This week’s ‘People Who Work Here’ gives us Steve Manning, Publicity Director at Sub Pop, and the man responsible for getting our bands on TV shows like Letterman, SNL, Conan, Leno, etc. Steve has also recommended a lot of my current physicians, all of whom are gay. Coincidence? Maybe. Steve is getting married in Mexico very soon and he is somewhat of a world traveler. Let’s learn more about Steve!
L: What kind of a person were you in high school? You were the mascot, correct?
S: I was the mascot, the first male mascot in the history of the school! The best part was cheerleading camp where there were 300 girls and 8 guys. Good odds! High Five!
I was also in the High School Yearbook under the moniker “Punk Rock/New Wave Comes to Olympia High School” which meant my hair was cut above my ears and I dyed the back blond. In 1983 that was rebellious (my parents didn’t talk to me for a while when I did that). I listened to some crazy stuff in high school like The Clash and The Sex Pistols. How punk is that! [That’s pretty punk, but I bet Mark Arm has you beat. –ed]
L: How old were you when you first kissed a girl?
S: I was probably 12 or 13 and I kissed Corrine Wilson under the band stage at the roller skating rink. The first kiss she jammed her tongue in my mouth and I was pretty freaked out. After the first kiss I said “let’s just kiss regular this time”
L: You told me once that the most exotic food you ever had growing up in Olympia was pizza—what’s wrong with that place?
S: I don’t know if it was Olympia or just my family. Pizza was even exotic at our house. There was no such thing as hot sauce or garlic in the Manning household, only meat and potatoes. I do remember being in Spanish Club in High School and going to my first Mexican restaurant and ordering a cheeseburger because “I don’t like Mexican food” (although, I’d never had it).
L: What is your favorite part about your job?
S: Working with so many smart and talented people, including my coworkers (but excluding Stuart). Stuart, I kid because I love!
L: Who do you like better Jay Leno, Conan Obrien, or Dave Letterman?
S: Well, I have met them all exactly once in passing and they were very nice. Mostly the people who book and support the shows are really great; they make the bands feel like actual guests.
Nicest Dressing Room: Jay Leno
Best Food: Craig Ferguson
Best Studio: David Letterman
Wildest Backstage: Jimmy Kimmel [all I picture here is tits and cocaine…am I right? –ed.]
Best Gift Bag: Carson Daly [seriously? Well, I guess he did date Tara Reid… -ed.]
Best T-Shirts: David Letterman
L: Who is the most famous person you’ve ever met? Tell me the story.
S: That’s a hard question! I have actually got to meet lots of famous people over the last few years including Jake Gyllenhaal, Scarlet Johansen, The Men of Queer Eye, Isiah Thomas, Forest Whittaker (the day he was nominated for the Academy Award), most of the cast of SNL, Meg Ryan, the list goes on and on. I also met and had a conversation with Bill Clinton while he was on the campaign trail and still a long shot as the Democratic candidate. I asked him about the US drug policy and the “war on drugs” in America. I don’t remember the answer but that moment catapulted him to the Presidency, I am sure of it. [Hey, Steve—I think you dropped something there, buddy. –ed.]
L: You are training for a triathalon—which is the best leg of such an event?
S: Besides the finish (where you get to eat and eat!) the best part is the bike ride because it’s usually very beautiful and because the swim is over where I always feel like I am about to drown.
L: Tell me something about you that most people don’t know.
S: Some people do know this but I accidentally killed my girlfriend’s cat when I started the dryer and the cat was in it. She forgave me. [I still have not gotten over it, though. –ed.]
L: People used to call you Steve Weed. Why?
S: My first year at SXSW (2000), I mentioned wanting to have a nickname and suggested, jokingly, “Steve Weed”. It just stuck! It’s because I like to garden. [Now you are just lying straight to my face! -ed.] A couple people still call me that to this day. I want my new nickname to be “Scuba Steve.” [Unfortunately The Official Nickname Rulebook prevents you from picking your own nickname. It’s a fact. –ed.]
L: Tell me about your dream day with Mark Arm.
S: Every day is my dream day with Mark Arm. We sleep in late and get up and shower (we share a towel) and then go for coffee and a long walk in the park. Then he tells me about the day he came up with the word “Grunge” and we hug and hug. It’s lovely.