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!
People Who Work Here would like to introduce to you the inimitable Andy Kotowicz, Vice President of Sales and Director of Marketing, as well as A&R dude and father of one. I worked with Andy for quite a long while, at least a year and a half, before I realized that Andy was really only a year older than me. It’s not like Andy acts super old or anything, but there is definitely something about him that makes him seem, I hesitate to use the word wiser here, but maybe more experienced? Paternal? I don’t know; I can’t put my finger on it. Anyhoo, Andy is a very passionate person and he ends up blowing his top a little sometimes if he gets too worked up about something. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not scary or weird—it’s more like when your dad gets really mad because you left his tools in the rain, you know? Oh let’s get on with it—let’s meet Andy!
L: Tell me how a young man from Michigan made all the way out here to the West Coast via the East Coast. Who did you work for in New York and why did they let you write the liner notes to Flamin’ Groovies reissues?
A: I lived in Nashville for a couple of years after I graduated from college. In ‘96 and ’97, I worked at a little label in Murfreesboro, TN, where I got to know a guy named Andy McLenon pretty well. He was the general manager for a time. Before that, he and his partner Jack Emerson, who sadly passed away a few years ago, ran a label/management company called Praxis. They worked with Jason & the Scorchers & Georgia Satellites. Andy knows everyone and everything about music. Anyway, after a couple years, it kinda seemed like it was time to move on and my girlfriend at the time (now my wife) and I decided to move to New York. Andy left at the same time to work for Seymour Stein, who was starting a Nashville branch of Sire. One of the last days at Spongebath, he said to me "You’ll never guess who I met last night." The answer was Jonathan. They had met through Seymour and they were both in town for a Mike Ireland show, I think. Andy knew that I was a big Sub Pop fan and one of his greatest attributes is that he will become your greatest advocate and will sing your praises to anyone who will listen. I owe the guy a great debt of gratitude. Soon after, Jocelyn and I moved to New York, where I worked for a couple of different labels, Razor & Tie being the first. They were best known for doing the ‘70s Preservation Society TV comps as well as Monsters of Rock and Cledus T Judd (No Relation). They had also done some phenomenal country and R&B reissues. I would tell the guy who put that stuff together (Mike Ragogna, who now does catalog at Universal) that he should reissue the Flamin’ Groovies’ Flamingo and Teenage Head among other things. Soon after, BMG decided to revamp the Buddha label as a catalog imprint and they hired Mike to head it up! They, of course had those two albums at their disposal and I was probably the first person that came to mind to write the liners because I was obviously into it and I would work cheap. I’d never written liner notes before and I think the reaction of the label to them was “It’s good for what it is.” I’m proud of having done those. It was a big thrill. Meanwhile, I’d started corresponding with Jonathan and Megan, thanks to Andy. We traded records and met a couple times and when the sales job came up, they offered it to me. By the way, McLenon was also the guy who turned me on to the Groovies in the first place, bringing the long-winded answer full circle. [Is he done yet? Somebody tell me when he’s done. -ed.]
L: You would probably give Iggy Pop a BJ—tell me why you like him so much and when the obsession began.
A: It’s more the Stooges than Iggy specifically. [Yes, but I don’t think you have that many mouths. -ed.] I think I first heard Raw Power in about the 8th grade. My friend Frank was a punker and he played it for me at his house after school. I went to Tappan Junior High in Ann Arbor, same as Iggy, or Jim as I like to call him. The obsession started when I heard Funhouse for the first time a few years later. It struck me as the perfect music, such a unified statement of aggression. It’s almost like a suite, rather than an album, though I may be splitting hairs. It’s almost a matter of civic pride for me. I still have not listened to The Weirdness, perhaps to maintain that sense. [Lyrics on that album include something along the lines of “My dick’s getting hard as a tree.” STAYAWAY! -ed.] Kind of the same deal with the MC5. My uncle gave me his old records when I was in 9th grade. Among them was a copy of Kick Out The Jams. When he was a kid, my uncle was in a school production of Jack and the Beanstalk. My uncle was Jack and the Giant was played by John Sinclair. [Holy fuck! Why have I not heard this story before? -ed.] My Grandma has a newspaper clipping with a photo of the two of them in their costumes somewhere.
