Blast from the past—interview from May, 1998

Interview from May 1998 for a fanzine.

*So how was the Container tour? Any memorable moments or good stories?

I went out with the Container for most of the month of April and it was the first time I had toured the US since um… 1991 I guess when Hieronymus Firebrain went out opening for the Monks of Doom. The scenery has changed, it’s true. Even in that short a period of time. It’s definitely not the same as the tours we did in the 80’s, there are so few people interested in non-major acts these days, it seems. I felt generally a little unwanted, like when you travel as a tourist in, say, France, and both you and they know that there is really no reason for you to be there. I’ve heard that in many languages “tourist” translates as “that annoying stranger sleeping on your couch”. Anyway, there was certainly very little respect for the fact that we were from out of town and traveling trying to hawk our wares, average pay was next to nothing, average audiences as well. Certainly without the financial support of Subliminal Records (who put out the Container CD) we never would have made it. This, in contrast with the 1991 HF tour, which was a similar situation of a little known band and small shows, but at least we made it back home, spending the last dollar on toll to cross the Bay Bridge into San Francisco.

On this tour, we kept splitting up the band, the drummer, Chris being an animator for some Disney bible epic or something, had to keep flying home to Hollywood to draw, so we ended up playing acoustic shows occasionally. One such night in Greenville, NC (home of Eastern Carolina university, and a surf town if i’ve ever seen one, despite the lack of surf…) the soundman happened to play drums so we taught him the songs at sound check and played the set with him on drums later.

Other strange but usual tour incidents: opening for a country cover band in Milwaukee (?!) who did not old, not new, but early 80’s country covers..(!?) and stopped in the middle of the set so the drummer could do a drum solo (!!?)

Got pulled over by the cops in Kansas, who gave the tired old story, “We don’t care about you small time user, we just want the big guys, so if you got a little bit, just hand it over and I’ll take the pipe away and throw the stuff into a ditch…” Maybe the 4th time I’ve been pulled over on tour and gotten this same story, in different states… Then they decide to search the van. In Texas once with Dieselhed I bluffed my way through by asking the cop to call for backup and make sure they brought a drug sniffing dog to hurry the process up so we could get to our next show, he let us go. This guy looked about for a bit and then started talking about the metal cage we had in the back for the equipment— said since it was inaccessible to the driver, somebody could drink back there while we were driving! I said, look sir, I don’t even drink, I drive after the shows… Clyde (the singer) said, he has a few beers so I always drive. Cop says, “Jeez, after the show, i’d be in back in the cage with a fifth of tequila..!”

yes, sir…

*How is the new CD doing?

I assume you mean the container cd? Well, they hired a radio promo service and I guess it’s charting on some college radio. I don’t really pay attention. These guys want that CD to get them to the major label big time. They’re way more organized than I am.

*I know that this question is vague and dated but what was it like being in CVB ( a band with such a cult following)?

*What has life been like since the days of CVB came to an end for you?

It felt like I was doing something important, like I was having a positive effect on the world. Unfortunately since then it’s been a little like when your parents tell you that you are special all your life and then you go out into the rest of the world and you get beat up and realize that really you’re not. It’s nasty to have to live with the most important work you have ever done behind you. I keep producing music thinking that it’s as great and as important as what I was doing in CVB, but from the responses and results I guess I’m wrong. It’s been producing a sort of cognitive dissonance between me and the real world. Maybe a little like child stardom for those Hollywood kids that end up as drug addicts… And so I keep making records thinking that they sound just like what people are going to like, like they aren’t so different from whatever else you hear (and indeed my music is just whatever else I hear filtered through me and regurgitated back through my fingers…) and then the feedback I get is “it’s so weird.” Hmm.

