Music is ubiquitous and confusing. Twice a month, Eric Spitznagel stares into the bottomless chasm of new (and old) songs, albums and musicians that permeate our lives, and tries to pretend he has any idea what it all means.
"I have this goal that I want to do," Tim DeLaughter tells me. "I want to build the world's largest band."
"You have a pretty big band now, don't you?" I ask. DeLaughter is the founder, lead singer and only constant member of the Polyphonic Spree, which will be in Dallas this Saturday for the final date of their Holiday Extravaganza tour.
"Yeah, I have one of the largest touring bands," he agrees. "But I want to make it bigger."
"Like how big?"
He pauses, considering the question. "Well, to start I'd like to get every member that's ever been with Polyphonic Spree, which is over a hundred people, and play a huge show. But that's just the seed-planting. The big goal, the big plan is to get as many singers and musicians as I can to come to Central Park, to be in the world's largest band, which I will conduct and orchestrate from a hot air balloon floating overhead."
It is, as even DeLaughter admits, a ridiculously ambitious project, which could be the most awesome thing that ever happened in New York, or the music industry's Jonestown. Either way, if he actually manages to pull it off, you won't soon forget the name Polyphonic Spree.
Tim DeLaughter's daydreaming demonstrates the power of New Year's resolutions. 2012 hasn't been a bad year for the Spree. Besides the tour, they released a Christmas album, and raised a sweet $136,000 on Kickstarter for their next record. But this is a man unwilling to rest on his laurels. DeLaughter wants to take his band's strengths and build on them. And it's strengths are "overcrowding" and "cult-like behavior." When most people think of the Spree, they think of weird kids wearing robes who look vaguely like they're in a cult. But after the Central Park gig, if and when it happens, the Spree will officially become the band that people are absolutely positive is a cult, and must be stopped before they recruit our children into their sing-a-long army.
DeLaughter is a weird exception in a music industry full of people who could stand to make a few changes. So why don't they? In the weeks leading up to New Year's Eve, why isn't every pop artist and musician revealing exactly how they intend to better themselves? "There's definitely people out there, other artists, that I wish would take on resolutions," he told me. "It's a great way to wipe the slate clean and start over. After all, you are the one holding the eraser. You can make it happen."
A better writer than me would have picked up the phone and called every pop and indie star he could track down, asking them to reveal their big plots and self-improvement vows for 2013. But I'm far too lazy for that level of journalistic inquiry. So I made some educated guesses instead.
Find the self confidence to be interviewed on The Voice without a parrot or a cat. I don't need to look like a Bond villain to be taken seriously.
Reconsider whether I really want to be a judge for the Miss Universe pageant. It can't be good for my street cred. Rick Ross cancelled shows in North Carolina because the Gangster Disciples want him dead, and I'm going to Vegas to help decide which lady is the prettiest?
If I cover more songs by former Beatles, try not to change the lyrics. Unless it's a Ringo song or something. Then whatever.
Don't give anybody ecstasy unless they specifically ask for it. And even then, don't touch their boobies. Better safe than sorry.
Get rid of the dollar sign in my name without making a big deal about it. Don't make a formal announcement or anything, which is just as stupid. Just stop mentioning it. And if people ask, say something noncommittal.
Cut down on the glitter budget. Maybe use the money to splurge on something nice. Like non-whiskey toothpaste.
If I absolutely have to urinate on a street, don't take a photo of myself doing it. And if I absolutely have to take a photo of myself peeing on the street, don't post it to Twitter.
Stop falling for the "what am I doing in your bed? Um ... I'm a ghost?" line. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, YOU'RE TOTALLY NOT A GHOST, DUDE!
Stop being the spokeswoman for tasting beards.
Buy MC Hammer's mansion. The one in Fremont with the bowling alley and 17 car garage. I can afford it, and now seems like a great time to make a huge investment based on my future in the music industry.
Get a pedicure before I do any more shoeless videos.
Stop using the adjective "dinky" as a diss. Also, stop having opinions about Glee.
Work on a few more killer xylophone riffs. Whatever my next hit is, it's gonna have xylophone all over it. Then host a party at my mansion. This party is never gonna eeeeeeeend!!
Just because I kiss somebody doesn't mean I have to write a song about them.
Don't let stalkers ruin my cupcake party.
Why am I doing Target commercials? Do I even shop at Target? I'm pretty sure Forbes named me the second richest female musician. I shouldn't be doing Target commercials unless court ordered by a judge.
Maybe hook up with John Mayer again. He seems totally normal now.
Don't write a "Gangnam Style" sequel. Just don't.
Stop being so obvious about my disgust for American imperialism. At least until people stop buying my song. Then fuck those Yankees.
Figure out the exchange rate for YouTube "likes" to actual currency. Have panic attack.
Okay fine, write a "Gangnam Style" sequel. But don't record it. Keep it in drawer with letters to ex-girlfriends.
Try to avoid mentioning "fondue" in a song. Let's make it a melted-cheese-as-romantic-gesture free 2013!
Don't wear overalls when meeting the prime minister of anything.
Start dating Selena Gomez again, not because I really love her, but to throw the media off the scent of my bizarre Troy McClure sexual fetishes.
Look into college. It's not too late to think about a second career, something where there aren't so many murder/castration plots by crazy prison inmates with my face tattooed on their body. Poly-sci, maybe?
No more helicopters. Anybody wants me, they can wait for the train.
Keep making music with the guys from Nirvana. But maybe stop calling it Nirvana. Cause you know what just occurred to me? I've recorded songs with Ringo and George and even John since we broke up the Beatles, but we never called it the Beatles. Because it wasn't the Beatles. It was just some guys who used to be in the Beatles playing music together.
I'm 70 now, right? Maybe it's time to throw out the Just For Men. I'm not actually fooling anybody, am I? Also, I made $57 million this year. They don't like me as a silver fox, they can suck my super-rich dick.
I don't have to play "Hey Jude" ever, ever, ever again. "Oh, but the Queen is having a birthday-" No. "But the Olympics Committee called and-" No. Download it on iTunes. I am done, bitches.
Use the rest of my Kickstarter money to buy myself something impulsive and crazy. Like professional horn players.
Realize that I don't need to make Steve Albini like me, because what's he done that's so special, besides produce seminal albums by Nirvana, the Stooges and the Pixies? I mean lately!
Find out if my being married to Neil Gaiman has anything to do with him not writing something as good as The Graveyard Book since we started dating. If so, divorce him immediately.
Are the hairy pits entirely necessary? I mean, if it's an artistic statement or something, fine. But if I'm just too cheap to buy razors, then come on. Start a "help me shave my pits" Kickstarter campaign.
When I feel the urge to say something publicly venomous about Kate Middleton, based on nothing other than the chip on my shoulder about the British monarchy, take a long squeeze on my stress ball and wait for the bad feelings to go away.
Give the Ramones another listen.
Stop being a whiny androgynous bitch and do a Smiths reunion. The Pixies did it. Pink Floyd did it. Roxy Music did it. Led Zeppelin did it. What the fuck is wrong with me? Did Johnny Marr piss in my lentil soup or something?
Eat a pork chop. Live a little.