Thursday, July 8, 2010

Across The Tappan Sea

I haven't spoken much about the band with no name recently, partly because of my long-standing 'Don't Blog About PCMA' superstition but mostly because there hasn't really been anything to blog about.  It's a band full of busy men with shifting lives, and sometimes those lives shift right out of the picture frame for several weeks at a time.

Or sometimes altogether and permanently, as with the case of our singer Christine, who found working in a band (or at least this band) was just not to her taste, and gracefully bowed out back in March thereabouts.

Her departure solved one outstanding problem, being that the band with no name suddenly found itself with a name - Christine being the lone holdout against The Tappan Sea, fearing that it would be confused for the crumbling bridge.  She's right, but the remaining members still liked it and we adopted it immediately upon her retirement - maybe not so much a reflection of the genius of the name than the fact that it was the only name that the rest of us had ever agreed on in the four years of our existence, and we were plumb tired of being 'the band with no name.'

I've always been fairly easygoing about names.  Given that almost any band name is pretty stupid until the band starts to invest it with iconic meaning, my only requirements are that it not be too leading, not be a pun, and not be too topical.

Beyond that, go for it.

I've also used as a warning sign Ansley; a firm believer in the power of finding a perfect name who obsessively searches for, passionately embraces and then disgustedly rejects names cyclically.  Ansley is in general much more of a romantic than I am - he carries with him the scarred cynicism of the eternally faithful.  It's a gift I envy.  I lack the faith that there is a perfect name, perfect mate, perfect chair, perfect shadows cast upon a cavern wall in flickering candle light.

I guess I lack faith in the concept of perfection, which is one reason why a popular debate between myself, Ansley and Bran is on the possibility of the objectively 'good' in art.  I obviously don't believe it exists - you like what you like, and even the stuff that you might regard as being entirely without value is beloved - or at the very least deeply beliked - by somebody.  Ansley and Bran maintain that there are empirical criteria by which art can be labelled good or bad.  You can imagine the fun when they launch into an assault on the validity of Susan Boyle, which they have to attack on principle and I have to defend on principle.  The punchline is, of course, that there never was an artist that we all couldn't have cared less about.  The argument is the thing.

Anyway, having chosen our not-perfect-but-close-enough name, we stagnated for a few months while real life moved us around.  We are now blessed with a period of relative calm, so we've finally started the tiny little ball rolling on finding a singer to replace Christine.  We don't have much to offer beyond good songs and a creative atmosphere.

Oh, yes - and a name.  One lesson learned in the wake of Christine is to choose the name before a new member arrives.  It will save a lot of trouble.



shaunian said...

Speaking of names, "The Crumbling Bridge" is perfect for a song title that may just fit a piece I'm working on. But are we doing new pieces? Anyway. Very nicely written, tonight.

Ansley said...

There's a difference between the perfect and the good... I don't think I've ever said I believe in the perfect..

As for Band names, very few are just cool at face value... most become cool or relevant as one associates the name with the music.. For instance The Beatles is a horrible name.. but its come to mean a helluva lot more.. The Strokes is a terrific name but the music didn't live up to it..

And.. Im no romantic.. havent been for years.. I DO, however, feel there is an emprical set of criteria by which art can and should be judged that which disqualifies artists off the bat..

I do get the concept of objectivity... and its something I actually have struggled with, the question of whether or not someone's tastes can be deemed "better" or "worse" than anothers.. this can be extrapolated way out to general beliefs, religion, language...

but in art I think there's a handle there.. that CAN be applied that one can reasonably say that you cannot compare a Susan Boyle record to a Dylan record, even thought there are people out there who actually prefer Susan Boyle..

Christine said...

"We don't have much to offer beyond good songs and a creative atmosphere."
You also have what was my favorite part - the fact that you guys are fun to hang out with.

"...choose the name before a new member arrives."
The main problem was that the two names you had unofficially chosen before I got there were names I liked and thought you should keep. So the larger lesson is probably not to have a "working name" ever, lest someone actually like it.

Dave Kopperman said...

S: Thanks.

A: Yah, as I said, "... almost any band name is pretty stupid until the band starts to invest it with iconic meaning..."

My deleted comments about the Susan Boyle issue deleted from Bran's Faster Times article - that stuff was about as well-reasoned as I'll get on the issue, and I just don't have the energy to type it all again. Suffice it to say that you nailed the crux of it right there with mounting a Dylan/Boyle face-off - which is about as useful as comparing John Byrne to Robert Crumb.

There is an audience for everything, and the only criticisms that really have weight are those that take the work at the level that the artist intended it. Of course, it may be that an artist just doesn't think much beyond the superficial, in which case, well, it should be judged on those merits.

X: Sure, we were a barrel of monkeys soaking in fun juice.