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.
Ever walked into an art show that challenged your intellectual, analytical and productive mind? Steve Olson’s art does just that. When you see it for the first time, it creates images of subtle forces that question the constraints of creative potential, meaningful work, unlocking untapped resources and breaking away from traditional everyday hierarchies.
As I walked into Hangin’, Olson’s new short-run art exhibition at Known Gallery in Los Angeles, I was immediately inhabited by the inquisitions and ingenuity of his talent, transformations, personal forces, powerful motivation and instincts with personal courage for risk-taking. As I studied each art piece in the gallery that was filled beyond capacity, I tried to comprehend the far thinking greatness of each piece. His latest artwork struck me as deeply influential and does empower, impact and create results that each buyer desires through basic rational, individual reflections, striking within each individual a connectedness making sense of each situation. He’s harnessed an invisible force within himself that influences his prolific inner talents which leads him to create art that has never been done his way.
At the same time, he possesses the great essence of human potential that captures his sensitivity and vision. It drives him with the individualism to be a nonconformist. And he’s continually pushing beyond the now and creating unusual, thought-provoking ideas.
Belgians like everything bold: steak and frites, black Trappist beers, and even their fashion designers (look no further than the grizzlied Walter Van Beirendonck) are evidence of that fact. So it should be no surprise then when it came to ’60s Pop Art and Psychedelia, Belgians too painted with a heavy hand. And the late Guy Peellaert (1934 – 2008) was no exception.
Eschewing fragile the Warholian Jackie Os, kitsch Lichtensteins or even the traipsing psychedelic bohemia of Peter Max, Peellaert preferred to draw the absurd adventures of lofty comic book Amazons. In a mix of Fellini meets FasterPussycat Kill Kill, his gargantuan women kidnapped you by the scruff of your cafe racer scarf and whisked you away on the back of their speeding chopper.
For Pravda (the comic, not the Soviet daily), he modeled his heroine after sultry Yé-yé chanteuse Françoise Hardy. Likewise, Sylvie Vartan was his inspiration for his Adventures of Jodelle. Peellaert, along with contemporaries Guido Crepax (Valentina) and Jean-Claude Forest (Barbarella) set the tone for Europe’s recently sexually liberated ’60s (recently re-dubbed “The Sex-ties”).
For better or for worse, Peelleart entered the ’70s armed with only that decade’s weapon of choice, the airbrush. During his second phase, he churned out two of his most well known works including the baroque coffee table effort Rock Dreams, and the beastly iconic cover of David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs.
While it would be tragic to imagine that he rode his airbrush into obscurity, his ’60s work has recently been enjoying a revival. Shortly before Peellaert’s demise, graphic/music jackmaster of all trades, Trevor Jackson (a.k.a. Playgroup) christened the cover of his acidic Make It Happen with Peellaert’s trademark Pop femmes. And recently Fantagraphics, home to Love & Rockets, Eightball, Acme Novelty Library and Robert Crumb, announced plans of a re-release (and re-mastering) of Pravda and Jodelle this fall. Guy, it seems, rides again.
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