Fascinating account of the period following Nirvana’s Nevermind during which record companies booted their flagship pop and hair metal acts to the curb in favor of noisy “bands with one-word titles, like Truckdriver.”
Ah, those heady last days of the seven-album-deal-with-“recoupable”-advance.
Too much good stuff to quote:
Every major label sent platoons of A&R scouts all over the world, armed with yearly expense budgets of up to $100,000 to wine and dine every halfway-decent (or sometimes not-decent-at-all) band in flannel shirts making dissonant guitar noise. Helmet, an unknown band that had Nirvana’s bludgeoning power but none of its radio-friendly melodies, signed to Interscope Records for a reported $1 million. Dave Katznelson, a Warner Bros. Records A&R vice president, paid In the Red Records’ Larry Hardy $5,000 per band to simply alert him to new discoveries, such as the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Virgin Records spent more than $1 million on Royal Trux, not realizing there were only two people in the band; Jennifer Herrema and Neil Hagerty had to scramble to find musicians to back them so they could play a showcase at Los Angeles’ Viper Room, on the Sunset Strip, for the many label scouts involved in that bidding war.
Content warning, for details on the death of Mia Zapata. But also: a twist ending worth getting to.
I wasn’t sure how well Jeff VanderMeer’s surreal cli-fi story was going to translate to the big screen, but it’s been adapted by Alex Garland, who wrote Ex Machina and Sunshine — surreal is kind of his thing.
Women from around the world delve into Lovecraftian depths, penning and illustrating a variety of Weird horrors. The pale and secretive Lavinia wanders through the woods, Asenath is a precocious teenager with an attitude, and the Ancient Egyptian pharaoh Nitocris has found a new body in distant America. And do you have time to hear a word from our beloved mother Shub-Niggurath?
Unlike their predecessors, internet celebrities thrive on a radical accessibility. [Peter] Hollens, for example, has built his current a cappella career on subverting the rock star mystique. He’s got an easy answer for why there are so few fellow musicians topping Patreon’s charts: “Musicians are a product. We have a difficult time conveying to the audience that we’re people,” he says. “I’m a person first and a musician second, because that’s the best angle to take to succeed in the future as a musician. It’s very difficult to have that come across when you have, like, a slick produced audio and visual thing.” His music videos are complex and stylish, but he ends each one by earnestly addressing the camera, breaking the fourth wall between him and his audience.
In this system, it’s almost impossible to separate a work of art from its creator — or, at least, its creator’s public persona. Is there a future for someone who wants to be a musician, but not a personality? “No. I don’t think so,” Hollens says. “I don’t think the reclusive thing is going to happen anymore. That’s not the world we live in. Like, the Brad Pitts of the world” — distant celebrities who are loved from afar — “are losing value.”
Jason Bieler, formerly of the band Saigon Kick, regales us with stories of his waxing and waning fortunes in the 90s music industry. So great.
wrap up the clearly stellar presentation and Andy says a few very kind things about the music and the ideas and then finishes with…this is awesome and we would love to have you on board, unfortunately WEA just shut down new label acquisitions for remainder of the year and we have no clear indication when we will be able to do this, or if we will at all in the future.
What…who…I don’t…spinning, vomit rising…do not pass out. I think I muttered a few things like a guy who was punched so hard his brain had not yet told him he had been knocked the fuck out…so he stumbles around for a few secs before he hits the floor. Great, thanks, brilliant no no this is perfect thanks again, I shake a few hands and leave.
I remember pulling on the handles of the large glass exit door the wrong way and it making a cacophonous horrible sound that alerted everyone in the office DEAD MAN WALKING.