A Thousand Miles Apart

Remember your first couple of months at college?  Lonely, poor and eating enough carbs to make even Amy Winehouse fat?  Good times…good times.  Thankfully they don’t last forever.  Eventually you make friends, earn some money by selling plasma and learn what bars serve free appetizers during happy hour, but in the meantime, your downright miserable and all you can think about are your friends from home.  In short, these lost months at the beginning of your quest for a higher education are not exactly the stuff of musical inspiration.  That is, unless your A Thousand Miles Apart.  No I’m not talking distance here people…I’m talking one of the hottest new bands to hit the college rock scene in years.  We sat down with the band’s 2 masterminds Josh Q and Josh T to discuss the influence of distance on the band’s songwriting.

Josh Q [Colorado] i want to be green
and bold…there

Josh T [Arkansas] i’ll be red and italic!

Figment – How did you two [Josh Q and Josh T] meet?

well its a funny story actually…
yeah, both of our parents died in separate car crashes,
and were sent to the same hospital.
In the waiting room, i saw JQ while I was looking for people to judge. he was sitting alone wearing headphones that were not plugged into anything.
my ipod had been destroyed in the crash. i sat there, in shock, humming a tune that ended up turning into our song, “Road Trip.”
The song is less about a fun family road trip, and more about…
well you get the picture
he looked misunderstood, which is something i totally understand.
no one understands…
yeah, whatever. so we “bonded” or something over our ironically dead parents.
…now that i think about it… that’s not really a funny story…
yeah, but that’s what makes it funny

Figment – Anything you two want to tell us about your relationship?

oh no. jq likes girls.
i approve of them.

Figment – How hard is it to record an album like “Home Sweet Misery” with you two living so far apart?

Home Sweet Misery

Well Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tomborello (The Postal Service) did it, and my name is kinda like Jimmy
yeah, and my name’s kinda.. like… Ben?
anyway, despite our distance, we both found fault in our ‘homes.’
like when you’re at your dad’s place in Indiana with his super conservative, religious family for the whole summer and you haven’t had a drink in two months and you’re ready to shove a fork in your neck…
My stepmom was the anti-christ… while she was alive… her death may have saved millions….
With that kind of motivation, you can pretty much do anything

Figment – What the hell is mYousic all about – what does it mean? Is that like mmbop by Hansen?

mmmmmbop!.. hahaha
epic fail for a song.
poor guys.
It’s about the music in YOU! er… I guess it’d have to be the… you… in the music… whatever
we vouched for ‘music’ but apparently it was too simple minded.
a friend came up with mYousic at a party and i thought it was stupid, but it stuck. and that is what mYousic is all about.
exactly. because whenever you hear a song at a party that you hate, it gets stuck in your head.
The world revolves around irony.

Figment – The song “Cyanide in a Sippy Cup” is one of my favorites on the new album. What was the origin of that song?

It’s kinda like the whole, ‘babies sleeping in bathtubs’ thing
messy
obviously not LITERALLY or anything…
it’s more centered on the irresponsibility and abusiveness of parents
your mom’s centered on the irresponsibility and-
his mom tried to kill him with a sippy cup.
what does that even mean?
next question.

Figment – You’re going on tour soon – any cities that you are looking forward to hitting?

I enjoy playing for an audience of strangers. but the feeling that comes from a hometown show is worth noting.
there’s a little bar and grill back home that we totally wont be playing at
he likes to emphasize the negative
it leaves less room for disappointment
I think we should buy the place and burn it down… while performing in it.
that would make an incredible music video.
reminds me of the last time i went on a date
a building burning to the ground?
yeah
[long pause]
literally or symbollically?
both

Figment – What do you do in your offtime?

mastur-
I like to be introspective. You know, sit in a dark room, maybe lit by a candle or something, listening to Angels and Airwaves or Dashboard Confessional.
wow, I thought I was the gay one…
hahaha, i hop on trains as they come through town. it is very cathartic.
I watch a lot of trash television. Watching society as it sinks lower and lower is one of my favorite pastimes

Figment- Is the song “Leaky Faucets and Ceilings” really a song about plumbing or is that just a metaphor?

i have always interpreted it as a rainy day by the ocean.
really..? because i was thinking it was metaphorical for ones petty problems affecting the lives of others?
ooh. i like that. well done.
why thank you.
It really does feel like a rainy day by the ocean though
you’re an idiot
you are a leaky faucet.
[editor’s note:  both broke into song here for a solid thirty seconds.]

Figment – You sing about arson, insurance, plagues, etc. Will you ever sing about butterflies?

