Thursday, March 6, 2014

Square Zeros #10: Derek Hawkins and Jon Mann (Sunset Guns, Paper Fleet, Hollow Hills, One Step Forward)

This has gone on long enough.

Derek Hawkins and Jon Mann have grilled nine practicing musicians over the past eight weeks about their earliest musical experiences, chuckling through old recordings, posing far-too-personal questions, and — more than once — asking outright, "What were you thinking when you made this?"

And you've tuned in, perhaps drawn here by interest in the concept, or perhaps because you knew one of the poor souls under the lamp. You've learned the voices, the cadences, perhaps even the musical preferences that define Derek and Jon. Maybe you've wandered over to the Liner Notes and familiarized yourself with their current bands.

But what do you really know about them? They've put together a webcast about the early efforts of current musicians. Great. So in what backward world have they escaped revealing their own first musical efforts until now?

This has gone on long enough.

In Episode #10 of Square Zeros, Derek and Jon — with the help of first interviewee Stephen Selman — dig into each other in an attempt to find out what's beneath their impulse to find out what's beneath other people's music.

Derek brings to the table his high school hardcore band One Step Forward, which — formed under the long shadow of the Washington Monument — drew heavily from the earnestness and personal politics of the Dischord Records pantheon, bombing the suburbs and leaving behind a heavy handful of show flyers and two-minute ragers. As a high-school friend of Derek's, Stephen's ability to describe One Step Forward from outside raises a new and important question the interview format isn't typically able to engage: how were these bands actually received by their audiences?

Jon's interview, however, reveals a dark secret at the very core of Square Zeros. You've been had. Jon didn't play out or record music with a band until he was an adult: it's all been a hoax. Haughtily sitting in judgment of everyone's earliest attempts, he has no embarrassing recordings to attack. Caught with his musical pants down, Jon backed into an impromptu in-studio performance of the first song he ever performed live, complete with an explanation of the bizarre circumstances that found him playing for the first time in front of eight hundred people.


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