Band battles….. NOPE!

When I decided to put Charlywood together Fabian was the first drummer who answered the ad. We started talking about music and our attitude towards it as performers. One of the things that came up in that conversation was a statement that we both immediately agreed on: “Band battles are bullsh*t”

Let me just clarify, having a night with lots of bands playing a short set is a great idea and allows new bands much needed stage time but there is something about picking a “winner” from these types of shows that doesn’t add up.

Scenario one

Lets just say that there is an “expert” jury of music industry bigwigs (which there normally never are) The opinion of such a panel would carry a lot of weight. But these are people who become successful by carrying one question in mind: “how much money can we make from this music?” The winner would therefore be picked based on this measurement of worth. I read somewhere that Mumford and sons were passed around a number of major record labels before one finally had the nerve the release their first album. Hardly any of the labels were convinced that they could make money with this type of music and therefore no one wanted to touch them.

So selecting a band based on their similarity to bands that have made lots of money before is obviously not a sure-fire system……. But then comes the obvious question: is the ability to generate cash even a good way of applying worth to music?

Scenario two

So what if the jury is made up of musicians? Surely they must be in a position to pass judgement on another band?!…………. NOPE!

Just because I don’t enjoy a band or a set that they played, and all my learned beard-stroking colleagues took their pipes out of their mouths to agree with me, doesn’t mean that hundreds of thousands of people all over the world wouldn’t have a major life changing experience if they got this music all up inside their earholes.

You either like music or you don’t. But it is arrogant and conceited to think that your opinion is FACT when it comes to music. And by the same rationale no one is qualified to tell you what music is “good” or “bad” unless you decide to give them that power because you tend to agree with their opinion on a lot of music.

Scenario three

The audience choose the winner with the volume of their applause. This instantly makes the whole competition into a social networking exercise whereby the band that manages to get the most people to the venue wins. Venue owners LOVE this one because it means that the bar is full and they can rake in their precious monies. But again, just because a large crowd of your friends agree that your band is way better than all the others playing that night, doesn’t make it a fact, just a popular opinion in that room which may turn out totally differently in front of a crowd of strangers who are really into Russian chansons or Epic doom metal.

So there you go, it may be a good time for the audience and bands but that is where it should end. Drawing any sort of conclusions about the value of bands based on the results of band battles is clearly daft, to put it politely.

Write your experiences of ludicrous or unlikely band battle results below, WAS THEY ROBBED!!!??

Charlywood out.

See if we win the band battle between your ears (the only one that really matters)

Gathering our strength

Guilty Pleasures

The first proper Charlywood blog is dedicated to a topic that most of us have to deal with throughout our lives. The compartmentalisation of people based on their music taste and even worse, the restriction of our musical taste based on who we think we are (or who we want to be) as people.

For most of us our musical taste begins in our pre-teen years and it is an important part of the vital process of identifying ourselves as separate individuals to our parents. We start to choose the music that touches us and that we identify with and for most people (especially musicians) it is a big part of what makes us who we are as adults.

However, there is a dark and disadvantageous side to this. Somewhere during this process we start to use the music that people enjoy to label each other, many people I knew as a teenager even went so far as to instantly reject people as potential friends based on their musical taste.

I always thought of this as a bit of a shame but I guess that this is just another aspect of this process of finding out who you are, humans need to feel like they belong to groups and music is a very convenient way of doing this.

Then adulthood dawns (or punches you in the teeth as the case may be) and music becomes less central to most peoples lives (unless they are musos) as responsibilities and other demands take their attention to other things. However, this teenage process leaves us slightly crippled as adults when it comes to the kinds of music that we allow ourselves to experience.

I can use my musical history to illustrate what I mean:

My critical teenage years were spent listening to (and sometimes playing) Nirvana, the Foo fighters, Mud honey, Dinosaur junior, Pearl jam, Sound garden, NIN and the like. I had the appropriate haircut and dressed in tattered flannel shirts. You could have pigeon-holed me into the “grunge” category.

A person with a similar musical history may then identify with certain attitudes and emotions and even after peer pressure has lessened in adult life they will not let themselves enjoy certain types of music because there is an attitude as to what it is cool and acceptable to like. Maybe you secretly enjoy something but keep quiet about it because other people might judge you for it. These are the guilty pleasures.

The major problem I have with this phenomenon is that calling them guilty pleasures suggests that there is something bad about this music. It’s not like allowing certain types of music into our ears will give us lung cancer or make us clinically obese (unlike the guilty pleasures of smoking or over-eating) Music is just a collection of organised sounds that touch us emotionally or physically or not. End of story.

It is something we experience subjectively and we really shouldn’t deny ourselves the potential pleasure it can bring to our lives just because we think it doesn’t fit with our own construction of who we are, or worse, who we want others to THINK we are (lies and deception!!!!).

There plenty of things in life that it may be useful to feel guilty about because we will may get some health benefits from changing them but music certainly isn’t one of them! Just open your ears and your mind and if you like it let it happen.

I will finish with a quote from Dave Grohl, who has this to say about guilty pleasures in an interview with Marc Maron:

“I don’t believe in guilty pleasures, if you f*cking like something, LIKE IT! (…) don’t f*cking think it’s not cool to like Britney Spear’s “Toxic”, it is f*cking cool to like Britney Spears Toxic, why not!?”

So what do you say internet? Are there any pieces of music that you love but you know that you are not “supposed” to? Let me know in the comments below.


Charlywood out

The Grohl inteview in full can be heard here

Listen to the music that Charlywood make here


Skiing about artichokes

To rougly paraphrase a music quote that I read somewhere online: “writing about music is like skiing about artichokes” but here goes…….

This is the inaugural post for the indie pop rock 4-piece Charlywood and despite the fact that it is in-arguably better to experience music directly, I (Andy the frontman) have decided that it might nevertheless be worth throwing out the odd blog about our progress.

You can expect some descriptions of the creative process, things that we are doing to bring the music to the people, successes, failures (if you never fail you are not going about things correctly) tips and tricks and the odd bit of philosophising.

Just to give you an idea of progress so far: The band has existed in its current lineup for less than a year we have self-released two EPs and a single and played a fair number of gigs here in Vienna and done a tour of the UK (my homeland) We are also in contact with a couple of record labels about making an album. All the songs are written, we are just looking at financing the bugger, SO many options…..

Right, that’ll do for the first one. Please use the comments section to suggest any topics that you would be particularly interested in reading about. If not I shall just think of something.