Pentagon Tales * Trasmissioni dal lockdown
Josh Lambert (The Octopus Project)
1. Where are u right now?
Yvonne and I are currently in Peru. I’m in a town outside Cusco called Pisac, and Yvonne is on the other side of the country in a town called Tarapoto. The government announced a mandatory quarantine on March 15th (suspending all flights & ground transportation), which took effect 24 hours later & Yvonne didn’t have enough time to get out in time.
2. What’s happening in your country/city at the moment?
We’re under pretty strict quarantine. Men are allowed to leave the house for food/medicine on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays. Women are allowed to leave Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays. No one is allowed to leave Sundays. There’s also a curfew from 6pm – 5am. You get arrested if you break the rules.
3. Are there any restrictions?Are venues/shops/bars opened?
Only grocery stores, food markets, pharmacies and hospitals are open.
4. Did u have any tour/gig planned before this Thing started?
We didn’t have any tours or shows planned for this time. We’re taking a break from shows to work on writing new music at the moment. Very much looking forward to the day when we can do shows again though!
5. How this situation is reflecting on your everyday life?
Oof! That’s a hard one! Seems like everyday there’s a small crisis to take care of. Besides dealing with our forced separation and all the travel/accommodation nightmares that it brought up, among other things, over the past three weeks we’ve had a bout of severe illness (un-COVID related) and the power to my house stopped working (with no one to fix it!). I’m borrowing power from my neighbor via extension cable.
6. How the Music Community in your country/city is reacting
There’s not much of a music community where I currently am, but I know this has been devastating for the Austin music community. SXSW was cancelled, which many musicians, venues, promoters, etc. counted on to pay their bills for the year. The community quickly booked a mini-SXSW that same week, but that was cancelled as well. Everything is on hold for the foreseeable future, so it’s tough. Austin is strong and resilient though, so although this is an incredibly hard time, I know we’ll make it through, whatever that looks like.
7. Do u usually have any help from the Government if u’re a musician in your country?Do musicians get money if they tour?
Ha! Nope! Absolutely not. The arts are seriously underfunded in America. Having said that, though, Austin has a program called HAAM that provides health insurance, mental health assistance, hearing checks, etc. It’s pretty amazing & has helped out so many in the Austin music community!
8. How the Government reacted?Did they think about the economical loss and disaster the musicians are facing?
Watching from another country, I’ve been pretty appalled at how the US Government on the national level has handled this. The quarantine in Peru was swift and severe, but I also think that’s the best way to keep folks safe. The misinformation, misguidance, and lack of a quick response in the US is astounding — hence the high number of cases. The US Government is giving stimulus money to people, which is great, but it’s not a ton of money considering no one knows how long this will all last. I don’t think the Government on a national level cares about musicians specifically, but I’m hoping they’re doing their best to help everyone out financially & keep them safe now. It seems like the severity of this situation has finally, publicly set in with the current administration.
I do think that on a local level, things are different. That’s the best way to fight this — on the state, city and community level. There’s a booking group in Austin called Margin Walker that is issuing bonds for future shows, which is such a great idea!
9. What’s the social situation where u live?How people in general are living these days?What’s the percentage of your friends that right now is not working for this reason?
Where I am, in Pisac, everyone is pretty much just staying at home… Working on stuff, reading, watching tv, chatting with friends online. I’d say about 50% of my friends and family are not working. Many of them are musicians or work in the entertainment business in some respect, and that’s all come to a halt. Some folks are able to work from home, which is great! I just worry about people who have/had jobs that might not survive this, or will be incredibly different once this is over.
10. How’s reacting the Society and do u think after this will be over something will change in the everyday life?Do u think people will change anything in their life?
I think this going to change society for sure. It’s hard to say what direction that could go in though. I think people will be more careful about how they interact with each other in public. It’s my hope that this has been a wake up call of sorts to the fact that humans aren’t all-powerful, that we are vulnerable, and hopefully we’ll be more conscious of how we treat each other and the planet. I hope this brings us all together in a way that humanity never has. We’re all the same & this is affecting all of us. It’s very humbling.
11. Is there anything u would recommend to the people of the music world during these hard times?
Just keep making music! We’ll make it through this!
12. Is there any book/lp/movie u read/listened/watched recently that u would recommend ?
My friend recently turned me onto ‘Sapiens’ by Yuval Noah Harari. It’s a history of humankind & is a great perspective for what we’re going through right now.
I don’t know why, but I’ve been revisiting a bunch of music that was important to me as a kid in the early-90’s. Maybe it’s a comfort thing?