Trippy Wicked & the Cosmic Children of the Knight

Exclusive Interview Series: The internet and the music industry – Trippy Wicked And The Cosmic Children Of The Knight

As part of a new series of interviews EspyRock commander-in-chief Michael Hughes, who has just written a dissertation on the effect of the internet on the music industry for the University Of The West Of Scotland, will be getting the views of artists on the internet’s effect on the music industry. The interview series will cover what is currently going on with the band at the moment but will also feature a questionnaire ranging from topics as to illegal downloading, social networking, technology and the future of the industry.

Next to give us some of his time was Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight and Stubb drummer Chris West. Having just caught up with the Trippy Wicked in Glasgow a few days prior to submitting these questions on their UK tour I asked Chris a bit about Stubb, their touring and what the future lies for both bands.

Follow the band on Facebook and be sure to head on over to the band’s Bandcamp page where you can listen to ‘Movin On’ and their new stripped EP ‘The Bleak’ which both operate on the “name your price” scheme but if you like, support independent bands buy purchasing.

Interview

We managed to catch up with you at the Glasgow date on the UK tour which has just come to an end, how do you feel the tour did overall?

First off it was great to meet you and JJ in person, thanks for coming to the gig. The tour was awesome, such an amazing experience. We got on with the Stone Axe guys like long lost pals so the whole thing was a blast. Attendance was as you expect – some were busy and others not so. As long as there is a couple of people digging the songs then that’s all you need.

Was it nice to get up and play some of the places you wouldn’t ever regularly get to perform in and see the sights again?

Yeah we hadn’t played Birmingham or Sheffield before so that was cool. Glasgow was great again, such a fun city and I wish we could spend more time there but the journey there and back is always a long one.

Trippy WickedOne thing I didn’t question, or at least I don’t think I did in our last interview for ‘Movin On’ was regarding if the live show was always in mind when you wrote the album because the songs translated very well to the live environment. Everything from your drumming, Pete’s vocal and guitar playing even to the posing and dance moves pulled off by Dicky were spot on so is that something you think about while writing?

Yes and no. We’re more of a live band than a studio band but when we’re writing we’re just trying to right good solid songs. If you get that right then they work in any medium. It’s interesting now because we’ve played the songs a lot more live than we had when we recorded them. I’m playing certain parts slightly differently now.

The surprise on the tour for me was discovering Stubb, which you and Pete are involved in. Pete says that you have been in the band for around a year so how did it come around for you both to get involved?

Ah yeah Stubb. Jack is the original member of Stubb and a couple of years back the bass player and drummer left so he asked if me and Pete wanted to take their places and we thought why the hell not, it’s a slightly different vibe from Trippy and it’ll be fun.

Does it give you a little bit of a break from Trippy Wicked because you’re playing with that late 60s-70s sort of Hendrix vibe with Jack over the sludge/doom sound with Dicky?

Yeah I definitely change my drumming style and Pete gets to play some bass as well. I’ve only ever drummed for Trippy so it’s good for me to get a little perspective.

The album is also coming out in the near future, mixed by one of the guys in Low Sonic Drift if I remember Pete saying correctly, so what can people going to expect from it?

Hopefully we’ll get a summer release for the album. It’s has been mixed at Dropout Studios in South London and Tony from Stone Axe is going to master it. He’s also keen to remix it as well so we’re talking about that at the moment.

Recently Trippy Wicked has been doing some acoustic covers and of course the EP ‘The Bleak’. What prompted you to go on and make this EP?

Well me and Pete had been playing some acoustic sets here and there doing versions of some of the ‘Movin On’ songs and some other songs we’ve written. That had died down and I was chatting to Chris from Witchhunter Records and he said he’d be up for releasing an acoustic EP. ‘The Bleak’ is a re-working of a much longer sludge epic I had written a few years before and we wanted to show what else we can do so we went for it.

Do you think we could see an acoustic version of ‘Movin On’ or some songs being converted over or even a covers album/EP?

We’ve demoed three or four acoustic versions and they were available for a little while as our ‘Acoustic Session’ demo but that’s no longer available.

Of course in the acoustic material you taking control of the guitar so do you ever think about coming off the drums for a session? We now know Pete can play bass so can Dicky drum?

Yeah Dicky used to drum a while back but I think he’s happy playing bass. For our next recordings I’ll be handling some of the guitar but only in terms of playing it the studio. I’m leaving the writing up to Pete, he writes most of our stuff and it just works so well so I’m not going to interfere with that.

