The Employee Interview XXI: Scott Walker

Posted by Miss Ess, November 4, 2008 05:52pm | Post a Comment
Scott Walker
Years of Employment: "Since the turn of the century."
Jazz floor dude

Miss Ess: What initially got you into jazz?

SW: A horrible answer: I don't remember. Most probably, like many people, it was a mid-era Miles Davis [record]. Pinpointing which one, twenty something years down the road, I would only be guessing.

ME: What album do you consider to be the pinnacle of the form?

SW: To me, there are different forms: Free/Avant, Bop, Trad, so I am tempted to answer one example for each, but won't at risk of boring/alienating readers. I would say an early [Thelonious] Monk recording: one of the late 40s sessions.

ME: What present-day jazz artists do you enjoy?

SW: Seeing Marilyn Crispell last week was pretty heavy: solo piano. I like solo piano stuff a lot, it's kind of like listening to a demo of a song -- it's distilled down to an essence, whether it's Fats Waller, Monk, or Sun Ra. It's hard, because like blues, jazz is so much about re-releases and focusing on history, standards, and regurgitation.

Is there a jazz record you love that crept up on you-- maybe one you didn't love it at first but grew to adore?

I didn't like electric Miles Davis when I first heard it. It was probably parallel to when people first hear electric Dylan: "Is he really serious/allowed to do this?" Now I listen to the electric stuff more often than the acoustic.

What artist's live show would you most like to attend/have attended (living or dead)?

Again, late 40s Monk: Maybe at Minton's Playhouse with all the greats, but it's hard because if I was there with a current mindset -- seeing separate drinking fountains, things like that -- it would make me feel horrible to witness that aspect of United States. Maybe late 60s Europe -- one of the Art Ensemble [of Chicago] shows, or [Anthony] Braxton, the expats.

What music do you like to listen to while you skateboard?

I don't skateboard as much as I used to, because work has hurt my back, but it's always been mixtapes -- the music that they played at the Marina Del Rey Skatepark in the late 70s: punk/classic rock. I remember longhairs and punks together, carving to B-52s, Aerosmith, Devo, Ted Nugent, Circle Jerks -- that's when eclecticism first entered my aesthetics.

What was the first punk record you ever heard and how did it impact you?

That's easy, unless you consider Devo and Blondie punk, it was X: Los Angeles/Wild Gift. My best friend's sister, who lived two doors down, was a few years older, and I remember her taking her dad's Foghat/Jethro Tull LPs off and putting those on. I remember thinking that this was way more dangerous than the Nuge; then, going to the skatepark, I realized that rebellion is rebellion -- no matter what color, flavor or method. When they re-released those a few years back, all shined up with killer bonus stuff, It was like New Year's and all those religious holidays rolled into one.

What punk band do you think made the biggest impression on you and how did it influence your life?

If it wasn't X, it was Black Flag -- especially mid-80s Black Flag. I had long hair, still, at that time, and when that dirge-y, slow, My War stuff came out, I thought: "Maybe I won't get beat up at this punk show."

What was the LA punk scene like back in the 80s?

Seeing Jane's Addiction every month for a few years was real nice; because I grew up with those guys, I rarely had to pay, and shows were more intimate. [Then there were] Black Flag and X as mentioned above. Seeing real early Red Hot Chili Peppers before their 2nd album was real fun. There were some of the older bands still riding the end of that 70s wave that I could see: Gun Club at the Cathay stands foggy but proud in my memory. Seeing Social Distortion play next to my friend's pool, when they (along with The Dickies) could be had for $800 (each) was sweet. I only saw Minutemen once, but it was free, outside.

Since we heard Tim today in the store, might as well ask: what Replacements album is your favorite and why?

That's real tough because of all the new reissues with all those bonus tracks. Right now it's whichever one is on -- and they're on very often. If pressed hard, I would say "don't press so hard," then say Tim -- because it was the first, and I got it for free at school because I went to school in Burbank, and Warners donated a bunch of cutouts for a silent auction. My mom bid highest and won. I don't even remember the other records in that stack.

Can you compare at all the differences/similarities between the music scenes of Northern CA now and Southern CA when you lived there?

