WED, JUN 27, 2007 at 10:44 AM

I totally forgot to ask Stuart Meyer about the Jack In the Box Incident!


People Who Work Here is proud to bring you one of Sub Pop’s finest and longest-standing employees-–Stuart Meyer. I can say without hesitation that out of everyone here in the office Stuart gets the most shit, and I applaud his ability to keep cool while under tremendous pressure. For instance, when I yelled out over my desk, “How long has Stuart worked here?” I got several responses: “You mean how long has he been EMPLOYED here?” “About 10:30 to 3:00 today!” “Stuart Meyer, 1998-2007: 5 years of hard work!” This kind of shit rolls off his back with enviable ease, and only recently did I realize that because he spends so much time worrying about getting fat, nothing else gets in. Not only that, but Stuart’s dangerous obsession with impending obesity has so impaired his ability to construct a full sentence that this interview would be almost totally unintelligible, were it not for my incredible editing skills. Stuart cracks me up because he talks a lot about being both gay and Jewish but often he will just say “my people,” and I’m never quite sure which group he’s talking about. I mean, if it’s about bagels or poppers I have an idea, but sometimes he’ll throw me a curveball like “my people like good toilet paper,” and then it could go either way. Let’s meet Stuart!

L:Tell me about your tumultuous relationship with Paula Abdul. How do you know her? What is your favorite song by her? Could she teach me to dance?
S: I met Paula when I worked at Billboard in the late 80’s—1988, I believe. She had just released her first album and it was kind of a dud. Through choreographing Coming to America [Five Stars! –ed.] we had mutual friends at Billboard. Anyways, I worked in the chart dept and had access to the Top 100 singles charts before anyone in the biz, so when “Straight Up” broke out as her first hit I was telling her she was #1 before Virgin Records, her label. From there, we became friends and I stayed with her when I visited LA and I stayed friendly with her through her marriage to Emilio Estevez (I went to both the wedding and the premiere of “The Mighty Ducks”!). My fave song by her…probably “Straight Up”. It’s a pretty perfect pop song although “Cold Hearted” is a close 2nd. She could probably teach anyone to dance—she really is pretty good at that. [I like how you cleverly leave the Snake part off of “Cold Hearted Snake” so you can really drive home the intense friendly relationship that you and Paula have. Or should I say “Labdool” like you are always calling her around the office? –ed]
L: When did you come out of the closet? How did your family handle it? Didn’t your relationship with Paula tip them off?
S: I came late to that party—1994…I was almost 30! Everyone was cool but Mom, not so much at first. I think she’s dealing with it okay now. Once she realized genetics played a a part – I had a gay cousin out here in Seattle – she knew it most likely wasn’t how she raised me or anything. I would think my Donna Summer and ABBA album collections would have been the tip-off. I could mention other artists, but, I’ll save myself the embarrassment. [Oh it’s much too late for that, my friend. –ed.]
L: Woah—let’s go over this genetics part. Elaborate, please. Did you straight up tell her or did she just figure it out or what?
S: She figured since there were other gays in the bloodline that it was not something I chose to be. [She sounds like a remarkably tolerant and educated woman! –ed.] I straight up told everyone I knew within a week, Nov 1994. Mom and Dad were the last to know that week. [You like how I keep going back to the “straight up” / Paula Abdul thing? Good, right? ed.]
L: Did you ever make out with a girl? Tell me all about it.
S: I made out with a girl in college and it wasn’t to my liking. Could’ve just been the girl. She was no prize. [God, I hope she’s reading this. –ed.]
L: Do you think your life would’ve been easier if you were straight?
S: I have no idea…probably not. My life hasn’t been rough, truth be told!
L: You are the A+R rep of the Shins – which one is your favorite? Why?
S: Haha. Nice one, Swain. They’re all special in their own way. I probably have had most contact with James, just by nature of him being the de facto leader of the band for all this time. And, just as an aside, “New Slang” gave me chills for many years, no matter how many times I heard it. It was really satisfying to see that song become popular. [Boner Time! –ed.]
