In these degenerate days is there such a thing as a counterculture?
Are there still people who think that music and music culture is important?
If we all chant loud enough will it stop the rain?
There is only one way to find out (and it costs nothing but your time)


Friday, 4 October 2013


by Corinna Downes
I don’t have the luxury of the non-advert version of Spotify so I don’t listen to it very often.  There is not a lot worse than getting really stuck into listening to something and then being interrupted by adverts about cars I will never be able to afford and so on and so forth. A prime example being “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway”, the fluidity of which – for me at least - needs to run smoothly like a waterfall and not like a canal when houseboats come along and keep opening and closing locks.    Anyway, as soon as Spotify opens up on my PC, I minimise it and usually forget about it for the rest of the day.  However, a couple of days ago, just before I hit the button, something caught my eye and beckoned me to stop my finger from carrying out the deed.   Was it their moody, good looks that stopped me in my tracks?  Quite possibly….moody, good looks have always stopped me in my tracks.

It wasn’t the album cover that drew me – it features part of Damien Hirst’s spot painting series, this piece entitled "Isonicotinic Acid Ethyl Ester" – as I am not really a fan of said artist’s work (sorry mate, but I am a Holbein sort of girl).  But, once upon a time, I do admit to flicking through albums in a nearby second-hand  record shop that I frequented and being influenced by album covers as much as the band’s music (I am pretty sure I am not the only one – or am I? Perhaps it is just a gal thing).

Anyway, to cut what is rapidly becoming a long, convoluted story short, I pressed the play button.  And I found to my pleasure that not only did the band consist of three guys with moody, good looks, but that I actually found myself enjoying their music. I even put up with the blasted adverts while I listened.  I passed the link to Jon and said ‘Oi, listen to this’, or words to that effect, and he agreed that they are pretty damn good.

Now anyone who knows me will know that my taste in music is not really what one would perhaps expect in a lady of a certain age.  I made the leap from the likes of Pink Floyd et al to listening to basically nothing much during the ‘80s and ’90s.  Then I was introduced to the likes of Slipknot, Dimmu Borgir et al after hearing the somewhat indelicate tones emanating from my youngest daughter’s bedroom, and I was hooked on music again, and became an aged, armchair ‘maggot’ (for those not in the know, Slipknot followers are fondly known as ‘maggots’). Now my music of choice basically involves Viking Folk Metal and bands that utilise more than just a bass, guitar and drums – with a keyboard of some description thrown in on occasion.  I like classical strings.  My dad always said that one day I would enjoy listening to such things when I got older – and I guess he was half-right.  I do like them, and I definitely have a fair few favourite pieces of classical music, but I like strings even more when they are mixed with 20th Century instrumentation.  I am not a musician; my foray into the world of playing music began with me learning the ba-ba-ba-bah of Beethoven’s 5th on a piano, and ended with the trilly bits of The Godfather theme on a mandolin. I cannot read music, I have no real idea what a chord is and I cannot begin to get my head around the patois that music critics use when reviewing music.  I either like it or I don’t. And I love the relationship of the hard, raw sound of electric with the evocative sound of ‘classical’ strings.

Which leads me back to 30 Seconds from Mars.  The original band was formed in 1998 and is from Los Angeles.  The current line-up is: Jared Leto on lead vocals, guitars, bass guitar, keyboards, and synthesizers; Shannon Leto on drums, percussion, and synthesizers; Tomo Miličević on guitars, bass guitar, keyboards, synthesizers, violin, and ‘cello.  Yes….they use violin and ‘cello on some of their songs. And it is the band’s fourth studio album “Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams”, which has recently been released, that Jon asked me write 200-odd words about for this newsletter. 

I see on good ol’ Wikipedia that their music is mainly associated:

….. with new prog, progressive metal and alternative rock, but they have also included emoscreamo, space rock and synthrock into their music. They have been compared to Pink Floyd (who were an influence on their work) and Tool  because of their use of philosophical and spiritual lyrics, concept albums and their use of experimental music.

Huh?   Well, just take it from me (and Jon) they are well worth a listen.
It has been another horrible week for the Downes household. Tuesday was a weird one even my my standards! I used to have a Roger Waters bootleg in which he described his then-current stage show as an 'emotional rollercoaster'. Well I cannot remember much about the rest of the show because I lent it to someone who shall remain nameless over twenty years ago, and never got it back, but the phrase still lurks in my cerebral cortex...and Tuesday WAS an emotional rollercoaster.
To recap: we started the day with no car, (and Graham's car being o/s as well) and with Prudence the dog facing over a grand's worth of surgery. Helen (Gawd bless her) took Corinna and Prudence to the vet in Bradworthy in the morning.

Then the garage (which is run by Helen's brother and sister-in-law) rang. The car was fixed! I was convinced that I was going to have to fork out for a new car (I had set my heart on a Mercedes) but now I don't. Not yet, anyway.
Then on Wednesday morning, the RAC arrived to tow Graham's car into Bideford to get the clutch fixed. And guess what? Despite the fact that it has not worked for three weeks it works fine now.

Then on Thursday Prudence had her X-Ray. She will indeed be having major orthopaedic surgery on Monday, and will then have to rest for six weeks. Poor little thing. I feel so sorry for her: not only is she going to have an operation on Monday, but she will be confined to the kitchen for six weeks as she won't be allowed on the sofa or chairs in case the climb destroys her recovering ligaments.

Post operative recuperation is nasty enough for humans who understand what is going on, but for an (admittedly not very clever) dog, who is trusting and affectionate and wants nothing more than cuddles and fussing, it must be  horrid. Poor dear. And poor me - I have to find a thousand quid from somewhere to pay for it.

And then this evening, I had a telephone call from my younger stepdaughter who is living in my house in Exeter. There has been a burst pipe and a subsequent flood. There doesn't seem to be that much damage, but I won't know until Graham gets there tomorrow.

Emotional rollercoaster? I should coco.

Thank you for letting me share the ups and downs of my peculiar life with you all. I know that they have little or nothing to do with the main subject of this magazine - or do they?

Music is important, because it brings people together. It was one of the earliest social activities practised by our species, and one of the most important things about this magazine is that it brings like minded people together into a very real and sharing community. So I make no apologies for sharing my problems with you all, but I thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to do so.
There is still likely to be a monthly magazine in both digital and hard copy formats at some point, as soon as I have managed to attract around me more like-minded souls who want to contribute.

We are living in disturbing and strange times, but ultimately they are very interesting ones, and continuing to chronicle the Gonzoverse is an immensely rewarding thing to do. Thank you for reading.

Until next week,

Jon Downes
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