The Firewood manifesto.




Written by an All-Star cast of

your Favorite People.


Dedicated to the artists and

the musicians who make

our days livable.





Edited by Ryan Trask


Essays and contributions

by Ryan Trask

Laurel Fischer

Mark Smith

David Thorpe

Tate Deans

Steve Hudson


and Walker Roach.


Further assistance

from Tyler Lewis

Lavon McMurtrie

and Come Louder.



April 23, 2004.



"Speak loudly, even if your voice shakes." – Lara Lihiya


In that case, "All music is praise. . . to the god of your making. Which, in the case of a rock star, might be oneself. Or a woman. Or an idea." – Bono





Good evening, ladies and gentlemen

What is your desire?

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen

Explosions and fire


Good evening, ladies and gentlemen

Are you prepared to rok[1]?

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen

Let's rok.


Do you have any idea what it takes to rok?

Every night, every day, every night

Plug us in and watch us pump out sound

Comin' to you so you don't have to leave town


This is the show, we are the band

Sometimes, it just takes you by the hand...


- the Presidents of the United States of America

"Ladies and Gentlemen, pt. 1"






I published the first Rok Essay in my livejournal, which is protected and limited to a few users and not available for the public, on March 7th, 2004, just a few days after I left Idyllwild Arts. I did not expect to receive such positive feedback, nor encouragement to keep writing the cycle, but then again, I did end the thing with a stadium-pumping "do you believe?", so I suppose I had it coming.


Seven more were written, and I had started to compile quotes and all sorts of things around them; epigraphs, interludes, and quotes I've now gone back and sprinkled throughout, a few of which are actually new.


I followed the first with a loosely related rant on the 12th, which again garnered a lot more acclaim than I thought it could ever possibly receive, especially given that it wasn't nearly as fanatical, or interesting, or far-reaching, as the first.


Two days later, I published the third, adding further credibility to the arguments mostly hashed in the first and lightly brushed upon in the second. Number three was probably the one where the most people chimed in with support, both by way of thread replies and people contacting me in other ways (phone, email, IM) to agree or talk about it or just to give me a thumbs-up. At this point, it became a dialogue now headed by the talking points published in my livejournal.


I would at this time also like to mention how grateful I am for each word of support and each constructive comment.


Save the final installment, essays four and onward were not as good, in my opinion, but still hit home the point. I completely turned number eight on its head about halfway through, leaving the first part intact and suddenly stopping to say "let's actually begin the process".


Now that I have said all I wanted to say with these essays, I have compiled them, for greater ease of use, and to create a singular reference point for all things revolution, including our upcoming text, the Masterplan.


Behold, the Firewood Manifesto.




Ryan Trask

21 April 2004




Rok Essay #1.


I gotta go to church more.  This was my second Sunday in a row in a few years, and there were some extremely gorgeous women in there.  While the church's Sunday night pastor may not be as charismatic as the normal pastor, and his homilies may be more boring, I repeat this fact, THERE WERE SOME EXTREMELY GORGEOUS WOMEN IN THERE.

That is why I believe in God. You know, music + food + women.

In other good news, The Great Restriction seems to be buried[2].  Mother is at home.  She knows I go on the internet all the time, and do whatever the hell I want.  I am online right now, doing nothing of great importance (except keeping some dreams about Rok music alive).  I am blasting R.E.M.'s "The Wake-Up Bomb" (off New Adventures in Hi-Fi, get that album TODAY if you don't have it), and she's not batting an eye. 

Today, I prayed for the music.  Here's how I see it: When good things happen, that's when God (who is, if you forgot, like Shaft) says "This is good.  I like this, and so should you."  When people make really good Rok, that's where the God is.  Good music makes God happy.  New Adventures in Hi-Fi makes God happy.  Really good music makes you close to God because it puts you on a plane that God obviously enjoys hanging out on.  To make really good music... well, that's why Firewood's here.  And we're not even a Christian band.  Hell, I'm a sinnin' liberal.  I don't even know if it's God we're trying to reach: I guess we could plug in the name of whatever deity it is you want.  If your little ficus is God, then we want to make music like your little ficus.  BAM.

I don't believe in impressing my religious views on others.  I'm a reformist Catholic, as in the type who sometimes finds Mass a little much, or a little boring, and finds solace in the very important fact that THERE ARE SOME EXTREMELY GORGEOUS WOMEN IN THERE.  We could go for some livening up in church.  People don't go because of that sort of thing.

I don't believe in impressing my views about God and Rok on others, either.  A lot of people, for whatever reason, aren't comfortable with naming God, or there being a God.  Fine.  Just tell me you believe in the music, that's enough for me.

My uncle says, "Jesus believes in you."  Okay. So you don't have to believe in Jesus.  But I like to say "Rok believes in you."

