Author: Nerve

Live is life…
(pretty boorish 80′s austrian pop song)

As most of you are aware by now, we just dropped our very first live record this week, “NERVE live in Europe”, which we recorded while touring last fall.

Although it only took ten days of touring to record the live material, one week of intense listening to make the selections and five days to mix and master it, it’s really a record that’s been over a decade in the making. So it’s not just another record for me, but a dream come true.

The basic idea for NERVE has always been a LIVE event. When I started NERVE I never intended to make any records. From the beginning of the improvised d’n’b jams at the long defunct east village Izzy-Bar and the Prohibited Beatz parties in late 90′s NYC, the immediacy and danger of the live experience was essential. Not the commercial exploitation of a new gadget via product.
One of the things that made it unprecedented and special back then was that we took the live performance out of aesthetic framework of Rock, Jazz or R’n’B and introduced it to an audience that was predominantly wired to DJ culture and electronic music.

Back then I too often heard the recurring mantra of “man you’ve GOT to record that shit!”. But unfortunately, most attempts to capture the vibe of these early days on record were not satisfactory. So I basically had to live with this other recurring mantra of “damn…I WISH we could have recorded this!”.
Over the years we developed a protocol to document NERVE in the controlled environment of a studio, but we could hardly ever capture it in and WITH the wilderness of its natural habitat: the live gig.

On a side note: My friend Julie Covello aka DJ Shaky, who made the great “Prohibited Beatz” documentary about the early NERVE days, still has tons of video footage she shot back then that nobody has ever seen! To consolidate and release all of this footage for people to see is one of my future (and time consuming lol) projects. FYI: here’s you can see Julie’s PB film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IALkXnv36ow

In retrospect, it seems that we not only had to wait for the technology to arrive to make such a recording possible, but perhaps also gain enough distance from the philosophical concepts behind NERVE to be able to capture it. Perhaps the acceptance of the outside world also had to catch up with it and provide a backdrop that allowed the recording to unfold.

In the process, the claims which put the analogue/digital, man/machine relationship under examination actually raised more questions than answers. However, more and more people seem to be becoming aware of these questions, which seems to be forming new community. It’s debateable if this discussion will connect the many existing microscopic cells of cultural intelligence and reach the critical mass necessary to build one big cultural movement. But the nucleus exists and traces of recapturing awareness amongst audiences and creatives can be found you’re looking for it.

I somehow feel that more and more people are starting to long for a WORLD that we can TOUCH again. It seems that touching is related to understanding in a very primal sense. And understanding becomes more and more challenging in this age of information (and disinformation). Touching by exchanging tools of expression like the trackpad and screens of our computers with the physical resistance and feel of vibrating strings, membranes, or the smell and feel of glue, paint and paper.
An excellent example is the art of Christian Calabro who created the artwork for EP5 and the live record. You can check it out here: http://call-a-bro.tumblr.com

I’m not a materialistic person, but I like to be able to distinguish between whats real and whats not. And the beauty and magic of music is that it is not tangible yet it FEELS very real. And one can be TOUCHED by it if the source from where it comes from is real.

In that respect ART can be defined as an abstraction of the real world or “the lie that explains the truth”. I think its a good time to put our focus on the real world and explore techniques that let us experience not less, but more of it. And this new record is a step in this direction. It’s as close as we can get with a record to playing in front of you.

I will elaborate more about this subject in an upcoming post as I’m somewhat obsessed by it.

It will be the NERVE manifesto!

jm

One of the things I love the most outside of music are movies. it’s
probably fair to say I earned the title of cineaste. I’m into it to the
degree where I would be somewhat scared to know how many hours I already
spent watching movies in my life.

The movie Whiplash evidently grabbed my attention as it combines two
things I know reasonably well: drumming and movies.

After seeing some previews of it I got too scared to actually go watch it.
In a way as I was too scared to go see “dumb and dumber too”.
These movies usually make it on my “see it on a plane” list.

However, feeling somewhat irresponsible yet violently exposed to EVERYONE
around me that has seen the movie staring at me wide eyed while gripping
my upper arms, shaking me and gasping: “WhiplashŠOMG, did you see
Whiplash?!!”

So I went and I saw it and because many people asked me for my verdict
I’ll volunteer it here.
I figure this could put my reputation as a cineaste at stake more than my
reputation as a drummer. But then again, the 2 years of my life that I
might have spent in front of moving images must have been good for
something.

