Raw Music International highlights underground music and good people regardless of where they reside. So far I've been sharing tracks and stories from our pilot episode in Kisumu, Kenya, but my recent travels took me to a far more aggressive scene far closer to home--Brooklyn, New York.
Three years ago, a few of my closest friends from Iowa started a very heavy and technically adept punk band called Former Thieves. I had the dubious honor to perform as their opening act on their first tour, and in the summer of 2009 we traveled the sullen pudenda of this country playing empty clubs, garages, basements and once, in the hills of North Carolina, a garage that claimed it was a basement (it too was empty).
While my personal music career died after that hard run, the Thieves continued on. Last week, they opened for some of their highschool heroes, Every Time I Die and Terror, at a sold out show at Brooklyn's Knitting Factory. As usual, I used my personal connections to show up in a place I wasn't wanted with a camera, and got some backstage shots of Every Time I Die turning a crowd of seemingly sane individuals into snarling beasts (see the vid at the top of the post).
I also filmed Former Thieves at the secret after-party at Acheron:
You may be surprised, but the roots of Raw Music International lay firmly in punk shows of this very sort. Growing up in Iowa, there wasn't much to do besides punching strangers in the face while listening to very loud music. This we did often, thanks to a beautiful spot called the FSU Garage (immortalized in the classic punk song "First and Ellen" by Modern Life is War). Run by a group of disgruntled kids from Marshalltown, Iowa, the FSU Garage managed to book bands from around the world. The shows were packed, the crowds insane, and the people who ran the house were always generous with food and gas money. As a result, bands far too big to play a sweat-stained, mattress-lined garage (impromptu soundproofing) with a capacity of 50-100 (who knows) would happily make the pit stop between more legitimate shows in Chicago or Minneapolis.
It was at FSU that I learned about pure music first-hand--no egos, no financial incentives, just glorious sound made with purpose and conviction. It's also where I learned that the most amazing music can come from the most humble places.
That's what the musicians we met in Kenya share with the musicians I grew up listening to in Iowa, and that's exactly what drives Raw Music International.