Portland band And And And joined us at Revolver Studios last month, to play from their latest album, “Idiot.” The record caps nine years together as a band — years that began with their raucous live shows around Portland, and winning the Willamette Week Best New Band Poll in 2011.
In the years since, the band has become an outspoken advocate of artists’ rights. The issues are complicated, both at the local level — where musicians face problems with housing affordability and show booking structures — and nationally, where digital streams have meant less control of their work and opaque mechanisms to get paid.
Ditson spoke with us about the direction the music industry is headed. “From the way that music has moved into the digital area, and the way that consolidation is happening on a booking level for live music, and all the changes that are happening in the music world right now, [these] are changes that strike me as having more to do with funneling power away from artists than towards them.”
As a result, And And And reconsidered the way they’d release their own music, and who they’d allow to distribute it digitally: Bandcamp yes; Spotify no; Apple Music no.
Ditson said “basically what it’s just about is us assessing the landscape and going, ‘why do we want to be a band, and what is the larger world telling us we’re supposed to do, and which of those things actually have anything to do with anything we would want?’”
Ditson also ran for mayor of Portland in 2016, which gave him a closer view of the political side of creating change. At the same time, the group’s lead singer and songwriter Nathan Baumgartner had dealt with mental health issues, and those fed into some of the new record’s darker moments.
Baumgartner told us, “There’s a lot of questions posed lyrically. Most of the lyrical content throughout the album is about being an idiot no matter what you do, because the more knowledge you gain, the more you realize you don’t know.”
Listen to the interview below with “State Of Wonder” host April Baer, and watch the performances in the VuHaus player above. You can also catch Bim Ditson in a new project, Help, performing Friday Sept. 21 at Bunk Bar.
Audio recording: Nalin Silva
Mixes: Steven Kray
Videographers: Nate Sjol, Jarratt Taylor, Jennifer Sowell
Editor: Jarratt Taylor
Interview: April Baer
Executive Editor: David Christensen