Reasons Why It’s Actually Really Easy to Get Laid on Tour
Yesterday, the esteemed Noisey overlord Ben Shapiro posted a piece about why, despite the common cum-drenched perception of the rock roll lifestyle, it’s actually pretty hard to get laid while out on tour. His argument boiled down to, essentially, “Dudes in touring bands smell weird and act juvenile, plus I had a girlfriend most of the time I was on tour.”
While it’s true that I’ve never been in a band and therefore have never had a chance to take the ol’ touring van to Fuck City, Vermont—even I know that the old adage is not just “drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.” There is also a “sex” involved. So, without further adieu, here are all the reasons it’s super easy to dunk your metaphorical corndog in the human batter of your choice while on the road with your band.
THERE’S A SHIT-TON OF BOOZE
Often, touring bands don’t make too much money. It’s a shit reality that we have to deal with. Still, when a band shows up to a venue, what they don’t make in legal currency, they often make in the second-best paper known to humankind: drink tickets. Also, depending on what type of band you are, the audience is gonna get wasted at your show. If there’s one thing science has taught us, it’s that drunk people in a room tend to start making out.
Read the rest over at Noisey.
Originally, Deer Tick’s John McCauley and I had planned for this interview to take place in the form of a drinking game, but after we shotgunned our first beers we both threw up.
Every team has a mascot. In high school, our mascot was a wolverine, and every Friday one unlucky cheerleader would hop in a costume that resembled a giant furry wolf and sweat for four hours. I remember my friend Abby ended up wearing it a fair bit. Abby has more in common with Jay-Z than she ever thought she would. Jay-Z is also a mascot, in a way, but his team is basically one really scary Russian dude, and instead of wearing an uncomfortable furry outfit he has to go in front of the New York sports media, which is much, much worse.
In August, The New York Times reported that Jay-Z owned approximately one 50th of 1 percent of the newly-relocated Brooklyn Nets. That’s more of an NBA team than you or I own, but it just barely qualifies him as an “owner.” To put it into perspective, Jay invested a million dollars in the team in 2003, which is a little more than what the Nets will be paying CJ Watson—who is good at Twitter but not that great at basketball—to sit on their bench this season. Owning a sports franchise puts you firmly in the oligarch club, but Jay’s gotten a seat at the club with only a token investment.
Action Bronson is a pretty cool guy. If there’s one thing that his show last night at Music Hall of Williamsburg taught the audience, it was that. He’s cool in such a way that Wooderson from Dazed and Confused would have thought that his radness levels were off the fucking charts. That is to say that at the beginning of Bronsellino’s set, dude brought out a black grocery bag and threw its contents—a bunch of dime bags of high-grade marijuana—into the crowd. Wooderson would have shit his pants. He wouldn’t have gotten his second wind to go see Aerosmith, because he’d have been too high to live. This is just one of the highlights to be found in last night’s show.
The concert, which was free because Converse decided to sponsor it, was amazing in a distinctly “New York Hip-Hop” sort of way. There were sets full of surprise guests, and nods to the rap scenes of yore, as well as today. The bill was stacked much like metal shows are, with like a million and a half acts opening up before the main attraction hits the stage. Tanya Morgan kicked shit off, but I ended up missing them because I got in a protracted argument with the kind folks working the Music Hall doors about whether or not I could bring my friend Braxton in with me. Basically, what happened is (A), free shows are stressful as shit to security people because forty people are trying to bum-rush a door that can fit one person in at a time, and (B), the doubly kind PR person who put me on the list forgot to put down that I could bring another person in. We spent several minutes debating whether or not I could go in, and then several more debating whether or not Braxton could go in, and then even more debating whether or not my photographer actually existed. What ended up happening is that I got in, and then Meechy Darko of Flatbush Zombies snuck Braxton in when the door guys weren’t looking. I’d like to sincerely thank Meech for sneaking Brax in despite not knowing us at all, and also I’d like to sincerely apologize to the people at MHOW for taking advantage of the goddamn chaos that they had to deal with. (As a post-script, my photographer not only talked his way in but somehow wound up onstage, and after we left the show Braxton was so drunk that he ended up passing out on a street corner without his wallet or his keys. I later recovered him and put him in a cab with his roommate. To my knowledge, everyone is alive.)
