Blast from the past: 1995 interview about technology and gender

I was recently looking around for some info on my old computers, trying to remember the sequence of machines, and found this interview done by Liz Belile for some publication or another* (probably a ‘zine of some sort? Remember those?)

What’s new? This was almost 20 years ago, right about when we had our first web browsers.

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Interview about Technology:

Your name, gender, job title or brief self-description.

Jonathan Segel, male, puppet figurehead of MAGNETIC (a company that makes music CDs, among other things. Music is part of a larger context of “metatool” manufacturing, tools that allow the user to make or use other tools. Language is the best example…) Otherwise, a musician, writer, erstwhile San Francisco bartender and general nuisance.

 

What kinds of technology do YOU use 1) for work 2) for pure fun?

I use and have used many forms of “technology” for purposes that cross both categories. The computer that I am typing this into, a Macintosh Quadra 636, is used to make music (sequencing, lyric typing, score writing), pictures and words for business and fun (web and advertising, desktop publishing) and to track sales (if such happen).

Being a producer of CDs, I use various sound manipulation devices mostly common to recording studios, both large and small, including computers, tape decks, mixing boards, microphones, sound processors of all sorts—digital and analog, and both electrical and acoustic musical instruments.

I have to assume that by “technology” you mean electrical tech, otherwise to my list of entertainment tech that I use regularly (television, radio, telephone and answering machine, fax machine) I would add books and magazines, which are indeed manufactured by machines. I still view the printing press as technology.

In addition to this list I would like to add the internal combustion engine, an invention I greatly admire and use in many forms for fun, travel and hauling physical objects, including the aforementioned.

 

How has new technology affected your life directly? Indirectly?

I have tried to keep in touch with a semblance of world-wide pop culture for the past ten years, and to keep a hand in it. the technology of recording studios and (previously vinyl, now CD) record manufacturing has enabled me to put out a product into the ever-expanding spiral of human art, hopefully to be heard by and perhaps to inspire a greater number of people than I could have, say, in 1950. As time goes on and the technology to do such things becomes more and more prevalent and available to the public at large, more and more people will be (and are) able to do the same. This affects me directly, in that, as more people are able to put their own art into the market of the world, mine as an individual becomes less unique in its availability and more common in a larger context, thus less able to support me financially as an artist. Is this bad? I don’t really know. Obviously it means I have to support myself otherwise (preying on humanity’s addiction to alcohol as a bartender, currently) but I have to believe that more art from humanity in general is a good thing, ultimately everybody expressing their own creativity rather than relying on specified “artists” strikes me as a good idea. I suppose there will always be prodigies in art, sports, etc., but recapturing the element of actual “doing” rather than being spectators bodes well for humankind.

 

What would you like your computer to do for you?

I was 6 when we put men on the moon (…if you believe that they did…) Growing up, I was convinced that technology would progress at an astounding rate and have been seriously let down that it didn’t keep up with my futuristic expectations. I want not only my computer but even my toaster to be semi-intelligent. I would prefer all my machines to act according to my command and to understand what I am telling them to do, e.g. “please make me some toast”. I used to carry around a stainless steel zippo lighter to remind me of what I wanted my computer to be: small enough to fit into my hand and artificially intelligent, so I could tell it what to keep in its memory and it could project holographically any visual artwork I needed to work on.

 

Have you ever experienced CyberSex? What happened?

Unless you mean talking to a known and real sex partner on the telephone, no.

 

Do you read technical journals or online tech talk?

Yes, I read (sometimes) magazines on sound production and mixing, computers and motorcycles. I rarely use online tech talk, but I do sometimes call my brother on the telephone when I have computer problems.

 

How are you treated when you go into a consumer electronics store or a guitar store?

I generally prepare myself to enter such a store armed with information enough to disarm the salesmen, usually only entering when I actually intend to buy something and I know what it is. Of course, with musical instruments the interesting stores sell used equipment, so technological knowledge is less important. Here I have experienced both ends of the spectrum: in big cities where I am not a known quantity, I am treated as an amateur by the generally snobbish (because of the elite nature of musical knowledge) clerks, however in, say, Santa Cruz, where I used to live, the smaller stores recognize me as a professional musician and treat me with a respect that allows me inside the elite circle and I get to try the latest guitars into the shop and hear their histories. I think this kind of in-on-it or out-of-it treatment happens with most tech or guitar shops, it’s a part of the supply and demand style of capitalism: people who make records (say, rock stars) are given music by others who would be glad to have them hear it (they are, after all, experts in the field, proven simply by the fact that they make records), while those who don’t have to buy it.

 

The Gender Thing

Do males and females interact differently with computers? Please cite an example of this if you think so. What does this say about us?

Ok, I have to say that my experience will probably be the opposite of the general consensus in that I have read that the computer industry considers the Mac/IBM dichotomy to be some kind of analog to the right/left brain dichotomy and as such the right brain, picture oriented users are more often female while the left brain, code users are more often male. I would point out that in exact opposition to that, most female computer users I know use IBMs and can do and understand, for example, database work better than I can, better in fact than most of the male computer users I know, who use Macs and do picture stuff.

Regardless of that, I do not believe that males and females interact differently with computers, it’s an individual thing. Both go both ways.

 

How does “interactive” technology affect our consciousness toward the future? What is the role of technology in the future, specifically for women? And for men?

…Tough question. It seems to me that “interactive” technology is based on entertaining, even in its mode of information retrieval. I don’t see it as helping people to do things in the real physical world, even in terms of hand-eye coordination (frisbee would be as good as star wars in training jet fighters) and I worry about people abusing the time lag between input and response preventing them be fully and truly “there” at any given moment, which is something that I think is important for conscious human beings.

I grew up in a female-dominated (read: single mom) household during the 60s and 70s and never really distinguished differences in the roles of males and females in society, so I don’t see technology’s role as being different for one or the other gender…?

 

How has technology affected the way men and women interact with each other? Can technology improve interactions with men and women?

I have only heard of, never experienced online dating, (or, in fact unknown-quantity dating in the real world, always seen friends!) Although I gather that these are common things in the world-out-there. I don’t know about how it affects interactions.

Where I live, for the most part people are beyond assuming that one or the other gender knows more or less about technology being discussed. Can it improve interactions? I doubt it. Telephones will still relay more emotional information than email.

 

Can we have better sex through technology?

Don’t know yet. Have they built the Orgasmatron?

 

The Purely Philosophical Thing:

Is technology inherently evil?

No. People are the only thing that could ever be inherently evil.

 

Who gets access to technology?

Presently, those with the resources. Of course, our governments have the resources, enough to allow every person access, but it isn’t done yet. I think computers could be useful educational tools in literacy programs worldwide, even for uninterested children. Maybe the web will be used as informational rather than strictly entertaining. I haven’t been able to get my computer to teach me Japanese yet, but I have learned an awful lot about goats.

 

 

 

 

* apparently it was called “GoDigital!” says Liz.

 

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Posted in Technology

A Short Tour, part two

Returning to our lovely Vallejo Ramada Inn, we bought a six pack of Lagunitas IPA on the way, and when I went down to Chris’ room to pick one up, I ran into some 20-something kids on the stairs outside his room smoking a joint. I asked for a hit, but the guy said he didn’t like sharing. I see. That turned out to mean that he didn’t like passing them back and forth between people’s mouths, so after he had had enough he handed it to me. I saw Bobby across the courtyard and beckoned to him, when he came over I handed it to him and he wondered which way it was going, but at that point it was all him.

So these kids were growers from “The gateway to Yosemite!”, which I found fascinating.  The guy went to fetch his phone to show me pictures of his starter plants, one that he said was the typical pride of California called “Blue [something or other]” and the other strain was called “Girl Scout Cookies”. The girl was working hospice of some sort or another, they were of course there for the rock festival. Unfortunately they were there to see bands that they had grown up on, turned on by their parents: Third Eye Blind and The Bare Naked Ladies. Yikes! Third Eye Blind had played either before or after Cracker that day, so I’d asked if they had stayed for that. Who? Spin Doctors…? I said, hey you should see Camper Van Beethoven, although we overlap with the Bare Naked Ladies tomorrow. Bobby had some short discussion with the girl, who was smoking a cigarette, about her musical taste and determined that she would not like CVB at all anyway so don’t bother. He’s a hard sell, obviously.

Then suddenly the Moldavian girl came over to tell us that we were scaring other hotel guests by hanging out on the stairs, so we had to go into the courtyard. Goldie was already there in the jacuzzi. Goldie is actually named Aaron, a friend and/or old bandmate of Bobby’s whom we have worked with several times, including at the Camp-Out in Pioneertown. He was acting roadie for the weekend, he had actually singlehandedly gone to Victor’s to get the West Coast gear in the rental van and driven it up to Napa before the Cracker set, which was before Victor got home. Victor and Troy had in fact just returned from Hawaii that afternoon and he was at home practicing a bit, as he was going to play bass at the festival show the next day, David Immergluck had flown straight to Los Angeles after Portland to get his shit together: after the next week’s shows he was heading out on tour with the Counting Crows for most of the summer, and then their record would be coming out in the fall so I imagine he’ll be busy for the entire next year.

We hung out a bit near the jacuzzing Goldie, the other couple and Bobby and him talked in their special 20-something language which I lost the thread of. Couldn’t really follow it. Suddenly she said to Bobby, “so, you gonna offer me a job?” I have no idea what they were talking about. I rudely asked why they were still smoking cigarettes if everybody nowadays knew what they did to you, how they prematurely aged you and how the money just went straight to heartless corporations, how could kids in this day and age have any excuse to do so…? “Yeah, I keep trying to quit.” I wanted to at least get the guy to come over to see Camper the next day, but I don’t know if he ever did, he would have to abandon his girlfriend.

The Moldavian girl came again to shoo us out of the jacuzzi area, but it was getting cold anyway. I asked Bobby if he could put her on the list for the next day, he said no problem, but again, I don’t know if it ever really happened, even though she wasn’t working and was very excited to do so. How on earth did she ever end up working in a Ramada Inn in Vallejo, California, anyway, I wonder?

So the next day I got up and ventured into the shopping center next door, with the intention of exploring Target for a new suitcase. Of course, first stop was coffee, which meant Starbucks, the 128kbps mp3 of coffee. “Good enough is good enough” Chris was already there. After coffee, I did make it to Target but couldn’t decide on a new suitcase (I re-considered the idea of switching everything over before flying to LA and it seemed daunting. My current suitcase was a lovely green Sierra Designs that lasted about a year and a half on tour before losing half its plastic base and half of its pull-handle, with the screws winding their way out of the corner protectors. Thanks, REI, for providing such quality gear. Target had some ~$100 “Swiss Gear” models…) On the way back, I passed Eyebrow Hub, an establishment hitherto unknown. I thought I was in the club this whole time, too.

this is where we meet.

Chris and I reconvened at the hotel and packed everything into the Kia, headed off to the festival, this time with “artist parking”, which was gonna make all the difference. To tell the truth, I was already a little freaked out by the experience of the thousands of people the day before and the rush of time at festivals, and simply thinking about it on the way over caused yet another spasmodic bite, this time the side of my tongue! Now I had matching bites on the cheek and tongue. Great. That always makes your tongue feel like it’s too big for your mouth so you end up biting it more. It’s weird how a small inflammation from a tongue wound can make your tongue feel many times larger than it is in your mouth, like it takes up all the space between the sides of your teeth and more, how huge it feels in your mouth… (I’m just prodding you into freaking out about your own tongues right now.)

We made it to the festival and got to park backstage, which made things much easier. It was a short walk behind the main stage to the tents where we had our backstage, roughly the same area as Cracker had the day before. Bobby had cryptically mentioned (he claims “not so cryptic…”, though it was a late night conversation revealing new plans) that I would have to drive the gear and return the rental van after the show, which was actually a drag for me, so I had to re-clarify what was happening. Indeed, rather than have the guy (Goldie) whom we were paying to be the roadie for this festival drive the gear back, he was driving to Sacramento with David and Bobby after the show and flying to LA. This was because our set time was made later than initially planned for, though in fact our 5pm set time seemed better to me than playing earlier. So I was ‘volunteered’ to drive the equipment van back to Victor’s, unload it and then return it to the rental car center at SFO, which meant getting Victor to pick me up there later that evening. I’m usually up for driving anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal, though it meant no beer after the show which I really would have liked (they had some interesting ones backstage that I never tasted), and that extra time spent unloading and driving to the airport—SFO is a good half hour from the city. I mention all of this because people always think that being “on tour” is all about getting to a venue and going in and playing music, but the truth is that it’s all day long doing other things (or worse, not being able to do anything for hours) and the hour or so on stage is just the visible, and fun, part.

Bit by bit we moved all our gear to the side of the stage, and Chris set up the drums, our West Coast kit. I had my actual West Coast gear as well, which meant my real pedalboard and my black Stratocaster, and our Bel-Air brand mandolin, made by a company in Richmond, VA that David likes, who made decent inexpensive instruments. Much better than the crap Fender mandolin we had used for the previous two shows. I would definitely try to fly this one to the southern California shows as well. I couldn’t really set anything up prior to our actual stage time, though, so I just assessed what was there.

Then we got to wait around. We ate lunch at catering, this time we had full day passes for meals. I could have watched the Spin Doctors on the main stage, I guess… I did try to see Keep Shelly in Athens on the “Sprint” stage before us, but they were having some problems syncing their computer to the drums and guitar or something. When I came back by to see how it was going they were unenthusiastically playing what sounded like prerecorded things and barely paying attention to the scant audience in the mid-afternoon sun. It took them a while to get their shit cleared, the Black Angels’ drummer was setting her stuff up already on the side of the stage and we had to get our shit loaded onto the stage. As is usual in CVB, it’s every man for themselves, so I put my head down and tried not to pay attention to the people in the field in front of us while I set up my gear.

I got it all set up, but the sun was strong and nearly directly at us by then, our set time was 5pm-6pm, a full hour (at a festival!) facing into the setting sun. I figured out a way to put the guitar in the shade of the canopy and hang the violin on the same stand, but I knew that when we were playing I would have to hang the violin on the mic stand when playing guitar, which would mean the violin back would be directly at the sun, not so great for an acoustic instrument, it can heat the joints and cause them to unglue.
David had bought shirts from the show “Silicon Valley” and he was wearing an“Aviato” shirt, while I had one that the character Guilfoyle wears that had a circular elongated whale-airplane thing. I thought that this was a pretty good, yet subtle joke, (though Napa is a ways from Silicon Valley, many current and former SV players live there), but also especially as Chris Pedersen was wearing an Eraserhead t-shirt, a signifier of yesteryear’s zeitgeist. David wore a Mexican poncho over his t-shirt while he set his stuff up (or Bobby did) so that nobody would see, as per the show, I wore a button shirt over my t-shirt anyway.

Pied Piper.

The crowd were divided by some sort of barrier that split the front of the stage nearer to my side (stage left, west) and then cut across in that direction (west) to hold in some category of audient (not underage..? VIP? I had no idea and could not tell.) On the other side of that divide were many young girls against the front railing who were obviously there to hold the front row for some later band (Black Angels or The Fray…? Would they really be interested in holding it all day to see The Fray? And, horror of horrors, being subjected to Camper Van Beethoven! Oh the Humanity!)

When we began, David spoke of our new record, saying how it was the Southern California companion to the previous album, which provoked boos. It’s a festival in Northern California, man! He got mad and then said how Northern Californians were so pretentious about that shit (true) and that whenever we mentioned Northern California when playing in SoCal, nobody minded (true), but that just made some people mad as well. Good start! He threw his poncho out to them.

poncho!

poncho!

The pit had weird old hairy cameramen filming us the whole time, which I realized later was for the giant screen above us. On the crowded side, the young chicks texted most of the time, the row behind them were actual fans who wave hands and pumped fists and sang along, and then rows of confused audience back to the level of the soundbooth. The field behind that was pretty much empty. On the VIP side, it was sparser, with people intermittently paying attention, otherwise laughing and telling each other jokes of some sort. This side drank wine. While we played we could feel ourselves getting burned by the direct sun in our faces.

I was using my good gear, my full West Coast pedalboard and my actual guitar. Regardless, my guitar sputtered, I was just not having good luck on this tour equipment-wise. Neither was Victor, some cable of his was cutting in and out, and my guitar jack cut in and out, and at a festival where everything is time-critical there is no time to try to diagnose let alone fix such problems. Victor had some cable swapping, I just tried to kick at my gear, which was probably dusty from disuse for the previous 6 months, and shook my guitar cables, trying to shy away from the glaring sun, but when I turned around for a little respite from the crowds and the sun, the inner stage had strobe lights around the upper edges which made me feel like I was either being electrocuted or coming onto acid.

Bottlerock!

This was the first show without David Immergluck as well, with Victor playing bass. He hadn’t rehearsed with us, and while he knew the material of course, he had never played the newer songs live. I mean, we had only done so twice ourselves…

David had played the main stage the day before with Cracker, and just like that was back to being the singer of Camper. It’s pretty amazing. It’s actually more amazing when we do shows with both bands, that he can sing and play guitar for that long every day (and I mean, he can really belt it out!) but also to be able to have two band’s repertoire at his fingertips and tip of tongue so that after playing with one band for several days he can just switch and front the other one and then drop right back into the first one.

Well, we made it through, regardless of any difficulties, and the set was successful and we certainly didn’t make any blaring mistakes (despite Chris’ overrunning the fast middle section of “Summer Days” as it entered the slow section…) and so then we packed everything up as quickly as possible, and figured out where it was all going to go off the stage, ran around like scurrying mice with our gear until we discovered where it would go. Festivals are always pretty hectic. Then we left back to the backstage tents and tried to calm down and eat dinner. I needed to move my suitcase from the rental car to Victor’s car in the artist parking area, but was stopped as I walked down the pathway by security who were clearing a path so that LL Cool J could walk uninterrupted to the main stage. Once he and his entourage walked across the road, we were allowed to continue.

The LA-headed contingent was taking the rental car back to the Sacramento airport, I got the keys to the van, Victor and Troy left in his car, Greg went with Kacey back to Alameda. I went to the van to make sure everything was in it, and asked the security people how to get out from where it was parked behind the stage… “same way you came in” umm, yeah, except it wasn’t me that drove it in…

Not too much Sunday traffic returning to SF, except of course once we hit the Bay Bridge. The “new” Bay Bridge, it wasn’t open when I lived here. It has palm trees now on the East Bay side, which is weird, like, “hey it’s California, you’re driving across to LA!” But then you hit Treasure Island and the weather turns entirely foggy and cold. Ha ha! Also the old bridge on the side of it, being torn down, that’s reassuring! Well, then on to Victor’s, I beat Victor and Troy there and unloaded the gear. When they got there, we stacked it in his garage, and I drove the van to the airport and waited for Victor to come and get me at the “Kiss ‘n’ Fly” waiting area. Home by 10pm. A long day.

I hadn’t actually realized that the following day was a day off until it happened. I hadn’t planned anything fun in San Francisco, and had to leave the next morning anyway, so I just went shopping in Noe Valley for toys and clothes for my daughter and chocolate for my wife. The bookstore that I used to work at (Phoenix) is no longer the same, I think the owner sold it. I worked more at her other store on Bernal Hill called Red Hill Books, anyway, and it certainly no longer existed. The bookstore that was Phoenix is still a bookstore, but it isn’t the same. The bar I used to work at on 24th St, the Rat ‘n’ Raven, is now called the Valley Tavern, and I have yet to venture in for a beer.

The chocolate selection on 24th St.

The chocolate selection on 24th St.

Kacey came over and she and Troy and I sat and talked for most of the afternoon, which was excellent, I hadn’t had that opportunity for years. Plus she brought me a bunch of coffee; she works for Peets! So I’m set for the summer. Or at least until July.

The next day we were off for the last leg of this tour, a whole two more shows. We flew United, which we all have super status on by now, so we were able to get the mandolin and merch boxes as checked baggage, and Victor and I both got upgraded to first class seats. I was in 1A. Too bad to waste that on a flight that was only an hour long! We landed at LAX and got picked up and dropped at the assy-enda, dropped our bags and got back in the car and headed to San Diego. We made it in plenty of time, the club wasn’t even open yet, so we headed around the other side of the freeway to a taqueria called Lucha Libre, which turned out to be excellent.

We would be playing at the Casbah this evening, a club next to the I-5 in downtown San Diego that had been in the same place for 25 years, and was somewhere nearby before that. We’d all played at it in many bands over the years. I think I played there with Sparklehorse, even. And with Magnet, Hieronymus Firebrain, Granfaloon Bus, Dieselhed, etc. Last time I was there was with the Cracker duo, an acoustic evening with David Lowery, Johnny Hickman and I. It’s not bad, not great. Nice people run it, but there is no backstage room, so the band has to smush into the office for privacy. David Immergluck would be joining us again, which meant that I got to use his guitar as I had for rehearsals, a Japanese reissue of an early 70s blue flower print Stratocaster.

A band called Curtsy was the opening band for this show and the next one, a five piece with two guitars, bass, drums and occasional keyboard, vocals by a man and a woman. They had a sort of shoegaze-mixed-with-early 80s sound, nice harmonizing and drony guitars. We would be using their gear as well, though the club guys also borrowed some friend’s amp to get us enough amps—with Immergluck, we need 4 guitar amps and a bass amp. Immy actually brought his own, a Santa Cruz amp that was like a Princeton Reverb with a 12” speaker, David Lowery ended up using a Fender Twin Reverb that actually had a single 15” speaker making it broadcast all over the place (nobody realized that it was a 15” speaker until after the show). I ended up with a small Vox amp that I just could not get to play cleanly, so I had a fairly distorted sound all evening.

at the Casbah. Note: flowery Strat!

Many known crumbs were here, people I had seen at the Camp-Out or other shows, people I even knew by name! Chris Pedersen was obviously getting used to playing these songs now, and with Victor back on bass the rhythm section was strong and loud. Immergluck on pedal steel (and mandolin when I wasn’t playing it) made our arrangements full of all possible timbres. The show was good, the band felt like we were coming together.

Afterwards, we drove back late at night to the hotel by LAX, as we had to get up to go do a radio recording the next day in Northridge before coming back to Hermosa Beach to play a place called Sainte Rock. We got rerouted in South Bay somewhere where they were working on the 405 and it took forever to get back and get to sleep.

Up the next day, same old Starbucks and Ralph’s for breakfast, then off to Northridge. We had two rental cars here in SoCal, fairly small ones. We drove to KCSN and loaded in and waited for a delivery of rental amps from SIR (Studio Instrument Rentals) LA. I think this radio show was supposed to be some sort of big promotional thing for Los Angeles, and our A&R guy from 429 Records was going to be there. It’s a pretty huge setup for what began as a college radio station (it’s at Cal State Northridge) and the entire performing arts center is named after Mike Curb who ostensibly donated a ton of money to build it. I kept trying to remember what his band was called before he went into politics and became the lieutenant governor…

Radio Show here!

I’m going to assume that we paid for the amp rentals, or the record company did, which meant it comes out of our potential profit in the end anyway, as this was promo. So there goes any money we might have made on this tour, if there had been any! But the station is an NPR affiliate and has a large listening base, and is becoming somewhat more relevant than the whole KCRW scene which has become quite a bit less eclectic year by year as it’s become more and more co-opted by what’s left of the music industry. Our interviewer was Sky Daniels, who, as his bio says, is an “industry veteran”: he worked for Universal for years and then developed all sorts of radio formats. He is an intense and extremely music-knowledgable individual and was very fun to talk to. I finally remembered “Mike Curb Congregation” and asked him if that was right, and we ended up talking about Mike Curb and LA studio history for quite a while as the setup was happening. Our A&R guy came with some CDs for the station, very matter-of-fact, “here’s the new CD, yup”. It had come out the day before, I guess I sort of expected everybody to be jumping up and down! I was pretty excited, I hadn’t really examined our new album.

I honestly don’t know if anybody at our level sells any CDs anymore anyway, so it’s probably lucky for us to have a label at all that can pay for recording (we went over budget, regardless) or manufacturing (it’s got amazing artwork by Michael Wertz!) The relationship with 429 Records is basically all between them and David, as they put out Cracker as well, which they will also be doing this year. Cracker has a double CD (or two separate?) scheduled for later this year. Crazy!

I still feel a slight black cloud of the waning music industry hanging over the whole thing, as excited as I am to have a new Camper Van Beethoven album out. I sincerely hope we can continue in some economically viable way.

Adding to that, my recent album, Shine Out, had come out digitally the same day, through Finetunes, but that would be a little tough to advertise during a Camper Van Beethoven promotional run, when we’re trying to hip the world to the new CVB CD! On my own, outside of Camper, I am on a market level that is even many times lower than Camper. The best I can do is to sell some CDs at the CVB merch booth to completist collectors. I’m not certain that CVB fans would by necessity be fans of my own records, but because of my association with CVB for the past 30+ years, that’s pretty much gonna be the only people who would hear about them, I don’t know if there would ever be a way for the proper audience to find it outside of its association with CVB. (Proper audience…?)

Anyway, to be able to be in Los Angeles and play on the radio, play a few shows, that in itself is lucky, especially for me as it means that I have to fly all the way from Sweden. I’m not sure that as time goes on this will be financially possible, nor even if it is really now, though we needed to play some shows to promote the new album, even if they are small. The album is great! Come on folks, buy it in bulk!

The new Camper Van Beethoven album is called “El Camino Real”. It is the companion piece to last year’s “La Costa Perdida”, in that LCP is mostly set in Northern California and ECR in Southern California, but there are other little dualities in the pair. This new one is much more, well, sinister, and has many more driving rock songs.  In reviews it’s doing well, but I still get the impression that people aren’t getting the depth of it, or the pair, and that that may take multiple listens. Here’s a review, for example.  David has a blog in which he writes about all the songs he’s written, 300 Songs, several of the ones from this album are featured lately. Check it out!

epicenter.

So, anyway, after checking out the epicenter of the Northridge Earthquake of 1994, we drove over the hill from the Valley and back down toward LAX, and on to Hermosa Beach. We loaded some of the rental amps into one of the little rental cars and people in the other, so that we would have amps better suited to us for this evening. I usually like to use a Fender Deluxe Reverb, and now we had two of them. Curtsy would be opening again, and they were welcome to use them also, if they wanted.

The place is called Sainte Rock, it’s a little upscale sort of bar with a semi-gourmet kitchen. By the time we were done setting up and sound checking, I was so low blood sugar that I couldn’t go anywhere else, so I ate there, and it was good. We, as a band, know a lot of people in Los Angeles, and a bunch of our old compatriots were at the show, many people we have worked with over the years, and our current record company people from both 429 Records and Omnivore. It was old home week there at the Sainte Rock. The stage itself was pretty nice, though the room was divided by an area for seated diners, and then the bar sort of went around the corner away in back so people at the long side of the bar couldn’t see the band. It wasn’t packed full, anyway, so I’m sure everybody that wanted to see us got to.

at Sainte Rock in Hermosa Beach. photo by Philip Hughes

We were finally starting to hit stride as a band at this show, our last for this run. Chris Pedersen was locking in with Victor Krummenacher, David Lowery was seamlessly moving lyrically between the old and new material, David Immergluck, Greg Lisher and I winding our ways around the melodies and counter melodies. I think this was the best playing of the batch, in a nice venue with a well-aquainted audience.

After the show, we packed our gear and talked a bit with our friends there, a little bit with Greg Allen from Omnivore (who recently re-released our two albums from Virgin, Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart and Key Lime Pie,) briefly saw other people from 429 Records, stumbled through a short conversation with Dennis Herring, who produced OBRS and KLP, whom I don’t really get along with, and ended up talking for a long time with Marc and Valenta, friends of ours from Berkeley who run Amoeba Records. Amoeba is doing well in Los Angeles, even showing up in articles in GQ Style these days (!), but the original store in Berkeley, which used to be overrun by music loving kids is now passed over by a university population who really doesn’t care what music they hear so long as someone is twerking to it. The San Francisco store is still on its feet, but really the LA store is where it’s at these days, so Marc and Valenta moved down here. It was good to hang out with them, I’ve hardly seen them since we moved away from the Bay Area two years ago. Yes, in fact, exactly two years previous, on June 3rd, we left the United States.

We finally packed everything back into the two little cars and headed back to the Assy-Enda. After sorting everything out, it was determined that Chris had the most time the following day, so he had the job of returning the rental amps to SIR, and returning the crap mandolin to guitar center before coming back to LAX and leaving on a night flight back to Australia. Victor flew early to SF, back to work, I flew later to rent my own car for two days so I could drive up to visit my family in Davis for an evening, Greg flew back to Oakland, and David and Bobby went on to play with Cracker at a festival in Mexico! (Lucky dogs!) I think Bobby deserved some time to cut loose at this point, one of the things he had been dealing with during this entire rehearsal and tour was obtaining visas and official endorsement from the US Chamber of Commerce so that Cracker could go to play in China at the end of June, and that had been proving to be very, very difficult, and had included for him several early morning runs to the Chinese consulate. I hope he got drunk and woke up somewhere in Mexico in the arms of a transvestite.

I flew back up later in the afternoon, drove to Victor’s and stayed there that night. Next day up to Davis, with stops at REI and Target to find a new suitcase (I did end up with the Swiss Gear one,) where my brother and I went out to dinner with my dad and his wife. I sorted through all my mail that arrives at my brother’s house. His 12 year old (the boy twin) was having a sleepover with two friends, but it was basically a gaming party. His 14 year old was now as tall as me and has better sideburns. It was  a nice visit, but short, got up the next day to head back to San Francisco to meet Carlos Forster, whom Bradley Skaught had placed me together with to record a cover of a Scott Miller song (Bradley also specified which song!)

I had actually recorded most of the song already, so Carlos had added many layers of vocal tracks.  We basically just talked and copied tracks over, so I am going to mix it soon now that I’m home… well, whenever I get back into Stockholm where my studio computer is.

That evening Victor and Troy and our old friend Dede went out to dinner, a post-tour dinner, and in honor of Dede’s 50th birthday which had been during the festival, and her moving right then back from Napa to San Francisco, in fact, picked up her new apartment keys that morning. Another old friend had taken over the kitchen at Green’s at Fort Mason, so we made the trek across San Francisco for one of the best vegetarian meals I have ever had, and Dede has been working for a winery in Napa so she talked to the sommelier and we ended up with a great wine as well. A superb dinner, great end of tour, nice conversation filling each other in on the past 20 years and beyond. Back to Victor’s, I had to get up at 5am the next day to get back to SFO.

Another very long day of travel: return my rental car, airport train to the airport, flight from SFO to New York JFK, waiting around a hot and very overcrowded terminal there for 5 hours while plane-loads of people tried to entertain themselves and stay cool, flight to Stockholm, arrived at about 1pm local time, took a taxi home (45 minutes or so, Arlanda is between Stockholm and Uppsala), unpacked and repacked, took a shower, walked out to the subway station, subway to the central train station, train to Örebro, picked up by my father-in-law, drive north for an hour to the cabin, eventually arrived to see wife and daughter at the top of the lupine-lined road waiting. I got out and got the biggest hugs ever. That was the best after nearly 30 hours of travel!

Now here I am. What next?

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Posted in Camper Van Beethoven, Guitar, Music, Touring, Violin

A short tour, part one.

The previous shows that Camper Van Beethoven played were in January (2014), and now it’s nearly June and we have a whole 5 shows to play on the west coast, because we have a new album coming out on June 3rd (“El Camino Real“) Added to this slight difficulty of not having played for a few months is the fact that our drummer of the past decade, Frank Funaro, had a tendon rip on his snare arm and was scheduled for surgery on May 20th. Plus, Victor was going to be gone the last week of May. We managed to secure the drumming of our original drummer, Chris Pedersen, who lives in Sydney, Australia and hence doesn’t drum with us very often. (As David Lowery said, we didn’t know much about Australia beyond the Mad Max movies, so we figured he was fighting for his life [and petrol] and probably didn’t have a phone anyway, so we hadn’t called till now.)

I actually haven’t played much in the interim, I sat in with the Plastic Pals here in Stockholm a few times, playing with US bands that were people I knew way back when: we opened for the Dream Syndicate at Nalen and Dan Stuart of Green on Red at the Southside Tavern, for example, just in the past month. I played one show of my own, sort of, back in February with the Muffin Ensemble as my band for my set (Matthias Danielsson on pedal steel and Örjan Byström on fretless bass) and then improvised with them for their set, but hadn’t played any other shows where I sang any songs. Later, I played a couple of shows with Einar Baldursson (from Gösta Berlings Saga) in a semi-improvised group that consisted of guitar, violin, clarinet and bass. But my fingers weren’t tour hardened, as it were.

I flew into LAX this time from Stockholm, after a connection in Amsterdam. LAX was pretty nice to arrive in, actually, the Global Entry line to scan passports is short, with tons of kiosks, and even the customs has a Global Entry lane. I arrived at around noon, in preparation for rehearsal starting at 3pm the next day, and I had managed to get some rest on the flight, so my intention was to stay up until 9pm. That’s the goal, in either direction, if you can stay awake until 9pm, you are allowed to go to sleep and then start in the new time zone when you wake up.

Of course it took a while to get to the hotel (the Hacienda, or as we refer to it, the Assy-Enda.) It’s near LAX on Sepulveda, pretty big, maybe a step up from a Motel 6, but also strangely low-class. Despite or because of many flight crew people staying there, it takes a long time to check in at any time of day or night. You could wait 45 minutes at midnight. I checked in and went across the street to Starbucks for some caffeine mainlining and then to Ralph’s supermarket for some food, which was cool because they have a person making sushi there, and as I was looking it over, she asked what I wanted and I answered “salmon and avocado” and she made it right then. Nice lunch. Or breakfast or whatever. For other things you’d have to walk. Which I did later, walked all the way into El Segundo proper to have a pizza and drink some Scuttlebutt IPA at Rock n Brews, a chain of rock-and-sports themed places owed by Gene Simmons. They show sports on most screens, then have a big screen showing (mostly 80s) rock videos with the rock music as the sound. I saw such things as Led Zeppelin and Flock of Seagulls (who were terrible! I thought for sure they might have some redeeming qualities in hindsight, but no, they were bad players even. And they dressed really badly, even for the early 1980s.) There were several families there having a birthday party for children, which made me miss my little one.

It was actually a long walk, 45 minutes or so each way, so by the time I got back I was even more tired and barely made it to my 9pm goal. The next day, Chris Pedersen came to pick me up, and we drove down the road to a Mexican food place before heading into Hollywood. It was great to see him, hadn’t hung out with him for a decade or so, the last time we played was at the first Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven Camp-Out in 2005. I love Chris, not just because he’s an amazing drummer, he’s a great person also. We talked and drove over to Hollywood, where I checked in at the Dixie, where we would be staying for rehearsals. Again, across the street from a Starbucks and a Ralph’s.

First day of rehearsal, 3-9pm, Immergluck on bass since Victor was in Hawaii on vacation (planned for months, before the first couple shows were tagged onto this festival-based tour.) And Chris on drums, essentially a whole new rhythm section, although Immy had played bass for us several times last year. After this first stretch Chris and I went to go see Marc Ribot and Ceramic Dog at the new Largo space at the Coronet Theatre. This was really cool, two people I knew from Oakland were his band: Ches Smith on drums and Shazad Ismaily on bass and things. Ches actually plays on a Camper Van Beethoven song too, you know, he played on my 2003 album, “Edgy Not Antsy” and then we reused the basics for Civil Disobedience for CVB’s 2004 “New Roman Times”. They played very cool, outside, rocky-sounding songs, I wanted to say hi afterwards, but we were starving so we had to leave. Went to Canter’s Deli, still there on Fairfax, still the great late night diner. And I had the Avocado Melt, something I’ve eaten there for since the first time I went there maybe 30 years ago.

Chris and I went out to breakfast the next day on Sunset, down by Silverlake, and had coffee at Intelligentsia, which required a bit of explaining to Chris: You see, there’s this trend in hipsterdom to have single-origin coffee and roast it light or medium to “retain its true flavor and caffeine level”, which can of course be far too acidic and sour for the stomachs of men over 40. It’s big in San Francisco, Brooklyn and Stockholm, and now taking over the rest of the world. Regardless, the expensive macchiato or lattes were extremely well made, and we got fully jacked up and headed off involved in a full in-depth discussion of modern physics, segueing into styles of child-rearing.

This day’s rehearsal sounded more like a band, even though we only managed a handful of the tracks off the record that would be coming out the following tuesday. Still, we were melding into a semblance of the band we could be. Jet lag caught up with me in the late afternoons and I felt pretty spaced during the middle of the rehearsals, but muddled through. The next day we had to fly to Seattle.

Our flights actually stopped and changed planes in San Francisco, which was sort of a drag due to Air Force 2 being at both LAX and SFO, and shutting down all airport traffic for an hour. So we got to Seattle a bit later than expected, needed to rent cars and head into West Seattle to play an in-store at Easy Street Records. David Lowery and I went to get the cars, and ended up being upgraded to matching 2015 Subaru Foresters. I always like Subarus. The lady at the counter said they weren’t that popular with California drivers, I asked why, she blushed and turned her head and said, “I don’t know.” I asked if it were the association with lesbians, she quietly said, “yeah.” Hmm, you’d think they’d go for that. Anyway, matching silver Subarus, that’s how we roll.

We tried to find the hotel and went to the wrong nearby Doubletree (who have changed their logo, so it no longer looks like two intertwining female symbols, ♀♀, which would have made parking twin Subarus even better), eventually found the right one and dropped off bags, though then we had to drive into Seattle at rush hour, and while I was driving, Chris and Greg were attempting to navigate. When we got off the I-5, I thought, this is not the right way. Sure enough we went to the old, permanently closed Easy Street Records, and had to then find our way to West Seattle. We made it in the nick of time, set up and played our first set of the tour. Five songs, I think? It came off pretty well, and several of my friends with kids were there, the kids seeing us play for the first time. I missed being able to go out to dinner with them, though. We eventually packed up and made our way across the street for some food at a very slow restaurant, then back to the airport area and off to sleep. We didn’t need to get going until midday the next day.

Doubletree, what the fuck?

We got into Capitol Hill early to get more coffee at Vivace, after a stop at Emerald City Guitars for David Immergluck to check out a Gibson Firebird (he didn’t buy it). I test drove the old Stratocasters, as usual. But you know, even a refinished early 60s one is around $10k, so that’s another person’s life that would be able to buy one. At Vivace, I had hemp milk for the first time in my life (pretty good, sort of sweet.)

And then went to the club, Chop Suey and waited for the other bands who actually had the backline we would be using. The opening bands were Miller and Sasser and Massey Ferguson. A country night!

Chris Miller had played with Victor at the last Camp-Out, and he was actually on tour with Dave Alvin at the moment, but had a night off so came to play with his band here, a country band that Victor had played bass in when they played in the Bay Area. For these shows, they had Hillary Hanes playing bass, who is John Hanes’ brother. All in the family. (John plays with Victor often, and played with me occasionally when I lived in California. He’s on most of my latter albums.) Despite the Victor connection, Victor was not at these two shows that they were playing with us in Seattle and Portland!

My friend Annick, who is a chef, was with her son at the nearby Skillet restaurant, so we all made it over there after sound check. She runs Runaway Kitchen ( http://www.runawaykitchen.com and http://runawaykitchen.blogspot.com ) and has been a personal chef to many famous people all up and down the west coast. So I knew wherever she was eating was going to be good, and indeed it was. Not really the sort of food you could eat every day—very rich and tasty, but you’d probably die shortly. I actually hadn’t seen Annick for a couple years, their family visited Sanna and I in Sweden one year when they were living in London (her husband Sean does device coding, so he’s bounced around Microsoft, Nokia, Amazon, etc.)

We got back to the Chop Suey too late to see the opening band, unfortunately, but did get to see Miller and Sasser, who were playing some country songs I hadn’t heard for years (like Johnny Paycheck’s “Please Don’t Play A-11”, last I’d heard done by Mental Revenge in SF in the mid 1990s, Jim Campilongo and Joe Goldmark, etc…) Plus they played tunes by Chris Miller and James Sasser, including “I Know That One By Heart”, which is still in my head. Chris and his brother both played Telecasters, harmonizing the country lines, and Chris even used an old 70s phase shifter, one of my favorite weird country guitar sounds. It sounds like somebody is chewing on the melody lines as they are plucked out by the Tele.

All band shared the same “dressing room”, this place was pretty grimy. That said, the sound was good, and the soundman was really good. But most of the places that we end up playing in Seattle are pretty grimy, which I always find odd as the median quality of life there is pretty high, so I don’t quite understand the griminess of the nightclubs. We have recently played Neumo’s and the Tractor Tavern, both of which seem pretty lowlife even when the surrounding restaurants aren’t, for example. Conversely, I guess, we played with Built to Spill at the Showbox Theatre downtown, which was pretty good, and surrounded by normal scummy downtown urban life. I guess I just don’t quite understand Seattle’s disparity of income quite, or the way it’s represented in the entertainment sphere.

We played our set to an enthusiastic 100 or so people, no major mistakes on the part of the newcomers, we managed to play four tracks from the new album even. I was playing on a borrowed Telecaster Custom, which was pretty cool (for when I played guitar in the set.) We bought an emergency crappy mandolin from Guitar Center, which we intended to return after the shows. It was truly crappy. James Sasser mentioned (enthusiastically) after the show that it sounded like a player piano.

After the show we went to the merch area to sign what CDs people bought, we actually had some of the new CD that was coming out the following week, so we sold some and signed them, and talked a bit with fans until the remaining fans were only the insane people who would have stayed telling us stories all night long, at which point we fled.

at Chop Suey, photo by Mike Sparrow

Back to the Sea-Tac Doubletree, a very confusingly laid-out hotel with angled hallways connecting wings at the second floor. We always have to stay at the cheapest places we can get, usually by the airport, and I guess we were lucky to get this place for some super cheap rate. It was actually one of the most comfortable beds I’ve slept in on tour! Unfortunately the breakfast choices were there or Denny’s across the street, so we all left and vowed to stop along the way, in our Subaru convoy. I drove one, Bobby the other. Apparently David discovered some weird place on Yelp, so we ended up in South Tacoma at a sandwich place called Little Jerry’s (which was indeed as good as the Yelp reviews) which was dedicated to Seinfeld and had not only Seinfeld-based decorations all over, but had a television that showed some sort of annotated set of out-of-sequence Seinfeld scenes from various episodes. Must have been a weird place to work. (I’m not a Seinfeld fan at all, by the way. I’ve tried to watch it but it just comes off as uncomfortable and idiotic to me, I don’t like any of the characters and the situations just make me feel bad. I don’t like that kind of comedy, I guess; I’d rather laugh with someone than at them.)

Onward to Portland, a nice drive on a beautiful day in our rental car. Chris and I talked while Greg dozed in the back seat. We went around the city to the east, stopped by the hotel near the airport (of course) and dropped our bags, then drove into town to the Hawthorne Theatre, on Hawthorne Avenue. We loaded our instruments in, but again we were using the opener’s backline so could’t really set up much until they got there. This evening it was Miller and Sasser minus Miller. He had to go back to the tour with Dave Alvin. It took them a long time to get there, and the “backstage” was a tiny little room up some stairs directly to the side of the stage, so that wasn’t great for hanging out. I went across the street to a Fred Meyer for some batteries and things, wandered around a bit, eventually came back and just stared at the internet for a while until the rest of the gear got there.

Everybody split up for dinner, I ended up walking down to the street to look at a Vietnamese place, but it looked too much like a Chinese restaurant so I opted for a sushi place, which turned out to be Korean. Not bad, not good.

I had had a couple of sound problems with my gear at the Seattle show, so I tried to figure out what was wrong, but nothing went awry during sound check, so I left it. Unfortunately I continued to have problems when the show was happening, and had some guitar and violin dropouts, which freaks me out when I’m playing and can’t immediately fix it. Since I switch back and forth all the time between violin, guitar and mandolin, the whole show is a little hectic, I rarely have time to even take a drink of water (which is tough anyway when you’re holding a violin in one hand and the bow in the other.) I spend a lot of time while playing checking out my tuner (aways on, unlike the guitarists who can mute to tune then turn it off) to see if I’m actually playing in tune, as the stage volume is loud and I’m hearing the violin as much through my jaw bone as anywhere else. If something if fucking up with my pedals, I hardly have enough cognitive ability to analyze the issue while playing. So the show felt a little out of control for me. I spasmodically bit my cheek during the show and sucked blood for a while.

Camper at the Hawthorne. mobile photo by Michael Stuck

Despite that, we had a full house at this theatre, proving that Portland still loves us, and after the show I talked with Larry Crane (of Tape Op, and of Vomit Launch, a Chico band we had played with back int he 1980s) and Lindsay Thrasher (also of Vomit Launch) who said the show was the best we’ve sounded. David Lowery had been telling the audience to shame Victor by Facebooking or tweeting that the bass was the best we’ve ever had, etc. Funny, but not really. I think Victor actually felt bad, even though he had known about the festival in Napa, he had planned his vacation for months in advance. And it is really fun to play with David Immergluck, on bass he actually has room to move, unlike when he plays pedal steel.

After a short amount of time at the merch booth, we gathered our stuff and split. I had a couple of my CDs (All Attractions and Shine Out) for sale also, so I had to elucidate to fans what they were or how they fit in to the merch area. Bobby asked me to describe them to a person looking at them and I said, “They’re amazing!” at which Bobby scoffed. (They are.)

Greg stayed, I guess to hang with friends. We went back to the hotel, slept, got up, Chris and I drove the Subaru to the airport and dropped it off. It seemed a bit more expensive than they had told us (which is of course typical rental car behavior) and as it turned out they had added little extra charges to each car, but different ones one each car, which, because they were rented together, made it pretty obvious that they weren’t asked for by us.

PDX, the Portland airport, is one of the best. Besides the easy access by public transportation, train or rental car dropoff, relatively short lines and relatively nice employees, there is the free wifi, and even better: good shops and food with a no-gouging policy! That means that food or beer is reasonably priced, which is indeed rare for airports. Plus there is a Powell’s Books in the airport, so I bought some books for myself and my daughter (some used, even.)

A relatively short flight to Sacramento, another small airport, and then to another rental car. This time we got a Kia Optima or some such full size car. We left and drove on I-5 to Woodland and then down Highway 113 (where I regaled Chris with stories of driving all of the roads in between at 100mph, and how you had to go over 100 before you could do a bong hit while sitting in the bed in the back of the GMC Sprint,) and dropped by my brother’s house in Davis, and he and his wife went with us downtown for a burrito for lunch—this was a day off so we had tons of time. The Bottlerock Festival in Napa was going on, and Cracker played this day (Saturday) at 1pm, so we had already missed them, and Camper Van Beethoven wasn’t playing until the next day, Sunday, at 5pm. I stopped by Watermelon Music, a small town music store that I like because, being the only store in town, they have everything. I can get violin strings and rosin as well as guitar strings or cables, or whatever. I bought new electrical pigtails and a couple small patch cables to try to fix whatever was happening with my pedals, thinking that what was going on was that the pigtail that distributed electricity to the pedals was shorting out.

I was using my little pedalboard which usually lives on the East Coast, which is just a small aluminum board with velcro on it. I have to use it for all instruments, so it has to have an A/B box to switch between guitar and violin, and then the EQ for violin before the tuner, so there’s not much room for that many effects. I had four at this point, overdrive, distortion, boost, and echo. They have switched around a lot over the years, what occupies which category, this configuration had a Boiling Point RockBox for the overdrive, which was not working well as it added too much volume even at its lowest volume, then a Fulltone Distortion Pro (too many little dials!) then the beautiful Xotic EP-Boost, which is so great. I use that for the violin solos, and some guitar parts. When I play guitar only, like in sets at Camp-Out or similar, I leave that thing on all the time, it just sounds great. I’ve struggled with echo pedals forever. I used to use the old Boss DM-2. Now I use the Line 6 Echo Park, which is sort of big and heavy, but has the tap tempo and a few different settings that I like, like the fact that it mimics tape echo and has a flutter knob. It’s not as big as better delays like the Strymon, the tap function is silent and while it does add a little noise, it’s the best of all worlds for playing live. I tried a TC Electronics Flashback, but its tap function is done by hitting the strings in tempo while holding a button down, which a) mutes your signal while you do that, and b) doesn’t work with violin very well at all. Sold it. I have a little Red Witch Violet analog delay, which is ok, but has that weird internal rechargeable battery thing so that it has two lights on it (charge and on), the charge light is red when hooked up and green when charged, the on light is red when on. It’s a bit confusing to see the charging light on only, as you think the effect is on when its not. Plus, I’ve noticed that if it isn’t actually charged, it distorts the signal.

Anyway…Chris and I left Davis and drove to Vallejo where our next hotel was. Exciting Vallejo! The town went bankrupt, cut down its police and fire departments, was basically the wild west at this point. Luckily for us, our hotel was near the Highway 80 and 37 interchange and on the other side of 80 from Sea World. That didn’t make it nice, though.

We impressed the Moldavian girl who was working at the counter by being musicians playing at the nearby rock festival. Apparently, she had been oppositely impressed by Bobby and David when they checked in as Bobby countered her “I’m from Moldavia” with “I’ve been to Moscow!”, at which David chided him about Russia versus all of its former Soviet bloc countries in the present era. Anyway, the rooms were pretty low-grade, as expected.

After checking in and dropping off our things, Chris and I went over to Napa, we thought about how and where to park to go to the festival, and eventually decided on an area north of the festival on surface streets. The Napa Bottlerock Festival was at the Napa Fairgrounds, on the east side of town up against the hills. It took us about 15 minutes to walk over to the will call/artist check in, where they had never heard of us but were nice about it. They said they would call… I called Bobby, who was backstage, he called… they called, people called. Eventually they had artist wristbands for us and we went in. It was a hot afternoon, we missed most of the stuff and Weezer were already playing on the big stage. They actually sounded pretty weird, like a big rock band. We made our way to the central area with food, where I found the Lagunitas booth and very happily sat on their green-screened couch for this little gem:

We finally figured out where Cracker’s dressing room tent was and found our way over backstage to it, but everybody was gone except David who was falling asleep on the couch. He had had to get up at 6am to get here on time to play at 1! We were there getting the scoop on the festival from Bobby when John Doe and his girlfriend came by to chat, they were wearing Heart passes (Heart were playing later that evening on the second stage, where CVB would play the next day.) John lives up in Marin County now, I hadn’t seen him since I had moved to Sweden so I had to explain to him a quick sequence of events that led up to me being an ex-pat. (See earlier posts)

We ate some of the catering food but didn’t have our meal passes for this day so we went out to the yard again to try to find a short food line (difficult) and then over to the stage field where Heart was going to play. This field was surrounded by winery booths (it was Napa, after all) and I took a quick sweep but there was no tasting, only $10 glasses, so I gave up on that idea and got a beer. We waited around till 8 when Heart were going to start, musing on when in the set they would play Barracuda or Magic Man, I figured Barracuda would be in the first 3 songs and Magic Man last. To my right, in fact was the magic man: this guy had his weird vest suit and hat with LED lights around the vest, ready to deal acid just like that same dude back at any festival in the late 70s. Maybe it was indeed the same guy!

The magic man.

The magic man.

Heart started the set with Barracuda, which was way too obvious, and by the third song the midrange frequency notch of Festival Marshall Stacks® was annoying, so we left. We could hear Outkast from the main stage as we walked to the car. We missed Magic Man altogether. Wish they’d played that one first!

Part 2 coming up.

 

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Posted in Camper Van Beethoven, Music, Touring

Stream: Camper Van Beethoven’s new album El Camino Real

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Jonathan Segel:

New Camper Van Beethoven album, it’s out next week. In the US, anyway. One day our record company will get our records out in Sweden.

Originally posted on Consequence of Sound:

Camper Van Beethoven will release its ninth studio album, El Camino Real, on June 3rd via 429 Records. In anticipation, it’s streaming in full below.

Spanning 11 tracks, El Camino Real is the band’s third LP since reuniting in the early 2000s and is described as the “companion” to last year’s La Costa Perdida. The band self-produced El Camino Real and recorded in various studios and band members’ living rooms across California.

Despite forming in the heyday of the Southern California punk scene, Camper Van Beethoven instantly set itself apart by infusing the early ’80s hardcore sound with bits of pop, ska, blues, Norteño music, and even European folk. With El Camino Real, they continue their genre-defying ways, making use of every tool in their musical bag to near-lethal efficiency.

(Read: Dissected: Camper Van Beethoven)

According to a press release, “Whereas La Costa Perdida reflects the northern California ‘back…

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Camper Van Beethoven is. Still.

Camper Van Beethoven has been around for quite a while, especially in rock band years. Of course this was helped by the fact that the band didn’t exist in the 1990s. (Well, it did for the first few months of 1990, but I wasn’t there. And while we all “sat in” with Cracker starting in the end of the 1990s, the band as a whole did our first real “reunion” concert in 2002.)

The band formed in Redlands, CA in the early 1980s, it went through a few other conglomerations of people before it became something at UC Santa Cruz in 1983. I didn’t grow up in the Inland Empire, so I met the other people—David Lowery, Victor Krummenacher and Chris Molla—at UCSC. They were playing with Richie West playing drums, I saw them once and then started playing with them after that, and even after Richie stopped playing with us, David and Chris M switched off on drums! We recorded our first LP in January of 1985 (“Telephone Free Landslide Victory”) at Dave Gill’s studio “Samurai Sound Lab” in Davis, CA (I knew him from High School) and it came out in 1985. By that time Anthony (Kevin) Guess was playing drums, and soon thereafter Chris Pedersen started on drums and Greg Lisher came in on lead guitar, Chris Molla wandered off.

In 1986 we toured across the country for the first time, released our second record (“II & III”), and then later that year our third record (“Camper Van Beethoven”), toured more, recorded more, toured more. In 1987 we released one last indie record (“Vampire Can Mating Oven”, later “Vantiques”), got signed to Virgin and started record our first major label album (“Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart”), toured all through 1988. In 1989, I got the boot, the band continued recording a second record for Virgin (“Key Lime Pie”), it came out and they toured all the way until the band fell apart on tour in April of 1990.

it’s a live bunny.

We all made our own albums in the 1990s.

As I mentioned, we did start playing again later… it started with a few test studio sessions, one to remake old recordings and record some new ones (“Camper Van Beethoven is Dead, Long Live Camper Van Beethoven”, another to record an entire cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk” album. It wasn’t until 2004 that we recorded a full all-new real album (“New Roman Times”.)

After that, lots of touring mostly with Frank Funaro on drums (as he played in Cracker as well!), making more of our own individual albums, and then finally more recording. In January 2013, we released “La Costa Perdida”, and its companion “El Camino Real” comes out June 2014. And more touring.

I really enjoy playing with this band. It has taught me many things, and made me a better musician.

I love recording, (I mean, I do it quite a lot, you know. just check it out: http://music.jsegel.com ) and I love playing live. And there is nothing like touring to hone your skills as a musician.

I wish I could say that I made a living at it, and indeed continuing to tour my entire adult life has harmed my ability to make a living at all, I would say! But I still do it. And will continue to do so.

So the point of all of this is that this year, you can get nearly every Camper Van Beethoven records in newly made and remastered versions, as well as the newest ones.

Look:

Cigarettes and Carrot Juice: The Santa Cruz years”  

This is a box set of our first 4 records, plus a live one. On vinyl or CD!

AND:

The two Virgin Releases, “Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart” and “Key Lime Pie” newly remastered, on vinyl and CD, with bonus tracks, B-Sides and some live cuts.

AND:

“La Costa Perdida” and “El Camino Real” on 429 Records!

A quick search on, say, Amazon, will get you to a place to buy these or even pre-order them. You could also go to your local record store and ask for them. All of them. Anyway, somewhere, you can find nearly all of the CVB catalog, new, made specially for you. Right Now!

El Camino Real

oh, I almost forgot:

May 29 2014 – Chop Suey – Seattle, WA
May 30 – The Hawthorne Theatre – Portland, OR
Jun 1 – Bottle Rock Festival – Napa, CA
Jun 3 – The Casbah – San Diego, CA
Jun 4 – Sainte Rocke – Hermosa Beach, CA
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Posted in Camper Van Beethoven, Music, Touring

Shine Out

I have a new record out! The official release date is February 10 2014, for no good reason. The album is called “Shine Out“. It was made relatively quickly (for me); it only took about 6 months! Entirely DIY.

