Writing articles about how much the music industry has changed is possibly the most common trope for music writers. They were doing this when rock started, they were doing this when people went from listening to singles to whole albums, they were doing this when records were cast aside for CDs, and they were doing it when Napster turned everything on its ass. The point is, that the industry is always evolving and it feels lazy to write this same article every five years.
That being said, and all hyperbole aside, we may actually be at a point where the COVID-19 is going to force the industry to completely change. Right now bands can’t go on tour, many can’t get into the same room to record together and, most importantly to you, fans can’t go to concerts. But as Jeff Goldblum says, life, uh, finds a way.
This Saturday, July 11, Alien Ant Farm will be taking the stage at L.A.’s famed Whiskey a Go Go and playing an honest-to-God concert. They aren’t going to be doing something irresponsible like packing a room full of fans during a pandemic; instead they’re going to be streaming the show around the world. The Oracle Live, Veeps, REVOLVER and Inked have partnered together to bring concerts back into your life after four long months. Get tickets here!
We spoke with Alien Ant Farm’s Terry Corso as the band gets ready to hit the stage for the first time in 2020. Our conversation covered many topics, including what he misses about the road, his excitement about Saturday’s show and what it’s like to have a pandemic strike in the middle of recording an album. First, we asked Corso something that used to be the epitome of banal small talk, but is now perhaps the most loaded question of all—how are you doing?
Terry Corso: I think I'm good. I have my moments, like probably anybody. It's just me and my little dog here doing the quarantine thing, you know? We always get our hikes in, which is good. And then I try to work on music and maybe some video, or any kind of content or whatever for the day. And, um, you know, try not to have too many conversations with my animals.
Inked: Looking forward to Saturday’s show, when was the last time you guys were able to play a show?
The last time we played was on New Year’s Eve, so, 2019. We played at the Slidebar in Fullerton with our buddies Lit.
Have you guys even seen each other during this whole mess?
When things started to lighten up here in California we were going back and forth to each other's houses, we were starting to kind of trickle back into things. Then everything in the last week hit, so it's been crazy. We have been going into rehearsals, so we’ve been getting into the studio and jamming, which is nice. I love it. It was great to play some music live, making jams with human beings instead of my computer.
I imagine that had to be quite a relief.
The funny thing was my stamina was so down. When I sit at home and recorded I just played guitar in increments, like sections of guitar. It's not like a full playthrough of songs front to back, one after another like a set. It's just that my hands start cramping up because I've been playing full songs. By the end of the week, hopefully, that’ll be gone (laughs).
What do you miss most about playing shows?
Playing shows, there is this reciprocal kind of situation. There's an energy thing. I'm sure you've been told this a million times, but there's nothing quite like that adrenaline rush that you get from playing a show and people getting off on something you created. Then they get off and you get off on that and it's back and forth. It's this constant exchange of energy and excitement. There's no denying that. I miss that.
Honestly, this is something that I've done for 25 years of my life, I miss a lot of aspects about it more than just that energy thing. I'm used to going on the road a couple of times a year and living that scheduled kind of life. Being strapped to a timeframe and always having to be somewhere. There's a sense of duty and fulfillment that comes with that kind of stuff that I miss. There’s a lot I miss about just hanging out with the guys all the time, even though me and the guys in my band had been friends since we were teenagers. So we fight like brothers, you know, but we have like 8 million inside jokes between us too. It's a comfortable thing to be around friends like that all the time.
What made you guys want to do a streaming concert?
I think it's important for us to keep a presence through this. You're competing with current events that are really detrimental to people's lives. Not that we're pandering for attention in any way, but people are concentrating on other things besides bands that are trying to get material out to the world. Even though our band and music can be very therapeutic. So, I think that we wanted to probe new ways of how things are going to go down from here out. We've definitely never played a show before that has been globally broadcast. So that's kind of historical and novel and interesting, to me at least.
It’s also important, like I said before, as an almost therapeutic thing. I think there's a lot of people that just want to see a show. They want to be connected to the energy in one way or another, bring a little happiness, a little light into their lives or their worlds or whatever. I think that's important.
I was wondering if you've considered, and it’s not that I'm trying to make you nervous, but you've played in front of people for 25 years. Have you ever purposefully played to an empty room?
We were very close with a man named Len Fagan who was a big underground dude in the Los Angeles music scene. And, um, that dude, he used to book at a club called Coconut Teazerz. It was one of the cool places to play back in the day. He took a liking to us and thought we were a good band, so he threw us a residency and we played there every Monday night and we were the first band to play, we’d play so early nobody would be there yet. Before we’d go on he'd give us the radical locker room, coach speech. And I'll never forget the one time he told us, he said, “It doesn't matter if there are three people in the room or 3000, you get out there and you put it down and play it like you mean it. Let the emotions take you to the next level and people see that are drawn to it.” I took that to heart. As a band that has been our Golden Rule.
Can you tell us a little about the video that you guys released during lockdown, a cover of “Everything She Wants” by Wham!
When everything got shut down, the song was already recorded, mixed, mastered and ready. We had the discussion with the label and amongst the band that we should put music since we have some laying around. So we could raise some awareness and build some excitement for a future release, and also maybe give some people a fun little break by putting some smiles on some faces with that goofy-ass song.
We put out a cattle call to our fans and friends and family and shit. We only sent them a clip of the drums so they had the tempo, then told them to dance around for like 10 seconds filming themselves. We had over 200 submissions, so you got to give the editor a ton of credit to sandwich that all in.
We touched on this already, but what’s the one thing about playing on Saturday that you are most excited about?
Honestly, I just really, really want to jam. We haven’t played music together in a long time, and I realized exactly how much of a release that is for me and how much I need it. I’m a grumpy ass jerk without it. I’m just excited about playing music.
If you want to check out the livestream, and we know that you do, click here for more information.