Where did all the good tunes go? Have millennials just gone the way of Gen X and Boomers before them, pining nostalgically for gilded memories of a past that never glittered? Or has the music business—and music along with it—really changed? In this episode of Art for the End Times, Lyta Gold explores the unsavory reality of the capitalist music industry with special guest Torquil Campbell (AKA Torq), co-lead singer of the acclaimed indie pop/rock band Stars. Torq guides us on a journey to understand the contemporary music industry, and how streaming platforms and usurious music-industry capitalists have built an environment hostile to creativity with their relentless fleecing of artists and consumers alike. To take back the culture, we’ll have to take back the means of artistic production, and Torq offers some thoughts on what that might mean for cultural workers. Torq Campbell is a socialist musician, songwriter, co-lead singer of the band Stars, and co-host of the Soft Revolution podcast. Stars have released nine studio albums—including, most recently, From Capelton Hill—and have been nominated for multiple Juno and Polaris awards

Studio/Post-Production: Dwayne Gladden


Transcript

Lyta Gold:  Hello, and welcome to Art for the End Times. As always, I’m your host Lyta Gold.

So we’ve been doing the show for… Actually it’s nearly a year at this point. And we spend a lot of time talking about the politics embedded into works of art themselves, but we haven’t really torn back the skin, and we haven’t really talked about the gross stuff underneath. The gross stuff is mostly capitalism, let’s be real. Things have really changed across every artistic industry. I think that’s fair to say. How people get paid, or more often, don’t get paid at all. That’s really changed. And because that’s changed, it’s also changed who gets to make art and what kind of art gets made and what kind of art we get to experience. Today we’re going to focus on the music industry to start, though I’m hoping we can go off the rails a little bit. And I have an extremely special guest today, who I am so, so excited about. I am delighted to introduce Torq Campbell.

Torq Campbell:  Hi all. How you doing? How you doing? Thanks for having me, Lyta.

Lyta Gold:  I’m just, again, I’m so excited to have you on here. This is just really cool. For listeners, if you’re not familiar with Torq for some reason, he is the co-lead singer and songwriter of the beloved band called Stars. He’s also part of Memphis and Broken Social Scene and this new duo called TFD, which I want to talk about. It stands for Total Fucking Darkness. And you put out one song and I’m obsessed with it.

Torq Campbell:  Oh, thank you. I’m glad to hear that. We’re all about bringing the tunes to the kids. That’s what Total Fucking Darkness is about. So I’m glad you enjoy it.

Lyta Gold:  Well, it’s very effective, because the first lines are “Death to fascists / Death to men.”

Torq Campbell:  Yes. I was really talking to this demo with that song, for sure. Yeah. Death to fascists, death to men, death to the politicians and the women who live with them. My partner in the band was like, I don’t know, can we say death to the women who live with them? I’m like, fuck yeah. They’re culpable. Get them in there too.

Lyta Gold:  They know what this is. They know what they’re doing.

Torq Campbell:  They didn’t walk in blind.

Lyta Gold:  Yeah. I don’t think Ivanka is like, you know.

Torq Campbell:  She’s completely, what is it? Complicit. [inaudible].

Lyta Gold:  Yeah. People know. They could walk away if they wanted to. Yeah. But yeah. Please, everybody should check out that song, because it is just an absolute banger. And before we go on, I should mention that you are also an actor and a playwright, and you have your own podcast called Soft Revolution, which is wonderful. And everybody should check it out.

Torq Campbell:  Oh, thank you for listening. That’s awesome to hear.

Lyta Gold:  It’s very good. It’s a really fun setup, because you have a co-host who’s more of a centrist.

Torq Campbell:  Yeah.

Lyta Gold:  And then you have these fascinating –

Torq Campbell:  Interestingly, he’s changed over the last couple years. I think. I mean, it’s sad to see somebody come to terms with the fact that capitalism might be a cruel con game. It really is, because I think there’s genuinely good people who genuinely think that at some point, “reasoned capitalism” or “compassionate capitalism” or these kinds of phrases that people toss around, or “sensible capitalism”. It’s just, I don’t know. The older I get, the more I feel that is essentially like saying “reasoned robbery” or “sensible robbery” or… I asked nicely when I took the lady’s wallet. It just doesn’t… The foundations of it are built on ugliness and selfishness. That’s just the way it is.

Lyta Gold:  Yeah. And to that end, actually, if we want to talk about… to sort of open here with the way that the industry has changed, the music industry has changed, because you actually had a wonderful podcast with him after your tour earlier in the spring. And you talked about this, and he was making the argument that a compassionate capitalism could work to help to reward people. Said you work a meritocracy and reward artists and then actually pay people. This could work, and you were countering that it really is not possible. And you put the blame on the greed of capitalists themselves, and the greed and psychosis of capitalists themselves.

Torq Campbell:  Yeah. I mean, it’s never worked, right? It’s not like the music industry is in some new stage of being terrible. It’s been predicated on exploitation from the moment the word “music” joined the word “industry”. Those two things. This idea that art can be used to grow capital, you can see it in all kinds of areas, whether it’s music or theater or literature, whatever it is. The notion that art could be another commodity, and that commodity could withstand middlemen.

That’s the real issue, I think, with the music industry, and certainly with other artistic industries, is that between the artist and the listener or the purchaser, there is a huge amount of people, and they’re all taking their piece. And even with the advent of the internet and with Bandcamp and all these things, they just keep finding new ways into the middle of the transaction where they extract much more than is fair, and leave the listener feeling ripped off, and like, I spent my money, but the artist is still complaining about being poor. What the hell am I supposed to do? I buy the record. I buy the t-shirt. What more can I do?

And they’re still failing. And the artist saying, we cut our costs and we’re doing everything we can, and we’re sleeping in vans, and we’re doing whatever, and we’re still not making money. In between that, the music industry is making more money than it’s ever made in its history. So you really have to ask, what the hell’s going on here?

Lyta Gold:  Who are the new players in the game, I guess is my question? Obviously Spotify has played a major role.

Torq Campbell:  Yeah. The new players in the game are tech companies. They’re the new players in every game. They’re the new players in education, in art, in medicine, in you name it. Whatever the foundations of our society are, tech companies are running interference and trying to disrupt the market and capture a piece of the pie. And they’ve been incredibly successful at that. They’ve made it seem like it’s easier to give up a bunch of your private information online in order to order a hand blender than it is to go to the local hardware store and buy a hand blender. They’ve made it feel like having 18 streaming channels and paying $200 a month for it is cheaper and more convenient than having a TV.

