A12 (August 12th, 2017)

(I originally wrote this as a Facebook post on my personal page as a profile picture update and regular status update. At the time I’m publishing this, between the two posts,  the message has been been shared over 50 times and seems to have struck a chord with my friends in Charlottesville so I’m brave enough to publish it here for posterity now too)

*trigger warning: This post contains, what some might consider, a graphic retelling of the events from Charlottesville on August 12th, 2017. This is mostly written for people who weren’t there, so if you were then take into consideration that it may bring back painful memories before reading it straight through.*

If you were tuning out the news around this time last year and didn’t hear about what happened in Charlottesville, that’s probably fair. There’s a lot of crazy stuff out there on the internet these days and it’s easy to ignore provocatively headlined click bait (you’re probably better off if you do, honestly).

So, if you didn’t look into it, or if you were skeptical when you scrolled by something that said, or heard someone say, that three people died after roughly 500 Nazis and Klansmen descended on some city in Virginia last year then I can’t blame you too much. It really does sound too ridiculous to believe.

It actually happened, though (multiple links from various sources at the bottom of the post).
I’ve made a lot of friends in Charlottesville over the last year and, while I’d known about the “alt-right” movement for a while before there was actually a rally there, it wasn’t until I made those connections that I really appreciated how deep the scars from the “Unite The Right Rally” were.

There’s a reason why I put “alt-right” in air quotes up there, by the way. If you’ve not looked into it before, that term might sound like you’d use it to describe edgy millennials who maybe feel strongly that federal taxes are too high or that entitlement programs dissolve the spirit of meritocracy. You know, people who you may or may not have a strong difference of opinion with on a particular issue but could still, probably, be comfortable holding a philosophical debate with, ultimately agreeing to disagree, and then moving on.

You would be wrong for thinking that though, and that’s an intentional branding maneuver of the term “alt-right” to pacify outrage.

I might sound hyperbolic here, (I promise I’m not and I’ll link an interview with Richard Spencer at the end so you can hear it for yourself if you want), but that term represents those who support a “white Ethno-State” in America.

In other words, they want an American government that segregates people who aren’t white, prohibits immigration of people who aren’t white, and are, at best, pretty vague about what to do with people who aren’t white but already live here.

If that sounds like it is, or is just close enough to being, neo-Nazi or KKK hate speech to you, that’s because it should.

So, please, if you’re still with me, imagine roughly *500* people who believe that kind of thing, as well as openly identifying neo-Nazis and KKK members, are marching through your town; Not just what you imagine a place like Charlottesville to look like, I really want you to imagine your town.

Now, imagine they are marching through your town.

They are marching by the job you or your husband or wife work at. They are marching by the park you take your children to. They are marching by your favorite restaurant or coffee spot or bar. They lift signs with racist and anti-semetic slogans and they chant those slogans in loud unison and with uncanny conviction. They wave Nazi & Confederate flags and they brandish knives, clubs, and shields.

Now imagine that the police aren’t trying to stop them.

Now imagine that roughly twice that many people (many of whom are your friends, coworkers, associates, neighbors) are there standing up against the hatred. They’re there to declare that that kind of thinking, perhaps aside from a cautionary history on how inhumanity and atrocity is bred, deserves no serious discussion in our society (it doesn’t). Some of them have come prepared to protect you and your family and your town (if necessary). There are brawls in the street and chaos is erupting.

Now, imagine the police are, finally, called in to try and quell the erupting chaos but now it’s too late.

There is panic and rioting through your town, outside your or your husband’s or your wife’s job, by the park you take your children to, by your favorite restaurant or coffee stop or bar.

Now imagine that a helicopter crashes in the distance and, in your town, a silver car ploughs through a line of people (many of whom are your friends, coworkers, associates, neighbors).

One person dies and 19 are seriously injured. Imagine that you knew one of the people who were hurt.

Now imagine that you knew the person who died.

Now imagine that the President makes a statement. He has an opportunity to explicitly condemn racism in our modern age and to show solidarity with the people who stood up against it and who stood up to protect you, your family, and your town (many of whom were your friends, co-workers, associates, neighbors).

Now imagine that he doesn’t.

You still live in your town. It doesn’t feel the same way anymore. You remember what you saw, what you heard, where you ran, where you tried to stay safe. It’s been almost a year and the anniversary of it all is a few days away.

Now imagine that some meaningful amount of those same 500 people, perhaps new ones too, with the same hate in their hearts and their ideas and their voices, want to come back to your town.

Now, how do you feel?

