You have to stop talking

Before he moved to Montreal last week, Sydney writer and musician Max Easton pulled together a journal “about backwater Australian music” called TEMPERED

TEMPERED poster, Däryl Prondöso; photo by Celeste Aldahn

By Max Easton

If you genuinely want to listen, you have to stop talking.

This is a simple mantra. It’s one I use every time I interview a band, but beyond that, it’s something I tell myself almost every day. If I’m interested in what someone has to say, then I shut the fuck up.

When I started asking people to contribute to TEMPERED, I decided that I wanted submissions from people who haven’t had a platform to talk about music before (or at least, didn’t have this kind of platform.) The submissions I received surprised me: the book became something I didn’t even know I wanted until it all came together.

If you want something to take shape on its own, then don’t stick your hands into the clay.

In wanting people to contribute who didn’t have an existing voice, a very obvious thing happened that I wasn’t prepared for. The people around me who had new opinions on the music around them; the people who I loved as writers but never wrote enough; the people who had to change their writing style to suit a medium: by chance or otherwise they were almost all women (60% of TEMPERED’s contributions in fact).

TEMPERED features the work of a diverse range of writers, photographers and band members. They all sit at the outskirts of DIY circles around the country. Only two bands featured in the book have any kind of profile (Rule of Thirds and Straightjacket Nation). The others are oddities.

Very few people wanted to hear from The Friendsters (and they explain extraordinarily well why that may be the case). Few people were able to take Bitchratch for their merits in early guises (the reasons are only hinted at). Few know who Sex Tourists or Tim & The Boys or Lovely Head even are (you will after reading this book). So it’s strange to me that people have been so interested in it (we sold 70 pre-sales in a week by word of mouth only), but I’m incredibly glad they are.

If you want to discover something new, then you have to stop doing the same damn thing.

There were many rules I set when I started asking contributors to the book; it won’t take a genius to figure them out. You also don’t need someone like me telling you why those rules are important. Look at the contributor list, look through the book, see that there are new opinions from new contributors who are filled with pain, and dread, and desperation, and found triumph in these strange forms of music. I’m not going to tell you why that’s important; they all did that for me.

If you genuinely want to listen, then first you have to stop talking.

You can order a copy of TEMPERED here.