I never came up here until after I got out of high school, not even with my folks. All I knew was Dead Kennedys were from up here. Then I got Hardcore California: A History of Punk and New Wave by Peter Belsito and Bob Davis. It was divided in half between upper and lower Cali, so that was important information. When I was younger than that, I pictured Grateful Dead/Jefferson Airplane people with no shoes/showers, sucking on handrolled.

Did the music that your brothers listen to influence you at all growing up?

I was never that close to them, growing up. They listened to more mainstream stuff, and shared a room. I was the oldest, so they were subjected/brainwashed by me as I drove them to school. We're close now, but at that time it was tough: I had to seek stuff out at school or from friends, then pass it on. I didn't like their musical choices too much, but didn't mind driving them to Rush or Asia shows.

Do you have any musical heroes?

Musical heroes that I would like to play similar to? Musical heroes who inspire me creatively? I don't play much music on instruments anymore, but did a handful of years of alto sax; I can read music, so when I heard Charlie Parker, it was a revelation. Jazz music inspires me more than other types, and the amount of chapters that unfolded out of the Coltrane legacy are a never-ending source of comfort, challenge, inspiration and repeated listening. Of course, Monk. After all this renewed Replacements interest -- Paul Westerberg. That song, "You're Getting Married," on the Stink reissue is one of the heaviest things I've heard in a long time.

What song best captures your life right now, this minute?

Probably something instrumental. I've lost a few loved ones in the past few years, so maybe something super up, or super down. This is the most difficult question so far, but I don't want to crap out on any of them.

I know you are a voracious reader. Can you recommend any music-related books you've particularly enjoyed?

That's easy -- Da Capo is an amazing publisher for music books: the Best Music Writing series, edited by guest editors, is always a safe bet. Dance of the Infidels about Bud Powell is amazing. The Sonny Rollins bio. The Joe Boyd memoir, White Bicycles, was a great read, as was Phil Lesh's autobio.

Many good L.A. punk books: Marc Spitz' We Got the Neutron Bomb, Brendan Mullen's Live at the Masque. Mullen also put together a good oral history of Jane's Addiction called Whores. Another remarkable oral history: Legs McNeil's Please Kill Me.

British postpunk: Simon Reynold's Rip It Up and Start Again. Colin McPhee's A House in Bali from the 30s is incredible journalism/travel/music hybrid book. I'm about to start Fela -- From West Africa to West Broadway, edited by Trevor Schoonmaker.

What is your favorite music-related film? Favorite soundtrack? And why?

I just watched the Fela Kuti doc, Music is the Weapon, for the 5th or 6th time. It's out of print, so I feel bad recommending it, as is Sun Ra's Space is the Place. As far as available films, Monk's Straight No Chaser I could watch every Monday for 6 months. We usually have that used for round about $10. It's a good soundtrack also. Big Lebowski is my favorite soundtrack, hands down. That's all over the board, but no filler. They need to put out a Vol. 2, like they did with Boogie Nights.

You're so right: Big Lebowski has a masterful soundtrack. Townes Van Zandt's version of "Dead Flowers" is my fave on it. What is your favorite local band nowadays?

The Bar Feeders. [They'll be at] Great American with Hanson Brothers and Triclops, Sunday, 30 Nov. -- be there, or hear about it for the rest of your life, regretting it, looking at photos, and trying to build a time machine.

What has been your best find at Amoeba?

It would have to be a clearance LP. Like most people who've been asked this question, I feel that it is of paramount import to make the general public realize that if they go out to a thrift store, pick up a used turntable, or hell, buy one of those $100 Numark deals, they'll be happier in the long run.

Thanks so much for your time.

The Employee Interview XX: Michelle

Posted by Miss Ess, October 14, 2008 04:24pm | Post a Comment
2 years employment
Floor Gal

Miss Ess: I know you are quite the artist. Whose music ins
pires your visual art? What do you like to listen to while you draw/paint?

Michelle: I have to listen to music when I draw or paint or am making something. What works best for me at the moment is drone-y, abstract, experimental sounds/different noises. I'm really into Philip Jeck's Surf album this week for sure. 
ME: What song describes your life perfectly right now?

Michelle: [What] describes my life perfectly right now is Reverend Al Green! Wooo hoooo! Of course! I'm in love and Al Green pops up wherever I go. One time we went to our favorite breakfast diner and they played Al Green songs the whole time we were there. Fancy beer plus fancy chocolate plus fancy Al Green equals good quality couple time.
ME: How did you arrive at Amoeba?

Michelle: When I graduated and got my bachelor of fine arts I quit my job at Borders that I'd [had] for my whole 5 years of college; [I was] in charge of the music department. 

Then, I applied to both the Berkeley and Haight [Street] Amoebas; I love music, it fit my schedule, and [there are] creative people all over the place. [That] is what led me to the store. I'd cut high school just to go to shop at Amoeba; I always admired the people working there too.
I wanted to work at the Haight [Street] store but Berkeley hired me first. I was there for about half a year and transferred over to the Haight [Street] store and here I am now.
ME: What was it like to meet Mick Jones when he came in the store?

Michelle: Mick Jones! Oh my gosh, dream come true. I thought I was really going to faint. My whole day was in slow motion, my heart was in shock. I cried in front of him. I'm not even a star struck kind of person. I got to take a picture with him and I was a freaking stiff nerd. My co worker said I was shaking when he was talking to me. If I hadn't worked here I would have never gotten to meet him. The Clash is thee band that led me to appreciate and explore music.
ME: What women in music do you think are really pushing the envelope?

Michelle: Can't really think of any at the moment. Oh, I know. I'll always like Cat Power; now that girl is real. I guess being real is pushing the envelope nowadays.

ME: That's kind of true, yeah. Sad, but true. What song/album do you think captures the feeling of being in love the best?

Michelle: The ultimate [sound] of feeling in love... Al Green, of course, but I already mentioned him. Who else: The Beatles. You know you're in true love when listening to the Beatles carries a good part in your relationship. And duh, "Meeeshelle my belle"... That song was made for me.
I like that new T.I. song. It's cute & tough-- the one that goes kinda like "you can have whatever you liiiiiiiike" ["Whatever You Like"]. I'll probably hate it in a month though.

ME: What song makes you cry?
Michelle: Sigur Ros songs off the ågætis byrjun album. 

ME: What song is going to get you out on the dance floor immediately?
Michelle: Ummm, first a couple of drinks in my tummy and then some good 60s soul. I bump into some co- workers I rarely talk to at 60s soul nights once in a while and boogie down with them on the dance floor almost all through the nite. Seeee-- music does make the world go round.

Oh yeah, '80s stuff is always fun to dance to.

ME: How has your sister influenced your listening habits?
Michelle: I have two sisters. I'm the middle one. I'm the only one who really bothers with music stuff. It just happened that way. Blacksheep? No. Sweet sheep? Yes.

ME: What's your pick for best release of 2008 so far?

Michelle: Spiritualized - Songs in A & E, Sigur Ros - Með Suð Í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust.

ME What is the most enjoyable part about working at Amoeba?

Michelle: [That it's] not stressful. [The] flexibility.

ME: What has been your best find at Amoeba?

Michelle: Tony Dryer. Geez, he's the one that finally made me understand what all those darn love songs are about. Never really listened to the words. I get it now. Who knew?...Yes, I'm a cornball. 

ME: It's adorable how so many employees say their significant other when I ask that question! Amoeba is a great matchmaker! Hell, it worked for me too! Thanks for your time Michelle!

The Employee Interview Part XIX: John Garcia

Posted by Miss Ess, October 1, 2008 02:20pm | Post a Comment
John Garcia
Over 10 years employment, spread across all 3 stores!
New Product Buyer

Miss Ess: What is your pick for best release of 2008 so far?

John Garcia: Well, so far it is probably the rather weighty 4-CD box set on the Cleanfeed label that brought together multi-instrumentalist Anthony Braxton and guitarist Joe Morris together for the first time (Four Improvisations [Duo] 2007). Each disc is one solid uninterrupted hour of improvisation between these two masterful performers. They are both busy players that ironically have a keen sense of space, but they use that space very differently. Listening to them attempt to resolve those differences on the fly is big part of the fun of the album. The critic Whitney Balliett is credited with calling jazz "the sound of surprise." Under the best of circumstances, all great music has that quality somewhere.
Also, I am also still quite taken with the new album by the British folk group Rachel Unthank & The Winterset, Bairns. I wrote about it in the upcoming Music We Like (Fall 2008) and just as the Braxton/Morris album is complex and flitting, Unthank & Co. are relatively simple, slow-moving and austere. These qualities are their strength, vocally and instrumentally.
Oh yeah, and that Soft Machine DVD, Alive In Paris 1970 is pretty remarkable visually, musically and historically. It documents a performance by the rare quintet version of the band recorded for a then-new half-hour French TV music series. They were the first band featured in the series. Their set was so popular that they aired a second show using the unused footage they shot for the first show. Most of the cameras are onstage and backstage, so some of the angles are unusually intimate and intense. It is only slightly marred by the occasional overdubbed cheers and applause that, apparently, were used to disguise some of the sound editing that needed to be done. At least they resisted using the "psychedelic" special effects that intrude on so much documentary and televised footage of the period.

