Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I remember when Safeway Select sodas were 25 cents

Its been a while since I've last written something, or at least something worthwhile which I haven't ended up scrapping. There have been many things I had wished to address but that is also missing the point of why I write a '(b word I hate)'. I somehow have put a lot of pressure on myself lately to write something creative, engaging, entertaining, witty, and all the other things I wish to be perceived as, but I realize that's foolish and came randomly from some sort of insecure place. I don't do this for the attention or praise of my actions and thoughts, but to create a community for people whom we feel are like-minded in consciousness and the mutual appreciation for music and creativity. Sometimes I need to remind myself of these things.

Most people don't like change... its just a fact. I myself don't like it too much in regards to things I like and enjoy, but as a whole try to embrace it in the general life-sense because I like the growth and the experience, but also because you either adapt and accept change or you get burnt and shitty. We are all familiar with this cliche I'm sure, albeit in a more articulate and less crude way then I just said it. So as many of you know we have been dealing with change ourselves here in RX camp. We recorded our latest album as a four piece, and have performed a handful of shows as such. Some of the best compliments we ever receive, is when people tell us how much they have watched us change and progress over the years, and how much they still love the music we make.. The beauty in this is that its double-sided, ultimately ending with a great compliment to that listener for being creatively open-minded as someone who we make our music for and I feel a great affection for people who respond to us in that way. Was it a conscious decision to move away from horns? Absolutely not.. to be honest that's a ridiculous notion to me, as I view any instrument as only a vessel to create different sonic textures and landscapes, and definitely not something to define us musically or in a genre. In my opinion thinking like that is creatively weak. Sometimes its creative circumstances, sometimes its life circumstances, but whatever it is, we deal with what we have to work with and keep in mind that music and creativity is paramount. Many people have also expressed their disdain for us "abandoning" certain genres, and not staying true to who they THINK we are, especially through our current instrumentation. To these people I ask: "Do you get what we're about? Will you be the parent who still treats their child like a 10 year old when they are fully grown?" An extreme analogy I know. Why would you ever love a band as much as your own child right? But its not about that...Its more about whether you want to hold onto an image or specific attribute of something or someone you love, or watch it grow to be what it naturally is meant to become, even if it falls short of what you believe to be its apex. This is the point I'm trying to make. Part of the beauty of this whole exchange between creator and appreciator is however, your right to like and/or dislike whatever you want about us, DUH right? But just know that there's no point in telling us about your favorite aspect of our past other than your own satisfaction... It won't change a thing because we have no choice to progress and change. This is not an option for us, nor is it a conscious decision... it just happens.

I hope I don't sound salty or anything because I'm not. I'm really happy. I'm so proud of our new record and I have instantly taken a liking to it like no other record we've done. Even more than 'The Resignation' (fyi which many people hated on when it first came out). I say this because I truly believe the ultimate respect you can give anyone, especially your listeners, is to be completely honest. We don't view people at our shows as patrons, but rather participants in what we're doing.. so naturally I don't respect it when people who listen to our band expect to be patronized by us. I like being a fan.. I love finding things I like enough to earn that title.

-S. Choi

Ditched 'Groove-tech'. Our new style is 'cabbage patch kids'


Cody said...

If I wanted to hear ska, I'd be listening to Reel Big Fish or something. The reason RX Bandits is my favorite band is because of the continued evolution your music exhibits. I admittedly was, at first, a bit distraught at the absence of Sheets, but from what I've heard on the album previews, the hole left by the lack of horns is being filled rather well by a heavier focus on the remaining instruments. I look forward to hearing Mandala in July and hearing just how far you guys have come.

Daniel D said...

I've been following RxB for a few years now (along with the various sideprojects) and I've gotta say you're right on the spot. RxB has been nothing but change from record to record, but in each new album I find not that I can like it more or less than the last, but that it's a different perspective on the band, on the era, and on the world we live in. Whether it's harsh beats in rigid order or an ethereal audio caress, it is RxB, and that is what I love about it.

Poopernater said...

