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Co-host of the Episode Party podcast, author of Storm Static Sleep: A Pathway Through Post-rock, editor at ATTN:Magazine.
Why adopt a lifestyle that demands everything, pays poorly and intermittently, permits little time for sleep and necessitates hours of driving each day – all for the recognition of a few oddball punters in a restaurant basement? For every punk band that finds regular traction with the music press, there are ten more that have never seen so much as a review. Yet they persist, enduring countless instances of what host Andrew Leland refers to as the “unpredictable indignities of the touring life”: sleeping on uncomfortable couches, playing for the benefit of 20 students crammed into someone’s living room, taking a door money cut that barely covers fuel costs (if they get paid at all).
This recent edition of KCRW’s The Organist is a celebration of Virginia-based duo Buck Gooter, who have been devotees of the punk life for the past 15 years. Amidst recordings of their cacophonous live shows and drunken post-show altercations, the podcast aims to understand why the band keeps going. Why spend several hours travelling, hauling amplifiers and soundchecking only to play 30 minutes of music each night?
The answer is obvious. The Organist has consistently sported a special appreciation for “difficult” forms of sound, as evident in the fantastic documentary on improvisatory percussionist Milford Graves, or the piece on Alexander Provan’s experimental sound essay, Measuring Device With Organs. The team can’t contain their affection for this music, with Leland slipping into poetry as he describes the performance style of vocalist Billy Brett (with delightful lines such as “channelling his screams up through his chest in a grungy glossolalia”). It’s not recognition or income that keeps these artists going, but the cathartic ecstasy of the music itself.