L: Please run me through a typical day in Stuart’s life. Don’t forget the part where you call in late, okay?
S: Another nice one, Swain. I wake up around 7:30 and waste time before heading to work
-I’m not proud of that. It causes me more stress than almost anything in my life, my being late. [Boo hoo. –ed] After work, I tend to waste more time—futzing with my DVR, computer, I-Tunes. I have a new house, so that’s taking up a lot of my time. [Brace yourself, reader—this next sentence is a real tear jerker. –ed] I basically accomplish nothing in my spare time, and most of my accomplishments are when I’m at work (as hard as that is for some of my co-workers to believe). Oh yeah, I also tend to drive my boyfriend crazy and stress him out too.
L: What is your all time favorite musical act? (You can only pick one!) Movie? Actress? Actor? Gay icon? [Note—I did NOT edit the following response. Here’s a taste of how Stuy’s mind works…. –ed]
S: Oh geez. Probably Blondie. How about my top 3 fave albums, in no particular order:
Parallel Lines, Pretenders first one, Dusty In Memphis. What’s Up, Doc is probably my fave movie…close 2nd is Annie Hall or Manhattan. Don’t really have a fave actress or actor…love Diane Keaton in Woody Allen flicks though. Gay Icon – ha. Either Madonna or Babara. But the Barbra is more from us both being a New York Jews. I once stood behind her son at a gay bar. I always figured if I could date him, my mother might not mind the whole gay thing. She’d be able to tell her friends.
L: Who is your best office friend? Why?
S: I guess whomever is listening to me blather on about whatever with the most patience at any give time. Megan? I watch her dog when she’s out of town and she probably listens to me more than anyone. [Do you give her a choice? –ed]
L: When did you finally decide to like me? Do you think that we are too similar? DO you like me?
S: I liked you from the get-go, Swain. I give the hardest time to the people I like best. Awwww… [That’s sweet! I hated you for about a whole year! -ed.]
L: Explain once and for all what your job is here. What job would you rather do?
S: I have 3 jobs: I commission videos, which, is an ebb or flow type of deal…sometimes busy, more often not. I take care of our production and manufacturing by dealing mainly with our local printer, our manufacturing plant in Olyphant, PA and our vinyl pressing plant in California, and, I handle A&R for The Shins, Iron & Wine, Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs, Death Vessel and a new kid we just signed, Daniel Moore. What job here I’d rather do? I’m happy doing what I’m doing. The A&R stuff is the most fun.
L: Where did you work before here? How was it? What was your first job? Did you ever scoop icecream? I can picture that for some reason…
S: Prior to here, I worked at Tower Records. Before that, Epic Records in New York, Atco/Atlantic in New York, Billboard, Manhattan Savings Bank in Scarsdale, NY, Pathmark Supermarket and Caldor Dept Store in Yonkers, NY. I never scooped ice cream, except maybe at Caldor?
L: What would you say is you best physical attribute.
My hair. I’m psyched I have it and happy that I probably always will. My Dad’s 80 and still has a full head of silver/white hair. [I have to admit, he has great fucking hair. –ed.]
S: What do you like to eat for lunch? What’s your favorite cocktail? Sweet or salty?
L: I recently have become pretty fond of the sandwiches and salads at the bakery downstairs. They have a great white bean spread/garlic/smoked mozzarella sandwich which they need to have every day of the week. Most of their other sandwiches have an aioli or mayo and I hate white creamy things (sour cream, mayo, cream cheese, cottage cheese) [It’s too easy so I’m not even going to do it. –ed]. Absolut Mandarin and Soda is my favorite drink, probably, and I prefer salty.
L: What do you think is the most important issue facing Americans today?
S: Undoing the damage that Bush has done, domestically and internationally. He’s worse than anyone thought he could possibly be. Also, healthcare!! That’s a good answer, right?
L: And finally, what are your 3 favorite records on Sub Pop? {Again, this answer is unedited. –ed.]
S: Overcome By Happiness – Pernice Brothers always sticks out for me and I have good memories of Bakesale in the mid ‘90’s. Wolf Parade – Apologies The Shins (can’t pick one…they each have their charm). And, I think the new Iron & Wine is gonna be a contender in the long run. Sam has one of the best voices out there right now. I love a classic voice. [And I love an actual sentence! –ed.]

Posted by Lacey Swain