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Rules Of Life

“We’re going to investigate every single one of these hypotheses, and we’ll tell you what we think is the truth about it.” – Jacques Cousteau in 1978

Jacques Cousteau, the world famous oceanographer and undersea explorer who invented the Aqua-Lung, dared to go where no one had gone before. He followed his passion to both protect and better understand our world’s oceans and the creatures that inhabited them. Cousteau was 65 at the time of this recording but he was still diving and hungry for more exploration and adventure. Here’s his story.

Strange Little Birds is Garbage’s latest album, released on Stunvolume, the label it collectively founded in 2012. It comes just ahead of Manson’s 50th birthday, and she says that her 20-plus years of performing have had a profound effect on both her instrument and her outlook.

“I mean, when I first started out, I didn’t even think of myself as an artist: I just thought of myself as a lucky girl who got a lucky break,” she says. “It took me a long time, arguably a decade or more, before I thought, ‘Actually, I am a musician, and I need to make music in order to be happy.’ And once I figured that out, I realized that I was a creative artist, and that changed the way I approached making music. It changed my intent, for want of a better word.”


Bandcamp held a fundraiser donating a share of sales to support the pro-immigrant and pro-refugee work of the American Civil Liberties. 400 independent labels and artists joined in, and indie music fans responded, spending more than $1 million, which is 550% more than a normal Friday (already their biggest sales day of the week). All of Bandcamp’s share of that (~12%) goes directly to the ACLU. The other 88% (less transaction fees) goes directly to the labels and artists, more than 400 of whom have pledged to donate their share of sales today as well. They joined a lot faster than the online retailing site could keep up, thanks to big releases from Anti-, ATO, Barsuk, City Slang, Epitaph, Father/Daughter, Fat Wreck, Kill Rock Stars, Merge Records, Mexican Summer, Miracle of Sound, Rhymesayers, RVNG, Sub Pop, Four Tet, Neil Gaiman, Lushlife, P.O.S., Speedy Ortiz, and all of the hundreds more.

You are all amazing.

I really like what a guy named Richard Rutherford had to say about this over on our Facebook post, and think it’s a great note to close on:

“The bands you like and the books you read and companies whose products you enjoy are all run by people who hold opinions on how the world should work and how other people should be treated. Some of them are going to make those views more specific than others, but everyone’s got their line-in-the-sand where they’re not going to be able to keep it to themselves any longer. In a world where everything is influenced by political decisions, ‘staying non-political’ actually means defaulting to the status-quo and endorsing what’s happening in the system – expecting people who sell you things to do that, no matter how harmful the system might be to them and things they care about, is unreasonable. This applies to you too, of course – you have every freedom to stop supporting Bandcamp and to explain why you don’t agree with them, but by doing so you are being just as ‘political’ as them – we all are, that’s the point. Pretending that you’re advocating some higher plane of art when you’re really just maintaining the status quo is dishonest and unhelpful. It’s not as if Bandcamp ever even pretended to be apolitical. Their entire business model is a reflection of their social and ethical convictions, which they happily explain every year when they publish their accounts.”

Starting tonight at 8:00pmET-9:00pmET and every Monday at that time, I’ll be hosting the #AskA Q&A with people in the music industry on Twitter.

While #AskA throughout the year will be from workers within the music industry and high-profile artists, it everyone’s chance to ask the questions they’ve always wanted to have answers to, the thought process behind decisions, and how to achieve your goals – whatever that may be – in music and arts. It’s a great chance to promote what they’re working on, while giving valuable life information you won’t find anywhere else!

