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Ask Scott

December 31, 2001

Scott, your music first caught my interest when I was thirteen. It was "The Waist and The Knees" that did it. That would have been 1993. I quickly gathered the rest of the Game Theory records, even the two EPs and Dead Center (ironically enough on Lolita Records),

Scott: Sorry for the surreal delay in replying.

Well, I probably had the name "Lolita" in mind because I knew about the licensing deal with that French record label. So looking back it probably wasn't entirely coincidental.

before moving on to The Loud Family material. You held the place in my life The Beatles must have held in yours, minus the international acclaim and meteoric record sales. Now that I am twenty and you are semi-retired I'm still rummaging your catalog and turning up relevant and satisfying surprises in your music. Lately I've been reading Larry McMurtry, a fine if sometimes dissmissed novelist (see Some Can Whistle, Duane's Depressed).

Thanks; I'll watch for Larry McMurtry.

In his recent essay "Walter Benjamin At the Dairy Queen," he brings up a point that seems to serve well the nature of your music. Point being that you cannot make art from unredeemed pain. Offhand, do you agree?

The statement could mean a number of things; I'd really have to read the essay to get McMurtry's point. I've found "redeem" and "redemption" to be among the most loaded words in literature, and I'm going to edit out a long rumination on their meaning in favor of saying I take the meaning of "to redeem" here as "to consider in a larger, edifying context."

If so, what redeems your pain? At what point is pain redeemed enough to make art from?

I would be inclined to call "making art" the redeeming process itself, since generally the idea is to find a way using language or sensory input to share a memorable personal experience. I think I'd tend to agree that if by "unredeemed pain" you mean you don't have the slightest clue where your pain fits in the human experience, you're not going to get much good art out of your sheer agitation. But most twentieth century art -- paint splattering and dissonance and all -- was probably made in disagreement with that attitude, so you can take my puny old opinion with a grain of salt.

Have you ever failed to write a song?

To paraphrase Virginia Woolf, I obviously didn't fail nearly often enough.

And finally, am I wasting my time digging through thousands of sleeveless records throughout California looking for Painted Windows and Blaze of Glory?

The short answer would be yes. They're pretty much out of circulation, and good riddance. The best things I could say about them is that I intended some interesting music and lyrics that I pretty much failed to put across in execution, but enough effort went into them that as collector-motivated purchases go they deliver no less listening enjoyment than John and Yoko's Wedding Album.

Thanks,

Brandon J. Carder in Oakland, a down bay towel to wad and chew...

thank you, pain webber

--Scott

 

December 17, 2001

Scott, algebra class is really bogging down my gray cells this month so here's a few standard holiday type questions:

1. What are you most thankful for?

Scott: My wife Kristine. Awww!

2. Big Christmas? Little Christmas? Big tree, little tree, plastic tree, any tree?

Medium Christmas, pretty big plastic tree.

What kind of tree -- a nice Douglas fir perhaps?

I believe it is Douglas plastic.

Are you Santa? Do you put on the white beard? Do you even celebrate Christmas: say, perhaps the target marketing gets you down, or say, you wouldn't call yourself religious?

I would call everyone religious.

I am not Santa. Santa Scott has no presents! Has no presents!

I do even celebrate Christmas. I have accepted Santa as my personal shopper.

Target marketing gets me HOT.

Do you rattle boxes -- do you prefer to not be surprised? What's the bestest gift you ever got?

A Sears 5-speed bike when I was nine. It was the most intense ecstasy ever experienced by a human being.

I am against rattling boxes (what if it's a kitten?)

What was the worst gift you ever got (you know you know...Precious Moments stuff, Ally McBeal soundtracks).

I really like the Ally McBeal moment where it goes "I been...I been...I been down..." Now that I reflect, it may be pretty hard to get me something so shallow I won't like it.

3. How much did the too expensive to be considered a toy piano cost?

I'm pretty sure it was a Kurzweil K2000 -- which if you ask me is a very expensive looking name for a product.

Edit these questions however you like...I just hate being inconsistent in letters. And plus, I don't have friends. Maybe this is why. Cos rock stars are better than normal people, they don't want to have us around. "Soi disantra, soi disantra!"

Anyhoo, back to algebra.

All the best during the holidays,

David Werking

thanks for writing and writing, David,

--Screaming Lord Algebra

 

December 10, 2001

Scott, I'm sorry that this is not about when and if you'll be putting out another great record. This is a question that concerns you as an American citizen. As I am living in Germany and the U.S. has always been the biggest cultural influence on me, and although this country is to blame for many things, I always defend it because its one of the few countries in the world which has declared and lived the utopia of a multi-ethnic democarcy as its basement. But after the 11th of September, I, for the first time in my life, am really afraid of what America, or to be precise its government, might do.

Scott: Hello, Bendrik! Thank you for writing this thoughtful letter.

The Bush-Administration (a Regime, to be honest) really scares the shit out of me and the language that they're using cleary shows what they're made of and what they want (WAR, WAR, WAR!).

Personally, I don't detect a particularly more warlike than usual attitute in the administration or the public, at least considering the circumstances of having suffered a pretty major terrorist attack. Bush is not a stupendously bright guy, and he makes unfortunate comments like the "dead or alive" quote, but I think his (and his handlers') motivation for such swagger is simply popularity, and U.S. military actions enjoy less and less popular support the longer they go on, until one day people start crying "another Vietnam." It seems like a good system so far.

I'm also shocked about the American media and the unbelievable ignorance and "pro-war-hype" it has created in the last two months. Here in Germany it is very hard to even discuss the topic if "world-wide-retalliation" might be the appropriate answer to terror. If you do you are labeled "Anti-American" right away and the argument is called off.

What's anti-American is trying to shut down free exchange of thought when it leads to a conclusion that is politically undesirable!

Not many discussions come close to being a true weighing of observations; they usually reduce to opposing self-interests cloaked in popular ideologies. I think somewhere therein lies America's value as a "superpower." The modern world has proven to be too irrational to solve global problems in the Hobbesian spirit of social contract; the logic of social contract is routinely usurped by the logic of fascism. The world's best hope is a set of prevailing populisms which will only cloak a limited range of self-interested pursuits. America (and its somewhat mythic role as preeminent democracy) will probably be an invaluable force of safe-enough populism for at least the next fifty years; to a large extent the American government's empowerment in the world depends on its being seen as acting in the interest of victims rather than oppressors. The world (unfortunately) needs a police force empowered in precisely this way -- it's been too easy in the last century for states which victimize as part of their doctrine to rise quickly and unopposed to horrific levels of localized power.

I really don't know if you'd call yourself a leftist, or if I'm getting paranoid, but don't you think that there's something terrible, terrible wrong about the people that are ruling the United States right now???

