Barry Donegan - Look What I Did

October 28, 2005

Photo Credit: Angela Monger

Tell me a little bit about Look What I Did.

We're a band and we have an album out and it's really weird. Most of us played in a band already in Nashville. All of us except for one of the guitar players and the bass player. Chris and Skeet weren't in it. We were playing in a band. The band actually had the bass player from the band Reflux in it if you're familiar with that band. We started a new project and it was pretty much the same. Me and Miles and Colby were still playing together and we added Chris in. He was playing around town. This is when we all lived in Nashville, TN. We picked up Skeet before we moved to L.A. for second guitar. We've all known each other from around town in Nashville. Everybody knows each other there. It's not that big of a city when it comes to music.

Why did you guys decide to move to L.A.? I thought Nashville had a pretty rocking music scene.

The people who play musical instruments and shit in Nashville are really good at it and the young bands who play modern music are good but not respected by the industry there at all. They have a certain pop/country system of four people sing and 400 people write their songs and that's how it goes. If you're not a part of that, you're not really professional or actual musicians. Not to mention we're pretty fricking weird anyway. Even inside of underground music we're pretty weird. Just like society works against you in the South when you're weird. In L.A. it doesn't. We didn't necessarily fit in with the L.A. music scene because it's really about fashion and we're not really so into that but we definitely had an easier time getting people in the industry to help us out when we were living there.

They're a little more accepting of things.

Yeah, exactly.

You're out on tour right now and you're one of the opening bands for Brides Of Destruction tonight.

Only today. We're not on tour with them.

Who are you guys on tour with?

We just got signed maybe three or four months ago and we just did our record. We haven't necessarily played live 400 times like other bands have and so rather than sit around and wait and try and get on giant tours, the minute we got done recording we just went out on the road and started playing every show we could get just to get better. We're just basically playing on a tour of our own right now. It's not opening up for anybody. It's just different shows in each town.

That's cool. How long have you guys been out?

Maybe eight weeks. We're staying out with maybe a week break now and again until Christmas time. We're trying to log in quick. When you have a record out, a lot of people expect you to go out there and go on the tours to sell it. We want to really be as good as we can be when we do that.

You guys have a record out called Minuteman For The Moment. Tell me a little bit about the records. I love some of the song titles like "Ultimate Complete Home Fitness Machine".

Yeah, yeah. That was specifically the pun but yeah, the record itself is one of those things that is going to be like a pill people have to swallow that's pretty large. It might choke a little bit on the way down. We put a lot into it and we really, really worked hard on making it a bunch of new stuff that people haven't heard before. Maybe something old with music theory in a way that people haven't really messed with too much and there's going to be a lot of consequences that go with doing something like that. We wanted to do it so it's cool.

Is that all part of being weird?

Not so much that we attempted that, it's just a natural thing for us I guess. I like listening to bands that do something I don't really know what it is. I have to think about it for a second and figure it out. That's what we like to listen to so we wanted to make something that's like that which is really hard to do when nowadays there are so many options of music. It's really hard to make up anything new. We mixed a lot of textures that don't necessarily work to people until you've listened to them and figured out how to deal with it. A lot of different kinds of melodic stuff with really, really noisy shit at the same time or just strange shit like that.

In other words people are going to have to play that CD over and over again in their CD player.

Yeah, it's the one that will play 200 times much better than others. It won't necessarily play as good the first time as some others will.

Yeah, that's a good thing.

In the long term it's good for you. It's really difficult nowadays to make records like that anymore because the music industry is so afraid of doing things that aren't proven and already have happened before. When we were first being pursued by labels, there was a very big line in the sand between who was going to allow us to do whatever we wanted and who wasn't. The money difference between the two is radical. We got some people that are good at promoting music who would also let us do whatever we wanted anyway which is hard to find.

The Combat Records guys.

Yeah, yeah. Just as guys, they're really good at convincing people to give a chance to bands that are noisier or heavy and also aren't scared. They're willing to take on challenges of things to sell because it's fun for them to have challenges as opposed to being afraid of "do we have enough chords" or "is this going down" or are the beats in it simple enough for people to nod their heads to immediately and stuff like that.

You don't want to sound like everybody else though.

Right on, I don't but most people want to these days. That's the problem.

You need to stand out from the herd. What three songs on your new record do you think reflects your band the best?

It's hard to say because they all do in their own radically different ways. It would depend on to whom as far as how quickly they could understand what about it represents the band. I have a hard time myself deciding on that but I think the label at least from a third person's perspective, "Minuteman For The Moment" and "Appomattox Whore House" and "The Fox Eats Wishmael" are the best. I'm not so sure because I think that we have some songs that might have big choruses that are easy to get into like "The Soiree" or "Ultimate Complete Home Fitness Machine" are immediately catchy too but it's hard to decide that I guess.

