Tally Hall: An Interview with Rob, Joe, Andrew, Zubin and Ross

This particular interview was a bit difficult to set up. To get these five gents in a room, hovering over a cell phone or office type phone on speaker, then have them answer questions about their ‘process.’ It was a good interview though. They are a very talented band and don’t really fall into traditional genre’s. Instead they pull from just about everything and they’re visual artistry employed in their videos is admirable and inspiring. They hit the road this season, maybe they’ll be in your town soon. The played San Diego recently and apparently they are now on Atlantic Records and will be doing showcases at SXSW next week. I will have to go check that action out, hopefully there will be free beer, you’ve got to follow the free beer when in Austin. Some folks say its about the music but its not. Those people lie. Its interesting how they mention the use of facebook (when facebook was still college/high school only) as a marketing tool. This band has fully embraced new tech since their inception and it has worked out quite well for them.

What do five students from the University of Michigan have in common? Music, a strong appreciation of orchestration and a good sense of humor are the ingredients that make up pop band Tally Hall. Their sound is somewhere on the weird road to The Beatles, Frank Zappa, early Elton John, Weezer, They Might Be Giants and the Bare Naked Ladies. Tally Hall’s sound could be described as a jumble of words and complimentary influences thrown into a stew of clever songwriting and stellar musicianship.

Formed in December of 2002, Tally Hall began writing songs, playing together and doing shows around Ann Arbor, MI. They did this all while attending class, recording their songs and doing their own videos-as well as building and maintaining the band Web site and making T-Shirts. Their music is quirky but not steeped in kitsch. Though their sound is fun, it is by all accounts ‘pop music,’ and the inherent talent of the bands five members is immediately obvious upon first listen. Recently, themusicedge.com caught up with Tally Hall and conducted a phone interview (or attempted to rather) with all five members (at the same time) to understand the way the band makes music, how they got to were they are and how they go about doing what they do.

*In order to avoid confusion on the part of the interviewer, “Tally Hall” will represent the collective voice of the band.
Shane: How far along are all of you in school?
Tally Hall*: Three of us are seniors, one of us is a junior and one of us is a sophomore. We’re going fulltime with the band in May. The plan is to do some touring.

S: How did the Tally Hall meet?
Tally Hall: Most of us met in college.
Joe: Rob and Zubin grew up together and were in a band together in high school. Andrew met us in college and he’s from New Jersey, but the other four of us are from Bloomfield, MI. Ross and I weren’t friends; we still aren’t friends in fact (laughing). That kind of aggression in our band has really paid off. You can tell in our music, its very aggressive (more laughing). We’re transforming into screamo.

S: Were any of you involved in school music or did you take lessons?
Tally Hall: All of us did some music in high school, orchestra and band.
Andrew: I’m studying music composition now and everyone else is involved in music some way. Ross is in the marching band.
Ross: I’m a music lieutenant.
Andrew: We started the band as a hobby and now it’s sort of taken off. So once we get full time I think we will be doing quite a few different things.

S: The video for ‘Banana Man’ is great, who put that together?
Tally Hall: Those are all Joe’s brainchildren.
Joe: I’m a film and English major.
Andrew: Zubin is our Webmaster. We all sort of pitch in and do different things.
Ross: I think we’ve been really lucky in that everyone in the band can specialize in certain things.
Tally Hall: We’re like the A-Team!
Rob: Ross is just a clumsy bystander!
Tally Hall: He’s the Steve Urkle on our A-Team (laughing)!
Zubin: Or maybe he’s Balki [from the television show Perfect Strangers]?
Rob: Ross has just become the butt of every joke. But he laughs with us – but he might be crying inside.

S: On a more serious note, what were some of the benefits you guys have gained from being involved in school music? More specifically, how have those things benefited your band?
Andrew: (mumbles something inaudible)
Rob: Andrew was distracted by the Wurthers Original Candy he is eating.
Andrew: (mumbles again)
Rob: He’s frazzled by the Wurthers.
Andrew: I learned how to write classical and contemporary classical and that is what my main focus has been. My main passion is rock, but I’ve always been sort of forced into the classical idiom and have always sort of rejected it but its influence has helped. It’s helped my confidence in playing. When you play rock music, there’s a certain type of energy that is undeniable in that genre of music. I think recording is also more involved with rock music. You can do pretty much anything you want in a recording.
Ross: Our musicology professor wrote a book about how recording is the new poetics of rock. Sheet music doesn’t do justice to rock music.
Andrew: With rock music, there have been a lot of advances and they continue to do innovative stuff. With classical music they’re still playing the same stuff they were playing 50 years ago.
Tally Hall: There’s no reason you can’t incorporate classical influences into rock music and make it part of the art.

S: With regards to recording, is that a technique you learned along the way by doing your own demo’s (Partyboobytrap EP and Welcome to Tally Hall EP), or is that another area of study for one of the band members?
Joe: I’ve actually mastered Final Cut Pro, which is video editing software. I used it to record all of our demos. It’s supposed to be for video, but I developed an unusual technique by doing high-quality recordings by building a metronome track in an iPod (it’s sort of complicated) and I had been experimenting with that and when it came time to do the Tally Hall recordings I went with that.
Rob: The Tally Hall recordings sound pretty professional to our ears (I think). We recorded them in the attic of our house and laid them down one track at a time. We were turning off the refrigerator and the lights to cut back on the fuzz – it was a very low-tech operation relative to the product that came out of the session. We were proud of the process.
Joe: We recorded everything through my camcorder. I had a microphone and a ‘line in’ jack. It was grueling.

S: How does the writing process work for Tally Hall?
Rob: We have three different songwriters in the band: Joe, Andrew and I. It’s about equal numbers of songs. I think each of us have a uniquely different style.
Joe: My style is I have a song in my head and I can’t get it out and I put a lyric to the music and do a rough demo in Final Cut or Garage Band and then show it to the band. I usually have specific ideas for the song. I put it together pretty meticulously before I present it to the band. Rob is a little bit looser.
Rob: I usually start with some sort of concept or basic idea and it ends up becoming part of the hook or the chorus and then I come to the band and everyone fills in their parts. The harmonies are usually worked out well in advance. It’s more of a fusion of musical ideas versus Joe who comes with these finely tuned versions of songs.
Joe: And for Horowitz (Andrew) he just shows up at practice and a song just comes out of him.
Andrew: I usually come up with songs in spurts (giggling heard from band). I’ll sit down for a couple of hours and just come up with something. A lot of the songs grow when they get to the band, and we’re all pretty harsh critics within the band. There’s been times when any number of us has brought a song to the band and we’ve decided that it needs a lot of work.
Rob: We’re hypercritical of each other.
Joe: We don’t like filler. I think that when we get into a real studio we’ll try and make every song it’s own little masterpiece.

S: What are some of the lessons you all have learned playing together as a band?
Zubin: First thing we learned was to work with each other. All of us have pretty strong personalities. We all have busy schedules; we’re all tied to other commitments. Basically working together and as a group tends to be more of a compromise in order to be successful. Would anyone like to add anything?
Joe: I’ve learned a lot about how other people work and how to compromise in a group setting. Not to be cliché, but learning how to write and create songs as a group…And making Zubin answer the phone.
Ross: That is sort of banal. (Pauses) By the way I didn’t mean the question was banal, I meant his answer was banal.
Rob: We have an intra-band conflict over the pronunciation of the word ‘banal.’ (Arguing over the word ensues)

S: What are some things that you guys rely on dynamically during live performances?
Ross: I think we rely on each other to make sure we really have everything down before we play. The last thing I want to worry about is whether Rob is going to hit a note, or whether Andrew has his parts down on the keyboard, or if Joe is going to remember the lyrics. I rely on everyone else to be on the ball when it comes time to perform.
Zubin: I’m going to add something to that. Because we spend so much time together and because we are all such good friends, I think that adds something to our performance. It’s an almost inside joke type banter with each other. It keeps things relaxed. A camaraderie of sorts.

S: In what ways has the Internet helped your band?
Tally Hall: We couldn’t have done it without the Internet.
Rob: There are a few major Internet factions that have been able to help us along. The first is that Zubin designed an awesome Web site using flash. Our Web site is awesome. Joe’s videos on our Internet site have allowed us to attract a lot of people and they’ve allowed us to branch out and reach other Internet hot spots. The ‘Banana Man’ video was on a site called albinoblacksheep.com that got a ton of hits. Because it was on there it spread to a lot of other blogs and forums. Online networking communities, mainly Myspace.com, have enabled us to promote ourselves online effectively.
Joe: TheFaceBook.com (it’s a college specific Web site like Myspace.com) is a local site that I went through and added a ton of friends to and we’d email everyone when we had a show in Ann Arbor.
Rob: And themusicedge has been helpful, we’ve had a lot of downloads off of there as well.
Andrew: We figured if we let people download our music for free, and if they liked it, they’d pass it on to friends. So, in that way it’s been a great success.
Rob: We should mention one other Web sitethat has been helpful to us called indie911.com. They allow us to stream our material for free and that’s where a lot of people say they first hear us. They also give us a little bit of money for radio play. It’s not much but it’s still pretty cool.

Tally Hall is a band that is utilizing every resource available to make their presence felt in the world of music. From the Internet and benefit shows to song competitions like BMI’s John Lennon Scholarship Competition, which garnered the band a first prize for their song “Good Day,” the possibilities are virtually endless for a band with the right amount of patience and ambition. Tally Hall will be touring this summer, so keep your eyes open. This might be your last chance to catch them in a small, intimate setting.

For more information, please visit www.tallyhall.com

Death Cab for Cutie: An Interview with Nick Harmer

No, were you expecting Ben Gibbard or Chris Walla? Seriously? By the time I had done this interview, the band was quickly being adopted as the saviors of indie rock. By the release of their next album, and the success of the Postal Service record, you couldn’t take a shit without hearing Ben Gibbard in his sing song voice welcoming you to the airport bathroom over the Musak. Or at least that is what it seemed like. Everyone wanted Ben to sing on their record. Why wouldn’t they? His voice is soothing, reassuring, even when he’s swimming in despair you can’t help but feel like he is better suited for it, maybe in a speedo or something while wearing those groovy black rimmed glasses. Nevertheless, I always felt the best interviews, or at least the most interesting came from the person least talked to in the band. How many different ways would Chris Walla or Ben Gibbard answer a question about their own writing process? How much of that answer would be regurgitated in a dozen other mags and rags?

Bellingham, Washington will never be the same.  In the past several years, hometown heroes Death Cab for Cutie have garnered mainstream praise while sticking to their independent ethics.  “…A polished version of the heartstring-tugging formula that has earned the Washington state quartet its cultish following,” Rolling Stone said of the latest DCfC album, Translanticism, and the ultra slick praise of such a world-renowned magazine is well deserved.  Translanticism is an amalgamation of new variations on their previous formulas used on The Photo Album, We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes and Something About Airplanes; formulas that are familiar yet fresh enough to be empty of mediocrity doubled with complimentary instrumentation and witty lyrics.

Benjamin Gibbons, singer and songwriter/guitarist of Death Cab for Cutie and the Postal Service was house sitting for San Francisco’s John Vanderslice, writing songs and developing a theme that rings and resonates throughout Translanticism – a concept of distance so daunting and expansive, such as a body of water creates between people – that it seems impossible to breach.  The theme of Translanticism has been touched on in past DCfC albums, albeit sometimes briefly and at other times screams loudly like on several songs from The Photo Album.  Yet DCfC isn’t necessarily a singer songwriter type of outfit; it’s a band comprised of equally valid parts and strong ones at that.  Producer/Engineer/Guitarist/Mixer Chris Walla (Rocky Votolato, Carissa’s Weird, Hot Hot Heat) is no spring chicken when it comes to musical experience.  Bassist Nick Harmer and drummer Jason McGerr make up the rhythm section of DCfC, rounding out the band with one of the most talented sections this side of Kim Deal and David Lovering in indie rock.

