This Just Sucks.

Steve Albini 1962 – 2024

While I’m not a fan of a good chunk of the bands he’s recorded, I admire them for what they were (and still are) and I greatly admired Albini’s outlook on recording and music in general. The Problem With Music is still one of the most important things you can read if you’re a musician of any kind.

(There’s also this gem on his studio’s website)


I was digging through my pic folder the other day and came across a screenshot I took of a couple of years ago of a Humans Of New York post 1 :

Funny enough, it’s something I’ve been thinking about recently.

What seems like forever ago, I went to a School for the Arts for my secondary education. I took Visual Arts and I remember the mindset in the above comment all too well. If it was classical, it was good. If it was modern, and symbolic, it was good. If it was anywhere near what was considered mainstream? The teachers would tear it apart. Mock it. Kick it to the curb.

That was the mindset that sunk in and lived in me for the longest time for Visual Art and, especially, with music.

I used to define myself more by shitting on things that I disliked rather than promoting what I liked. This meant that I disliked the people who enjoyed the thing I disliked. When I was a teenager, Metal was my thing. Iron Maiden. Metallica. Slayer. You name it.

Yet, in amongst Master Of Puppets, Hell Awaits, and Powerslave, I had a copy of The Joshua Tree and I listened to so much at home that the tape wore out and broke. And let me tell you, I only listed to this at home. I was more frightened at the idea of my friends finding out that I liked U2 2 than I was at the thought of my parents finding my small stash of porn magazines.

Think about all the “pure” metal heads/alternatives/emos/whatever who are running around saying “think for yourself” and “don’t be a sheep” will then turn around and ridicule you for listening to the wrong music. Or genre. Or sub-genre.

Think about all the “refined” people with their nose in the air and their pinky fingers sticking out who look down on those who like Taylor Swift, or some other form of “lesser” art.

I’m kind of pissed that it took me until my mid forties to realize that there is no right or wrong and you can like whatever you want and others can like whatever they want. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter.

We have a short, finite amount of time on this floating rock, why waste it worrying what people think of what you like or shitting on what makes other people happy?

Fuck being refined. Just be yourself and let others be themselves.

1: If I ever find the actual post again, I’ll link it properly.
2: And all these years later we find that Lars loves them … I also had, and still have, a huge love for 80s new wave/pop yet it took me all these years to honestly admit it. There was a point in the early 2000’s where it was cool to like 80’s pop, so long as you were at an 80’s Dance night at a local club. Now pretty much everyone admits that it’s all good and always has been and it’s ok to love it.  

AI And Music

Just read this Rolling Stone article about Suno, and wow.

I knew what I was getting into. All AI articles these days seem to follow the same template: People amazed/shocked at how real this AI generated thing is. Covering the backgrounds of the people who created the AI thing. Going over the difficulty getting AI to make this particular thing as opposed to that particular thing while in the end it’s all scraping large amounts of data to try and come up with something that could potentially be deemed original.

In short it’s just more techowanking over a recent AI breakthrough. As always, there is a lot of back patting and corporate-speak-rabble-babble about being creative and empowering the people and whatnot.

And it’s that bullshit that drives me nuts.

A few bits stood out to me in particular so I’ve pulled them out for commentary. In no particular order…

-> The fact that music listeners so vastly outnumber music-makers at the moment is “so lopsided,” he argues, seeing Suno as poised to fix that perceived imbalance.

I’m sorry, what? This argument is so very, very, very stupid simply because you can say this about literally ANYTHING.

Pilots vastly outnumber airline passengers! Software Developers vastly outnumber people who use apps! Pro sports players vastly outnumber spectators! Plumbers vastly outnumber people who clog toilets by eating Taco Bell after a night of heavy drinking!

Music makers outnumbering music listeners is not an imbalance, perceived or otherwise. It’s just how things work. Some people can create music and some can’t 1.

