Pete Townshend @ SXSW
Legendary Who guitarist Pete Townshend delivered this year's keynote at Austin's SXSW. He spoke at length about the magic of his band (who, incidentally, canceled a show in Florida the night before in the middle of their first song; singer Roger Daltrey--who has bronchitis--walked off stage). Townshend also waxed poetic about a new project he's working on:
Townshend also announced the launch of a new project entitled 'The Method'. Complete details will be revealed at a press conference in London on April 25, but in the meantime a flyer offered these hints:
"The Method - designed by Lawrence Ball - offers subscribers the opportunity to create their own unique musical composition by 'sitting' for the Method software composer, just as you would sit for a painter making your portrait.
The first example of this process can be heard, elaborated into a song by Pete, on 'Fragments', the opening track of The Who's latest album 'Endless Wire'."
Townshend explained that he came up with the idea of The Method 30 years ago, but had to wait until now to launch it because computers were not powerful enough and there wasn't an internet to allow the idea to be realised.
Here's what folks at SXSW are saying about the keynote:
Oh, and this is what made me think of Beijing rock, where a political/dissident patina gets painted onto so much music as a marketing ploy, or out of juvenile, misguided iconoclasm:
I didn't know what politics was when I was a kid. If we're going to make [rock music] political, let's make it fucking political.
Hallelujah, brother Pete. I have no objection per se to politics in rock music: I just want rock musicians to acknowledge that most political issues we confront just aren't that simple. For me, 99.99% of the time, reducing any issue to rhyming verses and a repeating chorus is just bullshit sloganeering that doesn't contribute to intelligent discussion. If I had a choice between allowing the ideas of rock musicans or, say, college professors to influence my political thinking, the choice for me wouldn't be a tough one.
No matter what the forum is, Pete Townshend isn't shy -- and he doesn't send mixed signals, either.
The way he sees it, the death of bassist John Entwistle contributed to a different dynamic within The Who.
"The chemistry that we have today is a completely different one, but it's just as effective," he told Bill Flanagan during Wednesday's keynote address. "It's just different. I think it enabled us to make a new record. I think if John had been alive, it would have been much, much, much tougher to make [Endless Wire]."
And, of course, Mr. Townshend gets the last word:
Although he has embraced recent technology, Townshend emphasised his preference for live events happening in "real time" as opposed to the internet that delivers things "on-demand".
"During live shows you bring yourself more into the present moment," he said. "Music is about congregation, gathering and sharing. Fuck the internet - I want it live!"