I am generally leftist and I did vote against Bush, but I haven't seen anything to indicate that Bush is more dangerous than other U.S. presidents. I was more worried about Bush Sr.'s attemts to abridge rights (his flag burning amendment, his gutting of rights to support his bizarrely cruel and obsessive persecution of those accused of drug offenses). The good thing about the "war on drugs" was that it's probably considered ridiculous by most Americans under 75 years old at this point, so when the federal government attempts a much less preposterous "war on terrorism," they have effectively cried wolf; there is more sensitivity to potential abuse than if there had never been a "war on drugs."

The presence of John Ashcroft, a war on drugs man par excellence, worries me. I'm honestly surprised he hasn't done more damage than he already has, but I expect him to do more.

As any reader of Doonesbury knows, one of the bigger worries in that area is that it's been a pretty long time that some of these thousand or so people of middle eastern descent have been detained, I assume without conventional due process (not that I claim to know particular details). It encourages me that I haven't seen any notable rise in prejudice against Islamic or middle eastern looking people in the general U.S. population -- with the possible exception of the moment of boarding airplanes.

I've also found a very interesting article about the topic by a former Special-Forces-Member named Stan Goff ("The so-called evidence is a farce"). And I'd really like to know what you think about it?

Best wishes from Berlin

Your "Pen-Friend," Bendrik Muhs

Yes, this is interesting, but it also sounds pretty much like every other conspiracy theory. If I may condense the argument, it's something like: the U.S. already intended to invade Afghanistan, ultimately for oil, and were so keen to have a better excuse to do so that they either let the hijacked planes hit their targets when they could have prevented it, or staged the crashes outright.

Despite the fact the Mr. Goff makes a lot of good points, and thinks about a lot of things that people should be thinking about but aren't (for instance, what is geopolitics going to start to look like when the population outstrips the world's energy and food supply?), his analysis seems selectively focused, overpersonalized.

In conspiracy theories, you often run across preposterous instances of spontaneous and unanimous willingness to commit cold blooded murder in highly unlikely and weakly-motivated sociological sectors. I would ask Mr. Goff if he knows of chains of command this high and verifiable where an order to cause the death of six thousand nationals would float through in real time, no dissent, no leak, no "signature." Everyone just knows that this oil line to Southern Asia is worth the lives of whomever might be in those buildings.

But one of America's most valuable characteristics is its insistence on freedom of expression, and I'm glad Mr. Goff and others are out there; the more effectively they operate, the harder it is to get away with corrupt action. I will give the man this: before 9/11, I would have argued that these terrorist strikes were not even possible at the U.S.'s level of monitoring of aircraft, especially near the capitol; how it even happened begs for more accounting than has been offered.

ich bin Irving Berlin,

--Scott

 

December 3, 2001

Scott, I remember some time back I saw Game Theory at Maxwells in Jersey. Still one of my favorite shows of all time with Stamey and Holsapple and Yo La Tengo opening. As great as the performances were, two things stand out in my mind about that evening. First was going into the men's room and you following me in and some guy following you. You entered the stall and shut the door and the whole time the guy who followed you was talking to you and asking you questions from the other side of the wall. To my amazement you were very cordial and answered his questions despite the fact that you had other business at hand. Is there no line a fan can cross which would cause you to be defensive or rude??

Scott: That line is the perimeter of the stall.

Secondly, my friends and I were sitting in the bleacher seats (which were bigger then) and hanging out. You walked in and sat behind these two gals who were chatting away and you just sorta sat there quietly. I then noticed you pull out a notepad and jot some things down, like you had been listening for someone to say something that caught your attention. I've always wondered if that was a way of gathering some lines for lyrics.

It's not out of the question that I would hear something by accident and write it down, but that's rare -- maybe it happens something like four times a decade. It's out of the question that I would sit near a conversation because I gauged that someone was ripe to say something I could use in a lyric.

And finally, had you noticed that The Young Fresh Fellows, who started the Seattle scene (not counting Hendrix or Heart) are still around making records and those bands that truly benefited from the Seattle exposure are pretty much all gone?

I guess there's a fair amount of truth to that. The Posies are still here, too! The first tour show Game Theory played was in Seattle with the Fellows in 1984, and Seattle continued to be one of my favorite places to play right until it started getting depressing in the wool hat and baggy shorts era. I remember the club scene coming to resemble hell more and more literally. For one thing, that sort of Frank Kozik sociopathology-is-funny poster art aesthetic -- a hoot in small doses -- increasingly took over every minute of arc on every surface, and there was no such thing as getting into a conversation that didn't have something to do with working an angle, getting industry attention.

Hoping to see you play live again some day and also hoping Lauren Hoffman makes another record some day,

Can't say as I know the lady.

Frank from Jersey

Hey, if you're from Jersey, go see Tris McCall.

--young fresh fellow (ret'd)

 

November 26, 2001

Scott, not really a question for you, but an observation. Your recent reply about the "weird job of trying to make a record" made me want to cry out "you not only still have the OLD magic, but your new magic is even better!"

Scott: Thanks very much. It's not that I think that the last three or so Loud Family records weren't really good, it's that I'm not making much headway toward my goal, which is to make accessible music that gets my feelings across.

It's obvious from a single listen to any of your songs that you are an intelligent and thoughtful guy. Maybe you are too close to the process to see why your music is not "a hit": simply, no one knows about it. The reason I became a Loud Family fan was through a comment Aimee Mann made in an interview. She said when she writes a song she thinks "I wonder if Scott Miller would think this is a good song" and keeps at it until the answer is "yes". That was good enough for me even though I had not heard a single note. I bought Plants and Birds and went on from there. Your latest to my mind is your best and most focused work. It's also my favorite.

Don't think I haven't reflected on that Aimee Mann comment. Aimee is an example of someone who does what I want to do without introducing the layer of awkwardness my stuff has. Of course, she's a gifted singer and I'm not, but some people who aren't gifted singers still put together fantastic records with real emotional literacy that are well-crafted as entertainment -- Elliott Smith comes to mind. If I woke up one day and thought I'd figured out the key to doing that I'd probably try to make at least one more record.

Scott, you have done your share in the process. It is your label that has let you down. Your job is writing great music. Theirs is marketing it. It's not your listeners who are not responding to your music or think it is depressing. Its the very lack of listeners due to non-existent promotion. Look at Aimee Mann or Elvis Costello. They had huge early successes but recently, despite incredible work, fail to sell. Poor marketing.