With Stubb releasing an album this year what is currently happening with Trippy Wicked, are you still working on new material?

We’re recording two songs in early May for a split 7inch with Dopefight from Brighton and we’re working on songs for our next full length. Last year didn’t exactly go to plan with what we were doing so we’re taking our time and making sure everything is right. We may have another split on the way as well but it’s very early in the discussion stages for that.

What is the plan for 2011 for both bands, just keep playing and writing as much as possible?

We’re going to get the Stubb album out and gig to support that, get the Trippy split with Dopefight out and possibly another one and then record our second album later in the year. We’re always trying to gig as much as possible because that’s where you really hone your sound. I’d love to get us back into Europe as well because the two Stubb gigs we did in Germany were amazing.

Internet and the music industry

The biggest issue with the internet for artists is of course illegal downloading and there has been a rapid decline in value of the industry as the internet expands throughout the world. Several artists I have spoken to have stated that it has become part of life and that now selling albums is no longer a profitable business; money is solely earned from touring. What are your views on the matter of illegal downloading?

That’s only an issue for those artists that refuse to catch up with the modern world. The implications of the potential global distribution of your music are HUGE. You just have to work out how you’re going to use it to your advantage. Not everyone knows or wants to know how to use a Bit Torrent client. There is still a large number of people that are only interested in physical media and hate the mp3 world. This is a constantly moving area at the moment but I think right now the best an artist can do (depending on genre) is have their music available on CD, vinyl and mp3. If you make your music available directly from you at a reasonable price then people are more likely to buy it from you. There are some downloaders that will never stop getting their music for free though. Ignore them. Don’t waste your energy fighting them, putting your energy into writing, playing and creating awesome music. There are people in the world that are more than happy to pay for it.

I also think this is part of a much larger cultural change. The computer games industry is massive and growing, so is the home cinema industry. People are spending less on music because they’re spending more elsewhere, it’s not just because they’re downloading free music.

Trippy Wicked - Chris WestDo you feel that any of the current methods such as watermarking or streaming based models which have users paying a fee to stream music will take off and help stop the illegal sharing of music files? Or do you see any strength with the idea of giving away your music for free, having it shared around the world and again relying on touring to make money?

From my own personal experience yes I think streaming will for sure. As soon as I discovered Bit Torrent that’s all I used. Now I use Spotify for most of my listening unless it’s more obscure/underground stuff which I buy from bands. Nothing will stop illegal downloading. It’s the nature of digital information and the internet and artists need to be aware of the idea “Information wants to be free”.

The global recorded music industry saw a 31% decline in value from the years of 2004 to 2010 but the digital music market has seen a 1000% increase in value over the same period. Do you see the internet’s influence on the industry as the sole cause of this decline or do you believe there are any other factors which you consider an issue?

Major labels are no longer ripping off the public and the artists they represent as much as they used to. This is awesome. The internet has obviously played a huge role but it’s not as clear cut as it just being illegal downloading. Artists and labels failed to take advantage of new opportunities and the figures show this. Again, the entertainment industry is growing in various areas and this has an impact. How many people do you see now with very sophisticated digital SLR cameras? That’s several hundred CDs worth right there. Artists also need to be aware of the fact that there was a time before both record labels and the ability to record music existed. That was only 100 years or so in the past.

With such a growth in the digital music market, many artists have already stopped creating physical albums; the most notable is Rob Zombie who stated his most recent release would be his last physical album as the growing popularity of iTunes and Amazon is now controlling album sales. The IFPI recently published findings that 16.5% of internet users in the United States purchase their music digitally than physically.
Firstly as an artist and music fan, do you still buy physical albums or do you download from digital music stores? Secondly, do see the digital music markets as something positive for the industry and your career as a new and cheaper distribution method?

If I buy CDs it’s normally from smaller bands. I don’t buy major stuff as I get it on Spotify. If it’s not on there I generally don’t listen to it as there is so much cool stuff available. I’m not sure who’s missing out there, me or the artist? I’m just getting back into vinyl as well. I don’t tend to buy digital music because the prices are too high and I’m well aware of the cut that places like iTunes take. I like buying stuff off Bandcamp though as long as artists have priced their music sensibly.

As the digital music stores assist in distribution, other factors that come into releasing an album are marketing and promotion of any sort. What are your views on the ability to use the internet to promote and market yourself?

