People Who Work Here has really been taking its sweet time in between interviews, but this next one is a real page turner and well worth the wait. This week we’ll take an in depth look at Stuart Fletcher, the newest member of the Sub Pop Records Technical Team, Ltd., and also the last remaining interview from, as they like to refer to themselves, the Nerd Cave. Stuart “does computers” and as far as I can tell this means that he fixes broken things on the website and also provides you with new download codes when yours doesn’t work. I’m sure he does other stuff, but these are the only two things that I personally need him for. Stuart is wealth of weird information/superstition such as ‘you should never separate the salt and pepper—if someone asks for one you must pass both.’ As you might expect from someone with crazy ideas about spice movement, Stuart can often be found straightening his papers just so on his desk at work so that nothing is out of place. Stuart is also a founding member of the somewhat now defunct Monday Night Supper Club and a frequent lunch partner of mine. Let’s meet Stuart!
L: You are new-ish here. You worked at another computer job before and you left even though you made a million dollars an hour. Why? Do you think you made the right decision?
S: I am way more suited to working at Sub Pop than I was to working at my last job. So yes, even though I was paid $1,000,000/hr at my last gig it’s worth it to work for such a fine company as we do. No question I made the right decision. [Smart answer, Kid—I think the boss reads these. –ed.]
L: So, you have a really janky desk here and you are the only one who suffers from this type of treatment. How does that make you feel? Do you think that it will ever be okay?
S: When my desk was first installed it did seem to really not fit the space, but the Technical Staff here collaborated on some feng shui-esque maneuvers and managed to make the Technical Staff Office into, in my opinion, a much nicer space than when I was sitting at my card table (which I thought was pretty great at the time, to be honest). And honestly, most of my problem with my desk can probably be chalked up to me falling prey to the status quo bias. I’m very prone to it. (Meaning: I hate change.)
S: Hmmmm. Truth be told, Dean Hudson and I went to elementary school, middle school, AND high school together. I have a funny story about 4th grade, but since you asked about high school I’ll stick with that. This might not be a “good story” but at minimum it is a story. Dean Hudson and I worked together in a public library in high school. Our main duty was shelving books. Toward the end of when I worked there we somehow got the idea that it would be fun to sort of sketch out the rough outline of a musical about serial killers. [Oh geez. This is classic. –ed.] I think the idea probably came about because all the books on serial killers would have the same Dewey Decimal classification and somebody probably returned a bunch of them at the same time and they were all waiting to be shelved. That or Greg Heino are the most likely reasons we were thinking about it. Keep in mind this is waaaay before there was that movie with Charlize Theron and all that. Punk hadn’t even broke at the time I’m talking about, if you know what I mean. I’m just trying to point out we were ahead of our time. So anyway, we came up with some song ideas, a rough plot outline and had a lot of fun with that. Kind of sick. James Bertram… let me think. Whenever I think of him being in high school he is wearing a Misfits t-shirt. [James is coming out 100% more cool than you and Dean combined here… -ed.] Because he really did wear a Misfits t-shirt sometimes. That’s not really “dirt” but that’s all I’ve got. James and Dean are two of my best friends. [That’s sweet. A little gay, but sweet. –ed.]
L: Did you go through a goth phase in high school? Did you smoke cloves? Did you cry a lot? Do you still have all your black clothes? Did you wear Doc Martens or those little karate slippers?
S: No. No. No. Never had an inordinate amount of black clothing, so it’s the same as ever. I’ve never owned Doc Martens and I don’t know what you mean by karate slippers, but I think that’s a “no” as well. Are Doc Martens comfortable? I heard they are. [Look, I’ll be asking the questions today, Stuart. –ed.]
L: Mayonnaise—for it or against it and why?
S: I am pro-mayonnaise because it is delicious & it can make the things it gets on more delicious than they otherwise would be. And the mayonnaise that the Dutch dip their french fries in is amazing. Anything in the same family as that special continental mayonnaise gets my vote. [There is a direct correlation between one’s enjoyment of mayonnaise and how much fun a person enjoys. Look it up. –ed.]