This blog post and potentially some Facebook posts are pretty much the entire publicity campaign. Go on, tell your friends!

off the beaten path…

My last album before this, “All Attractions“, took quite awhile longer. I started it after the release of “Honey” in 2008. An indie label in the US was interested and we began negotiations for releasing a compilation album from all of my previous records and then a new record on its heels, we got so far as going back and forth on a contract and I began recording basic tracks for what became “All Attractions”, and then they backed out suddenly after I had asked a lawyer friend to look over the contract. So I sort of shut down and stopped recording and writing for most of 2009. Maybe it was the whole financial crisis. I ended up having my teaching contracts not renewed in 2009 as well, so I started working full time at Pandora, so that made it more difficult to work on recording as well. Later that year I had a couple of nights at the Fillmore in San Francisco opening for Built To Spill (on Halloween even!) so I began working on the recordings again after that, and eventually even went back to record a few more basics. While at the studio, we had an afternoon free, so we improvised, and when I worked on overdubs for everything, I made these improvisations into pieces, and decided to release both myself as one double CD, All Attractions and Apricot Jam. I did a Kickstarter project to fund it, and in late 2011 this whole process finally ended and I printed up 300 copies and sold them out in 2012. (I printed up another 150 of each recently, separately this time, if you want one! See below…)

So the other fun thing that happened in 2012 was that I got fired from my job at Pandora (long story) and with a 9-month old daughter, the threat of no health insurance, and a wife who had been on maternity leave from being a pre-school teacher for a year, there was no way to make the mortgage. The bank didn’t help, so within a couple months, we made the decision to leave the country. My wife is Swedish and was into moving back anyway, so we did. It’s been tough for me to be an immigrant at my advanced age, but it’s ultimately a good choice, I think.

Anyway, I hadn’t intended to make a new album at all. But since I don’t have a job and spent much of 2013 flying back and forth on tour with Camper Van Beethoven promoting our album “La Costa Perdida” which came out in January 2013, what time I did have in the summer we spent out in the country instead of looking for a job. And I started recording there (when my daughter was napping). So everything was recorded within a two month or so period, we came back to Stockholm in September and I went back to language school and mixed the songs when I could in our new apartment, sent it to my friend Myles Boisen to master it in December and had 150 CDs printed while I was in the US again on tour last month (January 2014.) Voila. Instant record. It’s the quickest one I’ve ever made!

One reason, I guess, is that it was only me working on it. There aren’t any drums (though there is a drum machine on a couple tracks) and I can play a bunch of instruments, so that’s no problem. The songs are not necessarily as pastoral as it might sound, nor as stripped down: I do play some ripping electric guitar on a few tracks! It may be a little more psych-folk than things I’ve done in the past, but I actually took the acoustic guitar out of a few of the mixes. Anyway, there it is, a candid shot of me right now. The pictures on the cover are of the old cabin we lived in in the summer and my little daughter running around (off the path).

It’s really only available on Bandcamp, or from me whenever Camper Van Beethoven is on tour. I have several copies in Sweden if you are in Europe and want to purchase the CD, also there are a bunch at Victor Krummenacher’s house in California and I may be able to convince him to send them within the US. Maybe. Same if you want
“All Attractions”, “Apricot Jam” or “Honey”. Just let me know!

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Posted in Camper Van Beethoven, Guitar, Music, Sweden

Autumn

The last entry here happened sometime in early October (2013), and then I was back in school and being a dad all fall. I’m done with the “Swedish as a Second Language Ground level” courses now, as of the beginning of December, so I get to be a house husband for a couple a weeks now before heading out on tour in the US again. I like this house husband job! I drop the child at preschool, come home and clean up a bit, do laundry, dishes, work on some music. Maybe actually listen to music! That’s new. Usually I only get to actually listen to music on my phone while on the subway or an airplane. Then, pick up the kid, and play for a couple hours. Fuck working. Until you get bored and start watching daytime TV and eating yellow pills, I guess.

So in theory, my Swedish is getting better. I am not going to convert this blog to Swedish just yet though. I can read easy-to-read books. I still barely understand the newspaper (but, to be fair, who really understands what the hell is going on in the newspaper?) My adaptation to Sweden is getting a bit better, though marred by a few choice incidents involving post or UPS*. These sorts of things just really piss me off. I actually got out and played a few shows, which were great.

And I finished mixing a new record, tentatively called “Shine Out”, all recorded last summer and mixed this fall. Mastering happening right now.

And I made a digital-only compilation of my “greatest hits” (or misses…) from the past 25 years, called Horseshoes and Hand Grenades.

We’ve been adjusting to finally having our own apartment. Many people are impressed that we have a first-hand contract with Svenska Bostäder, it seems. I was actually sort of surprised that they rented to us as well. But there you have it! We have a place. We bought a bunch of Ikea stuff and then started looking on Blocket for more stuff. We found a nice wooden tall bureau and I got a studio desk, so most of my crap is off the floor. Now it’s in drawers. Or stacked in piles of guitar cases. And now that the temperature has gone to freezing, I got a humidifier finally so the guitars may survive the winter.

Anyway, like I said, besides the school stuff, I actually did some fun ipad drawings of people on the subway on the way to school. I like drawing people when they don’t know it. I’ve posted a bunch on Facebook, people like them, which is cool. I’d love to print them somehow. Larry Farber keeps saying I should have a show at Larry’s Corner (the coolest “shop” in Stockholm. It’s a hangout for weirdos, basically.) And play a set there for the opening. This will happen, somehow.

subway drawing

I played again with the Plastic Pals this fall, the first time also with Chris Cacavas. Chris has been playing as long as I have, back in the ’80s in Green on Red, and playing with Steve Wynn, Giant Sand, on his own… his songs are great. I remember back in 1990 he and I had alternating gigs opening for Robyn Hitchcock, that may have been where I met him first? Or possibly when I was living in LA in the late ’90s and playing with Mike Marrt, as Chris was also in the Long Beach scene then. So the Plastic Pals were his back up band for a tour of Sweden, and I got to sit in with them in Stockholm, twice! Super fun shows, both times, once at the Southside Tavern at the beginning of the week and once at Pet Sounds Bar at the end (which I always hear at Pettson’s Bar, as I am more familiar these days with Pettson and Findus than Pet Sounds.) Chris has been living in Germany for many years now, so it wasn’t too far for him to travel to get to Sweden. I didn’t go with them to Malmö, Gävle and Göteborg due to school. I think the turnouts were generally small, even though there is so much hipster online writing here about the Paisley Underground scene, they seem to forget to actually go out to see a show when somebody comes to play. Regardless, it was a blast to play with these guys and with Chris, and I hope to do it again. Maybe in Germany?

And then a month later, back at Pettson’s, opening for the Pals. They, by the way, are sounding better and better, and this show was their sendoff to go play some shows in New York. I played solo, sang some old and new songs, and even had Håkan Soold accompany on “I Know You Know Me”. This was really my first official gig in Sweden, you know. And done on a twisted ankle, as I had slipped on the apartment stairs carrying the child, and sacrificed my ankle to not drop her. (And this before it even started freezing, and everybody starts slipping on the ice.) Fall is generally muddy, and our building has the dumbest steps that go out the back into the park, then suddenly end in a slope of mud where the park starts, obviously where the border of private and city land is. When someone slips and breaks their head back on the steps, I wonder who would be liable? But they’re not so litigious here as in the States…

Later in November, I had a couple more shows, right in the same week as my finals. Both involved some serious rehearsing, for different reasons. One was with the Great Learning Orchestra, a mishmash of whoever is into the current project, this time doing music of Arnold Dreyblatt. The concert was part of the opening night of Fylkingen’s 80s anniversary week of concerts. Fylkingen is an experimental arts theater, this is where most of the odd modern, improvised or electronic music or dance happens around here. We were the latter half of this evening’s entertainment, after some acoustic improv and electronic music with dance. Our stuff involved several days of rehearsals, starting in October, due to a couple things. One is that the music is entirely written in just intonation, so the notes are named by which harmonic starting from F they are. For example, F is 1, (and 2 and 4), C (+2 cents from equal temperament ) is 3, A (-14 cents) is 5, Eb (-31 cents) is 7, etc. Then there’s the G (+4 cents) that’s the 9th, but also a G (-45 cents) that the 7th of the A (5), being #35 (5 x 7). So, anyway, these notes are one thing to learn to play, then we had to learn them by number also because the score was rhythmic loops with numbers above the staff saying which pitches you could play for that loop. Pretty cool, with all the players, the full ensemble was violin, viola, 2 cello, bass, then saxophones, bass clarinet and flute, a tuned tack piano, 2 electric guitars, 2 drummers and several electrified instruments that were tuned strings hit with mallets.

The day before the show was my last bit of testing in school, after the written part and book report, where I had to give an oral presentation on a Swede. I chose to talk about a composer named Moses Pergament, who was a from a Jewish family, in Swedish-speaking Finland, born in 1893, studied in Finland and Berlin, but cam to Sweden in 1915 (probably to avoid WW I) and became a Swedish citizen. Wrote some nice post-romantic/post-impressionist music and became a music critic for the newspaper. His editor thought he should just sign his reviews “Pergament” so people would think it was a signature name… or they would guess he was Jewish! Oh no! Well, the composer’s union figured it out and wouldn’t let him in. Between the wars, you know, Europe had some serious issues with “national identity”, and even though Sweden wasn’t Nazi, per se, they were pretty dang racist. That’s still a big issue, these days. One other guy in my class, not exactly sure where he came from, did an oral report on “Jimmy” Åkeson, who is a current politician who came to prominence by being essentially racist. He was recently grilled on BBC, actually, where they asked him to back up his “immigrants cause violence” statistics and he couldn’t, oddly. However, when the other student asked the class how many had heard of this guy, maybe 3 people raised their hands… scary. Anyhow, Pergament is interesting, if only because he was a testy dude, and wouldn’t give in and just do the Mahler thing (convert) so he made a bunch of Jew-music along with other chamber music and things. Strangely very little of it is recorded! Hmmm.. Despite the fact that he is considered one of the top three Swedish Modernist composers, with Hilding Rosenberg and Gösta Nyberg. Being a big fan of string quartets, I really weaned to hear his later ones, 2 from the 50s and one from the 70s (he died in 1977) but I can’t even find the scores.

