When it comes to listening to the public, we here at Sub Pop like to stick our fingers into our ears and make a really loud humming noise, both literally and metaphorically. But, the recent hue and cry to resurrect our old “People Who Work Here” column has finally become too much for even us to ignore. “People Who Work Here” is, of course, the long-running and even longer-dormant column in which we crawl inside the heads of the weirdos who call Sub Pop HQ home for something like forty hours (give or take—usually take) each week. As the column’s original author is now too busy running our Licensing Department (way to go, Lacey Swain!) to be bothered with this sort of thing, we’ve drafted our new (and former) receptionist to take over as staff interviewer. His name is Derek Erdman and he claims to have a degree in English. You be the judge!
The first subject of the new “People Who Work Here” is, naturally, the newest (and, arguably, most famous) addition to the Sub Pop family, Ishmael Butler. Ish was no stranger to Sub Pop when he accepted the job; he’s also 1/2 of Shabazz Palaces! So far, a number of the ladies (and most likely some dudes, too) in the office have described Ish as “hunky,” and his commanding demeanor has office meetings running much more smoothly. We could go on and on, or you could just read more below.
Derek: Hello, Ish! Wait… I guess I should ask if it’s okay to call you Ish… Is it? Also, do you have any other nicknames? Anything from your childhood, or anything that you didn’t like to be called?
Ish: My friends call me Ish, you can call me Pookie or Carmine until friendship.
D: Did you have a favorite toy as a child? If so, what was it?
I: My favorite toy as a child: cigarettes.
D: What about cartoons, did you watch them as a kid? What did you like? What was your TV like? Mine was a giant wooden thing, it must have weighed 500 lbs.
I: Cartoons, of course, I’m normal. My favorites: all Looney Tunes; Sylvester, Yosemite, Daffy, Bugs, Foghorn. These beings laid the foundation for my philosophical outlook and also of course how I relate to women.
D: What about your first bike? What was it like?
I: I’d love to talk about my first bike but I’m under a sponsorship contract with Alex at 20/20 and I can’t mention any other bike or say the word bicycle.
D: One of my favorite things to know about a person: what is your favorite thing to eat? I’m really particular to Triscuits with cottage cheese on top. Do you have any food combinations that you’re fond of? Are there foods that you really don’t like at all?
I: I like to combine food with hunger, it’s a little something I do.
D: What about pet peeves about other people eating? I don’t mind when people chew with their mouth open, but I’m aware that it bothers some people. I floss my teeth while working at the front desk, does that bother you?
I: I don’t like when people say “sorry” for shit that there is no need to be sorry about. And yes, your flossing bothers us all, bro.
D: Do you remember your very first introduction to music? What was the setting? Who else was involved? Do you still re-visit that music today?
I: My first introduction to music: I was in the 9th grade and my girlfriend was in the 12th grade. She told me to walk her to her friend’s house during lunch. When we got there she had the key and we were the only ones there. She played a song for me that I had not heard until that day. Yes, I revisit that music. I’m going to listen to it when I get home.
D: What about your first introduction to Sub Pop—do you remember that?
I: The first time I came to the offices I chilled in Andy’s [Kotowicz] cube for Hella. He was playing cut after ridiculous cut. His eyes sparkling behind his glasses, talking about songs like I would talk about a girl I love.
D: What did you expect working at Sub Pop to be like?
I: I thought it would be like I had seen Tony K. doing it around town, you know, getting in free to shows, getting twisted backstage, throwing drinks in bouncers’ faces, making a fool of myself and it being ok because “I work at the Sub, bitch.” But there’re all kinds of meetings and shit.
D: How is being an employee at Sub Pop compared to being an artist on the label?
I: I expected working here to be serious and fun.
D: What advice would you give other new employees of Sub Pop? What about the ones that have been here FOREVER?
I: New employees: try to use the bathroom before lunch. Old employees: form a band called Power Trip but spell it PWr tRYp and whisper to the new employees how you should be “singin’ lead, man.”
D: Any advice you have for musicians who’d like to be signed by Sub Pop? How about for people who want to get a job here?
I: If you want to get a job here don’t try sleeping your way to the top. IT DOESNTWORK. You just get a few t-shirts and when they say you’re on the all access list, you’re not.
D: Do you have any ideas for new Sub Pop merchandise? I’ve been thinking Sub Pop shower curtains would be a good idea.
I: Sup Pop stem cell samples from bands!
D: Thanks, Ish! And welcome aboard this sinking (since 1988) ship!
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].
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.]
Sasha Barr appeared in our lives mysteriously and with little fanfare, and since that day he’s spent much of his time sequestered in the back of the office, frighteningly near the bathrooms and the freight elevator. He doesn’t come out too much, unless there’s free pizza, and he only recently met the head honchos of Sub Pop at a top secret meeting in the conference room even though he’d been working here for months. Recently when we were fruitlessly tallying up the ‘people of color’ here at Sub Pop over lunch, Sasha came up as a possibility of being something other than white—Asian and Native American were the two most popular guesses. Turns out he’s neither. Sasha refuses to conform to grammar rules and often times goes off on stream of consciousness rants about eggs. Let’s meet Sasha!
L: Sasha, I just looked at your myspace page and I saw some things for sale, including placemats and pillowcases. I googled you and found a photo of you wearing a red apron. What the hell is going on here? I thought your medium was “computers”.
S: does that apron look good or what? i really look like i love screen-printing, huh? i’ve been screen-printing for a decade or so. my dad screen-prints on ceramics at home [Like ‘World’s Best Dad’ coffee mugs? –ed.], and my mom was a graduate student in printmaking. it runs in the family. i was a printmaking student in college, i started printing posters for bands in 2001. maybe some bands you’ve heard of. some you probably haven’t. i stopped printing posters when i moved to seattle, i outsourced the printing for a couple jobs [That’s what’s ruining this country, Sasha. –ed.] i turned in the poster making for just design and illustration. i do, however, have a screen-printing set up in my garage. but now it’s used for making other things. like the placemats. or napkins. or pillows. or ipod sleeves. or small art prints. my girlfriend, meagan, and i have a little company called Wonder Thunder, and we like to make things for people’s houses and lives. it’s something fun to do. we draw things with pencils and pens, put them on the computer, make neat images, screen-print them on fabric, then sew them into usable items. we want to try making lampshades, hard cover books, wallets, sheets, towels, baby shirts, and other things. hands on! martha stewart is way jealous. heard it on the radio. i also have a cat named fatty, but that’s neither here nor where. [I have a cat named Larry who is very fat. –ed.]
L: I heard from a reliable source that you used to be straight-edge. Were you straight-edge with Xs and shit or did you just not drink and do drugs? When did you quit being straight edge? This same source said that your nickname is ‘Cornbread’ and that you don’t wear shoes in the art department, by the way.
S: unfortunately, i never claimed the edge. i may of put x’s on my hands with a magnum 44, but that didn’t make me edge. shoot, that’s not true either. i dont think i ever put x’s on my hands. but i did listen to a smattering of straight edge hardcore as a teenager. i didn’t, however, drink or do drugs. i may have made bad grades in high school, but it wasn’t due to being wasted. [I made great grades being wasted! –ed.] i think i was bucking the system, or something. maybe i was lazy. maybe i was too busy learning sweet tricks on my yo-yo. i was vegan for a good number of years, and that’s like the straight edge of diets. from the summer of 99 til sometime in 03 or 04. it seemed like a good idea at the time. i think i was on an airplane to new york when i made the decision, and i think i was surrounded by pizza when i quit. i’m pretty sure there were pine nuts [Blech! –ed.] on the pizza. and goat cheese. eggs and dairy products made a triumphant return to my diet, i ate eggs everyday for a year. now i eat aquatic things as well. no dead mammals, though. or yardbirds. i might have tried a snail. i’ve never heard anyone call me cornbread. they must do that behind my back. i have taken my shoes off a couple times, that much is true. but at least i don’t stink the place up. not that i know of. my feet gotta breathe, you know? they got lungs too. [No, no they don’t, actually. –ed.]
L: You are still fairly new-ish to Seattle. What’s your favorite part of the Emerald City? What’s your least favorite part? Name 3 good reasons why Washington is better than Tennessee.
