Friday, April 30, 2004

today must've been package day, because i got two packages today, both of which i knew would come eventually but neither of which i thought had actually shipped yet.

first i got a package from my lovely girlfriend, which included a copy of v/vm's relax cd, which apparently got v/vm into a lot of trouble (to the point that they won't even mention it by name anymore). also inside was some bizarre xtian junk mail, which includes a "prayer rug" and other strangeness. i haven't really gotten to check it out yet, but i suspect she was correct to think it could be used for collage work.

perhaps a bigger surprise was that my plates & labels arrived! yes, my metal plates from the record (as previously mentioned, these are made from the original lacquers cut by the mastering engineer, and they're used to create the mothers, which are then used to create the stampers that pound my music onto blank vinyl) arrived; and as a bonus, there were 3 extra test pressings in between the plates (for protection i guess, but what a bonus!) i think i should get some of those "LP frames" so i can hang them on my wall... i should also hang some of my lovely hand-painted bobby vomit records.

since you have to order 1000 labels no matter how few records you're pressing, there were 800 labels from each side left over, & now i have those. oddly, they already had the holes punched & some twine was threaded through the holes, then tied. sort of like a huge bracelet. i was expecting the labels to be in a folder or something, not on a ring.

unfortunately the labels are not adhesive as you might suspect; they're a special kind of paper & they are actually pressed into the vinyl while it's still a hot of goo. if they were self-adhesive i'd give them out as stickers. instead i'll have to come up with some creative use for them, probably in a collage of some sort.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

wow, wrecked is selling my true data 12" for only $6.50. i feel kinda bad for charging $9 here. i mean, i know $9 is pretty high for a domestic record (drbmd even called me out for it)... i just want to recoup my investment & these things are not exactly selling like hotcakes. that's why i started the combo offer (& why i pimp it so hard): $9 for a record is high, but $15 for a record + a t-shirt is pretty cheap. that's because markup on t-shirts tends a lot higher. at hot topic, t-shirts are like $18.99! that's outrageous. even for a ringer shirt with 4-color process printing, their markup on that has to be at least 300%-400%. so i can sell solid-color t-shirts for $8 (with a healthy markup) and it's ridiculously cheap: even other bands don't tend to sell shirts for less than $10.

but because i'm paranoid about even being able to sell these records, i went with a small pressing of 200. i figure that eventually i should be able to unload most of those. i didn't even think about what a typical domestic 12" should cost; if i had, i probably would've pressed 300 or more.

the big difference between pressing shirts & pressing records (other than the difference in markup) is the investment required. setup costs for printing shirts are pretty low, and you don't need to order in nearly the same quantity. you can spend a couple hundred dollars & get a few dozen t-shirts. not an option for records.

setup costs for pressing records are much higher. because in addition to the actual plant setup fees (which are themselves higher than for shirts), you have to pay for vinyl mastering and plating. vinyl mastering (not to be confused with general audio mastering) is cutting the actual grooves onto lacquer, and involves some pretty tricky acoustics because of the unique nature of the format. then the lacquer with your grooves in it are plated with metal so that they're durable enough to use for the actual pressing process. (aardvark has tons of cool information about these processes, and united has a great essay about vinyl dynamics.)

aardvark mastering (where i went) charges $310 for both mastering & plating. if you let the plant do that shit for you, not only will they probably do an inferior job, they'll try to charge you $300 for the mastering alone.

so in addition to all those costs, you have to deal with other scams like how labels only come in lots of 1000. or the huge shipping costs, because records are heavy (200 12"s = 100 lbs!) these costs really add up, so you have to order a lot to keep down your unit costs. my investment was something like $850 for 200 records. my unit cost works out to about $4.30, which is apparently very high. if i'd ordered 300 (for an investment of maybe $988), my unit cost goes down to like $3.30. if i'd ordered 500 (for ~$1250), my unit cost goes down to $2.50! & that's without skimping on the frills, like heavier vinyl or lots of greys in my label art (united charged me for extra film because of that). for some foolish reason i didn't do these calculations until after ordering the records, so i picked a dumb amount & the result is that my record is relatively expensive.

here's where we get back to markup. 100% markup sounds like a lot, doesn't it? maybe that's just the anticapitalist in me trying to make me feel bad for wanting to make at least a little money off this merchandise that i'm spending so much for. but i charge close to 100% markup on my t-shirts & they still seem cheap, because everyone else is ripping you off on shirts.

$9 for a domestic 12" is a lot. that's a little over 100% markup. if i'd ordered 300 records, then 100% markup would be like $7. that's reasonable... although my wholesale price still might've been a little high.

now at wrecked, cutups is only marking up my record about 15%. hell, he's charging less for my 12" than for any other 12" listed on his front page. (& i know he probably got all those other domestics for less.) his markup is so low it makes one wonder if it's a mistake. but if it's not a mistake, that tells me a few things. it tells me that he doesn't want to screw over his customers by charging too much for a domestic record, or for an unknown artist. so he won't make much money at all off my record.

of course, he already runs a shop, so he doesn't need to make much off any one specific record. i basically had to start a shop from scratch, & i have very few items in my inventory (new! buttons coming soon), so making my money back from the record is my top priority. the result: his price is too low, while mine is too high.

i don't know; maybe i should lower the price to $8.50 or even $8. of course, that might not be fair to the (very few) people who've already bought records... maybe i should just pimp the combo offer really hard until i sell out of t-shirts (or the common sizes, anyway), & come up with a new deal or just lower the record price then.
i've gotten very few responses so far about the girly shirts... but those who do want them are passionate about it! right now i'm leaning toward #4 & getting a dozen girly shirts (6 black, 6 purple), but only in the medium/one-size-fits-all size. if that size wouldn't work for you, i really need to know.

the sizing chart at the manufacturer's site for the shirts says "When Classic Girl T-shirts are to be used to promote an event, our Medium/One Size (indicated by M/OS) is suggested, as it fits approximately 80% of women."