So what I did in the physical world since getting booted from CVB in 1989: first thing I did was get out of Santa Cruz and move to san francisco. Tried to start a solo career, but unfortunately had just released “Storytelling” which, while good as a CVB side project album, was really no good as starting block for a solo musician’s career (again: “too weird”. Spin Magazine’s guide to alternative rock called it “a double album art-rock horror”). So I started Hieronymus Firebrain (initially called Exalted Birds — the angels in Rushdie’s Satanic Verses…, then called Clocklips briefly) with musicians that David Immerglück introduced me to. David I. stayed in the band long enough to be drafted by Camper in august of 1989, so by the end of that year the band settled into the lineup that recorded the first HF CD, self titled, I signed a contract with Delta Records, formerly Fundamental. The CD came out and they went under, I saw maybe 50 copies ever? They printed the painting on the cover (supposed to be full color) in green and red! Yuck. Anyway, so it went for the companion piece to Storytelling… the band members spent more time in their other bands, and eventually I was back to square one.

By this time I had to earn a living again, first jobs I’d had since the first years of CVB (when I had been a painter, handyman, and even worked in a trophy shop) and knowing full well that of the sex, drugs and rock and roll that were all I knew how to do, I wasn’t making any money at the rock and roll and wasn’t good looking enough to prostitute myself so I took up the offer of my local’s proprietor who called one day to ask, “Ever thought of becoming a publican?”

I spent the next six years bartending at the Rat’n’Raven in SF, and occasionally at Lucky 13 or Zeitgeist, till I’d not only had my fill of beer and booze but patrons too. When people walked through the door I hated them immediately. Bartending is like adult day care.

Anyway, in 1991 after the dissolution of the first version of HF, I put together the 2nd and greatest version with Russ Blackmar on drums (still work with him. He also plays with Sonia Hunter, Alice Bierhorst, etc.) Ted Ellison on Bass (subsequently he became the bass player in FUCK) and Mark Bartlett on Guitar. We toured the States once and played several shows in California, recorded one CD in Oakland and on at The Mudhive in New Mexico. What happened to this band was that Russ and I went in one direction and Mark and Ted in others. I was stripping my parts to accommodate their playing (at the time, anyway, I must say their styles are different now). So we split up and Russ and I started playing with Jane Thompson (Russ’ old roommate) forming Jack and Jill.

During this period I also played with Eugene Chadbourne, one tour in Europe during the Gulf War, several other smaller tours in the states including a stint at the knitting factory where we recorded the 69th Sin-Funny album. Also (at the request of Todd’s brother Dave Costanza in New Mexico*) produced/mixed the first Granfaloon Bus CD, “A Love Restrained” and subsequently played with them for two or three years. also played with Dieselhed for two or three years, played on their first CD. this was a very exciting time, especially when I had two shows in an evening in SF, I’d strap the fiddle to my back like a gun and ride my little Triumph drunkenly from gig to gig. I must say that driving a motorcycle drunk in San Francisco is a lot of fun with all those hills and curves… perhaps that is the real reason I stayed bartending so long—when I quit I began working at a record store, which really ruined me on the music business.

Also played with Victor briefly in Fifth Business, until he decided he needed a different sound and dissolved the band into what became A Great Laugh. 5B’s greatest moment was playing the Warfield Theatre opening for Radiohead and Belly. Felt like a rock star again for a minute or two.

Also produced/arranged a John Kruth cd for Weasel Disc called the Electric Chairmen (originally the Gas Chambermaids).

Worked for Nesting Dolls Dance Company for the past 4 or 5 years, composed and performed music for several shows, some solo guitar or violin, some with bands. Most recently we did shows in SF in May 1998 where my band was me on bass, Russ on drums, Alison Faith Levy on Keyboards and Dan Olmstead (from the New EZ devils) on Guitar.

Worked also at Homework audio, where I recorded the Plane Crash Tape, most of the first DENT, mixed HF, recorded demos for Victor.

Eventually, disgusted with my situation in SF, I mistakenly followed my now ex-girlfriend to LA (alienating other ex-girlfriend in the process, unfortunately) thinking that it would be a positive career move. Presently I live in Hollywood and work when I get it for a film post production facility, doing bits of everything. For instance I recorded all the cars and other machines for Boogie Nights….

I read for a few film parts, ended up acting in one called The Invisibles. I like acting but again, it’s a process of selling yourself here to get parts so I don’t end up doing it much.