Every single aspect of tech, in my view, has been… there’s been a net negative to its influence. And I think that the real question for, especially socialists, in my opinion, but for creative people and people who think of themselves as empaths moving forward is, is the internet actually a bad thing? And should we actually turn it off? Should we actually stop using this technology? And it’s a huge, massive question, but I do think now it’s a question we have to start to try and tackle.

Lyta Gold:  So the counterargument. The counterargument usually is that what is supposedly good about Spotify is that it’s exposure to all these artists that you might not have heard of. But do you think that’s true, or do you think that’s enough? Because there’s more content, but it’s distributed, it’s everywhere. It’s harder to find. Do you think that’s worthwhile?

Torq Campbell:  It works for one in 10,000 people, and you’ll find those musicians who say, hey, I got on the right playlists and I got heard by the right people and now I’m making $6,000 a month from something I made in my bedroom. And that’s awesome and I’m happy for those musicians. But for anybody else, pretty much, for bands, for career artists, for catalog artists, for artists who are making music that doesn’t grab you immediately, for artists who are working outside the pop idiom, what you really are is you’re in, did you look… The last time you ate a bag of chips, did you look at the ingredients? They’re in there, but you’re just passively eating the chips. You’re consuming that thing, but you’re not aware of what it is. And the same is true of music, largely, when people are dealing with streaming platforms.

I use Apple and Tidal because they pay better. And so that’s my compromise with The Man is they’re robbing me slightly less. But when I play a record on Apple, it doesn’t end and there’s silence. Apple just moves on to something else that they think I like. And I have no idea who that person is. And generally I turn it off or I ignore it or whatever. And that’s how these things work. So people, you might be getting 50 million spins. Does anybody actually know who your band is? Or is it just on a playlist that is being passively played in a coffee shop somewhere over and over and over again?

Here’s a trick to show you how much streaming has damaged the ability for the artist to have agency. Next time you’re in any kind of store, even a record store, ask the person behind the counter, what’s this playing right now? I guarantee you they won’t know. They won’t know. I do it so often. Because I hear a song I like. I’m like, oh this is a cool song, and I don’t have a smartphone so I can’t Shazam it. So I ask the cool looking kid who I assume is the person who’s put it up, what is this? And they’re like, I don’t know. It’s a playlist we get from corporate. It’s like, oh, God. Shoot me in the face.

Lyta Gold:  Oh my God, that’s a fun prank.

Torq Campbell:  It is. Yeah. Test your Starbucks barista and see if they know what the hell is playing in Starbucks.

Lyta Gold:  It’s funny. I’m actually starting to feel justified. We do a trivia night with our friends and we always suck at the music round, anything that’s from when we were growing up is fine.

Torq Campbell:  Right. Right.

Lyta Gold:  And so we get to be sort of the grouchy millennials at the bar being like, oh, these Gen Zers and their new music, we just can’t tell the difference between their bands. We think everything is Harry Styles. We just assume everybody’s Harry Styles. They don’t know.

Torq Campbell:  Yeah. And they do worship stuff. I mean, I don’t think there’s ever been a bigger fan culture ever in history, but they… I don’t know. It’s more about a collective identity than it is about an individual one. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. It’s different from the world that I grew up in, where pop music for me defined very much an imagined individuality, not a real one, of course. I was just like so many other Smiths fans out there. But in my imagined world, the Smiths only meant something to me. I couldn’t identify myself that way out in the broader world, because people would be like, who the hell are the Smiths? They’d never heard of them. You know? So it’s a strange change.

Lyta Gold:  Do you think we’ve lost something with that? I think about the collective, because sometimes the collective fan culture, like of K-pop, is kind of fun. I mean, K-pop stans can be terrifying, also, if they turn on you in a swarm. But a classic left perspective is, oh, anything collective is good, and I think the individual is bad, but that’s a little bit reductive. And I wonder if in this case there’s really something fundamentally… It’s not just that something is different, but something that is missing about not having a personal relationship, [only having] a social relationship.

Torq Campbell:  I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately. About how when I was a kid, the monoculture was culture. People were so huge. Michael Jackson was so huge, and George Michael was so huge. And even if you hated them, you heard, you knew every song. You know what I mean? Because they were so ubiquitous, and that annoyed the hell out of me when I was a kid. I was listening to things like Easter House and weird shit from England that nobody else had. And I hated the monoculture, but now that we are so segmented and fragmented and everything is so exploded and Beyonce can put an album out and a week later nobody’s talking about it. I do feel like we’re missing something from that common conversation. We’re missing an opportunity, especially in terms of the “culture war,” which makes me want to go to sleep just talking about it.

When we don’t have voices of a generation, we don’t have a collective idea to begin with that we can argue about or respond to in some way. And yet, as a socialist, I abhor the notion that one corporation can push down the throats of millions of people the same fucking thing because that’s all we’re allowed to eat. But I don’t think the two necessarily have to be divorced. I’ve been doing this thing this year where I take song commissions. People can write to me, and for $1,000 I’ll write them a song about whatever they want for whoever they want. And they have the only copy. I don’t put it up anywhere else. They own it forever. It’s theirs. And it’s been incredible, because someone hires me the way they hire someone to make a table or someone to make them a suit.

Instead of me seeking ubiquity through these corporations, I’m finding one person who’s willing to pay me a fair amount of money to make something beautiful for them. And to me, that is really the future for art. And for all small business people of any kind, is finding people literally who know your work, like your work, and talk to them. Don’t get a consultant to talk to them. Don’t outsource it. Just stay up late and talk to them. And I really think that there’s a lot to be said because once you’re face to face with people, they’re better than when you’re not.

Lyta Gold:  Yeah.

Torq Campbell:  I’m a less selfish customer when I know the person who runs the store I buy stuff in. I don’t mind paying more. I’m more patient in line. All those things that make local coffee stores somewhere people often want to go. It’s like yeah, it kind of takes a while, and the breakfast sandwich is expensive, but I really like the people who run it, and they play great music and it feels like home. That stuff has to come into art. It has to come into the way we sell culture. Our expectations as cultural workers have to change from being like, I’m going to Broadway, to, I’m going to make a living in my neighborhood.

Lyta Gold:  I love that idea. My only question though is, is there still a discovery problem? How do people find you to write a song for them in the first place?

Torq Campbell:  Yeah, there sure is a discovery problem. My heart bleeds for any new young artist. Even when you’re seeing them have massive success, the money’s not there. Unless they’re touring like crazy, and even then. I remember touring with Tegan and Sara years ago when they were really busting out. They’d been around for years, but I think… What was that… Close to you or “Closer” or whatever that song was. It went top 10, I think, in the States. They just suddenly exploded, these two indie kids from Canada who we’d known for years were massive.