L: How was growing up near/in Detroit? It seems depressing. How did your nice Polish family wind up there?
A: Ann Arbor was a great place to grow up. It’s about 40 miles southwest of Detroit and is really sort of like an oasis [That might be going just a little too far, right? Oasis? Really? -ed.] in Southern Michigan because of the University, which I took great advantage of. My great grandparents immigrated from Poland in the late 1800s. My grandfather was born in Yonkers (same as Stuart!) in 1901 (same as Stuart!). His family moved to Detroit and later, Flint because of the auto industry. [Also a cheery place! -ed.] My Grandfather started in the Buick plant as a messenger when he was 16. They squatted on land just outside the plant in Flint, where they eventually built a tar-paper shack, on to which they kept building. That became the house that my Dad grew up in. [The American dream! -ed.] He moved to Ann Arbor to go to Dental School in the early ‘60s. I spent more time in Flint than Detroit. I was pretty unaware of Detroit’s plight until later. As a kid I’d pretty much just go there to the Zoo or Greenfield Village or Tigers games with my Grandpa. I guess Tiger Stadium would have been my first exposure to downtown Detroit.
L: You just recently had your first child—tell me about it. Is it hard? Weird? Do you wake up sometimes and go “there’s a stranger in my house!”?
A: It’s the best! There’s nothing I’d rather do than be with Anna. It can be hard with the cryin’ and the crappin’ and the general lifestyle re-alignment, but I assume that will pale in comparison to actual parenting! The difficulty so far is completely outweighed by the good stuff though. The first couple of days are incredible. You’re just consumed by this feeling of cosmic love and hope for humanity. It’s gotta be close to the feeling that people supposedly get from TM. Just this feeling of being one with the Universe. That gradually recedes and anxiety, terror and panic take over.
L: You like to use words like “davenport” and other strange old-timey phrases. Where did you pick that up?
A: I guess that would be a tribute to my Grandma Fran. I also like to say “Warshington” and pronounce the days of the week “Mondee through Fridee.”
L: I am curious about you as a kid. When did you start getting into music and stuff? Did you go through a theater phase or anything?
A: No, I was never in Theater and frankly, I’m offended by the question. [It’s the glasses… -ed.] I guess I started getting into music when I was about 10 and my friend’s older brother got a Walkman, which I thought was really cool. I went on lots of car trips with my family, so the Walkman was pretty essential. My first favorites were Billy Joel and Men at Work. I started listening to Top 40 radio in 1982 or so. A couple years later, the Electrifying Mojo started doing night shifts on that same station, WHYT. He would play a ton of Prince and Electro R&B/hip hop stuff like “Planet Rock,” “Egyptian Lover” and “White Lines,” but he’d mix it up with Kraftwerk and New Order and Detroit Techno. Plus there were all those great AOR stations out of Detroit. R.E.M. was pretty huge in Ann Arbor and I got obsessed with those guys. They’d name drop all kinds of other bands in their interviews like the Velvets and Television and I’d go search out those records. Also, because they name dropped Lester Bangs in “It’s the End of the World as We Know It,” I asked my parents for Psychotic Reactions and Carborateur Dung for Christmas one year, which they got me. I had no idea what his significance was at the time. [I can’t believe that a good ol’ boy from Flint would misspell “carburetor.” I like that you fancied it all up, though, for sure. -ed.] I also started listening to WCBN, the college station. They were playing a lot of Mission of Burma and Sonic Youth and Dinosaur. That was probably the point of no return, obsession-wise. Downtown Ann Arbor was pretty safe, so my folks never really had a problem allowing me to go hang out at record stores. Schoolkids Records eventually asked if I wanted to check bags during Christmas and I also worked there a bit during the summer. Then I got an after school job at Play It Again Records who had an Ann Arbor store for about two years. Both stores are unfortunately gone now. [It’s not your fault, Andy. You try every day for these guys. -ed.]
L: Tell me one thing you love about each of the bands that you A&R. Which one is your favorite?
