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August 20, 2006

remote controllers


the tourism ad says: 'swap the remote for the remote'. howard for costello? could it be any truer? do display ad guys dream of eclectic puns? or am i pulling my own phillip k dick with that one?

i need another job. not as in 'i am wistfully dreaming of better employment' but as in, my work (finally, after a year!) realised that they and i are incompatible (fuck, really? i could have told them that after week one) and politely invited me to start interviewing.

if anyone knows of anything going that's vaguely publishing, specifically editorial, writing, photographic, layout or whatever - let me know. of course, anyone reading this (all three of you, hi, btw) is probably in a similar boat, so i understand if it's crickets and tumbleweeds time. in the meantime i will try to avoid applying for shit that demeans me and my expensive education (thanks, baby boomers). not to mention my high IQ, international work experience, passion, energy and creativity.

on being overeducated and underemployed/under utilised, is it any wonder my 'generation' is associated with the adland-invented musical genre of grunge? mind, i'm split between hating the sound of our own complaints and feeling 'my generation' has a lot to whinge about - however ill-defined we actually are outside the convenient marketing/demographic label that 'gen x' essentially was/is. still, i have been riffing with a few people about how us x'ers might have to save the world; the y kidults will be so debt-addled and fat that they'll be completely socially useless by thirty-five or so, and the boomers will all be dying/too old for politics, so we might finally get a chance to wield some power with a bit of conscience and aplomb.

speaking of which, i was at an is not party on the weekend that featured more than the usual quota of twenteen-somethings, and, standing with my little enclave of late 20s/early 30s pals (as luck would have it, i was amongst a bunch of incredibly sexy, witty and talented women, including this gal, this gal, this gal, this gal and had just been introduced to this new gal) when i was bombarded by waves of irony while watching the bands on the bill.

both were solidly professional, but in very, very different ways. Tic Toc Tokyo were cute, tight and completely derivative, in an oh-so Y cold, distant, franz ferdinand-y way; the Basics, drawing on a back catalogue of even older beatles-y, cream-y references, were utterly charming and engaging, even able to improvise a version of 'wipeout' when the vocal PA crapped it (though sadly denying us their sublime three part harmonies). fuck, call me stereotypical but that's what live performing is all about - banter, interaction, improvised stupidity and fun - not a perfectly struck pose.

that grey gradient between emulation and homage is so, so blurry.

it struck (though didn't surprise) me that the 'fringed faction' seemed to be enjoying the retro stuff way more than the angular twanging proffered by their coolsie peers (i have no idea how old the guys in the basics are, but TTT looked exactly like their own audience), and this despite the fact that the basics' blustering, ballsy pop rock wouldn't even have been easily referenceable (?) by the kids as the soundtrack of their parents, but more likely their *grandparents'* (in some cases) reactionary 40s.

it's too much in the realm of 'taste' - and thus not disputable - for me to conjecture about one band having any more or less 'substance' than the other, but i do reckon a certain heart is attributable to respectful pillaging of the past, homage that uses an older source as a jumping off point for something else, rather than being a simple copy of something current. the rawness and 'willingness to fuck up' in the basics was beautiful. i liked what TTT were doing, it just didn't touch me at all. the basics shook my ass.

charles rennie mackintosh put it better than i ever could (i am still thinking about this as another tattoo someday, so firmly do i agree with it):

"there is hope in honest error; none in the icy perfectionism of the mere stylist."

Posted by reuben at August 20, 2006 5:07 PM


re baby-boomer whingeing. I was talking of the very-near-impossibility of me ever being able to take out a mortgage (and the reasons thereof) with my parents last weekend... They had the front to say it wasn't their fault for over-inflating the property market with their penchant for investment properties but it was our fault for not settling down early and moving to the burbs where property is cheap(er)...I think they just proved the point I was making...

And I liked the way you referred to TTT on Friday: Franz Ferdinand Lite. As though Franz Ferdinand weren't lite enough already...

Posted by: elaine at August 21, 2006 9:35 AM

good god, man, I LOVE IT WHEN YOU POST. i was thinking the VERY SAME THING about the basics and the general milieu of the party. i feel so strongly about the knee-jerk contempt that boomers have for x and y alike, but sometimes i'm hit with the guilty feeling that y deserves it more. my students at melbourne never cease to remind me that a 100 000 dollar education can get you into the "best" uni but it can't develop your critical faculty. and yes, the basics were proof that pastiche is not always mindlessly derivative. i was glad to be at the bash with you guys. and how about that eric clapton megamix? yowzer!

on the question of your employment [first - congratulations on freeing yourself of a job that was beneath you], have you canvassed the idea of going it alone? i tread the fine line between sycophantic and complimentary here, but your posts are always utterly engaging and your voice is strong, so much your own - the only people i know who've made it as freelancers do so for that reason...they've got an imitable style. and you've got it in spades, my friend.

see you on tuesdee x.