Rok is an instrument of God. It's a totally beautiful thing, and there should be no wrong in saluting it, creating it, paying homage to it. A lot of folks, me included, get freaked out by those sobbing Christian types, with their arms in the air, disavowing shrimp and hating liberals.  Whatever.  Let 'em do their thing; it's not too far from ours.  Maybe they're freaked by the fact that we're sobbing (or at least passionate) rokers, with our instruments and songs and voices, disavowing crapmusic and hating the proles.

But if there is any hope, it does lie in the proles.  I realize I am paraphrasing Orwell, and I meant to do that.  Because it's true.  A platinum record will never go platinum unless a million copies are sold, and that's where the bridge between Godrok and crapmusic comes.  There are hooks that are Godrok and accessible.  It's just our job to find them.  We can make Godrok without going over people's heads.  We have a responsibility to do so, because I think we've seen the light more than some others, and nobody else is doing it.  What Firewood seeks to answer is this: "How can we create music that makes God happy by its really really goodness, and still appeal to the masses?"  Balance and hook.  Balance and hook.  Pretension and hook.  Adapt to public sounds, start with something accessible, and go from there.

Something like that.  I've got to explain this to my mother and LaVon (her/my friend/spiritual advisor).  I guess I've found my purpose, I just have to make wanting to be a roker look like a noble profession for their blessing.  My mother would help me be President or a banker or a doctor, but to be a roker?  A more difficult task.  But I am no stranger to difficult tasks.  I believe that the music will show the way.  It always does.

So, after all this... do you believe?




"I really need to write some beautiful meaningful music that moves. That is the kind of music I want to play. Music that moves. The kind that people can't get out of their heads and don't want to, and put on their sleep playlists, the kind that is timeless.

I need to rock.

- Tate Deans, Firewood's lead guitarist



"It got out of your head, and into your body."


- Steve Hudson, on the first revolution, you know, the one in the sixties.



"When lead singer Jonsi[3] was asked how to pronounce the title of his band's new album[4] he answered, 'I would tell you, but it takes about 72 minutes to enunciate'. Of course, this is referring to how long the album is."


Ryan: "I'll bet you anything an American asked that question."

Mark Smith: "[Why?] Because Americans are uptight inbred bastard quacks who need to know the reason for everything, including why their own bullshit smells so good?

(a pause)

God bless PigTrough... I mean America."




Rok Essay #2.


I said to Alex, "I'm not going to lie to you. Blink-182 is a terrible band, and their song sucks."  Of course, she had to storm off.

I'm not claiming to have the best music taste ever... no wait, yes I am.  I don't care how much smaller my ego is now, dammit, I listen to better music than you.  She knows what the good stuff is, but she keeps listening to the bad.  I mean, she lives with me, she knows all about the Rok and where Godrok comes from.  But she keeps throwing herself into the abysmal pit of commercial crap.  It pains me to watch her listen to these perpetual clichés and atonal songs, their atrociously bad choruses with manufactured hooks and disrespectful-to-their-elders overtones.  I mean, it's bad music.  There's nothing good about it besides a hook that went to complete waste.

Sometimes there is a time when you're young and you listen to bad music, and then you became enlightened.  I'm not sure why this hasn't happened yet – has the media really gotten that good at pig-troughing its peons? I think that a lot gets channeled down through your older folks who have a more refined taste, constantly pouring this or that onto you and inundating you with it on car trips.  I don't know any new methods other than what I've got, I just know I've got to save her tastes.  She's like a little sister to me, and no relative of mine will listen to bad music.

I'm not styled in the atonal shit here.  My Rok has sharper hooks, and she's so smart, but she's squandering it all on this crapmusic.  I've got to get it through to her. 

They say it's wrong to impose your opinion on others.  I have a problem with that because it in itself is an opinion.  We're talking about meta-imposition here, and that's just dumb.  I will impose my opinion because it's right, dammit.  But I need to find new ways of doing so.  There's got to be something, got to be something...

She turned off the internet computer (the other is my laptop, which we now use for music, and only good music of course), and I was composing a new list to share of where the next Beatles were going to get their sound from.  But she turned the computer off, and I explained to her, "It's all right to be mad at me, but when I'm writing, you can't turn off the computer."  I think that gives me right to be upset, but what do I know?



Rok Essay #3.


I think it might be necessary to compose a mission statement for Firewood and the whole movement.  Everyone sees this movement coming, I think.  And think back: there was a certain buzz in 1990 that the entire sound was about to change, and it must've been amazing to see so many now-household-name artists suddenly explode into stardom with artistically brilliant works in the next year.  This momentum lasted up until late '97/ very early '98, and I have always thought that it was because the music lost its soul at that point.  That's when the pop stars landed and the alternative movement ended.  The Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, you know what I'm talking about, started sopping the airwaves with whatever that crap was.  Melodically, I think you'd have to concede it was brilliant, because a lot of it was simple and it went to the top of the charts.  Nobody's arguing that the music was any good besides that; I can't think of a single good pop lyric, or song, for that matter; but the melodies were outstanding. 

