3 years employment
Man About Amoeba
ME: So, what brought you to Amoeba? How did you end up working here?
AL: I've wanted to work at Amoeba ever since it opened. It's basically been my dream job forever. I remember in high school my girlfriend at the time would have to drag me out of the store. Umm... but yeah, I got the job here cause somehow one of my good friends, Jessica, was working at Amoeba, and I had told her about how I love the store, and I really needed a job because I had just gotten kicked off disability, so Jessica called me on the day someone got fired. So I ran down to the store and filled out an application and met one of the managers and next thing I know I'm being interviewed and I'm behind the counter-- crazy right?
ME: Timing is everything! Ah, I didn't know you and Jessica were friends before you worked here! Cool. So what song describes your life perfectly right now?
AL: Man that's a hard one... Umm "Interesting Results" by Ariel Pink cause I have been writing a lot of songs, or trying to at least, and that song really sums up the creative process. Now I just need to think about what song out there deals with buying a new computer... hmm...
Ah yes, my good friend Ariel Pink! If you could trade places with any musician, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
My instinct on this is to go with Phil Elvrum of The Microphones/Mt.Eerie because everything he does is perfect and honest and somehow not in any way pretentious. I don't understand how an artist can make an album with only 4 tracks on it that deals with life and death and being reborn into something new, completing a cycle, and NOT make it pretentious. And now he's working on something that supposed to be something like black metal with acoustic guitars or something... and it's going to be amazing!
But then I want to be totally rich - so I'm going to say Bono.
That's like going from the least pretentious person to the most pretentious ever! Hilarious. I still have never gotten into The Microphones. I need to make a bigger effort. Good thing I work here so I can go grab one of Elvrum's cds! People have been telling me to listen up for years and I just haven't. Anyway, I love your band the Passionistas. How did you all come together? How did you come up with your sound?
It started out with my old high school friend Aaron wanting to start a band - he met Myles at SF City College, and he asked me to play bass for them... and I've been with them ever since. I have no idea how we come up with our sound - the songs Aaron writes are different then the songs Myles writes and they are all different from the songs I write. So, there is no real cohesive sound.
When is your next show?
We are recording a lot in April - the next show will be beginning of May at The Eagle.
I adore The Eagle! Such a fun place to play and hang out at. What's your favorite local band besides your own?
Girls. They are the best thing to come out of San Francisco in such a long time-- Christopher writes the most perfect pop songs. Everything about them is amazing. If you have a chance to see them live, do it-- it'll change you.
What local band(s) do you think are about to break out?
I don't know of any local bands that are going to break out. It's too hard to get any big label attention in the city-- I'm bummed.
I love that you are a native San Franciscan! What was the SF scene like when you were in high school?
The scene in high school was weird - I went to a lot of house shows, and warehouse parties, the old eviction parties... I went to Numbers' record release part in Oakland, and Deerhoof opened for them. That was a crazy show, now you can't see Deerhoof without paying an arm and a leg-- I remember when they were a noise band playing garages and shit! I went to house parties where Two Gallants would play someone's kitchen. The scene has fallen apart since I was in high school. There was a great noise scene here and now there is nothing going on anymore. It's weird -- I feel like everyone in the city is just waiting around for something to happen. I think it might be pop music that's going to save this city. I don't know though.
Interesting. Speaking of noise, who is your favorite experimental musician?
Fanuelle - he's so amazing. His CD is fantastic but you cant find it anywhere. Fanuelle is this guy who lives in New York and walks around with ear plugs in all the time, and just hears these songs in his head. Then he records them all in "Garage Band" -- it's incredible home recording, just one guy and his music.
We talked a little recently about how perfect music also has a sense of humor and good times to it. What music do you consider the "most fun"?
Depends on my mood. Most of the time it's electro pop, stuff that's retarded and makes you dance and you can forget everything and just go crazy. Kylie Minouge does that to me. Her album Fever is amazing, I could listen to that forever. Then there are really good indie pop bands like the Go Betweens, and Gangway, and The Lucksmiths.
I know you like to get out there-- what tune always gets you on the dance floor?
I have been trying to figure out what makes songs dancy - and I have been going about it very scientifically with lists and charts and things like that, but man, it's hard to define what gets your ass on the dance floor. There is so much power in a song that really MAKES you dance. Like you're listening to it and you have to just move-- that's crazy! The ones that do it for me:
-Minor Detail - "Canvas Of Life"
-Kylie Minouge - "In My Arms"
-Crystal Castles - "Crimewave" (remix)
-The Knife - "Heartbeats"
-Le Sport - "Chemical Drugs"
-Daft Punk - anything by them will make you shake your butt.
