News for People Who Work Here

THU, AUG 16, 2007 at 5:05 AM

Sue Busch is afraid of the Chupacabra


This week’s People Who Work Here is proud to introduce Susan Busch, Director of Radio Promotion and one of two female members of the A&R staff—she’s the lady who brought Oxford Collapse and The Go! Team to Sub Pop Records! Sue is from Texas and we both lived in Austin at the same time but we didn’t meet until we both started working here. When we became friends we would go out after work and get totally wasted and then drunk drive all over Seattle while cruising for dudes before passing out in each other’s vomit just before the sun came up. We’ve both settled down quite a bit since then, but Sue still enjoys punching babies and a nice glass of wine in the evenings. Fun Sue facts—she hates mayonnaise, she used to play volleyball, and she was once featured in Jane Magazine. Let’s meet Sue!

L: How did you get into the radio business? What did you study in college?
S: I decided to volunteer at the college radio station KVRX mostly because I realized I hated the idea of joining a club but still wanted to be involved in something other than being a student. [So basically college radio is like a fraternity for nerds? -ed.] Plus, I heard that you got into shows for free and got to hear records before they came out which seemed super cool. I went from having a show that was online only to eventually being the music director at the station. I studied magazine journalism. When I told my professors that I wanted to be a music journalist they usually made some sort of disapproving face and gave up on trying to actually improve my skills as a writer. [Little did they know that “blogging” was just around the corner and that it requires no skill, taste, or brains. –ed.] I decided to scrap the journalism thing and started interning at record labels. Clearly a wise move on my part.
L: Austin or Seattle, why? What’s your favorite thing about Seattle? Least favorite?
S: No offense to Seattle but I’m going to have to go with Austin. I like sunshine and Mexican food a whole lot and they are both pretty absent in this town.[Maybe if you got a hankering for Canadian food you’d be a lot happier…. –ed.] Austin also has fantastic BBQ, Emo’s, Mexican Martinis @ Trudy’s, Casino El Camino, Barton Springs, lots of super well maintained public swimming pools, dance parties, Waterloo Records, Mi Madres and you can still afford to buy a nice house in a nice neighborhood for less than 500K. My favorite thing about Seattle is how pretty it is during the three weeks of summer. There are also tons of great restaurants here too which is huge plus. My least favorite is the 9 months of rain and darkness. That shit messes with your constitution.
L: What’s your favorite thing about doing A+R? Could you do it for the rest of your life?
S: My favorite thing about doing A&R is finding bands that I’m super excited about and turning other people on to their music. There are so many parts of jobs, even “cool” jobs, that are a total drag but you can’t really beat the feeling of finding something new and getting totally stoked on it. It’s even better when things work out and you’re able to watch bands/people realize their potential. I could totally do A&R for the rest of my career. As long as I’m still able to go out at night and see new bands I’ll hopefully be doing this. [I’ll set you up with my coke dealer. –ed.]
L: Where do you see yourself at 35?
S: I try not to think that far in advance. Plans are for suckers. Hopefully I’ll be working on a family by then though. [Families are for suckers. –ed.]
L: What’s the best show you’ve seen this year?
S: This isn’t really a specific show but the ATP festival in Minehead, England was the best musical experience I had. Those Brits really know how to pull off a festival. It was like being at indie rock camp or something. Some of the highlights where the Notwist, Les Savy Fav and The Go! Team. There was plenty of debauchery going on but nothing got out of control. People just wanted to go see amazing shows, meet new people and have a great time. I can’t see anything like that happening in the states without someone doing something really stupid and ruining everyone’s good time.
L: Who’s your favorite local band? Would you sign them to Sub Pop if it were all up to you?
S: Right now I really like the Coconut Coolouts [I swear I don’t tell people to say this—it’s just that we’re really good. –ed.] and Fleet Foxes. Two totally different bands but both, I think, doing cool stuff. I’d sign a lot of stuff it was all up to me but I’ve got some folks to answer to so….
L: Do you believe in God? Why or why not?
S: I believe in A God but not necessarily THE God. [You do believe he’s black though, right? –ed.] I’d like to believe it all happens for a reason but I don’t necessarily buy into any one specific school of thought.
L: Who do you like better, your mom or your dad?
S: If you knew my parents you’d know that they are probably reading this so I am totally not choosing one over the other. They’re both rad in their own special ways. I will say that my mom did far less embarrassing things to me as a child though. [Cop out! Who bought you your first box of maxi pads? That’s who you should like the best! -ed.]
L: Who is your favorite coworker?
S: I have known all of you on the marketing staff for way too long to play favorites so I’m gonna say our lawyer Eric Brown. Eric is secretly hilarious [That’s right, Eric—no one actually knows you’re funny! –ed.] and was by far the safest driver when we went to NZ. Plus he said chilly bin like nine thousand times and laughed every single time he said it. He’s also the only dude here who can help you out of any serious trouble you get into. [He was no help when I flushed my deodorant down the toilet at my old apartment…. –ed.]
L: What do you do after work generally?
S: I go to the gym, take the dog for a walk and cook dinner. I KNOW! Pretty crazy right?!
L: Do you like “Everybody Loves Raymond”?
S: I am assuming you asked me this only because you’ve heard me say how much I hate this show. There is nothing funny about that show. Not Ray. Not his annoying wife. Not his wacky parents. I’d rather watch King of Queens. [I actually asked because I hate that show, too. I don’t like King of Queens either, though, but you should still buy Patton Oswalt’s new record, out now on Sub Pop Records. –ed.]
L: If you had to be one age for the rest of your life what would it be and why?
S: 22 was a good year. I was living in Austin, going to school, working, seeing a ton of bands and going out almost every night but still taking care of business. It was just a really fun time.
L: Tell me a good slumber party story from when you were a kid.
S: When I was maybe 7 or 8 a friend of mind had a slumber party and we decided it would be fun to sleep outside on her giant trampoline. I’m from El Paso, TX and she lived on the side of the mountain so the backyard didn’t face other houses but a really dark ravine that led up to the mountain. Now, I don’t know if you people are familiar with the Chupacabra but it was like a Mexican version of the boogie man. It literally means goat sucker. Anyway, her mom gathered us all around and started to tell us ghost stories which eventually led to a Chupacabra story. We were all huddled together hanging on her every word when something started howling in the distance. Then there was a rustling in the bushes. Then her older brother, dressed up in a wolf man suit/the Chupacabra, jumped over the wall and scared the shit out of all of us. I jumped about 10 ft in the air, ran into their house bawling and locked myself in the bathroom. People are dicks. [Well, at least it wasn’t one of those super scary illegal immigrants that I’ve been hearing so much about—one of ‘em could’ve stolen your job! –ed]

