Sub Pop

News from 2008

TUE, FEB 5, 2008 at 8:08 AM

Mark Arm Wears Gravity Boots


Well, this is it, folks. I am pulling out all the stops and bringing you what you’ve all been waiting for, and it can only go down hill from here. Ladies and Germs, it is with much pleasure that I bring you People Who Work Here’s exclusive interview with the man, the myth, Mark Arm! (wait for applause) Mark Arm is the Warehouse Manager here at Sub Pop Records, and that means that if you order anything from our store, especially a big package that has to be sent via UPS, Mark will have, most likely, put those golden hands of his upon your box. I mean, package. Whatever. Some things I’ve learned about Mark since working with him are: he is super into politics, he has to listen to NPR really loud because his ears are not what they used to be, he can stand fully upright on a yoga ball, his wife cuts his hair, and he’s a funny/fun dude. Let’s meet Mark!

L: Contrary to popular belief your real last name is not Arm. Please discuss how you got this name and how you feel about having a “punk name” at 40+.

M: My friend Smitty and I were deep into a fake argument using non-offensive body parts as swear words. The argument culminated with him yelling “arm arm” at me. I had no response to this attack and we both broke down laughing. Then when Mr. Epp became a real band, complete with instruments, we adopted non-sequitur punk names. Jeff Smith became Jo Smitty and I became Mark Arm. I never thought it’d stick. Luckily, I’m more comfortable with my “punk name” than the easily garbled Scottish name I was born into. [This version seems a lot more tame than what I was led to believe. –ed.]

L: You are most famous for being the front dude of Mudhoney, but you’ve also been in many other bands, including Green River, Mr. Epp & the Calculations, Bloodloss, Monkeywrench, as well as the new incarnation of the MC5 from time to time. Which of these other bands is your favorite and why?

M: Of all these bands, the MC5 is my favorite. It’s not my band, so it’s much easier for me to embrace. The MC5 is one of the best bands ever and they helped lay the foundation for what would become punk rock. Getting to play with the DKT/MC5 was such a fantastic mindfuck. That said Bloodloss was most satisfying musically. After playing together for a few months I realized that we were able to effortlessly pull cool shit out of thin air with everyone playing around each other instead of following the same riff (and no, we weren’t “jamming”). The downside was going on tour with a dude who was in a constant state of withdrawl. The rest of us felt like we were dragging around a whiny corpse and propping it up for shows. [Weekend at Bernie’s! –ed.] Monkeywrench is a total hoot and getting to play with Tim Kerr, Tom Price and Martin Bland is a total treat that happens way too rarely. Shameless plug: our third album (Gabriel’s Horn) in 17 years comes out in February on the Birdman record label.

L: When Mudhoney was getting going you were relatively old (26-ish, right?). How do you think that being more, ahem, mature helped your band achieve the dizzying success that it did?

M: Maturity had nothing to do with Mudhoney. It still doesn’t. [Whatever you say, old man. -ed.] The dizziness was usually bedspins. We were old enough that we had a pretty firm idea of what we wanted Mudhoney to be when we started. I was well aware of the glass ceiling we’d encounter with our brand of entertainment. I just figured it would be lower. We weren’t dazzled by the brass ring and we never bothered to reach for it. [I smell lyrics a brewin’. –ed.] We achieved more than I ever anticipated and I feel incredibly lucky that I still get to muck around in this shit.

L: Major label vs. Sub Pop. Pros and cons of each, please.

M: Major Labels have giant warehouses all over the country. I don’t think I’d be able to wrap my head around their inventory, but I would probably get to drive a forklift. Sub Pop is blessed with a pretty swank warehouse, but since T-shirts have become a major part of our inventory, I wish it was bigger. [Touche, Mr. Arm. -ed.] Perhaps I can expand into the Art and Hardly Art departments. One of the odd side effects of working in the warehouse and getting to know our inventory is that item numbers are seared into my brain. So when the clock strikes 6:47 or 7:04 I flash on Comets On Fire.

L: You have remarkable posture. How do you do that?

M: Why thank you Lacey, how nice of you to notice! Emily & I invested in a matching set of gravity boots nine years ago. We have a wall mounted TV that rotates so we can watch it when we’re upside down. We try to do this at least 3 hours every evening. That’s why I don’t go out that much. The first time I tried this I nearly choked on popcorn and mountain dew poured out my nose. After years of dedicated practice I’ve gotten pretty good at snacking upside down.

