social ontology and recognise that the Conservative party and the hideous forces they have recently colluded with can have no real part to play in it, provided that we have the courage to exorcise them. We have to do our business differently, by not giving up and accepting Conservative attempts to manage what they have conjured. Much more is possible than that for progressive, tolerant, and socially just reform of all sorts of entities, including, but not limited to: the EU, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the age divide, racism, the North/South divide, the European sense of self and other.

Let’s resolve to be socially responsible and just citizens in a time of spectres.

***

Kaddish released “Thick Letters To Friends” in 2014. Their new LP will be released soon.

Pink Elephants (Talking About Booze)

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I’m pretty nervous sitting here writing this blog; a ball of pent-up energy, frustration, passion, exasperation, exhilaration, tiredness, guilt, excitement, caffeine and god knows what else. I’m going to talk about alcohol. More specifically, I’m going to talk about not consuming alcohol. Beyond that, it’s a stream of consciousness and I’m not sure where it will lead. Somewhere positive I hope. If you don’t want to read about alcohol, please leave now and consider this your trigger warning.

I’ve been wary about writing about booze since I stopped drinking. I always think of the Bill Hicks “ex smokers” sketch and how I don’t want to become one of those preachy converts who thrive on judging people and their perceived bad habits as a means of stroking their own fevered egos and masking insecurities. There’s nothing worse than a born-again Christian that wants to save us all from eternal damnation, right? Fuck that, I have no interest whatsoever. I’m also in no position to give advice, I can only relate to you my own experience. I implore you to believe that this isn’t an easy essay to write but comes from a place of compassion and love.

To me, my sobriety is absolutely 100% my number one priority in life.

I will never walk away or ignore someone who wants to talk about recovery.

Without going into specific details, let me briefly summarise;

I think of myself as extremely lucky.

My “support network” is incredible and, whether they realise it or not, have played an absolutely vital role in my recovery. Truth is I probably don’t deserve such an amazing partner, family, friends and comrades. The ocean of utter shite I dragged them through during my “career” was beyond a nightmare. I can’t accurately express my gratitude to them and absolutely should try to do so more often. Words feel inadequate, the tightness in my stomach as I write this tells me so. I’m grateful for everything they’ve done for me. I’m grateful for every morning I wake up and I’m alive.

My problem drinking began when I drank for the first time. I am not a moderate person, I’m pretty much an all or nothing motherfucker. I knew I had a problem pretty early on; it exacerbated my extant feelings of “otherness”, as I’ve discussed elsewhere, and gave me what felt like a cloak of invincibility that insidiously ate away at the very core of my being. Alcohol to celebrate success, alcohol to commiserate the fails; you know how the story goes, it’s our culture, it’s “normal”. I put myself in harm’s way, in dangerous situations I was lucky to survive, countless times. Many friends were not so lucky.

I often joke around with Abbie that “if you cannae understand without an explanation then you’ll never understand with an explanation”. I’m usually messing around and just being silly. However, unless you know deep within yourself what the truth really is, then you’re never going to understand or believe it to be true when someone else points it out to you. Until you can admit it to yourself, you’ll never know.

I knew for years, I wasn’t even really in denial about it. I went to therapy when I was at uni but didn’t give a fuck. Many tried to help me and I threw it in their faces. My selfishness and arrogance were matched only by my self-loathing and antipathy. Alienation and nihilistic self-destruction was my path, death the ultimate destination. I thought I could handle it. I couldn’t. Drunkologies bore me. The punk scene revels in that shit.

Stopping drinking is the single best decision I’ve ever made.

Stopping drinking was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

I have no problem with other people drinking.

I closed ranks to break the cycle; cancelled shows, got signed off work, went to my GP, upped my anti-depressants, called my closest comrades together and went to meetings. I wrote a fucking facebook status about it, to make myself accountable. I remember shaking on the floor calling AA for the first time. They had someone call me back and my guts just spilled; the damn broke and an ocean of shit came flooding out.

Many, myself at the time included, hold preconceptions about AA as being an overtly Christian practice. That wasn’t my experience, theism an irrelevance. You can fucking believe me when I tell you creationism isn’t on the menu. I can only encourage you to go and find out for yourself. I’d have taken some comfort in the words of Jesus to heal some of the lacerating self-analysis and bring some light. The greatest lesson I learned was don’t be an arrogant fuck and think your problems are the blackest. It’s no picnic, there are no mindless cheerleaders. It’s as real as it fucking gets.

Facing up the worst truths about yourself is hard. Looking in the mirror and accepting responsibility for your actions doesn’t always come easy, but don’t give up on yourself. I’ve been sober almost 900 days now and every day is a learning experience. It remains one of the key turning points in my life. I haven’t been to many meetings in the last year or so. Moving city helped and I love living by the river. I’m very lucky to be surrounded by so many positive and inspiring people, but even now it’s not easy. I still live with depression and probably always will, but I harbour fewer de/illusions about myself. Meditation helps but I’m slack at it.

I am humbled that people feel they can confide in me and ask for advice with their own drinking issues. As I said earlier, I will always listen to anyone who wants to talk about recovery, their path to and/or from it or whatever. From my best friends to people I don’t know, I will never ignore you. The first thing you need to know is that you are not alone and that by reaching out (fuck people who balk at that phrase) to someone, you’ve already taken that vital first step. Talking of steps; the twelve step program may work for you. How one interprets the steps is a personal matter, it’s not for one person to tell another what lies on their path or how navigate. If you focus on someone else’s, you lose sight of your own. I try not to be that person.

I respect everyone who lives with the struggle because it’s real. I’m grateful every day that I live with it because it means I haven’t fucked it, every day a little victory. As said, I will always listen and I’m more than happy to discuss any and all questions/queries that people may have on a personal basis, but my support is not entirely unconditional; please don’t swag up to me with a pint in your hand and ask “how did you stop drinking?” and expect anything other than “put the fucking pint down first”; please don’t send me messages then fill your FB with pictures and statuses about how much ye love getting burst. I fucking loved getting burst. That was exactly my problem (one of them anyways).

When people do that, it hurts my fucking feelings. Now, I’m a big boy and I’ll get over it, but it evokes in me great empathy with those people whose faces I threw shit in when they tried to help me throughout the years. It crosses my boundaries. To dismiss anything out of hand is folly but to blatantly ignore and, in some cases celebrate, exactly what you’ve reached out for support to endeavour to overcome is counter-productive at best. I wouldn’t accept that shit from my closest friends, let alone casual acquaintances or people I actively dislike. Have some respect for me but, and more importantly, have some respect for yourself.

I didn’t know where I was going when I started this blog but I knew I needed to get something off my chest. It’s something that’s been weighing on my mind recently. I’m still learning, developing my “coping mechanisms”, trying to keep my shit together. I know how lucky I am and am thankful every single day for all that I have. I know many, many people are not so lucky and that I’m in a position of massive privilege, but that doesn’t make things easier, everyone’s shite reeks. What sets you free can also be your burden. Ignorance may be bliss but it was the arrogance that nearly killed me. Even through the writing process, the act of sharing, I feel better.

When you try to give advice, you assume that you know better. Fuck that, I’m no preacher. I can only engage you if you’re willing to listen as well as talk. You are the answer to your own question, you just need to be willing to engage with yourself. Nobody can help you if you’re not at least willing to try to help yourself.

Don’t ever feel like talking about your problem(s) is a problem. The lack of talking about your problem is a problem. Without resorting to cliche, I’d encourage mindfulness and awareness. It’s amazing what you can see when your eyes are open.

There are many wonderful groups who can provide professional and peer support;

Alcoholics Anonymous

Tayside Council on Alcohol

Insight Counselling

Mindspace

Alcohol Focus Scotland

Addaction

Or speak to me, just put the fucking pint down first please.

To thine own self be true.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Write Yer Ane Mini-Zine; Issue One

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Write Yer Ane Mini-Zine; Issue One

Click the link to devour. Please feel free to read and share.

I’ve uploaded the PDF in its original form, with no hyperlinks, etc. All the bands/records are easy to find so go have a swatch!

Make That A Take Records; Label FAQ

Preface; We are a small independent DIY label based on the east coast of Scotland. Our label formed at a house party show in 2006 and has evolved over the last decade into something we never anticipated. We are very grateful for the increased level of interest we’ve been receiving recently and are very excited about the possibilities that the future may hold.

However, the volume of emails and inquiries we are receiving has increased massively from even where we were a couple of years ago and we are getting to the point where it’s very difficult to reply to all messages in a constructive manner. Everyone in our collective works full-time jobs and have personal responsibilities and lives that need taking care of. We are not part of “the music industry” and we can’t do anything to “make you famous”. There are many other labels out there who may be able to do these things for you, however that label is not Make That A Take.

