You all know the story. A sad-sack who can’t play the guitar goes to the crossroads and makes a deal with the Devil for skill, prestige, and success. Which he receives before things go horribly wrong. Sometimes it’s a violinist or a horn player, of course, and very occasionally it’s a singer, but the folk tales are older than the legend of the ill-fated blues guitarist Robert Johnson and the stories almost are almost always about a man who plays guitar.
Which of course is fucking lame. Every guitarist worth spitting on put hundreds of hours into learning his instrument–to go and ask some supernatural power to save you the effort is the action of a man who is weak; a man who wants fame and prestige without paying his dues. For this type of man it’s not about the music at all–it’s about the rewards. This, to me, is the very definition of selling out. Lame.
Why would the Devil even want these people, anyway? Chances are he’s going to get their pathetic souls without having to dicker for them in the first place.
In 2012 it feels like the crossroads are closer than ever. How do you become a star today? You frock up for a TV talent show and sing other people’s songs for a jury of half-wits. Perhaps a few million people who like reality TV more than music will vote you into stardom, if you’re pretty enough. Show me an American Idol winner who’s going to leave a lasting musical legacy and I’ll show you a pig who can fly by farting rainbows.
Bloody Waters is about a guitarist who makes a pact with the Devil, in which I have tried to invert all of the cliches. For starters, this guitarist is a woman. For the soup course, Clarice can already play as well as any man when she makes her pact. Clarice’s deal allows her to keep her integrity; to overcome obstacles set before her int he music industry because she is a woman, and because she insists on doing things her own way. In Bloody Waters the Devil won’t come to the table for a band who can’t already play. No lame ducks need apply.
Bloody Waters is a fantasy about a rock band that’s never takes the lame option. They never record a Christmas Album; they collaborate with a dancing model pop diva; they never write that power ballad the record company knows will sell a billion copies. It’ s a fantasy about a band who plays the kind of music I want to hear, but which few bands do. Powerful, challenging, original music. Bloody Waters are rewarded for their hard work… eventually… but integrity has its own price and the stakes for Clarice and Bloody Waters are not what they appear to be.
I hope you dig the book. In the meantime, here’s A Band of Skulls with the theme song for 2012.