Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The CY Curse!

I know. I know. It has been FOR-EVER since I wrote anything. Chalk it up to life...

So, there is a condition here in Cyprus that is all too often FATAL to loads of great bands. It is a two pronged  threat. Those prongs are mandatory military duty and the call of the off island University.

Now, I am not an authority on the conscription situation nor its value/validity. Indeed, that is a rather complex and lengthy discussion that probably needs doing, but this is neither the time nor the place. Suffice it to say, the duration (from what I understand as being 6-22 months) of that commitment is in itself a daunting prospect and a long time to put things on hold. So is the time that get eaten up by going abroad to have a piece of paper or 3 to hang on your wall. Hold on... before you go jumping to conclusions... I an not advocating dodging the draft (or the reverse), nor am I saying that a University education is not of worth (necessarily). After all, I did one, and it has benefited me greatly.
The thing is, there seems to be a culture here that insists that everyone that does the Civil duty goes into some kind of vacuum from hell so horrible that it prevents them from dedicating any time, or sucks them of the desire, to play. What is THAT all about? Surely, the best mental therapy one could possibly have when under stress and being controlled like a prisoner is to crank out the tunes! As a musician, playing is the number one mental health therapy there is! You wanna complain about your superiors in a way that is not going to get you n trouble? Write a killer song about whaddadouche they are then crank that bad muffuka out  a few times. You need to VENT some frustration, get the whole band to jam out some MISFITS or BLACK FLAG tunes at full volume. You will be amazed at the freedom that will give you. In other words, don't let these things undermine you, let them INSPIRE YOU!
Society in Cyprus also seems to dictate that one MUST go abroad to get a degree OF VALUE. First of all, if there is a degree out there that is up your alley, do it. If it happens to be off the island, fine, but if you are just doing it to do it or make someone else happy, is it really worth it? And couldn't you do that here and use the money you would be saving to finance a killer recording of a self funded tour in Europe?!?!?! And if your heart isn't really into the degree program you settle on, there is a good chance you will not make it all the way through, hence you would be wasting your time and money.
Now, if you DO find the degree program you are dying to do AND get accepted into it AND can afford it, GO FOR IT! Seriously, if you are passionate about it (whatever it is) always go for it full throttle. However, this does not mean that your band needs to die as a result...
If there is any chance that the folks in the band can get together on breaks over the course of the degree, DO IT! You might just find that a little absence makes the musical heart grow fonder. You will all be taking on new influences and life experience and can apply it to your stuff; like getting awesome exotic spices for your cooking. If these meetings don't work out (and in the between times) stay in touch, write material and send it to each other, and stay friends (because you were before this, right?).

Okay, people do change when they are apart, but if you all stay in touch and are determined to make it work, then it will. Throughout musical history bands have taken breaks, hiatuses, and have even broken up and reformed with huge amounts of time off; getting back together to do amazing things. So why can't you?
This rant is not unfounded. There have been some great bands on this island that have been, are being, and will be destroyed because of these things, and IT IS A BLOODY SHAME! Music, being a musician, and being in a band with like minded people should not be a choice, a hobby, nor a 'phase' you go through as a kid. In fact, I am SURE it isn't for the majority of people, but they let 'traditions' and 'being responsible' push their natural musical tendencies down... And that is what causes cancer and domestic violence.
I will be back soon to RANT away again about how one can hold down a full-time straight job and STILL manage to be a musician without treating it like a hobby.