The absolute best way to get involved is to come down to a show and introduce yourself. Those who participate in the local music community and support the wider scene will always take precedence over bands/artists who merely see the DIY scene as a stepping stone to “better” things or to further their “career”. That’s not to say that we’re anti-career as such, many good friends of ours have gone onto great things in the music industry, but that has been as a result of years of hard work, not in spite of it. We are always keen to hear from more local bands and to grow our community. This is best achieved in person at shows.

This FAQ will be augmented, added to and expanded upon as required and is by no means exhaustive, although may be a little boring for some. As stated, this isn’t something that we’ve been desperate to put together but given their sheer volume of correspondence of late, it’s something that we feel is necessary. Apologies and thanks in advance for understanding.

We are a progressive secular anti-fascist, anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homo/transphobic DIY punk collective. If you have any issue with any of these things, please do not contact us.

How do I get in touch?

For all enquiries pertaining MTAT bands, gigs, bookings, merch, distro, trades or antyhing else related to the label/collective, please email info@makethatatakerecords.com

For all enquries relating to Conroy’s Basement and the third party use thereof, please email kenny@makethatatakerecords.com

Please send all enquiries by email only.

Please DO NOT send messages to our Facebook page as these are very easy to miss and a response is by no means guaranteed. Also, please DO NOT message or add our personal FB profiles looking for shows. This is something that has become unmanageable recently and any breach of this request will be counter-productive. We realise this may seem harsh but you are far more likely to receive a reply in you contact us via email.

Can we get a show?

Possibly. Again, please email info@makethatatakerecords.com

Some general points; we get many gig enquiries and while we do our best to respond to each one, we cannot guarantee getting back to all bands at all times.

We DO NOT put on “showcase” gigs and are not particularly interested in “growing the audience” or “conquering new markets”. We have very little interest in demographics or creating rock stars and/or mainstream “successes”. There are plenty of avenues for this type of thing, we are not one of them.

If you are a small UK band, we think it’s highly unlikely that you actually need a booking agent. While some bands may feel that they do (to “lighten the load” or whatever), we much prefer to deal with bands directly. Your booking agent may want what’s best for your band but he/she also wants their 10/15%. Some of the “biggest” bands you know still book their own shows, you should too. However, that decision is yours alone.

International touring bands are different; we prefer to work with bookers/agents that we know and trust. However, we also like to keep an open mind so if you’re looking for a potential tour date, please do get in touch. We while do what we can but can make no promises.

Bands who support and contribute to the local music community will always be offered support slots with touring bands first. Don’t expect to be offered shows with “bigger” bands if you never come out to the “small” shows.

Do you accept demos?

Yes. We accept physical demos at shows and are happy to get them in the mail too. If you wish to send physical demos, please email us first (info@makethatatakerecords.com) and we’ll be happy to pass you an address.

We also accept LINKS to demos via email. We don’t need a thousand word biography of your band, just a short and simple introduction and a link to some recordings is fine.

Please DO NOT send mp3 or WAV files, videos, large attachments or promo photos as these take up huge amounts of space and will be discarded.

We love hearing new music of all kinds but are fundamentally a DIY punk rock label, so please take a moment to consider whether your band and our label are complimentary. Recently we’ve had enquries from everything from an American Christian pop-rock band to a Chilean right-wing black metal band. Safe to say that we’ll be working with neither so please be mindful of this before emailing so as not to waste your time or ours.

Will you put our record out?

Being honest, probably not. Most of the records we release are by bands/artists that we know and love, who we’ve worked with for years and who have been part of our wider musical community. We always have a variety of projects in the pipeline and are always keeping an eye out for what our next release may be.

While we are not restricted geographically, the artists from further afield with whom we work are those with whom we have already developed relationships in one form or another. While we do love hearing from new bands, the likelihood of us putting out a 7” EP for a French punk band we’ve never met or heard of before is very, very slim.

While not being overly harsh taskmasters, if we do put your record out, we’d expect you to do some touring and help spread the word. Putting a record together can be an expensive and time-consuming enterprise so if we were interested in vanity projects, we’d probably start with one of our own.

We’re a new band and have never toured before; can you give us all your contacts?

Yes and no. We are always keen to help support new bands, especially those who are getting out on the road for the first time, but there are many things that new bands can do for themselves. We are happy to try and provide guidance and assistance but many of our contacts are friends who may or may not appreciate bands getting in touch.

We’ve spent almost 20 years playing in bands and toured before the internet was as key a tool for tour booking as it is today; do some of the groundwork yourself and it’ll be far more rewarding. That said, if you’re a hard working and dedicated band, word gets around and people in the punk scene will know about you. We are happy to help where we can, especially for local bands, but there are limits to what we can do.

Your own hard graft will bring its own rewards!

