Two Lights – A Response

Just now, I read a post on Gawker titled; “No One Tell These Rich Kids They’re Wasting $100,000 trying to be indie rock stars” .  While that says pretty much all there is to say in response, I’m going to delve a little deeper into it.  The piece links to a Time article written by these douchebags, in a band called Two Lights,  about how difficult it is to be in a band.  Let me summarize.

Abner and Harper Willis have parents who have paid over $100,000 for them to be musicians.  Lessons, gear, rent, publicity, studio time, all of it.  And poor Abner and Harper, have had to turn down day jobs where they could make minimum wage, in order to struggle to be rock stars.  (please never use that term)   They have played such prestigious venues as The Mercury Lounge and Highline Ballroom, they’ve gotten “some press” and all of that. Also, let me grab a tissue, because all the money they make at shows goes to pay for their drummer.  And cabs!  The dreaded cabs they must take to carry their gear!  WHERE IS FEMA ON THIS SHIT?

Now that there is literally smoke coming out of my ears, let me discuss this a bit.

Dearest Abner and Harper,

My name is Steven Weiss, I’m 28 and live in New York.  No one aside from my employers contribute to my finances.  I have a full time job, student loans, and play in a band too!  I also rent a space in Brooklyn!  I also have played venues such as these!  I’ve even played some bigger ones!  Also some smaller ones!  We’re pretty much twinsies!  Since there are 2 of you, were triplitsies!  I have a very simple response.  Fuck you both.  You’re making a mockery of anyone who tries to make an honest go of being a musician without the luxuries you have both been afforded.

Where do you get the giant inflated monster balls to write something like this?  Of course it’s hard to be a musician.  No one is going to pay you to play your own music.  That’s not why you do it.  You want to get paid, write commercial music or jingles (nothing wrong with either of those, its a legit skill and job)  but no one will pay your salary to be in an indie band.

Here’s the thing.  In that little video you posted, you can clearly see that no one is in the audience at the Highline Ballroom, and that line you show outside the Mercury Lounge is for the dance club next door.  That line is always there, and its never for the Mercury Lounge.  Hiring a publicist to do email blasts does not get you fans.  It doesn’t get music blogs to like you.  In fact, it might have the exact opposite effect.  You think people can’t identify a faceless email blast?

We live in a time where anyone playing music is extremely lucky.  Its more in our own hands than any time in history.  We don’t need record labels.  We barely need recording studios.  A&R men are irrelevant.  We don’t need traditional distribution.  But because of this, there is a higher standard than ever before.  Anything can be put out there, but anything that is shitty can just as well be forgotten.  Wonder why you’re not famous?

The fact that you whined about having to turn down low paying day jobs literally makes me want to fight you.  I am not a violent person, but you have awoken such a primal rage in my soul, that I fear I may never be able to turn it off.  I work 40 hours a week.  I rent a monthly practice space which I have a few days a week after work, then take a train to rehearse with a band on weekends.  When I have a show far from my house and I cannot borrow some type of car, I take the train.  I take cabs, but that is a luxury.  Have you ever taken a subway with a 20″ bass drum, snare drum, and cymbal bag?  Your shoulders are not so forgiving the next day.

Economically, being a musician in a city is nearly impossible.  It costs tons of money to have a practice space, maintain your gear, get to shows, pay rent, all of that.  But you fucking buy used gear.  You share a shit rehearsal space off the JMZ or G with 3 other bands.  You use shitty house gear. You beg your friends to come to shows.  You live in a place with roommates.  You record your album in that rehearsal space on whatever gear you have.  Stop fucking complaining. You want to go to a studio?  Get a job at a studio.  That’s what I did.

Having your family pay for your struggle, takes the struggle out of the equation. It negates it.  It takes away your right to complain.  And as a New York Jew, I’ve EARNED my right to complain, and I take full advantage of that.  You sirs, have not.

10 thoughts on “Two Lights – A Response”

  1. Have you heard the expression “Jealous rears it’s ugly head”? (And I do mean UGLY!) Well this is where I believe this guy’s rant is coming from. I was shocked to see anyone respond as angry and hateful as you. It is clear to anyone reading this that you are dealing with some very deep hurtful personal issues. I’m sure if you had financial help from your family you would not turn it down either. It is so obvious you are simply jealous they have had the support from their family and you have not been so fortunate. That does not mean they are not talented and dedicated to what they are doing and love. There are many professional people who have had to work there way through school and there are people who have had help from their family and grants. Does that make them less of a doctor or lawyer or what ever profession they went it to? To strike out so violently is a sign of a very troubled person. Nothing I read in the Time article should have unleashed such a reaction in my opinion. You need to do some sole searching and find out what is at the bottom of all that rage. I hope the very best for you but do not try to topple others in order to lift yourself. Get the much need help you need.

