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“SONG DISSECTION WITH: Ryan Devlin Of Smokey Brights And Song “Beg, Borrow and Steal”.

November 6, 2013


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I’m a grumpy old punk sometimes. (PRESS PLAY BELOW AND READ)

I mean, I’m only 28, but I started my first band when I was 12 and have been performing, recording, and touring since then (I wasn’t touring when I was 12, but you get the point.)  I’ve purchased every pack of strings, booked every show, and pressed each record I’ve made with money I’ve earned either by playing shows or by working shitty jobs. When I didn’t have enough money from those shows, I’d make records in my bedroom and burn copies for my friends.  No doting parent or rich benefactor has paid for studio time or bought me a brand new pre-worn Guitar, (though my parents are thankfully supportive of all this risky “art” business, if not at times perplexed by it.)  I’d never campaign my friends and family for 10K to make a folk record either.  I just do it with what means I have had because I want to.  It’s hard work, seldom rewarding, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

From this vantage point however, it’s really hard to not get frustrated with the rich kids that just get a pass on all the work “your ass off” stuff and get to skip ahead to the “being a cool guy in a successful band” part.  Music is a business, and when you start with some good investors you’re going to have a leg up on the other guys.  The fact that it’s also art makes this relationship complex, and sometimes dangerous.  Playing in bands you see it happen over and over- the children of wealth making garbage music, wearing second hand clothes, and having really shitty attitudes towards everything, including you; all the while getting success and praise from a system that takes an increasing amount of money to juke.   It’s pretty easy to look like you don’t give a shit when you really don’t have to.

Ok, you’re eyes might be rolling by this point.  I know I’d be in slow-clap-major-eye-roll-mode if I was reading some Seattle hipster’s martyr complex about his indie band. I guess that’s the heart of the song “Beg, Borrow, and Steal.”  It’s an outward and inward critique; I’m poking fun at myself while simultaneously calling out the rich kids in ripped jeans.  I’m wagging my finger and saying: “I’m poor! Therefore my art is more authentic! You bourgeoisie phony!”  Then I’m catching myself in the mirror, shaking my head in utter disgust, and thinking: “What are you going on about you self righteous, grumpy old punk?  Shut up and play.”  So I do, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Catch Smokey Brights tomorrow night at Neumos with Radiation City and Tomten. 8PM Adv Tix here.

One Comment leave one →
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