A: A Frames —No one ever parlayed paranoia into such hooky, punk songs. Such a great band. Baptist Generals —Chris Flemmons takes the old show-biz addage “always leave ’em wanting more” to new extremes. The guy’s got a really unique point of view and an amazing yowl. Comets on Fire —Though they are on hiatus, I’ll just say this: They are the complete package. Fruit Bats —Eric Johnson is the single most talented guy that I work with, as a singer, songwriter and a musician. His next album is going to be unbelievable. [And he’s got a killer butt! -ed.] Mudhoney —If you had told me when I was the kid in the previous question that some day I’d work with Mudhoney I would have lost it. Pissed Jeans —It is rare that a band so perfectly balances volatility and humor. I don’t believe this has happened since the late ‘80s Golden Age of Sub Pop, Touch & Go and Am Rep. Wolf Eyes —Jesus. It’s hard to say what I love about Wolf Eyes. Would you let your daughter marry a Wolf Eye? They’re like the Kiss of noise! They’re incomparable! [I bet that they are all very tender deep down. -ed.]
L: I notice that you do a lot of your work here on the phone as opposed to email, which is exactly the opposite of how I do my job. Why, Andy, why?
A: Sales is a discipline of nuance, Lacey. How am I supposed to grind our distributor over e-mail? If I said in an e-mail to Orleans, “We should have upstreamed the Shins to WEA.” he might think I was kidding!
[I don’t even know what this means! -ed.]
L: Remember that time that we were driving around in your car and you were playing that Norm McDonald comedy CD? Do you still stand by that being funny?
A: Good Lord no. I like Norm MacDonald and I think I was just hopeful that it would actually get funny, but it was pretty much just plain bad. You laughed too if I remember correctly! [That was uncomfortable laughter, Andy. -ed.]
L: Are you excited to see the new Wes Anderson movie or do you not care at all? (I know you didn’t think Superbad was very funny..)
A: I do want to go see it! I liked Zissou. Nothing better than Bill Murray with nothing to lose (except Broken Flowers). Plus that “Search and Destroy” chase scene? I loved the beginning of Superbad. That big kid being abusive was hilarious to me, and Michael Cera is good in everything. I hated that cop story line though. It was unnecessary and really dumb. [Agreed, and The Darjeeling Limited is awesome. -ed.]
L: What is the best thing to happen to you this year? The worst?
A: Best? Easy. Anna. The worst is easy too. I sincerely hope I never have to fire anyone ever again.
L: And finally, tell me a word you hate.
A: My sister has a problem with “nutmeat.” I’d have to go with her on that one. Also, though not a word, there’s a trend in food service to ask “How is everything tasting?” I hate the syntax of that AND “Excuse my reach.” [“Excuse my reach” is THEWORST, but you’re clearly eating at nicer places than I am. -ed.]
L: Hey, Andy, I’d like you to make up a question for yourself. Andy on Andy, so to speak. Go!
A: Bonus question: Andy where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hello, devoted readers! This week’s People Who Work Here brings you an in-depth conversation with Sam Sawyer, king of the online store and the man responsible for getting your goods out to you when order from subpop.com. Sam is an All-American kid from the Midwest with blonde hair and blue eyes. He’s sporty—he rides bikes and skateboards and sometimes even jogs on his lunch break. I referred to him as athletic the other day and he corrected me and said he preferred to be called active. Tomato/tomato, right? Oh, Sam has also male modeled for his friend’s bicycle apparel company—yes, that’s right, he’s a male model. Let’s meet Sam!
L: Tell me how and why you made you made it from Minneapolis out to Seattle? How did you end up working at Sub Pop?
S: I had a few friends out here before I moved, so when I was looking to leave MPLS, I thought Seattle might be an okay place to relocate, what with the friends and all. I was not totally convinced until I came out for a visit. It’s pretty here! It wasn’t a hard sell. As for Sub Pop, I met Andy K. in MPLS in the office of Sub Pop’s distributor, ADA, when he was visiting and I introduced myself. [Thanks a lot, Andy. –ed.] When I moved I sort of kept in contact with him and when Sub Pop was looking for someone, I was lucky enough to get an interview. I did not get that job. But luckily, I came in second, because next time they were looking for someone, they asked me. The timing was very good and I happily accepted the position in the gang.