L: Who in Mudhoney do you spend the most time with? Who in Mudhoney knows your deepest, darkest secrets? What is your favorite Mudhoney record?

M: I probably see Guy [Male Nurse! –ed.] more than anyone else these days, Dan is a close second. I don’t see Steve that much since he moved to Portland. Steve & I started hanging out in 1983 so I guess he knows more about me than the others, but he doesn’t know much. I refuse to let anyone past these walls, no one get’s in…Get Out! As far as favorite record goes, I don’t have one. I don’t listen to our records unless we’re putting together a comp or trying to relearn a forgotten song. At this point I’m most familiar with The Lucky Ones since that’s the one we’ve been working on and you know what that means, it’s the best one yet. [Available May 20th on Sub Pop brand Records. –ed.]

L: I heard there will be a Green River reunion this summer, true? Tell me how the whole thing went down and how you think your performance will be.

M:True, we are slated to play Sub Pop’s 20th Anniversary this July. I’m not sure how it went down since nothing’s happened yet. Everyone is psyched to get together again so I think it’ll be great (for us at least).

L: Please name your five top rock performers, in order, and let me know why you like them.

M: This is tough, Lacey. Since you asked about performers and not musicians, I’ll talk about folks who”make good show”.
I’ve been going to Nick Cave shows since the first time the Bad Seeds came to the Northwest (’86 in Vancouver) and I’ve seen them in Europe, the UK and Australia. After all of these performances I’ve concluded that Nick is always on fire and will stop at nothing to put on a good show. I would have loved to have seen the Birthday Party in LA & SF in ’83, but I didn’t have money or a car.
John Brannon is super sweet in real life, but on stage he exudes more heartfelt distain, hatred and contempt than anyone I can think of. I’ve seen Negative Approach play to 3000 people, Easy Action play to less than 20 as well as a bunch of Laughing Hyenas shows and despite the audience, he’s always super intense.
The Butthole Surfers were brilliant performers. No one could touch these guys in the mid 80s. They hung out in Seattle for about 3 weeks in December of ’83 and their special effects amounted to little more than a couple of Radio Shack strobes and flying safety pins. They were mind-blowing. They kept adding to their shows, lights, films, naked dancers, etc. When they played Reading in ’89 they opened by smashing their gear (no, I didn’t see that). It all went south when they started hanging around Ministry though.
Iggy Pop puts everything into each performance, even if he’s touring on a crappy record and is backed by a bunch of hacks. I wish he had a better sense of who to play with. I’m glad the Stooges got back together. That’s something I never thought I’d see. I wish I could have seen them in the late 60s/early 70s when no one understood what they were doing or how to react to them. I would love to watch them confront a crowd of indignant Crosby Stills and Nash fans in some Midwestern college auditorium. I hope I can still hop around like Iggy in 15 years, well not exactly like that, I hope my back and hips don’t get as fucked up. That shit looks painful.
Jimi Hendrix died well before I was going to rock shows, but I’ve seen him preserved on film and no one plays guitar like that. He’s astounding to watch, he makes the craziest shit fluid and effortless. He didn’t just play guitar, he played electricity. He’s even amazing when he’s sleepwalking, like the first part of the set at the Isle of Wight Festival. He wakes up mid-set after going behind the amps to get a boost and blows doors. Sadly, he died a week later.

L: Please tell me a funny story about when Mudhoney was in that Chris Farley movie! Also, your wikipedia entry says you were in Velvet Goldmine which I did not know. What was that like? (PS Dean Hudson HATES that movie!)

M: We were only on the set of Black Sheep for one day, but we did hang out a bit with Chris Farley. Steve was totally star-struck and offered him some blow, which took us all by surprise since the rest of us had never seen Steve near the white lady. Anyway, Chris had only been clean for two months or so. Apparently he never got clean again. Steve still feels guilty about it, but we tell him it’s not really his fault because Chris Farley would have been offered drugs from some other sycophant. I’m not in Velvet Goldmine. My name is on the soundtrack recording, but my voice got erased in favor of Ewan McGregor’s. I did get a chance to write two songs with Ron Asheton (another happy mindfuck) and record them with Ron, Mike Watt (this is how he ended up in the Stooges), Thurston Moore and Steve Shelly as the Wylde Ratttz. Due to the Ewan McGregor crap, it’s hard for me to be objective about the movie. What’s Dean’s problem, is it too gay for him? I like Todd Haynes stuff, especially Safe and Far From Heaven. I just saw I’m Not There and really liked the Fellini homage in the Cate Blanchett part. The Christian Bale segment was straight out of hack biopic 101 though.

