Category: Music

Creative by Proxy

Ive always thought of myself as an original and unique person with a gift for providing a fresh perspective on any situation, but thats only because I take all my concepts, philosophies and opinions from the most interesting of the people I surround myself with. 

Of late two of them are getting some good exposure and I wanted to share that with the 2 people who read this blog (one of which is featured below):

Graphic Design is like the Psychology major or Dave Matthews Band of careers.  Anyone who had no motivation or couldnt figure out what they wanted to with their life decided to be a Graphic Designer.  The one common thread among them all is their inability to deliver on a time line and their belief that because they work in a creative role they are not bound to the same rules everyone else plays by in the business world. 

Enter Austin Lee Watts III, an old friend that morphed from a very diligent bar-back in Philly into a creative and surprisingly professional designer.  Like me he has also ventured away from a secure 9-5 job, where he worked in the fashion district of NYC for a rather well-known apparel company, to start his own “art direction studio”, One Day Vacation. Much like my decision, this may not have been the most fiscally sound move, particularly in this economic climate,  but looks like it was a gamble that is starting to pay off . I guess now that hes not designing meaningless t-shirt vector art for the teenage section of your local department store, conceptualization is bit more uninhibited.  He designed the Westwind logo for me by the way.  He recently got some love from a well respected design blog:

 Beautiful/Decay Design Blog: Austin Watts

Until I was 20 I thought Id make my mark in life working in the recording industry. One summer at a major label in Hollywood quickly changed my mind and I decided 16 hours a day in front of a computer with no human interaction would be far more rewarding, if not more attune to my neurosis. On occasion Ive ventured back into thinking it would be fun to do something related to music and sometimes actually attempted it (Bashment Magazine and Matt Sheehy show with Rachel comes to mind) but reality always brings me back to my inanimate friend. 

Luke Roberts has managed to keep himself in a constant state of disillusionment for the better part of 20 years and has proved that while ignorance may not be bliss, it certainly can get you some amazing bragging rights. Recently he opened up for Thurston Moore, not really sure how that happened but it did and last month he released his first solo album on Ecstatic Peace Records, Moores record label. While im sure it would pain him to hear me say this as every says he looks like Beck, but the albums somewhat reminiscent of Becks – One Foot in the Grave, minus the schizophrenia and a bit less dissonance (its meant as a compliment, if you took it otherwise youre just a very negative person and nothing good will come in your life). You can get the MP3s off eMusic or buy the CD here:

Luke Roberts – Big Bells and Dime Songs

The Splinter Shards The Birth Of Totally Rad Album Art


So what do I miss about the United States? Well, besides Mexican food and an-effecient-elevator-system-that-wont-pass-your-floor-3-times-before-stopping-and-will-let-you-go-UP-when-youre-on-the-25th-floor-and-want-to-go-to-the-30th-floor, not a whole lot. But for sure I miss driving in my car by myself and singing.  I really think its where the majority of us feel the most comfortable or vulnerable.  And if you are having difficulty believing or understanding the point Im trying to make, let me present the following cases.  The names and places may have been changed to protect the guilty…or maybe Ill just use the real names to mess with your heads:    