Posted by Lacey Swain

THU, AUG 2, 2007 at 6:21 AM

Jonathan Poneman Sometimes gets the Blues


Oh man, oh man have I got a treat for you guys this week! That’s right, ladies and germs—this week’s People Who Work Here has scored an interview with the Big Cheese, the Head Honcho, the Captain of the SS Sub Pop—Jonathan Poneman himself! Jonathan is an elusive creature who darts in and out of the office at odd hours, travels to work via handsome cab, and lives in an underground bunker on his own private island. Okay, I lied about all of that, but I would describe Poneman as a mysterious and highly intelligent dude. JP has a couple of Boston Terriers, he doesn’t eat meat, he goes to lots of rock shows, and as far as I can tell, he doesn’t do drugs anymore even if he does threaten to treat us all to some of Bruce Pavitt’s homemade PCP from time to time. Let’s meet Jonathan!

L: You still into this for this week?
J: Hell, yeah. It’s like the therapist’s couch. I’ve noted how people in the office seem elevated after laying their burdens down during these sessions. I, for one, have deep, ugly secrets that have been gnawing at me for years… [I should really start upping my rates. –ed.]
L: Tell me about Jonathan Poneman age 13-18. What were you into? What was you home life like? What did you want to be?
J: I was a nice kid. My first job at age 13 was pumping gas at Rick Lawrence’s Gulf station in Toledo, Ohio. I sold a tiny bit of drugs on the side. [Once a businessman, always a businessman. –ed.] I remember going swimming at Centennial Quarry after smoking a joint of angel dust with my buddies. I thought that I had miraculously grown gills! That was an idyllic summer. By the time I was 18, I was pumping gas at Gary McDonald’s service station in Bellingham, Washington. I soon moved on to cleaning up the parking lot at the late, great Samish Drive-In Theatre. It was all meaningful preparation for my present duties here at Sub Pop!
L: When did you move to Seattle? Why did you come out here and what was it like then?
J: I moved to Seattle 28 years ago at the age of 19. My then-girlfriend had broken up with me because she was through with dating teenagers. (She had just turned 21.) [Yeah well look who’s laughing now! –ed.] I moved down from Bellingham and secured a one bedroom apartment on the south side of Queen Anne Hill…$210.00 a month. I worked for a company called Textured Yarn Arts. We used butane lighters to fuse together huge spools of synthetic yarn. Very technical. And some serious huffing! Seattle was smaller and far more charming then. But I actually prefer Seattle now. I prefer it if for no other reason than it is “now”. Nostalgia is a waste of time—unless one is trafficking in Grunge for aging X-ers. Then it—nostalgia—is a meaningful diversion. [Also known around the office as a “cash cow” –ed.]
L: How old were you when Sub Pop became super famous? Did that notoriety change you in any fundamental way?
J: Super fame changed fundamentally. From my perspective, Sub Pop was already “super famous” before I even got involved. Bruce put out cassettes, the Sub Pop 100 compilation album and “Dry As A Bone” before I came knocking, hat-in-hand. He was already a media magnate and I was just another morose dirtbag with a crummy band. Frankly, I feel like I’ve been the luckiest person in the world. Getting to work with and be around what’s happened musically in this city over the years has been a gift that keeps on giving. Kind of like an open chancre sore!
L: You travel a lot-what’s your favorite place and why?
J: First, listen to my concept: I think old cities in the High Plains, Midwest and the North Central states are where it’s at. Great, forgotten art museums, ghostly, dilapidated-yet-still-majestic neighborhoods and easy on the wallet. Why I like it so much that I’ve decided to move the company to Saginaw, Michigan. Get packing…
L: What do you think you will be doing in the next five years?
J: Introducing Grunge to my buddie’s grandkids. From dust to “Dust”.
L: What’s your favorite food?
J: Pet. Besides that—hmmmm. Is Nardil a food group? [I googled it so you don’t have to! -ed.]
L: Please tell me the secret to your success.
J: Surrounding myself with the most lovable, smart and talented people that a person can hope to know. [Aw shucks. –ed.]
L: What’s the worst thing that ever happened to you?
J: Ah, the questions have gotten serious. Hmmmm. Losing my father and nearly losing Sub Pop during a two week period in 1997. Kurt Cobain’s death was super hard. It’s not like I was close to him in the years leading up his death. But it was a transformative event that hit me hard. Very profoundly. Largely because it was so traumatizing to our community. I contrast it to Chris Takino’s passing which, while being very sad, immediately inspired so many acts of love and altruism. [No wonder you need the Nardil. –ed.]
L: What’s your favorite newish band and why?
J: There is this band, Foals, on the Transgressive label in the UK. I heard some of their new stuff recorded with David Sitek of TVOTR. Really some of the most compelling recordings that I’ve heard in ages. Besides that, I listen to stuff all the time that I get excited about. But if an artist’s name has more than one syllable, I may as well be memorizing the Vedas. I have a shoddy memory for names.
L: Tell me a funny story about Mark Arm.
J: Mark Arm is no laughing matter.
L: Knock knock.
J: Who there?
L: A pile up.
J: A pile up wh…hey!