DCfC have the tendency to move in and out of styles, never relying on one trick or beating that pony dead with rewritten versions of their old songs.  This unique trait is readily apparent on the track, “The Sound and Settling.”  A raucous party song full of hand claps, foot stomps, backup vocals skirting Ramones-esque power balladry, and guitars that punch through in distinct octaves of beauty.

Death Cab for Cutie is not your average rock band.  In recent years they have been able to work as full time musicians, but not the kind with a lot of Bling Bling.  Philanthropy is part of their independent ethos as well.  According to bassist Nick Harmer, “We donated our last band van to them (Seattle Vehicle Donations Center), I’m also donating my car to them now as well.  We try and give back what we can.”

In reference to their fulltime jobs, Nick says, “Luckily it’s awesome that we’re at a point where we have to stay busy to sort of keep our heads above the waterline for bills and things like that.  But it really works out because if we were this busy we wouldn’t be able to keep day jobs.”

Prior to working as professional musicians, Nick, Ben and the gang attended college and, “Worked odd jobs and things.  After college, we moved down here (Seattle) and Ben and I worked together for years at this non-profit called Committee for Children which was this organization that makes and develops anti-violence curriculums for kids in elementary school and junior high.”

Translanticism is another chapter in the book of DCfC.  It’s a book of short stories that share similar themes but introduce completely new characters as the albums unfold.  Principle songwriter, Ben approached writing and recording a bit different than previous albums along with the rest of the band.  He wrote much of the record while house sitting for John Vanderslice in San Francisco.  He made his way back to Seattle and DCfC began the process of writing and recording a new album.

Nick relates the story of the writing and recording process by explaining that, “Ben had been compiling a lot of demos between our break between our Spring and Fall tour in 2002.  It was an interesting and fun process.  We spent a lot of time sort of sitting in people’s living rooms and listening.  Ben would come over with a stack of demos and we’d just sit there and listen to them, talk about it, talk about the things we like about them and the kind of approach we would have if we where to record this song or that song.  It was through that process we whittled down a stack of 25 to about 12 songs that we really thought we could do some justice to in the studio.”

That process eventually gave birth to the tracks on Translanticism.   “That’s what we ended up demo-ing and taking to the studio, 11 of which made the record.  We ended up cutting one.  That process was a little different for us than how it went in the past.  Ben submits songs almost near completion as far as lyrics and melody arrangement and even sometimes as detailed as down to the drum part and that was sort of in the past and this time it left a bit more open on our end, for us to take the reigns and run with stuff.  He really, only at the end of the day, would come with a stack of demos and say, ‘I really feel strongly about the lyrics and melody but I don’t have any idea about instrumentation, we should all sit down and talk about it.’  It made for a great foundation for us to build and grow with this record.  Also, just to know there wasn’t any set or predestined plan for any of these songs.  We could let them grow and mature as we put them together.”

“Sometimes on the record, like the song “Passenger Seat” Ben brought in as a demo and we thought, ‘this song is awesome Ben and we don’t even want to touch it.  I think we would do it a disservice to try and write anything around it.’ There were moments like that when the song came in and we knew it was good right away and we didn’t have to do anything to it.”

“Then there were times when songs like, “We Look Like Giants” or “The New Year,” where we went through this nuts and bolts process where we would tear it apart and put it back together and tear it apart and put it back together.  When you put all the songs together and how the songs came together it wasn’t that every song was a long process of stripping it down and rebuilding it.  I think it would have been a little monotonous and too difficult for us to get through ultimately in terms of making any progress we would have spent forever breaking and building.  It made for a real invigorating process.  We felt like we were making progress and challenging ourselves and yet at the same time we were staying far enough away from the material to let it take control and let it do what it wants to.  We definitely have a tendency in this band (and we have before, musically) to over-think a lot of things.  On this record we made a conscious effort to not think so much about stuff and let it unfold on its own.”