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

okay, i have a dilemma regarding the girly shirts. i'm not sure whether i should really have any made at all, & if i do, i will probably have to charge more for them.

the place i'll be dealing with is prngraphics. they're a local punk/diy outfit with lots of cred locally and regionally. (they press most of the rock shirts in town & they guarantee their prices)

if you look at their price lists, you'll note that the girly shirts are much more expensive than the normal t-shirts. this is not their fault; ladies' cut shirts are just generally much more expensive industrywide, for whatever reasons (price gouging by the suppliers?). i did find one line of ladies' shirts that was in the price range as men's shirts, but the guy at prng assures me that "it is not a high of quality as American apparel (as far as women's garments are concerned) and the cut of the garment is not as flattering as American apparel which we have found to be a major issue for women as to what they like. If you were wanting to go with it anyway I would recommend getting extra shirts in small or youth L or XL for basically the same thing and cheaper."

i'm inclined to agree that i don't want to spend extra $$ on getting ladies' shirts pressed if they're going to be inferior quality.

so here are my options as i see them:

1. forget about girly shirts, & just go with the run of M-XXL

2. forget about girly shirts but also get some S or even youth sizes for our more petite female fans.

3. get a very small run of the american apparel shirts in assorted sizes (go here for more info about the shirts, and click "garment specs" for sizing info), and sell them for $12 (instead of the $8 i charge for the other shirts, not including shipping)

4. get a small run (like 12 or so) of the american apparel shirts but only in medium/one-size-fits-all & sell them for $10.

would the ladies be willing to pay an extra $2-4 for quality girly shirts? to date only two people have expressed any interest in girly shirts to me... so i'm not sure they're worth getting at all (at least not if there's no demand). but i'm male & i wear baggy shirts anyway, so what do i know?

i would appreciate any feedback from the ladies out there ASAP, as i intend to place my order for the shirts by the end of the week.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

the cannon art collective is a nonprofit diy space dedicated to promoting art in the local (beavercreek) community, hosting cheap all-ages shows & other community events. the collective that runs the place is full of cool kids, who were very nice & fed us vegetarian chili & beer after the show.

bobby vomit was excited about the fact that beavercreek is apparently close to xenia ohio (the location for the movie gummo) & talked about it quite a bit. cannon is actually located on dayton-xenia road.

so i took 1/2 day yesterday & made the drive to beavercreek with drbmd & bobby vomit in tow. both of them fell asleep at least briefly during the drive up, which seemed pretty lame: i can understand passing out on the drive back, late at night after a lot of drinking. but in the middle of the afternoon on the way to the venue?

anyway, we showed up around 6:30 ohio time. the "soundman" & the first band weren't there yet, but we hung around outside for awhile, chatted briefly with jon (who booked us & organized the show), & waited for things to start.

yes, collapse is a three-piece harsh noise band that jammed out on a large set full of gear: guitars, a few keyboards, & plenty petals. one of them also had an older-style kaoss pad & was curious about my kp2. for some reason all three of them played pretty much the whole set with their backs to the audience. they were fun. unfortunately for them, they had the largest setup but had to go first because they were local.

after yes, collapse's set, we rushed down to the kroger for batteries & snacks (& a quick smoke). i didn't think we took too long, but when we returned omeggga blue was already playing, so i saw maybe 10 mins of his set. what i did catch sounded pretty good: hints of rhythm, synth washes, & other electronic sounds in a not-quite-dance context. i'm not really sure what to say here; the mp3s give you a better idea.

then i had to run out & move my car before bobby v & i could load in our stuff. i played a freeform set that started out with the piece i used for the opening of my set at sumthin' fierce, moved on to spamouflage, & i also worked in a variation of we will iraq you somewhere in the set. sadly, disc 1 on my numarks wasn't cooperating (sometimes disc 1 won't even acknowledge that there's a cd in the drive... i can get it to work sometimes, but i wasn't going to reboot the cd players in the middle of my set), which limited me to one cd player. but i added a radio to the mix, & using that & the kp2 i was able to work around that fairly well. the radio added a couple nice surprises, like a strange xtian program i stumbled across, & an r&b number i remixed (to drbmd's amusement). then i went for the old favorite ending of open as raw. now that i have the kp2 i can build it up to a better crescendo than ever.

no, i didn't get anything recorded because i didn't put in enough prep time to set up a recording.

after me came bobby vomit with a harsh set of turntable noise, and liberal use of the wand (a severed tonearm that he runs over various surfaces for texture noises). very little recognizable sound this time around. i don't know; i've seen bobby vomit play so many times that i don't often know what to say anymore. it was loud. it was bobby vomit. nuff said.

i sold one "combo pack" & bobby sold one "record/art piece". his current "art piece" is several broken records fastened together, with a painting on one side. most of the paintings center around the birth of his daughter but a few don't (mine has a beautiful large skull... someday i need to get some lp frames so i can display all the bobby vomit painted records i've accumulated).

8cylinder was supposed to come down from pittsburgh to play (he was even supposed to bring cutups from wrecked and maybe xanopticon with him), but didn't show up. so the show ended after bobby vomit's set. then we tore down & retreated to the apartment space above the venue, where we ate, hung out with the collective, & eventually passed out.

apparently "dayton has a sound" & that sound is punk/hardcore. poor dayton. we were the first (or one of the first) electronic shows at cannon, which puts on lots of punk/hardcore shows. the place seemed relatively full, although i guess many of them got in free because they were performing or part of the collective. i guess it was a smaller turnout for the venue, but it didn't really feel like it was that small, which is what's important.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

wow, tomorrow is going to hurt. i just got back from celebrating 4/20 at the fucking doormouse show, also featuring anonymous & blaerg.

it's 2:40 am & i'm going to get up 5 hours from now. tomorrow will hurt. but it'll be worth it.

i traded a record & a shirt to doormouse (he & anonymous were pretty into the shirt), & bought a couple more records from dm as well. & speaking of the recycle shirt, unszene was wearing his, so blaerg came up to us & asked which of us was stAllio! (you see, because blaerg had bought one of those shirts online last month). also there were several of us there from the bad taste crew (the muncie crew was also in effect), rather than just me & drbmd, so i socialized more even though i didn't do a whole lot of talking.

i could try to write a more detailed review but for shit's sake it's 2:40am & i have to work tomorrow. suffice to say that everyone rocked, doormouse did an awesome set (with anonymous scratching), & it was worth the $5 cover, worth suffering through tomorrow with little sleep, & easily the best 4/20 i'd had in a few years.

