Update on The Beachles: An Interview with Clayton Counts

Last time we wrote about Clayton, it was in disgust at the $30 million lawsuit EMI was throwing at him for creating a mash-up of two of the label's most popular and iconic albums of all time: The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds. He called this record The Beachles' Sgt. Petsounds and released it for free on his blog. People downloaded it, so EMI also demanded the IP addresses of everyone who would do such a thing as "be curious about music." Oh, and let's emphasize that Clayton "released" this album only as a free download; he wasn't selling it, advertising it, or promoting it. In fact, he only posted the album to one forum once. (Papaya's headline said it all best: "'Beachles' Mash-Up Creator Becomes World's Richest Man Overnight; EMI Merely the Innocent Victim of His Insatiable Desire for Power.")

Well, I contacted Clayton to see how he was doing — and if he was dead yet. Answer: he's alive. Whew. The world cannot stand to lose someone blowing their nose on corporate bedsheets like this right now. And apparently Clayton's legal situation is getting better too, as he has not had contact with EMI in a long time.

"For the most part, our communication has ended. For a time, we were sending email back and forth to determine the 'amount to be discussed,' " wrote Clayton in an email. "I asked them, directly, how much was owed to them, and they ignored the question completely, so I'm guessing it's mostly blown over. But you never know with these guys. I have a few lawyers willing to go the distance for me, but that's probably the last thing EMI wants."

"I did feel that it was my obligation to inform the public about them wanting IP addresses," wrote Clayton. "To my knowledge, no other cease and desist has demanded such a thing. And even if it has, I'm the first to have pointed it out." From what we can tell too, this was the first case with a demand for the addresses. "A weaker-willed individual might not have been able to see through their threats, which from a legal standpoint were mostly empty, so I wonder if others have complied with such demands in the past."

Clayton received a lot of attention for The Beachles, and not just from the usual suspect blogs. The Rolling Stone blog wrote about the lawsuit, memorably saying, "Dude, you should be thanking EMI for giving you free publicity for your 'art.' BTW? We heard some of the tracks, and let’s just say that the whole was way, way less than the sum of its parts." Similarly, Stephen Cole of CBC.ca wrote a review with the sub-head "Beatles + Beach Boys = one headache-inducing remix album." Clayton's response:

"You know, I think it's funny. I mean: in the CBC newsletter, Stephen Cole amended his article to say that my record illustrates an 'utter lack of talent.' I guess he thinks that more talent is to be found in one of his articles about the season finale of 'West Wing.' I dare say that his is not the final word. Likewise, Rolling Stone gives lip service to anyone with a record contract, so I'm not sure that their opinions are necessarily unbiased," wrote Clayton (who really knows how to dish it back!). "But this record has been downloaded more than any experimental record I can think of, as well as any mash-up record this year, so I'd say that it's due some respect."

"It didn't just fall together by accident, although it may seem that way. But the truth is, this record demonstrates a good measure of talent, regardless of what anyone says. I've been working with digital audio for more than a decade, and it's only too easy to say that because I opted to leave things out of tune, or rather in tune with the originals, that this somehow makes it amateurish. It is giddily cynical, but not in the least bit sophomoric, and any attempt to characterize it that way is laughable."

I also asked him what he plans for the future, mostly because it's hard for me to imagine what you do before you make The Beachles and after you make it. I mean, was this a crazy record or what?! But it turns out he used to be a DJ in good ol' Chicago, and now he's concentrating on a "space-rock bossa nova record, which is thus far exceptionally melodic and easy to listen to" and doing re-mixes in his spare time.

He also mentioned future anti-major label actions, something that makes me want to high-five my enemies (who are, coincidentally, the major labels).

"Since all of this happened, though, I have been contacted by several investors who are interested in helping me start a record label, so for the next couple of years I will likely be spending a great deal of my time dismantling the major labels in every way I can," wrote Clayton, our hero. "Every dollar I make will help to demolish the old model of distribution. And seeing how my website is still getting several thousands of hits a day, I'd say that I'm off to a pretty good start."

We think so, too. Clayton will be speaking at a few colleges about his legal troubles come 2007, although none of the dates are scheduled and the only college he could confirm at this time is Belmont University in Nashville. He will be speaking as a guest of the Belmont Copyright Society.

