It’s a new year and we’ve finally got a new People Who Work Here for 2008 and it features Gabe Carter, International Man of Mystery. When I first started here Gabe and I worked together for an hour or so during the day and we’d make fun of everyone and jam out a lot to Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/Love Below or the Misfits. When Alissa started working in the warehouse a little later we’d have a full-on delicious snack spread with cheese and crackers and all kinds of good stuff in the afternoons. Gabe is a stand up guy but now that we both have different duties at Sub Pop we rarely get to eat cheese together. Gabe always has the sharpest knife, though, so if you need to slice an apple he’s your man. Let’s meet Gabe!
L: You started at Sub Pop in the warehouse and worked there for a good long while. Please tell me about how you started working here and your subsequent rise to power in the International Department. What do you do now? Do you ever want to go back to working in the warehouse?
G: It’s a Cinderella story really. I started in April of 2002. I had been fired from my previous job of 7 years at a snowboard factory for touring too much with my band during the busy season. The irony here is the band I was in broke up shortly after. Kristin Meyer called me and asked if I’d be interested in the ‘warehouse manager’ position. It initially paid about the same as what I was making on unemployment but it was getting at the point where sitting around the house wasn’t as fun anymore. After you’ve been on unemployment for a while they start making you jump through lots of hoops: turning in your job search list, going to classes etc. Not working in itself starts to become a job. Warehouse manager title was a bit misleading as you weren’t in charge of anyone, just the warehouse. Kwab trained me for about a day and a half and then I was on my own. It was a bit different than what I was used to. I started trying to get to know my new co-workers I nicknamed myself “Talking Gabe” or occasionally “Shit Talking Gabe” and spent too much time yacking to people trying to work. People have that look though when you interrupt them while they’re trying to read an email or just get their work done. For sanity’s sake, the warehouse manager job became something I decided to/needed to take pride in. I tried to just be a reliable shipping engine in the back of the office. I got miracled [I like when Gabe uses these weird phrases. I mean, what does that even mean? –ed.] in to the International job when Shawn Rogers left. Shawn is still a very well regarded person both in the company and abroad. It’s taken a while to grow out from his shadow over the department. My only immediate qualification for the job was that I was well traveled. Carly and I split the job down the middle she does all the marketing and publicity, I do all the nuts and bolts stuff like logistics and production. I do still love the shipping room. I like the physical and social aspect of the work. I like the blasting music and loud talking. The warehouse is like the mafia—they never really let you go.
L: It’s a new year-did you make any resolutions? Even if you didn’t will please pretend that you did and then tell me what they are? Also, what did you do to celebrate?
G: I didn’t make any special resolutions for New Years. I make resolutions all the time but they are broad like “stop drinking so much” or “get to work on time” “get your shit together” [When do you plan to start working on these? –ed.] I’m a ‘watch the New Years on TV’ kind of guy now that I’m a father. I always make a pot of black-eyed peas for New Years Day. It’s supposed to be good luck, one pea for each day of the year. I’m not superstitious though I just like black-eyed peas. I usually end up eating all the leftovers for days afterwards. [Me too! I was sooooo farty. –ed.]
L: Fantasy Basketball-what gives? Is it really that fun? What about Real Basketball?
G: Yes, I’m totally into it. One year I even got several other Sub Pop employees to try it out. These days, players don’t stick with teams long enough for you to really develop any personal attachment to any specific team. You become fans of certain players as they migrate around the NBA. [Sports are so boring to me—wake me up when this is over. –ed.] Sport’s betting is one of the most addictive things around. Sports are unscripted drama. Fantasy sports is just a couple bets on the side. As for real basketball, I was a Sonics season ticket holder since the Key Arena inaugural season (‘95) up until a few years ago. It was a good time to be it to basketball in Seattle. Sonics were always playoff contenders and even went to the championship in 96. I let the tickets go when my wife got pregnant. I used to play actual real basketball but I hate playing pick up basketball, too many day pass thugs and all that running. I hate playing basketball with jerks. [You mean YOUNG jerks, don’t you? –ed.] I’d much rather play half court three on three with some friends. For one it’s easier to get back on defense.
L:You were born in Texas. Tell me three reasons why Texas is better than Washington. Would you ever in a million years consider moving to Texas?
G: Yes, I was born in Houston. The Republic of Texas is one of those places that has an almost indefensible amount of state pride. I have to say the three reasons why Texas is better is: real BBQ, Austin, people are friendly. It takes a while to get used to how unfriendly strangers are here. People just don’t say “hi” here. You walk down the street in Seattle and people pretend they don’t see you. It is really weird and takes quite a bit of getting used to. I would be the first to concede, I’m not a real Texan. [See you are a real Texan—you’re trying to concede! Oh wait…it’s secede, isn’t it? -ed.] I moved here when I was nine. I would never move back. It’s too beautiful here. There’s nothing on the horizon there both literally and figuratively. I get a wave of nostalgia when I go back to visit but that’s all it is. Seattle is my home now and probably forever.
L: You work very closely with Carly Starr, who was recently featured here in PWWH. Please tell me Carly’s three best qualities and one really annoying one.
