Joan Hiller is Allergic to Everything - L Swain
Joan H is one of the publicists here at Sub Pop and she’s a real nice lady who is talented in many ways. She paints, she plays bass, she puts together a mean outfit, and she can eat tons and tons of garbage food without getting fat. I have a secret theory that Joan is partially deaf and that she doesn’t want anyone to know because sometimes I’ll ask her a question and she responds with a completely inappropriate answer. I’ll be like: Joan I think I may have contracted a horrible disease and she’ll be like: Ha Ha I know, sweet!! She does not know that I think this. Well, she does now. Let’s meet Joan:
L: Tell me about Club Safe Parking in Houston. What were some memorable shows?
J: CSP! Club Safe Parking was fucking amazing. Gram LeBron (now in Rogue Wave, then in Jessica Six and Schrasj) had rented an old restaurant that had been converted into a house; it was in Houston’s Fourth Ward, home of the Geto Boys. Myself, my buddy Lance Walker, my pals Stephanie and Bronwyn, Gram and a few other folks painted the inside and had regular shows there…the most memorable was the last mismatched and quintessentially (for the time) Houston-style bill: Rainer Maria and the Fatal Flyin’ Guilloteens. The Guilloteens yelled out “PUSSIES!!” and threw an entire trash can full of beer bottles at Rainer Maria right at their beginning of the set, and everyone started fighting…my friend John fully ninja-kicked their drummer, Bill, in the head and everything. We trashed the place. It was great.
L: Oh those guys. They are so like that…. How long did you do it? Did any skinheads come and make things all bummery?
J: Never any skinheads at CSP, just mostly our friends, dipshit rock kids, art school kids, etc. CSP was fully around between about ‘97 and ’99. Before that, in high school, I put on shows at places like the APV, (Allen Parkway Village, a housing project community center that has since been shut down by the HPHA) and there were skinheads there sometimes. I had a zine and was straight edge and was involved with PETA and Food Not Bombs and had record fairs and Houston Anti Racist Action events and did all that wonderfully idealistic stuff you’re supposed to do when you’re 16. Aside from currently being on the board at 826 Seattle, I’m much lazier now. Plus, now, I drink a lot and eat as much bacon as possible.
L: So in other words you were living a lie? Hmmm. You lived in Chicago for a while and did press with Hopper PR. Which do you like better, putting on shows or doing press?
J: Press, definitely. Putting on shows is extremely stressful and a constant crapshoot, although it’s sometimes more rewarding. I like writing about music more than either of those things, though.
L: If you had one piece of advice for an aspiring booker or press person what would it be? Wait, how about one piece of advice for each.
For both: do everything yourself for as long as you can, and start small and local, so as not to fuck someone else’s shit up when you’re learning and don’t know what you’re doing yet. Don’t wait until you’re out of college to start. That’s too late.
L: Tell me one dark secret.
L: You are such a fucking pussy, Joan. What is your favorite Seattle band?
J: Tie between the Coconut Coolouts and the Cave Singers. [I did not pay her to say this. –ed]
L: What is your least favorite Seattle band?
J: I can’t say that I have one, really. If I don’t care for something, I never really force myself to sit through it or try and “get it”. So there’s not one band that I’m like, “God, I HATE this! Why I am I continuing to watch them play when I HATE THEM SO MUCH!?!?” [Again with being a puss! –ed]
L: Chicago or Seattle? Why?
J: Chicago, because it’s a real city. Sorry, but you know what I mean.
L: Ben Gibbard is your boyfriend. Please tell me how you met.
J: I put on DCFC’s first Houston show in 2000 in this speakeasy place called Notsuoh following an all-nude production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which I did not put on, and which I was not aware was going to be happening that night when I booked the show. Everyone had to wait for these hippy nudists to tear down their set before we could hook up the PA. Ben and I were pals for a long time, then started dating years later.
L: What is your favorite song by Mudhoney? By ZZ Top? By Steve Albini (in any incarnation)?
J: “It Is Us”, anything off Fandango, and no Albini favorite, although I do enjoy me some Shellac.
L: If you could do anything in the whole world for work what would it be? Outside of working at Sub Pop, of course.
J: Easy—-be able to pay my rent writing. It’s such a hustle; it’s tough. Or, being a hairdresser! Or painting!
L: You have really bad allergies—name the 5 worst things to which you allergic.
J: 1. Cats! I hate cats. Not all cats, but about 98% of all cats. 2. Other furry animals, whether they’re dogs, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits or ferrets seem to set me off equally. 3. Anything with feathers, whether it’s a pet bird or a feather pillow, screws me up. 4. Ragweed and outdoor allergens. 5. Lameness.
L: Do you use up all your sick days every year?
J: Dude, they’re gone by like May.
L: What is the best thing you can cook? Gimme a simple recipe to make this culinary delight.
J: GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE! IT IS DELICIOUS!
STEP ONE: Purchase two cans of French-cut green beans, one can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup, and one large can of those dried onion things.
STEP TWO: Mix the beans and the soup in a casserole dish until creamy and microwave it for about three minutes.
STEP THREE: Put the dried onion things on top and toast in the toaster oven until golden brown.
STEP FOUR: Eat the shit out of that shit!!!! IT IS DELICIOUS!
L: Oh, um, who looks better naked, you or Ben?
J: I feel like my ass looks like a wet bag of clothes right now, so this month, it ain’t me. Maybe I should cut down on the green bean casserole. [You have a sweet ass, Joan. Don’t worry. –ed]