L: You like the Replacements a lot, right? Do you think you have an affinity toward Midwestern rock music? Why or why not?
S: I really like the Mats. It’s hard not to love them; they are such goons. I don’t really have an affinity to Midwestern rock per se, just Minneapolitan rock. I don’t know what it is, but we’re a proud people (Twin City folks, that is) and I have to stick by anything that comes out of that town (I’m trying to think of exceptions but I can’t think of one – WAIT – there’s that Closing Time song. Semisonic, that’s the exception. I hate them.) Jimmy Jam rules. [Do you stand by Paul Westerberg’s ‘Singles’ song? It’s a lot like ‘Closing Time’. –ed.]
L: You do my old job here at Sub Pop. How do you like it? What is the best part of it? What is the worst? What job would you really like to be doing here?
S: I do like your old job. Your old job is pretty fun. The best part of it is definitely the interaction with my officemates, they are good folks. The worst part? I dunno. Dinky, the office mascot, a dog of some breed, bit me in the crotch once. It was really close to being a big disaster. Like when you see an x-ray of a dude who took a nail gun assault to the head – and if the nail were 1/10th of an inch to the left he’d be dead, you know what I’m saying? It was a close call. That’s not really an aspect of my job, but it was a bad moment.
L: Do you have a favorite online customer? A bud? Why would you recommend that people buy directly from subpop.com?
S: I have an e-pen-pal named Kenny that I met through his ordering from our site. He has two kids and lives in SoCal. [Why do you like to befriend old dudes so much? -ed.] He likes the Shins and seems like one of those Rad Dads that the Sub Pop office is teeming with. The other day, from another customer, I got a drawing emailed to me of a flightless bird/dinosaur with a robot riding him. It was his interpretation of the two of us celebrating his happiness due to his online order. It was touching. I think people should buy from us if they like extras. Little things like stickers and buttons. But also intangibles like a personal email from us if you have a question. We’re like a mom and pop shop, but a completely ice cream tree crazy one. Like if instead of being burned down, the Waco compound, led by David Koresh, started selling records online instead of doing such intense and threatening Bible-thumping. Or not, that’s a little weird.
L: How’s working with Mark Arm in the warehouse? Tell me the funniest thing that’s happened back there involving him. Like, have his pants ever fallen down while he’s trying to put a box of records on a high shelf?
S: It’s like working side-by-side with Jesus. Funny story: Once we had a UPS man overload his hand-truck and was having a hard time leaning it back to get the wheels rolling, you know, due to the immensity of the days shippings. Without warning him, Mark decided to give a tiny push to the hand-truck to help the tower of boxes out with its momentum. It was a little more than the UPS man could handle, and a few hundred pounds of records spilled on top of him and he was crushed by many, many boxes of Mudhoney (one would assume) CDs and LPs. [Mark Arm is like the Charles Atlas of the warehouse. He doesn’t even know his own strength! –ed.] Anyway, Mark got totally screamed at by the UPS fella and it totally wrecked the vibe back there for the afternoon.
L: What do you like to do for fun? Do you ever do any drugs?
S: I’ve got nothing against drugs but I’ve never had much interest in them, personally. Fun? I like spying on my neighbors and shoplifting. [Why am I not surprised by this answer? -ed.]
L: Which dude in the office would you marry, boff, kill?
S: I definitely value humor in a mate, so initially I thought I’d go for Chris J. But then I thought, maybe a sensitive guy is what I need. And Andy K. came to mind. But my coworker/Netflix friend, Dusty S. and I have 86% similar movie tastes, according to our Netflix reviews, so I am going to choose to marry him. And since I am such a monogamist, I’m going to go right ahead and “boff” him (are you cool with that, Dusty?) I’m gonna boff him so hard, his beard’s gonna fall right off his face. I’m not an advocate of violence of any sort, so no one dies by my hand. No, nevermind. I’ll kill Richard, just to feel what it’s like to kill, nothing personal. [It’s because he’s foreign. –ed.]
L: You were hit by a car while riding your bicycle not too long ago and you had to use a cane—did you get a lot of chicks? Do you hate car drivers? Give me your best pro-bike rant.