We live in really troubled times and it can feel like everywhere you look there’s a new thing to be upset about, but this is one of those things where I think awareness is really important. Today the governor preemptively declared Charlottesville under a state of emergency for the upcoming anniversary and I’m really concerned for my friends, but I’m also very concerned about a world where ideas like those expressed by Richard Spencer and other forms of hate speech are taken seriously by some.

If you are the parent of, or if you work closely with young and potentially impressionable people, this is especially important. Please read or watch or listen about what happened last year in Charlottesville. Please try to have a potentially awkward conversation with a child or young adult in your life about what’s going on. If they’re using the internet, try to explain to them how to identify if they’ve stumbled upon hate-speech or propaganda. Expose them to other cultures when and where you can, and remind them to look for the common humanity in people. Arm them with experience and compassion so that they might read through the fallacies and fears and false assumptions of far-right extremism. Encourage them to learn another language so they might experience the frustration of not being able to say what they mean to a new person (you don’t even necessarily have to travel for this anymore if you have internet access) and can translate that experience into empathy and love for others who are different.

You shouldn’t have ever needed to do any of those things to help prevent the spread of fascist ideas in America in a post Holocaust world, but here we are, and it looks like it might need to be done.

If you’re just reading this somewhere that’s a safe distance away from Charlottesville or DC, please consider researching what happened further and sharing this.

If you’re reading this and you’re in those areas right now, I love you and be careful.

Please watch this documentary about the philosophies of the alt-right and what happened in Charlottesville and review any of the other links I referenced:
https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/documenting-hate-charlottesville/


*some links to what happened in Charlottesville last year from various other sources:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-40912509
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/08/12/emergency-declared-ahead-unite-right-rally-in-virginia.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/torch-wielding-white-supremacists-march-university-virginia-n792021

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/08/12/542982015/home-to-university-of-virginia-prepares-for-violence-at-white-nationalist-rally

https://abcnews.go.com/US/unite-rally-virginia-sparks-counterprotests-state-emergency/story?id=49176243

https://www.cnn.com/2017/08/12/us/charlottesville-white-nationalists-rally/index.html

*trigger warning* Link to Richard Spencer’s interview and some of the radical ideals that inform the “alt-right.” https://www.npr.org/2016/11/17/502476139/were-not-going-away-alt-right-leader-on-voice-in-trump-administration

 

Advertisements

New Purge Album Coming & Nur Black Kickstarter Success!

Check out the YouTube video here and subscribe to my channel ❤

Highlights from video:

  • Music written for a new Purge album; I was going to make an extra small and loosely arranged release but I was really inspired and I feel like what I have functions with a strong theme.
  • I have cool people making remixes still and I might use them for a smaller release next year but I still haven’t decided.
  • My Nur Black Kickstarter was a success!
  • I’m going to make my original Nur Black shirt design unique to the Kickstarter and fulfill those backer pledges and use the money to get a different design professionally done.
  • I have shows coming up as both The Purge & Nur Black. My live page on this website has been updated to reflect that. Check ’em out ❤

Nur Black – “Appeal of the Void”

I just launched a Kickstarter campaign late Saturday afternoon to support the debut album from my side-project Nur Black. Click here to go right to it or keep reading if you want to know how I feel like it relates to The Purge.

This album relates to The Purge in a special way because almost all of the music was written and recorded before I began work on The Bad Ideas We Build Worlds.

This has meant that, for me, this Nur Black album feels more like a spiritual prequel to that Purge album even though I’m releasing it five months later. Where, for me anyway, The Bad Ideas We Build Worlds is an album that functioned as a direct attempt to heal and reflect on all the emotional fallout of a very committed long-term relationship falling apart, going back to finish Appeal of the Void has been a lot more like directly confronting the pain I was feeling, but pushed aside, while I was doing everything I knew how in order to keep that relationship together and failing.

There are some larger themes at work, like what it means that we humans have this bizarre death instinct that sometimes pops into our thoughts (which is actually normal, btw, if you’re reading this and nobody has ever told you that before), but what made working on this album so particularly difficult and important for me is how much I really had to confront where my head (and heart) was at between now and roughly two years ago.

Appeal Of The Void Album Back

Of course, that has so much to do with the process of actually writing/mixing it for me, and the music can mean pretty much whatever it needs to mean for you!

Now that it’s done, I’m super excited for my next moves. Those largely involve booking more shows with both projects and writing new material for The Purge ❤

Skip to the roughly 3:50 mark of the Kickstarter video to hear teasers of all 11 tracks from the Nur Black album and see how you feel about them!

I hope you’ll share the news with your friends on social media and irl, and I hope you’ll consider making a contribution to this project.

Peace.

Album Review – “Dopamine Noir” by Pain In The Yeahs

Pain In The Yeah’s “Dopamine Noir,” was released in February, 2018, but many of the songs on this album have stayed with me and made me want revisit it multiple times and finally write this review.