I so appreciate the encouragement, but I just have to disagree with you. I'm not saying that for the right few people one of my records couldn't connect better, but taken in the balance, Aimee and E.C. have delivered where I haven't. As for labels letting me down, it's true if you look at it from a certain angle, but from my usual perspective it would seem kind of weird to point to the few people in the industry who have supported me at all and say "those people kept me from succeeding."

I know that does little to change the present circumstances. I just didn't want you to think you had failed to make wonderful records. And thank you very much for having done so.

Best regards,

Tom Galczynski

Thanks for a very thoughtful message.

--Aimless Man

 

November 19, 2001

Scott, I've been an attentive listener since the friend of a girl I was dating at the time put on Lolita Nation while were all sitting around his Mom's living room. That was back when I was a freshman in college. Objectivity compels me to me to admit that the relationship itself was a terribly bad decision on my part, but I've always sort of felt that the exposure I got to your music as a result of the relationship was a great consolation prize.

Scott: I can remember vaguely similar situations of listening to music as a freshman in college. The record coming to mind is More Songs About Buildings and Food by Talking Heads. It's strange to then think of making Lolita Nation as a wizened old indie rocker eight years later -- I was no longer quite making the record for which the hypothetical listener was the person I was in college. I no longer thought of making records that would be played for several people in a room. I remember going to an after-show party in Seattle in 1988 and they were playing Lolita Nation, and I felt this terrible chagrin, like "I wish I could have made this record differently for these people."

Anyway...here's my question...as one of the very few pop musicians capable of discussing pop music sensibly, have you seen the film High Fidelity and what did you think of it?

Bill Carmichael

I thought it was a terrific film -- not one that really ravished my soul or anything, but very good. You have to think the Beta Band were happy with it.

As for the ability to discuss pop music sensibly, pop music has a logic, but it's always the logic of all foregoing pop music. It's a different logic for different people depending on what you've heard. It's nice to have a community with the same canon so you can have a fruitful ongoing discussion of it. But young people are always throwing things off; they respond to marketing and tend to shove less deserving artists into the canon. It keeps things dynamic, but you get older and you get a weary realization along the lines of "this is never going to get anywhere."

hypothetical freshman consolation,

--Scott

 

Scott, I was just wondering if you had any idea why the beans...

Bil Orland

Scott: So many ideas it would bore you. For instance: the numbers were meant to (among other things) suggest the expression "bean counting."

--hasbean

 

November 12, 2001

Scott, first off, thanks a million times for your music; I've spent many hours enjoying it during our wonderful 8 month season of winter here in Minnesota.

Scott: Well, I aim to make those long winters as intolerable as I can, but sometimes I slip up.

I wanted to get your opinion of Chris Bell. My friend who introduced me to your music started my introduction to intelligent pop by handing me all of Big Star's records and a copy of I Am The Cosmos.

Wait a minute. Are you saying I am an egghead, they are the eggheads, or I am the cosmos? Thank you! I'm here through Saturday.

After reading various internet music critics (who are as common as air molecules, I might add) the opinions range from genius on par with Alex Chilton to some rather derogatory comments about his talent. It would be great to hear the opinion of someone with some credibility in the business.

I have no shred of that I'm sure, but here goes. I think he and Chilton were/are radically different people who happened to both be really good at Beatles-style rock music. They stood out from that crowd because (1) they had real ears for music, and (2) they could both put a nasty emotional edge on things when they needed to, the way John Lennon could. For Alex, I thought it was a little bit of a device -- a brilliant one -- where the schtick was getting adult, universal emotions across using adolescent language. At least that was the flavor I got from the funny spellings and not-quite-unironic hipster talk like "what's going ahn," "mod lang," "gurls," etc. You sort of feel just distanced enough by the style to not be uncomfortable receiving the rather bare-nerved subject matter. I don't think any such distance was happening with Chris Bell -- I think he just got infinitely serious in a lyric until it did some combination of breaking your heart and making you want to call him a cab home before he started losing it.

But to answer your question, Alex has blown my socks clean off -- as a writer, singer, and guitarist -- and I guess I don't think of Chris as quite having the firepower to produce song after song at the knockout level like Alex has, though he's done so in funny spurts, and undoubtedly there was a lot of wasted potential there because he couldn't get a good record deal, and he died very young.

Also, my four and a half year old daughter says she loves "Inverness." I bet you never thought you'd be sharing mental space with "Elmo," did you?

I thought we'd be meeting muppets in the cutout bins if anywhere.

A big fan in the cold, wet North,

Corey Smith

thank you very much for writing

--"Don't-Even-Think-Of-Tickling-Me, Elmo"

 

November 5, 2001

Scott, what are the lyrics to the harmony being sung in the second section of "Sister Sleep" (beginning with "Last few holidays")? -- I have been unable to decipher them, and they ain't on the site.

Thanks,

Philip Welsh

Scott: Hi Philip -- thanks for writing. For a while, I'm pretty sure it's just the same lines I'm singing, only delayed (sung by Kenny). Then they're different when Alison comes in, which I was going to say I wouldn't remember until...I just now found a note of them that I filed away:

Taking all the things we've found
That come off easily
Being all the things around
That anyone could be
Saying all the words that wait for us to say them

Every liberation comes
That someone's waiting for
Every generation is
The one they can't ignore
How imagina - tions run

Still in time for carolers to start arranging!

--sister sludge

 

October 29, 2001

Scott, I really enjoy your combination of humility and sagacity in your Ask Scott exchange. Thank you.

Scott: Hey, that's an illusion that I should probably take greater care not to shatter than is my current plan. But thank you very much.

I also enjoy your lack of comment on 911. Thank you again; you show a great deal of brilliance by your poise.

Well, that actually wasn't brilliance, it was being out of the country at the time. I ended up deciding to comment in favor of the U.S. military action in Afghanistan, mostly because I think there's no possibility that anyone who reads this site stands any chance of erring on the pro-military side, and in fact there's something of a pernicious mechanism tending in the other direction. Five years ago, before I'd studied cultural violence much, I would have read my opinion of last week, and I would have had this "Ask Scott" person all figured out: this Scott has succumbed to thinking in abstract nationalistic terms, in the logic of which a few innocent Afghan lives are expendable. The prick. I, on the other hand, hold every human life sacred.

I would like to explain myself to myself, so to speak, starting by posing an upsetting question. Which, of the following, is worse news?:

1. A thousand people have just died.

2. One person has just died, and it is your fault.

I will tell you that I think it goes near to the core of the human soul to have 2 be worse news; I'm not sure it could even be unlearned. I can say that I was greatly saddened to hear the news of the Kobe earthquake. So was everyone reading this. Yet, ultimately, well, terrible things do happen, and we move on. But let me compare that reaction to my imagined reaction if, say, I were visiting Kobe, and due to breaking a minor traffic law, struck and killed a child while driving a car. I would probably feel devastation beyond my comprehension. If there were some metaphysical choice between the earthquake happening or my killing the child, might I not secretly pray to the depths of my soul for it to be the earthquake?