And they took us out and we were opening for them, and they had a big set and we were like, wow, look how well Tegan and Sara are doing. And I was sitting there with them and they’re like, yeah, we’re losing money on this tour. Because in an effort to stay here, now that we’ve got the ears of everyone and the eyes of everyone, we’re trying to make a show where people will be like, oh man, I got to go see every Tegan and Sara show, we have to be big league. And so all that extra money they were making, they were just pouring into looking like they were making extra money.

I think people don’t understand with the music industry that every single penny is your penny. If you get an album advance, you spend that money. That’s your money. They spend it for you, and then you pay it back at 50% interest. If you go on tour and they give you tour support, you pay that back at 50% interest.

Lyta Gold:  50%?

Torq Campbell:  Oh, at least. That’s a good deal. That’s a good deal. It’s usually more like 150%. It’s usury.

Lyta Gold:  Oh yeah.

Torq Campbell:  It’s a loansharking operation. That’s what the music industry is, is a loan sharking operation. You could literally, if you had good credit and anything, if anybody had any money, you could just go to the bank and get a loan and make an album and pay, I don’t know. It’s 7% interest or whatever. The whole thing’s crazy. It’s absolutely crazy. But this is how disconnected artists are from the process of being craftspeople in charge of their work, the same way you would be if you were a baker.

You might work for other people. If you like to bake, you might work for other people for 10 years, but eventually you’re saving money up because you want to open your own bakery, and you’ll go get a loan from the bank, and you’ll take the risk. It’ll be what it’ll be. It’ll be a success or it’ll be a failure. But musicians skip those 10 years. They just go to the bank. I’ve never baked before. Can you give me $100,000? And they’re like, sure, we can. You’re cute. Come on in. You’ve got one good song. Come on in and we’ll use you.

Lyta Gold:  Wow. That’s really fascinating.

Torq Campbell:  Yeah. It’s a crazy business. It’s a crazy business. Sorry. I forgot what your question was.

Lyta Gold:  That’s okay.

Torq Campbell:  It’s podcast wandering syndrome.

Lyta Gold:  Hey, listen. We’re all just having fun conversations. It is interesting because there are other industries… I’m sort of dividing industries in my head right now, what has that structure and what doesn’t? If you want to be an actor, if you want to do anything in film, it’s that structure. If you want to be a writer, it’s in many ways that structure too. You can’t really start your own bakery. It’s not really possible. You really –

Torq Campbell:  No. Until you’ve been approved.

Lyta Gold:  Right. Right. You need to be approved, and you need to keep working. There was this, I don’t know if you saw this, this fascinating article in Hollywood Reporter, of all things, about Sydney Sweeney, who’s this up and coming blonde actress, little blonde starlet, she’s been in a lot of things. And she’s from a working-class background, and she was talking about how she really… She can’t not take work because she can’t make ends meet.

Torq Campbell:  Right. Right.

Lyta Gold:  And people were furious. And they said, oh no, no. She must be doing great because she’s an actress. And it’s well, no, streaming residuals are lower. And she’s breaking in and she’s doing well, but it’s this tremendous amount of work and she can’t afford to stop working anymore.

Torq Campbell:  It appears to me that the machinery of capitalism recognizing its inability to constantly grow at the rate it’s been growing is now applying the screws in the sense that they’re trying to see how much cruelty people will bear. Whether you fly in a plane or you go and deal with any kind of government bureaucracy or whatever you’re doing, trying to get health insurance, trying to get car insurance, all these things. They just keep pushing further and further and further. It’s more inhumane. There’s fewer people to talk to on the end of the phone. There’s more interaction with bots and with artificial intelligence. There’s less money. Whatever you’re applying for is less than it was. And it feels like COVID has really been a boon to a lot of people who are in this business of applying the screws, because COVID provides the perfect cover to do it.

Well, we have to, it’s COVID. Well, it’s harder for us, it’s COVID. It’s supply chain issues because of COVID. And so they’re really, really using the disease to enact more cruelty in the hopes that they’ll get us used to it. And those margins will improve for them a little bit more, and they’ll delay the inevitable collapse another 10 or 15 years. I mean, maybe I’m being paranoid, but it really feels that way to me. That there is now a silent agreement amongst corporate leaders that the battle is lost. And now it’s just about extracting as much as possible before the whole thing goes belly up.

Lyta Gold:  I mean, it’s funny. We get into this, it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism. But one of my deep fears is that there’s always going to be more to extract, that there’s always greater cruelty to inflict.

Torq Campbell:  Yeah, I think you’re right. I think there probably is. And the question is, we don’t have to buy it. We don’t have to buy it. Do we? We don’t have to participate. On some level, ultimately, it starts with… My father was a conscientious objector in the Second World War. Now, a lot of people would say, what the fuck? Why was your father a conscientious objector in the Second World War? That was the only justifiable war. Hitler invaded Europe, blah, blah, blah. My father accepted all those arguments, but his feeling was that if every single young man of his age in Germany and in England had made the personal conscious decision that he had made, to say no, I’m not going to pick that gun up. I’m not going to do that, there would’ve been no war.

And that as an individual, his only change that he could make was what he had under his control, which was his willingness to conscript or not conscript, his willingness to kill or not to kill. He was a pacifist. It was deep inside him, and he was willing to go to prison to protect that principle. And if everybody had done that, Hitler would be in a beer hall yelling at his friends. I still believe that’s a pretty good argument for why he was a conscientious objector in the Second World War. And I understand the other argument, but I just think that at some point it begins with us. It really does.

Lyta Gold:  That’s an interesting question. So let’s take your model, which I think is really fascinating, of finding people in your neighborhood or vicinity of some kind, could be an online vicinity, even though we should maybe get rid of the internet too, which is again provocative. And I’m kind of…

Torq Campbell:  At least the algorithm. At the very least turn the algorithm off and see what happens. My bet is everybody would stop using the internet because without the algorithm, it’s like porn with no sex, just bad acting.

Lyta Gold:  Just edging the whole –

Torq Campbell:  A bunch of pizza deliveries. You know what I mean?

Lyta Gold:  Oh, man. Yeah, yeah. You were talking about that also on a recent podcast. That it’s there to make you angry. And it’s designed –

Torq Campbell:  Exactly. Without the rage, what’s the point?

Lyta Gold:  Yeah. And then creators, especially young creators, are told you have to be on Twitter and you have to be on TikTok and you have to put, if you’re a musician or an actress, you have to put out these little TikToks all the time, and as many as you can, to increase engagement. Yep. Yeah.

