"EVERYONE DESERVES TO LIVE," A Conversation with Sour Widows
How do you move past the anxiety that your societal worth is placed on your production?
I think as long as we live under capitalism in this country, no matter what path you choose you'll experience anxiety over this. It's unfortunately just a byproduct of our economic and cultural reality. I think artists have it particularly hard because the pursuit of art as a career is seen by and large as a waste of time, even though art making - both performance based or not - is the longest standing human tradition. It's an inherent aspect of our lives, the way we understand ourselves and make sense of the world. But I don't believe that kind of self expression is particularly valued at this point, in our culture at least. So really as long as we live within these confines there will be anxiety underneath. It's helpful to remember that artists are part of a human legacy that will outlast pretty much everything else, even if it feels pointless or undervalued in our lifetime.
What do you do to try and stay healthy while on the road? Or, is it your time to let loose and eat some corn dogs?
This sounds so annoying but we ate a lot of acai bowls on our last tour. Fruit was truly saving our lives. But there's also the reality of being in the car for long hours, and sometimes you have very few options when it comes to food. The most important thing I think is to stay fed no matter what. Don't get too hungry on the road, it leads to terrible things.
What does daily life look like for you currently? Do you have a day job - or some sort of side hustle to supplement money for being a musician? What do you do for work?
We all work in the service industry. Restaurant jobs are what brings us our sustaining income. Until this year we have not personally profited from anything we've done in five years of being a band.
What is your stance on streaming and the “future” of how people consume music?
From an artistic point of view, I think there's arguments one can make as to how streaming negatively curates the experience of recorded music by encouraging passive listening and consumption, but I also think there's benefits to so much amazing media being easily discoverable, and the ways in which the internet can be a magical place where people can connect. From an industry standpoint, in a tale as old as time, streaming is just another platform through which artists continue to be robbed blind and taken advantage of - and it's a very difficult issue for musicians to organize around, because the only people who actually have leverage to affect change are the hyper rich and famous. People will always find a way to create art and music, but the ubiquitous nature of streaming in its current form ensures that those without independent resources will continue to become a smaller and smaller percentage of musicians who are able to make a career out of their art.
How do we raise the value of music as a Society and what responsibility do industry people hold in that process?
Industry people hold all of the responsibility, wherein they are positioned as the gatekeepers of culture on a commercial scale and hold all the keys to large scale resources. DIY communities do a great job of valuing art and fostering creativity on local levels, but the capital does not exist within those spaces to enable musicians to make a living. Music and art will not be valued as long as we live in a culture that devalues human life. At the heart of the issue, musicians are treated as if industry opportunities are a personal favor to them, catering to their egos - when in reality, we all need music and art to survive, to live fulfilling lives.
The demand for live music makes it clear that people at large greatly value these experiences. But culturally, we are fed ideas based in shame that performance and the act of self expression is selfish, excessive, vain - we believe for art to be pure and authentic it must be free, a gift from the heart of an artist, something that exists outside of the material world we live in where everyone needs to labor and eat. This shame instilled in artists and performers is capitalized on by the industry who go on to take the lion's share of profits, free of any moral responsibility to sustain the artists that feed them.
As creators, our power lies in knowing our own worth, in making choices based in self respect that uplift us and those around us, in continuing to create at all costs, in sharing work in ways that feel nourishing and sustainable to our spirit. Unfortunately, every industry is poisoned by capitalism - but I believe that many people exist in music industry positions who have deep reverence for music, and forming symbiotic connections based in mutual respect that sustain community is paramount. Everyone deserves to live.
What’s the weirdest place you have slept on tour?
In a literal attic crawl space in Columbus Ohio... Also an unfinished house in the woods in Asheville. A haunted house in Lubbock, TX that had a ghost baby in the mix. Honestly there have been a lot, shouts out to DIY.
What’s the most “extra” thing you have brought on the road?
We brought a steamer on this last tour, and honestly we will never travel without one again.
Who are you listening to currently that inspires you?
Kara Jackson's "Why Does The Earth Give Us People To Love" released this year, A Country Western's recent self-titled album, the album "Dynamite" by Stina Nordenstam which was released in 1996.
What fun rituals do you have before you sit down to create?
We like to play the worst music possible during practices in order to get all the bad ideas out and to have fun. A lot of the time we are trying to figure out how to play Red Hot Chili Peppers songs and screaming into the mic :)
We also like to have a group moment onstage before shows. We used to say "Defend every blade of grass," which is a phrase Susanna heard a football player say on TV after winning a game. Recently we've been saying "Play for your life", which is something Jerry Garcia told himself to do when he started having a bad trip during a set.