Happily this mental exercise doesn't apply regularly to our lives, but I think it applies when confronting genocide.

We usually feel that we, personally, would have opposed Hitler had we been there; we all know that diplomatic efforts were continually tried and continually failed, but we think that in some unspecified sense, we wouldn't have given in like people at the time did. Let's imagine a leader contemporary to Hitler resolving to oppose the Nazis at an early enough stage to save millions of lives. How would it go, picturing yourself to be that leader? For starters, some words come out of your mouth that you are not used to. Nazis aren't a distant historical icon here, they are people, maybe countrymen, and you are acutely aware that what you are ordering is basically for enough of them to be shot to death that there are no longer enough left to carry out their operations.

But you press on. Your resolve pays off, and you stop Hitler and prevent the Holocaust. Is there great relief among nations, and agreement that you acted correctly? Remember -- whatever you prevented is no longer available as evidence that you were in the right. Why, as everyone tried to tell you, we were at exactly the point where diplomatic means were working with Hitler! A day of peace was dawning, and here you came with your war machine, your overgrown boys and their destructive toys, and you caused a new, unnecessary bloodbath. Innocents were killed. In your na´vetÚ, you failed to realize what any of us humanitarians could have told you, which is that by making war on the Nazis, you become like the Nazis -- as bad as they are. Well, this is certain: you acted without our approval. We know what you wanted: their resources, and power for yourself!

That is the sort of protective bubble I'm afraid forms around genocidal programs. There is at any time excessive disincentive to keep them from acting again. Essentially, a new round of their murders would be the Kobe earthquake, while our attacking their power would be us hitting the child in the car. Favor attacking, and we become responsible. God forbid someone point at us and say "genocide," even if the accusation is farfetched and indirect. The persecutors themselves play no such blame game. With a notion such as the infidel, they can designate certain people to be outside the realm where guilt accrues to their murderers. We have some vestigial versions of that concept (let's not kid ourselves), but nothing nearly so expedient.

For it to be possible to oppose genocide, we need not relax our valuation of life, but rather to ask of ourselves to treat incidents of mass murder as unfinished business, rather than presume at any given moment that the killing is over, simply on the unspoken grounds that presuming it's over is the path of least personal responsibility.

At any other period of time I will recommend that Americans be self-critical to their hearts' content, but right now asking ourselves why the terrorists would be so angry that they murder us is probably inappropriate. To refer to Nazi genocide again, it would have been damaging -- to humanity -- for the persecuted Jews to ask "how can we be better people, and not be so hated?" and for their kindly neighboring countries to say "here is how you Jews can rethink your policies, so you can build a coalition of sympathy." The victims of a mass murder become innocent by structure, and the only acceptable response -- by them and by the world -- is to proclaim that innocence, and oppose the persecutors. Which opposition always makes persecutors very furious and vengeful -- always destabilizes the region.

Let's not let our ultimate logic be that because it yields the greatest personal satisfaction to position ourselves as morally superior to America's leaders, it must never be considered possible that the actions of America's leaders could legitimately protect victims from persecutors.

Anything else you'd like to praise me for not talking about?

I found myself printing out your lyrics as I listened to Attractive Nuisance, marvelling at the beauty of the thing you had much to do with making.

Unfortunately, as I read the lyrics to "Years of Wrong Impressions" I was disappointed to find myself categorizing the first few lines

Design your life
To live as if you're in a movie
And after three hours
Anyone is going to think
It's gone on too long

Ah, the many ways I can disappoint on close examination...

as also belonging to the category of "bitter about popular failure" that I had assigned many other songs on this album. Scott. For the most part, I think the first two lines are excellent advice, and it is sad to me that the last three lines cast doubt on the worthiness of applying the first two. Note that they do not say that you should expect things to turn out as though they were in a movie. Can you say that it would have been better if you did not live your life so?

Bruce Scanlon

Well, you know, rock lyrics are always a little bit of a Rorschach test. They do better at pointing to issues than they do nailing down specific conclusions. But to play the game a little, if you mean it's good to live your life with a sort of lusty appreciation for being alive, and a measure of accountability, it's good to live as if you're in a movie. But it's possible for that to turn into a version of life that involves buying into what other people expect, playing to the cheap seats, you might say. Maybe one check on playing to the cheap seats is that it gets old. After you buy into several versions of Hollywood sentimentality, you realize they don't add up to much besides "following your dreams is good," where "your dreams" are to do better than the people around you. You'll want to have simplistic versions of "your dreams" cancel each other out over many periods of "three hours," so that at least you'll live life as if you're in a good movie.

Bonzo doesn't even go to Hollywood,

--Scott

 

October 22, 2001

Scott, "Aerodeliria" is one of my all time favorites. What brought on the zany piano opening? I love the confusion and craziness that it exudes!

Sean MacMillan

Scott: Thank you very much. Paul Wieneke played it, of course. I wanted something that sounded "delirious," like the song title. The track was a combination of sequencer (programmed in advance and played by computer), and real time performance. Impressively, he could recreate it pretty well live, as I am reminded from the live recording 125 Records will hopefully be putting out once all the legal issues are squared away.

here come old laptop

--Scott

 

Scott, Which Bible Hero Are You?

A bit silly, but good-humored. I figure you could walk us through your answers one by one, or just cut to the chase and reveal your secret identity!

Andrew Hamlin

Scott: Hi Andy! I don't think it would be all that entertaining to walk through it since it was usually such a toss-up what my answer would be. For the record, however, according to the scientific computation at the end, I am:

25 - 34: JOSEPH. Self-assured and proud of it, you're leadership material through and through. Hey, can you help it if other people think you know it all? You do!

Wow, this could be the horoscope-like feature Judeo-Christianity has been lacking.

Conversely, how about: astrological sign icons set in tales of ancient desert tribal conflict? "It is up to you to defend the land of Zodiach, Sagittarius; our sacrifice of Aries did not bring fire from Baal!"

--odd Job

 

October 15, 2001

Scott, what do you make of all this nasty terrorism all of a sudden? (East meets west conflicts interest you, as you've mentioned.)

Scott: I can't place the terrorist attacks in that category of concern. I do not think of Islam as Eastern in that sense for one thing, and in fact I don't really know very much about Islam. Like almost all Americans, I am eager to take the word of mainstream Moslem clerics who say the terrorists' actions had nothing whatsoever to do with true Islam.

We have to assume the terrorist suicide pilots considered themselves to be martyrs for a cause. I feel compelled to explain their failure on the level of martyrdom, and I suspect it would have been shocking news to them that their actions did not at least constitute an impressive martyrdom in the eyes of their victims' people.

