The Employee Interview Part VIII: Jon Ginoli

Posted by Miss Ess, August 2, 2007 06:28pm | Post a Comment
Jon Ginoli
Nearly 8 Years Employment

ME: Hi Jon. So what music was playing in your house when you were a kid?

JG: My parents didn't really have records but they always had the radio on. 

To pop stations?

Yeah, and when I turned 6 my parents moved to a new house out in the suburbs in a new development where there weren't any other kids around, so I made friends with the radio. So from the time I was 5 until I was 10, which is roughly 1965-1970, I absorbed Top 40 radio like a sponge. Pretty good timing, huh?

Totally, you lucked out. What was the first song/record that really got you into music? 

Um I remember being really blown away by "Reflections" by the Supremes and "Monday Monday" by the Mamas and the Papas. Oh and "Windy" by the Association.

What's the first show you went to?

The first real concert I went to was one of the worst concerts I have ever been to because when I was 14 I went to see Jimmy Buffett in Peoria.


Peoria got very few concerts back then.

Who took you?

I went by myself. He had a song on the radio that I liked. When I heard other songs I thought, "Oh, this isn't very good."

Smart kid.

But the second concert was Bob Seger and that was a big step up.

When did you start playing music yourself? Who/what inspired you?

I started about half way through college, playing guitar. There was no one influence but I was really into punk and new wave stuff and that helped give me confidence that maybe I could do it too.

Once you had formed Pansy Division, what was your experience with the music industry like?

Well when I was in college I was heavily involved in my college radio station and actually had a band back then as well and those experiences were very helpful when I was ready to form Pansy Division. 

I started Pansy Division when I was 31 so I already had a lot of experience having a band and knowing how the indie world worked. I was working for several indie record distributors at the time so I had a lot of contacts.

Any good road stories from touring in Pansy Division?

I've written a book and I'm looking for a publisher soon.


It's taken me 7 years to write it, off and on.

You guys were such pioneers! It's important to get that out there. So, when you are on stage singing what's going through your mind? 

I never had stage fright: my problem is that I get distracted and it's interesting, being on stage, to look at the audience and all the things that are happening and I sometimes want to enjoy the moment instead of really concentrating on what I am doing!

How would Pansy Division decide on the cover art for each album? They are so interesting and so early 90s!

I did in the beginning and later we would all work on it together.

Since I'm a huge K Records fan, I really want to know what it was like duetting with Calvin Johnson on "Jackson." How did that come about?

I was a big Beat Happening fan and I had met him a few times and somebody had contacted me about doing a track for a Nancy Sinatra tribute album. "Jackson" has always been my favorite song of hers, since i was a little kid. Since Calvin sounds like Lee Hazlewood I thought to ask him but when we went to actually sing the duet he didn't want to do Lee's parts. "Why?" I said. "Well, Nancy has all the good lines." So I sang the lead parts.

That's hot. Do you typically like creating and recording music or playing live better?

I love playing live, it's really fun, but I really like both.

What is your favorite venue in San Francisco to play? What's your favorite one to see a show at?

Either Cafe du Nord or Bottom of the Hill for both.

What's your favorite local band?

Kelley Stoltz. He needs more guitar and less piano on his next record, though.

Any Pansy Division news?  Are you guys playing out any time soon?

Surprisingly we are doing a tour in October--  a short coast to coast tour opening for The Avengers! That's real convenient because half of our band is in The Avengers (Joel and Luis). I live in San Francisco, Chris the bass player lives in L.A., Luis lives in Brooklyn and Joel just moved to Boston, so we play rather seldom.

Clearly! That must get complicated, rehearsing.

Yeah, it's tough, but every once in a while we find ourselves in the same city so we manage to get work done occasionally.  We're actually working on a new album. We have 4 songs done.

And you guys are on Alternative Tentacles now, right?


What have you been listening to lately?

I've really never listened to classical music much but a friend of mine loaned me the Steve Reich box set.

What about it do you like?

It's very hypnotic. I've been buying a lot of reissues--  I think my age is showing! I just bought John Cale: The Island Years, some of which I had on vinyl, and the reissues of the first three Ultravox albums.

Which John Cale record is your fave?

Paris 1919.

Me too. Randy [ex coworker] always would sing songs from it to me. Can you think of a record that you love and feel more people should know about?

It's a cult item, but the Go Betweens 16 Lovers Lane is a perfect pop record. 

What's your favorite part about working here at Amoeba? You're kind of hidden away so this is a bit tough probably.

Actually, having flexibility to do tours when possible was one of the reasons I started working here in the first place. Few other places are so pro-musician.

Thank you for your time.

For tour dates go to

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