There’s a lot of music out there about wild nights and living like there’s no regret, and then there’s Dopamine Noir. The album opens with a deep breath and hectic hi-hats on I Got Sick, a song that could soundtrack the blurred memory of my first house party where booze was involved (“I’m feeling like I don’t belong / I got sick”) and the energy crescendos all the way through All I Need Is Your Blood, a song that effectively made me feel as if I was being peer pressured into some sort of vampire-hipster hazing ritual.

But then this album does something very special. If the first three songs were intentionally crafted to weave a story of excess, bad decisions, and paranoia (and I suspect they might have been), Drinking With The Boys is that moment, late one night, when right before you try to sabotage an important relationship (again), it dawns on you that, maybe, too many of your problems are because of avoidable lifestyle choices and you can finally admit that you’re “Tired of bars/Tired of shows/Tired of d-d-drinking with the boys.”

While Drinking With The Boys is my favorite song (the chorus has become sort of an anthem of empowerment and empathy for me), Sick On A Sunny Day is also excellent and is perfectly placed right after it as, what sounds like, an enlightened hangover. James Wagner’s vocal sounds even more tired and sick than it does on the album’s opener and the instruments interrupt and almost stumble all over each other as the song progresses. It almost sounds like the drum machine is going haywire and the musicians haven’t even had their morning coffee yet, but if you listen closely, you realize that the craftsmanship and sonic storytelling here is extraordinary. Almost as if fed up with itself and its attempts at self-sabotage, the song tightens up near the end; the drums steady and a simple, but effective, synth melody hints towards some semblance of hope, resolve, and posture.

However, if there’s a narrative thread to be told on Dopamine Noir, it doesn’t end just there. The refrain of French Noir (“Well you might as well keep me around / and make excuses to come and see me”), the opening lines of Psychic Vampires (“…I don’t want you / and my body doesn’t want you / anymore than I do”), and the opening line of Exile On Colley Ave (“Hey, I know you hate me…”) suggest that resolving to avoid or abstain from destructive habits isn’t as simple as it sounds if your social life, and the people closest to you in it, can’t function the same way without them. If Drinking With The Boys and Sick On A Sunny Day are about recognizing a problem and resolving to correct it, these next three songs play like a tragic chronicle of the fallout from that decision.

The album ends with Flowers Will Wilt and Push Back The Touch, two slower and more atmospheric tracks that both sound, to me, like a hard and difficult farewell to toxic relationships with friends and, perhaps more importantly, to a toxic relationship with the self.

Only Black

I woke up this morning to stumble across an amazing video using my song, Only Black,” published on a YouTube channel by piperbrigadista. I was completely blown away by how well these visuals worked with my song and, after I wiped my tears away, immediately shared this on my social media. Huge thanks to Piper for sharing my music and for pairing it with such stunning visuals!

If you’re into this kind of music, definitely subscribe piperbrigadista’s YouTube channel to discover some other very cool acts, and if you’re feeling this video and the song, please feel free to share it around on your social media too!

“The Bad Ideas We Build Worlds” Release update

Now that “The Bad Ideas We Build Worlds is out, some really cool things have started to happen! Some of you have already started buying the album digitally or on CD and largely thanks to the support I’ve already started to get, I’ve been able to throw a little money at a limited T-Shirt run and I’ll also have Cassette tapes available in a month or two.

The best place to get these things will always be at shows if you can make it out, but merchandise is also available at http://www.thepurgeva.bandcamp.com so make sure to subscribe there or check back periodically as I come out with more stuff.

Below is a list of dates I’m currently confirmed to be playing live. Hope to see you at one of them!

April 13: Roanoke, VA. At The Front Row. (W/ Type Trauma)

April 17: Charlottesville, VA. At Goth Night. (Album Release Party rescheduled date)

April 22: Norfolk, VA. At Charlie’s American Cafe. (W/ Fad Nauseum, Unmaker, and Gothic Lizard)

May 12: Norfolk, VA. At 37th & Zen. (Live @ The Black Gala event by Aftermath: A Dark Revolution)

May 26: Chesapeake, VA. At Riffhouse Pub. (W/ The Cemetery Boys and Gothic Lizard)

Some Important Dates

I’m very very happy to announce that I’ll be celebrating my next album release as The Purge in Charlottesville on March 20th at its infamous Goth Night!

The Purge - Album Cover - The Bad Ideas We Build Worlds

Show Details!

The album should also go live for most online distributors on the 20th as well.

