Last night I watched the new documentary about The Go-Go’s. The doc shares the name of the band, and I don’t know why that apostrophe is there, but it’s there, and it drives me crazy. Another thing that drives me crazy is when bands don’t evenly share songwriting credits (and, in turn, publishing royalties) and end up acrimoniously splitting up. Yes, one person may write all the songs. But that person didn’t come up with that drum part or that bass guitar riff, and the song wouldn’t be the same without those.
This is a prime example of long-term thinking, as bands that swallow their pride and share songwriting credits are the ones that stay together for a long time. Just ask U2 — which you might find surprising as they’re known for having a singer with a Jupiter-sized ego. But U2 splits their songwriting credits four ways.
If you need further convincing, listen to this interview with REM’s Mike Mills on Brian Koppelman’s The Moment. Mills was a principal songwriter in that band from the beginning. And he explains that it took a lot of coaxing to get him to share songwriting credits on his songs equally with his bandmates. In retrospect, he’s thankful he did as he owes this to REM’s long career and continuing friendship.
And the other side of the coin — The Police.
If I were a band manager, this would be the first thing I’d tell any new band I took on: share your songwriting credits and share your publishing. Thank me in ten years.
You can see the transformation happening in front of your eyes from the psychedelic band they were to the true, technology-centred Kraftwerk: even the outfits are mid transformation, smartened up but not quite the uniforms that would define them. Only months after this, they would record the Autobahn album.
I had my first long conversation with a COVID-19 survivor. It feels like I should have spoken to many others as I’m here in Florida where things are, uh, not cool. It probably says a lot about the effectiveness of my sequestration. Anyway, I did not realize this friend caught the virus at the end of March. We’ve only chatted briefly online since then, understandably not the place you’d want to bring up the subject. In a phone call, he revealed his illness, and I was full of questions. Yes, it was 14 days of hell — it’s nothing like the flu, folks — but he was lucky and recovered. Even though he feels 100% most of the time now, he told me that there are moments when he feels unusually out-of-breath. He’s athletic, so this happens sometimes (but not all the time) when he’s doing sports-like activities. That’s scary, and I feel bad for the professional athletes who may not perform at a high level after recovering from this illness. Anyway, it was an illuminating conversation — hearing about the virus first-hand made it much more ‘real.’ If you know anyone who has had COVID-19, I recommend having an inquisitive chat if they’re willing.
Friend of Ringo and fellow Butthole Surfers fanatic Richard Norris — he of The Grid, Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve, and a myriad of other projects — has announced a new album titled Elements. Richard describes it as fusing “warm analogue synths, widescreen ambience and pulsating, subtly changing sequencers, creating a hypnotic, mesmerising work.” It’s out on September 4. I haven’t bought a compact disc in a while, but if I did buy one, it would be Elements. The CD has the most gorgeous packaging. Here’s the first track (and the first element), offered as a preview: “Earth.”