  2. LOVED your response to the article by Two Lights. I play in a band in LA (and therefore can only imagine commuting via subway with drum gear–makes me feel spoiled). But the rage I feel inside toward these guys is palpable. It makes my neck hurt.
    Anyway, keep up the good writing. You were able to articulate my exact thoughts. AND if you want to see what sacrificing 10 weeks worth of fucking weekends so that you can make a music video for your band for less than $300 total dollars. Check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lRbrT05l8Y

    That’s over 2500 shots of stop motion goodness. And I think you’ll appreciate the Ninja Turtles. You know, because you live in New York too.

  3. A negative viral backlash like this is almost a scientific equation by this point.

    Let’s take one unwitting guy/girl with zero self awareness, and then make him do something with intense conviction. Anything… write a bloated passionate article for Time, choreograph a light saber routine, make a really high resolution music video to a terrible song about the weekend, whatever, then let’s all watch and see if his/her misguided earnestness actually strikes a chord with internet culture to the point of violent backlash.

    It’s actually kind of awesome.

    Either way, I can see the hater perspective on these guys, tooootally. Even when you go past the bewildering article and investigate the band, they are middle of the road songwriters with no sense of identity writing in a dead genre. They suck.

    But I feel like the backlash has been equally awkward — it’s all self righteous band dudes talking about their DIY cred acting like they’re fucking Fugazi or something. I’M THE REAL FACE OF A STRUGGLING MUSICIAN, NO ONE HELPS ME OUT, I BOUGHT MY FIRST BASS WHEN I WAS NINE YEARS OLD BY DIGGING THROUGH THE DUMPSTER OUTSIDE MY ORPHANAGE AND HUSTLING SPARE METAL OFF THE TURNPIKE. I LEARNED TO SING FROM “BLIND” SPLINTER MCGEE IN AN ABANDONED SILO OUTSIDE OF BATON ROUGE. WHAT THE FUCK IS A “PARENT”?

    I’m not defending those Two Lights dolts, but monetarily speaking, their financial statement wasn’t even that crazy. They included like several years of expenses in that $100,000 figure, split up between multiple people.

    Go through your own finances, see how much you have spent on living situations, hobbies, transportation, etc over the last four or five years. If you own a small business, which is what a serious band is, even better. It’s probably pretty comparable to Two Lights. MONETARILY SPEAKING.

    The egregious nature of WHAT they included in the lists is another story. But look at them. They seem pretty green. Their parents love them and want them to be happy, big deal. If you get stressed at the fact that some rich people waste their money on their talentless spoiled children then you’re gonna have a heart attack by age 35. Relax chief!

    I think the larger blunder is TIME MAGAZINE??? Who the fuck let Harper and Abner share their worthless experience with Time? Who the fuck names their kids Harper and Abner?

    Anyone else enjoy the intense irony of the name Two Lights btw? God Bless those little idiots.

  4. Bob Lefsetz has just covered this debacle, and included the excellent detective work of Steven Weiss (exposing the fake ‘line-up’ for the act) in an article called ‘Time Magazine Band.’ I’m wondering if they will remove the video, now they got caught by Steve?

    here:

    http://lefsetz.com/wordpress/

    PS: Interesting defensive reactions on the band’s twitter feed ‘didn’t meant to offend’ etc. they have reached 111 followers!

    thx!

  5. DIY is definitely the way to go. A dedicated musician on a low budget has access to all these things for a fraction of the cost (sharing, trading, selling, staying up late, scaling down, etc..)

    By the way, Jason, I love the Remainers stop motion video, great song too. I can relate to the sacrifice of time when it comes to making a stop-motion video for the band. I just did one for mine, you can check it out here:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2qTiKCC-tM

    Take care

  6. “AND if you want to see what sacrificing 10 weeks worth of fucking weekends so that you can make a music video for your band for less than $300 total dollars. Check this out:”

    Jason,
    I read that line and thought, “What the hell were you doing that it took TEN weekends?!”. Then I clicked the link and thought, “Oh…well, that makes sense now.”. Nice video. That was a ballsy shot where the guys were walking on the window and you could see the clouds in the background. Y’all must’ve been working fast. Also, I love the way y’all inserted live band footage but didn’t break the look of the stop-motion.

  7. Well, thanks everyone for furthering the discussion.

    Jason, awesome video. I’ve loved stop motion ever since seeing Zappa’s Baby Snakes.

    I’m gathering up my “jealous rage against two lights” and formulating a response right now.

  8. None of this would be so bad if it was on their own dime, but forcing their parents to pay for it just turns the entire story around. It’s really the parents feeling all the hardship while they complain that they should be more famous than they are.

    While 100k over several years isn’t terrible, my guess is that if it was their own money, and they were working to earn it, they’d suddenly find cheaper ways to get equipment and realize that you don’t necessarily need an instructor to get better at playing an instrument or singing.

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