SONG OF THE WEEK #12: Keep Your Head Up High

Keep Your Head Up High by smallsins

Bands need to sell themselves. That’s just part of the gig, I suppose. You’re meant to present a positive image of yourself, and hopefully that will entice potential fans to buy your records or come to your shows. Never do you hear some young indie rocker saying, ‘This record we just put out is not really as good as the last’, or, ‘Our tour isn’t really going that well right now.’ Those young indie rockers are forced to bullshit their way through the rough spots in hopes of building a smooth road. I understand that, and have been guilty of it in the past as well. Whatever.

I had a long conversation about this tendency in an interview this week for a paper in Thunder Bay, and I think our friend Angie (who was conducting said interview) took that same rant (in extended form) as a bout of negativity on my part. Later in the week, I had another conversation with a super fan (Aaron, was it?) who thought I was being negative on this blog, and maybe he’s right. I would prefer to classify it simply as honesty.

Sometimes we play shows that are amazing, and I couldn’t image being anywhere else. On the other hand, we sometimes play shows that nobody shows up for. These can be fun too, although usually more depressing than anything else. There is a huge arc to our success and failure that can dip or rise on a daily basis in such an extreme way. Every day is a new day, and you never know whether it’s going to be a good one or a bad one. But I knew what I was signing up for. You take the good with the bad, and in exchange for that long shitty drive there is a great show at the end of the road. Or you trade that mediocre review for the amazing one. Whatever it may be, there are always going to be hard roads, and I’m more than happy to endure the bad times in order to find the good ones.

Is this really negativity? ‘Pot Calls Kettle Black’ is an amazing record; ‘Mood Swings’ was a flop. We’ve been signed and we’ve been dropped. We’ve played shows to empty rooms – I’m looking at you, Ottawa – and we’ve sold out others. I’ve been healthy, and I’ve been sick, but everything evens out in the end, and I keep going. And when I talk about it, it’s not negativity, it’s realism. I want this blog to be honest, and I don’t want to be afraid to reveal the negative side. If it’s happening, let’s talk about it. I don’t need to lie to you.

One of my favourite Chuck Klosterman articles is about how much he loves to interview aging rockers. I think he was speaking to Keith Richards or someone like that. Those guys are no longer concerned with selling themselves. They’re past putting on a mask for the interviewer, and that makes all of their stories better. When covering an artist, should we not strive for their truths instead of some regurgitated quote from the bio? I want to hear about both sides, and I the last thing I need is to feel like someone is censoring themselves. I am still a young man, but I want to strive for that kind of honesty now.

This song is about positivity. It’s about getting over those bad times to try and find the good ones. Although already released, this is probably the best Small Sins song that Small Sins fans have never heard. It came out on something called ‘The Mellow EP’, which was a free promo that was floating around in the U.S. when Astralwerks released ‘Mood Swings’. I always wished that EP had a real release, which I guess is yet another example of the positive coexisting with the negative. I felt it was just as good if not better than ‘Mood Swings’, and songs like this one were some of the most honest I wrote in that period. I wish more people could have been exposed to it. We have maybe twenty copies left still that we will be selling on the road, and some on the KillThe8 store, then it will be done.

I feel good about where we’re at right now. What we’re doing means something to me, and I couldn’t be more enthused about going on this tour out West. I know we’re going to have great shows and a great time. I also know there will be a couple of stinkers in there. And this seems to be the way most things are in life. Everything will balance itself out. That’s just the way it is, and I consider that to be neither positive or negative. Just real.

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