Last summer I was asked to produce the Container CD, they were at the time a trio in Hollywood. After the recording I started playing with them.

*Tell me a bit about Magnetic and how and why it came to be?

The obvious reason was to put out our CDs because no one else was interested in doing so. Unfortunately I don’t know shit about how to run a business so I suck at it. The company is exclusively mail order now, after trying to convince distributors to carry the CDs at first and realizing I am no salesman, and can’t convince people to buy what they don’t want to (“so why should we buy this?” Well, I used to play in CVB, violin and such… “I thought the violin player was a girl…”) and when individuals ordered the CDs they really wanted them and that felt so much better.

Magnetic, by the way, was started with money I inherited when my mother died. I say this because without this catastrophic event I never would have been able to put out records again. I find this strange. The money ran out and these recent few are all on credit card!

*Current Projects?

This past winter I finally finished the second DENT CD, Verstärker, a year after gathering the sounds in New Mexico. Also worked little on 2 tracks for the Loud Family’s latest “Days for Days”. I’ve been occasionally working on some songs that Russ and I started before I left SF, what should have been the third J&J CD. I haven’t been playing any solo shows or shows of my own material. I must change this, however, for my own mental well being, I just have the overwhelming feeling of uselessness of doing so…trying to get over it.

In February I flew to Richmond, VA to play with cracker to record a Clash cover (White Riot, we used to do it in CVB…) for a Clash tribute record. While there I recorded a lot with a band called Magnet and now we are going to do a tour in June on the West Coast with me, Victor, Greg Lisher and John Nelson being the band, backing up Mark Goodman.

Mark Linkous from Sparklehorse has asked me to tour with them, but while I want to do it, it may conflict with another job, doing sound design on a big Hollywood Science Fiction movie…

*What kind of stuff have you been listening to as of late?

…long pause…

You mean this month, day, year? I love to tell people what I listen to, I provide musical info to several friends, to turn people on to things they might not otherwise find or to lend my judgment to the world’s aesthetics….

So. Lately a lot of old country music (Faron Young, Webb Pierce, George Jones) and 60’s Jamaican music. Maybe these are signs of middle age? (I’m 34). Last winter I went through periods of only Red House Painters, Tim Buckley, Geraldine Fibbers. Also a lot of Björk. I wish I could make music like that (approaching it with Dent maybe. when I first heard her sing I wanted to sing like that. Of course I will never…. she embodies many aesthetic attributes that I also subscribe to, the future-forward look, the visceral inspiration. But I still put my hands on old instruments, guitar and violin, and somehow get stuck in the past again…)

Many SF local band CDs, New EZ Devils, Liar, Granfaloon Bus, Jim Campilongo. A few bigger bands, Built to Spill, Cornershop, Giant Sand (and OP8), Babe the Blue Ox, and of course the Loud Family.

And still Richard Thompson, and Can.

I try to listen to some electronic music but it never lasts long. I used to do a lot of electronic music in the studios at UCSC in the 80s, and my ex-wife, Diana is presently really into the trance/groove stuff with all the ethnic elements sampled in and claims it’s like the forward extension of what I used to do, but I don’t use it for its purpose (trance dance) and so I don’t really listen to it. If CVB never happened that is probably what I would be doing.

*Can you name any bands similar to CVB for those who are still not over the breakup?

Um, you know, there were a lot of novelty acts that I felt responsible for allowing to happen on an unsupervised world, and I apologize. and there’s a lot of violin around these days, but they all seem to actually play it like a violin, (I’m really a guitar player—my take on it was from that point of view. Not a great violinist but what I do isn’t what other violin players do) which I don’t really like much. As far as sound goes maybe Cornershop? As far as content, maybe Dieslelhed or Granfaloon Bus?

*Is there ever a chance that there will be a CVB reunion tour?

As a freak show at the circus, haul out the geeks for the audience to ponder. When we’re old poor fat fucks. Actually I’d probably do it if anyone ever asked. That’d be weird to try to write a new record.

*I guess that is a no?

I maintain hope.

*Is there any unreleased CVB stuff left out there? Will it ever be released?