ME: Is there a label whose output you will always check out, regardless of if you have heard about the record or not?
JG: Yeah, they are mostly jazz or "new music" labels, like Hatology, Emanem, the aforementioned Cleanfeed, Songlines, Intakt, Tzadik, Balance Point Acoustics, Pi, Psi, Recommended. But, the Smithsonian, Water, Fledgling and Rune Grammophon labels [also] usually have items of interest. There may be a couple I am forgetting right now. There used to be a lot more, but many great indie labels have either gone under or slowed their release schedule down to a trickle.
ME: What music takes you back to your childhood?
JG: Well, my relationship to music was very sporadic during early childhood. It was something that would get my attention from time to time, but in essence it seemed very foreign to me. I remember being very uncomfortable in record stores as these crazy looking people stared at me from their album covers and posters in their outlandish glam and disco attire. These were the days of vinyl and the eight-track. I sometimes tried to make sense of it by imagining that the covers of the albums were telling some sort of story which would then be concluded, or at least continued on the back cover. Some albums told better stories than others, although I can't really remember any of them now.
When music was played at home it was usually Spanish-language radio pop. As far as recordings went, they were usually lounge-type albums which I hated (that distaste never went away), bullfighting music and the French-born Argentinean tango singer, Carlos Gardel (both of which I liked). Sometimes there would be some Tony Bennett, Perry Como, Engelbert Humperdinck, Tom Jones or Bing Crosby.
I seemed to break away from my parents' tastes when I became enamored of the soundtrack to the first movie I ever saw in a theater, Pinocchio. I remember playing that a lot. I also remember being heart-broken when I'd inadvertently left the album in the sun and it got horribly warped. It just sat there undulating on the turntable, steadfastly refusing to let the stylus rest on a single groove. My father placed the album between a pile of large heavy books for about three months and it was at least playable after that. I had also acquired a 45 of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Down On The Corner/Fortunate Son" which I thought was great.
The other song I remember liking during those formative years was Ringo Starr's 'No No Song." I really had no idea that the song was about drugs and rehab; it was just really catchy. It sounded like a song for kids. It still does. I did not have the record, so I remember actively jumping from one radio station to the next searching for this song. It was the first time I had actively engaged a radio. I was about 10 years old.

Somewhere in there, I heard a radio show about music from India and I remember liking that very much, but it would be quite a while before I would pursue that avenue.
ME: Somehow all of Ringo's songs sound like they were made for kids! Was there a particular live show you attended that changed your life?
JG: I didn't see much live music growing up, but the few acts I did see made a big impression. The first live music I saw was a Flamenco troupe that played in Oakland, CA. Sadly, I don't remember who they were, but they were remarkable to a 7-year-old. And it was more than just music, there was singing and dancing and there even seemed to be some sort of plot involved, so, it was dramatic in every sense. And it was very loud. The fast guitar strumming, the castanets, the movements and percussion the dancers provided and this seemingly otherworldy singing were stunning, even a little frightening. We even got to go backstage! But, shy as I already was, I was struck dumb as I gazed upon these god-like beings.
The first concert I ever saw was probably a couple years after that at the Circle Star Theater in San Carlos, CA where I saw John and June Carter Cash and the whole family band in the round. This was very different from the Flamenco troupe, but in some ways no less dramatic, in part because the stage of the venue slowly revolved throughout the show. They seemed more friendly and less forbidding than the Flamenco folks, and they joked around and told stories. I knew most of the songs they played because I used to watch Johnny Cash on TV all of the time, on his own show and as a guest on other shows. I also had the Live At San Quentin album, which was also the first time I'd ever heard expletives deleted and always wondered what words they were bleeping out. The one song I didn't know beforehand was "The Man In Black," which he performed towards the end of the show and whose lyrics were printed on the program that I still own. Anyway, it was all very enjoyable, but music was still something I felt was a bit beyond me. That feeling has never fully gone away.
ME: Do you remember the moment when you suddenly really really got into music? 