Nick got his start in music at an early age.  First starting on piano then joining school band and eventually taking a couple of lessons on guitar, finally picking up the bass in college.  “I started playing piano in early second grade.  Two years later I started playing clarinet in the elementary school band and in junior high I started playing guitar and played through junior high and high school and started playing bass in college.  So I’ve been surrounded most of my life by musical instruments.”

“I took piano lessons.  I didn’t take clarinet lessons because that was part of being in the whole school band experience. I took guitar lessons for about a month and started self-teaching myself after that.  I took piano lessons for about 4 years.  I never took a bass lesson but I have sat down with some more experienced players and picked up some tips here and there.”

“I think if I were to do it again I think I would’ve joined the orchestra instead of the band.  I wanted to play cello really bad, but all of the kids wanted to be in orchestra.  I fell in love with the Tears for Fears song, “Shout,” and there’s this weird little solo in the middle of it that I thought was the flute (I later learned it was played on the keyboards) so I went into the band room and said, ‘I want to play the flute because I want to be able to do this.’ And the band teacher told me, ‘only girls play the flute, we need a clarinet player.’ So I became the clarinet player, only to realize by the time I got into junior high that only girls played the clarinet as well.”  Laughingly adding, “So I was manipulated.”

Even though he may have been manipulated, he learned lessons that would help him later in life, “Right now, the impact school band had on my playing — in sort of, an early on way, I had a good sense of pitch and tone and structure, plus the discipline from playing with others and practicing. Then running scales on piano to running scales on bass and working on song structure and the technical aspects of playing.  I can’t imagine music not being part of my life.”

Nick cites his Mom for getting him interested in music at an even earlier age.  She placed a pair of adult sized headphones on his ears and tried to teach him to clap along with the beat.  “I remember wanted to be able to do it so bad.  To be able to figure it out.”  Music was always around when he was a child.  Lots of classical like Beethoven and Mozart.  His mother also played piano as well as his grandmother.  You could say that music is in his blood, along with commitment and dedication, which he gets from his Retired Army father.

Nick plays a Fender 77 P bass, with a replacement neck and an Ampeg SVT Classic, 8×10 with minimal effects and little distortion.

Staying busy is what DCfC does best.  Not settling for just being a band that goes around and plays shows isn’t enough, which is evidenced by their work with the community before the band formed and the work they do with charities now.  Currently they are on a holiday break from their recently finished tour with label mates and friends The Long Winters and Mates of State.

Death Cab for Cutie will be performing on the Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn (CBS) on January 19.

Their video for “The New Year” is being featured on MTV.com – Check out the short interview there as well.

And then its back on the road supporting the release of Translanticism.  “We’re picking back up toward the end of January, doing Europe and Japan in February and March then we’ll be back here and then on to Australia in early summer.  About this time next year we’ll head into the studio and start rolling up the sleeves for the next one”

Thanks Nick!!!

For more info and tour dates, please visit www.deathcabforcutie.com

Records you should be listening to this week: Aesop, Tegan and Sara, Les Savy Fav, Akimbo, Big Business

Aesop Rock – None Shall Pass Defjux Records

Aesop comes correct with this delightful answer to all the Kanye’d out crap hop pop, questioning existence, social status, and our place as humans in the grand scheme of things. Clever rhymes over slick beats produced in majority by Blockhead with the standout single and album namesake being one of the strongest. El-P lends his tasteful ingredients to “Gun for the Whole Family” and Aesop comes as the strongest closer with tracks 1, 7 and 11. This is a must have and will definitely be making my top 10 for 07.