Posted by: mskp at August 21, 2006 4:49 PM

Reuben, lovely to meet you on Friday night too.

Re The Basics - for me they erred on the side of being too derivative, but I did like their unpretentious attitude. I came away from the party feeling a little bit annoyed by the whole "fringe" brigade.

I work for a desktop publishing company and I know a couple of people are leaving soon - it's not the most thrilling work (TV guides, racing pages, weather pages for newspapers) and it can get pretty stressful, plus the pay's not great, but if you are interested email me your CV and I'll pass it on.

Posted by: Rowena at August 21, 2006 8:19 PM

psst...i have a fringe.

Posted by: mskp at August 21, 2006 9:52 PM

yes, but it's not an idiot fringe, kp...

Posted by: ruby at August 21, 2006 9:58 PM

Dear Reuben,

A friend of mine who reads your blog emailed me this and I was impressed by your dissection of event and our place within it.

I don't want to say too much in response, as it really does come down to taste. We've done really well with most people over the years as a live act, even if people tend to think we are too derivative, they typically still enjoy themselves because that's really what we're all about.

Emulation and homage are two concepts I have become very familiar with over the last 4.5 years of playing in The Basics, and to be honest its a case-by-case scenario. Sometimes we err more or one side than the other, depending on the energy that comes from us, and the energy that comes from the crowd and a whole bunch of other variables that impact on how each individual interprets the event.

We did end up playing alot more covers on Friday than we would usually do (1-2 usually). We were really playing it by ear because we weren't sure what to expect, and in the end everyone had a good time so that's what counts.

I'm not quite sure where my flu-ridden head is going with this, but I think your blog summed up perfectly the paradox of what we're doing. Like I said before, 99.999% of people enjoy what we do - they love the songs, the way we play them, and the vibe and feeling they get from seeing/hearing us.

The irony comes from the fact that people's heads take over and they start talking/thinking about things that are 'new'.

The discussion then turns away from the fact we are original personalities writing original songs, to a definition of 'original' that is more about 'new sounds'.

God, I don't know if any of this is making sense so I might stop now. I hope you got something of what I'm trying to say out of this and when I'm not in such a Codral-induced daze I might continue it.

Maybe we could carry on in person? I'd love to hear more of your opinion on the music scene.

Best regards,
Kris Schroeder
The Basics

Posted by: Kris Schroeder at August 23, 2006 4:39 PM


nice to hear from you.

first of all, can i say that i was trying to stray as far from a gig 'review' as possible – i have actually trod the highs and lows of that particular pursuit for years back in WA, much to the chagrin (and delight) of the odd reader/band member or four. i was also a working muso myself in a relatively successful band for about eight years, so i'm not entirely talking out of my arse when i throw my opinions around. i once tried to calculate how many gigs i've been to in my life – not counting my own band's shows - and it was somewhere in the low 3000s since the age of 16. roughly. i know, intimately, the kind of 'carpet' that can only be created by melding gaffer, spilt beer, smoke, sweat and TIME.

that para was really just my take on the is not party this time round (i've been to most of them) and the seemingly different crowd mix. fwiw, i was commenting to the gals around me that i wanted to be the 'fourth basic', imagining myself tucked away behind the reversed keys of a vox jaguar, or occasionally stepping forward to wail a hendrix-esque solo out. in a natty grey suit, natch.

alas, i am neither youthful nor pretty enough.

not that i want to play let's lick each others arses or anything, but i thought you guys were entertaining and musical; what a band's meant to be. i'll natter further about that anytime.

also, i certainly wasn't casting any aspersions in calling up your sonic reference points – my band went out of our way to sound like swervedriver crashing into early smashing pumpkins (with a dash of pixies thrown in...) until we found a more personalised version of those inspirations.

put it this way: if, as you say, 99.9999% of people enjoy what you do (and if, of course, people enjoying your music is your desired effect) it certainly looked to me like you're hitting your mark.

nice one.

Posted by: rubydoomsday at August 23, 2006 8:04 PM

You are being an absolutely self indulgent knob. What a strange thing to come across on the web. It's almost as bad the wankery that characterises music videos with none of the redeeming features. Actually it reminds me a lot of Basics TV on YouTube!How could someone talk about themselves for so long?

Posted by: Bill Smith at September 11, 2007 6:57 AM

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