Monday, April 19, 2004

the awia shop goes live today! now, through the power of email, all three of my fans can get their own copies of my true data 12"! i'm also hyping the holy hell out of my "combo" deal, where you get a record + a t-shirt for $15!

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

there we go... lots of places have "highlights" or "excerpts" from bush's press conference last night, but it took a minute to find a full transcript (courtesy usa today). i admit i haven't read the "speech" portion, although i'm not sure there's much worth reading there. but here is the text of some of those questions/answers i posted last night.

QUESTION: (david gregory) Mr. President, I'd like to follow up on a couple of these questions that have been asked.

One of the biggest criticisms of you is that whether it's WMD in Iraq, postwar planning in Iraq, or even the question of whether this administration did enough to ward off 9-11, you never admit a mistake. Is that a fair criticism, and do you believe that there were any errors in judgment that you made related to any of those topics I brought up?

President Bush: Well, I think, as I mentioned, you know, the country wasn't on war footing, and yet we're at war.

And that's just a reality, Dave. I mean, that was the situation that existed prior to 9-11, because the truth of the matter is most in the country never felt that we'd be vulnerable to an attack such as the one that Osama bin Laden unleashed on us.

We knew he had designs on us. We knew he hated us. But there was nobody in our government, at least, and I don't think the prior government that could envision flying airplanes into buildings on such a massive scale.

The people know where I stand, I mean, in terms of Iraq. I was very clear about what I believed. And, of course, I want to know why we haven't found a weapon yet. But I still know Saddam Hussein was a threat. And the world is better off without Saddam Hussein.

I don't think anybody can — maybe people can argue that. I know the Iraqi people don't believe that, that they're better off with Saddam Hussein — would be better off with Saddam Hussein in power.

I also know that there's an historic opportunity here to change the world. And it's very important for the loved ones of our troops to understand that the mission is an important, vital mission for the security of America and for the ability to change the world for the better.

i'm not sure what question the prez was answering here, but it sure wasn't the one that was asked... note that the word "mistake" does not appear in his answer (nor any of its synonyms)

here's the question about why bush-cheney must testify together (& it has a bonus question about iraq!)

QUESTION: Mr. President, why are you and the vice president insisting on appearing together before the 9-11 commission? And, Mr. President, who will we be handing the Iraqi government over to on June 30th?

President Bush: We'll find that out soon. That's what Mr. Brahimi is doing. He's figuring out the nature of the entity we'll be handing sovereignty over.

And, secondly, because the 9-11 commission wants to ask us questions, that's why we're meeting. And I look forward to meeting with them and answering their questions.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) I was asking why you're appearing together, rather than separately, which was their request.

President Bush: Because it's a good chance for both of us to answer questions that the 9-11 commission is looking forward to asking us. And I'm looking forward to answering them.

now that is one hell of a non-answer. i don't think anyone was fooled. (although "we'll find out soon" regarding who will run iraq on july 1 is very encouraging, don't you think?)

here's the third question i mentioned last night. (i'm sure there's more similar content; this is only what i personally noticed while watching it last night.) i'm not sure whether this is worse or better than the first question, but at least he does use the word "mistake" (once)

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

In the last campaign, you were asked a question about the biggest mistake you'd made in your life, and you used to like to joke that it was trading Sammy Sosa.

You've looked back before 9-11 for what mistakes might have been made. After 9-11, what would your biggest mistake be, would you say, and what lessons have learned from it?

President Bush: I wish you'd have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it.

John, I'm sure historians will look back and say, gosh, he could've done it better this way or that way. You know, I just — I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with answer, but it hadn't yet.

I would've gone into Afghanistan the way we went into Afghanistan. Even knowing what I know today about the stockpiles of weapons, I still would've called upon the world to deal with Saddam Hussein.

See, I'm of the belief that we'll find out the truth on the weapons. That's why we sent up the independent commission. I look forward to hearing the truth as to exactly where they are. They could still be there. They could be hidden, like the 50 tons of mustard gas in a turkey farm.

One of the things that Charlie Duelfer talked about was that he was surprised of the level of intimidation he found amongst people who should know about weapons and their fear of talking about them because they don't want to be killed.

You know, there's this kind of — there's a terror still in the soul of some of the people in Iraq.

They're worried about getting killed, and therefore they're not going to talk. But it'll all settle out, John. We'll find out the truth about the weapons at some point in time.

However, the fact that he had the capacity to make them bothers me today just like it would have bothered me then. He's a dangerous man. He's a man who actually not only had weapons of mass destruction — the reason I can say that with certainty is because he used them.

And I have no doubt in my mind that he would like to have inflicted harm, or paid people to inflict harm, or trained people to inflict harm, on America, because he hated us.

I hope — I don't want to sound like I have made no mistakes. I'm confident I have. I just haven't — you just put me under the spot here, and maybe I'm not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

on sci-fi channel right now there's a movie called the magical legend of the leprechauns that totally appropriates my idea of a war between the faerie & leprechaun from conf story! at the time i wrote it (yes, before this movie was made) i was pretty sure i invented the whole concept of war between those two races.

they didn't take my idea for a play-writing competition to determine leadership. they did take my trite idea of a forbidden romance between the races (obvious as it was), but they did not, however, use the creative twist of a child by that union, infected with a dread disorder known as biggism.

the funny part is that there's a scene in conf story (specifically at 11/16-11/17 in hunter pt 4) where stAllio! goes to see a movie allegedly based on his life then burns down the theater in outrage after seeing it. the movie was fairy tale: a true story, which was a real movie at the time...
david gregory was the nbc news guy pressing the "mistake" issue. after the conference he suggested the president was "filibustering".

then i flipped over to abc & stephanopolous was talking about the mistake issue, saying almost exactly the same thing i just wrote: people just want the pres to admit that he is in fact human, and therefore fallible. but he won't, or can't, do it.

a few minutes later (still abc) terry moran suggested that another reason bush couldn't admit a mistake was because one of his goals for this speech/conf was to "project strength". ie, it was all about image, & even a token admission of fallibility would go against the supersoldier persona he wants to project. of course, this only served to make him look arrogant.
dammit, 24 is preempted tonight because of the presidential press conference. now 24 is scheduled to air sunday night, which kind of screws up my sunday schedule (now i'll have to catch deadwood at a different time)

so i was about to start flipping the channels & ended up watching the pres for a few minutes. no wonder this guy doesn't hold regular press conferences: he's no good at it. i haven't been watching long but i've already noticed him do a terrible job avoiding a couple important questions.