Torq Campbell:  Yeah. It’s relentless, absolutely relentless. And in those posts, you mustn’t say, things are shit. I’m losing money. We’re on the edge. You must say, oh my God, this is the most amazing. We just had the most amazing time doing the most amazing thing with these amazing people, and thanks to Nike for being so amazing to us. Letting us have some free shoes, hashtag amazing. That’s what they want you to do. That’s what they force you to do, essentially. I mean, Radiohead just put their entire catalog on TikTok.

Lyta Gold:  Did they? I didn’t know that.

Torq Campbell:  Think about that for a second.

Lyta Gold:  Oh my God.

Torq Campbell:  The people who made Hail to the Thief put up their catalog for free use on a website controlled by the Chinese government. Enjoy, everybody. Enjoy the internet.

Lyta Gold:  Yeah. So the question I guess is, so you as an individual can say, I’m not going to play this game. You could say it as a veteran creator. As a young creator and be like, no, I’m not going to do this. I’m just going to work on my own. I’m going to work on a small scale with people. But how do you get other people in on this? Because in the same situation with, how do you… Everybody has to do it together.

Torq Campbell:  It’s just like podcasting. This is the insoluble problem. I guess I get back to it over and over again with people, is, how can you be in the conversation? How can you be heard? How can you get your work seen without being online? And how can you even be politically active without being online? I believe there has to be an answer. And I believe in that answer lies our freedom. Not to sound like fucking… The guy with the mustache or whatever, but what’s that thing? Zed or whatever? What’s that movie? Everybody wears the masks all the time with the crazy mustache thing.

Lyta Gold:  [inaudible].

Torq Campbell:  How they’re anarchists.

Lyta Gold:  V for Vendetta? Is that what –

Torq Campbell:  Yeah. V for Vendetta.

Lyta Gold:  Yeah, yeah.

Torq Campbell:  I’m real hip to the scene, man. But there has to be a way to begin something that is meaningful offline. And I think that the only way that begins is actually physically local. Which does not give you the dopamine hit. Going to a town council meeting and making some really good points in front of your fellow citizens and finding allies and finding people who think you’re saying the right thing, and then having a meeting over at your house and deciding how to make your neighborhood better is not as sexy as, “fuck JK Rowling,” and getting 7,000 likes. Do you know what I mean?

Lyta Gold:  Yeah, yeah.

Torq Campbell:  In 10 minutes. That dopamine is flooding into your system, your sense of achievement, your sense of having shifted the goal posts, of having participated in democracy. All those things are met, and you’ve done exactly nothing. You’ve done absolutely nothing to change the conversation.

Lyta Gold:  Right. Right.

Torq Campbell:  So while it feels good to be in the conversation and it’s economically beneficial, listen, I speak as someone who is deep inside the mire. When I want to put a record out, what do I do? I go on Twitter and say, I have a record out, because I have 50,000 people there and I don’t want to pay someone to go find 50,000 people to advertise for me. So I jump on social media and I tell people what I’m doing. And that is the genius of their diabolical plan, is that it’s not just cat photos and racism and Only Fans. It’s also, you have a podcast? You’re going to advertise this podcast on social media because that’s where people are.

Lyta Gold:  Yep.

Torq Campbell:  Short of putting up signs on walls like Martin Luther, you know what I mean? I’ve been thinking of that a lot lately. Maybe just starting to write manifestos and posting them like people did in Portland in 1994.

Lyta Gold:  That would be great.

Torq Campbell:  It was cool back then.

Lyta Gold:  I think you should do that.

Torq Campbell:  You can still do it. Yeah.

Lyta Gold:  Yeah. No one’s stopping you. You just need a printer. You don’t even need your own printer, just go to Staples.

Torq Campbell:  You don’t even need a printer. You need a photocopier. Do they still have those?

Lyta Gold:  I think they might.

Torq Campbell:  Seriously, I do think that there’s… You can achieve that same feeling of actually having really changed something or actually having really connected with a group of people who share your ideas, and you can do it in real life. I know because I’ve done it, and it’s exciting. It’s thrilling. And what was so amazing about what happened with the George Floyd protest, and I really felt like that might be a sea change moment, because that was not online. That really was happening in the hearts of people. They were like, this fucking shit is absolutely unbearable. Is there a march or something? Can I go somewhere?

And it wasn’t just young people or Trotskyites or MAGA people. It was everybody. Yeah. Except for the lunatics. But it was 80% of the American people who were like, enough of this shit. And that’s why it had such power, was because it wasn’t demographic. It was democratic, and those two things are antithetical to each other.

Lyta Gold:  You know what’s interesting?

Torq Campbell:  We got to leave demographics behind. Start hanging out with old people more. Start hanging out with kids more, for real. Get out of our generational bubbles. Because God, Gen X doesn’t even understand Gen Y.

Lyta Gold:  I know.

Torq Campbell:  We’re 10 years apart from each other.

Lyta Gold:  I know. I know.

Torq Campbell:  So that’s not going to work.

Lyta Gold:  Back to the George Floyd thing. It’s interesting, because I remember this really spontaneous outpouring of public art in my neighborhood. All of a sudden one day there was this beautiful shrine that somebody had set up and drawn a painting of his face. And it was really beautiful, and it was up for a while.

Torq Campbell:  Yeah.

Lyta Gold:  Yeah. And it’s that kind of –

Torq Campbell:  Because people were like, what can I do? It isn’t enough to put a Black Lives Matter picture up on my fucking Instagram account. This isn’t enough. It’s not enough for my heart and it’s not enough for the world. I’ve got to show up right now. Even though there’s a virus going around and we could all get it, we’re going to cram together in the streets. And that was, to me, such a beautiful moment of people being like, there’s something more important than not getting this virus right now. This is what it is. And we’re going to show up for each other.

Lyta Gold:  That was such a spontaneous moment, and it had to come after a terrible tragedy. Now that COVID restrictions are loosening and people have different opinions about that, but restrictions are loosening. People are going out and about and living their lives like normal again. How do you bring about that interaction in physical spaces? I can start with you personally going to a city council meeting, but is it about finding like-minded people, building physical spaces together, artistic spaces, that sort of thing?

Torq Campbell:  Yeah. Which is easier said than done, of course. Especially in urban places where rents are just everywhere, even if you’re living in Kansas City now, it’s hard to find a jam space. It’s easy to say that and very hard to do. I have been part of something really cool that’s happening in Vancouver right now. I got myself, for the first time in my life at 50 years old, I was able to afford my own studio because this group called the Narrow Group in Vancouver, what they do is they find buildings that are set for redevelopment, but are at the beginning stages of it. So there’ll be a two, three, four year process of going through getting all the permissions, et cetera, through city council and all that. So these buildings sit derelict for three years, and the property developer pays 300 grand a year in property tax just to keep the place because they’re going to make 60 million off of it.

