This article was contributed by Gabe Connor, founder of THICK FOG - a magazine that will be out in print this fall.
Devon Williams is a Los Angeles based musician who has been recording under different monikers and with many different people for quite a while. Since choosing the eponymous route, he released Carefree, his debut full length in 2008 as well as three other 7’’s. This past week Slumberland celebrated the release of Devon’s new and already gossiped about record Euphoria (now out via Slumberland Records). Standout single “Your Sympathy” has received buzz from noteworthy music sites and magazines alike.
Devon is touring the west coast this September to support Euphoria and is stopping twice in the Bay Area. On Saturday he’ll be at Abco Art Space in Oakland with The Mantles and Twin Steps, and on Sunday he’ll be supporting Twin Sister at the Rickshaw Stop with Library Voices opening. Devon spoke with Night Fog Reader this week about pure pop songs, the sun, and why he likes solving puzzles so much.
Night Fog Reader: So you’re playing a weekend of shows in the Bay Area. You’ve been up here several times already in the past few months (at the Knockout and Thee Parkside in June, and at the Slumberland Records showcase in May). What’s your favorite thing about San Francisco? Devon Williams: San Francisco is so different from LA. The weather’s different. The people are different. It’s a good pace-changer. The cover art for Euphoria is spectacular. It reminds me of The Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers or even Magical Mystery Tour artwork. Could you tell us about the artwork and concept? Why did you choose to format some of the album packages as puzzles? Gage Taylor did the artwork. It’s a painting he did in 1969. I love the painting because it’s so vivid and unreal. The amount of detail and variety of color is what makes it perfect to be a jigsaw puzzle. When I work on puzzles I listen to records and I thought that would be a sort of ideal way for someone to listen to the record. What’s the craziest, most intricate or difficult puzzle you’ve pieced together? What were you listening to at the time? I was desperate for a puzzle one day. I wanted to stay inside and work on one, so I went to a couple different thrift stores where they sell ‘em for like 2 bucks. They had none. I couldn’t believe it. I scoured the store and then I found one. It was a breast cancer awareness puzzle with Santa Claus in the snow and two angels wearing pink ribbons flying around him and some doves and bells, etc. I thought it would be fine, but once I got well into it I couldn’t make a breakthrough. It had too much white and pink and I didn’t care enough about it. So I gave up. I think I was watching a movie though, not listening to music.
Are there any specific artists or albums that come to mind that influenced Euphoria? A lot of bands like sunny radio pop, however your stuff is much more orchestrated and added to rather than copied. Do you think vintage worship is a dangerous game in an uncreative music industry? I sort of have been pulling from my same influences for the last couple years. I’m a huge fan of The Church album Heyday. The guitars on that album are so great and the drumming too. Also Cleaners From Venus, who made really great universes in pop songs. Then there’s other influences like Pete Dello and Nirvana (UK). Pete Dello’s songwriting is so direct while Nirvana is so elaborate.
I always think that garage bands are boring and hackneyed, but it’s also just a legacy that goes on and on and on. Something about just getting together and playing music that you can’t really argue with. The bottom line is if it’s a good song, it’s a good song. No point in talking over it.
What’s LA like as a music haven? I know you guys have had Laurel Canyon, Orange County punk, peak of the 90’s paisley underground and now there’s this whole dark synth and beach pop aura. How would you compare it to other cities? I’m not sure how to compare LA to other cities, but I definitely feel like music in LA is lacking something. But I love the community that Burger Records has created. Even though a lot of those bands are more “wild” than us, I feel an affinity with Burger (Sean Bohrman, Lee Noise, and Brian Burger) because of their values. I’ve known them for a while and they love all sorts of music, and it’s their entire life. And that’s the kind of musical community I want to be involved with.
The tracks on Euphoria are often bittersweet, and about love, but all seem really passionate. Were you going for that “teenage crush”mood when you wrote lyrics? I wasn’t going for anything when I wrote these songs. I just write the things that I feel. [But] I don’t feel nostalgia. I just write songs and add parts to them until they sound full.
Slumberland releases are typically more “lo-fi.” The riffs on Euphoria are really clean. What’s it like being on Slumberland? Mike Schulman who runs Slumberland is a music lover. He loves putting out records as much as he loves listening to them. I can appreciate that. We could talk about music for hours and hours and we have. When I suggested making some puzzles to go along with the LP he was just as excited as I was.
Euphoria feels like beach music. It is like going to the beach with a wine cooler and a blanket instead of getting stoned in the sun. Does the sun influence your music? Living in Los Angeles certainly affects me, so inevitably the climate takes its toll. Euphoria is a dark album to me, more sunburnt than sunny.
What one thing is “euphoric” for Devon Williams? Pop music with great melodies and great words. That’s all I’m after.
I noticed that for this tour you are going by a solo name, rather than Devon Williams and the Fuck Ups or Devon Williams and the Grunge Gods, etc. If you were to give a name to your backing band, what would it be? I consider us all equal players when we play. They are so much more than a backing band. I couldn’t do it without them. If I had to give them a name I’d probably call them “The Good Time Gang” or maybe “Let’s Make The Most of It Band” or maybe something like “The Dustbusters.”