S: -um. this is oz? there’s a pentagram in the sidewalk outside my house, but i guess that doesn’t constitute as a yellow brick road. well, first things first. seattle has very little crime. after being in memphis for some 7 odd years, a city that manages to be one of the most dangerous cities in america year after year…seattle is very very calm. [You live in Ballard, don’t you? –ed.] i don’t know about the rest of the state, but i imagine not much goes on in that desert between here and spokane. i did go to a bitchin demolition derby in Lind a month or so back, though. i guess that’s a different kind of violence. i miss memphis something crazy, don’t get me wrong, but i don’t miss the homicides, break ins, and muggings. the milder weather here is another plus, for at least a couple months. the 100+ degree heat in the summers back home can be a bit of a drag, but the winter here in seattle was equally lame. you guys got to fix that 9 months of winter thing. cut down a mountain or something. it’s july, i shouldn’t be wearing a sweatshirt as i type this. the nature here is also quite nice. east tennessee is incredibly beautiful, and even the mississippi has it’s moments, but i like having a couple lakes some blocks from my house. and them mountains. and the islands. pretty cool. they’re all way nicer when the sun’s out, though. is that 3 things? i don’t think i answered that correctly. where are the dancing bears and trick chickens? i’m moving to new zealand after this interrogation is over.
L: Who do you like better—"Jeff Kleinsmith":http://www.subpop.com/channel/blog/jeff_kleinsmith_metal_up_your_ass or Dusty Summers? If you are not comfortable answering this question please take a stab at these: Who is taller, JK or DS? Who has a male offspring, JK or DS? Who is best known for his beard, JK or DS? Who likes better music, JK or DS? Who is funnier most of the time, JK or DS?
S: i’ve known dusty for some years, and jeff and i have hit if off pretty well in a short amount of time. we’re all friends! yay! dusty’s got the height. it’s his icy white nikes. [Wrong. –ed.] i think jeff has a boy dog. or maybe it’s a hamster. he’s got one wicked beard, too. [Wrong again. –ed.] like zz top, but trashier. i think i’m a good middle man on the music in the office. i like most things both of them play. i don’t get any choice in the matter since my computer doesn’t have speakers, so i kinda have to deal with whatever they put on. fortunately, jeff and i see eye to eye on metal and stoner rock, and dusty and i can agree on hip hop and the band. they both like to play bum out music though. sometimes they cry. when they’re not busy crying, jeff and dusty spit out gallons of coffee a week, all over the keyboards and monitors, due to insane laughter. no lie. they crack themselves up. i’m glad the democratic primaries are over, though. them’s fightin words.
L: You like to skateboard. How long have you been skating? Do you go skating with the dudes here in the office? Did you ever have skater bangs? Do you like the wind in your hair or what?
S: i do like to skateboard. true fact! i think i started when i was fourteen, and i’m twenty six now…..so that makes like twenty years or something. too long for how good i’m not. sam and i go skating sometimes, but he likes to go at sunrise, and i like to go anytime that’s not right after i wake up. sam rips bowls something gnarly, brosis, and i’m more of a street park person. but we work it out sometimes. knife-fights and brass knuckles. sick moves. 80 percent cobras. what are bangs? like the bangles? susanna hoffs? i went to school with her nephew. at least, that’s what he said. i could of been gullible. seems like a funny thing to lie about. i typically wear a hat when i’m gleaming the concrete waves, so i don’t get too much wind in my hair. i saw chris jacobs on a shred sled once. he rocks the full pads. probably a smart move. [Don’t mess with Rad Dad. –ed.]
L: We just had our big 20th Anniversary Fest this weekend—what was your favorite band of the weekend? Why?
S: i have to admit, i only actually watched fleet foxes and sam beam, but i heard most everyone in some proximity. you could hear from pretty much anywhere, and standing is, you know, hard. everyone sounded pretty spot on, i think mark turned mudhoney up extra loud, though. the vaselines sounded great. that patton oswalt guy friday night was pretty hilarious. does he count as a band? i like to imagine hawks eating giant rats. who knew it could be so funny? the wolf parade and foals show monday night was probably my favorite part of the weekend. wolf parade rarely plays, and when they do, they seem to do it pretty well. same goes with foals. the audience at neumo’s that night was equally as entertaining. i really enjoy seeing what white people mosh to. [As opposed to…? –ed.] i would of never imagined crowd surfing and heavy thrashing to wolf parade. where did that moshing garbage come from anyway? “hey, i really really love this band, i’m going to slam myself into people all over the place! i don’t even care! i’m so punk! feelin it!” it really ruins some people’s days. i’m glad wolf parade played for 2 hours, though. the new songs sounded great live.
L: Batman 56—The Dark Knight: What are your feelings on this? Also, who will you vote for in the upcoming presidential election?
S: saw it last night. had to sit way close to the screen because the theatre was stupid packed. even at 10pm on a tuesday. i forget how many people live in seattle. in my opinion, it’s hands down one of the best action/ suspense movies to come out in a long while. really good job all around. [I found it a little boring—kept checking my watch. –ed.] it’s too bad ledger had to go and die after the best performance of his career. i’ll vote for that obama fellow. is that a real question? i have to register to vote in the state of washington first.
L: Tell me your personal feelings about these bands:
S: Red Hot Chili Peppers: my neighbor has played the rhcp pretty loudly before. that one california cd, i believe. in the movie thrashin they make a sweet appearance at a rockin skate party. per welinder and rodney mullen get their freestyle on. other than that, they’re not for me. flea was in that suburbia movie, though. the one from 84. i guess that counts for something. i think a baby gets eaten by some dogs on the side of the highway. [I thought skateboarders HAD to like RHCP. Maybe that was when I was in 7th grade, though. –ed]
Jane’s Addiction: neither. i remember a beavis and butthead episode where they watch the been caught stealin video. that’s about all i can think of. [Ruben just made me listen to Ritual de lo Habitual on the way home from Anacortes. I felt embarrassed. –ed.]
Led Zeppelin: sometimes, but not really. stairway to heaven came on the radio as i was leaving the great wall outside of beijing some years ago, and it was at that moment i think i realized i kinda liked that song. funny that it came on in china. never been a huge fan. i guess most people would call that blasphemy. or stupidity. i thought it was funny on freaks and geeks when nick got so bummed out on john bonham’s death. he really liked rush, too. like kleinsmith. [Guilty pleasure for me is that ‘Oh oh oh oh oh you don’t have to go’ song. I know that it stinks but it makes me want to drive to the beach in one of those shitty fake Jeeps. –ed]
Def Leppard: i like my classic rock that rocks, not my classic rock that sucks. playing drums with one arm is pretty awesome, though. [Leppard is classic rock?! I am old. –ed.]
John Denver: apparently he’s mother nature’s son and was born a half space alien. i’m not sure how that works out. seems like he was a pretty nice dude. [He was actually a racist and a wife beater. I made that up but it could be true. –ed]
Mudhoney: i think i was either too young, or too on the other side of the country when mudhoney was gathering attention. i think i was like 8. i did, for whatever reason, have bleach on tape when i was in elementary school. i have no idea where it came from. but i guess that’s a different band. i have a hard time getting into rock these days, but i’m trying. i took home some mudhoney cd’s a couple weeks ago. [Give it a shot—you’ll like it. –ed.]
Vampire Weekend: not feeling it. [Correct answer. –ed.]
The Go Gos: who? [WRONG! My first albums on cassette were Beauty and the Beat and Pyromania. –ed.]
Meatloaf: his name is robert paulson, i think. had a trick shoulder. [I had to google this to figure out what you are talking about. Are you on drugs? –ed.]
Green River: same as mudhoney, but i was like 2. [Acceptable. –ed.]
INXS: related to XTC, right? [I’m starting to hate you. –ed.]
Cannibal Corpse: i like zombies, and movies where zombies eat people. chicken and the egg. i’m glad i eat eggs now._
you should of asked me about bands i like. now i sound like a jerk.
L: You always wear a hat. What’s the deal?
S: yea, the hat. does anyone else in the office even wear a hat? i’m either in hat always on mode, or hat always off. i usually wear the hat when i feel i need a haircut, or when i’m skating. it keeps my glasses from falling off. i strongly dislike going to get a haircut, so the hat keeps me out of the barber’s chair. i really need a haircut. [So you are not secretly balding? –ed.]
L: Who do you like better your mom or your dad? Also, which one of them do you think loves you more?
S: we’re a happy family unit. ma, pa, and opie. there’s also their four cats, max, sheba, cat, and dixie. the love is spread pretty evenly. did i tell you i had a cat? his name is fatty. he likes my roommate better than he likes me. [Maybe your roommate makes more sense and isn’t afraid to capitalize things. JK. –ed]
L: Lastly, tell me a funny story about working here.
S: well, shoot. did i mention jeff and dusty spit out coffee all the time? that’s pretty funny. i think me working here is pretty funny. does that count? before moving here i would always joke with dusty about “if you guys ever need any part-time help….” but they never did. plus i was across the country, in memphis. then, for no good reason, i decided it was time to move. dusty and lauren offered their basement til i found an apartment, so i packed up and drove. i had no good reason for moving, nor anything waiting for me. kinda dumb. but, thankfully enough, lauren was pregnant and dusty needed to take his paternity leave! so i filled in! then i got to stay even after he came back! sweet! hilarious, right? oof. [Oh I see, you are going for funny-strange. –ed.]
After a long, lazy hiatus People Who Work Here is back and this week we’d like to introduce you to Sub Pop’s one and only piece of international flair—Richard Laing from Scotland, Wales! He’s got this crazy Scottish accent and I am constantly asking him to repeat himself, partly for fun but mostly because I really have no idea what he’s saying. One day when we are all sending around lame jokey work emails with photos of infected dicks and links to other funny stuff, Richard replied with a youtube link to—get this—a Scottish stand up comedian telling jokes about blood sausage or how mean your lass is when you come home pissed after hanging out on the moors with the hounds of the Baskervilles. Needless to say, I didn’t get it. Anyhoo, up until recently Richard always had the best lunch in the office but he had an unfair advantage—his mom was making it. Click this and then let’s meet Richard!
L: You started off as an intern a long while back but now you do something in the sales department. Tell me what that is and how you got the job. Who do you like working for better, Carly or Andy?
R: I work in the Sales department with Dean and Andy mainly trying to ensure that Sub Pop records are available, visible and attractively priced in America’s fine and not so fine record stores. I got a job after spell interning and then temping at Sub Pop, then working for ADA (Sub Pop’s distributor). I’d like to think my incredible work ethic, effervescent personality and golden ears made me an irresistible choice, but the forces of convenience and pity were probably influential too. [That or the fact that “Scottish” was the only available minority in Seattle. –ed.] Carly and Andy have both been really great to me. I like working for Andy better though because it’s a real job, not an internship.
L: People give you a lot of shit about being from Scotland but I’m sure it’s really cool there what with the golf and all the delicious foods and town drunks and stuff. Name five ways that Scotland is better than the US.
R: To be honest, you are the only one who gives me shit about being from Scotland. [That’s what you think, bub. I just do it to your face. –ed.] I tend to avoid getting the gush about Scotland, mainly to preempt the inevitable “why don’t you fuck off back there then?” The funny thing is, after being born in Edinburgh, I spent the first 5 or so years of my life living in Nashua, NH. [Where the fuck is that? –ed.] When we moved back to the UK, I had an American accent and kids used to make fun of me and ask me to “speak American”. After developing an English accent, we moved up to Scotland where the only thing less desirable on your first day of school than ginger hair [Is this Scottish for pubes? –ed.] is an English accent, so I quickly got rid of that too. I’ve ended up with a pretty appropriate transatlantic accent. [If by transatlantic you mean even your own people can’t understand you then yes! –ed.] Anyway that’s not what you asked. Scotland is better that the US in the following categories: Castles, Drunks, Slang, Affordable Golf and Sausages. [Is Affordable Golf and Sausages a real place? –ed.]
L: I heard your dad has a killer record collection—is this true? Is this what got you into music? Did you always want to work in the biz?
R: My Dad had a pretty awesome collection of vinyl circa 1967-1973. There was a bunch of first pressings of classic records and 45s and then some weirder forgotten gems (and some garbage). I started digging in that stuff when Britpop was “happening”. A lot of bands were being referenced at that time that I remembered seeing in my Dad’s collection (Small Faces, the Who, the Kinks, Beatles etc.). I’d rummage through, stay up late and explore that stuff. Without that resource I probably wouldn’t care about music as much as I do. My friends’ idea of great music was the Stardust vs Madonna “Music Sounds Better on Holiday” mash up, so most the music I checked out was either through my Dad’s record collection, Mojo or late night Radio 1. From then I wanted to be involved in music, but it just didn’t seem possible. I didn’t know anyone who was in a band (except the Seamen [I am chuckling. I can’t help it. –ed.] who would cover the Red Hot Chili Peppers at school band nights) or anyone who had a job in music (except a friend of my Dad’s son who played guitar in the Exploited). [Crap! How did I forget to ask you about that!? –ed.] It wasn’t until I visited Seattle that working in music even seemed possible.
L: Did you graduate from college? Here or there? What kind of degree do you have?
R: I graduated from Manchester University in England, with a BA in Economics and Sociology. [Yep, that’s sales! –ed.]
L: You worked/work(?) with KEXP quite a bit. What did you do for them? Have you met John Richards? Do you like him?
R: I still work there once or twice a month on remote broadcasts (usually a live show from a club in town) as a “production lead”. I’ve been involved with KEXP for almost all the three and a half years I have lived in Seattle. I’ve answered phones, been a production intern, board operator, CD reviewer, made tea for moderately successful bands etc. I have met John Richards, but only a few times. He’s always been really friendly (I can recall him tolerating my anecdotes about the Mountain Goats and jobbies). He’ll be a legend if he calls his second kid Gabe though. [This is an obscure reference to the band Juno. Weird, Richard. –ed]
L: You are somewhat of a pun master. How did that happen and do you think you can stop?
R: I think to be a “master” you need better quality control. Here’s one last one, then I’m done, Lazy Swine. [Ugh. –ed]
L: I know you play soccer and that you’re a good golfer (Scotland, duh) but what else do you like to do for fun?
R: I’m pretty obsessed with soccer (or football [Why don’t you fuck off back there?! –ed.] as I used to call it). I play twice a week and watch games at the weekend and sometimes Champions League games at lunch during the week. [No lie—Richard was watching soccer on the clock today and we all heard him gasp like a woman from the other room! –ed.] I also play guitar in a band we call Weightless (we recently lost our rhythm section which makes the name even more fitting). [Does that qualify as a pun? I thought you were done. –ed.] We’re just finishing up a little EP (is it still extended play if it only takes up a third of a CD?). Beyond that I like the same things everyone else does fine foods, walks in the park, being held, sandwiches etc. [Is this a things white people like joke? –ed.]
L: Tell me something that people say that really drives you crazy. For instance, I hate it when people say “I love live music!” I mean, that just barely means anything….
R: “I’m going to design a garment that combines the utility belt and the kilt” and “My bad”.
L: Who is your favorite coworker?
R: That’s a hard one – I like almost all of the people that work here. [You better start naming names and quick. –ed.]
L: What’s the next step for Dick Laing in this crazy thing we call life?
R: The past few years have been pretty unsettled, so it’s been nice to have a routine of awesome things going on. My ambitions have been pretty modest (e.g. the other day I was thinking how rad it would be to be the first person on the express lane on I-5 after they switch directions). I’m not very good at making plans, so I mainly try and listen to my gut. My gut isn’t saying much more than “what’s for dinner bro?” so I’ll keep stepping in the same directions. [Woah man—what a long strange trip it’s been. –ed.]
Megan Jasper has a long and illustrious career here at Sub Pop Records. She started out as the receptionist, got fired and went to work for ADA (our distributor), and then came back and gave a million BJs all over the office in order to become GM and then VP of the Pacific Northwest’s premiere record label. After Megan had time to rest her jaw she sat down with me in her opulent, well-organized office to give me some insight into what makes her tick. Megan is a hilarious and generous lady, a consummate prankster, and a lover of huge rings who also makes wedding cakes in her spare time. I am proud to call her friend, boss lady, and cum dumpster. Let’s meet Megan!
L: You are most famous for your pulling the wool over the eyes of the New York Times and providing them with a totally bogus dictionary of grunge. Tell me a little about this—was it off the cuff? Did you giggle? Did you ever think it would haunt you for the rest of your life?
M: Actually they called Jonathan first but he re-directed them my way. [Yep, shirking responsibility—sounds like JP. –ed.] I wasn’t really expecting the call but it couldn’t have come at a better time. I was bored shitless and on my third pot of coffee. The kid asked me to tell him the lexicon, but I told him that it might be easier if he gave me a word and I provided the grunge translation. I wrote down a bunch of words that rhymed and mixed them up to come up with the answers but then I got bored and just started making up things that my friends and I used to say as jokes. I felt bad for him and tried to make each answer slightly more retarded than the last, but he never got it. I figured it would just be edited, but a few days later it was on the front page of the style section. At first I was trying not to laugh, but by the end of the phone call I was almost bummed that he just kept typing. Did I ever think it would haunt me for so long? God no!
L: You have a long, weird relationship with Dinosaur Jr. How did that begin? Tell me something strange about J. Mascis. Is he a practical joker? Why does he like purple?
M: I met J when I was in high school. J would show up at the same punk/hardcore shows that I went to. We used to call him, “Chemo Boy”, because he cut chunks out of his hair right to the scalp. Other strands were long and hung over the random, weird bald spots. He almost always wore the same shirt to every show, one with the Trix cereal rabbit holding up a box of the cereal saying, “Trix are for kids!” To be honest with you, we didn’t quite care for each other at first. I thought he was a freak and he thought that I was kind of gross. The first time he came to our house, he got in a screaming match with my mom. The visit ended with J standing at the front door yelling, “YOU’RE FUCKED!” to my mom and my mom then yelling to my dad, “JIMMY!!! DIDYOUHEARTHAT? HE SAIDTHAT WE’RE FUCKED!” I don’t quite remember my dad responding. However, in time he became close friends not only with my sister but with the whole family and now we refer to him as, the “third Jasper sister.” [I see who got all the looks… -ed.] Whenever he and my mom are together, my mom will say that if you’re looking for J he’ll be in one of two places—to her right or to her left. Purple? I guess he just likes to celebrate the look of his shaft engorged with blood. Just kidding. I have no idea, but he’s been into it since I’ve known him.
L: You’ve worked at Sub Pop for a very long time, but a lot of people might not know that you were actually fired at one point at time. How does it feel to get fired, rehired, and promoted straight to the top?
M: It makes me feel a little bit like David Lee Roth.
L: Do you think that working in the music biz for so long has helped or hurt your love of music? How do you combat musical burnout? You’ve worked with a lot of bands on the label—who surprised you the most?
M: Working with people who love music is a gift. It’s like being in a library and realizing that you’ll never get to all of it. Stuart M made me an amazing comp once with all oldies, [Oh, God! I drove back from Portland with him one time and he made us listen to every Billboard #1. Through his laptop speakers. From the back seat. –ed.] Andy turned me onto PP Arnold and Bobby Charles, and Tony has given me a bunch of stuff that I never knew about too. That’s one of the best things about working with people who appreciate music—you get turned onto great stuff that might otherwise go unnoticed. I can’t imagine getting tired of music in the same way that I can’t imagine getting tired of any art form. [I’m so over mixed media. –ed.]
A lot of bands have surprised me in many different ways, but the most surprised I ever was by a band was when I saw the Yo Yo’s play in Texas with the Backyard Babies. Danny, The Yo Yo’s lead singer, got mad at the Backyard Babies and pulled down his pants (mind you, they were leather and he didn’t bring any other pants on tour with him—and he shat those pants numerous times on tour, so they were black on the outside, brown on the inside), shook up a bottle of beer, shoved the bottle into his asshole (his crack looked like a chocolate smile), and gave himself a beer enema. Almost as good as a GG Allin show.
L: Sub Pop’s 20th anniversary is tomorrow (April 1). What are the three things you’re most proud of here at the Pop? What are the three things you wish could’ve gone down differently?
M: Isn’t that fucking crazy? 20 years is pretty amazing. I’m most proud that Jonathan kept the label going—there were many times during the 20 years when he could have easily walked and lost a lot of stress. I’m incredibly proud of the label’s roster over the past two decades. We’ve worked with and continue to work with some of the smartest and most talented people out there. I’ve said before that Sub Pop is like a history book. It’s the artistic reaction and reflection to what’s been happening in the world for the past 20 years. I think it’s cool to work with a team of people, who care that those expressions are heard. And, thirdly, I’m proud of the staff. The people who work here constantly blow my mind with their creativity, humor, and dedication.
There are some things that would have been nice if they’d gone down differently—probably too many to even mention but those are situations that you learn from by taking the lessons to heart and moving on so that all of the upcoming lessons are new ones. [Yes, but these are the most interesting! –ed.]
L: You like to garden and seem you seem to know a lot about plants. What’s your favorite plant and why? How and when did this interest begin? Do you and Brian garden naked?
M: I love to garden. I didn’t know how much I loved it until I lived in a house with a yard. The yard had a couple of plants and a lot of grass. I didn’t know what kind of garden I wanted, I just knew that I wanted one. I went to a bunch of nurseries to find things that I liked and that might work in my yard. I also started reading gardening books so that I could learn more. Now, I walk around nurseries like they’re record stores, looking at each plant and reading about them. Trying to pick a favorite plant is like trying to list a favorite band—there are too many good ones. But I will tell you this: my favorite evergreen tree is a hinoki cypress, my favorite deciduous tree is probably a paperbark maple, and my favorite flowers are tulips, ranunculus, and peonies. Gardening naked? Sick. I prefer to keep my secret garden indoors.
M: I was a little shit, crusty punk. I almost always carried a bottle of Aqua Net Super Extra Hold in my bag and I used to have to tilt my head sideways when I sat in a car so that the hawk could fit as well. Being a punk rock kid on the east coast was pretty great. There were a million bands that I got to see—X, The Circle Jerks, The Misfits, Negative Approach, SSD, The Bad Brains, Minor Threat, etc. They played all ages shows in Boston on Sundays. I became good friends with a bunch of those—J was one, Todd Cote was another, Crazy Adam, who drove an old pick up truck that had “Raw Power” on the front. Adam used to blast Johnny Cash songs, jump out of his truck and spin on his head. His favorite hobby was “scoopin’ tuna” on a Friday night. If he got some, he could hang with the guys on Saturday. [He sounds like a real catch. -ed.] Then there were the Meatgirls, a hilarious group of girls (with hair that that went to high hell and back) who decided that if the Meatmen could do it, so could they. One of them lives here in Seattle and books shows at The Comet. [Michelle? –ed] I was lucky to be around these people—they were a fucking blast and they were an escape from the douche bags, who were threatened by anyone (like me) who was abnormal. I don’t think kids have changed at all and I think I always knew that I’d at least run a couple of marathons. I used to go running when I was a kid (mohawk and all). I’m sure that it was quite a site.
L: Your mom once poisoned your dog Vito and Carly once pranked you in the Seattle Times by putting out an ad that said free Chihuahua puppies. Go ahead and tell everyone a dirty secret about your mom, Carly, and your dog.
M: Oh wow…this will be fun. Let’s start with my mom. You know that we were a dysfunctional Irish Catholic family. My parents made us go to catechism classes when we were kids. My mom was the principal and my dad was one of the teachers. After my class, I would go to the principal’s office to find my mom practically being man-handled by the priests. It’s not that they were digging for her lady-gold, they were drooling over her jewelry! I think she sniffed out every gay priest in Worcester and made each one her best friend. My mom told me that she believes that she has “fag hag” in her DNA. [Moms should not say fag hag. –ed.] She also claims to have passed it on to her two (and three if you count J) daughters.
And as far as Carly goes—her nickname for an entire summer was “Upchuck”. She was visiting Old Faithful and, feeling the spirit, started to projectile vomit in front of everyone. Also, her real last name isn’t Starr. That’s the name she took when she worked at the Lusty Lady. She’s got a bag full of nicknames! [I give you a golden opportunity and this is all the shit you give her? She half-heartedly tried to kidnap your dog the other day! -ed.]
L: Tell me why you hate these things: eggs, avocados, and squirrels.
M: I think eggs are super fucking gross. It’s kind of like eating a bird’s period. Sick. [If my period tasted good scrambled or deviled I’d eat the shit out of it. –ed.] Avocados have a nasty texture that grosses me out. I know that they’re good for you so I wish I liked them. Squirrels scare the shit out of me. I think it’s strange that people think they’re cute and harmless. They have sharp teeth and they’re unpredictable little beasts. Once in Boston Common a squirrel jumped on my lap to steal my bagel. I nearly had a fucking heart attack.
L: I just heard that Mark Lanegan beat you up in an elevator. What the fuck? And then you re-sign his band?!
M: I was working for Dinosaur Jr, selling merch. This is post-fire, pre-rehire and promoted—I’m thinking early ’92. The band had just played in NY and I sold merch for them. The Screaming Trees were recording in the city so Mark came out and met up with us. I think I had a few thousand bucks in my pocket and I made the mistake of bragging about it when I was in the elevator with Mark. As a joke, he tried to grab it and not as a joke, I tried to make sure that it didn’t leave my pocket. It turned into a bit of struggle that bled into the hotel lobby when the elevator doors opened. People crowded around a bit not knowing if it was a fight or just fun and then Mark split pretty quickly. I’m sure that it didn’t look good to anyone not knowing us. Mark is someone I first met over 20 years ago. I’ve always been a fan of his music and he is undeniably gifted as well as being a very decent person. Nobody sings like Mark and I’m super proud to work with him. [Plus, Megan likes getting hit by dudes. It’s her “thing”. –ed.]
L: And finally, what is the weirdest thing that you and JP have ever done together?
M: Definitely the dolphin meditation. [I’m not even going to say anything about this one. -ed.]