… We’re trying to get a billion people much more engaged with music than they are now…

First up, Mikey, please define “engaged” for me. What do you mean by “engaged with music”? Miriam Webster defines engaged as:

  1. involved in activity
  2. pledged to be married
  3. greatly interested
  4. involved especially in a hostile encounter
  5. partly embedded in a wall
  6. being in gear

While I’m sure there are a few, strange people out there who would love to find a way to be married to music, and “involved especially in a hostile encounter” could mean braving the pit at a hardcore show, I can probably guess that the definitions you’re be talking about are “involved in activity” and “greatly interested”.

I don’t know who you hang out with but everyone I know is both involved and greatly interested with music in some way. They listen to music at home. They stream music while walking or doing chores. They go to concerts both locally and out of town. There are even a few who also create music (see above about music makers).

We all know what you really mean is “we  want is a billion people paying to use our AI thingy.” It’s literally in the third paragraph of this article describing co-founder Mikey Shulman as “a boyishly charming, backpack-toting 37-year-old with a Harvard Ph.D. in physics who envisions a billion people worldwide paying 10 bucks a month to create songs with Suno.”

Please drop the hippy dippy bullshit and just fucking say it.

-> “If people are much more into music, much more focused on creating, developing much more distinct tastes, this is obviously good for artists. The vision that we have of the future of music is one where it’s artist-friendly. We’re not trying to replace artists.”

Oh, shut up. First, people develop distinct tastes all on their own. Science has been working seemingly forever to find out why some people love classical, some love hip hop, and others love grindcore. While there are theories, there are no concrete answers. That being said, I’m pretty sure sitting at a computer and typing text prompts into a song generating AI bot does not help develop musical tastes.

Second, how is an app that literally auto generates songs from a text prompt artist friendly? The article states that “Many Suno employees are musicians; there’s a piano and guitars on hand in the office, and framed images of classical composers on the walls.” So what? Are the employees musicians in the strictest sense of the term? Or are they just people who noodle around with a guitar from time to time? There’s nothing wrong with being a just a noodler but I do find something wrong with these guys saying they’re all for creativity when this AI program they’ve concocted is the farthest thing from.

Look at it this way: Cover and Tribute bands may not be “creating” anything in the strictest sense of the word but at least they’re honest in what they are: bands that play other bands music for the enjoyment of others and themselves. Their creativity comes from the time it took to learn to play the instruments, perform the material, and put together a show that’s at a level paying people will accept and enjoy.

Typing prompts into a program and waiting for a song to come out the other side is not creative.

-> Rodriguez is investing in Suno with the full knowledge that music labels and publishers could sue, which he sees as “the risk we had to underwrite when we invested in the company, because we’re the fat wallet that will get sued right behind these guys.… Honestly, if we had deals with labels when this company got started, I probably wouldn’t have invested in it. I think that they needed to make this product without the constraints.”

So… you respect artists and intellectual property, but if they’d had deals with labels you wouldn’t have invested because… constraints? What? This Rodriguez guy trying to sound hip; The Cool Investor Guy, Shades And All. However he comes across as just confused because that statement makes no fucking sense at all because…

-> Suno says it’s in communication with the major labels, and professes respect for artists and intellectual property — its tool won’t allow you to request any specific artists’ styles in your prompts, and doesn’t use real artists’ voices.

… here they are talking to the labels anyway. I mean, sure. Don’t use other people’s voices or styles. Or images. Or words. Or paintings. Or writings. Or photographs. Or… oh wait, that’s essentially what AI is: a large format data scraper.

I mean, whatever, if Suno spit out songs with Bob Dylan’s voice, yes, the lawsuits they would be a flyin’. Guess they better talk to the labels then. I’m sure they’ll be happy to take a cut “for the poor artists”.

-> Rodriguez sees Suno as a radically capable and easy-to-use musical instrument…

Yo Rodriguez, I’m really happy you see it this way and Imma let you finish but let’s get one thing straight: an app that you type “write me a pop song about my girlfriend dumping me” into a text field and then waiting for a completed song to be shit out is not a musical instrument. A musical instrument is something that you manipulate to get a sound out of in order to write/play songs 2.