Yes and no. I assembled a lot of tapes when we were putting together VCMO, and there were a lot of unfinished tunes, instrumentals and demos, demos of the KLP where I had played (before they recorded the cd for real without the melodies I played) that sort of thing. Cassettes exist. Doubtful of actual release

*Do you know of any good sources for bootleg CVB on tape or CD?

Here’s a couple places to check: http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Stage/8702 –Zach’s page, he has lots of CVB and such. also, http://www.geocities.com/sunsetstrip/stage/7713 — Scott Heller has a bunch of tapes including some HF.

*What do you think about the state of music today? Do you think people are less prone to try something new?

Well, there are so many bands that appear to be clones of popular bands that sometimes you can’t tell them apart. Once some company takes a chance and sells something new, everybody tries to recreate it. Rock music is dead, really. The fact that Sonic Youth is a big time band proves it. It’s in the process of becoming ghettoized like jazz or blues, “Hey here’s a club where they play electric guitars…” Imagine people who have only ever heard clocked beats listening to the fluid time of a human drummer. Not that this is bad, mind you, it’s just the progression of music. Musical fads are like viruses, some take generations or whole cultures to burn through before they’re gone. Like western classical music, still affects the middle aged in our societies. Pop music on the other hand hits like a 24hour flu, it gets into your head and then repeats itself when you aren’t listening to it so that you want to hear it again and again until you just can’t stand to hear it again ever. And that’s what keeps the music machine oiled, those one hit sales. Repeat buys of a band are way down. Imagine buying the next Marcy Playground or Third Eye Blind? Yeah, right. And when I go to play here in LA with the Container, it’s definitely not my peer group that are in the audience. I don’t think that people in general are less inclined to try something new as much as the companies that produce the CDs are. They can’t get it into their heads that they really control what is hip, or they don’t admit it. Like the Monks of Doom on IRS, they didn’t know what to do with them. They could have just said, these guys are the next thing…. people are at home trying out the new stuff in private. Eventually it gets out to the public in small ways, in the rivulets between the Spice Girls and Bush. (so to speak…)

Same in film, all the younger generation of actors are homogenous, when there are multiple plot lines (god forbid) it takes half the film to figure out who’s who because they all look the same. (I say this of American film, European and British film actors seem to have character at least.) And the small films (CDs, etc.) all have to trod over each other to get noticed at all by the public.

*Since IRS went under is there a chance that Magnetic will release Monks of Doom or CVB stuff? How about a CVB box set with some sort of book?

I wish. I can barely afford to press 500 copies of the CDs we have out now. This year appears to be the last hurrah.

*What’s up with Pitch-A-Tent? Do they own the early CVB stuff?

You mean the new PaT? David started a label with this name last year with a woman in Athens, GA, without really asking us if it was OK. I don’t really care, but they don’t have anything to do with the old PaT, except that thy are both labels that are subsets of larger labels, in the old case Rough Trade and in the new, Virgin. He claims not to have as much to do with it as she does. I wish he’d take all the Magnetic stuff and release it through them. And Monks and CVB and everything. They at least have distribution.

The early CVB stuff is apparently still under contract through the now defunct IRS, with their parent company EMI. I don’t know what will happen. It’s all technically still in print, but just try to find a CD…

*Any future projects or missions?

Not sure. The more I work on films the more I get frustrated working for other people and want to direct them myself, but a million dollars is a long way from the couple thousand it costs to make a CD.

Daniel Wolf, a composer friend in Germany sent me a tape of his and Hauke Harden’s string trios, in various intonations. I’d love to put out more experimental music like this, and do more of my own chamber music or experimental music, but the time it takes is great and the reward very small. Daniel run an imprint called Material Press and they put out what scores I write/have written.

*Are there any copies of the Storytelling cd? Are you going to repress that on Magnetic in the future?

Again, I wish. When Rough Trade US went bankrupt, all our old stuff went to a warehouse in NY and apparently some cutout house bought it. I sometimes find cutout copies of Storytelling for $4 or so and buy them to sell through Magnetic, same with the first HF CD on Delta, but that’s about it. I’d love to do the 10th anniversary edition next winter…. ha….