JG: In I976, for reasons only a twelve year old in search of something seemed to understand, I started to listen to (almost) NOTHING but country radio. KNEW-AM. So, I became familiar with works of Tom T. Hall, Dottie West, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Jim Stafford, Waylon 'n' Willie (and the boys), Johnny Paycheck, Ray Stevens (Ray Stevens!?) and many others. Perhaps it was Johnny Cash's influence, or the fact that Hoyt Axton co-wrote the "No No Song," but I really got into it and this went on for over two years. It wasn't until the early eighties that I learned about the Stanley Brothers, Hank Williams, Charlie Poole or Bob Wills (although there was that Merle Haggard song…).
Around the time Elvis died in 1977, I realized, like so many others did, that I had always liked Elvis, from his movies and from the radio, but never owned his records, so I started listening to and collecting his records. The next year I went to live in Panama for a short while. When I returned, I stayed with my aunt and cousin. My cousin had what seemed at the time to be a huge record collection. He said I could listen to whatever I wanted. Most of it seemed very strange, but I do remember listening to the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper for the first time. I didn't particularly like it, but it did cause me to want to listen to other albums by them; besides, that Ringo guy was in the band. It was somewhere in between being obsessed by Elvis to being obsessed with the Beatles, while still listening to country radio, that I felt a connection had been established. I gradually started listening to other radio stations (I even did my own informal top ten songs of the week chart for a while), checking out unfamiliar music from the library, and reading any number of magazines, biographies and criticisms.
ME: Who are some of your favorite jazz artists?
JG: So, the above searching led me to various kinds of Rock, particularly Prog, older Blues and 20th Century Classical, among other things. I didn't get into Jazz until college. I thought that horrible lounge stuff I heard as a child, and the work of certain artists like Tom Scott, John Klemmer, and David Sanborn was what Jazz was. So, I wanted no part of it. A drummer friend of mine had started a band that was based on the style of the aforementioned players and I concluded upon hearing them that I hated the saxophone.
A few months later, another friend of mine played me some of the Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli Hot Club stuff. I could relate that to some of the bluegrass and even some of the Rock I had heard. Then I jumped into John Coltrane's Giant Steps. I liked that, too, particularly the tunes and Art Taylor's rather aggressive drumming, especially on "Mr. PC." Then I listened to Coltrane's Meditations from the mid-Sixties, and that made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. It brought me back to the frightened excitement that I felt at the Flamenco troupe's performance. Things snowballed from there.
I'd like to point out here that although I know that genres are important in retail and commercial environs (and even in this interview) for the purposes of organization, they really have nothing to do with creativity or the creative process. They are a false construct which ultimately boxes in artists, usually unfairly, into a context that gives validity only to the conventions (or clichés) of that context. If an artist tries to express his or herself in a manner that does not conform to those preconceptions they are generally viewed negatively, if they are regarded at all.
I have come to realize over time that I could not truly give my allegiance to those parameters. Even as a listener, those parameters are not your friend; they will let you down. There is so much in every genre that I find objectionable that I can no longer think in terms of "kinds of music," aesthetically speaking. There really is just "music," as confounding and as broad and as obtuse as it sounds.
On the other hand, individual artists/people, once they have touched me, I will follow to the ends of the earth. I will follow the arc of their career, and be forgiving of their seeming missteps [just] as I exult in their seeming triumphs. And I say "seeming" because my perception of art can and will change over time, and eventually I might find something I like about something I thought inferior or reverse my view of a masterpiece in the context of the overall output of an artist.
Having said all of that: artists whose work is primarily viewed as jazz that I will always revel in are (in no real order): Anthony Braxton, Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, James "Blood" Ulmer, Johnny Dodds, Ronald Shannon Jackson, Eddie Lang, Tal Farlow, Marilyn Crispell, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Wadada Leo Smith, Julius Hemphill, Michael Moore (the reed player), Tim Berne, Thelonious Monk, Alice Coltrane, Irene Schweizer, Steve Lacy, Bill Evans, Evan Parker, Michele Rosewoman, Charlie Parker, Lol Coxhill, Henry Threadgill, Leroy Jenkins, George Lewis, Abbey Lincoln, Sonny Sharrock, Albert Ayler, Billy Harper, Eric Dolphy, Peter Brötzmann, Charles Mingus, Billy Bang, the Art Ensemble Of Chicago, Pee Wee Russell… I better stop there, otherwise this will start spilling over onto your other blogs.
ME: Which artist was the one who got you interested in world music in the first place?
JG: Well, those Flamenco cats were pretty persuasive. And as I said, I grew up listening to Spanish-language pop, like Raphael, Peret, Lola Beltran, Carlos Gardel and Armando Manzanero. But, hearing the recordings Ravi Shankar made with Yehudi Menuhin and also with Ustad Ali Akbar Khan made a big impression. There is a historic and musical connection between the music of Northern India and Flamenco, that whole Silk Road thing, so I must have heard that on some level. The way I approach the music of other cultures (and music in general, I suppose) is that I listen for the traits that they have in common with each other. I am not very interested in the differences, which tend to be very obvious and often superficial. I also do not like the idea of having a world music specialty; I love many things about many of the world's musics, but there is much I don't like, particularly when fusions go wrong.
But, as I said before, there are artists I will always follow. In this case a small list would include: Amadou & Mariam, Wu Man, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Tom Zè, King Sunny Ade, Hossein Alizadeh, Simon Shaheen, Rachid Taha, Kayhan Kalhor, Dafnis Prieto, Valentin Clastrier, Planxty, Raul Marrero, R. Prassana, Lucilla Galeazzi, Mala Rodriguez, Michihiro Sato, Oumou Sangare, Fosforito and so, so on.....
I will forever be a student, as there's always so much to learn.
ME: You made your much talked about Amoebapalooza debut this year.  Do you have a fantasy Amoebapalooza band? Who would you cover or pay tribute to? What would you play?