Feel free to log-in and ask JP any other questions you’d like answered that we may have missed in this quick interview. Sample questions include things like “how much money do you make?” and “when did you lose your virginity?”. Please, ask away!

Posted by Lacey Swain

FRI, JUL 20, 2007 at 8:36 AM

Angelina Just Wants her Jeans Back


This week People Who Work Here travels to the far away lands of the cubicle right next door to bring you Angelina Saez, Sub Pop’s resident accounting/ticket buy lady. If you are a vendor she is the lady who types up your invoices and if you work at a venue where Sub Pop bands play, she’s the one who hands over our credit card info to purchase the tickets that we give to our contacts. Angelina talks on the phone a lot and I sometimes hear her arguing with her Greek boyfriend about whether or not they are going to happy hour. Okay, this really only happened once but it sticks out in my mind for some reason. Let’s meet Angelina!

L: Where did you work before Sub Pop? What was the best thing about it? What was the worst?
A: I worked at Hurley International as the Northern California merchandiser and freelance fashion stylist. It was good because I was able to travel all over the country to locations I probably wouldn’t have otherwise for free working on photo shoots and work out of home (by home I mean 400 sq ft studio) in San Francisco. The worst part was that I did styling for Eddie Bauer a bunch and it was really hard to make the frumpy clothes look like fashion pieces. Then with Hurley I had to drive to Modesto and Sacramento from my San Francisco apartment. It sucked to be in my 87 Integra on the open road for hours at a time and the scenery was less than thrilling.
L: How would you describe your personality?
A: It’s almost like I have a split personality. At Sub Pop I am pretty reserved and try to exhibit good behavior. In my personal life I’m a crazy mess and my friends love me and hate me all at the same time. I’m very opinionated and love to give advice (often not warranted) [I’ll say! –ed] and have a need for organization, cleanliness, and for things to be pretty. [She put wrapping paper on her cubicle walls b/c they were too green. –ed.] So, I am probably a high maintenance beeaaach to say the least.
L: If you could change one thing about who you are what would it be?
A: To not be so uptight. I’m not sure when it happened, but all of a sudden I became a cross between Martha Stuart and Madonna (the current one, not the one who wrote the sex book.) [I’m glad we’re not dating. –ed.]
L: You’ve often referenced your old partying ways—tell me more about this. What does partying mean to you?
A: I grew up in Auburn, WA and small towns are crazy. I wasn’t much of a drinker, but my friends were into experimenting. We spent a good deal of time picking mushrooms and tripping around town. Whoever thinks raising kids in a small town is a good idea has obviously never been to Auburn. Then I turned 21 and it was like this crazy lady, I named her Shelia, popped out of nowhere and apparently had to make up for lost time. Shelia watched the sun rise way too many times and it started to take a toll on my youthful glow. Luckily vanity took over and the bags under the eyes lost out to eye cream and the cigarettes had to go because they age your skin and can give you fine lines around the mouth. I don’t think there’s been any permanent damage [Are you sure? –ed.] because I can think clearly and often make complete sentences. All and all I wouldn’t change any of it, well except for one incident, but I’m not about to delve into that. I’m grateful that my own experiences have made me more open to and less likely to judge others for what they decide to partake in because I’ve probably done it myself.
L: You just bought a house—is this the craziest thing you’ve ever done? Did you save up a ton of money? Is it scary?
A: I think it’s the sanest thing I’ve ever done, because I didn’t really do anything but find it. My boyfriend, Minos (yes, he’s Greek and no we don’t do it in the butt, Lacey) [Then he’s not really Greek… -ed.] is the one who actually purchased the house I am just going to decorate it. I love to make things look pretty and can’t wait to start beautifying. [Here’s a small piece of advice—do not put wrapping paper on all your walls. –ed.] I’m not crazy like having special sets of dishes for every occasion, but I almost get a rush when putting together a room. It’s crazy. [Yes, I’ve seen this on that show Intervention—the ladies who are shopaholics look crazier than your run of the mill crackheads. You might want to get this checked out… -ed.]
