News from 2/2008

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

MON, FEB 11, 2008 at 7:48 AM

Unsanitary love


Wherein Randy (No Age, Los Angeles, affectionate) attempts/begins/pretends to lick the eyeball of Sean (Pissed Jeans, Philadelphia, obliging, also affectionate).

That is all.

Posted by Chris Jacobs

THU, FEB 28, 2008 at 2:43 AM

Gutter Twins Vinyl - Temporarily Sold Out


The reason you don’t see an LP option when you try to pre-order Saturnalia is because we don’t have any more LPs to sell at the moment.
The super good news about this otherwise bleak reality is that we’re getting more made. In about a month or so, you’ll be able to order an LP copy of the record (complete with an MP3 download code), so please check back with us.

Email me with any questions at

Posted by Sam Sawyer

FRI, FEB 29, 2008 at 8:44 AM

Mona D can tell you what to do in Reno


One of the greatest joys of People Who Work Here is introducing you to our newest employees in a timely fashion. These interviews are — let’s face it — great reading for you, but they’re also a useful and powerful tool for Sub Pop staffers to get to know our new coworkers so that we can commence harassing them in better, more effective ways much more quickly than ever before. Mona D is our newest addition to the Sub Pop radio promo staff and she’s a nice little thing who is paying way too much for a studio apartment in Capitol Hill. Mona has only been in Seattle since January, and I think she’s a vegetarian and I know that she likes to drink vodka sodas. Let’s meet Mona!

L: Mona, welcome to Sub Pop! You have been here for about two months now—how do you like it? What is the most surprising thing about working here? (This can be anything from ‘I had no idea you guys worked in cubicles’ to ‘Who knew that people in Seattle were so racist!?’)

M: I think Seattle is actually hell of rad (you can take the girl out of California…). [I always thought it was ‘hella’. I guess you get to church it up a little if you have a Masters, though. –ed.] There are a ton of good record shops and bars here, and the weather is actually kinda nice these days. The most surprising thing about working here? To be honest, I wasn’t expecting such a high percentage of the staff to be married or own a house or have kids or all those adult things…I was more expecting to walk in on people doing hell of drugs in the bathrooms. I’m definitely not disappointed that it’s babies over blow here, just a bit surprised. [For the record, most of the staff does drugs with their babies at home, not at work. –ed.]

L: What have you been doing in your free time? How do you find Seattle? Do you pretend you live in England on account of the grey? That’s what I do….

M: I’ve pretty much been doing here what I do in every town…chain smoke, listen to records, and wander around town (Ballard and Capitol Hill both seem pretty awesome so far). I’d like to start DJing again soon, ‘cos that’s pretty fun too. Seattle reminds me a lot of San Francisco but without all the pretension. Sometimes I do pretend it’s England though, and I say ‘cor blimey’ and ‘bollocks’ a lot…until I get punched in the face, and then it’s not fun anymore. [You should lay some of that cockney shit on Richard the Scotsman—he looooves it. –ed.]

L: Please tell me about Mona D in high school. I see you have some Souxsie and the Bashees stuff at your desk—were you goth? Would you consider yourself goth presently? Wait, fuck it, what’s your favorite band?

M: Mona D in high school was pretty goth if you consider a Robert Smith hairdo, 20 eye docs, and black lipstick ‘goth.’ I never wore a cape thankfully, but I did used to recite poetry with my best friend at midnight on the weekends…it was some next level loserdom. I don’t think I’m still goth (do I still seem goth?), [Sure, a little. –ed.] but I still love all that music…Bauahaus, Christian Death, Virgin Prunes, Sisters of Mercy…so good! My favorite band? The Smiths…hands down. Best band of all time. Though I’ve been obsessing over Richard Hawley for a while now too. [He’s really great—you should check him out for sure. –ed.]

L: Tell me about the first show you ever saw—mine was Bob Dylan and Tom Petty at the Southern Star Amphitheater with my mom and dad, followed shortly thereafter by The Monkees reunion tour where Weird Al was opening for them. Do you think that your first musical experience shaped your life in any fundamental way or was it just blah?

M: My first show was Thompson Twins and Cyndi Lauper at the Lawler Events Center in Reno, NV. [It’s too hot to wear a cape in Reno! –ed.] I was in the 1st grade and my sisters dragged me out and made me wear INXS cycling shorts, that were in fact pants on me ‘cos I was so short. I don’t remember much of it, but I think it definitely shaped my musical tastes…I still love a good synth track any day, and I still wear cycling shorts all the time…especially when I go to shows.

L: You used to live in London—what were you doing there? Did you pretend to live in Seattle on account of the grey? I hear you have some hot shot British boyfriend—lay it on me, sister.