The word "martyr" comes from the Greek for "witness," expressing that the early Christians would endure virtually any extreme of agony and still proclaim their faith -- even when the only ones to proclaim it to were the torturers. That is the cultural basis for the sort of martyrdom by which Americans would be impressed; we think "only a rare soul is capable of that." On the other hand, Americans are quite used to the occasional murderer killing a number of innocent people out of rage, then killing himself. That act requires some species of nerve no doubt, but it is not impressive to us. We would never ask "what is the truth to which such a one wishes to bear witness for the world?" We simply assume this was a vapid soul whose spitefulness got the better of all higher faculties.

Moreover, anyone staging an event in which he will play the role of a martyr is certainly not one. It is not the same bravery as the bravery of martyrdom to arrange a quick death on one's own terms. Martyrdom involves death on unwelcome terms, delivery into the hands of one's enemies; and a true martyr would be loath to take people with himself or herself to death, because these are precious witnesses and a martyr's motivation is that there be witnesses to the final truth he or she can convey. The terrorists' motivation, like that of American schoolyard snipers, reads to us as a matter of scratching the itch for control, for a cheap and fleeting experience of personal advantage, not of rarefied spiritual discipline.

What do you think should happen vs. what do you think will probably happen? Ten points if you figure out who the terrorist group is before the president does.

David Werking

I wish the world were such that I could say "we must not retaliate, thus teaching peace by our example." I really do believe that world will come some day. In the meantime, we must deal with the fact of people and groups to whom it is unrealistic to try to teach peace in a short time, and we must forcefully defend innocents they would murder if that is reasonably possible.

I trust the U.S. government's identification of the terrorist group, and I think we are doing the right thing by attacking them with as scrupulous as possible an avoidance of civilian casualties. I would not claim to know the minds of Osama bin Laden's followers well, but given their statements, they superficially resemble a fascist group. The fascist interpretation of a lack of response from their victims is that destiny approves -- fate is turning in their favor due to their actions, and these successes should be repeated. The means of fascism and the ends of fascism are inseparable. The aggression itself synthesizes the group's unity and direction. Aggression is what they do; they'll never decide America is injured enough, and now they will form a softball team. Their ability to do what they do must unfortunately be impeded by violent means (though not with vengeful motives, I hasten to add; we have to know when it makes sense to stop).

Long before the U.S. entered World War II, before the global Nazi threat was obvious, Thomas Mann (who was German) gave a brilliant lecture to American universities arguing that the Nazis had to be opposed militarily. If you have read Thomas Mann, you know that he is nobody's warmonger. It was clear to him very early that democracy would ultimately prevail, and it was also clear to him that Hitler would necessitate the full strength of its opposition. He said that Americans did not understand fascism -- that there is no such thing as appeasing it to stop the violence, because violence is itself at the core of fascism. I think we must treat the terrorists as fascists, or even as a gang -- a group whose social solidarity depends on its own shared aggression--not as adherents of an ideology we can debate independently of how they carry it out.

thanks for writing,

--Scott

 

October 8, 2001

Scott, my friend was recently listening to Plants and Birds and Rocks and Things while reading along with the lyrics on loudfamily.com. She noticed that the site's lyrics for "Spot the Setup" read:

"I used to be the cold stare, don't care
Stay fresh in the Fridgedaire
I just assumed that was amore."

Both of us had been hearing the lyric as "a more," meaning a societal convention, rather than "amore", as in "when the moon hits your eye..." Despite the fact that "amore" does make perfect sense, we thought "a more" was cooler. Could it be a typo or an intentional pun, or are we simply misunderstanding lyrics?

I guess you could say it was an intentional pun. One reason I don't like printing lyrics is that there are opportunities for phonetic ambiguities, and if you print the lyrics, you have to pin an ambiguous sounding phrase down to one or the other way of hearing it. And unfortunately you just can't print "amore (a more)," as if you were very proud of that little touch. I'm trying to think of another time I've intended ambiguous hearing that would be worth noting; I know there have been a lot of them, but the ones I can think of right now are really non-life-changing. For instance, in one called "Chokehold Princess," I liked that you could hear either "right-there audacity" or "ride their audacity." That sort of thing.

At the risk of sounding extremely redundant, we both absolutely love your music, and want to thank you both for the records and for one of the best-run official band pages we've seen. Your lyrical and musical complexity makes your albums get better every time one listens to them. Though no one else we know has ever heard of your music, it's most certainly their loss.

Teresa M. & Megan W.

Well, thank you much for those very generous compliments, on behalf of Sue Trowbridge and also all the people who made the records with me. It's true that not a great number of people have been interested in them so it's that much nicer to hear when people are.

[ps: Would you consider a button version of those bumper stickers?]

I'd be all over a button that says "look for the Loud Family bumper sticker."

sounding extremely redundant (intentionally!)

--Scott

 

September 17, 2001

Scott, from interviews and responses that you have written on your website, you seem baffled by both your successes and failures. I believe that your popularity status is due to the following:

1) You will always have a diehard (if perhaps small) fan base because there are many of us out there who are absolutely bored with the crap that radio forces upon us and need to be challenged by interesting music. You have consistently provided us with that kind of music. Not only that, you make enjoyable records to listen to. You have written many great melodies and have some great one liner lyrics.

Scott: Thanks very much. Sometimes I look back on "one liner" lyrics with a certain amount of embarrassment. I know critics have always had a low tolerance for anything that the writer apparently thought was clever, and I can see their point; I'm glad some people like what I've come up with (you can't really help what ideas you get).

2) I really cannot believe that you have ever really entertained the thought of having any hits due to the kind of music you write.

I decided at about age 16 that I would never have conventional hits, but from about age 21 to 27 I was pretty convinced I was on track to have a slightly oddball yet sustainable career, maybe like Talking Heads or Sonic Youth. I never expected to have a really huge following, but when college radio went grunge, and then Moby/Stereolabby, there sort of stopped being that community of a hundred thousand mildly-interested people that you need to have the records continue to have a just-decent-enough chance to sell. You could kind of play a Game Theory song after a Prince song, or maybe even a Cocteau Twins song, and people wouldn't hate you, but after a Mudhoney song, or a Chemical Brothers song, that was starting to be more of a hanging offense.

The average idiot out there would never take the time to discover the pleasures of your music and is unable to get past your complex lyrics and unorthodox singing voice. There is no place for the Loud Family next to those who buy Creed and Matchbox 20.

3) The question I would ask is, were you able to create the kind of music that you set out to create? If you did, then you were successful, if not, then you did your best.