L: You also teach yoga—tell me how you got into yoga and how one becomes a yoga instructor. Do you yell at people when they’re doing it wrong?
A: I was in SF working for Hurley and I decided that California just wasn’t my thing. I immediately quit my job, started packing and returned to good old Seattle. Once back I had an anxiety attack and the reality of what I’d done started setting in. Realizing I’d quit a great job without another one lined up and had zero health insurance the obvious thing to do was teach yoga. [Obviously. –ed.] I found a teachers training program and signed up. You have to complete 250 hours of training on the various postures, pranayamas, and history of yoga that is determined by the Yoga Alliance. I don’t teach Bikrim, that is the more aggressive yoga that can have yelling. I’m not really into that. I mainly teach flow which allows me to combine a bunch of different methods and I love my students to much to yell at them. You should come to my Saturday class at 11, you’ll love it. [It’s not really my thing—I like yelling. –ed.]
L: What’s your favorite band ever?
A: I am a total sucker for the one hit wonders. I’ve purchased several albums based on the one hit and have been fooled time and time again. [What’s that saying about crazy is repeating the same thing and expecting different resuts? –ed.] I’m the friend that plays the same album over and over again without ever getting sick of it (even if you do). [I would kill you. –ed.] I love Gish from the Smashing Pumpkins, but I can’t say there my all time favorite band. [So, you’re not stoked for Zeitgeist? –ed.]
L: What’s your favorite band on Sub Pop?
A: Postal Service (I’ve had it in the car CD player since it came out and still love it)
L: What rockstar would you show your jugs to?
A: Who hasn’t seen them? Kidding. I’m not really a breast flasher. Until my 30’s I didn’t really have breasts then out of know where I had to start wearing a bra. What the crap? [That’s totally bogus. Did you finally get your period, too? –ed.]
L: Please tell me about your very first day of high school. What were you like then?
A: I was just looking at my senior annual [ie. Yearbook. -ed.] and I have apparently gone into denial about what my eyebrows used to look like and that the 90’s were way cooler than the 80’s. I could’ve (and probably still can) give Brooke Shields a run for the money and the fashion wasn’t as cute as I made it in my head. My first day of high school was easy since I had friends already attending (never date boys in your grade, always go for the older) [Friends, eh? –ed.]. Auburn High had about 3000 students so there were friends for everyone and lots of parties and kegs in the woods. I have a fondness for high school, but skipped the reunion in 2003. Maybe 2013 I’ll check it out.
L: Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
A: Back in my Diesel jeans from age 25, I can barely get them over my thighs, but I will by Christmas, come hell or high water! (I don’t think Diesels are even in fashion anymore, but I am very serious.) [I couldn’t tell you either. My jeans have a tummy tuck panel sewn into them. No shit. –ed.]
L: Please tell me if you plan on having babies and why or why not?
A: No babies, no babies, no babies! Well, not in the immediate future. Kids are great, but the whole growing inside you like a parasite really freaks me out. I like the idea of being a foster parent and giving some of the kids in there teens a chance to have a safe home and get them into a good college. Plus if I’m going to work hard to get back into my damn Diesel jeans, I don’t need any extra pounds and you can’t drink for nine months and that is too committal for me right now.
L: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
A: Never assume anything. I try not to, but the damn Western mind (learned about this in yoga school) just starts racing through a ton of scenarios and then I’m totally worked over and hiding in a closet in the fetal position. I am really working on this and hope to find serenity. Serenity now!! [Your adoption plans just went down the tubes, lady! -ed.]
L:Guess a number between 1 and 10.
A: 11 is my lucky number, but since it’s not an option how about 2? [Nope. –ed.]

Posted by Lacey Swain

FRI, JUL 6, 2007 at 6:50 AM

Dean Whitmore Is Mad as Hell and He’s not Going to Take It anymore!