obviously there's no transcript yet, but a few minutes ago someone (i think from nbc news) mentioned the common complaint that bush will never admit a mistake, & asked him flat out if he had made any (in regard to certain issues). this would've been a perfect attempt for bush to at least make some fluff comment about some little trifling mistake he made once. it wouldn't have to be of any substance, even a token admission of his humanity would've gone a long way. instead he just blabbed about how he had no way of knowing the terrorists would fly planes into buildings.

a few minutes later someone asked why the pres & vp will be testifying together for the 9/11 commission. he basically said "because they want to ask us questions". the questioner reiterated: no, why must you testify together rather than separately, & once again (though more flustered) his answer was "because we want to answer their questions."

ooh, a follow up about the mistake thing!!! the questioner flat out asks if he's made any mistakes since 9/11. first bush said he wished he would've received the question in writing beforehand. then he paused, then stumbled, then another long pause... "i'm sure historians looking back..." "something will come to me..." then he rambled on about saddam for a minute. the answer is no, bush could not think of a single mistake he's made since 9/11.

this is more like a really bad speech than a conference... it's like a speech with a bunch of awkward tangents. but it's definitely not the president answering questions.
dammit! i just wrote the first 3 grafs of my fantomas/melt banana/end review then accidentally closed my browser! i hate websites that resize your browser & get you all confused.... try #2

end started the show with a killer 1/2 hour laptop set of mod-inspired breakcore. big hard beats & breaks, with a strong flavor of '50s/'60s movie soundtracks. at one point drbmd commented that it sounded like end's samples were coming from pretty similar places, like bond films... coincidentally, at that moment end was playing a track named "bond"!

unfortunately, like i said to end after the show while buying a t-shirt, virtually nobody in the audience knew who he was. while he does have a brand new release on ipecac, his previous releases were on hymen records, a label that no record store in indianapolis carries (i could go on a rant about that, but won't). so while i was pretty familiar with end before going to this show, i suspect i was in a very small minority.

after end's set, whoever was running the cd player in between acts played the exact same cd that had been playing before end's set.

next up was the legendary melt banana, a 4-piece noisecore band from japan. out of the three acts, i was actually least interested in seeing melt banana simply because their sound is a little too close to punk/hardcore or grindcore (done really really well, of course) for my liking. that said, there is no denying their sheer power, energy, & talent. i'm not sure what the guitar player was doing, whether he had fx or what, because he was getting some pretty crazy tones. they hopped & leaped around the stage, banging out the noise & really drawing in the crowd. the audience didn't really know what to do when end was performing, but they were all over melt banana.

(interesting aside: during the melt banana set, enduser and a couple others from the sonic terror crew arrived at the show, & sat right next to us [in fact they sort of stole our seats!] enduser said he had come to see end, but arrived too late [in part screwed over by the new time difference between here & cincinnati])

last up: fantomas, the headliner, & deservedly so. fantomas is four very talented guys (known for their other bands), although mike patton is the clear ringleader: not only did patton do his trademark avant-garde vocals, he also had an electronics rig including a large synth/keyboard, a kaoss pad (looked like a kp2, which he apparently ran the vocals through), & other gear, & on top of all that he sometimes played the role of conductor, giving cues to the rest of the band.

if any "rock" band needs a conductor, it's fantomas. their material is extremely complex: one moment they'll be playing the most intense metal, then the next they'll be ambient, then they'll sound like a film soundtrack or cartoon music, then metal again. for those familiar with their recorded material, i can testify that these guys can really pull that material off in a live setting. i recognized most of what they played (even if i couldn't give song titles, or even necessarily tell what came off what album in some cases).

patton was fun to watch as he directed the band, playing synths & occasionally yanking a mic from its stand so he could spaz out & jump around. but dave lombardo (famous as the drummer for slayer) was something to watch as well. he had the most elaborate drum kit setup i'd ever seen, including a gong and an array of cymbals that were turned on their sides (vertically). during certain numbers he would use a bow to play the edges of those cymbals & produce eerie high-pitched tones. at another point he tapped the cymbals & start them spinning. i've seen some weird stuff but i had never seen cymbals played like that.

fantomas played two encores, which struck me as a little excessive. maybe i just don't get the point of the encore, but it seems to me that if you're going to play for an hour, you should just play for an hour, not fake like you're quitting halfway through (when it's exceedingly obvious that you're not; both times, when the band left the stage there was a monstrous noise playing the whole time, a pretty blatant clue that they would return in a moment... because of that, some people i spoke to didn't even realize that the first encore was in fact an encore). but both encores were very strong. for the second encore, they brought out the guitar player from melt banana to jam with them for a minute, in what looked like an improvisation, where patton would individually cue each player as he "sang" along, before bringing the whole band in for a raucous noise.

altogether a great show. it's rare that anything comes to the vogue that i'm remotely interested in seeing.... last time i was there was june 2001, so at this rate i'll be back at the vogue in february 2007.

Friday, April 09, 2004

right now i'm listening to true data at 45 instead of 33. don't ask me why i didn't think doing that with the test pressings. so far it sounds pretty fucking good at 45. spamouflage sounds awesome: it's just that much faster & crazier. blue screen of death sounds good, although some of the "terror" or at least the "edge" of some of the tones seems to be lost. it's still really hard, just not quite as creepy at that speed. packet burst also loses a little something (not too much though). open as raw sounds pretty good at this speed too. but i guess you need to acquire the record to find out for yourself. now i will listen to it all backward.

but enough with all my introspective whining & self-pitying from previous posts (or enough for now!)... now that the records are here i need to worry about actually selling the damn things. & the most important decision to make is pricing.

i got a "limited" pressing of 200. the big decision to make in terms of quantity is that the more you order, the lower your unit price. but at the same time, the more you order, the more you have to sell or else you lose a lot of money & have piles of unopened records all over your bedroom floor. i was more concerned about the latter option, so i went with a pretty small pressing of 200 copies.

this sets my unit cost pretty high (in fact, my unit cost is apparently more than a dollar more than keith used to charge for freakshow records wholesale, back in the day!) so when i start talking to distros, apparently some of them might object to the relative high cost my records. but there's not a lot i can do about that, other than sell them myself (patience; i will work out the details of that soon). hopefully tomorrow i'll get started on contacting distros & shops.

i was going to set my retail price at $10 but drbmd suggested that was really high for a domestic 12". he's right; it is (but i'm not sure it's quite as high as he thinks it is, having found a few domestic 12"s in various webshops for $10-up). regardless, right now i'm thinking that $9 for a 12" record (+ s&h) is not that outrageous, considering it's a small pressing on fairly heavy vinyl (it's supposed to be 140-gram vinyl). that is still kind of high, which is partly why i hope to offset the high record price with the t-shirt/record combo deal.

