Hello, devoted readers! This week’s People Who Work Here brings you an in-depth conversation with Sam Sawyer, king of the online store and the man responsible for getting your goods out to you when order from subpop.com. Sam is an All-American kid from the Midwest with blonde hair and blue eyes. He’s sporty—he rides bikes and skateboards and sometimes even jogs on his lunch break. I referred to him as athletic the other day and he corrected me and said he preferred to be called active. Tomato/tomato, right? Oh, Sam has also male modeled for his friend’s bicycle apparel company—yes, that’s right, he’s a male model. Let’s meet Sam!
L: Tell me how and why you made you made it from Minneapolis out to Seattle? How did you end up working at Sub Pop?
S: I had a few friends out here before I moved, so when I was looking to leave MPLS, I thought Seattle might be an okay place to relocate, what with the friends and all. I was not totally convinced until I came out for a visit. It’s pretty here! It wasn’t a hard sell. As for Sub Pop, I met Andy K. in MPLS in the office of Sub Pop’s distributor, ADA, when he was visiting and I introduced myself. [Thanks a lot, Andy. –ed.] When I moved I sort of kept in contact with him and when Sub Pop was looking for someone, I was lucky enough to get an interview. I did not get that job. But luckily, I came in second, because next time they were looking for someone, they asked me. The timing was very good and I happily accepted the position in the gang.
L: You like the Replacements a lot, right? Do you think you have an affinity toward Midwestern rock music? Why or why not?
S: I really like the Mats. It’s hard not to love them; they are such goons. I don’t really have an affinity to Midwestern rock per se, just Minneapolitan rock. I don’t know what it is, but we’re a proud people (Twin City folks, that is) and I have to stick by anything that comes out of that town (I’m trying to think of exceptions but I can’t think of one – WAIT – there’s that Closing Time song. Semisonic, that’s the exception. I hate them.) Jimmy Jam rules. [Do you stand by Paul Westerberg’s ‘Singles’ song? It’s a lot like ‘Closing Time’. –ed.]
L: You do my old job here at Sub Pop. How do you like it? What is the best part of it? What is the worst? What job would you really like to be doing here?
S: I do like your old job. Your old job is pretty fun. The best part of it is definitely the interaction with my officemates, they are good folks. The worst part? I dunno. Dinky, the office mascot, a dog of some breed, bit me in the crotch once. It was really close to being a big disaster. Like when you see an x-ray of a dude who took a nail gun assault to the head – and if the nail were 1/10th of an inch to the left he’d be dead, you know what I’m saying? It was a close call. That’s not really an aspect of my job, but it was a bad moment.
L: Do you have a favorite online customer? A bud? Why would you recommend that people buy directly from subpop.com?
S: I have an e-pen-pal named Kenny that I met through his ordering from our site. He has two kids and lives in SoCal. [Why do you like to befriend old dudes so much? -ed.] He likes the Shins and seems like one of those Rad Dads that the Sub Pop office is teeming with. The other day, from another customer, I got a drawing emailed to me of a flightless bird/dinosaur with a robot riding him. It was his interpretation of the two of us celebrating his happiness due to his online order. It was touching. I think people should buy from us if they like extras. Little things like stickers and buttons. But also intangibles like a personal email from us if you have a question. We’re like a mom and pop shop, but a completely ice cream tree crazy one. Like if instead of being burned down, the Waco compound, led by David Koresh, started selling records online instead of doing such intense and threatening Bible-thumping. Or not, that’s a little weird.
L: How’s working with Mark Arm in the warehouse? Tell me the funniest thing that’s happened back there involving him. Like, have his pants ever fallen down while he’s trying to put a box of records on a high shelf?
S: It’s like working side-by-side with Jesus. Funny story: Once we had a UPS man overload his hand-truck and was having a hard time leaning it back to get the wheels rolling, you know, due to the immensity of the days shippings. Without warning him, Mark decided to give a tiny push to the hand-truck to help the tower of boxes out with its momentum. It was a little more than the UPS man could handle, and a few hundred pounds of records spilled on top of him and he was crushed by many, many boxes of Mudhoney (one would assume) CDs and LPs. [Mark Arm is like the Charles Atlas of the warehouse. He doesn’t even know his own strength! –ed.] Anyway, Mark got totally screamed at by the UPS fella and it totally wrecked the vibe back there for the afternoon.
L: What do you like to do for fun? Do you ever do any drugs?
S: I’ve got nothing against drugs but I’ve never had much interest in them, personally. Fun? I like spying on my neighbors and shoplifting. [Why am I not surprised by this answer? -ed.]
L: Which dude in the office would you marry, boff, kill?
S: I definitely value humor in a mate, so initially I thought I’d go for Chris J. But then I thought, maybe a sensitive guy is what I need. And Andy K. came to mind. But my coworker/Netflix friend, Dusty S. and I have 86% similar movie tastes, according to our Netflix reviews, so I am going to choose to marry him. And since I am such a monogamist, I’m going to go right ahead and “boff” him (are you cool with that, Dusty?) I’m gonna boff him so hard, his beard’s gonna fall right off his face. I’m not an advocate of violence of any sort, so no one dies by my hand. No, nevermind. I’ll kill Richard, just to feel what it’s like to kill, nothing personal. [It’s because he’s foreign. –ed.]
L: You were hit by a car while riding your bicycle not too long ago and you had to use a cane—did you get a lot of chicks? Do you hate car drivers? Give me your best pro-bike rant.
S: That was a weird time in my life, so I can’t really answer the chicks thing. [I’m making a whip noise right now. –ed.] I will say that I was surprised by how much female interest there was in me when I was missing all of my front teeth and couldn’t walk without a cane. But I didn’t really “get” any chicks. But I didn’t try hard either, in my defense. I love car drivers! I just bought a little truck and became part of the problem. No pro-bike rants; ride one if you like. If someone wants some exercise, I’d suggest a bike.
L: Please tell me your favorite Sub Pop release of 2007—why is this record so good?
S: I think the Handsome Furs record was my favorite release this year. It was just a good record. It’s a pretty sad record without being too mopey. At the time of its release I was looking for just that – a record that would listen, but wouldn’t cry with me.
L: Why do you think we fight so much?
S: You and I don’t get along super well, it’s true. But I think you’re great, Lacey. I don’t have any ill feelings at all, I just think that some people have some natural friction. You and I have the most of anyone else I’ve ever met, but I kind of like it. It’s like our own special relationship. [I thought it was because you are a jerk. J/K –ed.]
L: Okay, now tell me your very first memory.
S: I remember when I knew for sure I was done wetting the bed or peeing in my tiny overalls. I was three and got up before everyone because I had to go, and as I walked down the hall I remember thinking “I got this potty thing down”. I haven’t had a (sober) accident yet! [Way to go, little dude! –ed.]