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

The post gig blues

Tony Lind, aka Gramps
It’s a phenomenon I’ve been well acquainted with for my entire adult life, but never had an actual explanation for. I guess it’s a chemical reaction in the body. I call it the post-gig blues. I know many other musicians who deal with the same thing, although they probably have other names for it. It’s a strong sense of melancholy that sets in an hour or two after I’ve played a concert. And typically, the better the show was, the stronger the backlash is. And when it sets in, there is just no way to go to sleep until it wears off, no matter how physically exhausted I might be. I just have to ride it out. That is usually done by listening to music, having a couple of Jack Donald’s, or watching documentaries. After a few hours of this, I’ll eventually feel my mellow return, and I’m able to go to sleep. The only thing that really works as a quick fix for the post-gig blues is sex, and I suppose this might be one reason why musicians through the ages have sought company after performances, be it groupies, girl/boyfriends, livestock, or whatever.

I’m so used to this by now, that I’ll actually factor in this process when I make plans for the following day. I know that if I return home at 3:00 a.m., it’s highly unlikely that the post-gig blues will have worn off before 5:00 a.m. at the earliest, and so I’ll need to sleep in a bit to recover.

So, here’s my question: Is there anyone out there who can explain exactly what is going on during the post-gig blues in scientific terms? Not guessing or speculating, but someone who actually knows? Would you please share this knowledge with me? Inquistitive autodidact wants to know. (Tony Lind, aka Gramps)

Compare yourself to others

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Orren. Photo: Robert Eldrim

 

Who the hell is ” Yourself”?

We all heard it when we were kids. Over and over again. “Don’t compare yourself to others, just be yourself!” And yet, few of us thought “Oh! Yourself! Wow! It’s that easy??”
That’s because they were all wrong.
You have to compare yourself to others to know who the hell yourself is. How else would you know? Short, fat, funny, generous, grumpy, hot tempered.. it’s all relative, right?

Same goes for an artist. Did you know that kids with guitars are still playing “Stairway To Heaven” and “Little Wing”? Same tunes we were all playing when we first started. After all these years, how could they not have found anything new? Well, maybe the point is to play the same old tunes. Guitarists find their own special style in the way they play that intro to “Little Wing”. Singers find the unique sound of their voice by the way their “Hello” stands out.
We all start off wanting to be like someone else. We compare ourselves and first we find only imperfections. But slowly, slowly we find something likeably in the way we can’t seem to resemble anyone else. (Orren, lead vocal, acoustic guitar, banjo)

The importance of daydreaming

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Orren. Photo by The Coffa.

 

As musicians/songwriters/producers/music video directors/artists/photographers (and now even bloggers) like us, there’s a whole lot of extra work to be done, free of charge.
At gigs, we’re roadies and drivers as well as musicians. At video shoots, we’re actors as well as directors and photographers, and so on.
If only we didn’t love it so much, we might learn how to charge for the extra hours.
One of the things I know I should not do for free is daydreaming. In fact, I believe anybody in a creative line of business should charge for their daydreams by the hour. It is probably the most productive part of your day.
You’re doing all the things you’re supposed to do according to all of the inspirational Ted talks you’ve ever seen. You’re setting goals completely without limitations, visualising them, making them feel real in your mind. You’re pumping fuel into your creative process and you’re reminding yourself of what it is that drives you to work hard.
I almost never daydream without result. There’s always at least one new idea to work with once I get back to reality. And the ideas are real, totally doable most of the time and ready to go. One of the most common ways for me to write a song – I daydream about a stage, a venue or a festival I want to perform at and suddenly, in the middle of the fantasy, I discover that the song we’re playing has not been written yet.
When I build my home studio – in Barba’s new house, this summer – I’m getting a daydream room. (There may be an argument to be won here, with Barba’s daughter, but hey! She’s seven. How hard can it be?)
A nice enough sofa so you’re comfortable without falling asleep and pictures of the nicest stages and studios in the world. That room alone will write us the next album! (Orren: lead vocal, acoustic guitar, banjo)