Cris Cohen: The song “Beneath The Zenith,” when was that crafted? I know it is not about our current situation. But when it has lyrics like, “There is no cure for our disease,” that really jumps out at you in the time of a pandemic. I think it speaks to the fact that songs can fit different times and in different ways. How long ago did you write that song?
John Easdale of Dramarama: That is probably one of the more recent songs that I wrote, but it certainly had nothing to do with actual illness. It was more about our addiction to screens, advertising, and technology.
Cris Cohen: How do you personally balance that? Because you said in one interview that there is a good side, in that music fans are not limited to a very narrow channel where a few tastemakers decide who gets to hear what. But “Beneath The Zenith” talks about the difficulties and challenges to this new heavy-on-tech life. As a musician, as an artist, where does that put you in terms of pro or con?
John Easdale: I will be honest with you. I think it has a lot to do with being older, and looking back and thinking, "Oh, it was better in the old days." I remember when gas was less than $1 a gallon. We only had seven channels. Like that Dana Carvey Saturday Night Live character. “And we liked it that way.” We used to have a record and we had to put a needle on it, and that was good enough. So, there is that side to it.
But the availability of everything and the choices out there makes it the best of all possible worlds in a sense. I personally question some of the things that are out there, but that is just me. There are things that are available that… maybe it would be better if they were not so easily procured. I often think of how hard it was for me as a young man to have to sneak around and try to find my father's Playboy books that showed half a nipple or something. It blew my mind. Whereas a 13-year-old boy now, what he can see by looking on the internet, that would really blow a person's mind, so to speak.
The other part that I find daunting and kind of sad in a way is that, because of the number of choices and what is available, it kind of dilutes what breaks through into the mainstream or into people's lives. There used to be 100 bands, each with a record that sold one million copies. Now there are one million bands selling 100 records each.
You used to have to wait until a movie came on television before there were VHS, DVD, and now streaming. Now you can watch any movie you want, anytime you want. You can hear any song you want, anytime you want. And I think there is something to be said for that. It is great and it is wonderful. But at the same time, too much is too much.
And again, that is just me as an old man looking back on it.
Also, for my generation, everybody listened to rock and roll. It was what everybody did, and it was what everybody cared about. Now, because of the choices out there, I don't think it is as important to everybody as it was when I was growing up.
Cris Cohen: I don't know. I want to think music is still, in general, important to people. But yes, it is diluted, as you said.
John Easdale: Yes. And again, it is wonderful to have those choices. But it is sad to me to see rock and roll go on to the back burner, so to speak. Music, I think, is important to everybody. And it is one of the last connections we have to magic in our lives.