The Ones to Watch back then were the Verve, Radiohead, and the Smashing Pumpkins.  The first two did their things in '97, but then the Verve broke up after releasing Urban Hymns, and the Pumpkins[5], though not the first to say "rock is dead", were the final nail in its coffin, I would say, with Adore[6] in mid-'98.  By the time they tried to save it in 2000[7], it was too late, and they allowed records like Kid A to slip through.  What do I mean by that?

Let me say this and let me never have to say something so painful again: Kid A should not have had to ever, ever come out.  It was a reaction to a lot of things, the commercialization that had been held back until the kings of Rok in the mid-90s let down their guard and let the pop megastars through.  I am not saying that Kid A is anything less than a masterwork, nor is it anything but.  But it would've been much better if in 1998 they'd said, "Fuck this, we're going to compromise some here."  Who knows? Maybe we'd have come up with Kid A anyway.  I don't know.  But does it make sense to think that we would not have needed such a strong reaction if we hadn't let the line slip in the first place?

Of course, I think the idea of a Kid A-style record also alienates a lot of people, especially when you jump from mid-90s rock (which is intelligent, literate, and collected) to late-90s drivel to early-00s electronica, neo-rock, YHF[8], whatever.  Any time you make someone cross a new bridge, you run the risk of them not wanting to cross the next unless there's something on the other side that they want a part of.  Is everyone following that idea?

As for Firewood, the problem we've been handed from the mid-90s generation is "How can we get it back, and better than ever, when we have experienced such a retrograde?"  This is compounded by the questions of "Now that these newly influential works of music - many of which were in some way rooted to the political situation dating 2000-2004 - exist, how do we get back on track and not forget the (meager, but definitely present) artistic advancement in the last four years?  Frankly speaking, how do we resurrect the old ideal while hanging onto the advancements and sensibilities of the newest material?" 

It may help some for me to diagram this out.  In the eighties, for the most part, we experienced two tracks of music: that without staying power and merit, the commerically derived waste-O-melody, and the artistic (mostly) underground sounds.  In 1990, the foundations had all but been laid for the reconvergence.  In 1991, it all came together and thus began the, you might call it, a renaissance of Rok, leading up till OK Computer or Urban Hymns in '97 and '98 respectively.  In early '98, it all fizzled out, because Britney Spears took over.  We begin a new parting of the ways, with some very conniving business strategies on the corporate end.  I'm talking about the end of the pop era, when
Linkin Park and Avril Lavigne took charge from Spears, when it became "cool" to (ab)use one's guitar again, etc.  Having a corporate response to corporate music was brilliant... if you're a corporation who doesn't care what the music sounds like as long as there is money to be had.

But some of us still do care.

In fact, I think a lot more people are starting to wake up, more and more everyday.  And there will be more.  A lot of people could've told you way back in 2000 that the movement was beginning, that something was stirring in the national conscious.  But I don't things were ready for a course correction yet.

I do not know to what extent the Beatles timed their commercial entry into history.  One of the biggest factors in their rise to stardom, I've always been told, was the fact that their first singles came out shortly after the Kennedy assassination. 
America needed to "hold" a "hand", and one was extended from Liverpool.  Perhaps unknowingly, they grabbed hold of political and historic momentum that allowed them to change society entirely.

If anyone who reads this is under the impression that society at large in March 2004 does not possess a reservoir of the same kind of energy (which, you will remember, translates into momentum), that everything is fine and dandy... then things will soon change for you.  You won't like the 2000s any better than you liked the sixties, if you remember them.  You will find no solace in the times to come, but they are a-comin'.  That's for sure.

Anyone who is concerned, uncertain, afraid, whether or not they are ideologically in line with the state of our culture... you are not alone anymore, and things are going to change.

That, right there, may be the mission statement people were looking for in Firewood. 

Well, now that that's taken care of, the plan is much shorter than the ideology.  Every weekend (still awaiting final approval from my powers that be) till June, we will construct not The Vision, just something.  A demo, if you will, upon which
Walker and Tate will spring it onto Hollywood... and the bomb will be all in place.  There is a window of historical importance looming, that'd be the next six or seven months, where a lot of things will probably change a lot in our society, and we have to get through that window.

With luck, "Time-lapse vision" will be complete by Coachella, which will be a really good thing for us.  I want at least one, because you never know.

As always, I'll take questions and comments.




Today, tech is poised between the dying embers of the bust and the first green blush of the upturn. It's in fallow periods like these that the seeds of tomorrow's Microsofts and Ciscos sprout.


- It's just some blurb I found in some tech column that I can't cite. Rest assured, though, it is metaphorical, and it isn't mine.



"Rock 'n' roll is about style and rebellion and sex and love." – Andrew Slater, current president of Capitol Records, in a recent interview with the NY Times.





Rok essay #4.

[This was, you might say, practically written for me. As I was preparing to further the case (the ideas of which I reapplied to #5-6), I found this, written by Something Awful's David Thorpe:]


I’m sure this has happened to you: you’re tuned to your local modern rock station, listening to Linkin Park quietly lamenting the death of rock and roll, when suddenly a song comes on that you don’t immediately recognize; miraculously, it doesn’t sound super-compressed and mashed together with ProTools. You can actually hear the sound of real guitars and drums. Just as you’re starting to get curious, you realize that the station’s randomized computer playlist has simply hit upon its monthly spin of, for example, Don’t Look Back in Anger by Oasis. Your face flushes with shame and rage as you realize that Oasis, no matter how severely they sucked in 1994, are starting to sound comparatively pretty good. Maybe, you think, if Oasis was brand new in 2004, it would be the best new band around. Do you know what this is called? This is called pure human tragedy.


If you’re in your twenties [ed. note: or younger!] right now, there’s a good chance that you’re currently pathetically pining for a return to the music of the 90s. On one hand, you ought to snap out of it, because whining about stuff like that makes you sound like an old person. On the other hand, though, it’s understandable; it would seem to most that rock and roll is coming off a high and falling into a deep, deep slump. If you can’t stand Nickelback but aren’t lame and desperate enough to listen to emo, you’ve probably been pretty much left out in the cold. The music press certainly knows this, and it’s come to the point where they’re snapping up stylish, clueless indie bands and declaring them the “saviors of rock and roll” at a rate of about one per month. Bands that ten years ago would have been nothing more than mediocre curiosities who stalled low in the charts are now transformed into mediocre curiosities who stall low in the charts despite an outrageous amount of hype. However, up to this point, we’ve seen more Knacks than Nirvanas.


It’s fairly easy to look at the progression of popular rock and roll as an endless string of hype, backlashes, and downfalls; this doesn’t only apply to bands, but to entire styles; anyone who’s seen Riki Rachman impotently whining on some MTV retrospective about the much-deserved demise of Headbanger’s Ball knows that grunge effectively rendered hair metal obsolete. Similarly, punk music, in its backlash against traditionalist rock and prog-rock, provided an exciting alternative to kids who didn’t like Pink Floyd. The logical thing to do at this point would be to uselessly assume that this is some sort of pattern, and that some wonderful new style is going to come along, helmed by some audacious and exciting new band, and it’s going to thoroughly shame, ridicule, and destroy such outdated annoyances as post-grunge, nu-metal, and rap-metal. Luckily, I have devised a system through which I can find just such a band.


Those of you who’ve read my column before might recall that I am a bona-fide incredibly super smart genius. You might also recall that due to my position as a scientific forklift operator at NASA, I have access to the most super-advanced, cutting edge technology known to man (in fact, I’m writing this column on the very same computer that they use to control that little robot fellow they put on Mars. I hope they don’t mind that I took it home for the weekend). I’m not just telling you this in the interest of demonstrating how much better I am than you, although that is certainly an advantage. In fact, I’m telling you this to introduce you to my radical new idea for finding a rock and roll savior.


NASA is not an organization which leaves any elements to chance. Unlike the music press, we don’t just go by our gut instincts; we are interested in cold, hard, empirical scientific reasoning. As such, we use ROCKSTAT, (the most advanced computer rock and roll analysis software in the world) to determine all the music that will be played for the astronauts in the space shuttle. We need to be able to find music that will invigorate them when needed, relax them when needed, and amuse them or enliven their spirits when needed. This software contains a vast database of the characteristics of tens of thousands of bands and albums, from the early beginnings of rock and roll right up to the newest indie releases. What I intend to do is define the exact specifications of a band that can serve as the much-needed antithesis to the post-grunge crap of today. I will then feed these specifications into ROCKSTAT and allow it to determine the perfect band to “save” rock and roll.


After careful consideration, I have determined that the optimal savior of rock and roll must conform to the following guidelines:


1. No More Angst: There have been too many bands out there relying on boring teenage depression lately. From Linkin Park’s vitriolic condemnations of being grounded by their mothers to AFI’s indecipherable, effeminate screechings about general, non-specific discontent, it’s impossible to turn on the radio without being endlessly bombarded with somebody else’s problems. I’m not saying that the savior of rock and roll can’t sing songs about things like relationship problems, but for God’s sake, just stop whining.


2. A Spirit of Fun: We’re all tired of humorless, over-serious rock videos featuring skinny, disheveled drug-addicts thrashing around in ruined, decaying apartments and pining for gaunt, crying women with running mascara. No, we never again want to see that ubiquitous slow-motion shot of the crying woman turning around and angrily swinging her arm behind her in an attempt to beat back the innocent and apologetic lead singer who’s just trying to reason through this wasteland that is love. I want to see a video with some sight-gags, God damn it, and I don’t want it to be some pop-punk video set in a high school, either.


3. Competent Musicianship: There has to be some happy medium between the hideous gaucheness of post-grunge power-chord bashing and the googly-eyed electronic hogwash of Radiohead [ed. note: I RESENT THAT!]. We want experienced musicians who take pride in their work but aren’t constantly trying to impress us with prog-rock razzle-dazzle. It must be possible for musicians to get together in a studio and actually play music, unaided by endless sampler-tweaking to make each and every note sound perfect and robotic.