In my opinion, Plants and Birds is one of the greatest 10 rock/pop albums of all time. I have listened to it many times and still am amazed by the wealth of musical ideas in that wonderful album. An absolute masterpiece!!! (Lolita Nation, however, too weird!!!)

Mike Hogan

I've always tried to make records that have both what I love about regular old pop songs and also what I love about more adventurous styles of music; every now and then someone thinks I got it just right (and Plants and Birds often being the album where they think it happened), but no doubt most people just think I occupy some uninteresting middle ground between reallybold composition and reallycatchy composition. Like you say, you do your best.

thanks for a nice email,

--Screedchbox

 

September 10, 2001

Scott, you wrote, "I thought of the last Loud Family record as my last record when I was doing it, but if some day the occassion just screams for me to crawl out of my cave again one day, I'll keep the encouragement of people like yourself in mind." I'd like to throw another letter on that pile marked "encouragement."

Scott: I'm much obliged to you.

I'm always shocked to discover that the work of so many of my literary heroes -- from Melville to Nathanael West to you -- went underappreciated or ignored during their lives. I don't know how or why they kept at their work, but -- based on your comments above -- I'm hoping you might be considering continuing to record and release your music.

Your music is flat out my favorite man-made thing in the world. I've been a dazzled, spine-tingled fan of yours for twelve years now and, for me personally, your songs have been everything from salve (mitigating the disappointments of adult life) to salvation (quasiphonic-religious ecstatic experience listening to your work).

I consider you to be my favorite contemporary literary artist, one who is the practitioner of a form that has quite not yet been delineated and appreciated (I'm not quite sure what it is myself!) You'd be among my favorite modern poets (Larkin, Milosz) if you wrote only words.

Well, that's spectacularly charitable of you to say. I notice that I had said "if some day the occasion just screams for me to crawl out of my cave again one day..." and our readers will want it acknowledged that if you know one thing about the person who wrote that, it is that he should not be anyone's favorite contemporary literary artist. "Some day" and "one day" in the same sentence?

But you're being nice, and I don't want to digress from that. Actually, not only are you encouraging me by being nice, you're encouraging me by bothering to have a relationship to literary art -- a serious enough one to arrive at Philip Larkin and Czeslaw Milosz, who I'd maybe agree are the two best recent poets I know anything about. There's Richard Wilbur, too.

And your melodies are, to my ears, purely transcendant things. Songs like "Blackness," "Helpful," and "Princess" are to me not so much pop/rock songs, as objects of beauty.

Thank you so much. You must realize that the math that goes on in my head these days is something to the effect of: if five people in the world feel that way, it's not quite enough, but if forty people feel that way, maybe it isn't too unforgivable that I've yet again troubled another couple thousand to confirm that it is right to dismiss it as being as dated and pointless as it sounds to them.

I suppose I should wish you well-deserved happiness in your retirement from what seems to be a great calling but lousy business. But your response above got that Xmas morning/first day of spring/new Scott Miller release feeling stirring.

Sincerely,

Mark Portier

I'll keep my eye out for an opportunity to do a project, but it will almost certainly be a while before one presents itself. I don't want to do something technically half-assed, but I don't want the budget to devastate any poor little record company, either.

randy for antique,

--Scott

 

September 3, 2001

Scott, what was the prevailing thought on nuclear war through the seventies and early eighties in your immediate circle? It seems like the subject crept in to the new wave scene but in a characteristically detached way. I guess I am young for one of your fans, having been born right around the time of your first records, but in my catching up I hear a real resignation in the voices of otherwise impetuous artists. To illustrate, even your own songs with Alternate Learning have nuclear threat lurking in the background. But when you say there's a Fat Man aboard the Enola Gay it rings so matter of fact and hollow. It and Devo and even The Vapors' New Clear Days seem to lack the genuine concern and worry I read, for instance, in the works of Martin Amis and Paul Auster at that time (and that I get a sense of in your own later thoughts). Am I misinterpreting? Wax on...

Scott: It's hard for me to explain the tone of a lot of the lyrics I've written, especially from when I was as lost a lyric writer as I was in 1980. I've always had a bit of a thing about Eastern vs. Western culture, and in my earlier and less coherent moments I'd typically just be trying to get down some emotion such as observing the love and hate relationships with China and Japan that that I'd seen going on in American popular culture in my lifetime. It's a good criticism that it wasn't even clear that I was emotional.

I was pretty dead serious about fearing nuclear annihilation at that time. Also, they had just reinstated draft registration for males my age. Vietnam had only been over for about four years, and war still felt close to home all the time. It's a pretty clarifying experience to be as disillusioned as young people were about U.S. foreign policy at that time, and, when a snag like Afghanistan comes up, to notice that someone's solution is to send random other people -- you -- to go take care of business. You realize that culture is full of loopholes; it's ordinarily considered socially unacceptable to decide you need some killing done, and to coerce an innocent bystander to carry out the killing at his peril, but there are any number of ways to get that to fly if we're serious about it.

If you pin people down with absolutely no escape to explain why they think the draft is okay, you will get an argument that goes something like this: well, my God, if we didn't draft 20-year-old men, we could get hurt! It was a long road for me to get past a sort of Pynchonian paranoiac attitude, and aspects of it are all too valid.

Also, can you help me out with Nabokov's Pale Fire? I just can't get through it. What is he getting at? Why should I read it?

Why force yourself? The point is that the professor goes through the whole book grafting nonsensical and self-serving interpretations onto human relationships and what he considers high-minded exchanges of ideas. If it's enjoyable to have that sort of a juicy accusation lobbed at humanity (or some sector of humanity you think is being righteously picked on), great; otherwise, I can see it being on the dreary side. I still haven't gotten through the book of Lolita, just because it's too relentless. The movie was just my speed.

Your music has always meant an awful lot to me. You should know that while the first CD I ever bought was Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em, the second one was Lolita Nation.

It's Millertime,

Alex Knox

Well, thank you, that does mean a lot to me. That title Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em was always so amazing to me -- he's simultaneously the threat and the peace.

please, Carter, don't hurt 'em

--Scott

 

August 20, 2001

Scott, this isn't a question or anything. I just thought I'd say thank you for making this music that none of my friends (except a few who make music) seem to appreciate.

I thought I'd provide you with a little information that might assist you in marketing your next album.

Mostly I listen to the usual art rock (Yes, Blue Oyster Cult, Dave Matthews Band, Grateful Dead, ELP, Renaissance, Starcastle, Horslips, Spirit, Jethro Tull, Toto, Rush, Pink Floyd, Bruce Dickinson, Triumvirat are in my CD "to play" stack).