Les Savy Fav – Let’s Stay Friends FrenchKiss Records

Tim Harrington and the gang took 6 years off to have a bunch of other slightly less interesting adventures while we all languished in their absence. Luckily they’ve managed to deliver one of their strongest albums to date. The post-punk guitar work of Seth Jabor cuts through Tim’s humorous barks as bassist Syd Butler and drummer Harrison Haynes provide one of the strongest backbones this side of Fugazi’s Joe Lally and Brendan Canty.

Big Business – Here Come the Waterworks Hydrahead

Well looks like Warren and Coady have accomplished what I didn’t think they’d be able to do – outshine the Melvins (a) Senile Animal with Here Comes the Waterworks. The two bands have been intertwined for some time now with Big Business official members of the legendary band. The addition of guitarist David Scott Stone to the drum and bass duo added that level of mid-range tonality they’d been missing on previous records. Waterworks is still incredibly dense and percussive. “Shields,” is one of my favorite tracks, it is intense. And I got it on 180 g gold vinyl!!!

Tegan and Sara – The Con Sire

For a major label release this album is ridiculously well produced. It helps that these twin nymphs employed the skilled hand of Chris Walla who for the past 5 years has crapped nothing but pure pop gold. While 2005’s So Jealous was a tad more acoustic guitar rock friendly, The Con welcomes Matt Sharp and his deft syth skills on more than a few tracks, giving this record some amazing hooks. Tegan and Sara’s lyrics have matured as well. This will be another record that radio stations will pass over but that doesn’t mean you should. Besides, who listens to the radio anymore anyway? You should listen to DJ Rosstar or Nic Harcourt at the very least anyway.

Akimbo – Navigating the Bronze Alternative Tentacles

For former Dead Kennedy’s frontman Jello Biafra’s record label that doesn’t have any bands doing any touring or moving any units, Akimbo is carrying more than their fair share. Touring in a van, eating Ramen noodles and drinking copious amounts of beer and playing places like San Diego’s illustrious local drunk drain, Scolari’s office make Akimobo’s brand of rock that much more palatable. “Wizard Van Wizard” contends to be the cock-rockiest of all nine tracks but the boys show their tenderness by moisturizing their thumbs prior to insertion on “The Curse of King David,” a riff driven aural assault.

Consumption Junction: The Cultural Significance of Britney’s Ass

I caught this post on Tech Crunch and in light of the hilarity of the 2007 VMA’s recently I thought it’d be appropriate to expound my opinion on a couple of things (btw, my opinion is awesome). I’ll first address the Arousal Industry’s latest blundervestment: making ringtones available on CD and selling them as ‘Ringle’s.’ If you haven’t followed the rapidly declining sales of the dinosaur-wearing-gucci-industry into the rabbit hole of failure you’ll know that these gentle giants and habitual employment curtailers are scrambling for the next best thing to supplement their bottom line. For that they have thought long and hard while on the toilet, squeezing out a seared ahi and quail egg champagne shit as the collective stone was passed from urethra, chinking on the porcelain, inspiring the latest money maker – The Ringle.


To the uninitiated or layperson, basically the ‘Ringle’ will, “contain three songs: one popular track, a remix, an older track from the same artist and a ringtone.” The distro method will be a “CD with a slip-sleeve cover.” If you’re smashing your balls with a meat tenderizer right now (or if you are a female, feel free to smash your nipple or equivalent in a desk drawer) in light of that news, well, you’ve been paying attention to the comings and goings of the music industry. If not, don’t despair. This can still be considered one of those ‘what the fuck’ moments. The first of those will be a single from recently re-celebritized Britney Spears, her song; “Gimme More” is already testing really well in the major markets. Sony and Universal are going to pump titles into the stream this fall and they’ll be available at your favorite wallet raping store. The propensity for continued revenue loss in the face of continued bad decision making isn’t as appalling as the fact they’re going to sell singles by CD. CD??? Or is Britney’s gunt more appealing packaged as a pitch corrected ringtone. I dunno.



