The Fine Art of Assholery (and why you should never meet your heroes)

When I was very young I may have harbored some naïve illusions on the matter, but really, for most of my life I have been keenly aware that there is no automatic correlation between a great artistic talent and a great personality.

This is why I am generally very hesitant to meet the musicians who have been truly inspirational to me. It really shouldn’t matter, of course, but I know myself well enough to know that it would sully my love for their art if I met them and found them to be complete assholes.

Now, I know that many of them probably ARE assholes, but not having to witness it firsthand allows me to maintain my self-delusion and hypocrisy, which is convenient, since I would very much like to continue enjoying their music.

No person is just ONE thing, of course. Everyone understands that. Even the individuals that history and most of us who are not complete idiots would unanimously consider truly BAD PEOPLE (I don’t have to mention names here, do I?) probably had their agreeable moments and positive attributes. And those rare creatures who are considered ”good” by most people’s standards have their dark side and unflattering traits.
Profound and genuine assholery is not easily defined, and the line between just having a bad day and being a douche can be blurry sometimes.

But some people are just more consistently obnoxious, rude and mean than others, to the point where it is their standard approach in social situations, and this is where I feel we start to cross the aforementioned line. We all have some people like this in our lives. Toxic, caustic personalities, psychic and emotional vampires who drain us of joy, energy and passion. People who will always play the guilt trip card, giving unwarranted and/or unfair criticism about everything you do, or make you feel inadequate and/or inferior. Assholes.

In some cases we are dealing with clinical cases, where the individual in question actually is unable to be any other way, sociopathic personality disorder, malignant narcissism, etc. I won’t dwell on those individuals, as they are something other than the thing I wish to address here, I will just say that those people are the ones that you need to cut out of your life immediately and completely, because they will never be a good influence in your life, you can’t help them, and they sure as hell won’t help you, so stay the fuck away from them forever.

However, most assholes are just spoiled brats who need to have their asses kicked a little bit to get back in line. They’ve been getting too much rope, and got used to getting away with too much shit. Shorten the leash. What I mean by that is that you don’t need to put up with their behavior, and you have every right to let them know that you won’t.

Ladies know what I’m talking about. Chauvinist pigs who make inappropriate ”jokes” and use derogatory slurs about women are abundant and all over the place, and the world of music is no exception, unfortunately. We all know misogyny has been a widespread constant throughout the history of music. You’d think we should be way past that sort of caveman mentality by now, but unfortunately that is not the case.

And in every workplace, in every classroom and at every party, there is at least one bully who thrives on making other people miserable. Yes, THAT asshole.

The solution is not to return the favor in spades, further fueling the one-upmanship of assholery. Neither is acquiescence, because then you’re stuck with this sphincter’s behavior.
I think Jim Jefferies really nailed it on the head in the clip I’ve posted below. Check it out, it’s brilliant!

In my role as a working musician, I have come to the conclusion that life is way too short to deal and work with assholes. It takes up too much of my precious time, drains my energy and creative inspiration, and this is one of the many reasons why I’m so happy playing with the guys in Billy Momo. We are no saints, and we certainly have our moments of shitty attitudes and bad behavior, no doubt about that, but let me tell you, these guys I play with are good people. Friendly, approachable, and somewhat sane. This allows us to get on with the task at hand, which is making music, and having fun while doing so.
When doing the things you love, you shouldn’t have to put up with assholes, so don’t! And even more important, don’t be one!

Let’s be friendly, generous and kind, people! It’s the best gift we can give ourselves, and others.

I wish your perpetual bliss, all you crazy kids in love out there!

/Gramps

 

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A different drum, crayfish and the-day-after-volumes.

Inspelningsvecka-8996
Gramps. Photo: Christopher Anderzon. 

We have started recording a bunch of new songs lately, and you will no doubt see a lot of footage from this project on MomoTV in the weeks and months ahead. But here are some personal reflections after the first week of recording.

Each Billy Momo album has had its own approach and recording process. ’Ordinary Men’ was done very much as a duo with auxiliary musicians.

More of a band sound started to emerge with ’Drunktalk’, although it wasn’t quite there yet. And it was still largely put together one instrument at the time, the separated recording technique used by most smaller studios.

’Seven Rivers Wild’ was the first album recorded entirely as the seven-piece band that we had grown into, and we also started to record a little bit more as a live unit, with at least the rhythm section being recorded at the same time. It had happened on occasional tracks before, such as ”The Weekend”, but this time around that was the overall approach for most of the tracks. On SRW we also began experimenting with double drums on some songs, with me and Barba playing together on separate drum kits to get a lively, swampy feel to the grooves. With this approach we could also introduce more interesting sounds into the rhythm tracks, junkyard percussion, stacked cymbals and other sonic experiments. SRW was quite ambitious, a glossy, rich production, Billy goes Fleetwood Mac, almost. The final enhancement to this album was the amazing artwork, which made it ideal for the vinyl format.

