Two Years Ago: We See Slacktone - My Songs Are So Lame!

In September 2010, Slacktone came to the Beach Hut.  At the time, the Lava Pups were a fantasy band -- that is, a figment of my imagination.  Here is what was written in the journal then.

So I have the basic melodies for 8 rock instrumentals.  None is a threat to real songwriters.  Each needs help from Paul the Pyronaut.  But the songs fit my musical mind.  Simple.  Primitive.  Repetitive.  My style.  But a whole CD . . . ?  Of course, if I wait until I have 8 complex songs, no CD will be recorded in my lifetime.

On a Friday night, we head off to Auburn for a night of surf music.  Slacktone.  The Pyronauts.  Frankie & The Pool Boys.  Three surf bands made up of excellent -- actually truly outstanding -- musicians.

In modern -- and possibly in the history of -- surf music, Slacktone is the standard against which all performances must be measured.  And that bar is set really high!  Dave Wronski is a master guitar player and songwriter.  He puts Dick Dale to shame.  In fact, stories abound that Dick Dale will not appear on the same stage as Dave Wronski for fear of being shown up.  Add an excellent rhythm section -- Dusty Watson on drums and Sam Bolle on bass -- and the result is tightly and artistically played instrumental music.  Slacktone combines original with traditional surf songs -- new with old.

Slacktone, Frankie & The Pool Boys, and The Pyronauts all performed their original songs.  Watching and listening to professionals left me wondering about my project.

In 48 or so years, surf music has progressed from teenagers getting together and playing instrumental rock music.  Originally, it was garage rock.  Simple.  Primitive.  Fun.  Played live.  Recorded live.  No fuzz.  No distortion.

Modern surf music still has the garage rock feel.  No overproduction.  No major labels.  Bands perform out of love of the music.  They pay homage to the origins by playing the classics.  Mr. Moto.  Miserlou.  Baja.  Pipeline.  Penetration.  Endless Summer.  Surf Party.  The bands bring us back to early rock instrumentals.  Walk, Don’t Run.  Rumble.  Rawhide.  Jack the Ripper.  Peter Gunn.  Sleepwalk.  Apache.

But the artists no longer are teenagers at the beginning of the learning curve.  They are talented and accomplished musicians.  They write songs that have complexity, key changes, and time changes.  And Slacktone is the pinnacle of modern surf music.

Compared with the pros, my songs are so lame.  I do not know if Paul can bail them out.  After a night listening to Slacktone and The Pyronauts, I almost am embarrassed to offer those songs to Posterity.  I wonder if I being foolish by devoting the time and effort to 8 simple, lame songs that I have so far and will in the future.

But then comes the epiphany.  Compared with the classics and almost everything that Slacktone does, my songs are lame.  Compared with the albums by many of the early surf bands, my songs may be better.  The CD will be as good as, if not better than, those early albums.  Many of the early bands did not even have 8 original songs.  I am making a lot of limited musical talent.

Armed with this, I am ready to soldier on.

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