So the Narrow Group goes to these guys and says, we will take the building off your hands for three years, and we will pay your property tax, and we’re going to put artists in there. So I am now in a motel that was a fleabag motel that was going to be redeveloped. And there’s probably 70, 80 units, and we’re all paying $500 a month. And I have 24-hour access to my own room with my own bathroom, a beautiful view of the city, and I have a studio. And he has 11 buildings like this in Vancouver. So to me, that is one really great way, is that all these developers, all these people, they want to look good, and they want to save money. So if you can find a way to make them look virtuous and save them a little bit of money, I think they’ll be very amenable to the notion that having cultural space in their condo or in their office building or in their whatever is an advantage to them.

And this is, of course, the model that the theater has been using for years. They’ve been getting on their knees and thanking whoever, Volvo, for sponsoring their production of Twelfth Night for years. And yes, it’s a little odious, and it leaves a bit of a bad taste in the mouth of many. But the truth of the matter is that we have to make art. We have to be there for people. People need art in their communities. We had this open house at this studio that I’m at, and we just opened all our doors. People just wander into our studios and people came in and said, what are you guys doing here? You know? And I was like, we’re making art.

Lyta Gold:  That’s so cool.

Torq Campbell:  There’s a ceramic artist next door, and there’s a person who paints upstairs, and I make music here. And they’re like, how do we get this more in our neighborhood? So many people said that to me. This is so fabulous. How can we have more of this? And I said, let your politicians know that you want art. Because the esotericism of art has become such that people think it’s like religion. They think it’s like religion. They think they’re not allowed in the church. And they are allowed in the church, man. There is no fucking church, actually. It’s a nightclub. We sell drinks. Come on in and party. There is an onus on the cultural sector after COVID, after George Floyd, after all these things. Yes, of course, as citizens, as revolutionaries, it’s great to use your art to fight for the causes. It’s great to use your art to speak truth to power.

You know what else it’s great to do? It’s great to use your art to be beautiful, and to make people feel beautiful, and to make people feel like life is worth living because art exists, and because parties exist, and because dancing exists, and getting drunk with your friends exists, and reading a great book and getting swept away in your imagination. Those things are incredibly important to the revolution, in my opinion. That unless we give people a vision of the world that includes the quality of their lives, the beauty of their lives, that we claim that territory. Don’t let the fascists claim that territory by talking about freedom and saying, we’re going to give you a car and a house and all these things. We’re going to give you shit. We can’t get caught up in that. We have to speak for the notion that art is not just a political weapon, it’s an emotional weapon. And that’s where we have to wield it. We’re more beautiful than them. And sometimes online, it doesn’t look that way to me. I think that’s a problem.

Lyta Gold:  One thing I notice about a lot of silly leftist discourse online is so much of it is about criticism of artwork. And we do a lot of it on the show, but we also try to find lots of things that we can praise, things that we really like, because I think that’s really missing, actually, in left spaces –

Torq Campbell:  Sure is.

Lyta Gold:  …Is talking about stuff that’s beautiful and interesting and means something to you and is cool. You don’t see enough of that. It’s, oh, this reinforces capitalist ideals and this is trash.

Torq Campbell:  It’s our negative bias as people, right? Everybody knows that if 30 people say something nice about you and one person says something mean, you will stay up all night obsessing about the one mean thing somebody said. And also, Yoko Ono, I read the other day, she had this great quote. She was like, “Try to say nothing [negative] about [anybody] for three days.”

Lyta Gold:  Oh man.

Torq Campbell:  See how it changes you as a person. I’ve yet to accomplish it. I start at 8:00 AM every day. I’m like, okay, today’s the day. I get to like 8:17 and I’m bitching. Then I’m bitching about somebody. So it’s… yeah. We got to work on that, I think, as people in general, but definitely as fans of art. The idea of criticism is not your mother telling you to clean your room up. Criticism should play in conduit between the listener, the reader, and the artist. Get people excited about the work. Whether you like it or not is uninteresting. You shouldn’t be writing about it or engaging with it if there isn’t something in there that you think is…

This is what drives me so crazy about so much music criticism I read is oh the new Bad Bunny record’s out, and we brave mavens here at pitchfork.com are going to give it a 5.2 and be like, meh. It’s like, well, okay, Bad Bunny. You do nothing for Bad Bunny. He’s bigger than you. He’s massive. So who are you writing this for? You’re not helping Bad Bunny, and you’re also not helping a small band who could use that space that you think does good stuff. Why don’t you tell us about that band? But instead you’re going “meh” to Bad Bunny because you want to look cool online with your Twitter friends, and it’s just this is New York at its very worst, if I may say.

Lyta Gold:  Yes, it is.

Torq Campbell:  No offense to my fellow brethren in New York City where I lived. You all I live here in now the most –

Lyta Gold:  It’s the worst.

Torq Campbell:  – Parochial fucking place in the world.

Lyta Gold:  Oh my God. No, the worst, the absolute worst. I live in Queens now, and it’s –

Torq Campbell:  It’s like a Shire.

Lyta Gold:  Amazing.

Torq Campbell:  It’s like you’re all hobbits and you live in the Shire.

Lyta Gold:  That’s so true.

Torq Campbell:  There’s other things going on.

Lyta Gold:  There’s no other world.

Torq Campbell:  There’s other things going on. Have you ever heard of a place called Long Island? It’s unbelievable what’s going on out there. You wouldn’t believe it.

Lyta Gold:  No. No. For real, ever since I moved to Queens and I’m living in like neighborhood-y Queens, and then I’ll read things about like, oh the cool kids in Manhattan and Brooklyn are doing this, and I’m like, nobody here knows or cares.

Torq Campbell:  Oh, but they’re coming for you. They’re coming for you, Lyta. Queens has not got long. The Bronx. They’re in the Bronx.

Lyta Gold:  They’re in the Bronx. They’re in the Bronx.

Torq Campbell:  They’re everywhere. There’s nowhere left to go. Jersey City has the most expensive rent in America.

Lyta Gold:  You’re kidding? I didn’t know that.

Torq Campbell:  Have you been to Jersey City?

Lyta Gold:  Not voluntarily, no.

Torq Campbell:  What the hell is going on with the world?

Lyta Gold:  God. Oh man. It’s a problem because when there’s still this… I think it’s a holdover from a couple decades ago, this idea that you have to be countercultural to, supposedly, the mainstream thing. So you’ll be shitty about Beyonce or Bad Bunny and be like, this is silly pop stuff or whatever. But it’s without touting an indie culture to go with it. It’s just the tear down of what you think normal people like, because you don’t like normal people. That’s the issue.