Do you trade records? Can I carry your records in our distro?

Yes. Please email info@makethatatakerecords.com with your enquries and trade lists.

Will you carry our records in your distro?

Possibly. Please email info@makethatatakerecords.com with any/all trade suggestions and/or wholesale prices.

Can I have a promo copy of the (insert band) LP/7” for review purposes?

Highly unlikely. Records are very expensive to produce so I’m afraid we are unable to send vinyl records for promo purposes. If you’d like a digital promo copy of any release for review/blog/radio/whatever purposes, please email us and we can hook you up.

Anyone who would like added to our mailing list, please just email.

I work for XYZ major label/magazine/blog/radio station; can I get into your show for free?

No.

I work for XYZ music industry/web optimization/financial services/whatever; would you be interested in working with (being exploited by) us?

Highly unlikely but if you’re genuinely interested in working with us/something we do, feel free to fire us an email. A response cannot be guaranteed.

Who does your artwork?

Most gig posters are done by Jamie with the cut’n’paste jobs being done by Derrick. We are happy to help with artwork if we can, although by no means are we professionals or take commissions. That said, please fire us an email if you feel you need our services.

Can I get your music on iTunes/Spotify/etc?

Yes and no. All of our releases are available for streaming and download from our Bandcamp page. However, distribution to digital services are handled by the individual bands/artists as there is no uniform view on these matters, so we leave those decisions in the hands of the acts we work with. This may change in future but for now all releases can be found on Bandcamp.

Will the “Thick Letters To Friends” LP by Kaddish be re-pressed?

Possibly in future but not right now. There’s a new LP on the way.

Where can I buy your music/merch online?

All releases are available for streaming/download (the majority are free/pay-what-you-want) from http://makethatatakerecords.bandcamp.com/

All records/distro/merch/e-tickets are available from http://makethatatakerecords.bigcartel.com/

Why is Derrick so grumpy?

He’s getting long in the tooth, there aren’t enough hours in the day and he dislikes writing FAQs.

Distro Record of the Week; Freddy Fudd Pucker – “Hourglass Wine”

In an effort to make good on my promise of writing more (and to shift some product, obvz), I’ve decided to start a “Distro Record of the Week” column. One of the coolest things about running a label is the amount of amazing music that I get to listen to and the gems I get to wrap my grateful ears around that may have otherwise remained undiscovered by me.

freddy fudd pucker

I don’t remember exactly how Freddy Fudd Pucker and I became acquainted, I think he hit me up looking for a show sometime in early 2014. What I do know is that he is a wonderfully talented and kind gentleman and that “Hourglass Wine” has been on regular rotation on my turntable since I got my copy at BYAF IX.

“Hourglass Wine” is Freddy’s first full-length record to be given the vinyl treatment and this release comes of classic black wax courtesy of New Zealand’s Monkey Records and the Ramones Museum in Berlin. The record also comes with a twelve page comic containing all lyrics and illustrations that accompany the songs. Vaguely a concept record concerning the evolution of our hero Momo and the stealing of time, the album contains ten tracks of thoughtful, intelligent and impeccably well-written melodic folk/punk crackers that range from the full-on raging to the sombre and introspective.

Freddy Fudd Pucker is a one-man-band so there’s a range of interesting instrumentation and arrangements on display, with equal doses of full-stomping bass drum, electric guitars and blaring moothies as quietly-picked guitar loops, soaring melodies and abstract poetic lyricism. In terms of sonics and influence, we’re pitching in somewhere between the dark-hearted romance of Alkaline Trio and The Cure and marrying it to the classic road-worn folk warmth and wisdom of Neil Young and Bob Dylan. The whole thing is crafted with a punk rock heart and both the emotional honesty and sincerity of intent bleed out all over this record.

As a piece taken together, “Hourglass Wine” is one of the most complete pieces of acoustic-based work I’ve heard in a while, taking us on an engaging journey whilst painting pictures with a smart narrative and intriguing characters throughout. The tone matches the aesthetic perfectly and the whole album flows together beautifully, featuring several stand out moments (“Don’t Fail Me Now”, “Bad Actors”, closing piece “A Gathering Mass”) whilst never detracting from the narrative whole.

In a time of saturation, it’s refreshing and reassuring to find an acoustic artist (singer/songwriter, whatever ye prefer) with a firm sense of their own identity whilst continuing to explore it through their art, music and lyrics. Bottom line, this is a great record from front to back and comes strongly recommended.

You can grab a copy and check out the other records/merch in the distro on the MTAT BigCartel page.