Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Saturday 18th Feb – Or Fuck Tom Bunch

Let me start with a big fuck you to Tom Bunch and his ilk. In John Lomax’s recent article on Houston bands [Band Suicide], it’s suggested that Houston bands are either too lazy, too disorganized, and dream too small. None more forcefully than Tom Bunch:

Bunch says that from 1976 to 1997 he saw "hundreds and hundreds" of local bands, all but a couple of which were mediocre. "The Houston A-bands were all C- and D-bands in other cities."

This seems to ignore great Houston bands like Really Red, The Party Owls, The Mike Gunn, Dry Nod, et al.. Where the fuck were you Tom?

Bands frequently whine that Houston lacks business infrastructure and that they wish they could find an experienced, well-connected manager to take them to that proverbial next level. Bunch would seem to be that guy -- after all, among other things, he did help shepherd the Butthole Surfers and the Toadies to gold and platinum success, each with their artistic credibility still intact. Why wouldn't these struggling but talented locals want to have a guy like that working for them?

Bunch sighs. "Fear of success. Fear of failure. Fear of the unknown. Fear of turning over what little business they have to someone else. How many of the music business stories that go around are about a record label or a manager screwing a band? So with the outside chance of that happening, they would rather not do anything and be the guy who never got the shot as opposed to the guy who got screwed or the guy who got the shot and blew it."

Wow you’re the guy who managed the Butthole Surfers in the 90s, when their biggest artistic feat was Gibby scoring heroin on Lexington. Wow man awesome! Sorry, John but most of the Surfers’ fans abandoned them by this time because they had run out of ideas.

But Bunch cater to people like the Two guys in "Decline of Western Civilization: Part II the Metal Years" who are convinced they are going to make it.

"Oh We're going to make it!"
"But what if you don't?"
(Pause) "Oh, I Know we're going to make it!"

It's pathetic. I remember when I heard some school kid say "I want to be famous". Not I want to be make great music or art or anything - just fame. Fucking pathetic. That's why I love "Burden of Dreams", Herzog doesn't even seem to be able to explain why he does what he does; it's just something he is compelled to do - something done for its own sake. Success is finishing the project so as to move onto the next. Not acclaim, not money, just making something. Bunch instead is straight out of Faust "work with me and I will get you the fame you crave". To me that would be the test. Do you want fame or do you want to make great music? Any musician worth a shit will say the latter and add that if the former comes as a result then that's just gravy.

Mind you, if someone like Super-Unison were to conceive of Bunch's all-encompassing local music scene hub it might have a chance of takers because they have built some level of trust and respect locally. But Tom stinks of LA big business sleaze; everyone blows him off because his idea of success is bullshit all geared around the mythical “shot at the big time” which goes against every DIY punk-ethos that most scenes are built around. I can think of no better example than our show this Saturday…

The show we had this Saturday was a huge success. Over 100 people at Rudz, we promoted it to the best of our ability, and everyone had a good time. Oh, but by Tom Bunch's a-priori definition this isn't enough - if we're not shooting for Platinum Success why the fuck even try to get off our lazy asses.

Instead of thinking "big", what we did was put together a bill that was a wall of non-stop great music. John Cramer laid down one of the most impressive solo performances I've seen since Tom Carter - a transcendent performance full of fire and confidence like I've never seen in a Powers of Light and Darkness performance. The Red and White followed with an anthemic rock show whose raucous performance was matched by the sharp playing and writing. Not to be outdone, the Jonx, ruled the night with a take no prisoners performance that was a blur of notes, energy and wit. The quintessential moment of the evening came during the end of the Jonx's set when Will, armed with his smokes and beer, volunteered to sit on Danny's drum kit to keep it from sliding during their last song. That was just the kind of night it was - everyone working together and having fun.

I can only speak for the LP4's set from where I was standing but I felt we pulled off a set that was as good as you will ever see us pull off. The Projectors worked flawlessly (thanks for the help Austin), we hit our cues on the songs, and most importantly we played like it was the last show we'd ever play and enjoyed every minute of it. Nothing was hacky or uninspired. We, at the very least, held our own against three great bands, and felt that all the work we'd put into this one evening was worth it. We had succeeded in having fun, entertaining people, playing with bands we love and admire, and felt that anyone who paid their hard earned $6 to walk into Rudyard's got their money's worth in spades. Yeah, that's right I said it was a success; not platinum success, not the big break success, not Tom Bunch's success but our own idea of success.

Thanks Rosa, Rudz, POLAD, The Red and White, The Jonx, Austin, Justin, and everyone who came.


kilian_sweeney said...

Holy crud, we are SO on the same page...check it out...

Ramon Medina - LP4 said...

Ha brilliant. I linked to it on my Myspace Mirrored Blog.

Ryan said...

You're off base. Tom Bunch says the things he does because he's a proud Houstonian and wants to see more Houston bands going out and taking a risk. He's not personally attacking your music.. He's encouraging it. I love Rudyard's.. I love seeing bands in an intimate setting. But, there is always more work to be done. More people to connect to.

Ramon Medina - LP4 said...

Nope Sorry I never said Tom Buch was personally attacking my music. I'm sure we don't even exist on his radar. My point was that his vision of success and risk is limited and that there are much more productive and rewarding definitions to those ideas that his puny little mind could never grasp.

Anonymous said...

I think it's funny ANYBODY even cares about Tom Bunch anymore.

Ramon Medina - LP4 said...

True dat, but while nobody gives a fuck about Tom Bunch anymore, that didn't stop the Press from featuring him as some authority when this was written. Sadly someone out there likely read the article and thought Bunch was relevant in some way. So this is really a response to the Press article.

tabmgmt said...

Hey Ramon, this is my second response to what I read on your blog and, although it is probably late in responding, I just came across this. I dont know why you have such a negative reponse, why you are so angry and why it is directed at me. Nothing that I said was directed at you, or directed at anyone and was not meant to be personal, but it seems like people that I didn’t talk about took this personal. The Funny think is that Nick Cooper of Sprawl and Mike Haaga don’t see anything wrong with my responses. They are both friends and continue to be, even after this article. John Lomax asked me questions and I answered them. I am not, nor did I ever represent myself as an expert to all things Houston music. I was asked questions about events and projects that I had directly involvement with and I gave honest, direct answers. I am sure that John Lomax thought I was relevant to his article, or he wouldn’t have asked my opinions. I am no longer looking for the next big act in popular music, as it seems that music, both recorded and live isn’t of much interest to the majority of the American public anymore. Yes, you are right that acts that play to 100 people and play at Rudyard’s is below my radar, as I am in the business of music and it is how I earn my living and acts that play for 100 people at $5 don’t earn enough money for me to be interested, but that doesn’t mean that I think they are worthless, it just means that I can’t spend my time on them as I only have a certain about of time in a week to earn my living. I am sure that you have a day job that takes precedence over your music and that is exactly what music is for me, my day job. I am still very much in the music and entertainment business and, as my clients tell me, very relevant to them and their business. I produce corporate event with big name acts, do sponsorships for bands, artists, venues and festivals and consult for a wide range of business and entertainment companies. I use all the experience from Concert Promotion, venue ownership and band management with my new projects. I hope that you continue to make music and I wish you success in all you endeavors. Thank You
Tom Bunch

Ramon Medina - LP4 said...

I think that is a fair response which I think just goes to show that we're just coming at it from different angles.

Thanks for the response