So now that your brain has come to a nice simmer and your eyes are bleeding a bit, drool slowly congealing somewhere on your shirt or blouse, hands limply at your sides, legs prostrate beneath you, a jolt of pop narcotic will bring you back. A shot to the jugular with a syringe full of excitement – a glass pipe filled with potent crystallized entertainment – a tincture of attention drawing, edge of your seat mayhem filled with blinking lights, celebrity and pageantry. For the kingdom of your brain we present the 2007 VMA’s. A nightmare ride into The Palms casino/hotel in Las Vegas for an amalgam of hyper stylized vampiric pop-lust orgy of coordinated chaos – presented by Chevrolet. That’s right. America’s car company. The company that brought you the Tahoe, and the tagline “An American Revolution.” AND John-fucking-Mellancamp leaning his jackboot on the fender of a truck while a montage of ‘life style images’ flood the screen. Look! Some sepia toned portraiture of African Americans that look doggedly low income smiling bravely for the high paid photographer, middle-American white folks ‘eating’ hot dogs, and team sports! Yes. Chevy has now taken it upon themselves to sell us cars by insinuating that this whole “save the world thing” is a punch line for some smog breathing fat cats with pockets full of cash.


Those genius marketers at MTV and Chevy teamed up for what they’re marketspeak calling a, “…Superserve Key 12-34 demographic with creative integration and multiplatform innovation campaign.” Essentially, they’ll use the power of their marketing muscle and advertising budget to sponsor something that MTV knows is well worth every penny for hooking new consumers. So they show a series of seemingly Eco-friendly spots. The spots are kinduh irreverent, edgy; MTV’s demo will totally jibe with this posish. (WOW 30MPG on highway! I can hear dolphins singing as baby seals swim in crystal clear water and unicorns shit rainbows).


This is part of MTV and Chevy’s “Break the Addiction” campaign, which sadly promotes the benefits of Flex Fuel or E85 and touts their continued development Hydrogen Fuel Cell technology. Want to know about E85? Click here.


MTV has always been the bane of my entertainment consumption. They’ve had some good shows and of course they used to play those dinosaurs of the entertainment dietary pyramid, THE MUSIC VIDEO but if the fact they’ve been dictating youth cultures taste in music doesn’t make you vomit your righteous indignation instantly, these commercials will. One example in particular is a scene of a young woman with dyed hair, fairy-winged, and glossy eyed. Hers is a character meant to exemplify some green friendly tree hugging marijuana addict blowing a tune into some plastic bottles strung together while a voice mockingly says something like “You can still save the environment without having to drive an ugly car you little sheep.”


And this brings me to Britney Spears ass. It has always been a shining example of slutty suburban chicks everywhere. Her ass is insignificant. Her music represents an industry’s reliance on tone corrected voices. It is robotic. She is ubiquitous. You could interchange her with Rhianna and only by ear you’d never know the difference. The reason she and Rhianna lip synced their shitty songs was because in the fantasy world MTV has made for viewers and the public, they’ve instituted a zero tolerance policy on imperfection. This is smoke and mirrors. It’s no wonder Viacom’s ad agency shares similar tactics as the US government’s agency that handles all of their “Be Army Strong” campaigns, or Chevy’s highly insidious and clever “Break the Addiction” campaign.


Britney Spears showed us all that you can sound like a robot, dance like a star in a giant production but if you gain just five pounds you can lose all credibility. She also showed the world our addiction to perfection through her socially imposed imperfections. Break the addiction of what? Oil? Bad performances and MTV? Soon we’ll see teen stars, weighing 90 lbs., chain smoking Marlboro Reds, eating a leaf of ice burg lettuce a day, while a Ringle from Mastodon plays “Holiday in Cambodia” on my sweet new iPhone. Chevy and British Petroleum will be champions of the Green movement and George Bush will go down in history as one of the most thoughtful presidents in history.


This isn’t science fiction.


This isn’t the future.


This is the perpetual “What the Fuck?”