Tuesday, March 30, 2010


...religious kooks (and in this case I say that lovingly) are more interesting than annoying.

I confirmed this when I watched the Danielson documentary last night.

I have admired this group for a while now. In fact, I posted something about them a few years ago, mostly regarding the fact that they are from New Jersey, where I grew up. (It's a place usually considered annoying, and rarely considered interesting.)

Honestly, I was only dimly aware of the religious connection until I saw the documentary. Still, I came away not caring about that particular detail, except in the sense that I can respect when someone is able to believe in something -- anything -- without using that belief to browbeat another human being into submissive agreement (a habit that besets way too many modern Christians, in my humble opinion).

I excerpted a few choice comments -- the first two made by fans of the group, and the last by Daniel Smith (the group leader and songwriter) -- below:

I'm really kinda freaked out by 'em, and I'm in a metal band, and they fucking freak me out. They scare me. So, they're doing something right, because of that, I guess.

Yeah, I listen to music about taking drugs -- I don't take drugs. I listen to music about taking Christ -- I don't take Christ. But I like the music, I like the sincerity of the message, I like that someone sincerely thinks that taking lots of ecstasy will make this a happy world, or that taking lots of Jesus will make this a happy better world.

Getting myself out of the way of these songs being made, so the lord can construct them himself -- that's the goal. I'm involved, but I try to remain humble and keep my ego, you know, out of the way. So in that sense I think it's the most natural way to create. But it's also humbling. But I think it's the most exciting way as well, because you're just watching things happen. Instead of trying to, you know, pretend you know better. [...] and I do struggle with that, of course. I go in there and say "Okay, this thing could go with this," and I do that sometimes, but it doesn't work. It just doesn't work for me. It's best to just kind of wait, and watch things point to each other.

That last bit seems kinda Zen to me. Take out the old-dude-in-the-sky reference, and it's not unlike the sort of thing most composers / improvisers say about their own process.


tany said...

I'm stoked that you know about this band. I've seen this documentary twice and really admire the lack of pretension and abundance of spirit that comes from them.

And I love Brother Danielson's screechy-but-not-preachy singing, which is unique unto himself. It's interesting how you don't notice the "message" at first because you're enamored (or caught off guard) by the music, as with Sufjan Stevens. Even then, it's not really a message, but an audible pondering.

I've got to stop drinking and commenting. Thanks Dr. D.

Andrew Durkin... said...

Well-said, and agreed! Also: I think you're the first person I know personally who also likes this group.