M: London is where I got my Masters and worked at a bunch of radio stations. [Well la ti da! Look at the big brain on Mona! -ed.] BBC 6 Music was my favorite station I worked at, ‘cos at the time it was super new and the DJs got to take a lot of risks…it seemed to kind of have this John Peel ethic where they’d play loads of stuff from all different genres old / new that weren’t heard on other stations…like you’d hear Lord Kitchener into Gang of Four into the new one from Futureheads into Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band into Half Man Half Biscuit. It ruled!

L: You are from Reno and I am going to Reno in the near future. What should I do for fun?

M: Dude…where to begin!? You must stop by Pneumatic Diner they have some really tasty vegan/vegetarian treats…try the Princess Erin Shake: it’s a ridiculously delicious drink with chocolate, coffee, espresso bean, and ice cream goodness). Um…Recycled Records is pretty cool and my favorite casino to gamble at is the Atlantis…might I recommend the Double Double Bonus Poker machines…play nickels, 5 credits at a time and play slowly so you keep getting free drinks before you lose all your money…if you are lucky you might even win and get paid to drink…pretty exciting stuff. (Note to editor: If you and your dude wanna skip the fancy wedding you have planned, you can do a quick one at the trashy chapel downtown called White Lace and Promises …you can call it White Lacey and Promises if you like.) [Oh, I like! –ed.]

L: Please tell everyone what the day to day life of a college radio promoter is like. Are you going to stay with radio or would you like to do something else?

M: My days are always different, but they usually include stuff like talking to music directors …setting up studio sessions…putting people on ‘the list’ for shows…mailing out records…bringing joy to people’s lives one day at a time. I’m basically a pusher, but my product isn’t gonna cause anyone to lose their day job, or their teeth. I’ll probably stay with radio for a while…I wouldn’t mind being an astronaut either. [Is that what your Masters is in? Astronautism? –ed.]

L: What is the worst injury you’ve ever had? Do you do drugs?

M: I’ve been pretty lucky and haven’t had any crazy inuries…I did land on a rock once when I jumped into a lake and had to get stitches in my knee. But that wasn’t too bad. Why would ask if you I do drugs? I don’t. Do you? Is that the right answer? [You seem a little paranoid, Mona. –ed.]

L: Can you tell me a good joke? If you had to sum up Mona D in one word what would it be?

M: Here’s a joke: Why are indie boys so bad in bed? They’re always lying about their 7 inches. [I don’t get it. –ed.] Mona in one word? Razzmatazz.

L: And finally, is there anything you’d like to ask me?
M: Can I have a lollipop now? [No, but there are a TON of Wonka products in the kitchen if you want some! –ed.]

Posted by Lacey Swain

MON, FEB 4, 2008 at 7:37 AM

A Form Of Paying Attention February ‘08


Welcome to the first installment of “A Form of Paying Attention”—a monthly column by me, for you, containing information about Sub Pop and Sub Pop related goings-on, which will be remarkably similar to the column that was here before but with a new and improved title. I’d like to congratulate Matt ‘Epsonality’ Olsen of Los Angeles, CA for coming up with the winning entry in my “name this column” contest!* As the winner he will receive many fabulous prizes, all of which come from the very nearly warehouse-sized Sub Pop warehouse and do not include cash, Turtle Wax, the Ts in Q, or, regrettably, Ski-doos or personal watercrafts of any type.

February is here, and it’s a LEAP YEAR! This is exciting as it only happens once every 72 years or something. And we are celebrating this rare and marvelous 29-day anomaly by releasing two incredible records this month—"Kelley Stoltz’s Circular Sounds_": and "_The Grand Archives by Grand Archives.": Kelley’s record comes out February 5th and I vigorously suggest that you purchase it as it’s his best to date. If you buy it from us directly we’ll throw in a bonus disc with four songs that you can’t get anywhere else and some buttons and stickers. If you live in Australia, the US, or Canada make sure to go see Kelley on tour. You won’t be sorry. Go here for more Kelley business.

The Grand Archives is the highly anticipated first release from Grand Archives, the new project of Mat Brooke of Carissa’s Wierd and Band of Horses fame. These dudes went from opening some local mid-week show to opening for Modest Mouse in a single bound, so I suggest you check this out immediately. The LP version of the album comes with a bonus 7” single, but we’ll include said 7” single with ALL orders if you pre-order before February 19th. If you order the vinyl version you’ll get free mp3s of the album as well as buttons and stickers. Woah! Grand Archives will be touring the US—click here to see if they’re coming to your town.

Sub Pop turns 20 this year and I’ve heard rumors of lots of surprises this year including, but not limited to, a crazy huge show in the summer sometime and a limited-time-only rebirth of the somewhat legendary Singles Club. Stay tuned for more.

  • Honorable Mention goes to Chris Jacobs for his entry “Going Through Your Purse”.

Posted by Lacey Swain