Suffering for Art – or – the Art of Suffering.

Gramps/Tony Lind
Gramps, aka Tony Lind. Photo, as always, by Christopher Anderzon.
I have always been deeply suspicious of the notion that the only ”real” or ”good” or ”important” art is one created out of misery, pain and suffering. That concept always smacked of unchecked ego and inflated self-importance to me.
A lot of unbelievably great art was created out of sheer joy, the pleasure of the creative process and loving inspiration, and is in no way less valid than the art born out of pain and hardship. But for some reason, a lot of people seem to perceive depressed and/or depressing artists as ”honest”, an idea I find dubious at best.

I personally never trust an artist who takes themselves too seriously. They may take their art as seriously as a fucking heart attack, no problem there, but when they allow their sensitive minds, bleeding hearts and fragile little baby souls to demand that you laud them for the suffering they have endured, rather than the quality of the work they produce, fuck it, I’m outta there, faster than a paycheck.
Those ”artists” are often whiny little pricks who should have a therapist rather than an audience. They are often also dismissive of and even indifferent toward their fans, which is a cardinal sin in my book. Like when Morrissey scoffs that he doesn’t perform. ”Seals perform.” Yeah, right. If that’s the case, get off the stage, you have no place there.

When I walk onstage in front of an audience, I feel a huge responsibility to make sure that these people are entertained in some way, and I feel disgusted when I see bands who obviously don’t give a shit. I was raised on artists who know how to put on a show, in their own different ways, and I took those lessons to heart (at the end of this rant I’ve put together some clips of bands who know how to treat an audience). That doesn’t mean that your act has to be all out party animal energy, that’s not what I’m saying, it would be really boring if everyone was like Angus Young all the time, but there should be an effort to communicate with the people who bought their ticket for your show, and the least you can do is to acknowledge them and let them know you appreciate them coming to hear and see you.

Michael Stipe was absolutely right when he sang that everybody hurts. Everybody does, sometimes. And just because you have the creative outlet to vent your pain, which is fantastic and beautiful, that does not mean that you hurt more, better or deeper than anyone else. I love that you have the gift of touching people in a way that allows them to understand their own struggle a little bit better, ease their pain for a moment, or just recognizing that they’re not alone. But that gift does not entitle you to be a primadonna. Art is about sharing, so don’t be so fucking precious about what you do.

A lot of people suffer from depression and anxiety, and I think it is a very positive thing that we as a society are starting to unstigmatize mental health issues, although that process is still way too slow. And in that sense, it is also a very positive thing that people create art about their struggles, to show that not only is it ok to acknowledge that you have this burden in your life, it is essential to do so in order for things to change. But that doesn’t mean that the Suffering Artist should be put on any sort of piedestal. And to perpetuate a lifestyle of misery, as some would at least like to give the impression of doing, just to make ”better” art, is stupid as shit.

/Gramps

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Working on a dream

dream

It’s a beauty don’t you think?

I’ve got myself a moped with a flatbed. I actually could already have owned one.
When I grew up, an elder relative of mine parked a moped like this one in the woods behind our house. It wasn’t functioning, and I was to young to repair it, so all I could do as a kid was dream about driving it.

Suddenly one day, together with my uncles and some welding, the moped got a changed appearance. It was turned into a gocart. We used a 5 hp motor from an old cultivator, and as for breaks we used nothing.

I still remember the high speed driving. It sure was fast! And the rock in the ditch I crashed it into, sure did it’s job to. I got out just fine, the gocart didn’t. Enough whining about that.

I bought this moped a while ago. It had been left halfway out in a lake or something like that, and as with the case with my bass harmonica, some earlier owner has made some not so great improvements on it, but I seem to prefer to buy stuff like that, and make some crappy stuff work again.

Besides me looking really cool on the road with it, I think the moped can be of use for the band, shooting music videos. Me driving, The Coffa with the steady cam on the flatbed, the rest of the guys in front of us running for their lives… I mean acting.. acting… not running, screaming and crying… noooo, just some good old acting.. perfect. (Mårten ‘Hotlips’ Forssman, harmonica)

The Friday night of a rock’n’roller

mobettermugI have a confession to make.

Don’t judge me. I know I’m a musician and all, and therefore have responsibilities. I’m supposed to be out clubbing or hanging out at some decadent burlesque party drinking and smoking way too much.
I do that too on Fridays, sometimes, I promise!
But most Friday nights I’m actually at home. These days it’s quite hard to make a living out of being a rock’n’roller. Especially if you’re not that into the whole mainstream thing. Which means – day jobs!
Day jobs means writing, recording and doing gigs is a weekend thing most of the time.
This Friday for example I’ve been drinking coffee, writing lyrics and planting a plum tree given to me by Mr Preacherman himself. Not very rock’n’roll but way more productive than lying passed out at some after party. That’s a Saturday night thing. (Tomas Juto, aka Barba).