Thurston Moore to Headline Sun Ra Dedication Concert in Chicago; Whitey Wins Yet Again

Now that the gigantic metal bean in Millennium Park has been fully polished, most Chicagoans have no need for secondary entertainment. Day after day they flock at the bean's summit, gazing into its smooth surface for hours at a time, cramming their pockmarked and broken faces in front of the reflected cityscape. Traffic on Michigan Avenue comes to a standstill each morning, as those possessed by its enchanting curves pour out of buildings and alleyways, a swelling mass that can only be satisfied by the unholy grandeur of twisting metal. Mothers clutching infants stand in the park, paralyzed with fear as the crowd approaches, and are trampled without pause. The frontrunner of the mob raises his pike in the bean's direction and offers the freshly-sacrificed head of a plump sow as offering to the bean. It is only then that the true voice of the Beangod can be heard, and she sings a pure reverie of erotic destruction, a song no mortal can ever hope to silence, and when i erase my corporeal form to fully ordain the fenestration of souls.

...Wh ...where am I? Shit, sorry guys. I had a nice little opener about Chicago set up, but then I got on the phone with my landlord and got kind of distracted from writing. What I was meaning to say was that the new Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago is going to be holding a two-day symposium on whack-jazz-afro-futurist-extraterrestrial musician Sun Ra. "Traveling The Spaceways" is its name and will include musical performances, readings, and even panel discussions, with titles like "The Sun Ra Diaspora: Art After Ra."

The symposium kicks off at 10 A.M. on Saturday, November 11, but a special concert will also be held the night before, billed as "Music For Tomorrow's World: A Dedication To Sun Ra" and featuring Thurston Moore as its headliner. I guess Thurston has some extra time in between curating festivals with ridiculous line-ups that are in far-off places that I don't have enough money for, and even if I did, they're in faraway places that I could never get to unless of course I invoked the abiding spirit of Frau Beangod who neither sleeps nor rests but enters my soiled bed at night using pliers and a thin raspy whisper.

Heliocentric world:

11.10.06 - Chicago, IL - The Hideout

Michael Bay May Want to Greenlight This One: A Live-Action Fraggle Rock Musical to Grace the Silver Screen… and a Zappa Is Involved!

Wagwan bois and gyals, I iz here representin' Lady Sovereign, and I waz jus' stoppin' by to let everybody know dat she be goin' on a mad fit tour dis fall. Yo yo, check it – I has heard that she iz travelin' all across big man America and his bruvva from the north, Canada (where her pops iz from). All you eskimo bois, battymen, rude bois, gangstas, big batty gyals, nanna's bois, and even you crazy motherfuckas better get out to see the major playa, one n' only S.O.V. when she comes spittin' through your town.

Not only iz she flowin' in her 5'1" frame cross country, but she be droppin' her debut album on motherfuckin' hallows eve, dis October 31st! Iz called Public Warning and you can already get your grimy hands on some sick e-cards if you can't wait fo da real ting. She be cheeky but fly as a fuckin' flyin' fish, and she def ain't gonna take no shit from any o' yous smartass pricks. She sayin' so herself that "if you hate [her] then fuck you." So fuck you.

Go out and support da only feminist rhyma around and see Lady Sovereign wit her "hairy armpits," "big baggy T-shirt," and "non-existent bum" while she kick some misogynist American rapper arse in da U.S. of A(nonymity). Big S.O.V. iz here to stay. Big up yo'self and spin her shit at your next lame party.

Blahbarians Unite!:

10.23.06 – Montreal, Canada – Club Soda
10.24.06 – Toronto, Canada – Opera House Concert Venue
10.26.06 – Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club
10.28.06 – Washington D.C. – 9:30 Club
10.29.06 – New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom
10.30.06 – New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom
10.31.06 – CD RELEASE NOT ANYWHERE IN PARTICULAR
11.01.06 – Philadelphia, PA – Starlight Ballroom
11.03.06 – Detroit, MI – St. Andrew's Hall
11.04.06 – Chicago, IL – Metro
11.05.06 – Minneapolis, MN – The Varsity Theater
11.07.06 – Boulder, CO – Fox Theater and Café
11.10.06 – Vancouver, Canada – Commodore Ballroom
11.11.06 – Seattle, WA – Neumos
11.12.06 – Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom
11.14.06 – San Francisco, CA – Club Mezzanine
11.15.06 – Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theatre
11.18.06 – Las Vegas, NV – Empire Ballroom
11.19.06 – San Diego, CA – House of Blues
11.22.06 – Dallas, TX – Gypsy Tea Room and Ballroom (17+ wtf?)
11.23.06 – Austin, TX – The Parish
11.24.06 – Houston, TX – Meridian Red Room
11.26.06 – New Orleans, LA – The Parish
11.27.06 – Tallahassee, FL – The Beta Bar
11.28.06 – Miami, FL – Studio A
11.30.06 – Petersburg, VA – The State Theatre St
12.01.06 – Atlanta, GA – The Loft

