We’ve asked bands/artists to share with us their highs and lows of 2016 and what they hope the New Year will bring to them. Here’s the year in review with Chris Cusack of Outblinker.
On a scale of 1-10, how was 2016 been for you?
Personally a solid 7. Socio-politically a solid -7
Have you learned any life lessons this year?
Yeah of course. I hope so. As a band, we learned some very practical lessons regarding things like insurance and legal procedures that are designed to protect us from sharks. Gone are the days of ignoring these facilities. The more you get fucked over, the more grateful you are of the safe-guards that can be put in place to avoid it. I miss the innocence of my early days touring and relying on trust alone, but it was a false economy. If you want to do music for longer than your mid-twenties then you need to adapt to the reality that a disappointing proportion of people in and around music are there specifically to separate you from your cash, and nothing else. So it becomes essential to understand the systems in place and make sure you can protect yourself. Otherwise you are playying dice every time you agree to a show.
What was the highlight of 2016 for you?
Touring Europe for 4 weeks was excellent. Not without it’s tribulations but, in terms of actual concerts, people and fond memories, really rewarding. I also helped run a DIY arts festival in Glasgow earlier in the year called Restless Natives. It was huge and extremely challenging and also very rewarding, but I’d have to say just lying in bed the morning after that finished was an enormous relief. The cooperation of people like Ian Mackaye and actress Kate Dickie on that festival were very encouraging. It would be very easy for people like them to politely turn you down, as they have lots going on. But seeing someone successful go out of their way to support a grassroots venture gave me a warm, fuzzy glow and was a nice reminder that sometimes it is actually ok to meet your “heroes”. Lastly, on a more personal level, re-igniting some very old friendships was really special.
Any low points for you?
Life was actually quite smooth on a personal level in 2016. Running the festival in May was extremelystressful and demanding but also challenging and exciting so it doesn’t qualify. The lowest points of the year were really the more communal ones. Brexit and the US Election in particular. Watching the world unravel and – as per usual – feeling both perplexed and helpless as to how people behave in these ways and how to do anything about it.
As regards the band, we were the victim of some unscrupulous behaviour by individuals working in and around the music scene in Scotland and that was disillusioning. We’ll sort it out eventually, but it still stings a bit to know that, even at the lowest levels of touring and performing within what should be a tight local scene, there exist such pernicious attitudes.
What was the most overhyped thing of 2016?
Music. The vast majority of contemporary music is pure hype. Everything from atrocious cynical garbage like Kanye West and Taylor Swift right down to atrocious cynical garbage like any number of Scottish frustrated-indie-turned-pseudoironic-commercial-electronic-pop acts. Pure nudge-nudge-wink-wink sell-out land-fill.
Worst of 2016?
The new “Ghostbusters” film, followed by genocide, global warming and the continuing over-use of anti-biotics.
Best of 2016?
Movies “The Lobster”, “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” and “Don’t Breathe”. Sam Harris’ “Waking Up” podcast. Finally reading “Under The Banner of Heaven” by John Krakauer. Andy Murray becoming world #1, cos he’s a really decent guy, which seems rare at the top of sport. As regards my own experiences, visiting Azkoitia in the Basque Country, which was loads of fun and absolutely beautiful.
Best albums of the 2016?
2016 was a fairly poor year for albums as most of the end-of-year polls attest to. Electric Electric’s “III” is excellent if very dense. Holy Fuck’s “Congrats” was decent if not as good as their previous output. I could just write Radiohead, Nick cave or PJ Harvey here ‘cos that’s what most journalists seem to do.
Worst albums of the 2016?
I’m sure there is an almost limitless supply of possibilities here. Instead, I’d go more in the direction of “disappointing” and to that end I’d suggest Radiohead. Other than a couple of tracks, it’s ultra-forgettable. Coming from the band that released “In Rainbows” there is really no excuse. Factory Floor’s newest album was also a bit of a let-down. Seems like they spent a full day working on those tunes.
Any new year’s resolution for 2017?
As a band, finish the album and get to work on a couple of other interesting projects that have been thrown our way. As a human being, start moving on a couple of writing and journalistic projects I have been toying with for years but not yet actually set in motion. Personally, try better come to terms with past short-comings and deny them the ability to hang about like ghosts. Oh and try get noticed by Celtic FC before it’s too late. I’m only 36. I’ve got a few good months left in me.