When I was in SF last weekend a musician told me that he was in a band with someone who worked at Rough Trade at the time and they brought a box of storytelling cassettes home to record their rehearsals over. Boy, that made me feel good.

*Are you looking at branching Magnetic out past projects of yours and Victors?

Well we just did the first, Alison Faith Levy’s CD the Fog Show. Of course it was produced by Chris Xefos and recorded at Victor’s house. But neither of us played on it. Not sure how this happened really.

I would love it if somebody wanted to make Magnetic into a real company, invest a bunch of money and run it like a business, do real promotion and tracking and sales. Then I could just make music and be in charge of aesthetics…

*If so, how would you determine what type of stuff to do?

People send me tapes all the time. And I see bands. But really it would be more like the old Pitch-a-Tent where we just helped out our friends (like Spot 1019, Wrestling Worms, River Roses 10 Foot Faces, Donner Party). I’d probably want to put out friends’ bands/ensembles, and then of course I could make my own county record/ ska record/ chamber music record/ jazz record/ electronic music record… dreaming again.

*Where can you go to get things like Dieselhed and other projects you have been involved in? Can you recommend any mail order companies with stuff like that?

I always recommend Aquarius Records in San Francisco, on our website I direct credit card orders to them (our bank refused to allow us to accept credit cards…? don’t know just why). we try to carry a few copies of things like Granfaloon Bus, Container. etc…

*What does the future hold for the infamous JES? Are you ready to take over the world or just the underground?

Gearing up for the world… Overcoming a lack of confidence instilled by the constant battle of producing unpopular music and the loneliness of living in Los Angeles. Still waiting for a break.

If it all goes to hell, I headed back to the tropics (I guess I can’t go back to Indonesia just yet…) and starting a bar on the beach in some surf town.

*What does your average day consist of?

Today I didn’t go to work, got up at 9:30 (that’s early) and made the coffee, typed away at this thing.

Usually I get on my bike (a Moto Guzzi V65, by the way) and drive across Los Angeles (lane splitting down Santa Monica Blvd. ) to Danetracks, where I work on computers using ProTools doing sound for films. Basically i’m Dane Davis’s assistant, so I do a little of everything, some sound design, some recording (foley or effects or ADR) or music editing, and a lot of mixing. We’ve been doing more small films lately where we do the whole mix in our studio if I can boil it down to 32 tracks. I get it set to go and Dane finishes it off when he’s not busy with the big movies schedules.

Sometimes I’ll go swimming at the YMCA, or rehearsal with the Container, then home to my apartment where I work on music here, on the computer-ADAT studio, or just playing in my living room. I go out occasionally to see bands or movies. I don’t hang out much at bars or cafes anymore, I don’t really know very many people in LA. pretty boring existence lately, wish I had more excitement to tell of. Ask me again in a year and maybe it’ll be better.

*What makes you get up each day, what influences you to do all of the things you have done?

Wow. This is the hard question, because I ask it of myself all the time.

I basically believe in humanity, despite the human race, and believe that what we create is added to the ever expanding spiral of human culture. Little drops into it may not be noticed the first time but they seem to unknowingly change the world and can affect later arcs on the outer arms of that spiral (obvious examples are the retro-trends, ska, swing, rockabilly). Also weird thing happen like when I was working with Mixed Company in the late 80’s—another dance company—their costuming was unknowingly reminiscent of the 20’s Russian avant-garde/futurist theatre, just happened that way…) So I continue to add to the pool, continue to believe that despite the aggravations and evidence to the contrary, I have something important to add, something important to say. It’s very egotistical of me to believe this, but like I said before about growing up believing that you are special and learning late that you ain’t, a small voice in the back of your mind tells you otherwise, keeps you trying to prove that you are. (Oppositely, I have found that children who grow up believing they are shit continue to have that voice telling them that despite what their friends or lovers think…)