S: That was a weird time in my life, so I can’t really answer the chicks thing. [I’m making a whip noise right now. –ed.] I will say that I was surprised by how much female interest there was in me when I was missing all of my front teeth and couldn’t walk without a cane. But I didn’t really “get” any chicks. But I didn’t try hard either, in my defense. I love car drivers! I just bought a little truck and became part of the problem. No pro-bike rants; ride one if you like. If someone wants some exercise, I’d suggest a bike.
L: Please tell me your favorite Sub Pop release of 2007—why is this record so good?
S: I think the Handsome Furs record was my favorite release this year. It was just a good record. It’s a pretty sad record without being too mopey. At the time of its release I was looking for just that – a record that would listen, but wouldn’t cry with me.
L: Why do you think we fight so much?
S: You and I don’t get along super well, it’s true. But I think you’re great, Lacey. I don’t have any ill feelings at all, I just think that some people have some natural friction. You and I have the most of anyone else I’ve ever met, but I kind of like it. It’s like our own special relationship. [I thought it was because you are a jerk. J/K –ed.]
L: Okay, now tell me your very first memory.
S: I remember when I knew for sure I was done wetting the bed or peeing in my tiny overalls. I was three and got up before everyone because I had to go, and as I walked down the hall I remember thinking “I got this potty thing down”. I haven’t had a (sober) accident yet! [Way to go, little dude! –ed.]
Hey, look who’s back! It’s me, People Who Work Here, and this week we’ll be meeting Carly Starr. Carly started here as an intern and worked her way up to become in charge of International Marketing here at Sub Pop! Don’t get your hopes up, though, because we don’t generally hire our interns at Sub Pop; these days we just give them their very own record label. Carly enjoys shopping, candy, going to the gym, reading trashy blogs, and watching trashier TV. Carly will not do anything she does not want to do. Sometimes people confuse Carly and I for each other. I think it’s the boobs. Let’s meet Carly!
L: Your birthday is Thursday—how old will you be? Have you accomplished the things you hoped you would by this time? What is the best thing to happen to you in all your years alive so far?
C: Actually, my 28th birthday is Friday. Your friend Tammy’s birthday is Thursday. [Happy birthday, Tammy! –ed.] I’m pretty proud of what I have accomplished to date. When I was 14 I started a piggy bank called “Savings for Seattle”. I was totally obsessed with Sub Pop, Seattle, grunge, and getting out of Wisconsin – weird I just realized that I’ve spent half my life loving Sub Pop – can I get some retribution for that? [I’m not sure that’s the word you’re looking for. Well, fuck, maybe it is. –ed.] So it’s kind of effed up that all of my dreams per se have come true – and because of that I think I have accomplished a lot. I also managed to graduate college, which I’m pretty happy about. I think the best thing to happen in my life changes every day. Sometimes I think it’s Lola (my cat), and sometimes ice cream. [I’d stick with ice cream—that cat is a bitch. –ed.]
L: You work in the international department here at Sub Pop which means you get to travel abroad fairly regularly. What’s your favorite European country and why? Where would you like to go that you’ve never been?
C: I’d have to say that Italy is my favorite European country. Florence, Venice, Milan, the people, food, wine, shopping [See? What did I tell you? –ed.], and the countryside are all amazing. I would like to go back to Australia because I was only there for a few days and Melbourne seemed really cool. Places that I’ve never been to and want to go to include: Brazil (duh), Greece, and Morocco. That being said, there are a lot of places in America that I’ve never been to and would like to see (like LA – not that I want to go there but I do think it’s funny that I haven’t been yet. Actually – it is now my new life goal to never go to LA). [This is totally doable—set up that piggy bank! -ed.]
L: You hang out with CSS a bunch—tell me a really good story about one of the times you guys were getting wasted and partying into the early morning.
C: I love CSS and miss them so much – no secret to my co-workers. I still put them at the top of our international notes (the album came out a year and a half ago – you’d think I’d give it up). Is it sad that I can’t remember any crazy party stories? Not that I was too wasted to remember but that there really isn’t any. They are one of the hardest working bands I know. Every time I go out with them their time is filled with interviews, photo shoots, radio sessions, and shows. It’s nonstop. I think my favorite memory is meeting them for the first time, months after their broken English drunk dialing, emailing, and texting. Lovefoxxx and Ana stayed with me for awhile two summers ago. Every morning I would wake them up (remember when they “interned” here for a week) and Lovefoxxx would sit up and say “What time it is?” – that still cracks me up. [Ha, ha! Stupid foreigners! -ed.]
