Sunday, 21 October 2012

A Church Organist's Response to The Wedding Project and a Rant on Modern Church Music

So the Church of England has completed its four-year investigation into dwindling church wedding statistics - known as The Wedding Project – and the result of this review is the publication of The Church Weddings Handbook: The Seven Pastoral Moments That Matter, a new book that is intended to revolutionize the traditional church marriage ceremony. One of the suggestions in this new book is that couples should be allowed to walk down the aisle to modern pieces of music rather than the traditional Wedding March. A new ground-breaking proposal? Really? Well I’m a church organist and I've been playing modern pop and rock pieces for weddings and funerals for the last 15 years (there are vids on YouTube of my church organ arrangements of Metallica, Lady Gaga, Muse and Green Day and, more recently, Lana Del Rey and Adele to name a few). I enjoy receiving requests for organ arrangements of pop and rock songs because each one is a fresh challenge and it’s also the kind of music that I listen too; I’m a huge live music lover (in fact I’m nursing a hangover from a gig last night), I've been a keyboard player in a rock band and my music tastes are wider than the sky…
Now I stopped playing the organ and going to church recently, not for religious reasons (I have never been religious, I just enjoy playing the church organ) but because I lost respect for the direction that the church was going in and its repeatedly forced modernisations. Aside from a few aspects about the church in general that I became increasingly uncomfortable with - such as fleecing poor pensioners out of every last penny to meet the apportionment laid down by senior and affluent living clergy - I didn't like the way that the church was moving music-wise. Let me explain. I love going out to gigs and I listen to a lot of new music but sometimes, just sometimes, it's nice to sit quietly, relax and chill out to a gentle, old hymn tune. It's the perfect break from the manic noise of modern life. But my weekly hour of escape came to a screeching halt recently when the desperate-to-be-cool-but-actually-quite-cringy clergy decided that they wanted to turn the Sunday morning service into gig night, so we had guitars, drums and people yelling their vocal chords out. Sunday mornings were pretty much indistinguishable from my Saturday/Friday nights. And all my hard work learning to play the organ was annihilated by hymn books that replaced beautiful four part harmonies with cheesy guitar chords and words that were clearly written to be read by young children. Excuse me? I'm a musician, not a bloody primary school teacher with a knowledge of four basic guitar chords!
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no stick-in-the-mud who runs scared from change (bring it on!) and I love modern music – particularly as I am partial to dropping the odd prelude on My Chemical Romance into the communion once in a while – but I worry that the CoE is increasingly obsessed with the belief that old music equals bad music.  I worry that it will start phasing out the old stuff and eventually this resource will die out and we are going to lose a helluva lot of very good music. And what will we be left with? Girls Aloud? Purlease. If I get married and find out that my only option to walk down the aisle to is One Direction then I will freak out big time. Please, please, please, CoE, remember that the key to modernisation is amalgamation not replacement and the old stuff – no matter how outdated you think it might be - is still a valuable resource for musicians (in fact, how many times have I found myself playing a psalm and thinking 'someone should sample this because it would make an excellent sample for a goth-rock song...'). And since when do we dispense with anything that is of musical, literary or artistic value just because it is old? If this is the case then when was the last time you read a Shakespeare play? Not recently? Then let’s throw all his plays away, shall we? And surely we don’t need da Vinci now that we’ve got Banksy, do we? Fetch the skip….
The other difficulty that I have with this new proposal is that… how should I say this …we are in danger of implementing The Chav Project rather than The Wedding Project. Walking down the aisle to Cheryl Cole or Rihanna can work if – and only if - it’s done right but unfortunately I have attended some weddings where the couple have tried to put this off and it has been a truly awful experience, like a cheesy DJ at a kid’s party. Seemed like a good idea at the time, right? I would regularly remind couples that I was willing to arrange a modern piece for their wedding if they had a particular song in mind but, if I'm honest, by and large most brides asked to walk down the aisle to the traditional, spine-tingling Wedding March. And, I’ve got to say, these tended to be the classier breed of bride. A bit of Improvisation on Tinie Tempah might attract the brides who want the blingy, TOWIE/Katie Price style of wedding, but it could be a huge turn off for other couples (the chavvy church or the classy stately home with a string quartet you say? Hmmm, where do I book?). I suspect that someone senior in the church has been watching too many episodes of Big Fat Gypsy Weddings and spotted a nice opportunity to fill the coffers. Ker-ching. And it’s not like the church is money obsessed, much…
I worry about where the CoE is going with The Wedding Project and its overall trajectory in general. It doesn’t seem to want to assimilate the ancient and modern but completely trample all over the old ways and convert some beautiful old churches and equally beautiful pieces of music into cheesy 60s sitting-around-in-a-loving-circle meeting places and nursery-rhyme style borderline-screamo worship songs. What the Church doesn’t realise is that its identity is in its traditions, they are its *thing* and it should be making the most of them, not throwing them in the trash and jumping on the latest, cheesiest fad. Being cool is about being an individual, not a mindless sheep. I don't want an awkwardly-cool entirely modernised church, I want a traditional, broad-minded church that can do the shouty drum banging and tambourine waving thing (if that’s what the masses want *sigh*) but also isn't afraid to have a quiet, traditional Evensong once in a while with traditional hymns from the New English Hymnal. That’s the difference between cool church and hipster church. The very second that the church that I attended converted into a poor man’s O2 academy then it became like any other modern venue in my life and it lost what attracted me to it in the first place. What happens when a jazz venue decides that it wants to move into thrash metal or a rock pub decides that it wants to book boy bands? The punters go elsewhere...
If I have a message for the church it is this: Stop apologising for yourself! Yes, it’s lovely that you are willing to update and modernise and I thank you for this, but if you keep up this landslide of grovelling apologies and forced modernisations then you’re going to compromise yourself out of existence. Grow some balls, stand up and be proud of what you are. Then, and only then, might I think about giving you a second chance. But the real shame here is that four years of research have gone into solving a riddle that I could easily solve in thirty seconds. I suspect that the declining appeal of the church is largely due to the public’s growing distrust of the church itself; stories in the media of paedophile priests, wrangles over gay rights, the constant demands for financial contributions while bishops sit at home quaffing champagne etc etc. A bit of Girls Aloud isn’t going to change that…

