I started playing with bands in 1997, and all I cared about was playing live, seeing people see and hear me. I wasn’t concerned with whether they liked it or hated it, so long as they felt something. Here we are, 20-something years later, and not much has changed for me, but the rest of the world is a different animal entirely.
I grew up in a small town in Minnesota called Elbow Lake. There wasn’t a whole lot to do in the “sticks” of MN, so I found love in rock ‘n’ roll at an early age through my older brother’s music collection. He moved out when I was young, joined the Air Force and was stationed in England when I was in middle school, so our family took a trip overseas to see him. When I got there, he showed me his electric guitar. I picked it up, and he showed me a couple of licks. I played that damn thing the rest of the time I was there. My parents heard me playing it the whole weekend and later that year, for Xmas, I got my first guitar. I was obsessed. I quit all sports and just focused on that.
Hello friends. We are from the prairies of southern Alberta where it is sparse and dry, kind of like us. We don’t know what we’re doing or what we want, but we think we will continue. Join us as we try not to suck, but also don’t worry too much about being great. We’re just trying to be ok.
My second album is somewhat of a time capsule. These are the songs I wrote between realizing I needed to get better and doing something about it.
My alcoholism and dependence on other addictive behaviors (weed, sex, etc.) had progressed to a point where they had begun destroying every semblance of a good life I’d managed to build despite them. To preserve any chance I had at living well, I needed to change the way I spent each and every moment of my time. In order to honestly document these in musical form, I stripped away every instrument other than my voice, guitar, laptop, and tape recorder.
If there is anything for you in these songs, you will most likely find it outside of what I have to say about them. All I really have to say is thank you so, so much for listening. So much.
That said, in case it might inform your listening, here’s what I have to say:
I have an incredibly vivid memory of the first time I heard Bad Brains. It was the first punk rock I had ever heard. I was fourteen years old, and I’m twenty-one now, but I can still conjure the feeling of that moment. The music tore through me. I felt the sound more than I heard it. It was summer, and I was staying in on a beautiful day to listen to music that a youtube algorithm was recommending me – but I’m so grateful I did. It made something click in my brain, like a light in a dingy basement being flicked on for the first time. I felt completely at home in the break-neck speed and sheer volume of the music. If you know that record, the first Bad Brains record, it is insane sounding even by today’s standards. I left the first playthrough of hundreds a completely changed kid. The world looked and felt different. I was in on some kind of secret.
I would later learn, of course, that I was far from being the only person that had this exact revelation. Very far. But it felt so special to me. I’ve played in bands and written at least a couple hundred songs since that day. I started a band with my best friends (Bad Nostalgia, check us out) that’s still kicking to this day, and we’ve played countless shows. We made an album by ourselves. I have grown as a person and lived through trial and tribulation as we all have. But that first experience hearing punk rock music was my watershed moment.
It encapsulated everything I love about music, art, and life. It’s all lead to me starting Pet Traits. I wanted to capture that feeling of excitement and wonder and use it as a creative power-tool. I threw out a lot of what I knew about music: the conventions, the chase of perfection, the safe bet, for total creative liberation. This is how I did it.
Keno Nifty is a band made by the artist and part-time musician Ricky Alexander (also known as Chazz Forte online). It’s about a group of fictional musicians (left to right: Marlene, Penny, Apollo, and Niomi) who travel around, get into fights and use music as a coping mechanism.
You ever catch yourself listening to your favorite musician, band, or whatever it is you spend the most time on with headphones in. Only to be interrupted by an advertisment every single song change? Umm, yeah, that is the level I am trying to get you to help me reach.
Hi, my name is Gus Goldsmith. I’m sixteen years old. I’ve been writing and recording songs in my house for about three years. It’s always just been me, a microphone, and as many instruments as I could teach myself to play. When I couldn’t find anyone to play music with, I did it myself. When I didn’t have anyone to publish my music, I sent it out myself. If I can get my music to mean something to anyone but me, then my goal is accomplished.
I’m a musician. I used to just make and teach music, but lately I have been consumed by climate activism because I love people and nature. I can’t continue living without doing something to prevent it all from disappearing.
E. E. Cummings wrote:
“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world. That makes it very hard to plan the day.”
This describes pretty much every day of my life now.