L: Tell me how your met your lovely wife Emily, Pet Photographer. What do you guys do in your free time?

M: We met in ’85 probably at a party or a show. I don’t remember the exact circumstance, but there was a lot of beer and MDA around at the time. We went out for about three weeks. She moved to NY for awhile, came back to town for a summer and we hung out as friends. Then she moved to L.A. Mudhoney would stay at her place. I had a girlfriend so Emily wouldn’t make out with me. [What a prick tease! –ed.] She moved back to Seattle in ’91 with a boyfriend in tow. Then in ’93 they broke up, I stopped with the opiates and we started going out. We got hitched a year later. By the way, I hear Ruben finally proposed to you,congratulations! [Why thank you! –ed.]When we have enough free time, we like to travel. Our last two big trips were to Brazil and Burma. We’re going to Costa Rica when the rest of Sub Pop goes to SxSW.

L: If you were to have kids what would you tell them about drugs?

M: That’s another reason to not have children, it’s a conversation I’d rather not have. I like drugs. I just don’t like people on drugs. [But what about kids on drugs? That’s fun, right? –ed.]

L: And finally, what is Mark Arm’s favorite place to eat in Seattle and why?

M: Except for lunch, which is usually just sandwiches, I don’t go out to eat that much. I always enjoy the Boat Street Café, Matt’s in the Market, Machiavelli, The Tamarind Tree and a place right next to it that’s simply called Schezwanese Cuisine. A couple of default places in West Seattle I enjoy are Taqueria Guaymas and the West 5. That didn’t really answer your question, did it? [That’ll do, I suppose. –ed.]

PS Mark, don’t try to get all clever in the photo booth. I won’t allow it.

Posted by Lacey Swain

FRI, SEP 12, 2008 at 9:20 AM

The Album Leaf ties the knot!


It is my duty to inform you that Jimmy Lavalle (aka The Album Leaf) is now officially off the market having tied the knot to his high school sweetheart and true love Kate Trumbull. Congratulations you two! Now go make some babies so we can sell you some sub pop branded baby clothes.

Posted by tony kiewel

FRI, APR 25, 2008 at 9:24 AM

SP20 Festival - Details


As you have hopefully already read elsewhere here on the Sub Pop Interweb Tendency, we’re 20 this year. And, we plan to make kind of a nuisance of ourselves about it. More so than usual, even.

To celebrate the label’s twentieth birthday, Sub Pop will release a series of re-issues starting with Mudhoney’s Superfuzz Bigmuff: Deluxe Edition (which, like their brand new album The Lucky Ones , comes out May 20, 2008), launch a limited run of the Sub Pop Singles Club (more on that soon-ish), and throw a series of over-the-top birthday parties for itself this summer.

Herewith the scoop on these birthday parties:

SP20 Comedy Show – Friday, July 11th at The Moore Theatre

David Cross
Patton Oswalt
Eugene Mirman
Todd Barry
And Kristen Schaal will be hosting!

+Tickets to the SP20 Comedy Show are still available through TicketMaster here.+

Prohibited Items, Accessibility and other Moore Theatre FAQs

+Single-day tickets and 2-day passes for SP20 are still available through TicketMaster here!+

SP20 Festival – Saturday, July 12th at Marymoor Park, Redmond, WA

Eric’s Trip
The Helio Sequence
Pissed Jeans
Fleet Foxes
The Fluid
The Vaselines
Iron and Wine
Flight of the Conchords

SP20 Festival – Sunday, July 13th at Marymoor Park, Redmond, WA

The Ruby Suns
Grand Archives
Les Thugs
No Age
Red Red Meat
Comets on Fire
Beachwood Sparks
Green River
Wolf Parade

+Single-day tickets and 2-day passes for SP20 are still available through TicketMaster here!+

You can also buy tickets for SP20 in person at the Marymoor Park Office between 9am and 4pm, Monday-Friday. You can also phone them at 206-205-3661 or email them at to buy tickets and have them mailed to you. A fee of $8 per ticket supports maintenance and operations of King County Parks. There’s more info about all of this on the Concerts at Marymoor site.
There is also, at this same link info for those interested in carpooling to SP20!

