by Dave Segal
on Wed, Jan 16, 2013 at 2:20 PM
Blurt has an online feature full of advice to aspiring musicians from veteran musicians, including Holger Czukay, Yo La Tengo’s Georgia Hubley, Mekons’ John Langford, James Cotton, and Patti Smith. No matter where you are in the musical food chain, you can benefit from reading it.
Seattle-based legend Alan Bishop (ex-Sun City Girls/Alvarius B., boss of the essential Sublime Frequencies and Abduction labels) offered lots of practical tips, which you can read after the jump. The only quibble I have is with this one: “Buy your own fucking cigarettes and don't be a fucking leech.” Rather, if I may be so bold, don’t fuck with cigarettes at all, unless you want to end up wheezing, hacking, and gargling rancid phlegm before the Social Security checks roll in. Plus, the money you save from not buying smokes can go to your gear and music-buying budget. You’re welcome.
Unfortunately, due to overwhelming odds, I will assume this eager young musician is male. Specific musical details would be discussed depending on the circumstances but they are not important. What follows are the important issues:
- Lose the fear, get the confidence. Be a leader, not a follower.
- Forget about "thinking outside the box", crush and completely destroy the box.
- Get interested in everything and do it now.
- Find another way other than music to make money and never depend on music to make you a living. Don't become dependent upon others. Pull your own fucking weight. Don't go into debt.
- Question everyone and everything and never allow anyone to push you away from your direction.
- You know little of the way the world works so get fucking busy and find out what you don't know instead of thinking you already know it. There's nothing more pathetic than a 20-something "know it all." You've been fundamentally lied to since birth, so wake up.
- To attain any form of greatness, you must be able to risk all relationships you may encounter and place them immediately behind your work as a priority. So tell that pretty little girl that you are busy 24/7 and when you have time for her, you'll call her. Repeat the last sentence twenty times every morning when you wake up for a year. On second thought, do it for the rest of your life.
- Speaking of risks, take them as much as possible until it becomes extremely comfortable to take them. That way, you'll never have to take a risk again.
- Don't give in to your peers. Most of your peers don't know jack fuck about anything. Create your peers instead of settling for the peers you've been dealt. There are rarely more than a dozen people in any city who have a clue, therefore there are 12 people you need to know, so go find them. Most of the rest around you have been socially engineered to be fucking morons who will compete for your attention and energy, and how you handle these cretins will be key in determining your future.
- Never trust anyone in the music business, EVER.
- Forget about becoming "famous." If you actually do something interesting and do it well and for long enough, then someday you'll wake up and be infamous which is superior to becoming "famous."
- Compose/write your own material, record everything you do and become organized.
- Be aggressive but not overtly aggressive.
- Don't be an asshole, a thief or a junkie.
- Buy your own fucking cigarettes and don't be a fucking leech.
- Become a master of drugs and alcohol; do not let them master you.
- Don't be a flake. Show up on time, every time.
- Start traveling as soon as possible.
- When you think your plate is full, move to a bigger fucking kitchen and learn how to manage 100 plates simultaneously. The more you push yourself, the more you'll be able to deal with, and when those around you begin more and more to resemble infants, you'll have unlimited options.