People Who Work Here is proud to present Dean Whitmore, the mom and pop/direct sales guy here at Sub Pop, and one of the people that I certainly thought would say “No way, dude” when I asked for an interview. Dean W plays drums in The Unnatural Helpers, a local band that also currently features Chris Martin from Kinski, and used to feature several ex-Sub Pop employees such as Matt Olsen, Jed Maheu, and Sean Kelly. Dean likes to eat lunch alone whilst reading the paper but at night he likes to grab a few beers and listen to records and talk shit with his friends. Dean is an obsessive cardboard box collector and it is nearly impossible to walk right up to his desk because he has built a giant cardboard fortress around his entire area and he refuses to take it down or clean it up. Dean W Factoid—A few things you can often find on Dean’s desk are a Pabst tall boy, an empty yogurt container, an unopened bottle of Wellness Formula, and a shitload of 7”s. Let’s meet Dean!
L: Tell me about being kid in South Seattle. Your family is pretty religious, right? Did you have to go to church all the time? And Bible camp and all that? Do you believe in God?
D: I don’t remember all that much about my childhood. My dad was a wrestling & football coach so I played lots of sports & stuff. Yeah, I went to church a lot until I got into jr. high or so then I decided I’d rather listen to Cheap Trick or watch football on Sundays & opted out. I don’t remember my mom being pissed about that or anything. Just to cover my ass I consider myself agnostic so if God shows up I can say “yeah, but I always wanted you to be real”. [The guy is not Santa Claus—I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work that way. –ed.]
L: You were kind of a jock in high school what with the football and all—when did you realize that you were really more of a punker than a footballer? Did the guys on the team take it well?
D: My senior year I sort of checked out & I remember making myself decide whether I was gonna be a rocker or a straight dude. [So like, you had both a Mohawk and a letterman’s jacket? –ed.] It was all internal drama. There were no interventions. I’ve since come to grips w/ the idea that I can dig both. You just have to watch the game w/ the sound down most of the time.
L: Why do you think that “Magic Bus” is a less offensive song than “Boris the Spider”? What’s your favorite Who song? Do you like the Who because of Keith Moon or is it the whole package?
D: Yes it is less offensive. Was that a dig? How come everybody gotta be cracking on the Who? Nobody talks about Harlem Shuffle when the Stones come up & if you sing Eminence Front to me I will try to spit in your mouth. I couldn’t choose one song. Not that they’re all great but I never think about the individual songs I think about the whole album. I like everybody in the Who, yes even Daltrey & almost everything they did until about 1970 & then it gets a little spotty & then it gets real spotty. [What about the porn? Any thoughts about the porn? -ed]
L: How long have you been playing drums? What drummers do you think totally suck and why?
D: I’ve been playing a good while. I don’t really care that much about drummers really. I like real crap drummers sometimes & hate really good ones sometimes. Mostly it depends on the song they’re playing & what sort of spirit they’re putting into it. [Just say you love John Bonham and get it over with. –ed.]
L: Please tell me how you spent your 4th of July. Did you blow anything up? What’s your most memorable 4th of July? Do you really even give a shit?
D: Neither me or my wife gives a shit about holidays of any kind but we are starting to have to cause our daughter is getting to the age where she wants to “have fun” & “celebrate” these occasions. It’s actually pretty fun to do that stuff now. I remember hating these types of things even as a kid because I felt pressure to have to act / react a certain way when you get the present or give the present or whatever but she’s into it so we are too. I still get diarrhea every time I go to a family event though.
L: You have a young daughter—in what ways do you hope she takes after her mother and not you, especially when she’s an adult?
D: Her mom is more even keel than I am so if she could have a more even disposition I’d like that. [I was fully expecting something like “I hope she doesn’t have a penis.” -ed.]
L: Remember when we went down to see if there was a big anti-Bush protest at Westlake Center after the last election and there was no one there? That sucked and I don’t think I’ve recovered, you? I mean, do you ever get the feeling that it just doesn’t fucking matter?
D: Yeah, that was a bummer. I was ready to take some rubber bullets! We’ll have to face up to what we’ve done & are doing at some point. I’m hopeful that things will turn around. [Aw, that’s cute! –ed.] It’s just really sad that we could do so much w/ all our power & wealth but don’t.
L: How is the 2007 Dean different from what the 1997 Dean thought he’d be like? Are you okay with these differences?
D: I’m happier now. I have my wife & daughter & whole shit load more bitchin’ records!
L: What is your favorite Dean W band? Who do you like to play music with the most? What is in the musical future for Dean W?
D: The Helpers duhhhh. I like playing w/ my friend Mike the most. He’s the right combination of good/shitty/rocking/smart/dumb for me. We’re going to keep recording more stuff & have a 7” & a new record right around the corner. [They’re awesome—check them out! -ed.]
L: You seem to be fighting a constant battle between getting your shit together/getting in shape, etc and saying fuck it. How do you think this is going to play out in the long run? I do this too and I still haven’t figured out which side of the fence is more comfortable—right now I still think I have a few more fuck it years left….
D: I don’t know! I’ll probably end up fat, with a bad liver & cancer but I hope not. The problem is I’m really good at all the things that make you end up that way. I love sitting in a bar drinking beer w/ friends watching / listening / participating in saying & doing stupid things. Last night we were sitting outside of our space drinking beer & this super drunk dude started coming up to us so we were trying to beat feet inside & the dude yells to us “Don’t worry I ain’t got no pepsi. You can drink your 7-UP”. I have no idea either but I love that shit & it don’t come to you on a treadmill. I am doing a good amount of running & stuff right now & it feels good & has it’s benefits too. I hope to continue but if not… well fuck it then.
L: You quit going to A+R meetings—can you tell me why?
D: I didn’t like the group dynamics. I also wasn’t very good at it. You don’t really want your livelihood very dependant on what I think is cool right? Although shitting out a bunch of garage/weird/punk shit on the nosedive down would be a kind of cool way to go. I decided I can still bring stuff up when I want & I won’t have to suffer the indignation of being told “no way dude” to my face. [Stick it to the man! -ed]
L: And finally, please tell me your favorite lyric from a Who song.
D: I tried to write a song here about how much you talk about pooping & your poops consistency etc. but it kinda started making me sick out too much thinking about what might be in your poop so I bailed out. Sorry about that. [That wasn’t even the question, Dean. –ed.]
L: Thanks for playing.