Le swag. Order your rare ass vinyl here.
Le swag. Order your rare ass vinyl here.
“It really makes me feel wonderful. it’s a wonderful experience.”
This interview is amazing.
So, my awesome song about how much I miss Rockstar’s modern classic Red Dead Redemption was featured in The Guardian today, which reminded me that I’d wanted to make some kind of visual for it, if only so that it could have a life on Youtube, where most people seem to go to listen to their music these days, so I balanced my phone on my tripod (the phone hasn’t got a screw-in thing like a proper camera would) and filmed myself singing the song whilst playing the game, which was particularly tricky during the shot in which the game is being projected onto me… I had to play whilst looking in a mirror, which only reflected a tiny sliver of the wall, and anyway, have you ever tried playing a computer game in a mirror whist rapping? That shit is harder than trying to unicycle drunk on a plank of wood, and I should know cos I’ve tried…
Oh yeah, I got the game fixed. Did I mention that? Turns out you can take a scratched disc to one of those GAME shops, and they’ll fix your scratched disc for £2. Amazing.
ANYWAY! As mentioned, I filmed myself on my phone, then I chopped it up with some of my favorite footage from the game, and I rendered that shit, and uploaded it, and voila! You can now enjoy Lord I Miss Red Dead Redemption on them there Youtubes for all time. You’re welcome! And you can look forward to a proper music video made by some proffesionals in the next week or so. Hooray!
(Speaking of videos, Lizacrunch Crunch just let it be known on Facebook that I’m Youtube’s #87 most viewed musician this week! PARTAAAAAAAY!)
Now, Keith Stuart, who wrote the Guardian article actually asked me a whole load of questions reagrding the song, and the game, but as is the way with such things only used one of the answers, so I figured I might as well share the whole thing with you, since you’re intered enough to have come here in the first place on this glorious day. So here you go:
1. Can you tell me how the track came about – and how the game influenced you?
Well, the song is an entirely true story, like all my songs. I was literally finding myself looking up in the sky, seeing a bird, and subsequently having a deep impulse to take out a winchester rifle and shoot that bird… I’d be right back in Red Dead Redemption world in an instant. I found I really missed it, as if it were a real place, and that it had forever altered my personal filter of what I take to be reality.
I also found myself singing “lord I miss Red Dead Redemption” to myself over and over in the shower, which is how a lot of my songs start. So I got out of the shower, sat down at my desk, and went to the Red Dead Redemption website, where the first thing I saw was their music video for Jose Gonzales’ Far Away, which was used to such emotive effect in the game. I press play, and within four bars I found that the “lord I miss red dead redemption” refrain I’d been singing to myself fit over it perfectly, so I sampled it, looped it, played some drums over it, took a load of music from the game itself, changed the pitch of that so it fit with the song, and put the whole thing on loop for half an hour, at the end of which I had written completed song and dropped a tear because it was such a fucking incredible journey, and I went through it all again when I wrote the song.
2. What do you think it is about Red Dead that has caught people’s attention in this way – a lot of gamers I know have had a really emotional reaction to it.
It’s a lot of things… The story is deeply engaging, the characters are genuine and excellently acted, and just awesomely realized. But outside of all that, you can just roam off into the sunset on your horse, your horse which feels so real, so lifelike. The game itself is just fucking beautiful, and almost limitless. You can roam, helping people along the way, which you’re happy to do because you’re playing John Martsen, the greatest computer game character of all time, who’s deep goodness cannot help but infect the player, so strong and pure it is… I found I didn’t want to do bad things, because that’s not what John Marsten would do. Like I say in the song, I could have cried when I accidentally killed my horse for the first time. It made me nauseous. So I helped all the people I could, and tried to live my life within the game in as exemplaray a manner as I could, out of respect for John Marsten.
3. What have been the responses to the track? We often see artists who namecheck games, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a song reacting to a game in this way – almost like a love song, I guess?
Yeah, it’s a love a song. I fucking loved that game. Like I said, all my songs are true. They’re either the truth of something that happened to me, or the truth of how I feel about something. But it’s not often I can tell how effective my translation of that truth has been, because its mine alone. In this instance I was describing something that thousands of other people experienced, and that so many of them have been letting me know that my song perfectly described their own emotional experience has been incredible, because it means I am actually achieving what I set out to with this music, and it means I’m connecting with people on a raw level, which is a fucking swagged out and beautiful thing.