I know what you mean! I am not a dancer so the songs that get me on the floor really have got that certain something that's insane about them! It really is indescribable. I want to see your research though! What album do you love that you think more people should listen to?
There are a lot of albums I want to tell people about - ones that they should know about, that are not famous bands and famous bands with great albums that don't get any respect. Still, I would have to say Joanna Newsom's Ys -- I just cleaned out all the songs on my ipod, and I realised that I have had that album on my ipod since before it came out... so everyone should hear it. It's magical.
I agree 110%. What song do you hear and always wish that you had written?
"Hit Me Baby One More Time" -- if I had the songwriting credits on that song, I could be so damn wealthy. Or "Coffee and TV" by Blur. That song is so perfect.
Do you have any musical guilty pleasures?
I don't believe in guilty pleasures. I'll totally own up to liking things, and anyone who says they like something ironically is lying to you. You either like something or you don't listen to it! There are some things that I'm not to proud to tell people I like - Fall Out Boy, Everlife, Paul Simon's later work. but whatever...
Yeah let's kill irony dead! I'm all about the new sincerity! What song can cure a hangover, guaranteed, every time?
I've found that the best hangover cure is giggling - so any song that makes you laugh, maybe Morrissey's "King Leer." I don't know...
Morrissey has come up more in these interviews than any other musician by far! It's crazy. So what music did your parents listen to while you were growing up?
My mom was a total beatnik growing up - she wanted to name me Thelonious when I was born. That would have been interesting! So I listened to a lot of jazz growing up - Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman. But also the Beatles and Bonnie Raitt. A funny thing happened the other day - I was cleaning my house and I instinctually put on a Bonnie Raitt album. That's what we listened to when we cleaned the house on the weekends - crazy how those types of memories get stored and just come out at times.
Yeah, that's why I like to ask everyone that question-- cause I think whatever your parents listened to really seeps into your brain somehow, for better or worse. Speaking of family, my brother and I were constantly arguing about what was good music growing up (and still now). He's into Mr Bungle and I'm into Arthur Lee and Love. Did you and your brother ever fight over the stereo? What did he want to play and what did you?
We always fought over the stereo when we were younger. I wanted to listen to Bjork and he wanted to listen to The Specials and The Smiths. But he was older and always won. Now that we are both older, we get along really well and push each other to get into different things. He got me into Beach House, I got him into Boat Club, He gave me old Kinks singles, and I played him the My Bloody Valentine EP's.
That's sweet! You are lucky to have that kind of relationship. I gotta check out Beach House too! Everyone here keeps talking about them and I am still in the dark. What has been your best find at Amoeba?
Awww damn... I have so many! There was My Bloody Valentine's "Isn't Anything" LP that came with a limited edition 7" that had two instrumental tracks I had never even read about. The Black Orpheus soundtrack 7" with songs not on the album. Lightning Bolt's first 7". There are so many. I wanted to write a Music We Like entry titled "Amazing Things I Have Found That You Will Never Find," kinda like that...
What is your most prized musically-related possession (record/gear/whatever)?
My hard drive at home - I could press play on my computer, go on vacation for a couple of months, and nobody will have known I was gone, cause my music's been playing the entire time! HAHAHAHA!
What's the best show you've been to in the last year or so?
Surprisingly, since I have started playing shows, I don't like to go see live music. But I have seen Girls play twice now - and they are the best band in San Francisco since forever. I like to go see Bridez play-- we just played a show with them and it was great. Their drummer was too drunk to play and the singer broke a mic or something so we all had to hightail it out of the warehouse we had just played! It was madness. But fun.
What have you been listening to lately?
Getting back into the classics - Paul Simon, The Soup Dragons, Lemonheads, Go-Betweens, R.E.M, The Cure and Oasis. Also some new things -- Vampire Weekend, Geniva Jacuzzi, Dreamdate, Lightspeed Champion, Voxtrot.
I'm always getting back to the classics, it seems. So what's the best part about working at Amoeba, in your opinion?
It's the people. I have met so many amazingly awesome people working here. Work goes by quickly cause we are all having fun... most of the time. The people here are cool and I'm surrounded by all the music I love. It's a great job. There's a reason I have been here almost 3 years. It works for me.
Me too. Thank you for your time.