At the beginning of this year, Momus (known around the house as Nick Currie) began soliciting participants for a "portrait album" he was calling Stars Forever. The idea: People would give Momus $1,000 to write and record a song about them, and they would become "stars forever" when he released the album. Or something like that. Momus borrowed the idea of patronage from artists such as Rembrandt, who created some of his best paintings when he was on someone else's dime. Momus, who performs at the Gypsy Tea Room on November 6, wasn't quite as successful with his odes to The Minus 5, Minty Fresh, Girlie Action, Jeff Koons, and the rest of the 30 bands, publicity companies, record stores, labels, and regular citizens that parted with a grand to hear their name in a song. It's hard to pay attention long enough to hear anyone's name, because Stars Forever is just...so...boring. We'd pay him not to write a song about us.
The money would be better spent in the hands of Jon "Corn Mo" Cunningham and John Freeman, who have hijacked Momus' idea and slashed the price, offering their songwriting services for $500 a pop, or best offer," says Freeman. Five hundred bucks gets you one song by Cunningham or Freeman (under the nom de rock Dutch Treats) or both, depending on what you're in the mood for. Cunningham and Freeman came up with the idea (or at least decided to swipe Momus' idea) on the way to a They Might Be Giants concert a few weeks ago. "We figured since that guy ripped off the idea from early artists, it would be OK to rip it off from him," Cunningham says. "We might do a double album if there are enough people interested."
The disc (or discs) is still in the talking stage, but Cunningham and Freeman have made it a top priority, since the funds generated by the project would help pay for all the other ideas they both have but don't have the cash to do anything about. Together, they've come up with more bands than most record stores, but only The Dooms U.K. has managed to end up on CD. If Cunningham and Freeman's own version of the portrait album is a success, that ratio should change drastically, which is a good thing for the most part, although the idea of the two of them with enough money to make some of their ideas a reality is more than a little frightening.
"I think it could be really interesting if there's enough people who'll support it," Freeman says. "I know there's some people out there who'd like to be made famous. So it's a service project." He laughs. "I specialize in taking semi-good ideas from other people and doing them right." Interested parties should inquire about the project at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're buying two.