L: You are a real fan of Sub Pop recording artists Tiny Vipers and you have driven them to Portland more than once. What do you all talk about? Who has to stop and pee the most? What kind of road snacks do you guys get?
S: It’s true I’m a big Tiny Vipers fan. On the rides to and from Portland we regale each other with tales of past times, ponder the nature of electricity and magnetism, examine questions of ethics and morality, and sometimes we just sit and think quietly while hurtling along I-5. Pretty much just the usual. We normally make one pit stop on the ride to/from Portland, and it’s equally likely to be me or Jesy that requests the stop. I don’t think Ben ever asks to stop, but whoever says the word I think everyone takes advantage of it. Snack-wise, rest stop cookies (found alongside the free rest stop coffee) [Cheap bastards. –ed.] are a favorite, as have been lozenges to ward off sickness. If I recall correctly, we’ve usually neglected to plan ahead enough to stock up on snacks for the road. Tiny Vipers and 5ive Style are my two favorite bands on the label. [I didn’t ask you this but thanks, I guess. –ed.]
L: You play bass in the Sea Navy. If Jay Cox, leader of the Sea Navy, were to suddenly disappear what Seattle band would you want to join and why?
S: (can you say here that I look “visibly shaken” or something like that?) [Sure. Stuart appears visibly shaken by the mere mention of Jay Cox’s hypothetical disappearance. –ed.] First of all, I would be really bummed if Jay Cox, leader of the Sea Navy, were to suddenly disappear. But if Jay Cox, leader of the Sea Navy, WERE to suddenly disappear, and I were somehow forced to join a Seattle band…I have no idea. I’ve never wanted to join a band so what I would do is this: I would get Jordan, drummer of the Sea Navy, to form a band called “I.S.O. Jay Cox” which I would then immediately join (thus answering your question?) and we would embark on a sort of “psychic journey” through a vast multi-dimensional landscape of good and evil trying to find Jay Cox, leader of the Sea Navy. Picture something which has the epicness of the Lord of the Rings movies [Exactly right here is where I quit reading…. –ed.] but looks more like a realistically rendered cartoon (like the J. Penry cover art on Love As Laughter’s “Laughter’s Fifth” LP) and where the kid who isn’t Frodo doesn’t cry quite as much. In fact, when we become “I.S.O. Jay Cox” we would actually TURN INTO cartoons so that we can go on this epic journey. There would be lots of sliding down rainbows and getting into all kinds of little side adventures, but don’t worry — there’s always a lot of jamming going on, too. We’d have to be changing costumes quite a lot, I imagine. If you’re wondering what “I.S.O. Jay Cox” sounds like, I would play bass with the attitude [He’s still talking, isn’t he? –ed.] of a young Geddy Lee mixed with the fretboard chops of “Diver Down”-era Michael Anthony (btw, that synth glitch never woulda happened had Michael been there — sorry Wolfgang!). Jordan would drum in the style of post-Spectrum Billy Cobham combined with the studio precision of Rick Marotta’s work on “Don’t Take Me Alive” and the “git down” vibe of Agharta-period Al Foster. [I’m sorry I asked. –ed.]
L: Do you own any pets? Why or why not? What is the most exotic family animal you’ve ever experienced? This can be yours or a buddy’s.
S: I do not own any pets. I like cats and have lived with lots of them, I’ve enjoyed living with dogs somewhat but right now is not the time for me + pets. My place is not very large (that’s an ambiguous statement, huh?) and honestly the cat and/or dog hair everywhere and on everything gets me down as a long term proposition. The most exotic family animal I’ve ever experienced is a house cat [Oooh, neat! –ed.], though not just any house cat. This one was raised by turtles on the coast of North Carolina (or on the islands maybe — I forget) and is the oddest cat I’ve ever known. Name of Taco, she’s still around (I think) in the DC area. She was not “mine” but I lived in a house with her for several years. I’ll point out now for the reader in the early 21th century where we in Seattle are currently graced with the presence of the band TacocaT that Taco the cat is well over ten years old & was named on another coast in another time by people who may not even “get” the thing about the bicyclists and the peeps and whatnot. Her “exoticesqueness” is mostly psychological in nature and is best experienced. You’ll have to take my word for it. She’s the longest haired cat I’ve ever seen: the volume of hair makes her seem approximately three times as big as she actually is. And she’s tiny, probably because she was raised by turtles and didn’t get the proper nutrients as a baby cat. What do turtles eat anyway? Lettuce?