Follow along with the hashtag #AskA and make sure you follow me on Twitter (I’m at @ThatEricAlper) and future guests are:
Feb 6 – Denise Donlon
Feb 13 – #AskA Radio Promoter with India Coran // RPMpromotion
Feb 20 – #AskA Music Journalist with Jane Stevenson
March 6 – #AskA Vocal Coach with Micah Barnes
March 13 – #AskA Major Label Promoter with Steve Waxman, Warner Music
March 20 – #AskA Music Editor with Keith Sharp, Music Express
March 27 – #AskA Radio Promoter with Justin Lanoue,
April 10 – #AskA Talk Radio Host with Al Coombs, CJBK, London, ON
April 17 – #AskA Country/Rock Record Label with Rob Smith, Royalty Records
April 24 – #AskA Music Organization with MusiCounts

…and more coming up!

Eric Alper

“Angel” is a piano record—dark and heavy. Right then and there, cruising through the bustling city, just home from Europe, I felt that song speak to me like no other. It felt like Sarah McLachlan had recorded that song specifically for me and I was meant to hear it at that very moment. I woke up the next morning with my wife at my side. “Hey, honey, you heard of Sarah McLachlan, that song ‘Angel’? I really like it.” I mentioned it to her because anything I say that I like, my wife likes to get it and surprise me. Sure enough, the next day I had the whole Sarah McLachlan album. Over the next year, that was the song I listened to every day, “Angel,” all day, on repeat. I listened to all the other songs on the album, “Building a Mystery,” this and that. Then I went out and bought everything she’d ever recorded.

For a whole year, every day I listened to “Angel” for almost the entire day. Wherever I was and whatever I was doing, the song was with me. Sometimes, I didn’t even want to leave my house for listening to that song.

— Darryl “DMC” McDaniels in Ten Ways Not To Commit Suicide


“We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries, yo, and we’re done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us, burying black people out of sight and out of mind while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil – black gold, ghettoizing and demeaning our creations then stealing them, gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit. The thing is though… the thing is that just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.” – Jesse Williams, on racism during his BET Humanitarian Award acceptance speech

A great look into the comedic work of Louis CK, and anyone can learn from this on how to be a better speaker and conversationalist.

Why is it, do you think, you have been allowed to tour and grow musically without being pigeonholed into being a nostalgia act?

Manson: I think a lot of bands get really attached to their early success, and they don’t want to let go of that achievement. For me and the boys in Garbage, we have let go of everything in the past. We’ve accepted where our career has gone and we’re not trying to remind people that we once were hugely successful. We have just moved through our career and not really looked back. And some of that is fearlessness and some of that is about freedom. You can get really imprisoned by your early success and a lot of artists make the mistake of holding on to what they once were instead of just being willing to jump into whatever new phase awaits them.

What freed you up enough to say we don’t care if we ever have another “Stupid Girl”?

Manson: For me, it was very strange because it actually had nothing to do with music. It was an incredible teacher I studied acting with who really taught me about what it means to be a creative person in the world. I’d done that TV show [Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles], and I was on hiatus with the band. And I went and studied with this teacher [Sarah Chatten], and I just went to school with her and became a student of her. She basically taught me what it meant to be creative, curious and brave from a creative standpoint. That changed my entire view of my career and what it means to be a musician. I also had this moment, I went to Tate Gallery in London, and I saw a Louise Bourgeois retrospective and at the time I think Louise Bourgeois was something like 92 years old, and I saw this body of work this formidable lady had created throughout her life and I was like, “Oh, I don’t actually have to be an entertainer, I don’t actually have to be on Top Of The Pops, I don’t have to be the most popular artist out there. I just have to concentrate on being an artist and trying to concentrate on doing good work and the rest is in the hands of the gods and it’s out of my control.” And once I realized that I broke all the chains that had been clamped on me.


When asked if he had advice for musicians, David Bowie replied: “Yes, never play at a gallery. [Laughs] I think. But you never learn that until much later on. But never work for other people at what you do. Always… always remember that the reason that you initially started working was that there was something inside yourself that you felt, that if you could manifest it in some way, you would understand more about yourself and how you coexist with the rest of society. And I — I think it’s terribly dangerous for an artist to fulfill other people’s expectations; I think they produce — they generally produce their worst work when they do that. And if — the other thing I would say is that if you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in, go a little out of your depth, and when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”