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The Avengers Themed Cocktails

Some fabulous Avengers themed cocktails from The More I Arty for mixologists and cocktail lovers who want to get their geek on....

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The Problem with BBC’s The Voice UK

Dear The Voice,

I hear you are having rating difficulties and here is the problem as I see it:

1. Contestants appear too professional. Most of them are (over)confident and have dabbled in the music industry in the past and/or clearly have some experience performing live. I expected amateur, bedroom karaoke divas who are too shy to sing in public, not fallen popstars or failed stage school dropouts.

2. I thought the idea behind ‘The Voice’ was that image was irrelevant, hence why the judges could not see the contestants in the early stages. Well most of them look pretty average-to-glamorous to me. Yes there is the occasional individual with image issues but they are more the exception than the rule. I’m not expecting a freakshow, but I was expecting a few less Rihannas and a few more Susan Boyles.

3. The battle stage quickly turned into a screaming match and there was only so much high-pitched caterwauling that I could take before reaching for the aspirin and the remote control. I don’t want to hear two people repeatedly out-yelling each other for attention. Slip a few gentle acoustic numbers in there.

4. Inject a little humour. At the moment the whole process looks like a chore and it certainly feels like one.

5. I’m not sure that we can take more than 20mins of Jessie J in one sitting.

I won’t be watching again, sorry. It was a commendable idea but it needed a lot more consideration before rolling out. Stop chasing the over-confident Youtube wannabees and root out the silent stars with low self-esteem that are lurking amongst us. The public love an insecure-underdog-ducking-to-swan story and if you can fill a show with them then you’re on to a winner. Call me when you’re ready to make some changes...

Sunday, 6 May 2012

A Comment on Academic Publishing

A few weeks ago I uploaded an edited version of my PhD thesis ‘Dragging Down Heaven: Jesus as Magician and Manipulator of Spirits in the Gospels’ to a new blog at

I had carefully considered whether to publish the thesis back in 2007 but had decided not to do so because I thought that the subject matter had a much wider appeal than the average academic publisher could reach and I imagined that extending the discussion out from behind the University gates had the potential to be very interesting indeed, particularly given the subject matter. From the responses received so far I am pleased that I made that decision as the website has reached further than I could ever have imagined. I have received messages from academics, clergy, occultists, school teachers, bloggers etc from a variety of continents and around 90% of these responses have included a message of thanks for getting my research ‘out there’. The general feeling appears to be that academics are too insular, that publications are too expensive and ‘us normal folk are left in the dark when it comes to current research’ (to quote one message). In addition, many readers have said that they would not pay to purchase a copy of a published book but they are more than happy to click a link out of curiosity and start reading…and then email/tweet the link to their friends, who in turn send to the link to their friends...