So from a moviegoer standpoint I think the movie is solidly crafted. The
acting is remarkable and JK Simmons convincingly channels some old school
jazz tyrants i’ve worked with during my early career as a sideman. But the
character of the sadistic teacher probably resonates not just with me but
is one of the key ingredients why the movie speaks to a large audience.The
editing struck me as very good! Oscar for best movie? Probably not. Best
male supporting actor? Yes good chance as the character gives leeway to
the oscar-stylee “loud/great”acting. However, Edward Norton was excellent
in Birdman. On that note, PROPS to Antonio Sanchez for the Birdman score,
makes me proud!

Thanks for reading and ’till next time!

jm

PS:
Wait! what about the drumming and all that?
I’m sure that this blog is being read by quite a few drummers and
musicians so I guess everybody know whats up.
To be fair, for a non drummer Miles Teller did a good job and doe to good
editing only a musician will be able to debunk that he’s not a drummer.
For any drummer or musician it becomes quite a stretch to to uphold the
suspension of belief necessary to enjoy a movie .

On that note: I recall seeing “interstellar” with two scientists sitting
next to me. It undoubtedly yanked me out of my movie experience when they
erupted into hysterical laughter during a scene where Matthew McConaugheys
character elaborated on Einsteins twin-parodoxon.

So in fairness to the fact that there has been some blood on my drums on
some occasions during my career, I won’t go into all the hilarious
unrealistic feats such as blood soaked drums, wind-up monkey style double
time swing, punching holes into drumheads, and profusely sweating ears.
Yes, EARS!!

More annoying is the misrepresentation of what a good drummer is and how
to become one. Some confusion between drummers and mixed martial art
fighters could come out of this which probably perpetuates the
dimwit/drummer notion of the general public. “It’s Rocky for drummers”
might have been the elevator pitch to hollywood producers.
I’m wondering to what extent the director Damian Chazelle is aware of this
and to which degree he had to make amends to the producers to make this
movie. It might just be that he needed to visualize the psychological
duress of Tellers character physically to create surefire emotional
involvement for the average Joe. Standard Hollywood protocol. In that
case all is forgiven.

But despite all the cheesiness, unrealistic depiction and mangled historic
facts (Jo Jones vs Bird encounter) I vote for the movie and would even
recommend it.
After all, the movie puts forward the struggle of a musician, precisely a
drummer, who aspires to become “really great” and goes the distance. In a
time where hairstyle and a guitar already make a rockstar and people are
mainly concerned with being popular, this is rare in mainstream
entertainment. And most likely inspiring to everybody except the drummers
who saw the movie.

Another positive angle for drummers in particular is that next time
someone asks: “What do you do for a living?”
And you respond: “I am a drummer”,
They won’t go into the routine of: “Ah..what’s your day job?”, but say:
“WOWŠ. THAT¹S AMAAAAZING !!!!

jm

Hello everybody, dear friends, followers, ladies and gentlemen, cats and dogs.

Some of you might have noticed that we have this blog on our site. And those of you who have noticed, probably also noticed that I hardly ever blog anything.

There are a number of reasons for that. One is my disdain for the social network and the disproportionate noise to signal ratio it generates in our culture and society. The widespread anxiety of being cut out of the loop and ultimately evicted from the tribe has reached epidemic proportions. In the process more reality vanishes from our lives and gets replaced with…noise.
And the prospect of possibly having to enter debates on the internet, which has equipped every schmuck with a megaphone, isn’t too motivating either.

But I might as well declare a simpler and perhaps more honest reason for my un-involvement: Sparing myself from spending even more time in front of a computer that I already do.

Then again, I must admit that given the opportunity I’m capable of disappearing in a Youtube vortex for many hours and emerge quite happy and invigorated. Or, I can sometimes catch myself internet shopping on my laptop while watching movies aka multitasking aka working on my ADD chops. Sure, all entry level stuff for digital natives, but not for me.

Arguably losing the “less time in front of the computer” argument with myself at this point, I might have to surrender to the conclusion that so far I’ve been just too lazy to mint my concerns into a readable format. Or perhaps I also felt inadequate to do so.

However, not too long ago an unprecedented impulse made me write down some of my thoughts on music, art, culture and society for myself and share it with some friends.
And quite a bunch said: “Yeah, you should post this on a blog! Yeah man, blog that s**t !”
And I said: “Hmmm, a blog? I’m set up for a blog, but I never blog anything. John takes care of most of it.”
And they said: “WHaaAAT? Blog blog blog! Blog blog blog! BlooO00oOoogah…!!!”

So without further ado, consider this the introduction to some more traffic at this location.

DSC_8471

We are excited to announce that we are working on a full length Live Album! We recorded every show of our most recent European tour, and are busy putting together a track listing and will be mixing in 2 weeks! Keep an eye out on here and our facebook page for updates and release date, etc.