  1. I can remember going to “parties” (infer what you want between the quotes but this is a public blog so Im keepin’ it PG) and spendin’ 30 minutes to an hour inside pretending like I knew how to dance, attempting conversation or just standing in the corner. The remainder of the time was spent in my car listening to music.  Often friends would join me but not always.  The best was when one actually brought some new music with them. I found Lamb, Moloko, June of 44, Refused and more that way. In fact I was first introduced to Modest Mouse this way (in 1997, so yeah, I can say “before they were cool” unless you were in the emo scene, then I guess it was always cool or maybe it was cool for them not to be cool but now Im just loosing my train of thought).  We started listening to This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About and then moving on to some demos. After about 3 or 4 hours of sitting in the car with the air conditioner on I realized we were almost out of gas, prompting a short trip across the street to Circle K for gas then back to the parking lot for more music.
  2. I had a 1990 Chevy Lumina, it was my first car that my dad bought me in the summer ’97. Although it didnt have the best stereo (factory and the right side was dead) it didnt stop my friend from smashing my review mirror while borrowing it in what was described to me as an emotional reaction to listening to the Zao album The Splinter Shards the Birth of Separation album  (I know, youre thinking what Im thinking and yes, that is the most badass album name ever in the history of man kind).  True, I could have been mad, but to be quite honest, I had had a similar reaction many times in the car, Im just a little more coordinated than him.
  3. The last line to the previous example my not have been completely true. In October of 2004 I was driving a 1986 Honday Prelude.  The front bumper was held on by a coat hanger and there was duck tape on the sun roof to prevent the water from getting in, which was completely unsuccessful because every time the car was parked on an incline, water got in, shooting freezing water on my head and neck at the first stop sign.  This prompted me to take out a loan and buy a 2000 Volvo S40. This beautiful car looked like a low profile BMW with out the pompousness or price tag. It also had a kick ass stereo. During the first month of ownership I would come up with excuses to go to the store, gas station or other meaningless errands just to drive and listen to my music.  During this period I was having a bit of a regression to the mid to late 90s and was listening to Refused’ seminal release, The Shape of Punk to Come: A Chimerical Bombination in 12 BurstsI guess I got caught up in the moment and during a particularly aggressive reaction to the music i cracked the windshield. In my defence windshields are made to break from the inside more easily, perhaps for this very reason.


    Its important for me to stop here and explain to you the importance of this album, not just for me. Without giving too long of a history of  Middle School, Post and New School Punk Rock Hardcore music, lets just say this album was truly a master piece. It was an album that was released in 1998.  In 1998 the standard hardcore release was along the lines of Victory Records, Trustkill and Equal Vision.  Bands like Botch, Dillinger Escape PlanDarkest Hour and Locust certainly brought some originality to the genre, but it was nothing accessible to a general audience.  Refused introduced the masses to a new kind of organized, focused and slightly melodic angst.    

    The Locust get intimate


  5.  In 1998 at the same time that I was claiming my elegance to sub, counter, non-mainstream music and culture I started listening to two bands that I could never admit to my friends, MxPx and Blink-182.  As a personal joke I would make my friend and roommate around this time, who was into experimental and minimalist music, listen to Blink-182’s album Enima of the State.  After a year of rare irresponsibility and shirking responsibility on my part, we were evicted from our apartment and had to part ways. On the way to the train station I put on the song Whats My Age Again as a final homage to our one year in exile from reality and to be obnoxious one more time.  Half way through the song we were booth cry like babies, not so much because of the song, although that had a lot to do with it, but we both had our own things goin’ on.

I think the person that summed up the spiritual effect of listening to music in a car was Garrison Keillor (do you like contrast here, going from emo to hardcore to poppy punk rock to gospel singer, i hope you all appreciate the diversity Im incorporating) on his CD Garrison Keillor and the Hopeful Gospel Quartet:    

There were us, the 4 of us and our best friend Raymond J. Larson, we used to drive around and park in his ’58 Oldsmobile.  We didnt drink, we didnt smoke, us sanctified brethren kids, we just thought about sex all the time. I thought about it about 4000 times a day.  We’d park in the car on Saturday nights; Our parents always made the 5 of us go together, thinking that the odd number would confuse us.  And it did, but it didnt get it off my mind.  Thats how we started out singing really, was in that car.  We started out our quartet as a quintet, trying to avoid having sex. Late on Saturday nights we’d sing and the harmonies would come back off the windshield, back towards us, like singing in the shower except with your cloths on.    

If you make it to the end youre ready for the apocalypse.


A couple more astute notes on this:

  1. Is this kid really so insecure that he has be winning the video game at the beginning?
  2. I know Usher thinks hes the successor to Micheal Jackson but could someone please tell him he doesnt have to emulate Jacksons penchant for young boys?