I feel like RxB is about the only band that I can look forward to growth from. (thrice a little bit and few randoms) I appreciate what you guys are doing. Also that picture is fucking hilarious! haha


Andy said...

can't wait for the new record. can't wait for your Baltimore show. might need to come feel the love early and take a short vacation and see you guys in another state.

us fans love you because of your ability to remain pure, honest, and genuine. it transforms those who have the capacity to accept and appreciate it.

I brought a friend to your show in Baltimore at the Ottobar (might have been that massively hot one where the bar was like an oven) last summer.

he wasnt a fan, and mid-way through the vibe took him; and he turned to being upset he didn't know the songs because he wanted to participate in the energy.

your set last year @ the Chicago House of Blues was killer. I was able to sneak into the VIP area and I think I hung out with some people who said they were your family. One guy was snapping pictures and really enjoyed my loud, obnoxious sing-a-longs while nearly falling off the balcony.

I think I gave him my email address and asked him to send me copies if he could, since I couldn't get a camera in.

i kept prepping my gf for your shred during the breakdown of to our unborn daughters.

much love


Ohio Nate said...

I'm probably one of the most critical people I know, especially when it comes to music. I honestly cannot question a single action you guys have taken. You keep ticket prices low, small venues, and the music continues to evolve through each album. It's just really amazing to witness this and sometimes I get emotional thinking about it because you all as a group of musicians are such a special thing in my life. I don't know how you all found it each other, but I am truly grateful.

With that said, I'm really sad to see Sheets go. I thought he would be part of the "final" lineup.

Julian Faras said...

I agree, people don't like change in any way shape or form. That's why this country is in the shape it's in. Newspapers are failing because they weren't able to embrace the internet, so Craigslist came around and gave the people what they needed, and because of their unwillingness to change, they are now failing. Craigslist has been around for about 14 years, and didn't charge for anything for about ten years, so obviously the newspapers could have changed.

It's the exact same story for the music industry. People only illegally downloaded music because CD's used to be at least $16. But the reason a lot of people did it was because there was so much more music you could download than you could buy at a store. Most places that sell records, only sell what's popular, (I know this because I was into ska when it wasn't popular). If iTunes had come out before people got used to "stealing" music, I don't think the record industry would be in the shape it's in today... I'm not complaining, I am actually waiting for the dinosaurs to die.

It's clear that when people are unwilling to change and adapt, they fail. It's how nature works, we are always evolving, and it only makes sense that music should evolve too.

Not only does RxB evolve, but they always evolve for the better (not like some mutant who was exposed to too much radiation).

The reason this evolution works for RxB is because it's accepted as natural and the change is not resisted. A fish didn't learn to walk on land because it wanted to, it just did it because it happened. Mandala is just something that happened when RxB came up with it.

That is why this album is going to be better than your last, and the one before it.

I'm excited about this album, but I'm even more excited about the albums you will put out after it. Nobody has any clue what you will sound like 3 albums from now, but we are all confident that it will be better than anything you've written before.

... wow, didn't mean to ramble that long. I just had to express my love for the band. The Mandala promo makes my arm hair stand on end. You know that feeling and it's amazing how music can do that to you. I think when you are able to make someones arm hair stand on end with your music, you've been more successful than N*SYNC could ever be.

Good god I'm weird.

TJ said...

Dude, I love the way you play; I love the way Matt sings and plays; I love the way Chris plays; I love the way Joe plays. That's why I'm a fan of RXB and all of the side projects - you guys may change in superficial ways, but you are consistent in that everything you put your creative energy into is genuinely good.

People who cling to ska miss the fact that as a guitar band you guys are one of the best. If you're still a ska purist in 2009 your musical and perceptual horizons are probably pretty narrow.

S. Choi RXB said...

we have only lost players and performers. The people who write the music are still here and the creative base has grown stronger. Thanks for being rad everyone.

Andrew Streeter said...

Honesty. That's what I hear when I listen to your records, and what I see every time I watch you guys perform. I can't thank you enough for it.

I'm pretty sure that no one outside of the band can truly understand the complex wall of emotions and weight of having to move on and evolve- first without Borth, and now without Sheets- not just on performer/collaborator levels- but good, longtime friends as well. However, this band has demonstrated that change and adversity forces creativity if you allow it to.

So they can sip on their Haterade all they want- but the people who get it, get it.

I'll never be able to adequately articulate exactly what RX means to me. I await Mandala anxiously, and don't doubt that it'll be incredible.

MavisPuford said...

The thing I like the most is the amount of emotion that is put into your music. It feels so honest. It's hard to explain, but it evokes emotions that just aren't felt from a lot of other bands today.

That's why I look forward to any new Rx Bandits material, because I know that it will be overflowing with emotion and honesty. It always feels like great care was taken to make sure that the vocals and all the instruments in the band have solid, meaningful roles. And it's apparent in all your other projects, too. That shows to me that you guys really care about this stuff.

It's a very nice change to see a band care less about the money and more about the music.

Anonymous said...

"Was it a conscious decision to move away from horns? Absolutely not.. to be honest that's a ridiculous notion to me, as I view any instrument as only a vessel to create different sonic textures and landscapes, and definitely not something to define us musically or in a genre. In my opinion thinking like that is creatively weak."

To a certain extent, sure. That being said, one also has to recognize that some tonal qualities evoke moods more easily than others, either because of the social context or more innate ways in which we hear things. Why a guitar, bass, vocalist and drum kit for rock? Why a mixer, turntables and synths for techno? Why an organ for Bach? There's a whole history of other music that sets the tone for what you create. Part of art is breaking with that history, but part of it is synergizing and building on what others have done. The electric guitar is just a tool, an instrument, but it's also a sound we associate with rebellion, protest, some incredibly important jazz and blues pioneers, change, sex, movement... pick one.

The same thing goes for horns. It's really sad to me to see people responding with comments about ska being simplistic/immature/So 90s or various other things, because they're forgetting the context. I liked RXB's horn section. It brought a lot of vitality to the band's stage performances. It evoked other unity shows and other great pits and good vibes. It also matched the band's message at the time though. You guys wrote alot of material that shares history -- racial and social issues that were pretty integral to twotone -- and that resonated with your musical style.

Of course a band can accomplish that in other ways, and they're free to make whatever musical decisions they like, or not make any decisions at all as it suits them. RXB continues to be a group of talented, creative musicians and performers and incredibly capable people.

...but instruments aren't JUST vessels. =oP

S. Choi RXB said...

Siardica: interesting ideas indeed, and legitimate thoughts on the connection music and instruments have with our emotional interpretation. However, you still speak within the very boundaries which I find to have no relevance to the creative soul within us... when saying that I am speaking in context of my own aim in creating music of course.. The associations of movements and what they mean to people from the sound of instruments are far too complex and personal to ever disagree with one another about or to quantify in any way.. the range, ratios and direction of the influences that all the factors of the equation have on each other are in the trillions.

To change and not be what anyone or anything once was, is not to live in spite of it. We do not dislike or regret much (if any at all) of what we have done musically. If you were to ask me about ska, I would say that I love it.. but do in fact find most of the modern-suburban-american interpretation of this great Jamaican musical style to be completely shitty.. which is beside the point and I'm just throwing that in there. You're not the only one who feels that way about the (non) presence of horns in our band, but that's neither here nor there.. we are nothing but what we are at this moment.

there are still songs with horns on the album, and it is not obsolete from our musical world AT ALL.. We're just gonna rock without em for a little bit. In the mid of the composer the instruments MUST remain only vessels to complete the tasks at hand, and I do agree that they must be called upon and are specialists in evoking sounds and emotions connected with them. chicken or the egg, sound or the emotion.. who knows.

Anonymous said...

At the risk of sounding like I'm trying to get the last word in: totally fair response, thanks.

S. Choi RXB said...

There are few things I enjoy more than a good articulate exchange of ideas. Cheers.

Seth said...

Long time listener, first time caller..

I just wanted to say that I really appreciate the fact you wrote this, but at the same time, people who are truly RxB fans should expect that you shouldn't expect anything but the best from you guys. Any choices made by the band shouldn't need to be justified to anyone but themselves. It bugs me when people get caught up in things that mostly matter on an aesthetic level, like the way they look or change in sound. The basis is still there. Making music shouldn't need apologies or excuses. While yes the fans are the reason a lot of bands play, RxB are one of the few bands out there where change should be expected and embraced.