What kind of stuff do you guys like to write about?

I guess it depends on what's going on but on the CD itself specifically, it's kind of two dimensional. Not two dimensional but there are multiple dimensions and I always try and make sure that it's really superficial sounding if you just listen through it really quick. Plenty of catch phrases and/or clichť sounding things and put some really, really more intense subject matter under the surface that you have to read it a few times before you start to catch it. Itís a way of keeping people from having to confront something really, really fucked up but they can if they want. A lot of people use ideology, ideas, or something in a way that sells CDs or some shit like that. Whether or not they really believe in it or even know what the fuck theyíre talking about isnít so important as much as it is lifestyle marketing like ďI hate fucking George BushĒ to left wing people. The stuff on the record is complicated and some of it is just personal shit. Itís not all for a purpose. Itís not like a goal but I did a lot of political theory study and philosophical study from college and shit and a lot of it reflects a lot of that. Sociology and groups of people.

People get a little overboard with the political stuff sometimes.

Yeah, it forces you to take a side on the bandís ideologies and you canít fucking enjoy music to a point. Messages are important but people donít really process messages. In fact, messages themselves are hardly ever used in music because I donít consider having a political song about freaking war in Iraq right now as a message. Thatís not something that people donít know about. Thatís basically like I want to have a political sounding song so I can get credit for being political and having depth to my music but Iím not really thinking about politics in any sort of real way.

I do think people need to wake up and take a look around though.

Everyone definitely have opinions on issues like that that affect a lot of people. Going out there and championing it like youíre the fucking savior of humanity and stuff, I mean come on. Youíre not even doing something that freaking one of the news channels isnít doing for everybody. Most of these people havenít even done enough research on politics to even know whatís really going on enough to provide a solution or anything. Theyíre like ďsomebody sucksĒ or ďthis sucksĒ. Yeah, thatís the voice of the people. People think it just sucks. The purpose there is really to sell records. There have been a few records this year that have came out that are political and you can put quotes around the political part but they donít have any specific information of any kind of ways to help anything or do anything at all about anything. Who are you kidding about that? Itís a marketing thing to me I guess. Thatís the way I see it.

You have to get off your ass and vote and join in protests and do something. Take action.

Right, and learn about whatís going on enough to know exactly what is actually happening and why. Things happen. Thatís one of the reasons why stuff happens in our world is because nobody really knows and the way we see news is more of a cartoon about reality than it is reality. We have these super hero characters like Osama Bin Laden and George Bush that have very little to do with any of the politics of it in reality and thatís what we look at on the news and make immediate gut reactions about things that they said. Like ďoh my God, I canít believe George Bush just said that and stuck up his middle finger.Ē Politically that has little to do with whatís going on in Iraq. It has little to do with the different Arab cultures there and what theyíre going through. Itís a cartoon show to keep everybody happy and to give everybody fine shit.

I listened to a speech Bush held. I think it was yesterday or the day before. For the life of me, I donít know what the fuck that guy was ranting on about. It didnít make any sense.

Political leaders since probably 1920 have stopped having speeches that are about a subject at all.

Yeah, itís just about a bunch of shit thatís all thrown in together and hereís this goulash.

Itís inflammatory language is all it is and itís used to get people excited and that feeling of excitement causes them to do whatever he asks. It doesnít really matter what it is. The funny thing is, Iím not going to name any names because weíre not in a position where we want to be naming names of people and acting like theyíre doing anything wrong because who are we to say but there have been numerous times on the tour weíve been on and weíve played with a lot of different bigger bands. You would see a ďpoliticallyĒ seeming band who would spend their in between songs ranting about you got to go out and do this and that and rise above this and they canít hold you down and all this shit. There wasnít a noun as to what you had to rise up above or who was holding you down or any of that. There was no fucking information. Thatís the exact same thing those politicians do. They just fill your head full of this empowering emotional speech but they donít actually do any explanation of what the problem is or what complications theyíre about to face because generally I donít think they think everyone wants to handle it. I think a lot of times the political bands donít give you a noun because they donít have one. They donít know enough about it to actually tell you what to rise against.

Right. Itís like what the hell are you talking about?