It’s great that you can now do this yourself. It means you get a lot of people that have no clue about how to do this but at least they now have the chance.

Social networking has naturally become a massive asset in the industry for labels and artists to be able to interact with fans on an everyday basis from anywhere in the world. Do you feel that if the social networking boom hadn’t taken place that it would effectively hinder careers as there would have been no direct route to communicate with fans?

Sort of but not really. It only benefits those that have worked out how to use it effectively (or are naturally able to use it effectively). If it didn’t exist people would be working out how to marking their music via whatever means was available instead.

A big development in recent years has been the hardware and software that has been created for anyone and everyone to purchase. We now find aspiring artists building their own home studios at their computer by purchasing top of line software, sound cards, microphones and such. What are your views on the technology advancements in recent years from software, hardware and even to the MP3 itself? What positives or negatives if any do you see from these advancements?

It’s awesome that people can build their home studios but…..great music is a combination of many factors that include, but are not limited to, songwriting and production. Production quality counts for a lot as does the recording experience. We went down the home recording route last year and ended up throwing an album away. For us quality matters. A lot. This is obviously massively genre dependent though. Lo-fi is a genre in itself and the music would be crap if it was recorded in a £1000 a day studio. It would lose its vibe.

Overall though I think the artists that will be successful are those that understand the value of quality recordings (relative to their music), take pride in what they are doing and present to the world in the best light possible.

Trippy Wicked - Band LiveWhile purchasing hardware/software and recording in your own home studio is a method of removing big studio costs and staff costs, recently fan funding in return for incentives has become a new way forward. Recently in the UK bands such as Madina Lake, Funeral For A Friend and The Blackout have used Pledge Music (Kickstarter in the US) in which fans contribute towards the cost of the studio in return for signed albums, special gifts and more. Do you think this method of involving fans more intimately in the creation of an album and offering them incentives to do so could be a way forward to combat the losses through piracy?

There’s something about it that I don’t really like. It seems like the wrong way round to me. It should be music first then money, not money then music. It probably works better for more established bands. Write your music, pay your dues, save the money you get over the year and put that towards recording. No one is going to start a totally unknown band then a kick-starter project for £5k, get their money and record an album. Fan funding using these models will not be the standard method that bands use. I think it will become/stay a very small part of the industry.

I also don’t believe that studio costs are prohibitively expensive and if you love your music that much save up your money and record when you can afford it.

In the United States from 1999 to 2009 there was a 17% fall in the number of people hired as a musician and in Europe, while not directly musicians, the estimated number of jobs likely to be lost due to piracy in the creative industries will reach 1.2 million by 2015. Do you worry as an artist that you will ever be swept by this wave and be forced to leave the industry you love in order to provide a better living for yourself?

I don’t believe piracy is the problem. The problem is the artists and labels inability to work out how to use the new world to their benefit. Plus…things change. You can’t demand you have a job in a particular area of work if there is no means for paying you for that work.

I work a day job to pay for my band at the moment so I won’t be leaving the industry as I guess I’m not really part of it in that sense. However I have every intention of working my arse off to get my band to a point where we are making money from our music so we can quit our jobs and pursue the music we love full time. The key is to adapt to the changing industry as it changes.

When you consider the industry previously to the time before the internet and to now with the internet in full swing, what do you see for the future of the industry?

Tough question. Well I think there has been two main changes. Firstly the amount of money that major labels are able to make has been reduced. The second is that the ability to create and distribute music has been opened up to pretty much everyone. The fact is that for ‘traditional’ success in music everything that was important before is still important now – CDs, records, magazines/reviews, labels, touring and so on. As for where it’s going next I honestly have no idea. I think in the last 10 years we’ve experienced the most major shift that’s going to happen for a while so I think the rate of change will die down for a while. It’s the nature of humanity to progress and build on what went before so who knows, ten years from now the industry could be unrecognisable.

     

About Michael

Michael is the owner and creator of EspyRock. He is your general all round geek; sports fan; TV show fanatic. You can find him sharing his thoughts on his personal Twitter account. Contact Michael on Twitter or via Email.

One Response to “Exclusive Interview Series: The internet and the music industry – Trippy Wicked And The Cosmic Children Of The Knight”

  1. it is e good thing you guys schow us thees things man!!!! thees stars like lady gaga are wicked from suriname um begi gi den sma want a sang dis no bun