I loved "The Resignation" when it first came out and of course that album started really separating my friends who were true fans and my friends who were just fans of ska or reggae. Yet if you still put out albums that sounded like that 10 years later, it would feel like you tapped out. Another child analogy, the child who learns to play music at a young age and is amazing, but as time goes on if they stayed at that level and never learned more, then they really never met their potential. So for you guys to still sound like, I would find myself thinking "damn, they were onto something, it's a shame they didn't take it further" and as a music appreciator, I'm glad that's not the case.

So really to sum this ramble up, thanks for taking the time to acknowledge the change in some aspects of the RxB, it's nice to know the core pieces are still there so I can sleep soundly knowing your music is in the same good hands I've grown to love in the 10 years of listening. Honestly, your music has opened my ears to different genres and how versatile the guitar can be used in the right hands. But you need not to make excuses for yourself. As fans we need to trust your judgment and direction, at least when it comes to you guys. You're like the strange mother who has odd child raising techniques but ends up with a child with great integrity, moral standing and overall personality. So I thank you.

Tyler said...

Change is inevitable. Idea's and creative motivation ebb and flow. I can't wait for this album. Damn!

zackisbackinjapan said...

Holy cow! I just read your twitter and wanted to see what song was so annoying so I checked it and dude that's suburban kids with biblical names from sweeden. I kinda dug them til I just found out they did commercials, lame. But yeah I could totally see how that would be annoying out of context. Loop-duplicate My Heart is a sick song.

Sarah O. said...

What a great band and blog! also great pics!! xD

A paraguayan fan here! :D

Ricky and Sarah's Family Blog said...

I think many of the new songs on Mandala would be complimented by horns, I could care less how close to ska it is or not. Many of my favorite prog bands intertwine strings, horns, and sounds to make amazing music. I can't help but feel some of the songs are hollow. I hope I am wrong and they grow on me. I just hope the decision was not made for finical reason (one less mouth to feed?) or there was some conflict with Chris. I know it might have came down to an issue of losing Steve as a writer, but hope in the future you consider using orchestral elements again. Its just another color to paint with.

Great Caesar said...

(I'm crossposting this from the RX blog, as it seems the real discussion is over here.)

Hmm.. I read this entry with mixed feelings. Hearing serious and accomplished musicians such as yourself make well-thought-out statements about changes in their music is great, especially coming from a band that is constantly changing. But I feel like this blog post tries to justify the 'non-conscious' decision to take out horns as if it had been a conscious decision.

If it just happened by itself, then it shouldn't have anything to do with your stated goals towards musical creativity or expression, at least the way I see it. Consider it this way - if you were (for example) trying to pursue a new creative direction by unavailing yourselves of some instrument, then at some point you have to make the decision to say, "no horns in this song." Perhaps what I'm trying to say is that I don't think that the removal of horns was the reason for creative motion so much as it was the consequence. And my personal opinion is that changes in the band, be them changes of lineup, style, lyrical themes, or whatever, should be emphatically identified as REASONS for change, rather than just the byproducts of it.

I was relatively unsurprised to read this, as I've felt that more recent developments in RX have been pushing the horns out of the band, like the mixing of AATB, the lack of a replacement for Steve Borth, the addition of other stuff for Joe Sheets to play, etc. And yes, I'm sad to hear this news. In my opinion, having horns in the band added - and was a unique addition - to RX's sonic palette and identity. Specifically, the existence of horns at all was an implicit message to music listeners that horns in a band doesn't signify ska, something I could really get behind personally, and something that I think is needed in a music scene that is rapidly moving away from acoustic instruments. In terms of creative possibility, I think having horns as a dedicated part of the band adds songwriting constraints that result in creative solutions and better music. (For example, finding out ways to write songs that have horns doing something other than hits in between vocal lines.)