JG: Playing both the SF and Berkeley Amoebapaloozas was very nerve-wracking but enjoyable. I am very honored and grateful that the other fellows in Proxy Music let me play with them, considering I had not played in public in 15 years and most of them didn't know that I even played an instrument before we had our first rehearsal! So, it was quite a leap of faith on their part. The crowds were very generous at both events. I do wish things, particularly my tuning and playing, had been better at the Berkeley store 'palooza, which took place in Oakland. Fortunately, a lot of the kinks were worked out by the time we played the SF event a week later. That was much better musically. The Roxy Music tribute band was a fond wish come true. That was always the biggie and I rather doubted it would ever happen.

I have toyed with various line-up possibilities in my mind over the years, but I won't embarrass anyone by being specific here.

So many great cover bands have already been done at these events, it is somewhat difficult to come up with things that haven't already been done. Some possible cover notions would be the songbooks of Nick Lowe, Lou Reed, Amadou & Mariam, Pete Ham, Robert Wyatt, Peter Green, Caravan, James "Blood" Ulmer, John Cale, Kevin Ayers, Richard Manuel, Graham Parker, Richard Thompson, Martin Carthy, Ray Davies, Tom Verlaine... there are others, but just jotting down these names is daunting.

I imagine I would play guitar. If the situation were right I might dust off a vocal cord or two.
ME: What music-related movie do you watch over and over again?

JG: Probably The Last Waltz, despite the criminal under-utilization of the great Richard Manuel. From the movie, you'd think he was some weirdo sideman that they brought along for comic relief, rather than the integral soulful vocalist/writer he was. So, when I watch I enjoy most of the performances and collaborations, which are great, even though the "live" nature of the movie is compromised by all of the post-production overdubbing that went into it. Then, once it's over, I usually silently curse Robbie Robertson & Martin Scorsese for excluding Manuel. And I do understand that Manuel's lifestyle may have taken its toll by then, maybe he wasn't in peak musical form, but marginalizing him was still wrong.

ME: I think you're right about that. Richard Manuel is the unsung hero of The Band. What has been your favorite instore here at Amoeba SF?

JG: Probably Bobby Previte and Peru Negro.
I feel I've gone on too long. So, I thank you for your time.

ME: Thank you for your time!

