Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bubble boy bounces back

The Lefsetz Music analysis letter had taken a fairly roboust view of the Cartel stunt (they're the band making a record in a big bubble). Despite the claims that they'd only have "limited" contact with outside world, singer Will Pugh has responded with a very, very long justification:

See, we only have one record. We’re about to record our 2nd. People don’t really know us from any other band on the radio or mtv. All that is about to change. This bubble shit is stirring up all kinds of dust around the music world. Its something people find ridiculous. People think we’re crazy, sellouts, whores and everything else negative they can think of. Some people see it as cool. (I would venture to say that most of these people don’t have their head up their asses about music in the sense that they don’t think they are the definitive source on music knowledge or "what’s wrong with the industry"). The big point is that people who have never heard of us are hearing about us now. I know that great bands get out there some way…..but how long does that take. Even the upstarts from left field don’t have a career long enough to even call them road tested…..shit, some of them have played less than 100 shows ever by the time they "make it".

[...]

This marketing scheme shows the world that we are a real band with real inspiration and real songs. Not some american idol winner or a label lottery contestant. People get to see us do what we do under intense pressure and scrutiny and still hit a fucking grand slam while in the meantime people in your position are hating like there’s no tomorrow on a band that they know little to nothing about.

No, Will, it doesn't show you to be anything of the sort - because, at the end of the stunt, you're going to be "the bubble band boys". Whatever else you do. You may be great artists, but when desire for fame persuades you to put on a silly wig, a pair of outsized comedy glasses and repeat catchphrases, that's what you become. That's what you are now.

Pugh then goes on to have a go at what I suspect only severe self control spared him from labeling "h8ers and hipsters":
Popular music is still the standard. Every legendary artist is the most popular at what they do and have accrued many platinum records……why? Because millions of people like their music….not the 500k or so indie kids who are too busy sucking their thumbs to realize that a really good band is being passed by because they "soldout".

Although the time sits heavily on his hands, he hasn't found time to think this through: "every legendary artist is the most popular at what they do" - really? So, then, Eric Clapton isn't a legend, as he's sold fewer records than McCartney? And someone like Ivor Cutler doesn't count as a legend at all on this scale because he's not sold many records. We've argued before that simply selling records doesn't really mean that you're the best liked artist - it just means that you're quite liked by a lot of people; it certainly is no guarantor of quality or of depth of inspiration you provide to others. A simple glance at the charts any week should have alerted Pugh to this fact.

Ah, but he has a rejoinder:
Call this my manifesto but for one I’m sick of all the ninnies running around acting like they know anything about what it takes to create music. To all of them and you I ask……where’s your albums?

Well, I might not have made any records. But neither have I pissed away weeks of my life like some Victorian fairground curiosity in a big bubble making a record.

What Cartel are doing is not about trying to make a recording which will resonate with people; they're trying to sell records. It's possibly no less a noble aim, but Mr. Pugh, you are making an exhibition of yourself in the name of commerce, not art.


4 comments:

George said...

"you are making an exhibition of yourself in the name of commerce, not art."

Doesn't this cover every band interview, every HMV signing session etc.? Since when was "band promotion" in the name of art?

simon h b said...

That's a fair point, George - but the need to make a living makes a play-off between art and commerce inevitable; but there's a world of difference between talking to Spin Magazine and turning yourself into a circus sideshow.

jia said...

Okay so yeah, they are doing band in a bubble or whatever and to some people they just may be known as the "band in a bubble band". But to others they're great! Their lyrics & music are inspiring. All you are is just one of the people who are angry because I don't even know why. Yeah, I just read the page before I wrote this but your point is? Are you mad because they can make money and become more known? It's not like no one knows them because they do have a large fan base. They're a hard working band and they don't deserve so much shit. That's part of the business, I know, but from what I read they're taking it well.:)GO CARTEL!

simon h b said...

Jia, you mistake pity for anger. You put your finger exactly on what the problem is - regardless of how great they are, they will now, forever, be "the bubble boy band"; they've fallen for the line that there's no such thing as bad publicity. There is.

From what I can gather, they're not a "wacky" band, but whatever they're trying to say is forever obscured by this stunt which makes them seem wacky. It's akin to the Ordinary Boys - doomed from the moment Preston set foot in the Celebrity Big Brother house. They've sold out their art for a shot at fame. And they've done a very, very bad deal.

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