The New York Times Magazine had an interesting article last week about the rise of one man bands. It began with a profile of Owen Pallett, the sole member of Final Fantasy. I’ve been listening to his album He Poos Clouds a bit over the past month, and I’m impressed by his juxtaposition of chamber music sensibilities with pop music. I don’t like everything on the album, but there are a couple of tracks that really stand out.
Half way through the article, though, my attitude towards Owen changed considerably. When asked about the absence of drums in his music, he responded with the following:
“Drummers ruin bands,” he said simply, as if the fact were common knowledge. “There are probably about 10 people in indie rock who know how to play the drums. If you’re in a mediocre band, just fire the drummer, and chances are you’ll have the best band in the world.”
Suddenly it became clear why Owen is a one-man band – he’s an asshole.
Seriously, if you want to point the finger at what’s wrong with indie music, I hardly think the drummer is the place to start. When I listen to indie music, it’s usually indecipherable lyrics and singers who appear unfamiliar with the concept of pitch that turn me off.
I understand that a lot of musicians are indifferent about other instruments. For example, I could never imagine playing the oboe – too much fussing with reeds, a total lack of sex appeal – but I would never denigrate an entire category of musicians in a national publication with such a stupid comment.
Fortunately for Owen, drummers are a forgiving lot. We’ve had to endure thoughtless comments and endless drummer jokes over the years, so we’re used to these kinds of little jabs. I’ll chalk it up to a feeble attempt at comedy by an insecure composer / string player and move on.
Oh yeah, violinist / composer / singer / songwriter / pianists suck. Touché, mon ami.
3 thoughts on “Owen is Dumb”
Woo hoo! Brass players escaped the torch.
Let the Mariachi begin!
Funny how the drummer takes all the abuse in the band, but its the bass player that never gets invited to the after-party! (…you can thank B for that one)
And of course, there’s always the preverbial drummer jokes:
What’s the biggest lie told to drummers?
Hold on, I’ll help you with your gear.
What did the drummer say to the band leader?
Do you want me to play too fast or too slow?
How many drummers does it take to change a lightbulb?
Five: One to screw the bulb in, and four to talk about how much better Neil Peart coulda done it.
Hey, that’s not fair! Oboes have plenty of sex appeal. I mean, have you heard idiomatic oboe writing? In film scores it nearly always shows up during sexy scenes.
What I think Owen was getting at in the “drummers ruin bands” comment is that a lot of indie drummers play the *same thing*, the same beat patterns, over and over again, and part of the appeal of indie music is that people try to be original. That’s not to say it is the drummers’ fault! Most indie songs with drums just use basic rock beats or minor variations thereof; it’s just the way pop music goes. So, if an indie band with some talent takes away that standard, they have something that sounds…a bit new, a bit different.
If the vocals and lyrics are the things that turn you off indie music, then we aren’t listening to the same indie music. “Indie” doesn’t have to mean amateur, you know?