Here is why this book is very important:
New Zealand bands have this weird perception of the outside world. Because it’s a bigger place, somehow people tend to think they’re underequipped to tackle it. Maybe it’s because we’re isolated with a self-functioning industry that we believe taking our music somewhere else is a huge undertaking. Every time we hear of a band ‘taking it overseas’, it’s like, ‘woooooooah man, the world is like, huuuuuge, maaaaaan’ – we really care about it, but the rest of the world doesn’t. Because: for them, it’s just step one. So why should they care that we have a self-sustaining music machine boxed in by thousands of kilometres of sea and a cultural curtain dividing us from the rest of the world? As a matter of fact, we aren’t owed shit by the rest of the world. So when NZ bands, thinking they’re ‘ready’, tackle the world with big visions in mind, they think way too much about it.
Yes, it costs money, but it should be viewed more as a holiday where you make some money back. And here, descending from the clouds, is your guidebook. This is the deus ex machina of local music. This is convenient! Get the fuck out here, dudes!
If the rest of the world had not the pedestal we place it upon, more bands would do it without needing the sense of security the local scene provides. It’s a careerist move – the way news gets back to us, it sounds like local bands playing overseas are a step away from worldwide recognition – this is bullshit. And bullshit conceptions are the kind of thing this this book will hopefully destroy. With the inspiration this book provides, bands from New Zealand will begin approaching the rest of the world without the big-mindedness that trips them up. That’s what makes a title like ‘D.I.Y. Touring the World’ so powerful a statement. It’s a thing you can ACTUALLY do by yourself.
I wouldn’t say Blink’s message is so directly philosophical – the book is more a handy selection of tips so people don’t get fucked over in another country – but the effect is profound: finally, someone is dethroning the usual paths taken by naïve bands: useless ‘media events’ such as SXSW and CMJ, where thousands of eager bands pay their way into the world’s largest robotics conference where thousands dress up like music fans and self-interestedly babble the word ‘next big thing’, only occasionally using it to describe a band.
People throw their money away on needless avenues because they have the wrong idea – as Blink points out, you don’t need to resort to these media events and soulless club-via-manager bookings, but for those that want to, the information’s there. He wisely uses a part of his last chapter to highlight the significance of the internet age – and everyone who is wisely tuned into this won’t have a need for dying practices of the deathbed industry that calls itself ‘music’, ‘New Zealand’, or some hideous combination of both. This book and the internet are your hammer and sickle – rather than playing to a bunch of robots who couldn’t care more about your band’s looks and sound than its meaningfulness or cultural significance, you can Book Your Own Fucking Life.
This is important because you are aiding a cause stronger than any limpy media conference or passing trend ever could – you’re bringing power to those who do it themselves and don’t need a manager to do it. You’re providing solidarity to the bands who aren’t using the game to get ahead. The more bands that succeed this way, the more people will pay attention to them – and so long as they’re continuing to do it all themselves, their interests will have no need for distraction. This will gain credit and soon enough the power will be where it matters, and bland music will die along with the careerist routes it harbours.
I care about this stuff because I want the great stuff from NZ – the bands I go and see on Thursday nights at Whammy, the bands Blink books for Camp A Low Hum each year and the bands we included on this year’s Awesome Feeling comp – to receive the attention they deserve from the rest of the world. Maybe it’s about self-validation or something, so we can be all like “fuck yeah! We told you so!” and then skateboard off a ramp into the ocean. After a couple of adventures to break the comfort zone and new life experiences, these bands will come back more exceptional than ever. The newspapers will boringly blare out “KIWI BAND DOES THINGS”, but the ecstasy of international recognition will drown out the sirens of local mediocrity.
You don’t need Making Tracks or a VNZMA nomination to be considered ‘good enough’ – who the hell is anyone else with a university degree in business to tell you what your music is worth? NZ is not the first hill you have to climb – you can do it at any stage in your life as a musician. Entrapped by the same tired plot the music industry has scripted for the past 60 years, too many good bands in this country have been stranded only by their lack of ambition.
No-one can be blamed for this state of mind either. Considering our place in the world, we’re still a little mapless and a lot of things are foreign to us, making us naive. Now that the internet has come along, things are both handy and incredibly overwhelming at the same time – but resources like this one has given us a push in the right direction. Few have tackled it with this level of perception before, proving to us that the world is not a scary place after all. Hopefully it’ll strike a chord in a few – though the audience is small, those targeted by the book will be indebted to it if they pick up a copy. Even still, as Blink points out on the back cover, there are some things the rest can get out of it. Since there’s a pay-as-you-like digital copy on its way, too, there’s no reason people shouldn’t give it a go.
Blink’s book couldn’t have come at a more crucial point for local music, where young and important bands are allowed exposure through access to infinite platforms of self-distribution – the world is more global than ever so we’re a little less trapped than before. There are more good bands than ever showing up, and no longer do they need to get burnt out by playing this country’s shitty game. It’s a very, very good thing that we finally have something in print saying “just fucking do it”.
So it comes down to two options:
A) Take the route of fighting for your position in the ranks of careerists in a self-indulgent industry excusing itself as an example of national identity rather than an indiscriminate outlet of self-expression; facing yourself with a best-case-scenario of government-endorsed corporate-sponsored insularity reflected better by funding decisions than a real connection with the people who your managers claim actually exist – right before burning yourself out to the point where your laurels are enough to rest on and the ‘fans’ across the world have become too much to fight for, or:
B) You could enjoy a fulfilling life experience, challenging yourself and taking a chance on something not a lot of people have in them to even try.
BUY THIS GODDAMN BOOK
To celebrate the release of his latest book, Blink has also organised a series of book release shows that start tonight. You can find out more details over at Under The Radar.