I have a new single from the album releasing on February 10th, as well. The song is “It’s a Bad Idea,” and if you’ve seen me play it live recently then you already know what it’s about. For those of you who don’t… Well, let’s just say that sometimes we try to do the wrong thing for the right reasons and cause ourselves grief for way longer than we should…

Bad Idea Cover Clean

The album will also feature the songs “Faith & Trust” and “The Danse.” There are 10 tracks on this album, so ultimately that means 7 of them are previously unreleased material and I’m very excited to share it all with you!

I took a very long hiatus from doing anything too serious with my music over the last few years, but I never really stopped writing and I never stopped recording. During that time I brushed up on my synth knowledge and built on a lot of the sounds and techniques I’d developed with my old band, Gutter Gloss. The result of that work is Nur Black:

 

 

I’m close to enough material for a full release with Nur Black, and I’ll be doing my first live performance very soon, on February 7th at Fallout with a couple of incredibly cool touring acts, Esoterik and Espermachine!

Please come out and support these hard-working artists and enjoy some great live music.

I know life is a hustle-and-a-half for most of us, and I appreciate every one of you who take the time to follow what I’m doing!

Much love,

Thomas

2017

My 2017 started, quite literally, with a bang. In January, I was hit by a car while crossing the street and, somehow, managed to avoid dying, developing long-term complications, or even breaking any bones!

IMG-579923444

I suppose it felt like, for the first time in probably forever, that I had a lot I needed to tend to and needed things to be okay. Just before the new year, I’d taken the step of buying my first house with my long-time girlfriend and the boy I’ve raised as my son since he was born. While I didn’t fully recover from the accident for many months (my right earlobe was shredded and a serious risk for infection and my right knee couldn’t bend from the trauma), I was determined to make things feel as close to normal as I could and was back at work in just under a week. I hope I never forget the look on the regional manager’s face when he came to visit and was spooked half-to-death when he saw what I was doing and in what condition! I don’t say any of this to brag about my work ethic because, believe me, I’m far from perfect there, but this year forced me to fight through things I didn’t know I could.

I was working full-time, raising a child, getting my M.S., and paying a mortgage. I had no time to seriously pity myself or even try to get physical therapy. I’m lucky that my job at Chipotle gave me such a physically demanding routine and all the fresh food I could eat! Without that, I’m not sure I’d have recovered half as well as I did.

My handling of the accident, it turned out, was important practice because, as traumatizing as that was, the worst was yet to come.

surprise

Life in the new house was mostly fantastic! Being around to read and play with my son was stupendously rewarding, but more rewarding still was the feeling that, yes, in fact, I was supporting a family. My partner, I would find out, was living a very different life.

She’d been working night shifts and taking all the overtime over weekends she could get. I was proud of her and how was knocking down her debts, but the situation seemed to be putting more strains on the relationship than it should have. What little time we did have together became distant and cold. Intimacy evaporated and it started to be too much, but when I confronted her she’d told me that her medications were mostly to blame. She was lying when she told me that, but I believed it and did everything I could to be supportive and cope with my own dissatisfaction until one day in late June, a week or so after both mine and my son’s birthday, she came clean: She’d been having an affair for months and had been trying to position herself financially as to not need my support anymore.

It’s important to say that I had not been a perfect partner and, roughly a year and a half or so into our relationship I had been unfaithful and it had been absolutely devastating to work through that, but we had. I’d gone so far as to arrange and pay for couples therapy and, by her own account, since then I had done absolutely everything right. 2017 taught me that’s not enough sometimes.

So, in August, I moved back in with my parents and the transition has been almost dementing (I love if you’re reading this, but I actually kind of like folding my own laundry). My commute to work became nonsensical and my emotions were, and really still are, all over the place. Being a year from my teaching license and degree, I applied for work a Teaching Assistant and got it and, to help cope with all the insanity, I leaned into my music in ways I really hadn’t for years.

Because of my relationship with music and my career path as an educator, it has literally been my job to reflect on my experiences during a year when all I wanted to do sometimes was give up or shut down or worse and, now that the year is really ending, I’m reflecting again.

Some of us have lost loved ones this year or had things go in directions they were never supposed to go. There’s no way to be glib about that, but I know for me, and probably many of us, this next year needs to be about healing. If you’re reading this and are someone who is still trying to make sense of it all, don’t feel rushed because of the season. Life is hard enough..

I’ve met so many people this year.. New and amazing people and reconnections with old friends. Through my job and through my music I’ve thrown myself into crazy situations and received more validation than my self-conscious little heart can handle sometimes. As I’m pretty sure Katt Williams once said, “My cup overfloweth and I ain’t even thirsty!” So, with that feeling, I’m trying to start 2018 off with a raised cup somewhere, probably filled with Coke Zero, and hoping that I can heal my heart the same way I healed my body in 2017.