People Who Work Here is proud to present Dean Whitmore, the mom and pop/direct sales guy here at Sub Pop, and one of the people that I certainly thought would say “No way, dude” when I asked for an interview. Dean W plays drums in The Unnatural Helpers, a local band that also currently features Chris Martin from Kinski, and used to feature several ex-Sub Pop employees such as Matt Olsen, Jed Maheu, and Sean Kelly. Dean likes to eat lunch alone whilst reading the paper but at night he likes to grab a few beers and listen to records and talk shit with his friends. Dean is an obsessive cardboard box collector and it is nearly impossible to walk right up to his desk because he has built a giant cardboard fortress around his entire area and he refuses to take it down or clean it up. Dean W Factoid—A few things you can often find on Dean’s desk are a Pabst tall boy, an empty yogurt container, an unopened bottle of Wellness Formula, and a shitload of 7”s. Let’s meet Dean!

L: Tell me about being kid in South Seattle. Your family is pretty religious, right? Did you have to go to church all the time? And Bible camp and all that? Do you believe in God?
D: I don’t remember all that much about my childhood. My dad was a wrestling & football coach so I played lots of sports & stuff. Yeah, I went to church a lot until I got into jr. high or so then I decided I’d rather listen to Cheap Trick or watch football on Sundays & opted out. I don’t remember my mom being pissed about that or anything. Just to cover my ass I consider myself agnostic so if God shows up I can say “yeah, but I always wanted you to be real”. [The guy is not Santa Claus—I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work that way. –ed.]
L: You were kind of a jock in high school what with the football and all—when did you realize that you were really more of a punker than a footballer? Did the guys on the team take it well?
D: My senior year I sort of checked out & I remember making myself decide whether I was gonna be a rocker or a straight dude. [So like, you had both a Mohawk and a letterman’s jacket? –ed.] It was all internal drama. There were no interventions. I’ve since come to grips w/ the idea that I can dig both. You just have to watch the game w/ the sound down most of the time.
L: Why do you think that “Magic Bus” is a less offensive song than “Boris the Spider”? What’s your favorite Who song? Do you like the Who because of Keith Moon or is it the whole package?
D: Yes it is less offensive. Was that a dig? How come everybody gotta be cracking on the Who? Nobody talks about Harlem Shuffle when the Stones come up & if you sing Eminence Front to me I will try to spit in your mouth. I couldn’t choose one song. Not that they’re all great but I never think about the individual songs I think about the whole album. I like everybody in the Who, yes even Daltrey & almost everything they did until about 1970 & then it gets a little spotty & then it gets real spotty. [What about the porn? Any thoughts about the porn? -ed]
L: How long have you been playing drums? What drummers do you think totally suck and why?
D: I’ve been playing a good while. I don’t really care that much about drummers really. I like real crap drummers sometimes & hate really good ones sometimes. Mostly it depends on the song they’re playing & what sort of spirit they’re putting into it. [Just say you love John Bonham and get it over with. –ed.]
L: Please tell me how you spent your 4th of July. Did you blow anything up? What’s your most memorable 4th of July? Do you really even give a shit?
D: Neither me or my wife gives a shit about holidays of any kind but we are starting to have to cause our daughter is getting to the age where she wants to “have fun” & “celebrate” these occasions. It’s actually pretty fun to do that stuff now. I remember hating these types of things even as a kid because I felt pressure to have to act / react a certain way when you get the present or give the present or whatever but she’s into it so we are too. I still get diarrhea every time I go to a family event though.
L: You have a young daughter—in what ways do you hope she takes after her mother and not you, especially when she’s an adult?
D: Her mom is more even keel than I am so if she could have a more even disposition I’d like that. [I was fully expecting something like “I hope she doesn’t have a penis.” -ed.]
L: Remember when we went down to see if there was a big anti-Bush protest at Westlake Center after the last election and there was no one there? That sucked and I don’t think I’ve recovered, you? I mean, do you ever get the feeling that it just doesn’t fucking matter?
D: Yeah, that was a bummer. I was ready to take some rubber bullets! We’ll have to face up to what we’ve done & are doing at some point. I’m hopeful that things will turn around. [Aw, that’s cute! –ed.] It’s just really sad that we could do so much w/ all our power & wealth but don’t.
L: How is the 2007 Dean different from what the 1997 Dean thought he’d be like? Are you okay with these differences?
D: I’m happier now. I have my wife & daughter & whole shit load more bitchin’ records!
L: What is your favorite Dean W band? Who do you like to play music with the most? What is in the musical future for Dean W?
D: The Helpers duhhhh. I like playing w/ my friend Mike the most. He’s the right combination of good/shitty/rocking/smart/dumb for me. We’re going to keep recording more stuff & have a 7” & a new record right around the corner. [They’re awesome—check them out! -ed.]
L: You seem to be fighting a constant battle between getting your shit together/getting in shape, etc and saying fuck it. How do you think this is going to play out in the long run? I do this too and I still haven’t figured out which side of the fence is more comfortable—right now I still think I have a few more fuck it years left….
D: I don’t know! I’ll probably end up fat, with a bad liver & cancer but I hope not. The problem is I’m really good at all the things that make you end up that way. I love sitting in a bar drinking beer w/ friends watching / listening / participating in saying & doing stupid things. Last night we were sitting outside of our space drinking beer & this super drunk dude started coming up to us so we were trying to beat feet inside & the dude yells to us “Don’t worry I ain’t got no pepsi. You can drink your 7-UP”. I have no idea either but I love that shit & it don’t come to you on a treadmill. I am doing a good amount of running & stuff right now & it feels good & has it’s benefits too. I hope to continue but if not… well fuck it then.
L: You quit going to A+R meetings—can you tell me why?
D: I didn’t like the group dynamics. I also wasn’t very good at it. You don’t really want your livelihood very dependant on what I think is cool right? Although shitting out a bunch of garage/weird/punk shit on the nosedive down would be a kind of cool way to go. I decided I can still bring stuff up when I want & I won’t have to suffer the indignation of being told “no way dude” to my face. [Stick it to the man! -ed]
L: And finally, please tell me your favorite lyric from a Who song.
D: I tried to write a song here about how much you talk about pooping & your poops consistency etc. but it kinda started making me sick out too much thinking about what might be in your poop so I bailed out. Sorry about that. [That wasn’t even the question, Dean. –ed.]
L: Thanks for playing.