L: Tell me the proudest moment in Stuart Fletcher’s life up to this point. What do you hope to achieve in the future? What color is Stuart’s balloon?
S: This is a tough one to answer (but haven’t they all been!). There are all sorts of kinds of ways to be proud. I was proud to own/ handle/manage that cat Taco I was talking about earlier, but I suppose you mean the thing I’ve done that I’m most proud of. Some moments I’ve felt quite a lot of pride in my own acheivements have been:
1. graduating from the University of Maryland (we have quite a few celebrity alumni, by the way), [I’m sure they are proud to add you to this distinguished list, especially since you misspelled achievements right off the bat. But then again, you weren’t an English major, so…00100101001. –ed.]
2. helping build the current Sub Pop website, and
3. having been a member of The Sorts, a band I played with for a long time in DC (that’s more than a moment, but isn’t life just a moment in time?).
Also, I am really good at folding laundry (especially t-shirts!) and I wash dishes (in the home, not professionally) pretty well, though not exceptionally quickly. Those are two of my skills I’m proud of. In the future… shoot, I thought I had already made it to the future. I just want to keep doing cool things and continue to have fun or whatever it’s called now. Mostly I want to keep thinking thoughts for awhile. My balloon… isn’t it what color your parachute is? [Godammit, Stuart, I said that I’M ASKING THE QUESTIONS! If I say it’s a balloon then it’s a goddamn balloon! But, I think you’re right…it really is parachute. –ed.] If it’s just a helium balloon or something, how is that going to float me? I guess it’s gray, though, if I have to answer. Either grey or dark blue, but definitely one of those. Don’t The Cure have a song called “All Cats Are Grey”? Taco wasn’t gray, but grey cats are fine with me and my balloon is gray with a 50% probability.
L: Around the office you are known as ‘the good Stuart’ and Stuart Meyer is ‘the bad Stuart’. Name three reasons why these nicknames are indisputably correct.
S: Oh boy. I don’t know how this got started, but it really has legs.
1. Stuart Meyer doesn’t like mayonnaise, if I recall from his Sub Pop PWWH interview. Liking mayonnaise = ‘good’. [Please see above. –ed.]
2. From what I can gather from what is said around here I watch much less television than Stuart, and that’s ‘good’, right? [I think that’s relative. –ed.]
3. If I were ‘the bad Stuart’ I would take it personally and not have a sense of humor about it. That would make me miserable and that’s the last reason why our nicknames are indisputably correct.
Although I halfway (or quarterway) wish those names would disappear, I DO think they are funny and I have to admit that I’m happy that I got the ‘good’ one. Sorry Stuart. That’s kind of a boring answer. I know I should have said something more biting. Like claim that I am effortlessly able to maintain my trim waistline or something. But I don’t have it in me. I don’t want to add any kindling to this particular fire. (And to be perfectly honest, when I think hard about this good/bad thing, I end up concluding that Stuart Meyer is probably cooler and better than I am in just about every way.) [Nope, you’re wrong. –ed.]
L: And finally, what is the deal with carrying hot sauce in your pocket?
S: First of all I’d like to point out that the one time I’ve “carried hot sauce in my pocket” it was my jacket pocket, not a pants pocket. That is an important distinction. Secondly, that hot sauce was (and indeed is) El Yucateco Salsa Picante de Chile Habanero and their motto is “Much More Habanero!” When I lived in Washington, DC the El Yucateco was relatively easy to find, but since I’ve been back in Seattle I’ve had a hard time tracking it down. I found it at the so-called Mexican grocery in the Market, though, so I’ve been excited to use it ever since then. Hence the carrying it in the (jacket) pocket. Short answer: I like how it tastes when applied to a wide range of foods. How it tastes in my mouth. [Fair enough, weirdo. –ed.]