(speaking of which, i have ordered my next batch of t-shirts from screen monkey; they should be done within a few weeks.
special new shirt options and sizes: we will offer men's sizes M-XXL in black and purple. we will also have a limited number of ladie's cut "girlie" shirts [but only in black, because ladie's cut t-shirts have lame colors].)

is $9 a reasonable price for a "limited" 12" record? if the record is $9 the combo package would probably be $15. i'm just trying to make sure i recoup my investment, since i'm a bit skeptical about my ability to sell them all.
i am now being told that my shipment of the true data 12" has arrived!

stay tuned to awia news for the latest info about this record. i hope to have it available for sale from this site soon, but it could be several days before that happens.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

still more from connie:

ok, well, i guess i didn't understand your motivations very well. if you are doing what you do because you want attention and affirmation over it, and not just because you love it and it makes you happy to make noise, then you should probably seek out more attention (i.e., sell yourself to agencies that are in a position to help you with that). i don't understand that drive at all, not being concerned with being "famous" or having people i don't know tell me how great i am, but whatever you think will make you happy...

hmm... well either i'm not being clear enough, or my subconscious motivations are glaringly apparent to everyone but me. (although i confess that the previous post wasn't so much responding to your points as just using them as a jumping-off point)

i make art because i am compelled to do so. i've been an auditory person for as long as i can remember, constantly listening to music (even when i was listening to total garbage) & drawn to multimedia in general. in high school i hung out with the punk rock kids or the other "band" kids, & as badly as i wanted to be a musician myself, i couldn't play a rock instrument (other than vocals, which i like to think i'm good at) so i couldn't pursue that dream very well. (although i did start making bedroom recordings right after graduation, despite not playing guitar... i just used keyboard & cheap mics until i later got into 4-track recording & software.) even before high school my friends & i would sit down with a tape deck & play "radio station". how i wish i had some of those old tapes, particularly the early ones where we recorded all the songs ourselves (for the second incarnation, we just played announcers dubbed rock songs from tapes we liked).

so just like you say, my primary, fundamental motivation for making art is simply a love of the artform, mixed with a primal need to create. i do it first & foremost because it brings me some small parcel of happiness. there's just something really satisfying about the creative process, particularly the part when you can sit back & truly enjoy your work, as a listener/viewer (& if you've done it right, this can be more satisfying that enjoying someone else's art, because it's so intensely personal & the piece does what you think it should... & of course, conversely, there's something deeply frustrating about a project that just doesn't want to work. but we'll ignore that for now).

so i do it all for me. maybe it keeps me from killing myself or doing something equally erratic; i don't know. but then, once the artwork is created, things get more complicated. i've always had social problems, being one of the most introverted people i know, despite a deep longing to connect with other people. i'm not necessarily good at connecting with people face to face. but hey, here's some art i've made... maybe someone will enjoy it? maybe it'll even get me laid?

i don't really seek out mass recognition for its own sake. i was making music before there were websites or mp3s... i would share the music with my handful of friends, a few of them might actually enjoy it, & that would be it. i probably wouldn't be any less happy if it were still that way.

but here's the thing: i see all these other artists doing stuff that's somewhat similar to what i'm doing, & they're getting all this fawning attention (from the press, bulletin boards, whatever). some of it is so good that i'm fawning too. but some of it (in my opinion) is only okay, or at the very least is not nearly as innovative, groundbreaking, insert adjective here as the teeming masses suggest it is. i see that & i think what have these artists done to warrant all this attention that i haven't done? do i not deserve this treatment? i'm not really seeking out major attention (if i were, i would at least try to write accessible music), but if other people get major attention for doing practically the same thing, yet i do not, what does that say about me? are they just lucky or am i inferior?

it really does boil down to jealousy, & even moreso it speaks to the low self-esteem issues i've been dealing with most of my life. & ironically, in some ways those self-esteem issues also prevent me from promoting myself more, because on some level i'd rather be unknown than rejected.

anyway, the workday is done & it's time to go home. maybe more to come, maybe not.
connie writes:

i feel bad that you're feeling insecure about it, but i don't really think you need to... i mean, do you really want to judge your success as an artist by popular opinion and how many units you sell? there're plenty of artists, including many that are deemed among the most significant now (whatever that means), that were completely ignored and worse while they were alive/creating. but you know that. i think that you need to decide what it is you really want to get out of your artistic career... if it's to really do just what you want and answer to yourself above all, then i think that you're doing very well; you've already established a name for yourself that's quite significant, especially in light of how little promotion you do, solely on the strength of doing exactly what you want, which is definitely something to be deeply proud of. (remember that mark gunderson was just about as obscure for 10+ years of his career, before he got around to sending stuff to record labels and so on.) however, if you really want to sell 10,000(0) of something and have people dancing in clubs and see ads for your release in magazines and so on, then you will have to "whore" yourself (though i'm not sure it's always to that degree; but on the other hand, having to sign a record contract, what are your chances of having it be an equitable agreement?),

obviously i don't care so much about raw sales figures; 10,000 seems like an obscene amount of units for a truly underground release (hell, i'm pressing 200 of true data & would probably be satisfied if i sold half of those... even 10,000 free downloads would be a hell of an accomplishment). & the concept of seeing ads for my release in magazines doesn't really appeal to me (reviews, absolutely, but ads? i'm not a big fan of advertising in general, & i can't even remember the last time i saw a print ad for a cd or record i wanted to buy). although i supppose seeing such an ad could be a little exciting.

it's not so much that i want or expect to make money or sell lots of records. i'd like to think that those things don't matter so much to me (although i imagine most artists secretly crave these things on some level, & i'm no exception, not because i want or need the money, but simply as an acknowledgment that my art has enough legitimacy that someone other than me or my personal friends would actually spend money on it).