Scott: Starcastle, Horslips, Bruce Dickinson, and Triumvirat are "usual"? The only one of those I've even heard is Horslips. There are a couple of very nice pop/prog numbers on "The Man Who Built America," I thought.

I have never heard Game Theory or The Loud Family ever mentioned in any advertising or ever heard any of it played on the radio (my car radio is on modern rock, I heard more than enough Rolling Stones when I was young). Oh, I'm 43.

"Modern rock" stations have been giving me trouble for about the last six years. For a while, KITS in San Francisco was unbelievably good; you would actually hear Kirsty MacColl and Echobelly in there with the NIN. Now it's awful techno or, if you're really lucky, Blink182. If you can get it, stream www.3wk.com. There's some pretty half-baked college/alt material to wade through (God is still punishing me for my own sins in that area), but it's by far the best station I know of.

I found Game Theory by my habit of buying CDs from groups I've never heard of simply based on some combination of their name, song titles, and cover art. (Some other bands I found this way that come to mind would be Trilobite, Tesla, Mason's Box, Catherine Wheel, Boiled in Lead, Disappear Fear.) The reason I'm mentioning this is because I think that your cover art, song title choice and album name choice is important for sales. I studied mathematics for way too many years, so I naturally picked up a copy of Game Theory when I saw it for sale.

I found Loud Family because one was in a bargain bin and it mentioned the connection to Game Theory. Finally, I got around to typing in enough lyrics to find the web site. I'll now get around to ordering the albums I'm missing, though I seem to have found 3/4 of them.

I like the complexity of the music and the slightly cerebral lyrics, for instance "Why We Don't Live in Mauritania." My least favorite parts are where there's talking and too experimental stuff. (See the first interludes on Days For Days, an album that I can nevertheless listen to over and over, especially "Good, There Are No Lions In The Street" and "Sister Sleep.")

Yes, "talking and experimental stuff" has been a recurring subject here at "Ask Scott." I realize that sort of passage can get old fast, so when I have such a concept for a recording, I try to keep the actual clock time of it to a minimum. I was in fact afraid Days For Days would tax listeners too much, and for people who weren't overly familiar with my material, it did. In recent times, I haven't had any remix budget, so whatever was there at the last day of the session was basically it. I thought most of it came out great (thanks to Tom Carr and Tim Walters), but I'd have tightened up my production work on the tracks-1-to-3 section if I'd had that extra few hundred bucks.

Probably my favorite album is Plants and Birds and Rocks and Things, and of this, my favorite cuts are:
"Sword Swallower"
"Aerodeliria" (This reminds me of how Starcastle fills the bandwidth from 20Hz to 20KHz)
"Idiot Son" (I love the lyrics.)
"Inverness" (A great song)
"Isaac's Law"

So keep cutting those albums, and I'll keep buying them. With production of only 10K per I don't see how this can possibly make money for you.

Carl Brannen

Thanks. I thought of the last Loud Family record as my last record when I was doing it, but if some day the occassion just screams for me to crawl out of my cave again one day, I'll keep the encouragement of people like yourself in mind.

we are the Mink Hollow men,

--Scott

 

Scott, as I know you are wont to make references to other artists' song titles and lyrics, does the title "Controlled Burn (Parts and 1 and 2)" have any connection to the James Brown tunes that he frequently and inexplicably divided into arguably undiscernible "parts?" I know your song has its own dividing line, but I can't help imagining that you tossed in the parenthetical title for Brown-derived kicks.

Chris Perry

Scott: I never really thought about it, but I think that's generally how my mind was working. I guess it seemed interesting to me to have the word "burn" as you might have seen it in a hot, dance-floor funk title, and then lyrics with a sort of inner turmoil quality. And as you mention, James Brown had the "parts I and II" business.

--a brand new man's, man's, man's, cold sweat bag

 

July 30, 2001

Scott, your site must have the best content of any band site on the Web. The "Ask Scott" feature is my favorite... you've given me many ideas to pursue.

Scott: Thanks, and I agree that the site is great -- thanks there to Sue Trowbridge!

Here's a question that's been bugging me: what is it about Dylan that keeps him at the forefront of our culture? He's made a load of bad records... If he were writing books or making movies as bad, he'd have been written off long ago.

What gives?

Richard Cusick

I agree with the many people who think Dylan may stand as the most important lyricist of the rock era, and for the very reasons he gives you and me trouble. It's funny; I was just crowing about my taste in underrated records, and you come along to remind me that I haven't risen to some real and obvious challenges, such as a number of Dylan records.

Dylan is rock's model for indifference toward the audience's initial reaction. It is because of Dylan that almost all pop artists emit big talk about making records for no one but themselves (as I certainly have). But Dylan did it with less obvious precedent because he has a deeper sense of prophetic structure than other artists. Most of us artists think our work will be misunderstood because we represent difference, that the audience is disturbed by the unknown. I believe Dylan is more likely to recognize that the trouble comes when an artist comes too close to showing us the known which we'd rather ignore -- the two sides to the stories that we'd much rather think have only one side.

The idea comes across in an easy dose in "Like a Rolling Stone." The singer upbraids a person who has become poor for having had contempt for the poor in the past. This is an important aspect of the prophetic: the revealing of what seems like a reasonable worldview as having really been self-serving. It's tricky business, though. Even if the lyric has the miraculous curative effect that you suddenly see the poor with charitable eyes this may simply be to serve your new self, which derives social benefit from casting the rich as the bad people. And even if you go on to be cured of that prejudice, too, you probably now divide the world up equally critically into the good, unprejudiced people like you and the bad, prejudiced people, like you five minutes ago.

Still, it's an excellent song, but I think one way to speak of Dylan's exceptional value is that he has identified that pattern of self-redefinition and has not shrunk from the task of chasing it down to an unavoidable personal reckoning, though it has resulted in difficult work.

pouring off of Sue's web page like it was written in your soul,

--Scott

 

July 23, 2001

Scott, I was amazed at your top ten list 1980-1985 and could not believe how similar our lists are.

Scott: That's great. Although I'm looking at them and I don't think I started being dead wrong starting with 1986!

And pre-1980, I think I've had a lot of hindsight swing my way, to the point that it's not even now apparent that this once reflected unusual taste. For instance, I can't tell you what a left-field choice Lust For Life was for best album of 1977 back in the day. The Iggy fans thought he'd lost it after Raw Power, and if you look at things like the (first edition of the) Rolling Stone record guide and Christgau, it and The Idiot always got these really tepid reviews. I was feeling vindicated around the time of Trainspotting, but now with the Pricess Cruise commercials or whatever it's on, I'm a little conflicted!

I saw Bonnie Hayes on the list, and Good Clean Fun and Bangles' All Over the Place are my two favorite pop albums of the eighties. I am dying to find Good Clean Fun on CD. Any ideas?