4. A Strong Sense of Melody: Apparently everyone’s passion for a good tune died many years ago, as music today seems to plod from verse to chorus to verse to chorus without any real direction. Here’s something fun to try: play the vocal melody of an old David Bowie song on a piano. Nothing special, but it pretty much sounds like music, doesn’t it? Now try it with the vocal melody of that shitty new Nickelback song “Someday.” Did you notice anything different? Yes, that’s right, it sounds like something a toddler would bang out on a novelty xylophone that only plays a major scale. The savior of rock and roll has to be able to write a tune that can stick in your head for some reason other than the fact that it irritates you.


5. An Engaging Frontman: No more rail-thin dudes with greasy, randomly arranged hair, and certainly no more gruff, gravelly-voiced long-haired “tough guys” in designer jeans. One of the reasons that The Strokes entirely failed to save rock and roll, as you might recall, was that they had a lead singer who, by virtue of his glassy-eyed stare, was often mistaken for a Weekend at Bernie’s style propped-up corpse. And Jack White, of course, is a pallid, crazy-looking indie thug who’d scare the shit out of you if you met him in a dark alley (and beat the shit out of you if you happened to be in the Von Bondies). Since we all got burned once before due to Kurt Cobain’s mental instability, maybe this time, instead of being a wild-eyed crazy, the savior of rock and roll needs to be someone suave and collected. Perhaps someone well-groomed and well-spoken, the kind of guy who could have been an actor if he hadn’t chosen to sing.


6. A Traditional Musical Style Made New: Even the music press knows this one. At this point, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of innovation available in rock and roll, so maybe it’s time to revisit past styles and see them in a new and modern light. The revival of garage rock has only lasted a couple of years, and already it’s tiresome and played-out; why not revive just plain rock-rock? The world, at this point, needs a straightforward tune and a good backbeat.


[I will end the plagiarism here. After all, the band Dr. Thorpe concluded was the savior of rock and roll was the reunited Huey Lewis and the News. I'm not sure if that hurts my case, but it definitely doesn't help.]




Rok Essay #5.


"We all hope for anything when there's nothing at all."

– Hope of the States, "Black Dollar Bills"


These are some reflections on some ideas I've heard tossed around about Wilco's now-leaked A ghost is born, which I still haven't heard, thank God, and plan on not hearing till Coachella.


The first thing a lot of people have been saying is that you're staring down the shaft of this eleven-minute beatboxed version of "Spiders", a song that rarely topped six on the YHF tour. (My favorite recording is from the Eugene, Oregon concert on Sept. 4, '03, and is 5:49.) A four minute Kraftwerk-like, New Wave groove, and that's just the intro... well, that's not the neoclassic rock song I've been listening to for almost two years now.


And I think I may have figured out why they did this, what I've heard called brilliant exploration, what I've heard called a butchery, of a very snappy, classic, brilliant Rok song... because the song, in its previous form, would've made it huge. The song in its previous live incarnations would've made a huge, massive hit, given the catchy riff, the lyrics, and the fun-as-all-hell hook. How long now have I been quoting "it's good to be alone", or "Come clean, listen and talk", or "No blood on my hands/ I just do as I am told"? I mean, there you have it.


The versions from the September shows are stunning because they were showcasing a really polished, mature gem that made perfect sense, came out easy and clean, and would have slow-burned itself, "Losing My Religion"[9]-style, right to the top of the charts, where it would have made a pleasant home. It was too good for its own good, short to say.


If Wilco had had a massive hit like that, it probably would have crushed the Wilco we all know and love. Yankee wasn't a massive hit for the same reason, but not using samples and techno to kill their songs, only static instead. Ten songs off that record would've gone to the top if they'd been pure and clean, but you'd never know, because they called in Sonic Youth's producer to make it weird. This time, they're a well-oiled hit-killing machine. The song that would've paid for Jeff Tweedy's great-grandchildren's college tuitions has now been buried inside (what will still probably be a very, very good) an eleven-minute Kraftwerk-esque groove. And their label isn't likely to have reservations; it's an art-rock label that didn't realize (or care) if it was sitting on a golden egg.


Mr. Tweedy, what the hell is so wrong with pop? I'm not asking for another Summerteeth here, I'm just curious why it seems like you're so afraid of letting your songs, which had gestated on the road for two years, "fly like winging birds/ fighting for the keys", right onto the charts.




"We're living in the fucking dark ages, man." – Come to think of it, I said that.



"I cannot see a real difference between a library that places a photocopy machine in a room full of copyrighted material and a computer user that places a personal copy on a shared directory."


- Justice Konrad von Finckenstein, of the Federal Court of Canada, the highest court in that country, ruling on file sharing.