but even still, it's tough to watch attention being showered on other up-and-coming artists when i don't feel like i'm getting much attention myself (no matter how much i personally might love said artists). that only drives home the perception that nobody really cares what i'm doing. naturally i don't expect 99.9% of the population to care or even "get" what i'm doing, & perhaps i'm unfairly comparing myself to others who are intrinsicly more accessible, but there's still that .1% out there that does care about fringe audio art (& not just in a specific style like breakcore or bootlegs).

i could give examples, name names of these young hotshot superstars, but there's little point to that... i have no real artistic crticism of most of them (except the occasional "it's good but doesn't live up to the hype/there are others who are better but without the recognition"), & it strikes me as petty to list them when my only real beef with most of them amounts to little more than professional jealousy.

it also doesn't help that the local noise/experimental/whatever scene here in indy is constantly struggling. since the festivilla closed we still haven't found any venues in indianapolis to host experimental shows (not that i've been looking)... there might be a couple that would give us a crappy weeknight show, but we've learned too well that it's tough enough getting people to attend even a well-promoted weekend show of this nature. now, if i posted a complaint like this somewhere like imn, i can already tell you what the response would be. a bunch of rockers would pipe up with some populist claptrap like "anyone can do it if you promote yourself harder"; i tend to ignore those kinds of comments because i don't think the average rocker truly understands the nature of the avant garde: most audiences do not want to be challenged by their art & feel threatened or confused by art they don't understand... if you're in a rock band there are tons of potential listeners around, if you can only catch their attention. but when your audience is already so inherently small, there's no real way to compete economically with an obvious cash cow like punkrocknight or an '80s club night...

more connie:
definitely... none of those new producer superstars had labels beating down their doors, i'm certain, they went to five or fifty before they got a nibble. labels will not ever hear of you if you don't send them information about yourself (there must be exceptions, but that's about a zero chance, i figure), and it's not necessarily something unethical or whorish to do... if that's what you really want. i would suspect that you would be pretty disappointed in the aftereffects if that actually happened, though.

actually, i have been solicited for a couple compilations (not that being invited prevented me from being cut), & haruo at lost frog did solicit animals within animals for a compilation appearance as well as our forthcoming mp3ep on that label. (then again, it is an mp3ep, not quite the same as pressing up a bunch of copies of anything.... though right now i won't even get into the ethical problems i would face if someone offered to pay me significantly for awia materials; i'll just say that with the band's open membership policies i would have problems accepting money for other people's contributions without some pretty in-depth conversation with the other animals regarding their material & how to fairly compensate everyone involved)

okay, this is getting long... maybe more to come if i get more feedback on the subject.

& you never know, current/upcoming projects like the indy mp3 project, the forthcoming awia release on lost frog, or even my true data 12" will start to reverse these trends. but i'm not counting on it.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

i'm getting nervous about the pending release of my true data 12". i sent in the test pressing approval w/final payment on march 31, so i anticipate that the records will arrive in the next couple weeks (hopefully before the april 23 show in dayton, or even better before the doormouse show on the 20th so i can try to get dan to do a trade with me). then i get to start the hard part, which will be trying to get some real distribution for the damn thing, so that i'm not the only one selling it & people who want a copy can actually find one with being forced to get one from me personally.

so yeah, i spent a lot of time making sure this is some of my best material ever, that the music itself would actually be worth spending close to a grand on getting pressed, & i think it is. the test pressings sound great, & the few people who've heard them so far (namely, the bad taste crew) love the record. but i still can't shake the feeling that nobody will give a shit, that i'll sell maybe 20 copies & the other 180 will sit around collecting dust in my bedroom until i just smash the things bobby vomit style.

it's not the money. i've spent a little under $900 on this record so far (& that doesn't include the shipping costs i'll accrue when i start distributing the things). i can afford to lose all that money & not even feel it. but if i did, i sure wouldn't waste more money on getting 12"s pressed. no, it's not about the money; it's about recognition & respect.

wallowing in obscurity is hard. it's hard to watch 18-year-olds who've been producing for a few months pop out of the woodwork & instantly become stars while you're still a nobody who's lucky to sell in the double digits. drbmd & i have had this discussion before. i've been producing under the stAllio! name for about 6 years now (though you can probably ignore a couple of those early releases) & i don't have a lot of fame or prestige to show for it. yeah, i somehow got my name in playboy. i have personally appeared on 3 radio stations (often as part of awia) & have had stAllio! or awia material played on maybe a half dozen more. i have performed live in IN, IL, OH, TN, WI, & PA. i have a dedicated fanbase of a couple dozen people i know about, with maybe a couple dozen more that i don't (yes, this site has served up a couple thousand mp3s but how do i know that the listeners didn't hate them?). but as impressive as all that might (or might not) sound, it hasn't translated to record sales, reviews, event attendance, offers for record deals, or any of that good stuff.

i watch these other artists come out of nowhere & almost instantly get multi-label deals, world tours, & tons of press... & i wonder what is so wrong with me or my bad taste cohorts that we haven't gotten any of those things. i'd like to think that a lot of our stuff is pretty good, so it can't be simple quality issues, can it? all i've come up with so far are the issues of consistency, accessibility, & promotion.

consistency: bad taste has no set sound. sure, we aren't putting out punk rock or emo or anything like that, but seeing the BT logo really doesn't tell you what you're getting. dr butcher md does breakcore & electro with a dash of noise. bobby vomit does harsh noise & turntable experiments. humdrum does hard techno & power noise. we're all pretty much doing our own thing with little regard for what else is happening on the label. we don't "cannibalize" each others' sound. i take that to an even further extreme & make records that don't even sound like each other... in some ways, true data is reminiscent of dissonance is bliss, & maura's milk chocolate bath has some stylistic similarities to awia's mono a mono, but generally i go all over the place & there's no way of knowing what a stAllio! release is going to sound like.

drbmd says this variety, this non-cannibalization, is "what makes bad taste special". in a way he's obviously right: we're just making whatever music we're inspired to & putting it out there. a lot of other labels are highly specialized: a breakcore label, a noise label, a plunder/collage label... these sorts of labels sometimes seem to care more about promoting a certain "style" of music than actual quality; everything on the label starts to sound the same. so artistically speaking, a wide variety of styles is a good thing, but for a marketing/promotion standpoint maybe it's not so good. if everything on your label fits into a predefined set of styles, before long your audience knows what to expect. the label has built up brand identity, associated with a certain sound, & the fans know what they're in for. there are some labels where i know that i could buy just about anything in the discography & not be too disappointed, for precisely that reason. by being so adamantly diverse, are we actually hurting ourselves in terms of marketing? by continuing to do whatever i want & just slapping a stAllio! logo on there, am i actually hindering my career? i don't know, but the only obvious alternative (using different project names for different-sounding material) sounds even worse to me...

accessibility: most of these "big name" kids i've been bitching about (& it's important to take "big name" in context; 99.99% of the population has never heard of any of these guys, as much press as they might get) are making somewhat accessible material. it might not be disposable garbage like most "club music", but most of it is still basically dance music: breakcore, idm, whatever the fuck. it makes people want to shake their asses. now i've made some danceable material too, but then i'll make abstract noise too. i've played for "goth nights" a couple times, & i never seem to learn my lesson: i still play really spastic noisy material, & for a crowd that's expecting saccharine club music, it's too much to handle. they don't get it. there's a pretty good local dnb night at the melody inn... i bet dr butcher md could play there & get a great response. but i kinda doubt i would: i don't make dnb. sometimes i think i forget just how truly weird some of this stuff is to the average person.

promotion: this is the most obvious, & possibly our biggest problem. most of us are broke (i'm the only one with any real money). on top of that, our social skills are poor. i am a social leper, unable to talk to people i don't know, & drbmd isn't much better. yeah, bobby vomit will talk your ear off, but he lives in muncie, &... well, let's just say he's eccentric.

i promote stuff online: here, on mailing lists, on bulletin boards. but i never send out demos to other labels. none of us send out stuff to reviewers, the press, or to shops or distributors; drbmd was preparing to send out a bunch of stuff right before bad taste went on hiatus but that hasn't happened yet.

i don't know what i really expect. do i think other labels are going to beg me to release my material if i don't ever send demos to any of them? are they just supposed to find out about me on their own & be so impressed that they beg me to work with them? the same goes for reviewers, distributors, etc. i don't put much effort into contacting them, so it hardly seems fair to expect them to flock to me. but is that how everyone else "made it"? did all my favorite artists totally whore themselves into getting record deals or distribution? i don't know, but it's an awkward subject to broach. maybe it's just my introverted nature but i feel dirty promoting myself like that...

well this has turned into quite a lengthy bitch session. i'm sure i've lost focus & overlooked some things i meant to post, but right now i just want to end this entry so i can do something else for a little while...

Monday, April 05, 2004

enough talking about news... let's talk some more about "fan pics" (aka, the phenomenon i posted about last week of "fans" writing your name/logo/domain on their unclothed bodies & posing for photos)

in the most brilliant online sales venture since girls started ebaying themselves off as imaginary girlfriends, a new site called will take custom "fan pics" for you at a low low price! for only $5-10 you can get a pg-13-rated image! now that is cheap! & while they don't post any r- or x-rated images on their site, they do say they will make racier images for a higher price. actually, here's their wording:

The lighter side of all this semi-legal blather is that because we're students and we really need the money, we'll do almost anything for a very reasonable price.

Yeah... anything...

there's no indication of what a "reasonable price" is (what is the running market value for nudie pics featuring your web domain?), but that's a big promise.

i have still not received any fan pics from you, my adoring public (although one very sexy lady has hinted that i'll receive some soon). don't make me hire the naked text people! i want real amateur fan pics; i don't want to have to hire the pros (because you know i'd pay extra for "other parts").

hell, if you're dying to send some pics but are too ashamed of your body, you can even place a nakedtext order for me... or fill out raffle entries for me so i can win a free pic ("risky PG-13 to light R at most"). i mean, i would much prefer real shots of your own body (or your girlfriend, wife, mom, or daughter)... but if i haven't personally seen you naked i'd never really know, right?
wal-mart continues its mission of building megastores everywhere, regardless of whether residents want it there. the king of "big box" stores takes it unethical practices to the next level!

the people of inglewood california fought off wal-mart once, so now wal-mart proposes a ballot initiative to let them build a superstore in inglewood. but that's not all:

The proposal would essentially exempt Wal-Mart from all of Inglewood's planning, zoning and environmental regulations, creating a city-within-a-city subject only to its own rules. Wal-Mart has hired an advertising and public relations firm to market the initiative and is spending more than $1 million to support the measure, known as initiative 04-A.

everybody's against it except for the mayor (& wal-mart itself, of course). though if you lived in inglewood, you might get a different impression. for example, this woman's photo appeared on pro-4A postcards sent out by wal-mart... against her wishes:

Wal-Mart, said Martin, had tricked her into being their poster girl on the piece of mail most critical to their campaign so far. "All of the words on that letter that went out, none of them are true," says the 82-year-old Martin, a retired nurse who lives in a senior complex near Manchester Boulevard. "I didn’t write them. For one thing, the letter says I’ve lived in Inglewood for 50 years. I’ve only lived here 13."
the new york daily news has a feature about soldiers being exposed to depleted uranium.

if you haven't been following the news closely you might never have heard of depleted uranium.

Depleted uranium, a waste product of the uranium enrichment process, has been used by the U.S. and British military for more than 15 years in some artillery shells and as armor plating for tanks. It is twice as heavy as lead.


Depleted uranium, which does not occur in nature, is created as a waste product of uranium enrichment when some of the highly radioactive isotopes in natural uranium, U-235 and U-234, are extracted.

if the word "uranium" makes you think of dangerous radiation, your instincts are correct. depleted uranium (DU) is indeed radioactive, & many believe it is one of (if not the) cause of the mysterious "gulf war syndrome" that hit so many us soldiers the last time we went to iraq.

also note that while the nydn seems to be doing a good job tracking this story (or at least the story of these specific soldiers), it neglects to mention that depleted uranium is illegal and violates a slew of UN resolutions and international treaties. check out this commondreams article for a whole bunch of DU info, like this:

According to a August 2002 report by the UN subcommission, laws which are breached by the use of DU shells include: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the Charter of the United Nations; the Genocide Convention; the Convention Against Torture; the four Geneva Conventions of 1949; the Conventional Weapons Convention of 1980; and the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, which expressly forbid employing 'poison or poisoned weapons' and 'arms, projectiles or materials calculated to cause unnecessary suffering'. All of these laws are designed to spare civilians from unwarranted suffering in armed conflicts.

really, the most significant thing about the nydn article is that it's being printed in the mainstream press. but you aren't going to see words like "war crime" in those articles, printed as they are in a periodical that also prints bill o'reilly's column. commondreams ain't never skeered, though:

Professor Doug Rokke, ex-director of the Pentagon's depleted uranium project -- a former professor of environmental science at Jacksonville University and onetime US army colonel who was tasked by the US department of defense with the post-first Gulf war depleted uranium desert clean-up -- said use of DU was a 'war crime'.

