To build a comfort zone

I can’t stand it when bands say, you know, on this album we really stepped out of our comfort zone. What does that mean? This is not a f—ing game. This is soul, man. It’s about humanity. It’s not a test. People who went to university are always trying to get themselves out of their comfort zone and I always say, ‘I’m working class. It’s taken me 15 years to build a comfort zone and I’m not getting out of it for no f—er.’

Noel Gallagher, from Oasis.

5 thoughts on “To build a comfort zone

  1. Lucas

    more on the comfort zone / everyday life of (formerly?) working class musicians here:

    The reason the 1960s is perceived as the dawn of youth culture is because of a “break in chronology” due to World War II, which left a state of “collective amnesia,” the academic said.

    Groups like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones took advantage of this — but their separation from real fans’ lives was reflected in the way they installed themselves in grand country houses, while the London “scene” was equally beyond most people’s purses.

    “The world of Swinging London may be viewed as an emblem of youth culture now, but it was really for the Michael Caines of this world; an elite who could afford it,” Fowler said.

  2. Chris Fleming

    There’s a big disjunct in my mind between an approach to music as “sport” (talk of getting out of your “comfort zone” is like talk about getting out of your own quarter in rugby league) and class politics. There are so many examples in music, especially in jazz, of people with very working class origins who adopt that kind of discourse, which is common at the experimental end of the aesthetic spectrum. (And it is not always very well remunerated.)

    As to the SMH article: it’s silly to me to try to reify categories like “revolutionary” and “capitalist” and then go through the history of art and throw people into these boxes. Of COURSE they were “capitalists” – “study reveals working class kids want money.” Jaysus.

  3. Chris Fleming

    On second thoughts, that was too negative an appraisal of the SMH article. It does contain a basic, albeit obvious, truth – about capitalism’s capacity to buy rebellion as a sign and sell it back to almost every kind of “rebel” out there. But as for basing one’s assessment of the issues on some putative psychological fact (about Lennon and Jaggar’s desire for money), Fowler seems be practising a very peculiar, and vulnerable, form of class analysis. Actually…that was negative again, wasn’t it?

  4. Lucas Post author

    thanks chris

    I guess one of the things i was interested in, with the original quote from Noel Gallagher, was the way it plays back on my own practice as an artist. I took his criticism to heart, as I think it is indeed the case that I have often used such rhetoric as he criticises – the desire to shake the foundations of my own belief systems and norms through my art practice.

    What Gallagher points to is the possibility not of rupture but of consolidation. He criticises the empty words that surround much talk of “revolutionising” music art or culture. In a way, he’s saying that such “aesthetic revolutionising” is the priveledge of a particular class.

    That class is the bohemian category of “artists” who base their prestige and social status, ironically, on a desire to stand apart from society. Even if this involves a financial penalty, it is often accompanied by an increase in cultural capital (ie one’s status/standing in society is disproportionately high, relative to one’s financial poverty).

    Gallagher is talking about turning this around – so that cultural capital accrued through “getting out of one’s comfort zone” is not pursued for its own sake. Rather, his (self-professed) working class mentality prioritises direct financial gain over the prestige of belonging to the category of “artist”.

    Of course, it does read as a convenient cop-out, based on the fact that most likely he’s got no new ideas, but plenty of cash. But I think his provocation still stands!

  5. Chris Fleming

    Just because you’ve written more than me doesn’t make you right. Actually, it makes ME right – and this is what it’s all about isn’t it?

    Gallagher, interestingly enough, sounds symmetrical to conservative critic David Brooks’ jabs at the “bobo” (bourgeois bohemian) – which is perhaps not such a bad thing. Further, I’m just as leery about what Gallagher identifies as he is himself – bourgeois-revolutionary posturing. But I don’t see it simply as a class; again, in certain areas of art, and particular, jazz, some of the greatest exponents came from very “humble origins”. Further, they died poor. And if they had an increase in “cultural capital” as a result of their “pushing the envelope,” then so what?

    That doesn’t mean those people also don’t get sucked into the same self-dramatisations as the pony-tailed whiteys, but it’s fundamentally a romantic and modern game, and not one tied merely to contemporary forms of exchange and financial exploitation (- although they play into elements of this situation quite nicely).

    The other thing is that I suspect Gallagher himself uses the explanation to preemptively cure himself, as you allude, of any moral hangovers me might endure because of his obscene accumulation of cash.

    You, on the other, are far more persuasive, and especially when you point to “the possibility not of rupture but of consolidation.” The problem is, Gallagher might say he’s into this, but his erratic claims about the world-historical significance of his songwriting would suggest something quite different. But now I’ve sunk to argumentum ad hominem.

    I love “Wonderwall” as much as the next Zapatista…sister.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *