Sub Pop

News from 2009

THU, OCT 1, 2009 at 6:12 AM

Approve Ref. 71!


Many of us at Sub Pop are hoping to preserve the domestic partnership law and are asking that you join us by approving Ref. 71. This is an equal rights issue and we need to make sure that we continue to take steps towards ensuring a high quality of life for everyone. As our head honcho Jonathan Poneman says, “All issues of human rights and human dignity need to be embraced and championed.” Please help us get the word out to approve ref. 71. Below is a note from our friend, Stuart Wilber:

On October 11th there is a march for equal rights in DC. This march has been poorly publicized, mainly because the local and national organizations like PFLAG, GLAAD, HRC and The Gay and Lesbian Task Force who have endorsed it have only paid lip service and have refused to publicize it, probably because they are afraid if people spend money going to DC they will not donate to their causes. John and I marched in ’93 and just the opposite occurred, we and others came back feeling empowered and energized.

I have been very active in promoting the national and local solidarity marches as well as Approve ref.71, a WA state ballot measure to take away the recent domestic partnership rights granted us by the WA legislators. Being 10 years older than John and 71, all other things being equal, I will pre-decease him. The financial consequences are enormous, social security benefits and taxes are among the significant ways in which we are discriminated against at the federal level. Many of the protections that ref.71 IF approved confer can be protected contractually; others cannot. That is why I am marching in DC.

I need your advice and your help. I need help publicizing the National March and the local march and I need ideas on how to get the word out nationally and locally. I know you must have friends across the country and the world (there are marches planned in Copenhagen and Canada) who could help promote this march. Won’t you please help me and use them as a way of publicizing the national march. I am so tired of being a second class citizen – call it marriage, call it a union, I don’t care what it is called as long as state-sanctioned relationships are called the same thing for and available for all our citizens.

So please help me publicize this march and won’t you grab a hundred of your closest friends and come to DC. If you can’t get to DC march locally. My mother fought for women’s rights in the ‘20s. Both my parents fought for civil rights for Afro-Americans in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. And I have marched for women’s and people’s of color and LGBT rights since the ’50s. Won’t you please march with me? —Stuart

You can march here in Seattle on October 11th. The march/rally will begin in Volunteer Park at 2:00pm. If you don’t live in Seattle, you can join the national march in Washington D.C. or you can possibly march in your local area. There are numerous events being set up in many different cities. Get out there and join us!

Posted by megan jasper

THU, NOV 5, 2009 at 4:36 AM

No Age Download at Death & Taxes


No Age recorded an exclusive 30 second track for the fine folks at Death & Taxes Magazine! Death & Taxes issue 22 is full of interactive content and we’re stoked to be part of it. You can download “In Peril” here

Posted by Susan Busch

WED, NOV 11, 2009 at 4:57 AM

For the Record #9 The Baptist Generals – No Silver/No Gold


For the Record #9 comes to you courtesy of Fruit Bats’ front man, Eric Johnson.

Eric Johnson is a good dude and a great musician (currently splitting his time fronting his band Fruit Bats and playing in The Shins). He drinks fine wine and plays in fine wineries and has a great appreciation for film and, of course, music. He’s an easy one to talk to but if you ever wanna talk about The Baptist Generals in particular then he’s really your guy. Keep reading for Eric’s thoughts on No Silver/No Gold.

Band: The Baptist Generals
Record: No Silver/No Gold
When we told you the first time: February 4th 2003

This album came out right around the same time as The Fruit Bats’ Sub Pop debut, so we ended up hanging with these guys a bunch at showcases and such. I think this record is brilliant, and to call it “underrated” would be an understatement.

The opening track, “Ay Distress”, is a sparse little heart breaker that ends abruptly with a cell phone going off in the studio, followed by pandemonium. Its a moment that caught me way off guard the first time I heard it and kind of blew my mind in the process. I can’t really think of any other album that starts you off this way; its a really cinematic moment, raw and weird. Then track two, “Alcohol” kicks in almost immediately, up-tempo and sounding more like a traditional album opener. This is the kind of sweet-ass, emotionally manipulative one-two punch that I’m a sucker for.

You’ve got really heavily strummed nylon-string guitars, a guitarron (a huge plucked guitar used in Mariachi bands) in lieu of a traditional bass, and Chris Flemmons’ insanely powerful lungs singing like his life depends on it. The real hit tune is “Going Back Song,” which is a pop beauty put through the freaky dark Tex-Mex filter of this record.

I’ll stop talking about it. You should just listen.



For the next 48 hours, you can go HERE to get No Silver/No Gold at our FTR sale price of $6 CD/$4 Mp3.

Eric’s band, Fruit Bats, recently released a fine record of their own, The Ruminant Band and it is conveniently located HERE for your listening pleasure. for you to check out!

Look to our semi-regular feature, For the Record, for reflections from staff and Sub Pop artists on some of our favorite records from the Sub Pop catalog; each featured title is deeply discounted for the 48 hours following the posted review.

Posted by Eric Johnson

TUE, AUG 25, 2009 at 5:10 AM

Intern Blog: Fruit Bats & The Moondoggies at The Mural


Hey Everybody!

Katy McCourt-Basham here for another round of intern photo blogging.

Last Friday, I took a break from mailing CDs to your favorite radio stations to check out another free show at the Mural Amphitheater in Seattle Center (Sponsored by KEXP).

The first band to hit the stage was British Columbia’s Johnny And The Moon. They played a pretty rad set, starting the night off right for those who got there early to drink some PBRs and enjoy the sunshine.

Next up were Sub Pop’s Hardly Art buddies The Moondoggies. They played an awesome set, including songs like “Ain’t No Lord” and “Bogachiel Rain Blues” (see a video here). The Crowd closest to the stage definitely represented the diversity of The Moondoggies’ fanbase—from little kids, to trendy twenty-somethings, to people who may or may not have been homeless, to guys that look like my dad. Everyone was diggin’ it!

Last up was Sub Pop’s own Fruit Bats. I’ve been a big fan of theirs since my early high school years, so it’s always thrilling to see them play live! The show was stellar as usual. They mostly played songs from their new album “The Ruminant Band” (out now!), such as “Tegucigalpa” (see a video here) and “My Unusual Friend”. Fruit Bats closed the set with some older songs like “When U Love Somebody” (classic!).

Though this was the last of KEXP’s free concerts at The Mural this summer, Seattleites can check out Sub Pop Bands like Eugene Mirman, No Age, The Helio Sequence, and Sera Cahoone at Bumbershoot, September 5th-7th.

If you’re interested in checking out more of my photos, click here.

Posted by Katy McCourt-Basham

WED, AUG 19, 2009 at 6:01 AM

Rosie Torrance Knows My Name


Holy shit, look who’s back from the grave! That’s right, PWWH has come off hiatus, and out of hiding, to bring you an insider’s look into the secret life of Rosie T, our receptionist at Sub Pop HQ. I was super frustrated with Rosie for a long while, at least a year even, because she didn’t know the difference between me and Carly and she would always call us by the wrong name. She put a labeled picture of me up at her desk, though, and now she knows the difference, so we’re all cool. Let’s see…Rosie eats garden burgers for breakfast and pretends they’re hashbrowns, she has a super cool dog named Willie who bit the mailman, she bought a house recently, and she always adds extra condiments to her sandwiches at lunch. Let’s meet Rosie!

L: So, your dad owns a lot of stuff, including, at one point, Muzak. Did you have to listen to a lot of elevator music when you were growing up? Tell me about how the whole Muzak process works. Also, since Jonathan Poneman used to work there and your dad used to be his boss, can you please find out some good stories about him and his time there? Mark and Bruce, too! Tell him to spill the beans!

R: You’re right, he does. He owns two dogs, Toba and Pheobe. A parrot named Buzz. Lots of socks and sandals and belts. He also owns a lot of window squeegees for some reason… he really like those. [Don’t be shy…he also owns an ISLAND! AN ISLAND!! –Ed.] As for Muzak, I was really young, but I’ll tell you what I know. It’s funny how everything’s come full circle. My dad ran a company called Yesco Foreground Music, [I see what he’s doing there with the “foreground” thing—nice strategy, Mr. Torrance. –ed.] that’s where JP worked in the tape duplication department. Yesco pioneered licensing and programming of original artist pop music for commercial establishments. Before Yesco the only “Rock and Roll” available in a store or bar (well, legally, I guess) was from a Juke Box playing 45’s. I’m told most the tapes JP duplicated at Yesco went into bars, nightclubs and retails stores. As far as I know he didn’t touch any “elevator music” let alone listen to it. I guess when Muzak wanted to get more “rock” in their catalog they contracted that work with Yesco. And later Yesco (my dad and his partners) bought Muzak with some other investors. As for bean spillage… I asked Mark for some dirt on Bruce from when he worked at Muzak. He told me Bruce used to mail out Sub Pop 100 LPs and Green River promo from the warehouse on Muzak’s dime, which I think is pretty ironic and awesome. [Super ironic, considering Mark is a mail nazi now. –ed] I also heard JP wore the same pair of underwear every day. I guess he was superstitious in those days and didn’t want to lose his touch. He never once went to the bathroom in that office either, which I find kind of suspect…. [Hmmm, so he’s been like that for years, huh? Now I don’t have to take him going home to pee so personally. –ed] There definitely wasn’t any “elevator music” happening during my formative years. There was a period in the late 80’s when there was too much Phil Collins happening for my taste, but luckily that was temporary. My parents came of age in the 60’s, and both listened to what you would expect. I remember a lot of Beatles, Stones, Pink Floyd and Joni Mitchell growing up. Stories of Dad setting up light shows for the Grateful Dead, Jimmy Hendrix shows at Seattle Center, and Altamont. [You mean “who’s fighting and what for” Altamont?! –ed.] Not what you would expect coming from Muzak Man.

L: You went to boarding school—what was that like? I’ve seen a lot of movies…is there really that much making out?

R: I didn’t go to boarding school. [Fuck. –ed.] My sister did, and she says, “Yes there really is that much making out.” [Yes! –ed.]

L: I heard you ran a marathon once without ever training. Why? How’d that work out for you?

R: Ya, that was really stupid of me. Let’s just say it was about 5 hours of pure hell. I guess I signed up for it because I was sort of in a rut and wanted to do something positive. I went through with the run having not trained because I had raised a bunch of money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society through Team in Training. I had to hold up my end of the bargain. My sister mailed me a Percocet from New York which I popped at about mile 17, maybe that’s why I was able to finish. [Give your sister my address, please. –ed.] Altruistically saving face for 26.2 miles. I don’t recommend it. I walked like a penguin for a full week and a half after that bright idea.

L: Let’s talk about music. What was your favorite band in high school? College? Now? What’s the first show you ever saw? What’s the last show you saw?

R: I was a skater chick for the first couple years of high school (the poser kind). I listened to a lot of Sublime and Beastie Boys. Then I started listening to older stuff—Curtis Mayfield, Otis Redding, Stevie Wonder, The Beach Boys (I love their stuff from when it seems like they were taking a little too much acid. Think “Feel Flows”). I was in Europe the first year of college and embraced the euro-dance top 40 somehow, and then wound up obsessing over String Cheese Incident. [Holy hell. Is that really even a band? Is there some sort of element of performance art involved or am I making that up? –ed.] Go figure. I’m bad at “favorites”, but lately I’ve been listening to Metric, The Dirty Projectors, and Miike Snow. I heard some of the new The Dutchess and The Duke record that’s being released in October, which I’m really looking forward to. [Nice plug—that’s almost as good as “foreground music”! –ed.] The first show I ever saw was Willie Nelson with my sister Allie and my Grandpa Kirby. I can’t remember if the last show I saw was Handsome Furs or Beach House @ Sasquatch.