4. Have you heard from Rockstar about the track?
Yeah, they actually cosigned it. They put it on their blog and Tweeted about. I was full of joy. Hopefully they keep me in mind when choosing music for GTA5. That’s one of my biggest ambitions, having a song on a GTA game. The idea of taking out a police helicopter or something whilst listening to my own music makes make grin till my cheeks are sore to just think of it.
5. And have you been influenced by other games?
I think we’re influenced by everything we experience on some level, including computer games, but the effects of some are more pronounced. GTA, for example, taught me to drive. When I had my first driving lesson with my girl she was amazed at how well I steered, and that was all GTA. The game also to this day has built into me an urge to steal motorbikes, but I never actually do, obviously, because I can tell the difference between the computer game reality, and the human experience reality. I just wonder about the level of reality outside of that more nowadays, and I have computer games to thank for giving me the context within which to envisage such a concept.
If you listened to this week’s most excellent and righteous DONCAST you’ll be up on this already, but if not, there’s been an interesting discovery round these parts this week. A Michael Fitzgerald wrote me the following email:
I was just curious as to the association between your song off When We Were Young and the song “Him” from Lily Allen’s newest album. I noticed there is an uncanny resemblance between the melody of these two songs and was wondering if they are simply based on the same sample or if you worked with her on the production of that particular song?
By the way, this about my favorite song off that album…always gets a positive reaction even here in Moscow, Idaho. Unfortunately, its a little hard to get a hold of your albums here in Idaho…
Cheers Mike! Well, as you can hear in the clip above, I was entirely unaware of this – as was my special guest Joey2tits… so we had a listen to the songs to see if there really was any resemblance. In case your life has been tragically bereft so far, and you’ve never heard it, here’s my ’05 sunshine masterpiece , Oh What A Glorious Thing:
Amazing. And here’s Lily Allen’s Him, from 2009’s It’s Not Me, It’s You
That was my initial reaction, anyway. Lily’s song is evidently built around a replay of the same guitar loop my song is – the first few bars of Nico’s gorgeous and lugubrious These Days. Now, its not unusual for people to sample similar things, no matter how obscure. What makes this ultra-suspect is the context – UK pop-rap, and the fact that the beat drops in exactly the same fashion, as does the bass. I played with Ms Allen when she was promoting her first album also. Oh yeah! AND! A couple of years ago my manager at the time had some meetings with Greg Kurstin who, having listened to my debut LP, was keen to work with me on my second. Scheduling conflicts stopped this from happening, however, as Kurstin was about to go into the studio with – yep – Lily Allen!
The big difference, of course, is that Oh! What A Glorious Thing has an amazing chorus, and Him has a horrible chorus.
What do you think?
Eddy Grant is having one of his time honoured Massive Paddies, claiming that Gorillaz’ Stylo is a “blatant rip off” of his song Time Warp. Check it for yourself:
“My song sits almost note to note with their release and is a blatant rip off,” says Grant. “‘Time Warp’ is a very popular song and has been a staple of the DJ scene for many years and I feel total disrespect from Gorillaz and their management company, especially as they are an established act.”
Grant wants “full credit” for the song and and an apology. I totally know how dude gets down, as he took “full credit”, ie 100% of the publishing of me and Bizzle’s Police On My Back, which sampled The Clash’s cover of his song Police On My Back. Let’s do it again:
Yeah, similar, obviously! But 100%? I DON’T THINK SO EDDY!
“I’ve been plagiarising my whole life. It’s called learning.”
Akira The Don, 2008, paraphrasing Hunter S Thompson
So, I was taking a break from the rent-earning task I was doing today that I kinda hoped I’d have got out of the way by this point what with having loads of really important stuff to do like songs and comic strips and whathaveyou, riiiight, and I had a look at Tweetdeck, and at the top of my mentions column, which is essentially an inbox, I had the following, from fellow Death’s Head fan @jaykayell_ :
@AkiratheDon Sorry to beg of your services good sirrah but could you let your followers know about this http://bit.ly/a5Frv9
And I thought, sheee-it, who am I, Neil Gaiman? Then I clicked on it, cos I am totally into helping people out. I figured it might be a song that needed some promo, or a charity, or something. But it was not! It was a link to a message-board, seething with outrage over this indie comic that’s full of art that rips off other comics, that’d I read about already earlier on Robot 6 while I was eating my hot buttered toast.