The Employee Interview Part XVIII: Don

Posted by Miss Ess, July 3, 2008 01:25pm | Post a Comment
8ish years employment ("It's all a blur...")
Floor Manager Extraordinaire

Miss Ess: What have you been listening to lately?

Don: I've been listening to Adele, Sex & the City Soundtrack, Duffy and the new Kathy Griffin LP [For Your Consideration].

ME: What dance track changed your life?

Don: Donna Summer's Once Upon a Time was the dance album that changed my life. Not only because I realized I liked dance music but it was also the time I realized I like boys.

What album or song is your favorite to dance around to?

Wow what is my favorite dance lp? Hhhmm-- there are so many, but the stand out is probably "Dance This Mess Around" by the B52's. It's so much fun.

What lesser-known or forgotten artists should people seek out in the dance section?

Billy Ray Martin or Sophie Ellis-Bextor are two that spring to mind. Billy Ray is from Electribe 101 which was an amazing band also. Sophie is a current British pop dance diva.

What is your favorite Madonna video?

My favorite Madonna video is "Borderline" -- she was so real and feisty in that video. It was like she was hungry to succeed. I also love "Frozen."

You know you love them: what is your favorite TLC song?

Umm, I like "Waterfalls" the best, but "Creep" is a close second.

What is the best live show you have ever been to?

The best live show was Bruce Springsteen for The River tour. The energy was incredible and it was before he became mainstream with Born in the USA. Also Gus Gus at the Fillmore -- just a wall of keyboards and electronica and they blew the system at the Fillmore so it was like 30 min before the sound came back on.

What is your favorite Sex and the City episode and which character to you identify with the most?

I love the one where Carrie goes out to the Hamptons and her friend's husband flashes Carrie and Samantha keeps the peppermill joke going. There are so many great ones, but that one stands out. As a guy, if I had to choose a character --I guess Miranda is the most like me.

What Dolly Parton movie do you like best?

Not doubt it would be 9 To 5. The scene where they realized they have the wrong body in the trunk is classic: "Judy, can you come here for a minute?"  Love it!

Name a band you love that I would be surprised to hear that you are into, aside from the Boss – who knew!?

I guess X would surprise some people. I thought Exene was cool and the lyrics of their songs spoke to me, especially "Under the Big Black Sun" and "Wild Gift." Then I got to meet them here at Amoeba [at the Knitters instore] and I couldn't speak!

That’s your LA roots showing! If you could trade places with any musician, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Boy George-- that would be fun: the club kids, drugs, Taboo. I think it would be very interesting life story. I was one of the few people that saw Taboo in New York.

Was Rosie there [she produced the play]?

No it was in previews there still.

So, what is it about Kylie Minogue that you love so much anyway??

I just dig Kylie-- she is not the greatest singer, but she is a fashionista.

I know you are a big fan -- what impact did That Girl have on your life when you first saw it?

It really didn't change my life-- but it made me realize that women could do anything men can do.

What is your favorite music-related movie?

Wow, there are a few. First there was Tommy. I saw that when I was in junior high. I thought it was way out there. Also Evita. I thought Madonna was great in that. Across the Universe--loved it! As you know, I'm not crazy about the Beatles but I loved that movie.

What song or album reminds you of when you were a kid?

The song that reminds me of my childhood is Merle Haggard, "If We Make It Through December." It was the last song I can remember my parents listening to before they divorced.

What movie makes you cry every time you watch it?

I cry every time at The Joy Luck Club, Imitation of Life and the final scene in The Way We Were-- it's heartbreaking.

Yeah, that Joy Luck Club is a real tearjerker! I know you were a DJ back in the day.  What track would you play to get everyone out on the floor?

It was any Depeche Mode song, or Morrissey. Also, it was back in the beginning of the techno era, so any hit of the moment would pack the floor.

What's been your favorite instore?

My favorite in store was The Supersuckers. It was years ago.  And the Knitters, of course!

What's an album that you love that you think more people should listen to?

Yvonne Fair, The Bitch Is Black-- it's an amazing soul gem. More people should get hip to this.

What is your favorite thing about working at Amoeba?

The reason I like to work at Amoeba is because I love the big, dysfunctional family.

Thank you for your time.

The Employee Interview Part XVII: Andrew Lux

Posted by Miss Ess, March 13, 2008 02:54pm | Post a Comment
Andrew Lux
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?

- 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.

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