About the Album
The definition of an idiot is a stupid person or a person of low intelligence. We are all idiots. And And And is a band that formed in 2009 in Portland, Oregon consisting of original members Nathan Baumgartner (vocals, guitar), Bim Ditson (drums), Berg Radin (guitar), Jonathan Sallas (bass), and Ryan Wiggans (guitar). Their sound mainly incorporates melodic and sometimes brutal guitars and angular rhythms. The band is also comfortable diverging from that path towards more delicate territory with stripped back piano-based songs and vocal harmonies. They are releasing their second studio album in early 2018. It is titled "Idiot". Their previous album, "The Failure”, was largely a rumination on depression, anger, and deep disappointment. Their upcoming album continues to explore these themes with the addition of more open-ended subject matter that looks at consciousness, knowledge, and the nature of reality.
What does it mean to be conscious? How did consciousness even arise? And does it exist on a spectrum? We do know some things but each coherent answer we find leads to additional questions. Knowledge and awareness have led humans to create both beautiful things and profoundly evil things. We know we will die. This knowledge gives our lives a unique, bittersweet flavor. The title track "Idiot" addresses this duality with the lyric, "If I never froze, then I'd never be warm". The same theme is stated in "The Visitor" with "It's bittersweet, the knowledge that everything must fall to rise again". There is much more going on than we are detecting. A person can see many colors that a dog cannot see. A dog can hear pitches that a human cannot hear. Those colors and pitches still exist whether you can detect them or not.
The album is book-ended by this theme. It begins with "Get Off My Lawn" which states, "Lately, I get the feeling this is all just fake", and ends with "I'm Still Looking" which contains the lyric, "I'm still looking for a hole in the tapestry my senses wove within my mind." We are bound by our senses, which act as filters on true reality so that we can order it into a coherent environment. We lack knowledge of true reality. The mind is a sorting tool designed to show you the minimum required to keep your body alive. You can look at an ant and say, "That ant doesn't know anything". Some 4th dimensional god could look at you and say, "That person doesn't know anything", and then some 5th dimensional god says, "That god doesn't know anything". But if you really want the truth look no further than track 4, "The Truth" which states, "The truth is that it's all a joke."
About the Release
Exposure is something people die from. There is a prevailing myth that if a band gets enough exposure they can tip into a kind of financial situation where continuing to produce art is possible. While this is an attractive idea, it is a myth. All major music distribution platforms offer exposure to artists instead of meaningful payment and do not invest in the costs of creating the content they sell. This devalues music. To use a single example, Spotify pays artists $0.00022288 per stream. This means that for And And And to cover the fixed costs of making a record they would have to generate 70,358,100 individual track listens. This is the industry standard for artist payment on digital platforms (although YouTube and others do manage to pay less).
This is the reality for bands and they have no power to change it. And And And sees the myth of exposure for what it is and chooses to exist in spite of it. Instead of investing in (betting on) growth to get access to revenue streams that have been virtually destroyed, the band decided to reduce the costs of being a band. They are self-releasing. They manage themselves. They make their own music videos. They built a soundproof practice space in their drummer’s basement to save on ever increasing rent in Portland. They do their own physical distribution. They tour. They do the work and they enjoy it.
And And And requires complete creative control. Not just in the specifics of making music but also in the reasons for doing so in the first place. They are giving away their entire album for free through their own website. This way, they can at least offer their listeners an experience that does not benefit the distribution platforms and advertisers that they take moral issue with.
And And And is not here to please everyone or cater to the platforms that set the menu (without considering that art might be made and shared for reasons beyond serving consumers’ desires or making money). They just want to sustainably be a band without turning into a glorified T-Shirt company or a tool for advertisers. The band does their own PR and does not entertain marketing concepts that involve words like “Buzz” or “Viral”. And And And is not interested in becoming clickbait. They refuse to act in good faith of a system that has failed them and every creative person they know over the last decade. They will happily remain on the fringe because the mainstream definition of “success” currently has no accounting for the things the band values. Artistic freedom, powerful communities of creativity, and choice over what one ultimately does with the things they create. They believe these three things are essential parts to a meaningful existence and they are thankful to have them at this moment.