This album was centered around the feelings associated with an unhappy “home”, which isn’t really the best place for butterflies…
i heard a rumor that butterflies can stir up some nasty messes around the world.
maybe on our next album

Figment – Do you guys ever sign each other’s name when asked for an autograph? You know…as a goof?

we try to take our identities seriously. it is not easy having different parents that gave us the same name and then died at the same time. but there is something intriguing about our names. i think it makes us stronger as a band. who would pay to see KISS play without their masks on, right?
who would pay to see KISS, period? Sometimes I’ll just sign “Josh” so they’re totally at a loss… though my signature is barely legible anyway.
yeah, autographs are the only thing anyone wants handwritten anymore so we have to be creative. sometimes i sign over his name with a different color.
we once signed a whole show with invisible ink.
it was great because they left ecstatic, thinking they had our autographs. And by the time they got home, it was gone.
sometimes i wonder if we’re sadistic, or just bored.

Figment – Seriously, anything you want to tell us about your two’s relationship?

our love does not leave our music.
or my bedroom
what?
nothing

Thanks for interviewing us, Eric
i like that name.
me too. we should write a song about him on our next album.
i’ve already got the instrumentals rolling.
i’ll email you lyrics within the hour.

Boundaries

August 21st, 2008

We here at Figment consider ourselves a pretty fair bunch and as I’ve said in other posts we go out of our way not to over police our site for what we consider offensive material, but rather try to allow the users to self-police those bands they find offensive.  If enough people agree that a band is offensive than we mark it offensive, that is unless something is truly over the top in which case we step in.  We have never removed a band or album from Figment for being offensive (when we mark something offensive it is only filtered out of view of those people that asked not to be shown offensive material when they created an account on Figment), until now. 

Today I removed a band that made fun of people who suffer from Down Syndrome.  I thought long and hard about whether or not I should remove this content from Figment, but in the end decided that there are certain boundaries we have to set for the site and this band crossed those boundaries.  Making fun of people with developmental disabilities is something that has been done before, but it’s a slippery slope and one that requires a lot of finesse on the part of the person delivering the joke in order for it to be funny.  When it’s not it’s simply mean-spirited.  We found this band mean-spirited, and even if it wasn’t meant in harm, felt it could cause harm simply by perpetuating a stereotype that increases the stigma attached to those who are developmentally disabled.  That’s not what we created Figment for.

In short, just because something is delivered as a joke doesn’t mean it isn’t hurtful and we all need to be mindful of that fact.  Is it a right to think whatever you want regardless of whether it hurts someone’s feelings?  Yes, but it’s also our right to restrict the use of our bandwidth to promote something we feel crosses the line.

Right now the movie “Tropic Thunder” is also under attack for scenes that use the term “retard” and although I’m not sure I support the idea of a boycott, I do think the filmmakers should have considered some of the complaints leveled at their movie prior to releasing it and practiced a little self-editing of their own.  That is certainly what we are asking all of you to do on Figment.

So what other boundaries have we set?  Well, I don’t want you to think that we are telling you what to express, but let’s face it there are certain areas that I think we would all agree are overtly offensive.  For instance, racist, sexist and hate related material.  We aren’t looking to play the role of big brother on Figment, but we do expect everyone to play our game in a respectful and fair manner and if we feel something doesn’t meet those criteria we will exercise our right to remove the material or it’s creator from Figment.  We also understand that there is always room for interpretation and will try to consider that before making any decision related to permanently removing any form of content from Figment.  Furthermore, we promise to always notify the user as to our decision and allow them an opportunity to remove the material themselves.

We’re open to hearing what you think about this issue so feel free to leave us a comment with your perspective.

Figment is proud to announce that Vince Neilstein, co-founder of Metal Sucks a blog devoted to the intelligent discussion of all things metal, has agreed to become an industry heavyweight on Figment.  Vince will be reviewing metal bands on Figment and rewarding those lucky few he thinks deserve it by buying and listening to their albums.  So if you’ve already created a metal band on Figment be on the lookout for Vince’s feedback, and if you haven’t there’s no better time than the present.

Vince co-founded Metal Sucks with Axl Rosenberg in December of 2006, because “there was no online heavy metal community where intelligent thoughtful discussion took place, so we decided to create our own.”  Committed to “breaking the stereotype that metalheads are a bunch of ignorant neanderthals” Metal Sucks provides up-to-the-minute metal news, reviews and interviews with some of the biggest bands on the scene, all with a sense of humor and style that make it a must read for those in the metal community.

So be on the lookout for Vince’s reviews and pay Metal Sucks a visit, it’s a great read.