Subject matter aside, the website has provided a very interesting insight into how the public view the dissemination, or rather lack thereof as the case may be, of scholarly research. There is certainly a hunger out there for easy access to current academic research and academics are equally hungry to disperse their work as widely as possible, so maybe the internet should play a bigger part in bridging this gap?

Thursday, 3 May 2012

The Bullring Bull Gets A Bostin Make-over

The iconic Bullring Bull has been given a Bostin new look for the summer with his own Royal Britannia-inspired outfit.

His new look was unveiled today as Bullring revealed their plans for a Bostin British Summer, which include a Jubilee picnic and tea party in association with St Martin’s Church, a Bostin artwork masterpiece and weekends of live music in Spiceal Street.

As one of the UK’s most photographed landmarks, visitors to the centre will be encouraged to share their pictures of the Bull with Bullring on Facebook (BullringBirmingham) and Twitter (@bullring) as well as their thoughts about his new outfit.

The Bull, who donned a knitted jumper last Christmas, will keep his diamante Union Jack-inspired outfit on throughout the next few months as Bullring celebrates this year’s Bostin British Summer. In July, Bullring will also launch the search for the city’s most Bostin Postcode as shoppers are encouraged to hop on a treadmill in the centre to raise money for charity.

Louise Hamer-Brown, Head of Marketing at Bullring, commented: “This summer we’re putting the spotlight back on Birmingham and inviting our shoppers and the local community to get involved by contributing to our Bostin art masterpiece, raising money for charity with our Bostin Postcode Challenge or by simply telling us what they’ve got planned for the summer on Facebook or Twitter.

“This summer we want to really showcase exactly why Birmingham is Bostin and we’ve decided to get the city’s favourite landmark, the Bull, involved too. After all as they say, diamonds are a bull’s best friend.”

For more information about Bullring’s Bostin British Summer please visit

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Building the Future, Burying the Past? The Modernisation of a University Library

Last week I was informed that a redbrick University here in the UK will be demolishing its main library and building a new one. As a former student of the University, I have been aware of a furore surrounding the demolishing of the grand redbrick building in favour of a modern alternative for a while as I was invited to sign an online petition set up in opposition to its demise. The plans for the development look very interesting and I look forward to seeing how they are executed, however there appears to be dissent among the ranks about the message that accompanies this move.

When it was pointed out that the new library looks smaller than the present one on the plans, the justification for any downsizing was ‘because students don’t really use books these days’. Ouch. Chicken and egg, anyone? Was that the death knell for the written word I just heard? Libraries and book shops across the country should take heed.

There appear to be two issues that are raising concern: the library building and the books within...

The Books

Hopefully the redevelopment will take place without the loss of any books and with the addition of extra facilities. But as a former student I worry that the redevelopment will be an excuse to lose one or two volumes that are considered outdated, given that apparently students ‘don’t really use books these days’. Please please please, University developers, don’t throw out the books and replace them with huge computer screens and online resources. I agree that technology is essential for futureproofing, but holding onto these dusty books is futureproofing in itself, if not a step further.

What developers need to realise is that we might be in the age of digital downloads but all the cool kids collect vinyl. How many teenagers do you see in the street wearing huge earphones? Why are China selling mobile phones to teenagers that *just* make phone calls? It’s handy to have books on my Kindle but I prefer to display them on my bookshelves. I store all my music on iTunes but I still buy CDs because I like the artwork. However you feel about the intrinsic value of the written word, if the University wants to futureproof its business then it must keep its books for people like me who will always prefer a balance and to guard against a turn in the popularity tide back to hard-copy resources. Besides, technology can all too easily go the way of the minidisc player...