L: You travel a lot. Where all have you been? Is there anywhere you’d like to go that you’ve not been yet?

R: I do love to travel. Living in Switzerland (see below) allowed me to go all over Europe—Italy, France, Luxemburg (quickly), Austria, Turkey, Spain. I just got back from Croatia, Montenegro and Greece. I’ve been really lucky. I love South America. Chile’s one of my favorite places. [Do you say chili or chee-lay? –ed.] I love traveling to places during times of local celebration; like watching the oldest horse race in the world (Il Palio) amidst crazed sweaty Italians in Sienna. I really enjoy being around salt of the earth [you mean poor, don’t you? –ed.] people in another country, watching them celebrate something completely foreign to me. Those are my favorite times abroad. There are so many places I hope to see some day—Paris, Prague, Salzburg, any of Norway, Russia, Thailand, I could go on forever.

L: What’s in store for 40 year old Rosie Torrance? What are your plans for the future?

R: Hmm… I’ll either be crazy aunt Rosie wearing neon spandex inappropriately yelling profanities during one of my sister’s kids’ soccer games while holding one of my many cats, or, I guess I’ve always wanted a couple little tater tots of my own. [It’s been recently proven that tater tots make lousy children. Mold, decomposition, you know, the usual. –ed.] Ideally I’d love to work for myself, make enough money to travel and feed my kids whatever they want, and eat dinner with my family on Sunday nights.

L: Were you ever in therapy? What’d you talk about?

R: Can you call a lobotomy therapy? [Yes, I think that’s exactly what they call it. –ed.]

L: What are your feelings about working here at Sub Pop? How do you find your co-workers? Tell me a crazy story about something that has happened during your time here.

R: Sub Pop’s a great company to work for, but I’d probably quit if Alissa took the beer out of the vending machine. No, really, everyone I work with is really quite amazing. The two people I work with the most closely are JP and Megan. I kid you not; they’re probably the two nicest people I’ve ever met. [You should get out more. –ed.] They also have seriously sick senses of humor. When Megan first asked me if I wanted to be her assistant she said, “Rosie, I just want you to know that there’s a lot of crude humor that goes around. We say “fuck” and “shit” and stuff like that around the office. I just want to make sure that’s okay with you.” The first thing that came out of my mouth was, “Megan, I will “fuck” and “shit” right next to you!” I didn’t know what I was saying at the time, but it was clear that we were going to get along. There have been a few crazy things that have happened. The phone calls up front are pretty consistently wacky. Like when this really creepy dude called and told me he needed Courtney Love’s number because he’s Kurt reincarnate. [Hey, speaking of, buy this! –ed.] Stuff like that happens a lot. David Cross almost got me in some trouble during the SP20 festival. He stole my walkie-talkie and started saying the grossest shit on the “official channel” I was supposed to be using to communicate with Will Call and back stage. That was funny. [Funnier than his set at the comedy show, I hope. Zing. –ed.]

L: Have you lived other places besides Seattle? How were they? Where would you move if you could?

R: I lived in Lugano, Switzerland for a little while during college. What I remember of it was amazing. Certain things [Weed. –ed] are legal in Switzerland if sold as “potpourri” [Weed. –ed], and I had two lovely little potpourri [Weed. –ed] shops very close to my apartment. Luckily my roommate, Kirsten was super organized and she would just tell me what [Weed. –ed] train to get on after class on Fridays and we would go [Smoke weed. –ed] explore. Then I lived in San Francisco for a year before moving back to Seattle. I like living in Seattle [Weed. –ed].

Posted by Lacey Swain