The following was not a Rok essay, but was published on April 4th. I think that the savior will have to be able to pump music out like no other, in order to hold in check a public with such a narrow attention span. With four competent songwriters, Firewood is already becoming a machine. (Consult the upcoming Masterplan for further logistical details.)


In producer George Martin's words:


"Brian Epstein and I worked out a plan in which we tried — not always successfully — to release a new Beatles single every three months and two albums a year. I was always saying to the Beatles 'I want another hit, come on, give me another hit' and they always responded. "From Me To You", "She Loves You", "I Want To Hold Your Hand". Right from the earliest days they never failed" (Lewisohn 1988, 28).


Actually the Beatles succeeded in following Martin's and Epstein's plan only in 1963. Most often — in 1964, 1965, and 1969 — they released two albums and three singles annually: one album plus two singles during the spring and summer, and one album plus one single for the Christmas markets. In 1967 they released one album, three singles and one EP: one album plus two singles during the spring and summer (as usually) but only an EP plus one single for the Christmas markets. In 1966 and 1968 they released only one album and two singles (there were no singles for the Christmas markets). In 1962 only one single was released and in 1970 only one album plus one single.


The release schedule — together with the touring schedule during 1962-66 — resulted in such a practice in which the songs released each year were written, arranged, recorded, mixed and released in two periods, each lasting a few months. On this basis, we take the term 'recording project' to refer to a working period lasting a few months, comprising the writing, arranging, recording, mixing, and releasing of the songs, and resulting in 1-2 singles and one album — plus occasionally one EP — of new material. Usually the Beatles had two projects per year. As a result of the first project, usually 1-2 singles and one album were released during the spring and/or the summer, whereas the second project resulted in one single and one LP release for the Christmas markets.




Rok Essay #6.


Someone tried telling me (okay, I admit, it was the Fear of Ever Being Cliché voice) that it was now cliché to listen to the Postal Service.  And to that I say, no, it's not.  Not cliché.  Never will be.  The first three, four tracks on their album are ace... the rest is like breathing "recycled air"... I don't feel inspired by it.  I don't ever feel compelled to listen past track four, the really good stuff, the pop stuff, it's all right there up in front.  Okay, we're getting dangerously close here to me going off on a tangarant about tracklisting and sequencing, but yeah... they've got some great pop stuff which will never get old, good music is timeless as Bono said, it feels like it has always been there (sculpture-already-in-the-stone type deal).  Nirvana will never get old, never get cliché for me, for the same reason... following this logic, neither will 70s and even some 80s Floyd, or Fleetwood (I don't know why people don't give them more credit, I really don't), the early Matchbox Twenty stuff, through Mad Season, I mean, how can it?  You control that radio just as much as it controls you.  You can turn the fucking thing off, smash it with a hammer, and the good music is still at your command.

Good music is easy to spot (at least if you're us), and it's never ever ever going to get cliché if you keep it to yourself.  I don't listen to the fucking radio because the music, in my experience, isn't good there anymore... besides if someone truly groundbreaking comes along anytime soon, let's just say... I'll, er, know about it first.


"I hate my generation. I offer no apologies." - Cracker

In other news, fuck Pitchfork. What a bunch of elitist snobs. The worst part is, half the time. . . they're actually right.

On top of that... if you think the RIAA is a motherfucking monopoly, as I do, reply to this thread.  It's not to the point of "they must take their heads out of their asses" anymore, it's "kill 'em all." 

To quote Bono: "[It's about] a man in a shanty town outside of
Johannesburg. A man who's sick of looking down the barrel of white South Africa. A man who is at the point where he is ready to take up arms against his oppressor. A man who has lost faith in the peacemakers of the West while they argue and while they fail to support a man like bishop Tutu [if you don't know who Desmond Tutu is, there's something wrong with you] and his request for economic sanctions against South Africa." (It's from Rattle and Hum, if you were wondering where I got it.)

Only, we're fighting for the cultural, political, and musical relevance of the western world, not, you know, freedom from oppression, and the lot.

One of these days, I swear it, I will get around to typing all my highlighted sections from Oprah's interview with Bono. Do I condone Oprah? On some levels. Let's say I admire what she has experienced and how she has lifted herself to be one of the richest and most influential people in the world, but I think she's... let me check my notes... an over-appreciated dilettante determined to drive anything she does into compliance with her own, strange missions and clichés.  But that has fuckall to do with Bono. So go Bono!




"Wilco is one of that small group of bands (in which I would also put artists like Radiohead, U2, Pearl Jam, Paul Westerberg, The Flaming Lips, Guided by Voices, et al) for whom, quite simply, the music is the thing—not the image, or the video, or the marketing campaign; not the celebrity girlfriends, or wardrobe malfunctions, or gratuitous publicity stunts, or magazine spreads, or car commercials, or light shows, or fireworks or lasers or rows on rows of sweaty hardbodied dancers (much as I do like that last part, I'll admit), or whatever else it is that's come to comprise the persona of popular artists and rock and roll stars these days."