L: It’s no secret that you love Eddie Vedder. Tell me about your love for Pearl Jam and how you manage to justify it in 2007.
C: This is a common misconception. I USED to love Pearl Jam (see answer to question # 1). I had a bad habit of buying Pearl Jam tickets to concerts that weren’t even in Wisconsin (Toledo, Ohio, and Missoula, Montana for example). My Dad, Phil, was awesome enough to drive me around the country to see them (thanks, Dad!). He also brought me to my first concert when I was 7 years old, Tiffany and New Kids on the Block (this was when New Kids were OPENING for Tiffany). Little did he know that he would sit through many more NKOTB concerts (thanks again, Dad!).I don’t think I’ve actually listened to a whole Pearl Jam album since 1998. That being said, they were one of my favorite bands so naturally I’m still curious about them. My sister Jessica, however, is in love with them and travels all over the country to see them. I think it’s cute and good to have a band that just totally blows you away. [Yeah, but… -ed.]
L: You are also an enormous Radiohead fan—what did you pay for their new record? What do you think about their controversial marketing scheme?
C: This is true. They’re the current Pearl Jam for me. I love every new album more than their last – which a lot of people don’t agree with – but I like all the tweakery that Johnny Greenwood does. I bought the box set thing, which ended up being over $80 since the USD is such shit. I’m annoyed by their marketing scheme only because now my mom Trudy (Hi Mom!)likes to tell me all about how the music industry is changing and that it’s all going downhill because bands don’t need record labels anymore since Radiohead just released theirs on their own and it turned out alright. Sigh. [Yes, but your mom also gives out your business card to performers at the local Quacamonoc coffee shop. I think it’s cute that she’s interested. –ed.]
L: Tell me something about Carly that most people would not know.
C: I can not roll my r’s and it makes me sad. [Me neither. –ed.]
L: If you could switch jobs with anyone here who would it be and why?
C: I don’t want to switch jobs with anyone here. I have a pretty sweet deal. [I’ll say! –ed.]
L: What is one thing you wish you knew more about and why?
C: For years I was obsessed with the Chunnel. How could people build this tunnel under the English Channel? Did the tunnel go through the water, sit on the ocean floor, or was it under that? How many people died building it? How many years did it take? After studying up a bit – I was greatly disappointed with all of my answers. Turns out the tunnel is only 30 miles long (23 of which are under the seabed), 150 feet under the seabed, and only takes 20 minutes to go through via train. [I’m impressed! –ed.] BORING. [Oh. –ed.] I’ll stick with being naïve and creating my own ideas of how the universe works.
L: Carly, you are from Wisconsin. Do you think you’d ever move back there? How do you think Wisconsin makes you who you are?
C: I love Wisconsin. Seriously. The best people from Earth come from the Midwest (it’s true). I was so anxious to move away and get to grunge town that I don’t know if I really appreciated all of its glory until I left. I would definitely move back to Milwaukee. I’m not sure what I would do there, but I’d be down to kick MKE style. Wisconsin (and the Midwest in general) breeds people to be friendly, hard working, mayo-loving, football fans who are what you see – there’s not a whole lot of B.S. I’m about to get a Wisconsin tattoo but I can’t decide what the banner under the state outline should say. Maybe you can help. Your choices are:
1. Escape to Wisconsin – this used to be old tourist catch phrase until people kept on crossing out the “to”. [Before or after the cow tipping? –ed]
3. Forward! – the state motto and my personal favorite. [This is almost like when you are driving your gay pal around and you say ‘Do I go straight here?’ and he replies “Forward, never straight’ and then you say ‘I hear you man—I’m straight but not narrow!’. -ed.]
4. Midwest Pride
L: And finally, if you were to disappear from the face of the earth tomorrow, what is one thing you’d want your mom to know before you left?
C: Thanks for the quilt, Mom. [This makes me sad. –ed.]
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.]