Posted by Lacey Swain

WED, JUN 27, 2007 at 10:44 AM

I totally forgot to ask Stuart Meyer about the Jack In the Box Incident!


People Who Work Here is proud to bring you one of Sub Pop’s finest and longest-standing employees-–Stuart Meyer. I can say without hesitation that out of everyone here in the office Stuart gets the most shit, and I applaud his ability to keep cool while under tremendous pressure. For instance, when I yelled out over my desk, “How long has Stuart worked here?” I got several responses: “You mean how long has he been EMPLOYED here?” “About 10:30 to 3:00 today!” “Stuart Meyer, 1998-2007: 5 years of hard work!” This kind of shit rolls off his back with enviable ease, and only recently did I realize that because he spends so much time worrying about getting fat, nothing else gets in. Not only that, but Stuart’s dangerous obsession with impending obesity has so impaired his ability to construct a full sentence that this interview would be almost totally unintelligible, were it not for my incredible editing skills. Stuart cracks me up because he talks a lot about being both gay and Jewish but often he will just say “my people,” and I’m never quite sure which group he’s talking about. I mean, if it’s about bagels or poppers I have an idea, but sometimes he’ll throw me a curveball like “my people like good toilet paper,” and then it could go either way. Let’s meet Stuart!

L:Tell me about your tumultuous relationship with Paula Abdul. How do you know her? What is your favorite song by her? Could she teach me to dance?
S: I met Paula when I worked at Billboard in the late 80’s—1988, I believe. She had just released her first album and it was kind of a dud. Through choreographing Coming to America [Five Stars! –ed.] we had mutual friends at Billboard. Anyways, I worked in the chart dept and had access to the Top 100 singles charts before anyone in the biz, so when “Straight Up” broke out as her first hit I was telling her she was #1 before Virgin Records, her label. From there, we became friends and I stayed with her when I visited LA and I stayed friendly with her through her marriage to Emilio Estevez (I went to both the wedding and the premiere of “The Mighty Ducks”!). My fave song by her…probably “Straight Up”. It’s a pretty perfect pop song although “Cold Hearted” is a close 2nd. She could probably teach anyone to dance—she really is pretty good at that. [I like how you cleverly leave the Snake part off of “Cold Hearted Snake” so you can really drive home the intense friendly relationship that you and Paula have. Or should I say “Labdool” like you are always calling her around the office? –ed]
L: When did you come out of the closet? How did your family handle it? Didn’t your relationship with Paula tip them off?
S: I came late to that party—1994…I was almost 30! Everyone was cool but Mom, not so much at first. I think she’s dealing with it okay now. Once she realized genetics played a a part – I had a gay cousin out here in Seattle – she knew it most likely wasn’t how she raised me or anything. I would think my Donna Summer and ABBA album collections would have been the tip-off. I could mention other artists, but, I’ll save myself the embarrassment. [Oh it’s much too late for that, my friend. –ed.]
L: Woah—let’s go over this genetics part. Elaborate, please. Did you straight up tell her or did she just figure it out or what?
S: She figured since there were other gays in the bloodline that it was not something I chose to be. [She sounds like a remarkably tolerant and educated woman! –ed.] I straight up told everyone I knew within a week, Nov 1994. Mom and Dad were the last to know that week. [You like how I keep going back to the “straight up” / Paula Abdul thing? Good, right? ed.]
L: Did you ever make out with a girl? Tell me all about it.
S: I made out with a girl in college and it wasn’t to my liking. Could’ve just been the girl. She was no prize. [God, I hope she’s reading this. –ed.]
L: Do you think your life would’ve been easier if you were straight?
S: I have no idea…probably not. My life hasn’t been rough, truth be told!
L: You are the A+R rep of the Shins – which one is your favorite? Why?
S: Haha. Nice one, Swain. They’re all special in their own way. I probably have had most contact with James, just by nature of him being the de facto leader of the band for all this time. And, just as an aside, “New Slang” gave me chills for many years, no matter how many times I heard it. It was really satisfying to see that song become popular. [Boner Time! –ed.]