- Ronen Givony, creator of Be My Demon, a Wilco lyric archive, on the JustAFan project.




Rok Essay #7.

Standing on the Shoulders of (Brawling) Giants

One of those The-Beatles-Did-Everything-So-Why-Bother-With-Anything People will say, "John Lennon tells us in his "Revolution 1" what the revolution is supposed to be like."

To this hypothetical statement I rant! I will pop you one! BEGIN!

Nowhere in Revolution 1 are we told what the revolution is supposed to be like, just what it is not supposed to be like.  Since there are infinite possibilities otherwise, who cares about a few small things like "pictures of Chairman Mao" or "minds that hate"?  These are not blueprints for the revolution, they are cynical suggestions that provide minor images of a few things now irrelevant (not that every Fear This Sign thing in the song is irrelevant, only SOME), and no direction.

Kurt Cobain, in Journals, said something I can't quote, but will instead paraphrase: I am so upset at my parents' generation for having come so close to changing everything in the sixties and then stopping short.  Upset, disappointed, frustrated.  Yadda.

I think we can all agree that these two towers of American rock (Lennon always was the one more influenced by American sounds) are in a bitter disagreement here. Lennon has gone so far into the unknown, only to suddenly pinpoint what he doesn't want, and never says what he does.  Cobain is frustrated with this, because the man (Lennon) was a titan of music and culture... and didn't leave behind some thought or idea on what he would've liked to see. 

"Imagine all the people...together" yadda doesn't count.  It's a blanket statement, it's a chorus... it's not an educated inference on where things are supposed to go. 

If anyone can come up with something of Lennon's that disproves me, I'm going to side with Cobain.  I'm frustrated with the sixties, too.




[I hate my generation]


"for all his great achievements, kurt cobain really does have a sin to answer for. commercial rock today is swamped with redneck americans, and (probably) even worse - wannabe redneck americans like that fuckwit chad kroeger. its fucking hideous. theres a bit in almost famous where lester bangs warns the main character that hes missed rock n roll, and that its becoming an industry of cool. we're even past that. its now an industry for evil bastards, choking the beauty and passion and everything that was once important, out of music. and what is indeed worse, is the wannabe music elitists who are sitting listening to their fucking sigur ros records thinking that is actually good music while ignoring the true artists, the people who stand for what is true about the music we love, that signifies so much, such as jack white. commerical rock today is an awful, awful, evil entity, but then so is the alternative. there are very few hopes, and unfortunately, the wannabe snobs wont even see it. as queens of the stone age said "here is something you should drop to your knees for and worship, but you are too stupid to realise yourselves." and even when these fucking sigur ros, gybe, coldplay etc. fans are shown the best, such as the white stripes, queens of the stone age, they are too fucking arrogant to see the truth. commerical rock in a heartbreaking state, but it isnt just the evil dicks like fred durst that are too blame, its the fans as well."

- Marco van Basten, a poster on atease



Pop quiz!


1) What is the new revolution?

2) What does the new revolution seek to accomplish?

3) What can you do to help the new revolution?

4) What caused the new revolution, and what will undoubtedly come to its aid?

5) What will happen to the masses that the new revolution seeks to reach?


1) The MasterplanTM

2) It's hard to say really, but they will understand.

3) Keep your ears open, but you still won't know what hit you.

4) Serendipity. The Masterplan, once hatched, will require no aid.

5) Enlightenment.



[THIS is what happens when you get really, actually, truly enlightened:]


In 2000, Roberts released a solo acoustic collection and suffered a near-fatal automobile accident. Having decided to put out the next Crash Test Dummies album on his own label, he spent time with a group of lobster fishermen, recuperating and contemplating one of his favourite subjects; the meaning of life. Feeling rejuvenated he assembled an all-new line-up of Dummies comprising; Kent Greene (guitar), Dave Morton (bass), Danny MacKenzie (drums), Kenny Wollesen (washboard/percussion). The result was the beautifully laid back and laconic I Don't Care That You Don't Mind. In Roberts' words, were it "not for that damn car accident, I wouldn't have written this friggin' record[10]".

- Taken from the BBC bio on CTD.




Rok Essay #8. The final one.


Well, to begin. Youthful idealism and zeal and so on has never felt so good. As a young person it is easier for me to believe in a better world, a better culture, and a better sound. But two men and two shovels will never move a mountain, so we must begin to find more associates. The Vision is a complex one, but we are hoping to make further sense of what is known and are planning for what to bring to the table of civilization.

There are approximately two types of people in this world. One type are those who read and stay active and current. The other type are the people who don't. Neither is right or wrong, they're different kinds of lifestyles, but we have to accept that not everyone reads Time and Newsweek and Rolling Stone or At Ease or knows what we know. So, in order to most effectively communicate the Vision, we must reach out to them.

One of the tools that we have at our disposal is knowledge. Those 'in the know' are surely aware of the revolution. It is not them we need, or want, to surprise. It is because of pioneers like Bono and Chris Ballew and Thom Yorke and any other speaker and thinker you can name that this revolution has been inspired. Constantly, from Rolling Stone to Time to Pitchfork and every publication and forum for cultural expression in current existence, are people foretelling the coming of this revolution. Every single day, I find some little piece to the puzzle, something that adds to my understanding of what I feel is my purpose at this time. Something that further reminds me, "this is what you are supposed to be doing, this is what The Higher Purpose Thing wants you to do."  It also reminds me that everything is so aligned, like nothing since I was too young to realize what was going on, and that we are the ones who have to take the step.

Yes, that's right. (Commence swagger. But, then again, we could call it honesty:) I know I've got your attention. Almost every one of you, readers, has heard Firewood's single demo, the guitar, guitar, bass shenanigans it is, unmixed and half-done. They tell me the new version of this song is three and a half minutes, and I cannot wait to hear the full, concise version. Almost every one of you, readers, has read the essays, and has at one point agreed, or pledged support of the plans and the ideas.

I don't want to pontificate and rant and pump you up anymore. You know it's jump-time, and I know it's jump-time.

We are now running out of time. The clock is now running. Let me explain, as concisely as I can, how much time we have:

The countdown for the revolution is approximately six months. There are exactly six months between the Coachella Festival and the 2004 presidential election.

Two questions are bound to spring from that. One, "why should we dare mix politics and music?" There is a quote by Pablo Picasso that will knock some sense into your head as to why art and politics are permanently united. It's a pity I can't find it. Thus, "shut up and do as you're told" will serve nicely.

The other question is, "Who cares about the fucking election? I don't give a fuck about politics." Yes, you do. You know you do. You know you don't like George Bush. I know for a fact that each of my readers remembers the optimism and the idealism of the 90s, mainly because I'm one of the youngest of the group, and I remember it pretty well. Technology was something to look forward to and something to embrace. A spirit of optimism and energy - and a bright future to look forward to - were abundant. If you are reading this, odds are
ten to ten you don't feel like these are so optimistic of times. Well, it doesn't have to be that way. But doing nothing will not accomplish that. Any course will be better than the course of apathy and discontent. Why put up with four more years of cynicism and war?

That sort of national feeling directly influences culture, which, like it or not, directly inspires and influences its music. Nothing truly timeless or substantial can thrive in it. Art and optimism are complementary. We must have one to maintain the other. A national optimism of "that idiot's on his way out" will open the floodgates of musical creativity and passion, which will in turn vote that idiot out of office.

So. The window is exactly six months. Now, we must begin final preparations to make our move. Already, a few others and me are drafting the Masterplan. You may have thought we were joking, but we weren't. There really is a Masterplan, and it contains lots of my favorite buzzwords, like ROK, culture, jump-time, floodwater, Kennedy assassination, 2004 election, optimism, paradigm shift, et cetera.

It is jump-time, and now we must jump! Not time to be afraid. Not time to not do what must be done. Nobody else will do it for us. This is our greatest chance to come of age.

I'm so excited, let's go!!!




Come on, let the spirit inside you
Don't wait to be found
Come along with our sound
Let the spirit move you
Let the waves come up and confuse you
I never met no one to deny the sound

Turn off your light!
Take off your mask!
Take off your mad!

This is a big FUCK YOU!



- the Verve

"Come On"

Urban Hymns


[1] Rok is a shorter version of another word you might know, "rock". The slogan itself is "rok without the Crap", and we stole the word from the Presidents, a great band you should know about.

[2] I was not allowed to use any sort of technology without permission from my mother during my first week home.

[3] Sigur Rós, an Icelandic post-rock band, who broke onto the "burgeoning" post-rock scene with the 1999 Agætis Byrjun.

[4] The album to which the quote refers, the follow-up to Agætis, is entitled ( ), and was released in 2002.

[5] The Smashing Pumpkins' two best records, in my opinion, were Siamese Dream (1993) and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995).

[6] Adore was a quiet, haunting, introspective, electronic/acoustic work, written in a time when the Pumpkins' drummer was no longer playing with them due to a heroin addiction; Billy Corgan's mother also passed away in late 1996, I believe. As you can imagine, that influenced the sound of their new material quite heavily.

[7] Their 2000 major-label swansong, machina/the machines of God, was a commercial success, but a critical disaster.

[8] Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Wilco's fourth, and to date most critically acclaimed album, released April 23, 2002.

[9] "Losing My Religion", R.E.M.'s biggest hit, peaked at #4. It doesn't have any catchy melody in the traditional sense. It's a very interesting way to skew a pop song. Released right around "Smells Like Teen Spirit", I think this was probably the song of '91. And a mandolin, a bloody mandolin, is the lead instrument. Very grungy, eh?

[10] If you don't own the Crash Test Dummies' I Don't Care That You Don't Mind, go get it right now. It's really, really been inspiring to us. And, it's really good. The BBC calls it "beautifully laid back and laconic". It's minimalist country. Yeaaah.

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