I hadn’t listened to the Kreative Kontrol podcast before checking out Vish Khanna’s interview with Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra‘s Efrim Menuck, but both guys afforded me a new perspective on each of their “work” that’s made me a fan of band and podcast alike.
Menuck and Khanna have an engaging discussion about the work of making music about 17 minutes into the podcast that particularly caught my attention. Menuck talked about being hyperaware of working at making music, and of being impatient with musicians who make like music is a special gift from God and not something that needs to be sweated out and laboured over. That’s not a sentiment or position that many artists will admit to or prescribe to, but it’s true: music is work, and the work of being in a band comes with pitfalls and issues, just the same as any nine-to-five job might.
So, having approached Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra’s (herein to be referred to as SMZ) newest album, Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything as a piece of art, I went back to it after listening to the interview to re-examine it as work. Instantly the record takes on a whole new meaning. A spoken word introduction by Menuck’s son opens Fuck Off… : “We live on the island called Montreal, and we make a lot of noise, because we love each other.” As a starting point, you can’t get any smarter, any more honest, and any darn cuter than that.
Why do we work? We work to maintain momentum, to keep the machinery of our lives, our families, moving forward. I like my job, some days I really care about what I do and get into it deeply, but I don’t go to it day in and day out because I like it; I go because doing it helps my family to survive and be happy. Work lets me do things that I truly enjoy and make me happy, like blogging and listening to music, but it’s not something I love. I love my family, so therefore I work.
Why do SMZ work? They work because they love their families, too. On one level they work to provide the basic necessities of life with the money they earn as musicians, but on a much deeper level, their work confronts all the mayhem and turmoil of the world at large and questioning the quality (and quantity) of life we’re leaving the next generations. It’s become clear to me that, as parents, Menuck and violinist Jessica Moss channel the love and concern they must have as parents into the noisy battle cries of songs like “Austerity Blues” and “What We Loved Was Not Enough”. Slimming down to a family-sized five-piece (with drummer David Payant, and original members Thierry Amar on bass and violinist Sophie Trudeau rounding out the roster this time out) has turned SMZ into a sharply focussed and tightly wound self-contained unit that’s brimming with outrage at what they see surrounding their island home. But Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything counter-weighs the problematic with possibility. There is a hope, underlined by the captivating lullaby “Little Ones Run”, that runs through this record that never lets you drown in the shit storm that’s brewing outside your door. You have to work at finding it, but hope is there.
Credit to Vish Khanna for his hard work and effort to make Kreative Kontrol a podcast that goes beyond star-struck admiration of some other gushing interviewers who shall remain nameless, and asks some thought-provoking questions of it’s guests, and then gives them an opportunity to say what’s on their mind without editing or cutting them off. If you haven’t had the pleasure of listening, I suggest you look into Kreative Kontrol soon.
And if the work I’ve done here has aroused your curiosity about SMZ and Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything, work your way to wherever you buy records and pick it up; it’s out now on Constellation Records.Tags: Montreal QC, Quebec, SMZ, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra