Three or four years ago, not long after moving to Los Angeles, Joel and I hiked to the top of Griffith Park, the mountainous island of a park that rises out of the vast urban expanse of the city. Joel pointed out to me, as we walked in the coming twilight, that the park possesses an eerie, intrinsic danger, being that it consists of thousands of acres of untamed, isolated wilderness, densely hemmed in on all sides by all the millions and millions of inhabitants of one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. You just never know who you might encounter lurking in the shadows or around the next bend, it could be anyone. And now it’s just you and them.
When we reached the top of the park, however, and stood there quiet for a moment, overlooking the city, I noticed something I found much more palpably menacing about that place. From where I stood, I could hear a deep, pulsating, sinister drone emanating from the hazy, immense stretch of civilization below. From the top of Griffith Park, I could hear the sound of countless strangers, each one in search of their own success, love, meaning, and hope, all combined into one singular, dull, hypnotic hum—a drone that continues on day and night, day after day, year after year, combining into one the innumerable individual actions of each person, continuing on unceasingly and insensibly whether or not any one person ever finds what he or she is looking for.
“Los Angeles is full of crazy people,” we often now include carelessly when describing our experiences since we’ve been here, and it does seem a suitable explanation why, as part of our efforts to record and perform music for a living, we’ve done so many things so intensely bizarre and entirely unrelated to our aims. Like the time both of us, on a trip planned only hours in advance, accompanied an eccentric billionaire on a private jet to a newly bankrupt Iceland at the height of the global financial crisis, or the time I helped organize a faux congressional hearing in Washington D.C., funded by half a million dollars from a foreign oil-baron, aiming to prove once and for all the existence of extraterrestrial beings on planet earth.
While doing such things, we’ve been homeless or completely broke on multiple occasions, and have also been convinced several times that we’d finally achieved a level of success or stability from which things would flow easily from then on, and there would be no more need for a desperate struggle to reach a place where putting sufficient time and effort into on our artistic endeavors was possible. Yet, for all of this, after all of this, we now find ourselves back at nearly the very beginning, back where we need to start from nothing more that an idea, and hope against all reason that our efforts will come to something significant, something much more than nothing.
As we look back on the risks we’ve taken over the past several years, none of which have yet had the desired result, Joel and I have realized the frame of mind a person must be in to pursue significant accomplishments is definitely not a sane one. It seems person actually needs to be a little insane to even try. To forget that the senseless, anonymous drone will continue on with or without you, both before and after your existence, and manage to believe a vision of something more, something grand, something rare, and so risk your comfort, your safety, your future ability to pick up the pieces and try again, you’ve momentarily lost your mind, because you need to, because there is no other way.