Updated. Follow jump for additional info.
Tom Hendricks announced today that he is opening his record company to any indie musician who wants to be on a label.
"Do you need a record company? Well you are welcome to be a part of MUSEA, my 16 year old zine's record company. It's free, you can be a part of it today and it will have no ties on either of us," he writes on Musea's blog.
Hendricks' name should be familiar to regular DC9 readers. A frequent commenter, his comment-section diatribes against the stale state of rock music frequently provoke arguments that veer far from the story topic. He frequently mocks the very idea of bands as outdated and tries to encourage a revolution in the arts.
For more than a year, I made the mistake of dismissing Hendricks' comments as the ramblings of a kook. In fact, I'm ashamed to admit, I didn't even check out his music until very recently. Then a few nights ago, after one of his jibes against the boring bands playing SXSW really got my goat, I decided to check out the musical stylings of his ridiculously named musical project, Hunkasaurus And His Pet Dog Guitar.
And I realized he is right.
Hendricks' songs are revolutionary in their simplicity--just his voice and an acoustic guitar. More importantly, he actually writes songs with a narrative and characters, lyrics that mean something more than pretty-sounding syllables or standard-issue "baby, I miss you" sentiment. Suddenly some of my favorite bands sounded so trite in comparison. As much as I used to love the music of Radiohead, Wilco, Wolf Parade and so many other bands, their music now sounds kind of stale in comparison. Worse, it feels as if these musicians I used to admire are just using electric guitars, effects pedals, electronics and drums to hide shortcomings in their ability to actually write a hit song.
Even though he has frequently knocked the Observer for being clueless about music, Hendricks was kind enough to answer a few questions.
How long have you had the idea that rock is becoming stale, and was there a particular moment in music history that signaled the end of rock's significance?
Since at least 1992 When I began my zine Musea. From day one it has been a publication that supports the best of indie artists of all kinds, and indie media, and against the abuses of corporate arts and media.
What sets you and the musicians you admire apart from the bands you mock?
1. It's part of the all arts and media revolution.
2. It's against corporate art or the control of 80% of the music biz by 4 dinosaur conglomerates whose parent companies control many other arts and media. See wikipedia for "concentration of media ownership".
3. It's against bands, the 60 year old played out tradition of sameness.
4. It's against rock that has become everything it started out opposing - dull, boring, established, etc.
5. Specifically the music is back to basics -It's called Post-Bands music, and builds on rock like rock was built on other musics. It is the first world music open to all. It can be played anywhere. Songwriting is important. Melody is back. Guitar, bass and drum bands are out. It's more honest and less trendy. Post bands music is the first new music of the century.
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Tell me about your history as a musician. Did you start out with bands, or have you always had the "post-bands" approach?
Started out in many bands. This was 1967 when combo's or groups, they weren't called bands. They were trying to stand out not fit in. Innovation was important, and rock was a rebellious music, not an established boredom. As rock became Disneyfied, as early as the seventies and eighties, I dumped it and moved on.
You talk a lot about the need to be innovative in presentation, with your own performances in the Inwood box office as an example. Why is this so important? Shouldn't the music stand on its own, without a gimmicky presentation?
Sure. I'll put my songs and songwriting skills against anyone. And look at my lyrics they say something, say something important or fun, and they say it well. I have a guitar style that plays bass, lead, and rhythm all at once. The box office concerts are just one of many things to shake the dull establishment. I also purposely use a 1964 standard silvertone guitar from Sears. It's a protest against over production and the excesses of rock performance, equipment, musical arrangements, concert prices, and all the rest.
Are there ANY rock bands left that are worth a damn?
Probably not if they call themselves a band. If you can't even think up another name, you're probably pretty boring.
BUT here's the first list - the first world wide list of best music from myspace and youtube. AFAIK I am the first to purposely search these for the best 100. The internet has allowed there to be a world music for the first time.
Musea's Worldwide Favorite Music LIST
"100 Plus Favorite Music from Youtube and Myspace"
Also today, April First, I've opened my 16-year-old small record company, Musea (formerly 12 By 12), to all musicians. They can have a record co. with no obligation, just good promotion for them, and me and the art revolution.
Update: Yes, this was an April Fool's joke - kind of. Tom really is opening his label to other musicians. But, while I do appreciate his music, I wouldn't go so far as to say it renders bands obsolete. Thanks to Tom for going along with it.