We Went to a Weird Bloc Party Party Thing
As a general rule, I am never trying to go to a Fancy Hotel Party basically fucking ever. Drinks are a million dollars a pop, everyone there has more money than I do, and most of them have that air of intense, privileged prettiness that you find on that Rich Kids Of Instagram Tumblr. In order to successfully cover an event such as this, one has to have no qualms with not only interacting with these dinguses, but also, like, asking to take their picture and shit. I am not the type of person who likes to meet new people, but I am the type of person who is familiar with DJ’s and music and stuff, and I am the type of person who, when asked by the wonderful, benevolent people at VICE to cover a thing, generally do my best to cover it. My editor kindly requested that I take, “One million pictures.” I took two, because all I had was an iPhone and the lighting was terrible. One is the image that you see above of some rich people dancing (EDIT: which we didn’t post because it was terrible,) and the other is of my friend Alexi, who is a rapper who makes (very good) rap music under the name Lakutis. (EDIT: which we also didn’t post because it was terrible. He’s one of the funniest dudes I know, and was with an impossibly pretty woman who he kept referring to as his “lawyer.” He introduced Devon and I to the rapper Despot, who was very nice.
This is Lakutis. Not from this party though.
The event in question that I was sent to cover was last week’s after-party at the TriBeCa Grand hotel meant to celebrate the conclusion of the British band Bloc Party’s three-night, sold out run at Terminal 5. The DJ’s Them Jeans and Prince Baggage played, and their sets were pretty great in the sort of anonymous party-curator-rather-than-party-rocker way that certain brands of DJ sets are. The party itself, however, demonstrated everything that can be stupid and lame about New York, this sort of forced sense of insider-dom and exclusion when in actuality nobody gives even seven-tenths of a shit.
Nas May Have Used a Ghost Writer. Who Gives a Shit?
The American music-listening public has built up this idea of truly great musicians as auteurs, lone geniuses holed up in the studio, translating these beautiful symphonies in their heads to tape through some sort of ineffible process. Beethoven. Prince. Kanye (sort of). This somehow makes music more pure, personal. Additionally, there is something very specific about hip-hop that demands authenticity. As fans, we crave it—we have to know we’re hearing real shit, stuff that actually happened to the rapper we’re listening to. Since hip-hop is acknowledged as a largely collaborative process, our ideal of the auteur gets translated to purely the performative process: did the rapper actually write their own material?
Yesterday, an allegation was made that sent people reeling. Following a post by Frank Miller on a site called Rappers I Know claiming to have heard firsthand that the rapper Jay Electronica had ghostwritten for Nas on his Untitled album, the prominent hip-hop writer Dream Hampton alleged that Nas, one of the greatest—if not the greatest, if we’re counting technical ability, intelligence and writing acumen over actually being able to make good songs—rappers of all time, used ghostwriters on at least six of the tracks on his Untitled album. She claims to have heard reference tracks featuring the rapper Jay Electronica—who produced the opening cut on the album—spitting lyrics, word-for-word, that would later show up onUntitled. Because the internet runs faster than the speed of thought, many reached an uproar. To some, Nas suddenly became Rap Game Shoeless Joe Jackson, the great icon who transmogrified to a fraud at the drop of a hat. stic-man of dead prez—another Untitled producer—was named another potential ghostwriter, and magically, the idea of Nas as one of the greatest became a farce.
A day in the life of an NPR Music intern
Every now and again, the sector of the music internet I follow on Twitter gets real, real snippy about who’s allowed and who’s not allowed to write about music. At the risk of getting all reductive, this is like the third dumbest thing in music ever, behind the Microsoft Zune and that one time The Killers made a song with Lou Reed, but in front of Kanye West’s DJ career. Recently, this debate has reared its ugly head because of the glorious people at NPR, who realized that if they made their “impossibly young” interns write about music they knew nothing about, they could rack up the page views. This is called “trolling,” and people on the internet are very good at it.
Is it problematic and irresponsible on the part of NPR? Yes. These kids want to have careers writing about music, and by making them admit they don’t know what they’re talking about, they’re potentially torpedoing those budding music writing careers. Consider the poor NPR intern who admitted she’d practically never paid for music in her life, which is a totally valid thing—you think she’s the only one who figured out how Kazaa worked when she was 14? Noisey’s own Sasha Hecht instituted an “ad hoc internet takedown” of the NPR intern, saying, “Claiming that you’re entitled to get whatever you want because you’ve always gotten whatever you want is a childish argument, and it doesn’t cut it.” While that’s definitely true, it was totally irresponsible to let someone who had no idea what they’re talking about take the keys to the big truck, so to speak. Essentially, what NPR did constituted as throwing the intern to the lions (and Sasha).
