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~The Hardest Working Man In No Business~

Written by on 21st March 2012 in Lifestyle, music, People with Leave a comment


Winging It: The Icarus Line’s Joe Cardamone is the hardest working man in no business.

Joe Cardamone, leader of the LA-based rock band The Icarus Line, has been working in music for over a decade now. Fiercely independent and original, The Icarus Line has made a career churning out incendiary performances around the globe, dropping brilliant albums and offending record label executives. Currently Joe is doing a mix for Jesus and Mary Chain and producing bands The Shining Twins and Stab City at his studio Valley Recording in Los Angeles. With 12 years, four albums (two for major labels), over a dozen world tours and more than 20 tours through the UK under their belt, The Icarus Line has pretty much seen it all and apparently it isn’t getting any easier. Western Civ sits down with Joe and talks about the financial state of independent creative life.



WC: Joe, your band is about to go on a six week major european tour playing for thousands and you are planning on losing money. Sleeping on floors. This is not normal. Where has all the money gone? Is the internet gutting independent music?
JC: The money was never really that great, but there was always gonna be more of it. You know? Now that’s all gone. Now that I am making records for other people to make a living too, I see the industry from a whole different angle. Any creative content that can be stolen is stolen and put on the internet, and somebody besides the creator is making money off of it. So it is getting harder and harder to survive when you are the one making the original. People are saying “You need to adjust and find a new way” and we’re doing that. We’re still here. But the new way is actually putting people into dangerous situations with their families and their futures. So if there has been a new business model developed that doesn’t include stealing, somebody should let us know about it. Spoitfy? That’s not the answer. Stream my records, fine, but if you want to listen to it in your car later you should probably buy it. If you work on something and you own it you should get paid for people using it. If people were looting in stores they would be arrested, but for creative content there is no line of defense.



Touch and Go went out of business last year. They had a solid back catalog, at least enough to sustain a company, but they just evaporated. You just can’t make money as a record label anymore. People are like, “Oh well boo-hoo put out your own stuff”, but maybe people who make music aren’t supposed to be PR people and salesmen and bookkeepers and designers. We aren’t putting together tables that just sell themselves, it’s a process. The things that the public expects independent artists to do to make a living are just insane. They want them to do it all, all the jobs. For me thats cool, I’ve been doing it all myself for a decade but for people like Annie (Joe’s best friend Annie Hardy of Giant Drag), all she knows how to do is write songs. Especially people who have had a career before, and now their industry has disappeared, what will they do now? A lot of them will just give up on life and, oh well, we won’t hear music from those people anymore.



WC: Then are we hearing fewer bands?

JC: No, we are hearing a lot more bands but way less decent music. There used to be a process of weeding out. When there was money involved you had to do something to inspire someone make an investment in you. These days the internet has leveled the playing field-which is supposed to be great for the everyman, like, “Your voice will be heard!”. But the everyman isn’t David Bowie, so now there’s a whole forest of Rebecca Blacks to wade through. There will always be great artists, but the tools for them to create their vision will be less and less. No one will ever be able to make Dark Side of the Moon again. Is that a tragedy? I don’t know, but it’s happening.



WC: That sounds like a nightmare. So, why are you still doing this?
JC: I don’t know how to do anything else. I’m a high school drop out. It’s over. Haha. No. I don’t know. Most people would have given up by now. But why should I stop? Because there’s no money? That would be the only reason. I have invested so much of my life into this, it’s hard to stop. Especially when it’s still so fun, when I believe I still bring something original to the table and make some people happy, it makes me keep going. I’m gonna keep going.



~ Story and Photos by Ward Robinson

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