Well, so I had to back to school the next day, just to get my grade. I didn’t really understand the grading system (C,E, something?) but I would have received a B+ equivalent but the oral report pushed into A territory. So I get to start the actual high school level Swedish as a second language—online—in January. So I left to go to Fylkingen to help set up, we set up the room for our show from 12-2pm or so. It was weird to see the room again, last time I played there was in 2005 with Chaos Butterfly. Some of the same people were in this show, actually, like Lisa Ullén, who played piano with us!

Walked to Larry’s Corner and hung out for a while, bought some kids’ books in English for Marlowe. Eventually got hungry and left, wandered Södermalm looking for something small to eat (I’d kill to find a pizza place that served slices.) When I got back at 5pm it was time for sound check, finally got to hear the full ensemble. The rehearsals had always had bits and pieces. We conflated two pieces into on, so we were doing 3 altogether, after Arnold played a solo piece on his weird upright bass with piano strings. I went to eat some vegetarian food at a cool little buffet restaurant on Hornsgatan with a guy named Girilal Baars who was singing in the ensemble, he is a very interesting dude. Does music that mixes up some old folk tradition with modern electronic music, in fact he’s doing a Ph.D. for a UK University on this. (Though he lives in Sweden.) We made it back a little after the start and missed the first ensemble. The second one was one musician and one dancer, the musician was somebody I had met here years ago who works at EMS (Electronic Music Studios) and he made a feedback drone soundscape while the woman who danced did some sort of butoh-informed movement, which was great. She wore a slightly bemused smile as she wavered around, it was both hilarious and devastating, especially with the huge full spectrum noise onslaught. Very cool.

The next act was an improv ensemble with two acoustic guitars, upright bass and drums. Great players, all of them, some interesting sound and textures. The the changeover, and we drank a beer (they had Nebuchadnezzar, which is one of the best tasting beers I’ve had here, Swedish “ghost brewers” brewing in Belgium.) We changed the sidelines to have the room lengthwise, then Arnold began his piece. He bounced the bow off the strings in a steady rhythm, eliciting harmonics from the strings while creating a steady thump through the amplified bridge of the instrument, and a scrape of the bow. Very hypnotic. The we sat in our orchestra arrangement and played through “Fast Loops”, “Sustain” and “Slow Loops”. I think the pieces went generally well, especially the middle one, which was about 20 sections of arhythmic tremolo, then moving to another 10 of sustained tones, all in these microtonal intoned harmonies. I had to run away afterwards to try to catch a train home, but had to wait at the platform anyway, so it took about an hour to get home. Long day!

This concert was on a Wednesday night, which meant I missed the second rehearsal with Gösta Berlings Saga for a show the following Saturday at Sweden Prog Fest 2013 (!) Luckily, we got together again on the day of the show so I could rehearse the songs again. This music is, in many ways, the opposite of playing with Arnold Dreyblatt, in that it’s tuned normally, but very complicated rhythmically and melodically. I was only playing 3 tunes with them, but I still had to practice the melodies at home for a week beforehand.

We left to the venue at 5pm, and the “Prog Fest” had already begun when we got there, though it was in some sort of very open banquet hall type of room. There were two stages along adjacent walls, the “big” and “small” stages. We were last on the big stage. When we got there, we loaded in and then made our way to dinner elsewhere. Coming back, the promoter’s band (I think) was on. His girlfriend was the singer ( I am guessing) and they all had pointy black guitars. It sounded strangely a bit like Rush. The the small stage was taken over by a highlight of the evening called Necromonkey.

Necromonkey!

Now Necromonkey is really two guys, Mattias Olsson (drums, etc) and David Lundgren (keyboards), who have  along past playing progressive rock music, among other things, but this band seems to have started as a recording project. They played with additional musicians on bass and percussion, and had a stage design with a stack of TVs with oscilloscopes on them and such. The music was intense, almost entirely instrumental except when Åsa Eklund (singer from Mattias’ former band Pineforest Crunch, and coincidentally his wife…) sang in unison with a synthesizer that Mattias played, which was extremely eery. This show was a definite highlight of the evening, and I guess the newspaper reviewers thought so too, as this was the only act that was written about! I picked up the Necromonkey CD, and it’s really cool.

The next couple bands were incredible, though not in any musical way. They were incredible in the exact ways that you would expect to have them be at a “prog fest”. The next main stage band started with a tape of Swedish folk music playing, then they started playing with it, then when they decided that they had shown their credible roots, they launched into chugging electric guitars like Steppenwolf, and the lead singer bounded onto the stage wearing tight white pants and a white suit coat, with no shirt to hide his bulging belly, and grabbed the mic stand with a prosthetic hook-hand! Wow. That was spectacular. These guys would have been the best biker band ever, circa 1973.

And then the next small stage act was semi-acoustic, maybe a broken down version of some bigger band? An acoustic guitar and bassist smarmily singing in harmony with a couple extra guys backing them up. Pretty sounding, and pandering.

So then we got to go last, on the big stage. My wife and her mom had arrived to see us, which was cool. GBS is amazing, they have an incredible way of making music. It’s like every song is based on one root-idea only, but then as it goes around, they change through all the possibilities of chords or melodies that could go with it, with different dynamics and instrumentation. As I said, I joined them on 3 tunes, so I came in after a couple songs into the set, and played one new song (not super well) and one older song (more improvising, this one went well) and then after a few more, came on to play the last song with them. Mattias also sat in on percussion on this one. Here’s a film of it.

This was my last obligation for the fall, so it was time for winter to come, and starting the following week, I got to be house-husband. I did manage to go and visit Mattias Olsson at his studio, Roth Händle, in Sollentuna last week, though. This was a major event for me in many ways. To begin with, Mattias is someone that I was told to look up when I moved here by Victoria Jaschob who was Camper’s very first manager way back in 1985. I don’t really even know how she knew him. But when I got to the studio, Mattias was just tinkering on things, which is my specialty, as you know. The studio has big rooms filled with numerous weird instruments lining the walls, and I mean weird: at least two Mellotrons, a dual keyboard Chamberlin, a few celestas, a pipe organ, bass marimba, vibraphone, numerous odd guitars, etc, etc. Sort of like the Chicago Store in Tucson used to look. I felt right at home immediately. So we went into the control room, and proceeded to futz around with many weird noisemaking pedals, like some Russian-made things with voice synthesis chips made for the Russian phone company… we drank coffee until it was time to drink beer. We discussed the difference in being a lifer musician in Sweden versus California. I think I want to make music with this guy. The only potential bone of contention is that I really like using ProTools and do a lot of composing in it, visually using it like a score, where Mattias like to get everything done before setting it to “tape”, which in his case is an Akai hard disk recorder (he has 3 of them). Nonetheless, it’ll work. When I get home from tour in February, I hope.

at the Julmarknad.

*UPS incident: I had a hard drive case I got from Other World Computing, whom I like, and brought it back with me after the shows in September. Unfortunately the drive controller was missing a dipswitch making it Raid or not-Raid, so it raided a drive that I wanted normal. So I needed the right chipboard for it anyway, and sent them the chipboard (3″x2″ about). When it got sent back, the UPS affiliate charged me 290sek ($45) for customs, which should not happen on warranty replacement parts. Also, this would be customs duty on the entire $110 device. Much arguing, with them and customs. So fucked up. I lost in the end of course, too much bureaucracy to wade through. It’s heavy here, like former Soviet-era style. Additionally, in our new building, the mobile phone don’t work due to thick environmental walls and windows. And there’s no port code to allow entry to delivery services, other than the post (for some reason). So I missed deliveries while I was here. The delivery thing here is really fucked up. Many company subcontract to other private delivery companies. It’s really difficult. Maybe it’s purposeful, to prevent a runaway Amazon/Ebay economy and keep people shopping in stores. I don’t know. Even the post is often not delivered to your mailbox, but is held at a post counter in a local grocery store.

Which leads me to incident two: I got something addressed to Jon Segel. I had to go to the store to pick it up, even though it would have fit in the mailbox. But they wouldn’t let me have it because my ID says Jonathan. I made a scene. They called the post office, who are bound by specific rules due to being  approbate company that has taken over a previously governmental operation! So it’s as serious as passport control, you bet.  In the end somebody at the post office said, ok, let him have it, which begs the question: why didn’t they let me have it in the first place if somebody can just say so? This sort of nonsense really makes me angry.

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Posted in Music, Sweden, Violin
about.me
Jonathan Segel

Jonathan Segel

musician and composer

Jonathan Segel started playing guitar when he was about 7 years old. At about 10 he had a crush on a girl who played violin, so he thought he'd try that too.

Unfortunately he sucked at it.

That did not stop him, however, from later playing the violin in rock bands when everybody else played guitar. Sometime around 1983, while carrying a violin across the quad at Porter College at UC Santa Cruz, he was approached by some kids who had moved their band up from Redlands, CA. This turned out to be Camper Van Beethoven and the Border Patrol.

Well, what we didn't know then is that this association was apparently for life, as Camper Van Beethoven has now made records/CDs for the past ~30 or so years, and is still playing.

Through all the ups and downs of that band, Jonathan has continued to make his own records (../CDs/tapes/whatever... probably a billion of them so far) in a variety of genres ranging from guitar-based rock music to way-avant-garde electronic music and many other places in between..​.

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