Torq Campbell:  Yeah. And I feel, too, even beyond that, there isn’t a counterculture, actually, anymore. Because as soon as something comes out that seems countercultural, it just gets eaten by the shark. The shark just eats it and shits it out as something unthreatening because it’s now owned by them. And so there’s really no way around that except, again, to do it yourself, which means you make less money. It means that fewer people know about it. It means work is harder. There are massive, massive trade-offs, and I got no hate or anger against any artist who tries to go the short way. I did. It was a mistake.

When I started, I was told by older artists not to do it, that there were no shortcuts. I ignored them. I know you will too, if you’re out there starting your career, because it’s tempting to just believe that if you do good work, the rest will take care of itself. But sadly, that isn’t the case. And I think there is also a really worrying thing to me about the intersection between progressive ideals and corporate stasis that is represented in a kind of online wokeness, demonstrative, performative wokeness.

So Royal Bank of Canada puts up their rainbow flag every pride month, and the cynicism of that and the kind of… Bell Media, who are a telephone communications company, total monopoly, cruelest fucking company, fired 6,000 employees last year in the middle of COVID. Total bastards. Every year they have Bell Let’s Talk. Let’s talk mental health. And every time you use the hashtag #bellletstalk, we’ll donate a dollar to mental health causes. Well, fuck you so hard. What are you doing for people who can’t pay their cell phone bill? If I call you today and say, hey, I just lost my job and I’m struggling with cancer and my kid is having an eating disorder and I live in a shitty apartment, will you give me a break on my cell phone bill? Because it would help my mental health. Do you think those bastards are going to do anything for you?

So it really concerns me, this alliance between wokeness and corporate. That as long as corporations speak the language of our idiom, as long as they put up a BLM flag outside their satanic fucking mill, we’re okay with them existing. I’m not really down with that. I don’t think that’s where the revolution’s going to be. And I think we have gotten lazy with that shit. And that we really have to start to resist cheap use of incredibly important ideas that people died for and that we may have to die for, and not buy it from them. Because what it looks like is that we’re classist. It looks like we’re more interested in fighting the cultural war than we are in fighting the class war, because we have enough money.

We can order from Amazon. We can get Netflix. So what do we care if they’re a little shifty? I’ll give them a pass on this one. If you’re a poor person, you don’t get that choice. And to me, when the left stops fighting class warfare and starts fighting cultural warfare, it means we’ve been coaxed out into open ground by the fascists who will then use our shit to beat us to death.

Because your uncle Charlie is never going to be comfortable with gay people, but your uncle Charlie is getting fucked over by the same dude you are. And that’s where we have to begin. And then later when we’ve shown uncle Charlie that we speak for economic justice, we can say, by the way, this is what else we believe. So get on board, Uncle Charlie, because we saved your ass. You know what I mean?

Lyta Gold:  Yeah. And there’s so many incidents of alliances, unexpected alliances between –

Torq Campbell:  Absolutely.

Lyta Gold:  – Who seem like very hardcore conservatives. And it’s always a tricky topic, because sometimes when you bring this sort of thing up, people think that what you’re saying is that concerns about racial justice should go to the side and it’s not what it is. It’s that you don’t need to have everybody clear a certain bar of totally agreeing with you on every single point before you work [with them]. And again, it depends on the situation. There are some people who are just outright fascists.

Torq Campbell:  Of course there are. Of course there are.

Lyta Gold:  It’s equally important to them to be racist, and that’s just who they’re going to be. But a lot of people –

Torq Campbell:  More to the point for me is that you can’t have racial justice without economic justice.

Lyta Gold:  Exactly. Then that’s how you frame it.

Torq Campbell:  Racism is the little sister of capitalism. Slavery had to exist for capitalism to exist because someone had to be getting fucked over. So it’s like we can’t have these real changes that we want so badly culturally if we aren’t coincidentally and alongside fighting the battles. And sorry, you all, I’m going to piss some people off here. But this is what my man Bernie was fucking saying, you can’t fight cultural warfare if you don’t fight class warfare. And if you have purity tests for every single person who comes onto your team, you are going to lose to the fascists, because the fascists, they don’t care. As long as you hate women and you hate people who are different from you and you want to make a buck, come on in. You can be Roger Stone. You can smoke weed or have sex with animals, whatever the fuck you want to do. Just make sure you’re a misogynist and a racist and you want to make a buck. On the left, we’re like, do you still listen to Dave Chappelle? It’s like, come on guys. Jesus Christ, this is no way to make a team.

Lyta Gold:  Well, that’s funny –

Torq Campbell:  [inaudible] making a team here.

Lyta Gold:  It’s funny how on the left it’s so often your cultural preferences tend to rule people out.

Torq Campbell:  Yes.

Lyta Gold:  We had a Harry Potter episode a couple episodes ago, and it was really fascinating because the guests were people who loved Harry Potter as kids and still kind of did and had a complicated relationship to it.

Torq Campbell:  It’s complicated. [crosstalk] I love Morrissey. Morrissey is a racist now. It’s hard.

Lyta Gold:  Yeah. It is complicated.

Torq Campbell:  You know?

Lyta Gold:  Yeah. And it seems like there’s an effort, I think, to create a left culture that likes all the right things and none of the problematic things, but there’s sort of like a no culture.

Torq Campbell:  This is what the algorithm’s about, right?

Lyta Gold:  Yeah.

Torq Campbell:  It has made all of us much, much deeper in our holes, much, much deeper in our corners. And I read the other day, Twitter, its own interior study found that it platforms, projects, right-wing views more than it does left-wing views. Now, I would argue that is not surprising, but not because more right-wing people use Twitter. In fact, I think fewer right wing people use Twitter. It’s because the algorithm knows what makes us upset. And so it sends us more of their shit.

And if it was a good website and a healthy website, what we would be seeing is a world that looked very much like the one we live in, where most people are kind, most people do their best. Occasionally they do something that pisses us off. They apologize or we have a little fight. Somebody might say something that you think is wrong. You have a conversation about it or you ignore them, and that’s kind of it. You don’t wake up every morning and go knock on your neighbor’s door and be like, do you still like Rush Limbaugh, you fucking asshole? You know what I mean? You can’t live like that.

Lyta Gold:  No, not at all.

Torq Campbell:  There’s no way to live. So we shouldn’t be living that way online either. It’s making us very unwell. And that we can politicize and turn into some sort of competition, even a pathogen. An airborne pathogen. I mean, that’s quite an achievement for society. Well done, everyone. We’ve managed to politicize public health. Way to go. Good luck with the next pandemic.