Michael Bay May Want to Greenlight This One: A Live-Action Fraggle Rock Musical to Grace the Silver Screen… and a Zappa Is Involved!

Last weekend while attending an elegant performance from Broken Social Scene, lead singer Kevin Drew went on and on with some rant about the Pope and how pedophiles only listen to Jimmy Buffet. He continued to get the crowd riled up by speaking of Fraggle Rock.

After hearing all of the drunken cheers of the audience, I thought about how cool it would be if someone would make Fraggle Rock into a feature-length film. I later that night prayed to God to make this wish come true. Days later, I discovered that God had made my wish come true, with a little help from Ahmet Zappa (son of... uh...).

Here is the formal letter I have written to God:

Dear God,

I know you're listening to me and answering my prayers. I really appreciate it, dooder. I see that you have answered one of my recent, more outrageous prayers. I also think it is swell and all that you have summoned Ahmet Zappa, son of Frank Zappa, to executive-produce a film about the glorious Fraggles, along with the Henson kids.

See, my problem with this is that I was just really drunk when I asked for this. You know how things seem like a good idea at the time when you're wasted. Remember that time in college? Yeah, exactly.

They want to have the Fraggles venture out of the rock and into the "real world." Yeah, there will be puppets and human actors interacting. This is unnecessarily capitalizing on a commercial success. It would never work for today's audience.

The only miracle that could save this film is if it became an anti-war vehicle and tolerance epic. I can see it now; people won't accept the Fraggles at first. Many men will not share the same urinal as Boober, and women will not know how to interpret the trans-gendered Mokey.

Signs will read: "We Serve Vanilla Coke, But We Don't Serve Fraggles." This will lead up to an all out war between Devendra Banhart and the Fraggles (good) and David Duke and the Gorgs (evil). There will be music, celebration, and most importantly there will be a meaningful lesson that we are all the same deep down inside. Everyone will learn to feast on radishes and "doozer sticks" as one.

Of course, this has all been done before so this will all just be a disaster. Maybe we'll have to wait and see how Transformers does at the box office next summer before we go and ruin my childhood completely.

And for your enjoyment, here is the song that got me into folk music.

Your pal,
Emceegreg

So Many Dynamos’ Gear Stolen on Saturday

On Saturday night at the Paradox in Seattle, someone walked backstage and took So Many Dynamos guitar player Griffin Kay's wallet, jacket, and cellphone. Whoever entered also took the following three guitars from the band's storage space:

"-1978 Gibson SG, tobacco sunburst finish. Guitar case has a Smokey the bear sticker on it

-2004 G&L Tribute ASAT Classic, semihollow telecaster-style guitar. Sunburst finish, gold hardware and straplocks.

-Fender Squier Supersonic guitar, black with lots of wear, "Anyone can do this" sticker on back."

The band noted in their e-mail to their publicist that Griffin is "totally bummed."

If you know anything about the jerks who took it, message them at their MySpace. So Many Dynamos are a St. Louis four-piece and they just released Flashlights on Skronki Records this year. The album boasts a string section and a 30-member choir (not the Polyphonic Spree), pretty great for a jitter-pop band. Members of SMD have also played back-up for Emperor X. Catch the palindromic SMD and their Chris Walla-borrowed guitars at these remaining dates:

10.26.06 - San Luis Obispo, CA - Two Dogs Cafe
10.27.06 - Los Angeles, CA - Spaceland %
10.28.06 - Tucson, AZ - The Compound
11.01.06 - Chicago, IL - Beat Kitchen ^
11.02.06 - Pittsburgh, PA - Lava Lounge !
11.04.06 - Boston, MA - Middle East #
11.05.06 - Grove City, PA - Sun Gins $
11.07.06 - Norfolk, VA - Relative Theory Records *
11.08.06 - New York, NY - Pianos @
11.09.06 - New Haven, CT - The Space
11.10.06 - Baltimore, MD - The Talking Head +
11.11.06 - Washington, DC - Rock and Roll Hotel =
11.12.06 - Philadelphia, PA - The Khyber
11.13.06 - Chapel Hill, NC - Wetlands ?
11.14.06 - Charlotte, NC - Milestone ?
11.16.06 - Athens, GA - Caledonia Lounge $
11.17.06 - Jacksonville, FL - Jackrabbit's
11.18.06 - Birmingham, AL - Bottletree Cafe
11.19.06 - Huntsville, AL - Flying Monkey Arts Center
11.20.06 - Chattanooga, TN - Cafe Mi Aroma
12.05.06 - Lawrence, KS - Bottleneck 666

% w/ Figurines
^ w/ Ladyhawk
! w/ The Divorce
# w/ Oxford Collapse, Chin Up Chin Up, Georgie James
$ w/ Cinemechanica
* w/ The Plot To Blow Up The Eiffel Tower
@ w/ Now It's Overhead
+ w/ The Cassettes
= w/ Rye Coalition
? w/ Cities
666 w/ Parts and Labor

McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Apple Want to Ensure Viruses Not Limited to Smut-Centric Users; Sony-BMG Settles with Canadians

I've always hated the fact that if I want a virus quick and easy, I have to go to a porn site to get one. What's worse, though, is that 9-times-out-of-10 I have to download a grainy, 15-second video that ends just before the "release." Aside from the occasional virus, what's the point of the clip if it's not going to fully deliver, especially if I have to download about 20 of them (organized in dated folders within a hidden folder titled "porn vidz") before I even get the virus? Listen, I like the build-up too, but watching those clips is like Usual Suspects without the last 30 minutes. I want an assured climax.

Enter the big, bad boys of business. Last year, Sony-BMG made the first step toward offering free viruses. On select CDs, Sony-BMG included anti-copying DRM software that would secretly install spyware, rendering your computer susceptible to viruses and hijackings. Indeed, Sony-BMG stopped short of offering a virus itself, but its rootkit sure got the attention of the industry. Hell, because Sony-BMG didn't fully deliver, it has recently settled with an Ontario court to give $8.40, a replacement CD, and free downloads to thousands of customers who wanted to see the climax, not just the build-up. (A Quebec court has also recently approved of a class-action settlement.)

But exciting things are finally starting to shake the foundations of the industry once again.

Following Sony-BMG's lead, McDonald's and Coca-Cola in Japan were recently offering a portable MP3 player giveaway that gave away a completely FREE, totally awesome Trojan horse virus to roughly 10,000 lucky people. And all the contestants had to do was buy a large drink and submit a serial number! The MP3 players were pre-loaded with 10 free songs that would auto-load the Trojan during the sync process. Hackers, then, would receive usernames and passwords, with little-to-no effort. Of course, paradise is usually short-lived, so the giveaway is unfortunately no longer available. But it was sure beautiful while it lasted.

Of course, Apple wasn't about to fall behind on the virus game. Apparently, "a small number" of Video iPods available for purchase after September 12, 2006 contained one of my favorite all-time viruses, the Windows RavMonE.exe Trojan. (Precisely which Trojan virus is still not clear, but any dealing with RavMonE.exe is pretty sweet.) Oddly, though, Apple has stopped shipping the iPods and are even offering instructions on how to get rid of the virus. I be like, what the fuck? Has the world gone completely mad? Despite the confusion, those who wanted a virus got their virus, even if it was just a handful of people.

So, yes, the free virus offers are still relatively scarce, but it's nice to know that corporations are keeping eyes and ears on public demands. Perhaps if more news agencies actually reported this sort of stuff, more people would know about these wonderful viruses and then everyone would be as happy as, say, homeless people who can't afford housing, or low-income families that can't afford health care, or even Iraqi civilians. Until then, TMT is going to continue fighting the good fight, for we can't live without remote access Trojans and cryptoviral extortion attacks.

  

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