Exactly and nobody asks. They just get pumped up. They just get pumped up and wave their fists around and then they run over to the merch booth and they spend a bunch of money. Everything worked out. I see this happen all the fucking time. I went to college for political theory and I know what goes on up to a point. Iím not an expert. I donít study it all the time but I know enough to know that I donít know much. I know for a fact they donít know anything because theyíre not saying anything. If they knew some shit theyíd be pulling you in. The point is, there is a lot of that information in there thatís pretty fucked up and weíre not trying to make money off of it or get people pumped up about it or on the other hand, weíre also not trying to force people to have to fucking buy a bunch of ideological bullshit in order to listen to a song.

Thatís cool. Itís cool for the bands that do it and itís cool for the bands that donít do it. I think you should have a choice.

Yeah, Iím trying to make it where weíre both one that does and one that doesnít depending on who you are. It gives you a chance to look at it both ways because I donít necessarily like being confronted with it. Certain bands I like use it sometimes because maybe they donít see it in enough different ways and it might offend you on a level. When the song was good anyway, you could have been into that.

To me all politicians are a bunch of fuckasses anyway so it doesnít matter to me what people say about them.

Yeah, exactly. That was the thing when I went to school for political theory. I got to the upper division stuff and you have to read things like Nietzsche and Machiavelli and Kant and another one thatís really, really creepy. The guy from the Reagan administration. Leo Strauss. They all admit that human beings except for Strauss who believes the opposite because heís a conservative, that human beings are bad and that generally you have to know that theyíre bad as a mob. The best way to control a mob is through fear and manipulation and not telling the truth. You know that all leaders know this.

Kind of like whatís going on right now.

Right, itís the only thing thatís going to go on because if youíre an educated leader, meaning youíre a good one, youíre going to use those tools available to you because you know that they work. The fact that people donít want their leaders to do that just means that they want to be lied to. When I got to the top of that particular field of study, the only thing that it showed is that everyoneís ideologies are equally wrong. The attitude that Iím going to kill people over ideology is whatís wrong. Not the fact that your ideology is right or wrong. No matter which side of whatever argument youíre on, when you take it to the point where you care enough about it, itís an emotional thing more than itís important to people. The desire for drama. The people who are leaders judge the merit of how effectively they got away with it based on how many people they killed and then how much people still like them after it. Thatís the reason why you get to the top of that and itís like whatever. This is a waste of time. People who care enough or have low enough self esteem to want to do something like that have to be so bizarrely fucked up that you can just let them have their little war games thing. Participate if you want to or not.

I think you have to be a little bit wacked upstairs to want to have all of this power and control over human lives. Iím going to go over there and kill these people and take their oil. You have to be a little fucked in the head.

Itís just the type of personality that wants to do that in the first place has to be so maniacally megalomaniac. The same thing as wanting to be in a band. Being in a band is the same thing only you donít have to fricking kill anybody. You travel around the country explaining your point to people and making them listen to you. Making them spend time thinking about you but nobody has to fricking die at least.

Exactly. I think we ought to fight wars with musical instruments. Whoever plays the best wins. People would live longer. There would be more of us.

Yeah, exactly. Nowadays at least.

Plus I think people ought to have sex more often. I think theyíd be really happy then. Thatís my attitude. If people want to go out and kill each other, itís because they donít have enough sex and are not engaging in enough love.

Probably. I donít know about the population distribution in Dallas but I know in L.A. the population is far in favor of females over males. There are more females than males there and in Nashville where weíre from, there are more males than females. The quantity of fights that you get in a situation where males outnumber females is so far higher than the other way around. You go to parties in Nashville and it would be like the girls were 30 percent and they would arrive at the beginning. They would leave with guys before an hour of it was over with. Then the remaining guys waited around until one of them decided to fight somebody and then everyone picked sides and then that was how that went down. In L.A. you didnít see that at all. There were so many girls around all the time that people were engaged in that. There may be some relationship to what youíre talking about.

Yeah, I think so because sometimes guys remind me of rams that batter at each other with their horns and whoever gores each other the worst is the champion.

Yeah, exactly. That probably is the case. The reason why most of that shit happens.

Itís all that testosterone. How much longer are you guys out on the road?

The thing is, right now weíre just getting ourselves warmed up and ready for the touring that will be required for our record. At Christmas weíre moving to Nashville because weíre going to be on tour so much itíll be stupid to be living in L.A. blowing all our money on some rent weíre not going to be using. Weíre going to take some time off then and then weíll be more formally touring to promote the record. Weíre out until then pretty much. We have a week off in L.A. in November but other than that, weíre going to be staying on the road pretty heavy until Christmas.

Any other thoughts or comments?

Everyone should buy the CD. Thatís important. If they donít, then they wonít have it and that would be really bad for us.

Look What I Did