Ken Jasch

It probably isn't out on CD. Unfortunately, I wasn't even swift enough to pick up the album when it was in print. A bunch of great songs, though. "Shelley's Boyfriend" is just a masterpiece.

it was not all that they led you to believe it would be,

--Scott

 

July 16, 2001

Scott, I read your June 4 "Ask Scott" reply and took particular note of your following statement:

"Still, I think you can pin Gautama Buddha down, canonically speaking, to have proclaimed that desire is to be avoided if life is to be happy. ... I am terribly, terribly, wrapped up in desire, in everything I do."

As I understand it, it is not so much desire itself, but the attachment to the desire that is the trouble. As Deshimaru in The Zen Way to the Martial Arts says: "Desire itself is natural and is harmful or misleading only when we cling to or resist it."

Easier said than done to be sure. What I, being a Westerner, find most difficult about Zen is letting go of my singularity, my "self." The self is such an intrinsic, essential element in Western EVERYTHING that to live and move in it and maintain the idea that the self is an illusion is proving to be extremely difficult.

Tom Galczynski

Scott: Thanks for reading and writing back, and for making such a good point.

It's probably time for at least a little actual scripture. "The Fire Sermon" (Aditta-pariyaya Sutta, Samyutta Nikaya XXXV.28, translated by Bhikkhu Thanissaro) is online. The Buddha addresses 1000 monks, and the "he" here is "the instructed noble disciple":

"Disenchanted [with the senses, the body, the intellect], he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion, he is fully released. With full release, there is the knowledge, 'Fully released.' He discerns that 'Birth is depleted, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'"

I like the word "disenchanted" here; in my mind, it points to the same truth you bring up: the trouble isn't the senses, the body and the intellect, but rather their tendency to enchant and bedazzle, falsely projecting a point of fulfillment, a goal which if attained will deliver lasting happiness.

But I can locate my own trouble in application with the word "release," especially the release which comes with a "task done." 2500 years ago in India, Buddha could refer to a "task" and not have to convince anyone that human action had ultimate significance. It's my understanding (I invite correction) that any of Buddha's early adherents would have believed in reincarnation according to deeds, and Buddha nuanced within that general notion; Confucianism was entrenched in China, meaning personal acts conferred glory or shame on relatives living and dead with an intensity we can't fathom. If early Buddhists wrangled with desire, a lot was at stake. In the post-religious cosmos of either Zen or Western modernity, if you are "released" from the slavery of desire, it invites the question: so what? What are you now free to pursue if you are disenchanted with all desire? Will your long, smug disdain for the improper cares of your less enlightened fellow humans really pass for bliss?

Can the "task" Gautama Buddha treats with such importance simply be not to have a task? I personally don't read Buddhist scripture as that sort of ur-existentialism. For his audience it is a wonderfully completing worldview, but without a "holy life," a spirituality of life and death, if you don't "cling to or resist" a desire, I'm not sure what third thing you can possibly do with it. For Buddha, or a Westerner as late as Dante, a third option is that you bring desire into coherence with a religious experience that transcends desire's initial, limited picture of personal reward. For the sake of plain speaking, I'll say that "transcendent religious experience" means feeling deeply that what "you" do will matter to "you" after you die -- and how you define "you" is, as you note, what is at stake.

It's historically dubious, but maybe correct at some level, to think of Buddha as observing the individual self emerging from the ancient, mythologically constituted societal self, and wanting to stave off the danger of personal advantage becoming everything, seeing as he did a truth larger than "existential" truth.

it really does depend on what your definition of "is" is,

--Scott

 

July 9, 2001

Scott, I just ordered your Attractive Nuisance CD. I always liked your music and would love to hear you play live. Your voice brings back memories of a great time in my life. What could be better than being young, in love, and immersed in live music? Although, as a side note, I must admit I have come full circle and now find myself living in the same neighborhood as George and Mary B.!

Scott: Tina -- what a pleasant surprise! I hope you're doing well. For everyone else, (Dr.) George and Mary B. are the very wonderful parents of Game Theory/Loud Family alumni Jozef and Nancy Becker; they and my parents live in Sacramento, CA and are good friends.

Who, by the way, encouraged me to write. But, I digress. Now back to the main question... Do you have any upcoming gigs in Northern California?

Tina Roberts Cannon

Two, and you just missed them, but I seem not to know when to quit, so there will probably be more. I would like to do a show in Sacramento. What I'd really like to do is a 25-year anniversary show on the quad at Rio Americano High School in 2002, because it would be so effortless to recapture that atmosphere of playing "Astronomy Domine" and "Drive In Saturday" to a whole bunch of kids who were wishing we would just go the hell away.

fond regards,

--'Mentos

 

July 2, 2001

Scott, I have a cassette that I purchased in 1988, the cover reads "Masi: Downtown Dreamers" but the tape inside is actually one of yours..."Game Theory: 2 Steps from the Middle Ages." Did you know anything about this oops?

Scott: No, although that and the copies of Lolita Nation which went out in the "Metal Blade" subsidiary long box go a long way toward explaining why we drew big crowds for about a year there.

After 13 years I finally typed in your lyrics on the internet to find out who the artist really is that sings the songs I enjoy so much. Any info you have would be greatly appreciated.

A fan for 13 years that never knew your name,

C. Rohman

Expecting what I assume are the less earthbound sounds of Masi, it can't have been easy to give us a chance; I thank you.

Info: we broke up. I released five albums with another band. That broke up. '96/'98 live album soon! (maybe).

--nonMasi star

 

Scott, a few weeks ago, I stop at my friend's oasis in the Bronx, a short stopover before I head to Israel. He plays music from a group I had never heard of and I am jammin' all the way to Jerusalem. I feel I know music well, growing up in New Orleans and such. Now I am on the plains of Nebraska and I am still jammin' to Loud Family. I have not been this excited about a group since my teenage years when Todd was God and Crack the Sky blew away ELO in the opening act at the warehouse in New Orleans. We gotta meet one day. Do you do jazz festival in New Orleans?

shalom uvracha,

Bar Sela

Scott: I've been to New Orleans a few times, and none of those times could I tell you with any confidence that there was not a jazz festival going on. I've been to the plains of Nebraska, too, and there when no jazz festival is going on, one feels one can declare the fact with crisp certainty.

Thank you for writing and for the compliment on the music. I'd love to meet one day.

manov lamancha

--Scott

 

More Ask Scott:

 January-June 2001
 July-December 2000
 February-June 2000
 July 1999-January 2000
 March-June 1999
 September 1998-February 1999
 May-August 1998
 January-April 1998
 July-December 1997

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