While I'm confident that RX can continue to create a unique voice with just a rhythm section, I'm a little worried that this move will in fact counter-productively "define [RX] musically or in a genre." I know that it will be much easier to introduce RX as a "prog-rock" band now, as compared to before, simply by virtue of instrumentation. I know the whole genre-label thing is beyond the care of the musicians, but in terms of disseminating music to listeners, this stuff matters!

What I've enjoyed so much about RX over the years is that the musical style has evolved so much, even while retaining what might be the most stereotypical kind of band lineup. Changing/evolving musical styles while keeping horns is something that I think RXB has uniquely been able to do - I know of no other "ex-ska" bands who have done anything similar or comparable. As I said before, I'm sure that it will turn out well, as RX is made of great musicians, and I'm eagerly awaiting the CD and the next time I can see you live. However, I'm sad to see the horns go - I hope they can make some kind of comeback at some point.


S. Choi RXB said...

Ricky my man, there have always been many rx songs without hardly a horn presence. I don't know if anyone can make the judgement that the new album could be complimented better with horns having only heard 2 of the 11 songs. However, you are most obviously and certainly entitled to your own opinion. As I have stated before, anyone who forms an opinion on our music based on the pretense of knowing someone is, or isn't there, doesn't get what we're about. Our musical entity will always be changing, sometimes less is more, sometimes less is less...but regardless, it is what it is. I don't know what would make you go into speculating about personal matters of the band, but just know that members are always close friends, and if you think it would be over something having to do with money or of a "finical" nature then you're wrong. It had nothing to do with losing anyone as a writer, because the only people who have ever written the music are still present. Multi-instrumentation is not circumstantial, if a song calls for it then we add it, and if it doesn't then we leave it, it doesn't matter whether there's someone actually in the band to play it or not. Thanks for your concern, but we'll worry about how we make our music, and you can worry about liking it, or not liking it for whatever reasons.


S. Choi RXB said...

Stephen: I can appreciate your understanding and familiarity of your own interpretation of our music and creative process, but with all due respect, it is merely that. I would like to point out that to even begin to judge whether I should have identified it emphatically as the reason for change or the byproduct, you would actually have to know what happened and how it did. It still doesn't change anything. From your perspective I can understand the assumptions and theories you might have regarding what you observe of the mix of 'battle' (which every member that was on it was a part of) and other things, but I'm no spin doctor and no diplomat or public spokes-person; I just tell it like it is.

I cannot disagree with your thoughts on instrumentation and how they create "constraints" resulting in different creative results, but there are no absolutes when dealing with the complexities of personalities, when added to a group setting, somehow working into a collaborative where people try and create together while being considerate and dealing with our own egos. Its waaaay too complicated of a thing to apply theories like that to... at least in my humble opinion.

Btw: in addition to there being horns on the album, there are a list of instruments which have never made an appearance on an rx record before.

Poopernater said...

I do not think that you could add anything to the songs I have heard so far without making them seem overloaded. I truly enjoy them. I would love to see that list Choi!


Ricky and Sarah's Family Blog said...

Let me apologize to for my spelling error and if I came across as a downer. I was replying more or less to all the other comments that seemed to be blindly supportive, and I had not meant to direct my comments to the band.

Full disclosure: I am a trombonist and a pianist. It was a horrible choice of words to use hollow to describe the new songs. I have always enjoyed discovering how the band has involved including your use of horns. It is like an amazing chef, who uses a special ingredient you really love. Their menu is always evolving, but it always included that ingredient in varied amounts and different ways. Then one day you discover they have stopped cooking with that ingredient.

It is true I have only heard 2 songs in the entirety and maybe some from the videos. In the end I have faith there will be some new flavors that I like. So much faith I ordered the deluxe LP the second I got the e-mail, bought tickets to the HOB Anaheim show and the both El Rey shows, make it out to acoustic shows and shows with Mike Park. There is no other band I have seen more of live then RxBandits. I never meant to come across as a hater. I hope there is that new flavor to expose my palate to, but might not enjoy some of the my old favorites without that ingredient anymore.

I also wonder why your music was taken off E-music, and why Windows logos appear under the downloads. I don't mind my favorite little restaurant becoming popular or even a food chain, I just don't want them to become Olive Garden.

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