Lyta Gold:  My God.

Torq Campbell:  Because no matter what it is and no matter what people say, half the population’s going to be like, it’s a bunch of bullshit. I don’t believe that. That’s the internet. That’s what it’s done to us. That’s why I say, maybe, should we actually not turn it on anymore?

Lyta Gold:  I’m just having a fantasy in my head of like a giant squid under the ocean just cutting all those cables. Just slamming all those cables and then it’s just gone forever.

Torq Campbell:  Yeah. What would happen?

Lyta Gold:  Beautiful.

Torq Campbell:  It recently happened in Canada for about 30 hours. Our biggest telecommunications company lost everything. There were no cell phones and no internet. And it happened to be the company that I use. Bliss, unadulterated bliss.

Lyta Gold:  Were people dancing in the street?

Torq Campbell:  911 still worked.

Lyta Gold:  Okay.

Torq Campbell:  Yeah. Nobody could get any gas. Everybody was dealing in cash again. You were like, Jesus, I haven’t had cash on me in like three years. I didn’t have any money, but everybody seemed super chill. Everybody was sort of like, I finally don’t have to call my husband. I could just take a break from the hourly check-in with the people I love.

Lyta Gold:  It does get relentless.

Torq Campbell:  It’s relentless.

Lyta Gold:  And one thing I noticed, especially during the worst part of the pandemic, is there was a friend in crisis or family member in crisis every day or every hour.

Torq Campbell:  Of course.

Lyta Gold:  People had to reach out because they were upset.

Torq Campbell:  No wonder.

Lyta Gold:  Yeah, of course they were. But that became very wearying because I was just like, I’m glad to be here for people, but I am tired. It’s a lot.

Torq Campbell:  It’s exhausting to constantly be involved in that way, in that kind of cursory way. Not in an actual intimate way, because they’re not there. It’s just an umbilical cord. We’ve built ourselves hundreds and hundreds of umbilical cords, whether it’s online communities or it’s our family or it’s our friends. This constant need to be in touch is not good for our mental health. I really don’t think it’s good. It doesn’t give us space to be ourselves, and I think it’s important to do that.

Lyta Gold:  I think it’s a Mark Twain line. It’s something like, fish and guests start to stink after three days.

Torq Campbell:  Yes.

Lyta Gold:  So there’s just a degree of closeness. We want to be close in a community with people, but there’s a little bit of distance required.

Torq Campbell:  And that there is this false intimacy, too. The whole question about whether to work from home or not, which of course for me is, there are no questions, and that’s something that show business is really facing, as we’ve done two years of trying to basically… First we did what we were told, what they wanted us to do, which was shut everything down. Then we did what we were allowed to do, which was not making anybody any money, doing drive in concerts and concerts with half capacities and concerts, et cetera, et cetera.

Now, everyone’s like, well, we don’t know what you should do. So now we’re just like, okay, so do we do it this way, or do we do it that way? Or is it… How the fuck do we do this? And the reality that I’ve come to is that it’s called show business because you have to show, and that it is now more dangerous than it was before. And that there is inherent risk in it that cannot be solved. I’m not going to force my audience in perpetuity to wear masks because some people want to and some people don’t, and I’m not a medical officer. I don’t have enough knowledge of these things to make that kind of judgment. And I want to respect people’s individual rights and their collective rights.

I’m not a lawyer. I’m not a human rights lawyer. I’m not a disability lawyer. And these are very intense, complicated questions that people are trying to reckon with. And so at the end of the day, I think ultimately if plays want to continue, if music wants to continue, we’re just going to have to do it. We’re going to have to raw dog it. That might mean that we lose some of our audience. I know a lot of people who run theaters right now, and they are in this situation right now where they get up in the morning and they read 10 emails saying, I’m no longer coming to your theater because you have a mask mandate, and I’m sick of wearing masks. I have four vaccines. I’m 60 years old. I’ve had COVID. I want to go to the theater and enjoy myself. I don’t want to have a mask on for three hours and pay $150. Fuck you. I’m not coming back.

And the following 10 emails are, I’m not coming to your theater if you don’t have a mask mandate. If you get rid of the mask mandate, I will never darken your door again. Now what are these people supposed to do?

Lyta Gold:  Right, right. Yeah, you have to –

Torq Campbell:  What are we to do? We get letters before we go on tour. I sure hope you guys are going to have a mask rule at your gigs. It would be super irresponsible if you didn’t do that. Next email. I sure hope you guys aren’t going to try and pretend to be the COVID police. You know, it’s like, fuck, you guys. I just want to play a song for you all. You know, I don’t know.

Lyta Gold:  Oh man.

Torq Campbell:  Yeah.

Lyta Gold:  It’s a huge problem that the medical industry, not medical industry, even the fact that there’s an industry shows that the government’s medical arm has completely fumbled this. So it’s been put onto people like you to make these determinations, and what are you supposed to do?

Torq Campbell:  Again, it’s been turned into some kind of political binary. It seems to me very clear the places I go where people who are wearing masks as a political statement or not wearing masks as a political statement. There is that attachment to it as a talisman more than as a preventative. And that freaks me out because there are societies in the world that do that kind of thing, and they’re not healthy societies. So why is that creeping into our discourse? Why is what you’re wearing or what your appearance is starting to tell the story of who you are as a person in our society? This is not good.

Lyta Gold:  And one can make the argument that there are other ways in which it happens, but there are all bad ways in which that happens.

Torq Campbell:  They’re all bad ways.

Lyta Gold: Yeah. There’s no – 

Torq Campbell:  Wearing a MAGA hat is not a benign activity. It is a way of saying to people, you should fear me, and that’s not okay to be wearing that shit around. You don’t just wear a swastika t-shirt around. I don’t care if you are wearing it ironically. It’s upsetting to the lady who was in Auschwitz over there. You know what I mean?

Lyta Gold:  Yeah, yeah.

Torq Campbell:  Get a fucking grip, people.

Lyta Gold:  The idea that you have to consider other people, I think, is hard because there are people who won’t… There’s that extreme form of individuality where you want to say like, well, I can do what I like. I’m a free person in a free society. But you live in a society with other human beings, and –

Torq Campbell:  You do.

