So, welcome to my new blog, All Things to All People. I suppose I should start by saying why this blog exists. First of all, as you can probably tell if you follow Sorry State closely, I really like writing. I do a lot of it for Sorry State, but for various reasons (most of them technological), that writing tends to be very tightly structured. Generally, the main things I write are record descriptions and my parts for the newsletter, which are great, but it doesn't leave me much room to write about other things that I care about... like music that we don't have for sale on the site, shows I go to, and other random stuff that might fly through my head at any given time. So, All Things to All People is meant to be kind of a clearing-house for things that I want to say that don't fit elsewhere on the site.
I've had a few blogs in my life, but one of the reasons that I decided to start a new one right now is because I've been thinking about media and punk. I've been running Sorry State for a long time (over a decade now!), but one of the things that I feel like I've never quite gotten a hold of is promotion. Maybe it's from being raised to be self-effacing to a fault, but I am an absolutely terrible hype man. I've been attempting to combat this problem a bit by drumming up some press coverage for my upcoming releases, but by and large this has been an abject failure. I was thinking about why this is the case, and then it occurred to me that Sorry State is its own media outlet. People tell me all the time how much they like the newsletter and I know that a lot of people rely on it to introduce them to new music, much as people used to rely on zines and radio shows back in the old days. Basically, what I'ms saying that even though it isn't billed as such, Sorry State is as much of a zine as it is a record store or a label or a distro, so maybe it's about time I started to get comfortable with that and embrace it.
As for the title, honestly I don't think it's very good and I may end up changing it later. I didn't want to name it after a song because that felt kind of cheesy, and for some reason that phrase popped into my head. I think it's because I really admire people that have strong convictions and stand up for what they believe in. I, however, am not one of those people. I am an adapter, and I feel like I'm always shifting my identity in subtle ways given the demands of a particular situation. Maybe that's because I spend my life traveling between two worlds--punk and academia--but even within punk I sometimes feel like I'm one person with my crusty friends, one person with my nerdy friends, one person with my "garage rock" friends, etc. So, going along with the aversion to hype that I wrote above, the title of this blog is basically in insult to myself for being spineless. Yay me.
I woke up this morning to find out that Dickie Hammond from Leatherface died. I've never been one to write my own little eulogies on Facebook every time a celebrity dies--why does anyone care what I have to say about it?--but Leatherface were a very special band to me at one point in my life. Honestly, I virtually never listen to them anymore. A few months ago I realized that I would skip them every time they came up on shuffle on my phone, so I actually deleted all of their music from the music library on my phone. I think that's probably for the best. I spent so many years drilling Leatherface's songs into my head that maybe it's better that I have a good long break so that I can come back to them later with fresh ears. I feel thankful that I did get to see the band with Dickie on guitar since he was such an important part of the seminal lineup, but honestly those were not the best Leatherface shows I ever saw, mostly because they were lacking Lainey's powerful drumming. Anyway, I didn't know Dickie but his music was very important to me, and I think it's particularly sad to think that the magical way that his playing combined with Frankie Stubbs' will never happen again.
Above is a Leatherface deep cut that I grabbed off of Spotify. I probably could have chosen an even deeper cut given the fact that I have a pretty gnarly Leatherface vinyl collection, but I've always been partial to this song, and it's one of the ones I tend to reach for when I pull out my Leatherface records. Apparently it's a cover, but I've never heard the original.
In happier news, Nick G≠ hipped me to this jam a few days ago and I can't get enough. It's really weird, but I think that if you can get down with Whatever Brains do it probably won't be too much for you. It is more rock & roll, though... parts of it remind me of Destroyer's most Bowie-esque material, but filtered through the dark camp of the Birthday Party and early Roxy Music. Anyway, hopefully I can get some copies for the store or at least one for myself.
Watched about half of this documentary about the Gun Club, but I couldn't make it the whole way through. If you can't get the rights to the music of the band you're covering, why would you proceed with making the documentary? At least this was a bit better than that Replacements documentary, which made me want to stab myself in the eye.
So, this month (October 26 to be precise) saw the 2nd anniversary of our retail store opening in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. I'd completely forgotten about it until I saw someone else mention it on Facebook, but it's a proud moment I guess. I think that I can now safely say that I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into when I decided to open the shop, but we renewed our lease for another two years so I guess I'm going to keep at it.
Given the anniversary, now seems a good time to mention something that I think about a lot: money. Every once in a while I'll catch a subtle comment or just get the vibe that people think that I'm all about money and that I do all of this for my own personal gain. That is not the case at all. Especially compared to other distros we might seem really big or "professional," but I assure you that we are 100% DIY. Sorry State is the result of thousands upon thousands of hours of hard work, and there are no trust funds or invisible financial backers behind us. There is also no hope of riches in our future. I have never paid myself a wage or salary from the store or label. I do occasionally snag records for my personal collection, but not nearly as often as you think (maybe 3-4 new records per month plus the occasional bonzer that I can't let go of). I work a full-time job (a pretty poorly paid one, I might add) in addition to running the store and label, which means that every day I wake up at 6AM, work all day, and then after my main job I do work for the store until 7 or 8PM, and I generally spend most of my weekends at the store too. I am perpetually behind on everything, broke, and exhausted. I don't say this to brag or for your pity, but rather to make it clear where your money is going when you buy something from Sorry State.
Sorry State does not exist to make money; Sorry State makes money so that it can continue to exist.
I am a punk. I take punk seriously and it means the world to me. If I ever have to choose between my personal ethics and values (which have been shaped largely by punk) and running Sorry State, then that is the day we close up shop for good. Sorry State has never done anything I consider shady or slimy, and I'm proud of the things we have accomplished and all of the art that we have helped--to some degree or another--to support. I don't wear my politics and values on my sleeve... I don't have a logo in the Crass Records stencil font and I don't go around sloganeering, but I hold my values dear and I will continue to uphold them. I'm not sure if any of this is actually making sense or not, but I just want to put that on the table and (hopefully) make it clear what I'm all about.
I'll leave it there for now. The plan is to make this blog a weekly thing, so look forward to more disconnected musings next week!