You can’t even argue that “well, people use samples and computers all the time, this is no different”. It is different. When using samples, you still have to manipulate/edit said samples and arrange them, along with other samples (and whatever other elements you want such as your voice or some guitar) into an original song and it’s a lot more difficult than anyone thinks it is; there is still a (rather large) learning curve with samplers and computer music software.

So while you can give EDM knob tweakers shit any time you want remember that they still have to manually tweak the fucking knobs to create their music.

-> …and believes it could bring music making to everyone much the way camera phones and Instagram democratized photography.

By “democratized” you mean allowing anyone with a camera to upload pictures to the Internet? Whatever dude. Not like anyone in the past had a Nikon Coolpix and a Flickr account.

Let’s be honest, what camera phones offer is not democracy, what they offer is convenience. As it happened, by the end of 2010, everyone had a decent camera with them 24/7. This camera also had the internet attached to it and allowed people to easily take and upload more pictures to Internet faster than they could have with a Nikon Coolpix and a Flickr account. This didn’t mean the unwashed masses were uploading professional level pictures. There wasn’t a sudden influx of a billion Ansel Adams’ appearing all at once. There was simply more pictures of peoples breakfasts, babies, pets, and shaky portrait mode videos of concerts 3 to every social media site seemingly all at once.

As for Instagram, well… considering it’s now nothing more than an Influencer/meme-lord platform I wouldn’t prop is up as a bastion of democratic photography. While it was once innocent and fun, it’s now nothing more than a dystopian hellscape that’s done nothing more than shoehorn the main features of four other apps into it in an effort to stay cool or something.

This entire article is these Suno guys really trying to explain the benefit of their app where there is none other than they want to leverage AI to make money. And listen, that’s fine. Seriously. Everyone wants to make money. I just wish these tech bros would drop the woo-woo bullshit and just say it.  The problem is they most likely believe what they’re saying and that Suno needs to exist for the greater good of society or some such shit.

Underneath it all though, there is no creativity, there is no democratization, there is no developing more distinct tastes that will help artists, and there is no leveling of the playing field. It’s all word salad slathered with a feel good dressing that’s sweet yet tangy.

But when you dig in and take a bit, it tastes off so you look at the salad dressing bottle and realize it’s well past it’s date.

1: And a small number of those who can create music may actually make a living off of it. This, however, is because of how the business works (see Music Labels) right now. Artists being shafted by Labels will not be solved by an AI that makes songs based on text prompts.

2: Yes, at one point they say this: “Eventually, Suno wants to find alternatives to the text-to-music interface, adding more advanced and intuitive inputs — generating songs based on users’ own singing is one idea”. Humming a tune and having a program add some music is a neat idea but, to me, it still takes away from creativity. 

3: When at the MCR concert in Montreal in 2022, everyone was taking picks and video with their phones and security didn’t care at all – except for this one guy in front of us who had his phone hooked up to a third party lens contraption and microphone. Security shut his shit down right quick. You know why? Because for all the bragging by Apple or Samsung at how great their phone cameras are, the pictures and videos most people take suck.

The worst kept secret is that capital P Professionals that shoot with iPhones use them with lens attachments and lighting rigs and then run their shots through pro apps like Lightroom.

Die A Hero Or Something

You know, I was writing a huge rant about how Apple has lived long enough to become the enemy 1 but fuck it. There’s plenty of reasons to steer clear of Apple these days so I decided to delete the whole thing and just post a couple of pics of one of the PC’s I built at the end of last year.

1: Yes, I’m referring to the petty bullshit Apple is pulling with the recent EU decision. While Apple has done me dirty over the past few years, this new shit makes me glad I’ve stepped away They’re now showing themselves to be the petulant, greedy fucks that they are.

2023 Books, Part 2 And An End Of Year Update

Back in June, I wrote:

At the end of last year I decided to post about the books I’d read in 2022. In that post I said: “… for 2023, I plan to read even more.” Six months in and I’ve already surpassed last years count, so why not do two entries for 2023?