The Building

Faux modernisation is happening a lot these days and I hope that the University is not setting itself up for a cataclysmic fall if it chooses to follow suit. Many institutions have recently sought to ‘modernise’ their business by ripping out anything that smells dusty, painting everything white and scattering some uncomfortable funky chairs around at the expense of unique and irreplaceable historical aspects that makes them distinctive from their competitors. Take the Church of England, for example. It is continually falling over itself to update and modernise and as a result we have three kinds of churches: the dusty old churches and mighty cathedrals that have survived redevelopment, the dated retro churches from the first exploratory steps into redevelopment and the ultramodern futuristic churches currently in redevelopment. Now put yourself in the position of a bride-to-be. The ultramodern churches are very pretty to look at and would look nice in the wedding album photos, the retro churches would make you look like you’re getting married in the 70s with their tacky kitsch interiors, but the absolute make-your-friends-insanely-jealous setting would be in an old, untouched, crumbly church or cathedral. I was a wedding organist for 15 years and let me tell you with authority...*everyone* wants to get married in old churches and cathedrals. Ultramodern is second best, but bear in mind that the retro churches were once the ultramodern churches. New developments date very quickly, hence it can only really be termed ‘faux modernisation’...

The added problem for a University is that the average student, to whom these funky modernisations are ultimately aimed at, encounters this kind of environment on a daily basis. They see it everywhere. It’s nothing new. The older professors might be impressed by the changes but I doubt your average 19/20 year old will even stop to pop his earphones out. And the danger with modernisation is that if it’s not absolute top-end spec then it invariably becomes tacky and dated very quickly, just like the retro churches. Ill-advised ‘cool architecture’ can be as cringe-inducing as watching your dad dance.

But the base-line here is that ‘funky architecture’ is not what you expect of a redbrick University. A newly-labelled Comprehensive perhaps, but not a redbrick sitting on top of a goldmine of history. Thinking back to my expectations on my first day at University, I expected to walk onto the set of Harry Potter when I stepped inside the University gates. And it didn’t disappoint! Walking into the main hall of the University was like walking into a big cathedral, it certainly had the ‘wow factor’. I expected Hogwarts and how massively disappointed would I have been if it had resembled an Apple store?! There was a real sense of history and belonging, which was fostered in part by the visual history evident around campus - predominately the buildings, such as the library. I fell hook-line-and-sinker for this sense of history, so the University should be ensnaring other prospective students using the same method, not trying to suppress it at every turn! And there is an important business aspect to this too; any member of a group will tell you that group cohesion is better achieved when there is a unique, unifying element that is specific to the group and separates the group members from outsiders, whether that be what they wear, how they speak or what they believe. This is how armies and gangs are united. This is the way that human nature works. Each University has its own history, its own ‘unique element’ that students expect to buy into. By removing this ‘unique element’ and replacing it with a ‘ten-a-penny McDonalds element’ the group will quickly lose its sense of belonging. And that, as it has been pointed out to me, is corporate suicide...

This might all be a panic over nothing and the old library will segue painlessly into the new with no bother whatsoever. I have every confidence that this will be the case. But for other Universities planning similar redevelopments the concerns raised must be addressed. Decisions made within Universities with regard to the future of the written word should not be taken lightly as they will influence generational waves of students and thereby send ripples out into the wider society. And there is no system backup, once these hard-copy resources are lost we may never recover them again...

Thursday, 9 February 2012

‘Bromford Dreams’ Mural as Unemployed Youth Paint Alongside Muslim Artist

From the 13th-17th February unemployed young men from the multiply deprived Bromford estate in east Birmingham will be working alongside the ‘urban spiritual artist’ Mohammed ‘aerosol’ Ali, The Hub youth centre and Dr Chris Shannahan of the University of Birmingham to design and spray-paint their dreams for their community onto a huge cube. After the unveiling which will take place as part of a community event on Saturday 18th February at 12 noon the ‘Bromford Dreams’ Cube-art will be on display in the streets of Bromford, after which it will be exhibited in different locations across the city of Birmingham.

Mohammed ‘aerosol’ Ali is an award winning artist who has painted murals in major cities including New York, Chicago, Toronto, Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne and Dubai. His work seeks to bridge the gap between different faiths and cultures ( Mohammed Ali will lead the young people on a week-long journey, visiting his studio-gallery in the Sparkbrook area of Birmingham and touring the inner-city murals he has painted across the city. The journey aims to inspire them to develop their own artwork and understand his approach of painting for social change. Mohammed said: “We have problems in our society, 2011 saw the riots in our city, we see divided communities. It’s time to inject some creativity into our efforts with dealing with these issues.”