But these days, we are living in a world where streaming services and downloading individual tracks constitute the norm, rather than oldskool album listening, where you with a sense of pride, joy and even duty listened all the way through the album you had just purchased (yes, there was a time when you paid money to the creators of the music in order to listen to it). Today… not so much. And so, why not try some different approaches to platforms and formats?

With this in mind, we are now experimenting with different approaches to recording, not necessarily working towards ”an album” as the desired end result. It might still end up being that, of course, but we try not to have that as a preconceived notion, but rather approach a handful of songs at the time, consider some creatively interesting method of recording them, and see what happens. They may be released as individual tracks, or as parts of a bigger, cohesive whole, but we’ll see what it is when we get there.

The first and most obvious difference this time around is that we have started to work in Barba’s new house, part of which has been converted into a recording facility (again, MomoTV will bring you up to speed on that) which gives the whole working environment a more homegrown feel, which suits the band perfectly.

During rehearsals in the past couple of years we often found that some really interesting things happened to the groove when we were playing at lower volume (the decision to turn it down was probably more due to hangovers than intentional improvements of musical nature, but hey!) and so we wanted to try recording some songs while playing softly and more delicately. So this has been a deliberate change for this particular batch of tunes. Oh, there are still some viscerally exciting, rambunctious, slamming beats going on (oh, man, you have noooo idea what you’re in for, people!), but there is a different sonic quality that comes out of drums and percussion when played slightly less forcefully, and the interplay between players gets more dynamic, so this we feel is a huge improvement.

Inspelningsvecka-9070
Gramps. Photo: Christopher Anderzon. 

We are also expanding the idea of the junkyard percussion setups, with both myself and Preach having some deranged setups to work with. Trashcan lids, wooden crates, fucked up cymbal combinations with applied chains, drums filled with quinoa, and the list goes on. The Billy Momo sound is getting deeper, grittier and sweatier than ever. We can’t wait for you to hear these fucking songs!

The first week of collective recording finished on Friday (some individual overdub sessions proceeded over the weekend), and we had a traditional Swedish crayfish party on Friday night, right there in the studio! It was the usual Billy Momo joint, with way too much booze, and so, the drunktalk began, as expected. One member of the band kept insisting that most fears that people refer to as “phobias” are actually just a part of ones personal image and public relations-package, or something along those lines. The verdict from the jury is still pending on that one. And at some point during the wee hours of the morning, we hazily drifted into listening to terrible 90s Eurodance music (although some of us insisted it was FUCKING AWESOME!!!) and eventually some of us got wild and crazy behind the drum kit for a bit at 4:00 a.m.-ish, presumably to the immense enjoyment of the neighbors, but, you know, what price art, eh?

Stay tuned here and at Momo TV for continuous updates on the recording process.

Have a beautiful fall, all you crazy kids in love out there!

/Gramps

Recommended listening:

Fever pitch

Tony Lind aka Gramps.
Gramps. Photo: Christopher Anderzon.

Let me be absolutely crystal clear on this; tonsillitis sucks.
Now, I’m not going to start one of those mancold lamentations, which are ridiculous, but I actually had to cancel a gig this weekend due to illness, which is the first time ever for me. So that wasn’t fun.
Other than that, there’s really no point complaining, it is what it is, and you get to go on endless binges on HBO and Netflix, and as a horror fan I can tell you that watching scary movies with a 39°C fever (102°F) is very surreal and makes the experience even more unsettling, so that’s highly recommended.
One thing that always fascinated me about having a high fever and being stoned on painkillers are the dreams you have as you slip in and out of sleep in a daze. They can get truly bizarre at times, and I really wish I could record those dreams and watch them again later, there might be some amazing material for songs, books or movies in there. But at one point last night, I had an unbelievably lucid and meticulously detailed dream about making the arrangements for my own funeral, and let me tell you, I was on such a roll! I picked all the music I wanted performed, and the musicians I wanted to play, which people I wanted to invite, and some personal messages I wanted to leave for them. It was really awesome. I never wanted to have a depressing funeral, and the arrangement I came up with in my dream was just perfect for what I would like it to be when I eventually bite the Big One someday, so I decided that I would write down everything I could remember of the dream (which was most of it), and use that as a blueprint for the actual event. So, that was cool.
Anyway, I hope I’ll be back on my feet real soon, as we are about to start recording new material with Billy Momo in just a few days. Dreaming with a fever might be cool as shit, but playing the drums is not. This I know from experience.
The fever still lingers, so if this text seems even more rambling, incoherent and/or riddled with typos than usual, that might have something to do with it.

Take care, all you crazy kids in love out there.

/Gramps

Recommended listening: