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Don't Let Mediocre Ideas Own You

It was a damn good idea.

We had all the artwork ready, logistics were perfect, and . It was going to draw a lot of attention to use, build our brand, and even stir a little controversy (yay!)


It was the controversy that shut the whole fiesta down.

Back up, the idea:
There was a viral ad campaign pushed around Dallas that featured a black and white photo of someone looking a rough around the edges with text that said "I Am Second". The ads were EVERYWHERE, you couldn't drive down 75 or 35 without seeing this on billboards, bumper stickers, fliers etc.

We were going to put fliers and signs near all the major highways that featured a blood-soaked dinosaur that said "I Am First" and a link to our website.

Kickass, right?

We got nuts about it. Our friends loved it to. I was already fantasizing having two hundred new fans at our next show. Maybe even winning some advertising award for creativity (even though I can't name one, haha). It was gonna blow up.

However, we kinda forgot who we'd be dealing with: a southern evangelical church coalition. I wonder how they'd react to us proclaiming dinosaurs came first.

Hmm... this might be an issue.

The copyright lawyer I talked to said as much. "While technically you wouldn't be infringing, they could still sue as tarnishment... Do you have the cash to beat them in court?"

No awards for me.

We spent the next practice debating if it was still worth the risk. "What percent chance do you think we have of them suing us?" Eventually the idea had to die. We poured a forty of Mickey's on the curb to mourn the loss.

It's hard coping with an idea that was almost great, especially after loading so much work into it. But such is life. Don't hold onto mediocre ideas too long, throw that trash out.

Never, ever, stop coming up with new ideas.


Talking To Carl

Carl (not his real name) is awesome. He's a crazy talented programmer, artist and businessman. And he's trustworthy.

I never talk to him.

It's too damn hard! He won't answer to text messages, emails, or return voicemails. He quit facebook, myspace and AIM. He only talks on the phone or in person.

So every time we hang out, he (passive-aggressively) complains that no one likes him or invites him out anyone. (Had this conversation four times). And then he asks why.

Why? Because you make it too hard to be friends!

"My real friends would be willing to go through the work to contact me!"

Bullshit. People want to connect with other people, it's a deep-down need we all have. We've only got so much time and energy to expend during the day, so naturally we focus it on those who care about us.

What kind of message is this "policy" sending to people?

---What kind of message are you sending to your fans?---



 Everything we hear plants a statue in memory, an obelisk forever bound to a moment. Time passes, but it only takes three notes to tug open your heart to a forgotten past.

-Brown Eyed Girl pisses me off. I'll go out of my way to make this song stop.
-Industrial Techno makes me withdraw and want to leave.
-Owner of the World by Oysterhead makes me feel like a scared teenager again.

What songs take you back and why?


The Art of Band Negotiating

So creativity is correlated with psychosis, schizotypy and various other mental illnesses. It makes sense. It takes a very different type of person to say "You know what? This reality sucks. I'm going to make a new one!" That's why good, powerful, original music has such an impact. It should take the wind out of your lungs and leave you thinking, "Where the hell did that come from?"


It also means working with creative people just *might* be a *little bit* of a challenge. Ideas, egos, and emotions are constantly battling for their place in the ethereal concept of the music. (I thought of this riff last night after a breakup and it's PERFECT and why won't you guys put this in the song WHY) Conflict is inevitable. It eats bands all the time. It'll eat yours too, if you're not careful.

Here's how to avoid murdering your band members:

-Separate egos and the music
 When you come in with an awesome idea that you've poured blood and sweat into, it's hard not to become emotionally attached to the idea. (If you weren't attached to an idea, why the hell would you want to make it a song?) But what happens when someone tells you, metaphorically, that you've got an ugly-ass baby? You cut that vato! Don't take your idea's rejection personally, it's just a chunk of music. There's always more ideas.

-Be firm, but not a dick
  If something *really* doesn't feel right with the music, stick with it. You should love your music. But don't stonewall, make sure you say

-Why doesn't this part fit?
  Be specific about what doesn't fit. Rhythm? Scale? Context? Personality? If it's close but not quite, this will help you figure out how to fiddle around with the section to get it to blend with the rest of the song.

-Creating vs. Honing
  There's two distinct stages in the creative process, know which one you're in. It's important not to criticize any new riffs or melodies when you're Creating, just let them come in waves and bursts. If you begin to shoot down ideas before they're formed you will end up second guessing yourself, miss your best ideas, and come up with mediocre dreck that you worked on forever but still can't care about. Only after an idea has taken root can you effectively switch into Honing where you weed out good ideas from bad. Wait until then to criticize.

-Freak out on the good stuff!
  If you LOVE a part, don't just say, "That'll work." If it's that powerful, get animated and say something like "I WANT TO MAKE BABIES WITH THAT RIFF." Make sure your band members know how good their good stuff is. Good music should make you freak out.

-Fuck it, lets get tacos.
  If it gets to be vicious, get out of the practice room pronto. Taco Beuno has mediated every major dispute we've had.


Derek Thinks Music

Music is everything.

It swallows us, our emotions, our memories, our history, everything. It winds itself into every moment of every day. It's an infectious pop hook, a whisper on the wind. It moves us to ecstasy. It moves us to despair.

Music is everything.

This blog is about the music that defines my life, the music I create, and the music world.

Let's talk.