Another hullaballoo erupted when they let some other fucking kid write about how he didn’t really know about Public Enemy’s It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back. He thought it was “disorienting.” Chuck D’s flow was too straight-ahead. Not enough like Drake. As a youngish person, albeit one who really enjoys It Takes A Nation Of Millions…, I totally sort of understand where he’s coming from. One of the great things about Public Enemy’s early work is how politically and ideologically charged it was. It was packaged as “hip-hop,” but it still managed to read “punk”—think of Terminator X’s scratches, which fit into the songs much in the same way that guitar solos did. Or consider how The Bomb Squad billed their beats as “anti-musical” and made a point of stacking samples on top of each other to the point of abrasion. It takes context to enjoy Public Enemy. When the NPR intern said he enjoyed stuff like Drake and Rick Ross, he was basically saying he liked pop music. That’s fine. Pop music is designed to hook you in immediately, that’s why it’s pop music. It Take A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back is not. Chuck D and Flava Flav couldn’t give a shit about John Wayne, and some intern at NPR couldn’t give a shit about Chuck D and Flava Flav. In twenty years, some Robot Intern for NPR is probably going to write an editorial about how Take Care was the corniest album ever. This is just the way music works. Cycles, Jerry. Cycles!
Getting old sucks, and for a music writer, the worst thing in the universe is having a fucking child remind you that you’re getting old admitting they don’t understand some album you hold dear. There’s a difference between being a “music writer,” which denotes a certain mastery of the concept of musical context, and being “someone who is writing about music,” which means that a flesh-and-blood human being is typing their thoughts and feelings about how they process music into a computer, and then publishing it. Some people are going to like certain albums. Others are not, and they certainly cannot be punished for saying they dislike them, even on a pretty high platform such as NPR.
There is no such thing as a “correct” opinion. We learned this because of the standardized tests we all had to take in elementary school. When music writers get mad at people writing about music even though they’re blindly ignorant of context, that’s unfair. In A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court, Mark Twain joked that the best swordsman in the world could swordfight the shit out of the second-best swordsman in the world, but they’d be royally fucked if they had to go up against someone who had no idea what they were doing. His point was this: people who have no idea what they’re talking about are capable of insight, even if everyone thinks they’re wrong. If you go into a record completely blind, it’s just you and your experiences versus the record. I’d love to play a Merzbow record for a five-year-old and transcribe their reaction to it; it’d be a hell of a lot more interesting than the thoughts of some 34-year-old barricaded somewhere in upper Greenpoint. So you go, NPR interns! Go ahead and be wrong. You’ll figure it out eventually, or maybe you’ll just end up getting a job in PR. Either way everything is going to be okay, I promise.
We Spent Some Time with NYC Rapper DVS
I know it sounds crazy, but the best rapper in New York is an ex-hardcore singer from Uptown who chainsmokes Newports, works promo at a strip club, and, as a thirteen-year-old, successfully sold a TV he found on the street to the proprietor of a crack den despite having no idea whether or not it actually worked. His name is DVS, it doesn’t stand for anything in particular, though his first and last initials are “D” and “S,” and he does not care if at this moment you have not heard of him. He is certain you will.
As a youth, DVS cut his teeth fronting metal and hardcore bands. He casually mentions he once “did a live record at CB’s,” as in CBGB’s, fucking around and generally doing wild shit with his friends. He’s got stories stacked on top of stories, and is one of the most knowledgeable human beings in the entire universe. He’s the type of guy for whom New York isn’t just a habitat or a hometown, but a life force. “I’m not sure I could survive anywhere but New York,” he will eventually say over the type of Chinese food that you have to have lived in this place for nearly three decades to know about. There is, as another example of his Oracle-like knowledge of NYC, the moment when he and I meet at a cathedral near Columbia University, the biggest one in North America, and he shows me a set of statues that are beyond incredible. There is a memorial, he says, commemorating a bus full of children that drove off a cliff during the eighties. The cathedral hears about this atrocity, and they hire some guy to chisel a scene of these children plummeting into Hell, Literal Actual Hell, into the pillars at the front of this church. This is astounding, and, as he shows me these pillars for myself, one hundred percent true.
There is something about the way DVS raps, and even the way that he got into rapping, that is quintessentially “New York.” If you stop playing in bands and want to keep doing music but you’re tired of taking care of four other people’s shit, you’ve gotta go solo. And you’ve got no vested interest in playing instruments, well, you probably should start rapping. “Remember when ‘Gimme Some More’ dropped?” he asks me, referring to the 1998 Busta Rhymes hit. “He’s rapping fast as shit for like four minutes. I wonder what this shit would look like on paper. There’s gotta be pages and pages.” So, he studied. He listened to records by New York rappers like Big Pun and Busta, guys who “were so nice they’d just get it into your head like, fuck,” and broke their rhymes down, analyzing what made them so good at what they did, and at some point emerged an unholy hybrid of everything good in technique-heavy rap. DVS raps faster than fuck, enunciating every syllable within an inch of its life, spitting beautiful, brilliant bullshit that could only be born in a town like New York. DVS is a born hustler, he’s done Boiler Room-esque psdeudocorporate scumbaggery, PR (something he claims that, along with the stairs in Morningside Park, is basically the opposite of drugs), passed out fliers, and now the main product he’s pushing is himself.