Worth Unlimited is a faith-based charity working with socially excluded young people across the UK. At its heart is a commitment to ‘building hope, unlocking potential and realising worth’. ‘The Hub’ youth centre in Bromford is at the heart of Worth’s work in Birmingham (

Dr Chris Shannahan is a Research Fellow in Urban Theology at the University of Birmingham. His work focuses on the changing face of faith in the city, especially amongst socially excluded young people ( He said: “This is a big coup for the University of Birmingham. To be involved at street level and to be delivering such a project is very exciting.”

The unveiling of the ‘Bromford Dreams’ Cube will take place at 
12 noon on Saturday 18th February at The Hub youth centre,
146 Bromford Drive, B36 8TY Birmingham

Art…..Music….Points of View….Food….A Chance for Interviews and Photographs…

For further details please contact Chris Shannahan at or 0121-414-7192.

This project is co-funded by the University of Birmingham, Arts Council England and 
Worth Unlimited

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The impending demise of rock music?

I’ve been aware of a few stories circulating recently lamenting the decline of rock music. Some of it is seriously apocalyptic stuff, for instance The Independent ran an article today pointing out that ‘only three of 2010's 100 bestselling singles were guitar-driven’. That’s pretty bleak. But when I think about it, I can’t remember the last time I heard rock music on a mainstream radio station, in fact it has been noticeably absent. Just try to name some rock bands appearing in the mainstream charts right now. Not easy, is it?

This morning Kristofer Dommin, lead singer of the band Dommin, asked the following question on his Twitter:

“What do YOU contribute the decline of rock music in the landscape to? Is rock guilty of not evolving? Is it just a trend?”

The question made me sit back and wonder what on earth could be contributing to this sudden apparent apathy. Is it something that we are doing as music listeners? Or are we, the rock bands, guilty of cutting our own throats somehow? This decline in interest is particularly worrying for those of us in bands who are slogging our guts out in rehearsal rooms each week. Is there any point in carrying on if no-one wants to listen to us? Maybe if we can uncover the source of the problem then we can figure out whether it’s just a passing phase or a long-term, serious threat to the genre itself. The first step is to consider whether the problem is with supply or demand...

     • Supply

Perhaps there are fewer new rock artists out there to feed through into the mainstream in the first place? Maybe the talent just isn’t there? If this is the case then we need to investigate the cause of this breakdown in supply. There are, for example, huge cost issues involved when playing in a band as instruments, petrol to drive the band around, rehearsal rooms and recording costs don’t come cheap. Maybe it is difficult in the current financial climate for new artists to afford to play? I also wonder whether new artists become disenchanted when they make their first foray into the world of live music because it is not the instantly glamorous lifestyle that the media leads us to expect. Carrying heavy instruments around, playing hideous dives in the middle of nowhere to three drunk locals, sitting in the rain outside a locked venue, sleeping in the back of a tiny van with hung-over bandmates - the early days are not pretty. Some ‘pre-packed’ rock bands seemingly appear overnight without this history behind them and if they have history then it has been clearly swept under the carpet, so the reality of gigging in the early days may come as a shock to some new artists.

An expectation of immediate success is also fostered by reality TV shows that distort our concept of the music industry’s mechanism for finding talent. Reality TV is the whipping boy for a great deal of our cultural grumbles, but it’s true that such shows teach young artists that there is no need to tout yourself around back-street pubs and clubs playing to empty rooms and sending audition tracks to labels. You just upload a video to YouTube or enter a competition and you are plucked from obscurity and fast-tracked to the top of the charts. As the X Factor auditions demonstrate, some singers haven’t even stood on a stage before and in a blink of an eye they have a number one hit and they’re booked to play Wembley arena. There must be oodles of sublime talent sitting around in bedrooms waiting to ‘be discovered’ on Youtube rather than booking gigs in local venues and getting their music out there.

Yes it might be getting tougher for new artists to stay active and the channels feeding them into the mainstream may be changing, but when I consider fellow artists that my band and I meet on the Birmingham circuit alone there doesn’t appear to be a rock famine out there. There are plenty of gigging bands that fulfil the criteria for a bona fide rock band and they are desperate to break into the larger market. So the problem cannot be with supply, it must be with demand...

   • Demand

As music listeners, what do we expect from the music we listen to and where could rock music be falling short?

Some rock bands that have broken through into the public consciousness in the past few years have arrived on the scene pre-packaged with readymade scripted personalities and posters, t-shirts and stationary sets waiting in the backrooms of department stores. We all secretly suspect that merchandise and the saleability of a band is higher up the shopping list of the music industry than the actual noises a band makes. And, if true, then this saleability would be massively affected by the artist’s appeal to the mass market. This mass market - and the music industry in turn - has become increasingly squeamish when it comes to signing raw artists that push boundaries and it is noticeable that our music has become increasingly sanitised and child-friendly. It’s sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll after all, right? Not anymore. Take mainstream pop singers like Rihanna and Britney Spears for example. How many times have they been blasted recently for being too raunchy? We need to stop for a second and think about the real target audience here. If your ten-year-old is pole dancing in the front room then maybe it’s time to take the Rihanna CDs off her, but kiddy-related fears trump our adult tastes every time and without fail the party is ruined for the rest of us.

And it’s not just sex that gets our disapproval; it’s violence, drugs and all the general ‘unsavoury’ elements characteristically (although often unfairly) associated with rock too. Take the whole Marilyn Mason/Columbine High correlation. Without resurrecting the debate, the US branded Manson as the influence behind the killings and the entire Western world went on censorship red alert as a result, fearing that any guitar track would cause their teens to start committing violent crimes. Hence rock music took a huge knock that it has since struggled to recover from (interestingly, how many serial killers relaxed to classical music before going on a rampage? Should we stop all teenagers listening to Debussy or Chopin in case it stirs psychotic tendencies in them?). And finally, I’m not condoning drug or alcohol abuse by any means, but the very second a musician is caught in a room with something mildly dodgy, drinks a little too much or has more than one woman in a hotel room they are vilified and ostracised from the industry with no second chances. No ifs, no buts. I’m with the censors on the drugs issue to be fair, but a small part of me wonders how many influential bands we would have lost if we had taken this approach back in the 60s and 70s?

It is difficult for a genre of music that is so closely associated with pushing boundaries and ‘living life on the edge’ (even if in lyrics alone) to thrive in a climate of oversensitivity that increasingly panders to delicate sensibilities that might be offended by explicit lyrics or a tiny bit of raunchiness. So maybe it is the kindly-killjoy brigade that is responsible for marginalising rock to the point of death?

One final option is that rock is simply seen as out-dated in a world of movie-set music videos, epic stage designs and pre-packaged artists that are carefully selected and briefed to fill a desirable hole in the market and then plucked, vamped and painted with the brightest gloss shine. The stereotypical dirty-gritty, spit-on-the-stage rock artist is very difficult to conform to this ideal and perhaps the sight of a group of people on stage playing instruments live is seen to be somehow amateur and undesirable. If this is true then it is a crying shame because, besides from various possible side-effects like kids will stop showing an interest in learning to play instruments, an essential part of the glorious experience of discovering a new artist and enjoying their journey is unearthing their history, the funny anecdotes, the people they’ve met while gigging, their on-the-road-grown quirks and idiosyncrasies and most importantly what drives them to share their music with their fans and fellow musicians. Many new artists look great on the screen, but they do not come with these attractive extras to flesh them out. Pre-packed musicians will write boring as hell biographies....

If I take a step back and look at my own band, Turn Off The Sun, then I can’t understand why - if the newspaper reports are to be believed - bands like us will be condemned to the scrapheap before we’ve even plugged in our amps. Yes, we’re feisty on-stage and we put energy into our performances, but we’re not deliberately offensive to the average music listener; we don’t use lots of foul language in our lyrics, condone violence or take drugs so we’re pretty ‘safe’ (apart from our drummer Neil who has a tendency to fling his drumsticks across the stage, he’s pretty dangerous) so we’re not going to cause any riots or turn your children into psychotic monsters. We come with an interesting back-history, silly anecdotes and all the ‘DVD extras’ that appeal to a fanbase. We’re fairly pretty and take good photos so we tick all the shallow, superficial boxes to keep the poster printers happy. We, and many bands like us, are poised on tenterhooks for an opportunity to make our donation to the music landscape, champing at the bit to flesh it out and make a contribution worthy enough to wrench music back from the teetering precipice of a trashy, pop-driven cesspit of linear crap. And this is what confuses me about the whole situation more than anything; how can something die when there are so many like us - musicians and music lovers alike - who are desperate to feed it?!?