Prohibited Items, Accessibility and other Marymoor Park FAQs

Getting to SP20 Festival

“SP20 at The Showbox – Saturday. July 12th, with…":

Brothers of the Sonic Cloth
The Gutter Twins
(show starts at 10pm)

“Tickets for SP20 at The Showbox are available through TicketMaster here!":

It’s worth noting that all of the SP20-related events are benefits.
“Information on SP20 Beneficiaries is available here!":

Posted by Chris Jacobs

WED, SEP 24, 2008 at 8:30 AM



Take a break from the heated national elections and vote on what really matters—music videos. Dean and Randy from No Age have been nominated in the Left Field category of the mtvU Woodie Awards for their awesome video for “Eraser” and only you can make this happen. It’s like, democracy in action or something, almost. VOTE HERE, A LOT!

Posted by Lacey Swain

WED, SEP 3, 2008 at 9:36 AM

Teal Garrels is a Poor Storyteller


People Who Work Here has been too busy to keep up its strenuous interview schedule what with SP20, buying a house, and planning a wedding (That’s right! Someone wants to marry me!), but the list of new hires keeps growing and growing. This week we’re catching up with the newest of the new, Teal Garrels, regional publicist here at Sub Pop Records. Teal is tall. She has red hair. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her in a skirt or a dress, but she’s a well put together broad. Teal will eat whatever you have that you don’t want anymore. For instance, once I carried a stupid, free macaroon all the way back from Whole Foods, in my dirty hand mind you, and instantly accidentally threw the thing down the hall when I got back to the office. Teal didn’t care. She ate it. Wait a minute—that was Andrew. Teal just ate some candy off the floor which is no big deal, really. Aw fuck it, let’s meet Teal!

L: Tell me, Teal, how you started in Indiana and moved your way through Chicago and LA before winding up in Seattle? How did you break into the publicity biz?

T: I actually popped out in Michigan, but didn’t stay there long…I was 8 when my family moved to Indiana. Turns out Indiana’s too flat, Chicago’s too cold, LA’s too smoggy…Seattle’s aaaalmost perfect (a little on the damp side, but I try to keep my mouth shut about that to avoid being called a pansy…AND I knew what I was getting into). [You have NO IDEA. –ed.] Publicity came out of nowhere. I was working at a record store in Chicago, looking for a way to support my record habit (and supplement my 5 dollar an hour income), when my friend Rob [Rob Lowe, of 90 Day Men/Lichens fame. –ed.] asked if I’d cover for him while he toured the country w/ his band. So I did…and ended up working at Biz3 Publicity for about 6 years (3 of which I spent as the LA “office”). Biz3’s a good crew…I owe Kathryn a big high five for breaking me into this crazy little industry. [Regional publicists are always high fiving! What gives?. –ed.]

L: I have it on good authority that you are allergic to fish, strawberries, and bananas. Wait a sec, I suddenly feel like I’ve been had. Are you actually allergic to these things? Is it a deadly allergy or just an uncomfortable allergy?

T: I wish it was a lie! I love all of these things (especially seafood), but they all bring on different, gross, uncomfortable reactions (not fatal). Seafood makes me break out in hives, bananas make me feel like my lungs are being crushed (and then I wind up w/ a painful underground zit on my chin…or cheek…wherever it happens to land), and strawberries make my lymph nodes swell to the size of golf balls. There’s a photo of that last one in my friend Julie’s phone…it’s a doozy. [Okay, I was not going to bring it up, but Joan Hiller, ex-regional publicist at Sub Pop, is also allergic to everything and she high fives all over the place. Have you two met? –ed.]

L: This same source has also revealed some other things that I’d like to ask you about: Dude from Ministry hacked your email? You paint paintings? You are having trouble sleeping in Seattle? (WAIT A MINUTE! Am I falling prey to another lie? ‘Sleepless in Seattle’? Is my leg being pulled?)