L: Please run me through a typical day in Stuart’s life. Don’t forget the part where you call in late, okay?
S: Another nice one, Swain. I wake up around 7:30 and waste time before heading to work
-I’m not proud of that. It causes me more stress than almost anything in my life, my being late. [Boo hoo. –ed] After work, I tend to waste more time—futzing with my DVR, computer, I-Tunes. I have a new house, so that’s taking up a lot of my time. [Brace yourself, reader—this next sentence is a real tear jerker. –ed] I basically accomplish nothing in my spare time, and most of my accomplishments are when I’m at work (as hard as that is for some of my co-workers to believe). Oh yeah, I also tend to drive my boyfriend crazy and stress him out too.
L: What is your all time favorite musical act? (You can only pick one!) Movie? Actress? Actor? Gay icon? [Note—I did NOT edit the following response. Here’s a taste of how Stuy’s mind works…. –ed]
S: Oh geez. Probably Blondie. How about my top 3 fave albums, in no particular order:
Parallel Lines, Pretenders first one, Dusty In Memphis. What’s Up, Doc is probably my fave movie…close 2nd is Annie Hall or Manhattan. Don’t really have a fave actress or actor…love Diane Keaton in Woody Allen flicks though. Gay Icon – ha. Either Madonna or Babara. But the Barbra is more from us both being a New York Jews. I once stood behind her son at a gay bar. I always figured if I could date him, my mother might not mind the whole gay thing. She’d be able to tell her friends.
L: Who is your best office friend? Why?
S: I guess whomever is listening to me blather on about whatever with the most patience at any give time. Megan? I watch her dog when she’s out of town and she probably listens to me more than anyone. [Do you give her a choice? –ed]
L: When did you finally decide to like me? Do you think that we are too similar? DO you like me?
S: I liked you from the get-go, Swain. I give the hardest time to the people I like best. Awwww… [That’s sweet! I hated you for about a whole year! -ed.]
L: Explain once and for all what your job is here. What job would you rather do?
S: I have 3 jobs: I commission videos, which, is an ebb or flow type of deal…sometimes busy, more often not. I take care of our production and manufacturing by dealing mainly with our local printer, our manufacturing plant in Olyphant, PA and our vinyl pressing plant in California, and, I handle A&R for The Shins, Iron & Wine, Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs, Death Vessel and a new kid we just signed, Daniel Moore. What job here I’d rather do? I’m happy doing what I’m doing. The A&R stuff is the most fun.
L: Where did you work before here? How was it? What was your first job? Did you ever scoop icecream? I can picture that for some reason…
S: Prior to here, I worked at Tower Records. Before that, Epic Records in New York, Atco/Atlantic in New York, Billboard, Manhattan Savings Bank in Scarsdale, NY, Pathmark Supermarket and Caldor Dept Store in Yonkers, NY. I never scooped ice cream, except maybe at Caldor?
L: What would you say is you best physical attribute.
My hair. I’m psyched I have it and happy that I probably always will. My Dad’s 80 and still has a full head of silver/white hair. [I have to admit, he has great fucking hair. –ed.]
S: What do you like to eat for lunch? What’s your favorite cocktail? Sweet or salty?
L: I recently have become pretty fond of the sandwiches and salads at the bakery downstairs. They have a great white bean spread/garlic/smoked mozzarella sandwich which they need to have every day of the week. Most of their other sandwiches have an aioli or mayo and I hate white creamy things (sour cream, mayo, cream cheese, cottage cheese) [It’s too easy so I’m not even going to do it. –ed]. Absolut Mandarin and Soda is my favorite drink, probably, and I prefer salty.
L: What do you think is the most important issue facing Americans today?
S: Undoing the damage that Bush has done, domestically and internationally. He’s worse than anyone thought he could possibly be. Also, healthcare!! That’s a good answer, right?
L: And finally, what are your 3 favorite records on Sub Pop? {Again, this answer is unedited. –ed.]
S: Overcome By Happiness – Pernice Brothers always sticks out for me and I have good memories of Bakesale in the mid ‘90’s. Wolf Parade – Apologies The Shins (can’t pick one…they each have their charm). And, I think the new Iron & Wine is gonna be a contender in the long run. Sam has one of the best voices out there right now. I love a classic voice. [And I love an actual sentence! –ed.]

