Media That Changed My Life -- The Presidents of the United States of America: II
by Allen Wagner

Hindsight is great.  At the time, I would have never known that the biggest influence on myself as a musician/songwriter would actually come years before I even picked up my first instrument or even thought about playing or writing music.

The three most important things I think anyone can learn musically can come from this album (or any similar album: anything Aquabats, Presidents etc.):

1 – You don’t need expensive or fancy gear to make good music.

2 – You don’t need to be serious to be taken seriously.

3 – You NEED to have fun.

What did the Presidents do that was so special? They were basically mocking the music world and making better music while doing it. A guitar with only three strings, a bass with only two strings, and a drummer with a bass, snare, hi-hat and two cymbals, and they weren’t whining about anything or trying to influence people; they were just having fun.

Most people are too busy focusing on using all the crazy things they get their hands on. A guy buys a six string guitar simply so he can show off playing all six strings on it when, in reality, most of us can play the same thing on two to four strings.

I really take the concept to heart. Spending any more than the minimum you need to make sound is really a waste of money. If your amp can be as loud as drums, that’s as loud as you’ll ever need to be. The things that make the Presidents great is that they stripped down their equipment further than even the normal capabilities and still outperform the majority of musicians who have overstocked equipment.

Many people won’t understand it, but listen to the leads and chords played, and how the drummer utilizes what he has. Other bands would be completely lost with what little the Presidents used. It simply teaches you not to confuse drum solos, guitar leads, and amplifiers for talent and good music.

They sang about everything from relationships, childhood memories, and simply rocking out, but they never alienated anyone while doing it because they never took songs more seriously than what it was… music.

If you know this, you can eliminate ever having to write anything actually depressing. "My girl is a b****," "My girl broke up with me," "I found a new girl," or even "My ex-girl has a stupid haircut" are all different ways to say the same thing, and chances are you’ll never regret singing the last two. There’s nothing wrong with making people laugh or have fun. I’ve never heard someone say, "I don’t like that band; they aren’t serious enough" or "I don’t like that band because they made me laugh."

Looking back at the music I’ve played and written in bands, it’s all followed a basic concept I first got from this album: Don’t overcomplicate things, just have fun.

Copyright 16 Mar 2007 We Like Media.
You may email Allen Wagner.