Stillwater Black came together in 1991 when Chris Thayer met Ahmed and Sam Pierstorff while playing in the pit band for a high school musical production. Issac McCorkell was quickly recruited on drums and the band recorded its first EP, The Last Virtuous Lady of Athens.

In 1995 they signed with Cleaves Entertainment, a now-defunct independent label based out of Southern California's Inland Empire. Stillwater Black recorded their debut LP, Adam. They played frequently with local and national acts including Dishwalla, Save Ferris, Reel Big Fish, and IE punk/ska mainstays, The Skeletones.

In 1997 the members parted ways and the project lay dormant for two decades.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Rock ethics

Rock musicians party. Rockers get high. They get drunk. They get laid. Rock music is inherently sexual. It's emotionally charged with a driving backbeat that compels listeners toward rabid, violent physical expression. Rock music is the soundtrack of moral depravity and a crumbling society. It's the devil's music.

This whole post is really just an excuse to showcase that totally rad Sigil of Baphomet.

But I also want to take a minute to figure out how rock got that colorful reputation.

Rock and roll really started to gel in the 1940s and 50s. Musicians brought together elements of black music, gospel and the blues, with the music of white country folk. Older white people hated it. Older black people hated it.

But kids, black and white, loved it. It instantly became the sound of rebellion, an obnoxious blast to the status quo. And in a day where everything was immaculate and trim, rock and roll got grimy to make a point. The gardens in the neighborhood were beautiful. The people keeping them were anything but.

This was before the Civil Rights Movement and behind each of those doors and in each of those shiny cars was a man who believed himself superior to another based on the color of his skin.

Adventurous musicians of the day could easily recognize the brilliant cultural contributions made by all people, and when these influences were blended and held together with that driving backbeat, the fresh new sound proved irresistible to the only people open enough to listen: kids.

There are some who hold that this was the music that propelled our country into the Civil Rights music.

From the synopsis of Glenn Altschuler's All Shook Up: How Rock 'n' Roll Changed America:

As Glenn Altschuler reveals in All Shook Up, the rise of rock 'n roll--and the outraged reception to it--in fact can tell us a lot about the values of the United States in the 1950s, a decade that saw a great struggle for the control of popular culture. Altschuler shows, in particular, how rock's "switchblade beat" opened up wide fissures in American society along the fault-lines of family, sexuality, and race. For instance, the birth of rock coincided with the Civil Rights movement and brought "race music" into many white homes for the first time. Elvis freely credited blacks with originating the music he sang and some of the great early rockers were African American, most notably, Little Richard and Chuck Berry. In addition, rock celebrated romance and sex, rattled the reticent by pushing sexuality into the public arena, and mocked deferred gratification and the obsession with work of men in gray flannel suits. And it delighted in the separate world of the teenager and deepened the divide between the generations, helping teenagers differentiate themselves from others.

Calling rock "devil's music" has much more to do with the accusing power structure than the musical or lyrical content of the genre.

Back then, kids set themselves apart from an older generation as a response to long-held convictions that had, up until this point, escaped question or discussion.

Times have changed, though. We still have very serious race issues to reconcile, but notions of family and gender are in the process of being thoroughly deconstructed. The rates of sexually transmitted disease are at an all-time high. Perpetual adolescence is a sad experiment that is all too evident, with teen culture "the model for American life."

Without revisiting the roots of rock rebellion, rock musicians today run the risk of an absolutely farcical existence. How rebellious is it at this point in our history to drink oneself into oblivion with a host of licentious groupies?

I can't speak to the choices that Chris and Issac make on their own. And left to my own devices, I'm ridiculous.

But together, as Stillwater Black, we're better. We feel things and talk about things and sort stuff out. We don't show up to rehearsals drunk. We play sober. As a band, we've never taken advantage of women. We've always respected our elders and offered our support to kids.

Perhaps the single greatest act of rebellion today is radical responsibility. Perhaps rebellion today is about consciousness and being fully aware. Maybe it's about owning our shit and thinking about the long-term implications of the choices we make today.

I won't say that today's rock musicians are required to be paragons of virtue. But if it is the spirit of rebellion that undergirds that unmistakable rock vibe, we need to pay attention to the world we live in and call attention to the things that are being swept under the communal rug.

Now it's time for you to rebel! Listen to the music that nobody is listening to. You might start with our most recent single, longshot.

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