Posted by Lacey Swain

FRI, JUN 15, 2007 at 8:07 AM

Tony K lives in West Seattle and I’ll gladly give you his address


Today’s People Who Work Here is a big treat for all you kids with big dreams about breaking into the biz and striking musical oil. Tony K is the Head of A&R at Sub Pop Records and he is a wealth of information and full of crazy opinions about the future of music but he does not, as you might expect, wear hair gel or leave all his top buttons undone. Tony does not have high powered lunches with movers and shakers, he does not party all night at exclusive clubs, and he rarely wines and dines. In fact, until very recently Tony drove the shittiest Ford Escort hatchback I’ve ever seen but he’s finally upgraded to a used Outback with a leaky sunroof. He’s a stand up guy with a heart of gold and eyes of steel — Let’s meet Tony!

L: You’ve signed some of Sub Pop’s best selling musical acts – tell me a little about your, ahem, “process”. What are you looking for in a new signee?
T: Man… I don’t think I’m looking for anything in particular really. Every band that I’ve been fortunate enough to work with has been pretty different. Early on in my role as a&r guy here I think that I kind of got off on intentionally making the roster of bands I was responsible for as diverse as possible. I thought it was cool to work with Pleasure Forever, Red House Painters and David Cross all at the same time. I remember thinking of it as casting a movie with lots of different characters. [You are like the Orson Welles of the music business. Or maybe more like the Howard Hughes? -ed] That strategy had the benefit of making each project a totally unique challenge. Nowadays I don’t pay attention to that as much for some reason. I’m more concerned with finding people I respect that are making music that I love listening to. It’s the only way I know to stay happy doing what I’m doing….
L: What’s your favorite thing on Sub Pop that you’ve signed? What’s your favorite thing that someone else signed?
T: Hmm… that’s a tough one. I have a lot of favorites. It’s hard to beat working with old friends. The Postal Service and Beachwood Sparks both involved people I’ve known forever and love to death so those will always stick out in my mind as favorites. As for something that someone else signed I think I’d probably have to say The Vaselines. I’m not sure that counts since it was a reissue basically…
L: You used to work for a major. Give me five reasons why working at Sub Pop is better. Now give me two reasons why working here is worse.
1) The people I work with here are infinitely cooler and more interesting (no offense to any previous coworkers who may be reading this, some of you were pretty cool too, but most of you were in fact pretty lame.) [You should hear all the shit he talks about you… -ed.]
2) I don’t have to work with shitty bands anymore. [Oh yeah? Two words: HA! J/K -ed.]
3) I have a much better job here.
4) Not only do I have a much better job, but I work for people who trusted and believed in me enough to let me have that job in the first place. That’s something I’ll always be incredibly grateful for. [You are shameless, Tony. –ed.]
5) Sub Pop exists. The two major labels I used to work at have both gone the way of the dodo. [DANG! Can’t argue with that! -ed.]

As for my ways its worse list:
1) I don’t have a sweet office anymore. [But you still have a sweet cubicle that you can you trash all to hell… -ed]
2) I don’t have a fridge filled with free food. [Just do like everyone else and take whatever you want, pussy. –ed]
L: You used to be a radio DJ and have your own label. Have you always been excited about music? Is there something else you ever wanted to be, like an astronaut or something?
T: I used to want to direct films. I was kind of sheltered as a kid and didn’t remotely understand what that really entailed. Film school set me straight pretty quick. Luckily, my college had KXLU, a pretty amazing radio station and working there pretty much exploded my tiny universe. Well, that and a lot of psychedelic experimentation…. [Cue Jefferson Airplane. –ed]
L: What was your first job?
T: My first paid job was prepping food for a Shakey’s Pizza. Basically ripping the guts out of chicken breasts and breading mojo potatoes. [None of that has anything to do with pizza – WTF? -ed]
L: What is your favorite West Coast record store? Your favorite Seattle record store?
T: It’s kind of impossible to beat Amoeba L.A. In Seattle I really like the Easy Street store in Queen Anne. I think we’re pretty fortunate to have Easy Street, Sonic Boom and Silver Platters up here. [That’s very diplomatic. –ed.]
L: What do you like better – CDs, mp3s, or vinyl? Why?
T: I don’t really care anymore honestly. I would have said vinyl 5 years ago but after moving my collection several times since then, it’s lost a lot of its appeal. [Sellout. –ed.]
L: Where do you see the music industry headed in the immediate future? How about in the long run?
T: Eesh. I’ll spare you my prognostications. I’m bored even trying to formulate an answer. [GODAMMIT! I am trying to perform a public service here and the only info you’ll give is about fire potatoes at Shakey’s Pizza! BULLSHIT! -ed]
L: Seen any good movies lately?
T: I just watched the first season of this Showtime show called Dexter that I thought was pretty great. [Wow, that’s totally not a movie. –ed.]
L: Are you ever going to get married and have babies?
T: I hope to.
L: What ex-Sub Pop coworker do you miss the most and why?
T: I miss Shawn Rogers the most probably. He was just an all around good guy. [True ‘nuf. –ed.]
L: Tell me a joke.
T: [Yeah, that’s right, he didn’t answer this one. I take all that nice shit that I said about him back. Please email me for his cell number and home address so that you have somewhere new to send your demos. –ed.]

Posted by Lacey Swain