G: It goes without saying that Carly is great. She and I used to carpool together and I would make her late most days. I’m going to take the high road and assume you’re not talking about Carly’s physical attributes. [Carly has nice jugs. –ed.] While she is clearly an attractive and stylish lady, three of her greatest qualities have got to be her generosity especially with sweets [You mean when she breaks into the ice cream before the party? –ed.], her heightened sense of cleanliness and organization [That’s clearly a neuroses. –ed.], and her ability to have fun [She does love mayonnaise! –ed.]. As far as annoying goes, while she can be fairly bratty at times, which she readily admits, I find her tabloid addiction much worse. Nevertheless, I usually hand the TV remote over to her in the lunch room so she can watch her shows on E.
L: You were in that band Juno and I remember reading about you guys in Punk Planet when Arlie broke his neck or whatever while doing snow sports. You were guys were fairly big, huh? Tell me what it was like being in Juno and tell me what you’ve been doing musically since.
G: I was in Juno from the beginning until its ultimate demise or rather, extended hiatus. It was and sometimes still is a large part of who I am. [Let it go, Big G. –ed.] Experience shapes perception and what not. We toured and toured, 14 or so Secret Santa [? –ed.] US tours and 2 European tours and a last hurrah Japanese tour. We released two full lengths on DeSoto Records and 7” singles with Sub Pop, Jade Tree, Magwheel, and BCore and a split with the Dismemberment Plan. Former Sub Pop employee Joan Hiller was our publicist for the last record. I loved being in the band. I’m sad that we couldn’t keep it together. Traveling to Europe and Japan as a band was very rewarding for me personally. Some people go to college, I went to rock school. I’m very proud of what we were able to accomplish as a band, most of which we had to do for ourselves. We had a tendency to burn bridges while we were still on them. Arlie’s broken and then healed neck was the 6th member of our band for a while. He was trooper though he got right back in the van and toured as soon as he could. After Juno I joined Hint Hint and managed to record a full length and do a little touring with them before the inevitable break up. Since then I had a personal musical project going for a while but right now I’m the only one in project and the music is all on a pile of practice tapes.
L: Please tell me your favorite Sub Pop album from each year that you’ve worked here. What’s your favorite song from each record?
G: 2002 David Cross “Shut Up You Fucking Baby” Monica Lewinsky and the Three Bears (this the bit about the redneck voice)
2003 The Constantines “Shine a Light” Nighttime/Anytime (It’s Alright)
2004 Comets on Fire “Blue Cathedral” Pussy Foot the Duke
2005 Jennifer Gentle “Valende” Nothing Makes Sense
2006 Comets on Fire “Avatar” Hatched Upon the Age
2007 Handsome Furs “Plague Park” Hearts of Iron
L: If you had to lose either both your feet or both your hands which would you choose and why?
G: Feet. No question. People can lose their feet and still run marathons with prosthetics. Showers would be weird though, right? Have to get one of those shower chairs to wash my nubs. I need my hands. I would hate to lose any part of either hand. How do you get dressed with no hands, or drive, or make a sandwich. [With your feet, ding dong! –ed.]
L: You have a kid—tell me what it’s like! Are you going to have another one? If so, can I pick the name?
G: Let me be the 10 millionth person to say how great it is. It is unbelievably great. I think I have a better perspective on it since we waited until we were older. I don’t feel robbed of my youth and ambitions. I feel I have a rich enough life and wealth of experience to share with him. All I want to do is hang out with him. I don’t know about a second one yet. My need to procreate is completely satiated by my son. I wonder though sometimes if his quality of life might be better with a sibling. [Sure, why not? He’ll have someone to pick on. –ed.] It’s still on the table. If we do, I would endure some suggestions from you for sure. The name Ulysses was a top contender last time Jimmy Carter 2. –ed.]
L: You are into Japan quite a bit-why?
G: I’ve heard that before. I’m not really so into Japan more than anything else. [Well why do people keep saying this to you? –ed.] I like a lot of Japanese film: Akira Kurosawa movies (Seven Samurai), Battle Royale, I even like my fair share of anime [Blech. –ed.] like Spirited Away. But to be honest, I like Sushi more than Japan. Last time I was in Japan I felt slightly unwelcome. They aren’t really so into foreigners. Gaijin is the Japanese word for “foreigner”. It also happens to be the word for “barbarian”, since that was what all foreigners were considered to be. Baka roughly translates into “smart, no”. Perhaps as close to “stupid” as they would want to call somebody. So Baka Gaijin roughly translates into “stupid foreigner”. [Yeah, sounds like you are not into Japan at all…. –ed.] Also if you see another gaijin on the street, they pretend to not notice that you are clearly not Japanese. It’s like you went to high school together and they are praying you don’t recognize them. Maybe I’m extra sensitive to that. As a general rule tourists and ex-pats are dorks it sucks to feel like one.
L: Tell me something that you’ve learned as you’ve gotten older. You know, something like “it’s OKAY to trust people over 30” or something like that.
G: I got a few, take your pick: Don’t judge your friends or you’ll lose them. Don’t buy a car at night. A good man can whistle and change a tire at the same time. [These are good. I’m going with the tire one, though, because I’d never buy a car in the dark and if I have to quit judging my friends I might as well stay home. –ed.]