Melbourne rockers Kingswood have defended hard-working musicians everywhere, releasing an open letter outlining just how often musos really do pay their dues after a journalist challenged the band’s artistic credibility.
In a recent profile of Aussie actor Ben Mendelsohn, Fairfax Media columnist Sam de Brito discusses the concept of “paying your dues”, and suggests that some of today’s artists don’t actually pay theirs, Kingswood included.
“The concept of ‘paying your dues’ in artistic pursuits seems rather quaint, nowadays, in our era of instant reality TV fame,” de Brito writes, before providing some examples.
“When abs or eyebrows are enough to score you a gig on Home And Away and four baristas with beards can do a note-perfect ‘copy-version’ of Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way for a national ad campaign, credibility has been reduced to a Santa Cruz T-shirt bought at General Pants,” he says.
The “four baristas with beards” de Brito refers to are actually the members of Kingswood, who recorded their Go Your Own Way cover for a recent Isuzu car commercial.
Kingswood guitarist Alexander Laska has responding to de Brito’s statements, sharing an open letter (below) defending the band’s credibility, and the credibility of all musicians who have used their talents to try and make a living.
“To keep your dream alive is an arduous and costly process, particularly as an independent band… once you develop to a certain level, there is an expectation of quality, and quality is also costly.
“This means that when opportunities present that provide a financial boost, sometimes, you have to take them,” Laska writes in defence of Kingswood’s cover being used in the Isuzu advertisement.
Laska also challenges de Brito’s conception of what musical credibility is, saying, “As I understand it, the term ‘credibility’ can be defined by the qualities of being convincing or believable, particularly with regard to artistic performances in this context.
“Therefore, by your description, which generously suggests a ‘perfect’ copy version of a song, you have deemed us credible, as a ‘perfect’ rendition of something suggests to me that it is both convincing and believable.”
What’s more, Laska defends Kingswood’s musical aptitude and technical skills, which fans around the country are all witnesses to.
“To develop these takes time, practice, patience and education, a ‘paying of dues’ if you will, not in the industry sense, but rather to the art of music itself,” Laska writes.
“Furthermore, Kingswood has been in the industry for almost ten years now. From humble beginnings, we have worked tirelessly at growing as an independent musical entity and toured our country countless times.”
In closing, Laska makes note of how ironic it is that an episode of the Netflix series Bloodline, which stars Ben Mendelsohn, and which de Brito discusses in his profile of the actor, features the Kingswood song Ohio.
“Every once in a while however, you are granted a little victory,” Laska writes.
De Brito has since responded to Kingswood’s open letter, posting only one word to Twitter — “Touché.”
Read Kingswood’s open letter to de Brito in full, below, alongside a behind the scenes look at the band recording their cover of Go Your Own Way.
Watch: Kingswood – Behind The Scenes Of Their Go Your Own Way Cover
Kingswood’s Open Letter To Sam de Brito
Dear Sam de Brito,
As the founding member for Australian band, Kingswood, I recently read your article concerning the talents and development of one Ben Mendelsohn, particularly his latest efforts in the Netflix series ‘Bloodline’. For the most part, the article is great and I agree with you regarding Mendelsohn’s immense talent and capability. However, the article also touches on the ideas of ‘credibility’ and ‘paying your dues’ in artistic pursuits. In your introduction you categorise ‘four bearded baristas’ producing a ‘note perfect copy’ of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Go Your Own Way’ with abdominals and facial features granting positions on daily soaps, implying that in some way, they are of equivalence. As one of those bearded baristas, I’ll have you know that today I attempted one hundred abdominal crunches and at no stage did my musical capacity grow, nor was I able to convince Barbara, the lady on the Swiss ball next to me, that I had become a better musician.
As I understand it, the term ‘credibility’ can be defined by the qualities of being convincing or believable, particularly with regard to artistic performances in this context. Therefore, by your description, which generously suggests a ‘perfect’ copy version of a song, you have deemed us credible, as a ‘perfect’ rendition of something suggests to me that it is both convincing and believable. To produce something of this standard, one must have aptitude in a number of areas; an understanding of music, a technical capacity in which to exercise that understanding and a developed musicality granting you the ability to replicate that which you have heard before in an organized and musically coherent manner. To develop these takes time, practice, patience and education, a ‘paying of dues’ if you will, not in the industry sense, but rather to the art of music itself. Having the fortune of playing and being educated in music since seven years of age and seeing that through to a completed musical degree at tertiary level, I feel compelled to declare that I have been ‘paying my dues’ and will always continue to ‘pay my dues’ to the art of music.
Furthermore, Kingswood has been in the industry for almost ten years now. From humble beginnings, we have worked tirelessly at growing as an independent musical entity and toured our country countless times, putting strain on all aspects of normal life, from jobs, family/friends, and relationships, to even the vans we use, having blown up our poor ’93 Toyota Hi-ace commuter, Peggy, on the Hume three times now. We have done this to propel our dream, from getting our first batch of T-shirts made to funding our first record, to engaging with the people who have supported us from far and wide, to respect the process it takes for the industry to deem you ‘credible’, and we have done it by ‘paying our dues’. To keep your dream alive is an arduous and costly process, particularly as an independent band and not only your dream, but a standard, as once you develop to a certain level, there is an expectation of quality, and quality is also costly. This means that when opportunities present that provide a financial boost, sometimes, you have to take them.
To therefore associate or insinuate that the processes/circumstances that have led to this version of ‘Go Your Own Way’ are equivalent to that of reality TV fame or the ‘short-cut’ is a gross surmising. Sure, I can appreciate how you may have come to this conclusion, as from the outset it seems obvious, which is why I felt it necessary to write a defense, not only for myself, but for the countless bands and musicians that have to make decisions that sometimes may not resonate with all audiences, to keep their careers alive. It goes without saying that all musicians and bands would prefer to have their own originals used in media, as this is another side of the ‘credibility’ coin, but more often than not, we aren’t afforded that luxury. Every once in a while however, you are granted a little victory, and ours came along in the form of the Netflix bravura, ‘Bloodline’, as you fittingly described it, and ironically now in more ways than one. In episode twelve of this enthralling series, at approximately forty-three minutes and forty seconds, you’ll find a song called ‘Ohio’, an original song by a little band from Australia called Kingswood.
Also, I don’t drink coffee.
— KINGSWOOD (@KINGSWOODBAND) August 11, 2015
— Sam de Brito (@SamdeBrito) August 11, 2015