Lyta Gold:  – And responsible –

Torq Campbell:  Having said that, I think that to some degree with COVID that argument’s often used by people in favor of everybody wearing masks all the time. It’s selfish if you don’t wear a mask. I don’t know that I completely hold with that, because I don’t know what people’s motivations are. I never make judgments about why someone’s wearing a mask or why they’re not wearing a mask. I don’t know if they have asthma. I don’t know if they just had COVID a week ago and they’re not worried about it. I don’t know. And I don’t know why someone is wearing a mask outside, alone, riding a bike. It looks wild to me, but maybe they have a really bad autoimmune illness. Maybe their mom’s dying. I don’t know. So why don’t we just mind our own goddamn business and let people be, do their thing?

Lyta Gold:  So I wanted to close by asking about this concept of the Soft Revolution, which is the title of your podcast, because I think it relates to just a whole bunch of things that we’ve been talking about here, and the relation to the individual society and how we build a revolution without… Short of the violent revolution of the collapse of capitalism, how do we build a revolution in our daily lives? And I was curious if you wanted to talk a little bit about that.

Torq Campbell:  Well, it’s a phrase that I think has probably been used in various forms lots of times. But to me, what it means is any revolution worth fighting, the only revolutions worth fighting are the ones you are certain you will lose. That the notion of revolution is the notion of beauty. The notion that somehow one day we meet in that field past love and hate, and that we’re all together there, and that’s never going to happen. But to say that the journey is not worth it is to give in, is to die. You lose everything in this life. You lose all the people you love. You lose your beauty. You lose your youth. You lose your life. You say goodbye. That’s how it rolls for every single one of us. And so when you fight from that position of weakness, when you own that weakness and that loss, you can fight like a fucking demon, because there is nothing at stake except how beautiful you are in that fight.

And to me, that resonates deeply in the notion of what socialism means to me, what being a progressive means to me is that I want to fight for everyone’s beauty. And I know that will never be a winning formula because that means bringing along a lot of other people that are weak, that need way more help, that aren’t going to fight on the front lines, but I want them with me as we lose.

Winning’s for losers, man. You win alone. You win alone. One person gets the Oscar. Everybody else just did something beautiful. And I don’t want to be a lonely winner. I want to be a loser surrounded by other beautiful losers and share that truth of being a human being, which is that we lose this game. And when progressivism starts to think that it can play footsie with that idea, that it can somehow win, I think that we give up our heart, we give up our soul. We have to be willing to lose in order to do the right thing. And that, to me, is what the Soft Revolution means.

Lyta Gold:  I think it’s a lot of why people don’t act, because they have the idea, as you put it, of like the field. They have the perfect utopia in mind, and they don’t know how to get there. And so anything short of that is incrementalism, it’s liberalism. But there are things that we can do together. And again, you’re absolutely right. We have a world to win. It’s like a Trotskyist idea of permanent revolution. It’s always [crosstalk].

Torq Campbell:  …There’s still the demonstrations with 14 guys with beards behind that banner.

Lyta Gold:  Yeah.

Torq Campbell:  And God bless them. I love the Trotskyites because they’re always the ones who organize that shit. It’s in your family. There’s a beautiful saying in the Indigenous cultures here in Canada, “All my relations.” And what they mean by that is everyone is my family. We are all, even the people you fucking hate, they are your family. And somehow we all end up dead together. We all end up spirits together. We’re all on the same path. So as I get older, maybe I’m a sell-out. I don’t know. Maybe I’m not the fiery socialist youth I used to be. I would rather people see the beauty in me than see the fight in me, because I think I might seduce them into being with me if I’m beautiful. And if I fight them, we’ll just fight.

Lyta Gold:  Right. You won’t get your point across regardless. Well, the new album From Capelton Hill is just beautiful.

Torq Campbell:  Oh, thank you so much.

Lyta Gold:  I really, yeah.

Torq Campbell:  So nice to talk about these ideas. I’m very honored to be on the podcast and on this website because, you know, Chris Hedges is a big deal to me. A lot of the ideas you guys talk about, I really appreciate how focused you stay on economic issues, on issues of labor, and on real, political, meaningful things that are about people’s day-to-day lives. To me, art shouldn’t be an esoteric, flighty thing about, it’s cultural. It’s not cultural. It’s kitchen sink. Without art, people die of unhappiness. And the proletariat deserve beauty. They don’t just deserve bread. They deserve circuses too.

Lyta Gold:  Roses, circuses, the whole thing.

Torq Campbell:  Yeah, fucking art.

Lyta Gold:  Dancing.

Torq Campbell:  Religion’s the opium of the people. Oh, smoke a pipe, Karl. Relax.

Lyta Gold:  Thank you!

Torq Campbell:  Chill out, man. Jesus. Just want to put their feet up.

Lyta Gold:  Oh, man. There’s a reason he wrote dense theory and did not make art.

Torq Campbell:  I was talking to my therapist the other day. I was like, I just want to become a transcendentalist. I’m so tired of the fight. I’ve got to get away from all the politics and blah, blah, blah. He’s like, well, okay, that’s good. But I’ll just let you know, Henry Thoreau went home to his dinner at his mother’s house every night. That guy was not living in that fucking place. He went there from like 9:00 to noon, wrote a little, went back to Boston.

Lyta Gold:  He had a studio in the woods. That was his –

Torq Campbell:  Exactly. And he was like, how is anyone this brave? I’m going to write a book about it. No man has ever faced hardship like this.

Lyta Gold:  He wasn’t even doing his own laundry. I can’t. I can’t with that guy.

Torq Campbell:  Do you understand that there’s not even a butler here? I have to take this laundry all the way up [inaudible].

Lyta Gold:  Interestingly enough, the counterargument that I’ve heard about Thoreau is like, yeah, but he was also a guy who wasn’t paying his taxes because he didn’t want to support the military. And he was doing this sort of private rebellion and hoping people would join him in not paying taxes.

Torq Campbell:  He was a beautiful dude. Make no mistake about it. But he did go home for dinner at his mother’s house.

Lyta Gold:  It’s important.

Torq Campbell:  None of us are perfect. That’s why we can’t apply purity tests, you guys.

Lyta Gold:  Yeah.

Torq Campbell:  We got to just be like, okay, well he had some good things to say. Maybe he was a bit of a phony.

Lyta Gold: Yes.

Torq Campbell:  But he’s still our friend.

Lyta Gold:  Well, I just want to thank you again for joining us. This has been a wonderful conversation. I really appreciate this.

Torq Campbell:  It’s been an absolute pleasure, Lyta. Thanks so much. And I hope we see each other again soon. Maybe you’ll come on Soft Revolution some time.

Lyta Gold:  Anytime. I’m around.

Torq Campbell:  All right. Awesome. Good.

Lyta Gold

Lyta Gold is a freelance writer and editor. She is also the host of the TRNN podcast Art for the End Times. Follow her at @lyta_gold.