T: Who is this source?! Ritter? I know it’s you. [Yes, he’s the rat. I sold him out so easily, too! –ed.] So, yeah…right when I started working at the record store mentioned in question # 1, I would often leave my screen open after a sale or item inquiry. Every time that happened, anyone could jump on my computer and send a mass e-mail to the entire staff as me. Chris Connelly would revel in sending e-mails telling everyone that if they didn’t shape up, I’d kick their asses and give them all cauliflower ear. [Wouldn’t it have been extra rad if it were Al Jourgensen?! And he typed those emails with his dreadlocks? Just a thought.–ed.] It really helped my reputation as a badass… Paintings? I love to get real arty when I can. [Hiller paints, too. This is getting creepy. –ed.] Sleeplessness in Seattle? True…but it happened more often when I first moved up here. I blame it on my brain trying to adjust to so much newness… [Ambien. –ed.]

L: Are you going to Bumbershoot? Who do you want to see? What’s your dream line-up for Teal Fest? (You don’t really have to answer that—it’s a pretty stupid question.)

T: Two of my favorite people were getting married down in California that same weekend, so I missed every last bit of Bumbershoot! [No big—Steve Miller Band played LAST year. –ed.] The reception at the wedding kicked out the jams though…A-Ha, B52’s, Outkast, Kylie Minogue, Men w/out Hats…I mean, you can’t argue with a line-up like that.

L: I googled you, Teal Garrels. I googled you real good and I found that you recorded some Nordic band that was on some comp. Tell me about your audio engineering days.

T: I spent 3 years studying Audio Technology at IU, Bloomington. [Sisters doin’ it for themselves! Take that, Phil Ek! –ed.] That band (Panoply Academy Glee Club…sometimes Panoply Academy Corps of Engineers…sometimes Panapoly Adademy Legionnaires) was made up of a bunch of native Bloomingtonians. I would bring them down to the recording studio and practice my new audio tricks. They were awesome to work with and didn’t complain when I used them as guinea pigs. The Audio kids were kind of low on the Music School totem pole, so we’d get the hand-me-down gear from the performance majors. This meant that our old, temperamental board would crap out often, and the best thing you could do was smack it around until it started working again. That’s what I learned in college…money well spent.

L: You have an iPhone—tell me about it. Are you 100% for it?

T: I’m not 100% for it. [You are the first person to say this, T-Bag. –ed.] I’d say I’m at about 80…the GPS part I like…and the built in camera/ipod. I’m just not so into giving AT&T my money. Plus that screen gets smudged up with my big sweaty fingers (and it’s hard to hit those tiny letters).

L: Teal, you told me once that what you were going to do that Friday night was hang out in a hot tub with your parents and sister. Are you still doing this sort of stuff? My family and I are decidedly against hot-tubbing together, is why I ask.

T: Sadly, those days are over…starting this week, actually. [No, not sad! It was weird! That’s what I was trying to tell you! –ed.] But yeah, my parents moved out to the PNW from Indiana (something they’ve been aching to do for eons…not necessarily to Seattle, but out of Indiana) and rented a spot that was fully loaded with a Jacuzzi overlooking Lake Washington. For the past year, all of our holidays have been spent in swimming costumes. Now they’re across the lake…and hot tub-less.

L: Tell me about your nicknames, Teal.

T: Well, they’ve tripled since I started working here. Some of the new ones are T-Bag (courtesy of you, Lacey Swain), Wheel Barrels, Teal-mobile, Tiny Teal [Is that like Curly or is it a Tiny Tim reference? –ed.]…

L: You work closely with Alissa and Kate in the Publicity Department. Tell me a good story about each of these girls, please.

T: Kate doesn’t have one, but a shit load of crazy Seattle apartment stories…I won’t go into too much detail, but they involved caving ceilings, peeping toms, cockroaches, curb side campers…I know I’m missing some good ones. Thankfully, she and her husband have settled into a sweet spot in West Seattle and those stories have come to an end (at least for now!). Alissa also just moved to West Seattle and is on the hunt for the best route from her house to work. I think she’s honing in…I don’t have too much dirt on these ladies yet, since I’m new and all. But we’ll all be going to CMJ, so I’m hoping to get some good stories then. [These are terrible stories, Teal! Terrible! You should’ve made something up.

L: Teal—tell me your favorite band of all time. GO!

T: WHAM! [Acceptable, although “of all time” might be a stretch. –ed.]

L: Is there anything you’d like to ask me?

T: How’d you get your name, Lacey? I know the story, but I think our readers might be curious. [I’ll be the one asking questions around here, thank you very much! –ed.]

Posted by Lacey Swain