I didn’t get lazy with my reading in the second half of the year I just got busy and only managed to finish four books (compared to the sixteen I read from January to June).

Shit got real in the second half of 2023. We had major issues with a family member and that led to the issues with the condo (which we’re still dealing with). That whole scenario sucked the goodwill right out of us and left us feeling angry, hurt, and used.  Mrs. Tucker broke her foot which halted our plans of backyard hangouts (which we were looking forward to because we were not travelling this year). She also had two surgeries; one in the late summer and one in the fall. My job became increasingly… weird. I’m not sure how I feel about how things are unfolding on that front. Time was in short supply.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. We moved one of the kids downstairs to the space that I was using as an office/recording room and turned it into a kick ass bedroom for her. I then moved the office upstairs which I now share with Mrs. Tucker. I built her and I gaming computers 1. She’s finished the first Witcher game, is about to start the second instalment, and I’ve been taking some time exploring Night City in Cyberpunk 2077.

I’ve also downsized. A lot. After moving the office up here, I realized I had way too much shit that I just don’t use or just don’t need. I sold my beloved Tascam audio interface. Without the drums, I had no real need for something that size. I did some research and picked up a second hand Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Gen3. I also sold off my bass amp and cab, some mics, the big Ikea desk, and other random doo-dads.

Hovever, The BIGGEST and BESTEST news of 2023 was that we paid off our house. Yes, you read that right. At the end of July, I walked into the bank with a cheque in my hand and asked them to dissolve the mortgage.

We did it. With a little luck, and some belt tightening here and there, we now own our house.

So as all of the exciting, fantastic, difficult, maddening, frustrating, emotional shit happened in the second half of the year, I was not really focused on reading. The fact I managed to get through the four books below is a miracle.

That being said, all but one of the books I read were fan-fucking-tastic.

Rememberings: Sinead O’Connor (10/10)
Oh, Sinead. You kept it real. You put up with so much bullshit and just kept going. You chose to burn everything down and not back off. You were right all along. A lot of us knew it but the voices of the ones out for blood were louder. You were unapologetically you. This was a hard read as she passed away before I read it. As far as music autobios go, this is one of the best I’ve read.

French Exit – Patrick DeWitt (9/10)
As I’d read The Sisters Brothers last year, I knew I would like this. It was fabulous and Patrick DeWitt has proven himself to be a writer I will read every time they publish. This book was surprisingly weird in a way that would normally turn me off (the reveal of Small Frank), yet DeWitt pulled it off. French Exit didn’t captivate me as much as The Sisters Brothers, but it is quirky, funny, and very well written.

Undermajordomo Minor – Patrick DeWitt (10/10)
This was a fantastic book! I had no idea where it was going or why but I didn’t care. It just kept getting weirder and weirder and I just got more wrapped up in the story. I really don’t know what else to say about Undermajordomo Minor because while it’s a very easy read, it really defies explanation 2.

Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing: A Memoir – Matthew Perry (DNF)
Did not like this. At all. I didn’t even get a quarter of the way through it and just gave up. I’ve become tired of reading about the rich and famous addicts of the world and Matthew Perry is just… sigh. I don’t know. Underneath the humour, he’s just not a very likeable person. Sorry, but I can’t feel sorry for him.

The Mansion on the Hill: Dylan, Young, Geffen, Springsteen, and the Head-on Collision of Rock and Commerce – Fred Goodman (Re-read)
I’ve read this before. It’s one of my favourites when it comes to non fiction. It’s the book that solidified my loathing of the music industry. I see it as a companion piece to  Steve Albini’s The Problem With Music and Courtney Love Does The Math. A must read for anyone thinking about getting involved in any way with the music industry.

1: I’m writing a post on this. Building computers from scratch in 2023 was educational on a number of fronts.

2:There were movies made of The Sisters Brothers and French Exit. I’ve made a note to watch them at some point. I can’t see how they’d make Undermajordomo Minor into a film – although apparently Kelly Reichardt had started production on a movie based on it but it was put on hold in 2018.