Marvel at the Lovely Trash on Memory Lane

One of the simplest and greatest joys of being a musician is being able to look back on previous efforts. No matter how jaded or cynical we may get, most everyone enjoys a good trip down memory lane. During these doses of nostalgia, sometimes you surprise yourself and think “wow, this is actually pretty good!”, but most of the time you're left pondering what you could have possibly been thinking.

While I'm not a huge proponent of trying to relive your glory days, I think you can learn a lot from your past and use that knowledge moving forward. Growth is always positive, except when it results in having to buy bigger clothes; I hate shopping, that's a big reason why cultivating a marketable image has never really been high on my priority list as a musician.

Like many artists, I've spent a lot of time chasing after the elusive “perfect album” when realistically, you're more likely to find Bigfoot riding a Unicorn to go swimming with the Loch Ness Monster. Not to say that it can't be done, or hasn't ever been done, but I've never personally met a musician who thought all of their output was perfect.

I like to collect obscure music, it's been a hobby of mine for years. If I'm browsing through a used record store and see a “for promotional use only” sticker on something, I want it. Same thing goes for alternate covers, colored vinyl, bootleg tapes, (yes, cassettes) and any original pressing of something that is out-of-print; I'm like a cop at QT when the donuts from that morning get marked down.

So naturally, as someone who spends a lot of time researching and documenting local and underground music, I've gained quite a collection of hilariously bad and sometimes brilliantly insane recordings. Noise-Rock projects from Hardcore bands who had no idea they were playing Noise-Rock at the time; now-defunct Hard Rock bands who were trying desperately to ride the Godsmack bandwagon; terribly trite Rap songs and of course, all the god-awful crap I made in my formative years. Not that this is anything to brag about, but I was doing what Kid Rock did before anyone had ever heard of him; it was really, really bad. Yet I can't bring myself to throw these recordings away, or listen to them for that matter.

Perhaps one day all these rare gems will actually be referred to as gems without any sense of sarcasm, but until that day I will hold onto them for my own amusement and to satisfy my collector bones. There might even be an unlabeled release full of this music one day spread all across the Internet, much to the chagrin of many of my friends.

Truthfully, even bad music is often worth listening to at least once, but there are some lines even I won't cross; Christmas music and 80s-style saxophone solos are basically my Kryptonite. The only thing that reverses the harmful effects of something like “The Sexy Sax Man Plays Silent Night” (I cringe at the thought) are the soothing sounds of cranked guitar rigs feeding back before an onslaught of blast-beats and horrifying screams take me away to my happy place, floating on a black cloud of sludgy guitar riffs.

It took me a little while to find my happy place as an artist, but I eventually got there and have no intention of leaving. Nor do I plan on spending much time going back down that road paved with noisy demos and teen angst, but ultimately I'm glad I took that path; if nothing else, for all the laughs.

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