75% Philosophers, 100% Indie Rock


So I guess we are on a roll here with philosopher-musicians. Christy Mag Uidhir brings The Counterfactuals to my attention. Composed of a music professor and three philosophers — Jason Decker and Daniel Groll of Carleton College, and Michael Fuerstein of St. Olaf College — The Counterfactuals make indie rock with a kind of midwestern feel (does that sound right? Sorry, this isn’t Pitchfork.com). Anyway, you can check out their music at their site and head over to Aesthetics for Birds to read an interview with the band, from which the following is excerpted:

With a name like The Counterfactuals and an album titled “Minimally Decent People”, it would be totally disingenuous to suggest that we don’t use the philosophy connection. We do. But I think the way we understand it is as follows…. First, I think the group name and album title are just independently good qua band name and album title. It turns out that philosophy is a pretty good source for these things (I want to name our next record “Natural Kinds”). The names tend to induce eye rolls in philosophers, but not in others (I don’t think)….

Second, I think one reason we’re comfortable sort of pointing to the fact that 3/4s of us are philosophy professors is that the music is respectable on its own quite apart from that (I think. I hope!) So the kind of interesting backstory is good for getting people in the door, so to speak, (because you’re right: there are tons of bands out there and the vast majority are totally intersubstitutable) but then the hope is that they just like the music. There’s no doubt we’ve benefited from people’s low expectations. Contra Sarah Stroud’s and Simon Keller’s views about how good friends (rightly) ignore normal epistemic standards when assessing the efforts of friends, we’ve definitely found that our friends came to listen to us expecting something at best tolerable and at worst quite embarrassing…only to be pleasantly surprised.

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