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.