What influences me is culture. popular culture is very deleterious, but infinitely interesting. When CVB went around the US in the 80’s we brought not only music but that message of not standing for the watered down America, like bad beer and bad coffee. Well, we won that revolution, there’s “gourmet” coffee and beer everywhere now, problem is that it’s necessarily degraded by being for the masses. So the little victories of finding the vegetarian food in Minnesota or whatever are gone now, but that’s the worldisation of what culture we wanted at the time to express. The globalization of communication is changing everything, probably to the lowest common denominator, but how can that ultimately be bad? How can we patronize a culture different from our own by looking out for its own best interests at the expense of informing it of the rest of the world? I am very much a futurist, although I realize that that I not evident in the music I produce. Maybe I don’t have the ideas that will affect the next step, (yet), but at least I can do what I can to kill off the last one or pave the way, in the same way that JS Bach destroyed baroque music by perfecting it by its own rules, thus his death ended that era, paving the way for “classical” music (not that I am any Bach).

I have always been let down by present day artists pretending to see the future. in Wim Wender’s “Until the End of the World” he asked all those famous artists to make music as they would be doing in ten years time, and they all produced the same dreck they were making at the time the movie was made. Or the new Star Trek show, they always play fucking old music when they are listening for pleasure… what’s up with that? I’d think that by the 24th century, Japanese noise culture would have been so long embedded in pop culture that people’s ears could differentiate the harmonic content of bursts of filtered pink or white noise, or groove to logarithmic rhythms or something.

*Words of wisdom for those that appreciate all of the great songs you have given us?

Um, thanks for listening, thanks for any feedback……

I can be pretty opinionated, so I’m not going to try to spread any words of general advice like I’m as didactic as all that. Just that nobody should really have to justify their taste despite the fact that we all always try to convince other of our own.

* Don’t you think you should look at your life as one that most people would die for? I mean, think of all the great things you have done, the beautiful music you have been a part of. The future music that you will be a part of…

I’m not sure how to answer this sort of question, how people view their lives can be so different. I feel I’ve been very lucky for most of my life, yes, and I have had a lot of fun. I’d rather not have to look to the past for justification of existence, like saying that CVB was the height of my existence, but at the moment I don’t quite see it in front of me either. Maybe it’s like the same thing that child actors have, growing up in public and then when they’re not in the spotlight anymore they don’t know how to relate to the world. I know it’s been a sort of psychological demon for at least both Victor and I, and maybe more so for him because he started younger and went farther before it all went wrong. Sometimes it’s a little embarrassing when people know what I have done in the past and can’t figure out why I am [bartending, working at a record store, touring with unknown bands,] like somehow Camper should have paid for my life. (Maybe I should point out that when I got signed out of the contract in 1989 I got my amp, my violin and about $2000 in cash—at the time that was allegedly one-fifth of the band’s worth.) And continuing to make the music that I have made in the past 10 years, honestly I haven’t got the best response. It’s only the occasional person who tells me it’s beautiful, (thank you). As for the future music, honestly it’s becoming smaller and smaller as I try to figure out how I should continue. Interaction with an audience is important to me, I don’t want to make music just for myself. I want to make another record, now that i’ve been working on mailing the promo out for these latest three, but i’m not sure if I can handle running this company anymore. I hate being a business, I always wanted someone else to handle that stuff. If that never happens, the future music I make will be heard by very few people.

* Do you do much advertising? Mailings, e-mail or snail for Magnetic?

I do email mailings based on who has mailed to me, and I am this morning sending out about 500 Magnetic one page catalogs through the US Post. As far as advertising, we don’t do much. I realize that’s where we should really spend our money, but the money runs out fast. Each CD costs $1500-$2000 to manufacture ( either 500 or 1000 CDs), that’s after recording costs, then like $75-100 for envelopes to do promo mailings, and $300-400 to mail one out to some press and radio. We have, in the past, put ads in Option and a couple other things, even did one classified in Spin once, but they have never had any noticeable effect. And each one costs as much as our entire promo mailing (option does do business card sized ads for $150 or so…).

*Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Honestly.