Well it’s been a while since we’ve done a Picked to Click! column, but there is no shortage of great bands that have been added to Figment during our hiatus.  Why were we gone for so long?  Why bore you with the details – let’s get to the pickin’!

A Thousand Miles Apart – I was really impressed by this band’s debut album “Home Sweet Misery”.  A solid, solid debut.  Everything about this fake band and record are well done.  Misery loves company, so become a fan and buy their album!

Coyote McGee – The first fake comedian and fake comedy album to be added to Figment is pure perfection!  Had me laughing from minute 1 and it’s all fake – now that’s a comic!  His first comedy album, “Lafftermath”, is a definite buy!

Avenging Angels on High – There are a lot of metal bands on Figment.  In fact, it’s one of the most popular musical genres on the site.  Unfortunately, volume does not always equate with quality, and many of the bands are not that well developed.  And then there’s Avenging Angels on High or AAH as I like to refer to them.  Their debut album “Elements of Power” is a tour de force.  Great artwork, great song titles, the whole package.  So do yourself a favor, buy the album and let AAH show you how it’s done.

Body Harvest – A close second to AAH is Body Harvest.  Again, strong band description, great artwork and good song titles.  Their debut album “The Apocolypse” gets slight points off for the incorrect spelling in the title.  Spell check people.  Spell check.

Sons of Carpathia – A close third in the metal sweepstakes is Sons of Carpathia’s and their debut “Death Before Enslave”.  This band has one of the craziest back stories I’ve ever read.  Great stuff.  They also have some of the best band news on the site – so check em’ out.

Fait Accompli – This goth rock band has not only a great name, but is also a text book example of how to create a fake band.  From their well written band description to their 2 releases, “Gentleman’s Agreement” and the remix EP “Medusa Kiss”, this is a band to study.  I’d also like to say that their creator, overground, is a reviewer par excellence.   My only criticism is that for some reason I see this band as more of a garage rock/indie rock band than a goth rock act, but that’s just my two cents and god knows it’s probably not even worth that.

Crotch Rocket – Rod Johnson and the boys have delivered another broadside to his brother’s band Pincher Nipple with their new album “Thruster”.   We don’t think this album is anywhere near as good as their debut, but it’s fun to check out the war of words going on between the two bands on each of their band pages.  I love a good sibling rivalry and this one is a barnburner.

Replay – This punk band from Sykesville, MD is quite good.  Their debut album “Pause” is worth a buy!  But again, to us, this band looks more electronic than punk.  Dig the crazy artwork in the band description on their band page.

Automaton Transfusion – Another well designed band.  I like the Rob Zombiesque album cover for their initial release “Underglorified” and the fact that they’ve laid the groundwork for a deep back story, but have yet to completely tip their hat.  Nicely done.

White Buffalo – This band truly hit the road in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina slammed into their hometown of New Orleans.  Forced to hole up in an auto shop in Baton Rouge, this group of musicians formed not only a bond but also a  band, and their debut album “Parish Priests and Pirates” celebrates their return to the road not as refugees, but as troubadors.  I love their album cover and although the song titles need a little help I like the overall vibe of this fake band.  Buy it!

The Peeyaws – From the band description to the song titles on their first LP “Dead Sexy”, the Peeyaws exude a kind of smart ass punk charm that well I dig.  They seem to have a sense of humor about themselves and yet don’t take them too lightly or they’ll snarl at ya!  Plus the name of their producer KellyButterTowel is classic!  Buy it. 

Black and Pink Checkers – I’m always a sucker for a good pop band and although the Black & Pink Checkers claim to be an emo punk band, for my money their still a pop band.  Okay, so the happy shiny pop punk thing is a bit cloying, but you know what, their youthful exuberance overweighs that and the song titles on their debut album “Pretty in Punk” are so perfectly in tune with their esthetic that I can’t help but like them.  So put aside the daily grind and appease your inner teenager by buying and listening to their album.  You’ll be happy you did.

Dark Lems – Creepiest band photo…EVAH!

Pool of Users – We don’t often promote the creations of our own staff, but Pool of User’s new release “Positively Negative” is worth a view as is Pusher’s new album To The Limit”.  Both were created by our very own Rikki.

And then there are the bands whose names we just plain love:

Crazy Awesome Dudes

Forever Ends Today

Critical Purpose

Napalm Blitz

Oliver Klosoff

Satan’s Shitkickers

The Art of Misfortune

Well that’s it for this week.  We hope you’ll take a look at all the bands above and let them know what you think by becoming a fan, buying their album(s), giving them a listen and writing a review.  See ya next week!