Rokke said: 'There is a moral point to be made here. This war was about Iraq possessing illegal weapons of mass destruction -- yet we are using weapons of mass destruction ourselves.' He added: 'Such double-standards are repellent.'
so condeleezza rice will testify before the 9/11 commission this week. this isn't exactly timely news, because it was announced last week: rice & the white house had been stalling & dragging their feet for weeks, claiming that although condi really wanted to testify (yeah right), she couldn't because it would set a dangerous precedent... according to their claims, no chief of staff had ever testified under oath before a congressional commission.

but newsweek has uncovered that lie:

The grainy photograph rolled off the fax machine at the White House counsel's office last Monday morning, along with a scribbled note that smacked of blackmail. If the White House didn't allow national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice to testify in public before the 9/11 commission, it read, "This will be all over Washington in 24 hours." The photo, from a Nov. 22, 1945, New York Times story, showed Adm. William D. Leahy, chief of staff to Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, appearing before a special congressional panel investigating the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. PRESIDENT'S CHIEF OF STAFF TESTIFIES read the headline over the snapshot of Leahy's very public testimony. The point was clear: the White House could no longer get away with the claim that Rice's appearance would be a profound breach of precedent.

yes, the commission took the smart move of hiring a historian, who actually did some research & proved that history does repeat itself. condi lies, & high-level cabinet members testify when massive failures of national security occur.

what's interesting about the newsweek expose is that it doesn't actually print the photo in question (at least the web version doesn't). sure, it publicizes the existence of said photo, but why not print the thing? hell, even a search through google news does not turn up the acual photo. the yahoo news reprint of the story includes a link to what it cites as the photo, but clicking it only leads to a "newswire photo service" where it's possible the photo is available... but you must be registered & logged in to access the content.

if the mere existence of this photo is newsworthy (& i agree it certainly is), why won't anyone actually print the damn photo?

Friday, April 02, 2004

more salon goodness: republicans for kerry? highlights how moderate republicans are being forced out of the party by the radical right.
every so often i'll go to salon & sit through the ad so i can get that elusive "day pass" that allows you to read their articles without subscribing (actually, at first i put up my hand to block the screen from view until it was over, but then i realized the ad was for the book house of bush, house of saud, which i'm actually curious about, so then i watched the ad).

today's big story on salon is an in-depth feature on justice anton scalia. the focus of the article is on how scalia has increasingly marginalized himself over the past few years, with his radical opinions & unwillingness to even acknowledge that those who disagree might not be out of their minds. (did i just forget that scalia actually had to recuse himself from the pledge of allegiance case because of some ridiculous off-the-cuff remark?)

there's also this interesting story (actually an AP story, but i read it on salon & today is "salon links day") about a media squabble between cnn & david letterman. i haven't watched any late night show other than conan in years, but apparently on tuesday night, dave aired a video that "showed Bush at a March rally in Orlando, Fla., standing at a lectern with several listeners behind him -- among them, a boy in his early teens who could barely stay awake. While Bush spoke, the young man yawned, twisted his head, checked his watch and generally seemed dead on his feet."

the story continues:

Tuesday morning, CNN attempted to lighten its news mood by running the segment, credited to CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman,'' on its ``CNN Live Today.''

But then CNN host Daryn Kagan added: "We're being told by the White House that the kid, as funny as he was, was edited into that video, which would explain why the people around him weren't really reacting.''

Later, during CNN's "Live From ...,'' anchor Kyra Phillips reran the tape but cautioned viewers: "We're told that the kid was there at that event, but not necessarily standing behind the president.''

The truth was: The White House never complained, and the footage was real.

but krugman at the nyt describes it differently:

But here's the really interesting part: CNN backed down, but it told Mr. Letterman that Ms. Kagan "misspoke," that the White House was not the source of the false claim. (So who was? And if the claim didn't come from the White House, why did CNN run with it without checking?)

In short, CNN passed along a smear that it attributed to the White House. When the smear backfired, it declared its previous statements inoperative and said the White House wasn't responsible. Sound familiar?

the AP article blindly accepts cnn's later statement that the white house was not the source, & with that seem content to let the story drop... or at least, AP goes on to hype up the "confusion" aspect, but does not follow up on where the confusion actually came from. only krugman wonders who would actually make such a ridiculous accusation, if not the white house, or why cnn would bother airing it.

the yawning kid is booked for tonight's letterman show, & his press is now handled by the white house in a blatant bit of bush damage control (but it's nevertheless an amusing media tidbit).

(krugman's column [if you can even read it; registration req'd] also contains a nice [but short] rebuttal to bush flack jim wilkinson for his recent character assasination work against richard clarke... wilkinson gets a much longer rebuke from buzzflash in a detailed piece that covers the highlights of wilkinson's career as a top bushco PR dude.)

oh yeah, getting back to salon, there's also a nice interview with former senator gary hart, who personally warned powell, rice, & rumsfeld about terrorism in jan2k1. hart alleges that bushco sat on the idea of homeland security until after 9/11, among other things.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

had an uneventful night at mom & dad's house last night... watching tv in the living room & sleeping in the guest room.

by this morning dad seemed to be feeling better. his fever never got too high. so the worst has probably passed (it does seem to be a fast flu, coming & going within a day or two)

& in a sign of what kind of day today will be at work, i went to get some coffee first thing, only to discover that someone had brewed a pot of coffee without adding any coffee. they just stuck in an empty coffee filter & turned it on. (i dumped it out & brewed some real coffee, but not until after getting a witness)