Wednesday, May 18, 2016

EIB Record Titles

I have had many friends that are masters of appropriating pre-existing material . It is a form of creation, that views with a critical eye, the creations of others, and steals to make it one’s own. Many of my actor friends are good at this, it is also a technique that Ben Weasel used on almost every Screeching Weasel record title. I was never very good at this, this technique is often a surefire way to capture an audiences attention. You have to have a keen understanding of pop culture, and underground trends, and how to accurately listen to the pulse of your audience. I can never sense things too far outside myself to use such tools. With many elements of Even In Blackouts, it was my goal to be wholly me, in the moment and hoping to discover a few universal truths, not appropriating a complete concept but to borrow parts and mingle them with my own jumbled ideas. (Of course, mixed and influenced by the amazing creative voices of the musicians and friends I have been able to work with.)
(What I nurtured through my love of 70s concept records combined with Ben Weasels take on it, was to admit that during a period of time, an artist is creating from a certain point of view, and one cannot escape from this point of view, until the facets of it have been fully explored. So in Screeching Weasel then with me in Even In Blackouts, we began to explore loose concept records, admitting that a collection of songs marks a point in time, when although they may seem diverse, are really a study from one frame of mind, striving to be manifested through multiple perspectives.)
What follows is a music geek’s interpretation of my album titles for Even In Blackouts:
Myths & Imaginary Magicians:
This is a reference to the first song I wrote for EIB, Missing Manifesto. The song itself is about: Will the art we make excuse the behavior we conduct while achieving our goals? If we create good art it justifies our self destruction and our asshole behavior to others, if it does not create impressive art, we are just another asshole in a sea of stupidity. It also had to do with the idea of trying to live up to a perception of the self from the outside, do we become what we are perceived to be? Do we fight against what others believe us to be? How do we just try to be ourselves when the myth gains strength over time? The imaginary magicians part was my criticism of this striving to be in control of your own myth, to me it is like striving to be a magician with no audience that really matters, complicating our relationships because it seems enigmatic and complex. (This album is predominately about my obsession with my friend Peter’s Suicide and the decaying of my working relationship with Ben Weasel.)
Four Shadows on a Wall:
This is a title that I worked on with Dan Lipman. Even In Blackouts uses, as themes, glowing, shadows, and the affect of light, as a metaphor for trying to find meaning in our lives through the pursuit of art as a living, and also a more literal reference to being able to play in blackouts. The concept behind the title is more about fun wordplay than meaning. Most of the meaning came after the title was decided. Dan and I liked the concept of combining the fact that there was now only four of us with the idea of Plato’s shadows on the wall of a cave. And when Dan brought this up, I was excited, because it alluded to my prior themes of trying to break through the illusions to see what is really there. Is it just shadows? Are we just superficial? Can we actually get to a deeper meaning through the used of lyrics and music?
Zeitgeist’s Echo:
Zeitgeist, the literal translation from the German is Time Ghost, or the spirit of the times. This title was my more puffed up view of what I was trying to do with EIB. I thought I was trying to break barriers, but I was never sure if they were just barriers of my own making or barriers of music in general. I guess I was always hoping my band would be creating something unique, but ultimately what became more important is creating something I had never done before, to use guitar chords I had never used before, and to challenge Liz, who after the first record, I realized that she was an amazing singer who’s talents exceeded my own understanding of music. She helped me challenge myself. So the idea of the Echo, was a puffed up belief that in general the world was producing art that imagined itself “of the time,” but was really just living in an echo of what had happened previously. It was a title to force myself to try to break my preconceived notions of what a band was supposed to be doing.
Fall Of The House Of Even:
I had been studying the Edgar Allen Poe short story Fall Of the House of Usher, when my band began to fall apart, and all that was left was me an Liz, and a new drummer, Bice, who lived hundreds of miles away. Liz freaked out when the Lipmans left the band, and she believed it was the end. But I had experienced in Screeching Weasel a similar change of ranks between Boogada Boogada Boogada and My Brain Hurts. I knew that an overhaul like this COULD lead to a more fruitful arrangement of musicians and friends. (In this case Gub Conway & Phillip Hill) I had also been going through a break up, of a sexual nature, and much of this came out in the writing too. I had asked the new member Gub to contribute some songs, and I told him that I had been playing with the idea of decay and hauntings in the style of Edgar Allen Poe, specifically the affect of ghosts on our decision making in the present, how our baggage never really goes away. This record is where I learned that I could still commit to concept records and trust Gub to write alongside me, to join in the concept, to try his hardest to understand what I was trying to do, and to commit fully to making it work in his writing for the band. Bice and Phillip used to say that there job was to try to make musical sense out of the fucked up ideas Gub and I would create. I always liked that idea. It was comforting.
Thresholds From The Basement:
We had no label and no money. Fans helped us raise the money to build a studio in my basement and to continue onwards. The record is about doors. That is what I told Gub. I told him to write songs about the moment of walking through a doorframe. This records is about the moment of change. It is about those moments we pop out of ourselves and watch from above and witness ourselves moving from one chapter in our lives to another. The added layer I gave myself was to see this concept through very personal relations with my family. The concept behind song titles, of which we only committed partially, was to create ones that were not easily remembered. I had a good time with this for many of the songs on the record.
So, there it is. I hope you found some enjoyment in reading this, and that it may cause you to listen to these open-veined-songs we created for you.
John Jughead Pierson