So I was like,
@jaykayell_ The thing about Gene Simmons’ son? I saw that earlier. Silly boy. Why’d you want everyone to know?
And he was like,
@akirathedon Art theft really pee’s me off. Speshly when it’s so blatant, just thought you’d be the man to report them
And I was like, HMMMMMM. I suppose I AM that man.
I am, after all, an authority on comic books – well, the comic books I’ve read at any rate. Or the one’s I’ve read that I can remember. Like, I read a lot of Justice League comics at one point, but I’m buggered if I can tell you what happened in any of them, apart from that one where everybody fell alseep. Actually, that’s all I can remember about that one. Batman probably figured it out. He usually does.
ANYWAY! I know stuff. And you know what stuff I probably know most about? Ripping stuff off. Shee-it, I even called my second album – well, my first album-mixtape, my Hatfull of Hollow, shall we say – Thieving. That’s something I do. I steal stuff, bubba. And make new stuff with it. And that’s what this kid Nick Simmons did, right? He ripped off some stuff and made some new stuff with it. For example, a panel from Tite Kubo’s famous Manga Bleach, and a panel from Simmons’ Incarnate:
OK, that’s pretty similar. I’m not quite sure what he’s added there. Other than laughter. Laughter’s good, right?
“AH AHA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!”
Oh no, I just noticed the other guy’s laughing too, just with a uniform typeface. Oops. Well, Simmons got rid of the drooly blood stuff! That changed it, right?
Further investigation reveals that much of Incarnate is copied from Bleach, from fight sequences to character designs right down to personality types. Simmons is obviously a big Bleach fan.
Now, as I mentioned, I am an authority in the field of creative theft. I have sampled the crap out of most of my favourite artists, and have always been as brazen as possible about it. Like, when I ripped off a gang of Jack Kirby art for my second album-mixtape, The Omega Sanction‘s sleeve. I said I’d ripped off a load of Jack Kirby art. I’d changed it a bit, I’d made it look like me, and arranged it in a big Omega Symbol, so it was something new – it looked like something else now, and, more importantly, it said something else.
Not that saying something new with your stolen art is necessary. The message I put across in CLONES was pretty much the same as Alice Cooper’s in his Clones (We’re All). I just went into more detail – my detail. And I went crazy with the drums and bass.
I also credited Alice Cooper on the record. Maybe if Nick Simmons has put a nice “inspired by Tite Kubo’s Bleach” at the start of his comic people wouldn’t be calling for his immediate DEATH by ANGRY BLOGGING. Then again, maybe if he was someone other than Gene Simmons’ son, and people weren’t already suspicious that he’s got his own comic book because of that monied parental bonus, rather than any of his own talents, maybe there would less of a giant shit being given. I mean, it’s not like this sort of thing is rare in comics. They have a word for it: “Swipe”. Some of the industry’s biggest names have been doing it for years. People like Levi’s Ad star Rob “Crosshatched Groinal Area” Liefeld, for example:
But so what, right? Doesn’t Alan Moore steal all his characters from out of copyright Victorian books? Wasn’t X-Men a rip off of Doom Patrol (super powered outcasts lead by bloke in wheel chair)? Wasn’t Batman created by drawing on top of a picture of Superman? Wasn’t Superman himself a big rip off of Doc Savage, Man of Bronze?
The Stones Stole. Led Zepplin stole. Kool Herc stole.
If we dismissed all stolen works from popular culture we wouldn’t have any popular culture.
So Sayeth The Don.
As for Nick Simmons, he’s only 22, give him time to learn. You gotta copy a whole gang of pictures before you get good at making your own. He obviously loves what he’s doing, so let him get on with it. He will learn from this. Either way, I’m not salty about any jump-starts he might be getting. I don’t imagine having Gene Simmons as a dad is all that fun in real life.
Well, that’s my 5pence worth anyway. What do you think?