Let’s see, ten years will be 2008 and i’ll be 44. I see many possible outcomes. I could be still in Hollywood working little sound design on movies and occasionally (by then, one hopes) getting a few gigs scoring for film. Or I could have abandoned the film world in favor of the music world, gained some notoriety playing with various acts and doing some production on newer bands’ CDs. Or maybe I will suddenly get backers to pay to make my own films and records instead of having to work on other people’s! (Yeah, right). Or (more likely) I will have fled in terror from Los Angeles and sold whatever possessions I have to pay for a small shack somewhere in the tropics. Near a beach.

*The most memorable moment in your 34 years?

Standing on the beach on the south side of Bali in december of 1988 and becoming all the water within the area, from the mists in the clouds to the vast ocean.

*Do you find it tough to make music and money? I know that my music suffers due to my full time job.

Fuck yeah. Earning money takes it out of you. The more you earn, the more you have to work and the more tired you become, until you just want to watch the TV when you’re not at work. I always like those periods of time when I am working very little best. Otherwise you have to force yourself to finish, (or start!) projects.

There’s a reason for ‘starving artists’, I guess. They’re the only ones with time to make art.

*What do you think of violin bands like the Dirty Three?

Well, that really depends on they ay the player plays, their idea of music. I love the dirty 3, that guy is beautiful, very passionate. He’s not trying to show off, he’s making a specific sound. I saw them play once and he drank a bottle of wine during the set, like a sad gypsy. I’m not that great a violinist, coming from a guitar playing background, but what I can do is play like a guitar. What I don’t really like to hear is when violin players play in rock bands, like classical musician’s technique in the rock context. It doesn’t work for me really. Sounds kitschy. Violin is scary (like David Lowery used to say, “the three scariest instruments are the violin, bagpipes and the pedal steel.” Probably because of their stretched tuning.) And I like it that way, I like it stretching the tuning. When it’s always in tune it’s boring. I like a lot of folk musics, from all over the world that use the fiddle. I don’t really know many of the violin-in-rock-band bands, like the wild colonials? I keep meaning to go and see them, they play around here all the time. People tell me i’m responsible for the many violins in bands nowadays… I don’t know if that’s a responsibility I want!

*How come Magnetic doesn’t sell CVB boots, or as my local record store calls them, live rare imports, to help make money?

First off, because it’s not just up to me, it would be sort of cheating some contract with whoever owns the catalog now (Polygram? ) and second, sheerly because of the price of pressing and selling CDs.

*So do you think that advertising, record company executives and popular radio has killed most people’s musical alertness in the US?

That and MTV. People used to buy records based on the label that put them out, no longer. Repeat buying of a band’s next cd is way down, more one-shot bands…. And formula sells. It’s always about money.

*<<this year appears to be the last hurrah>>

What do you mean by that? Is this the end of Magnetic?

Unless I earn a bunch of money to continue making the CDs. I would do it on a small level for the rest of my life if I can.

*How come you have not turned Magnetic into a larger mail order entity? It seems as if most smaller labels are willing to work on consignment.

Not sure what you mean… I am trying to…? I tried to get the bank to let us accept credit cards, but they turned me down. Not enough monthly income and they didn’t like the street address of the business ( my apartment in SF at the time—I guess they thought I would be running a whorehouse…) I guess i’m not an aggressive enough salesman.

*Do you surf?

I have in the past, but haven’t lately. Time and effort, you know. I get my kicks riding motorcycles. Last weekend I went up to David lowery’s cabin out by pioneertown, near Joshua Tree, and he and Jackson (CVB’s manager, presently David’s) and we rode dirtbikes up to big bear lake and back….

*Do you have plans to make the major label trek with The Container if the music takes them to that point?

I know that’s what Clyde wants. I think I would do it again.

* Dave and Anne Costanza were from a band called the Whitefronts, Dave and Karl Bartlett played horns on CVB’s Our beloved revolutionary sweetheart. We used to do a lot of shows with the Whitefronts in SF, and Dave and Karl toured with CVB. Subsequently they moved to NM and formed the Lords of Howling, recently dissolved. Dave and Anne are also important players in DENT.

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