“WORDS AS SWORDS”
(or “HOW CAN YOU HAVE AN ALBUM LAUNCH PARTY TWO MONTHS BEFORE THE OFFICIAL RELEASE?”)
We just got back from playing the launch party for our new album “VIVA!”/”PUNK IS NOT A SOUND”, right here at home in South London, Djevara’s 706th live appearance and probably one of the best shows we’ve ever had in our home city. We played the new album in it’s entirety (“secret” bonus material excepted), with all four of “Team Djev’ 2014″, for what may be the last time ever. We were fund-raising for victims and survivors of the appalling conflicts in Gaza and Syria. It was Malc’s birthday. Most of our closest and most important friends were there to celebrate with us (from all over the world, including as Czech Republic), and the atmosphere was truly incredible. As a band, we really can’t imagine how it could have gone better. To say it was a special night for us would be such a crazy understatement that it feels dishonest. It was the perfect night in which to present our shiny new work – the ideal launch. It’ll now be on sale at all our shows from now on. However, it’s not officially released until November…
A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with Malc. We have many debates and discussions (and, ok, arguments, let’s call spades spades) which often meander accidentally into the no-mans-land between philosophy, pragmatism, hyberbole and actual out-and-out bullshit. At this time, I was complaining about some of the accompanying admin that goes along with something as ostensively exciting as putting out your new album. The subject of my ire? The “review process”. You/your label/your “press people” send out (free!) promo copies to all sorts of places in the hope that the coverage will alert people to presence of your “art”, and even help convince some people to purchase it and get into it. The problem is – I hate the process. “A necessary evil?”, Malc offered. “Hmmm… this exaggerates it – it’s more like a useful unpleasantness”, I responded.
My fundamental nature just finds it most disagreeable that a layer of self-appointed “taste makers” act as gatekeepers and determine what is and is not worth seeing or being listened to, and these evaluations are made on a whim by people who often have little time and almost no motivation for getting an emotional involvement or sympathetic ear to that which they are supposed to “review”. I very much doubt that most reviewers give more than one listen to a record they didn’t get into the first time round (disc #17 while they were washing up, between the aggro pop record from X and the bouncing underground hip-hop of Y on #19). The funny thing is, it’s not even bitterness – we’ve traditionally received quite good reviews of such type, quite despite my obvious disdain (but don’t get me wrong, everyone likes praise and due credit or appreciation, even us British). I even had experience of doing it briefly myself at a student paper in university, and it was a soul-destroying experience that certainly did not make me love music more. The problem is- it works. These press outlets (even D.I.Y. underground ones) have access to audiences and people who may genuinely be interested in what you make or create and yet be destined never find you in any other way. I found so many amazing artists myself through this exact process. I can’t ostracize us, or bite off my hand to feed my face. So, ok, we’ll do the review process. But! We’ll do it our way. My real belief is that all reviews should be done by fans. People who actually care about the art they’re reviewing and have the patience to try and draw out from it what they can, who can engage with it, know and understand where it’s coming from, have seen it grow… and truly appreciate what it is communicating with a sympathetic ear. By conrast – the idea that someone in about 20minutes evaluates and “scores” something you’ve spent the last few years producing is just plain infuriating at times. Contrary to what one may think, the former certainly doesn’t mean that all reviews such reviews would be good (visit any “fan forum” site of any band for evidence), but at least they would be “true” to an extent that their ‘published’ cousins often”anonymous” reviews can never truly be.
So: the decision’s been to ‘launch’ our album to our fans direct effective immediately, and to make it available at all shows in physical form, and to INVITE our fans to review it and send us their reviews. And then (or actually, in parallel) we’ll go through the official “review” process up to our official international online release in November, and we’ll be able to compare and contrast the too. I’m sure it’ll be interesting reading.
So, if you purchase or have purchased a copy of the new album “VIVA!”/”PUNK IS NOT A SOUND”, and if you are so inclined, we herby invite you to send us in a review, and we’ll share our favourites. We’re interested in your honest reaction to what we’ve made. They can be long essays, they can be short statements. Heck, send a picture in if that’s what you feel. Send them in to the usual email address (or email@example.com). Looking forward to hearing from you…
ps Just gotta say again – genuinely from the bottom of our hearts (on fire), we’d like to thank everyone who came and made our launch so amazingly special. I can’t say how touched we all were sharing this with you and receiving so much energy and positivity back. It was even better than Malcfest. Amazing. Love you all!