Devon Williams / The Mantles / Twin Steps Abco Art Space 3135 Filbert St Oakland Saturday, September 3rd $5, 9:30 PM
Twin Sister / Devon Williams / Library Voices The Rickshaw Stop 155 Fell St San Francisco Sunday, September 4th $10 Advance $12 Doors, 8:00 PM
TINT, the bedroom project of Zane Morris, feels like a camping trip filled with 3AM self-revelations and bright early mornings. You may recognize Morris as the former bassist in Nick Waterhouse's band, The Tarots. I know him from the time we were teenagers going to shows at 924 Gilman Street. Last week, Morris dropped off a CDR along with a zine at my house, then gave us the green light to share his music with you all. It gives me great pleasure to share with you the music of Zane Morris.
Catch TINT live this Sunday, August 28th at 6PM at Saint Johns (15th St. between Valencia and Mission). Cost is donation based, and the show is being organized by Reverend Bertie Pearson (ex-Episco Disco).
How to Not Act Like a Garbage Monkey While Gettin’ Your Drank on in the Mission. This article was contributed by Rachel, a bartender in the Mission District. Her years of experience bartending at weekend bridge & tunnel hot spots has certified her as bar etiquette expert. Plus, she knows how to serve a mean Manhattan. After hearing about the crazy behavior that she witnesses on a weekly basis, we thought her words of advice would be of humor (or use?) to our readers. Okay, I know everyone has been to a Mission District bar at sometime in their mixed-up twenty-somethings. It was probably the most blacked-out-drunk-throw-up-fest on Mission Street. You washed it down with a fat-ass burrito and woke up the next morning somewhere, asking yourself, “Wha happened?” I’m pretty sure I can tell you what happened. I have worked as a bartender in the Mission for almost 5 years and boy, have I seen some magic! Your morning after thoughts may include: WHAT DID I DO? WHO ARE YOU? AM I GONNA BE OK?
No, no, no! You will not be OK! Your behavior at the bar was not OK! That is why I’m here to be your bartender guru on what not to do, but above all keep me happy when I am behind the bar. Just carefully follow my rules and you will be golden.
1. Girly drinks when busy = off limits Unless you want me to jump over the bar and stab you, don’t order three Cosmos when it’s 12:45AM on a Saturday, and it’s busy as hell. If so, then be prepared to be ignored the rest of the night. Come on! Isn’t it obvious? When it’s busy? You will be bazooka barfing on the floor of your BFF’s Prius anyway!
2. If you wave your hand at me I will cut you off! As Stephanie Tanner would say, “How rude!” I mean, really? You think that you can get served faster by making some kind of rabid hyena movement? All bartenders know that if you wave your limb at us you automatically get served last, and in my book, never again. This also goes for leaning all the way forward and waving dollars at me—this isn’t a strip club, bro.
3. “Have you seen my stuff?” Are you for real? Every single Saturday at the end of the night I have groups of drunken Yetis come up and ask me, “Have you seen my stuff?!” Of course they abandoned it on the opposite side of the bar 2 hours ago because they wanted to go climb on something to dance to LMAFO’s “Shots.” Enough said. Keep your shit glued to you.
4. No flip flops in the club A few weeks ago when I was having a bathroom break and the stall floor was suddenly covered in BLOOD! I threw the door open and see this 21-year-old-looking, head-to-toe-in-American-Apparel, cute art student with flip flops on! What are you even doing in a bar with open foot shoes!? It turns out she stepped on a broken pint glass and sliced her foot. She was soo drunk she couldn’t even feel her cut, and she just wanted to go back to dancing. Alright, no. I took the young child aside, fixed her up and sent her off, but not before I made her pinky promise me that she would only wear closed toe shoes in a bar. Hey, nobody likes a bleeder.
5. If you are loud, I hate you! Do not yell your drink order or yell if you need something. You make everyone think you are insane. Why would anyone want to take home a loud swamp monster instead of a behaved swamp monster?
6. Cocaine evidence This one is plain and simple. Please wipe your cocaine rings off your nose BEFORE you scream your order at me (see rule #5). Oh, and your eyes are crossed and your face is getting really “JAWESOME.”
7. On tequila shots "Three Tequila shots!" Yes! You rule! Wait….Why do I see you waving out the corner of my eye while I’m trying to tend to the rest of these wolves? "EXCUUUUSSSEEE MEEEEEEEEE… I NEED SALT AND SOME PINEAPPLE CHASERS, AND CAN YOU TAKE A PICTURE???" OMG. Really? Either tell me up front your full order or you can have your sides in about 10 minutes. Who does the salt thing anymore? Wait, who does the chaser thing anymore?
8. Don’t order shots that have adjectives or body parts in them Honestly, unless your bartender was old enough to bartend MTV Springbreak ‘92 we won’t know what the hell is in that. Plus, those shots are totally rapey! Yeah, some guy that you want to date wants to order you a “SLIPPERY NIPPLE”? Get outta here!
9. Don’t call basic drinks something stupid The last few times I have worked someone says, “Give me like 1 Dracula Titty and 2 Pirate Poops” - or something like that. Who would have known that really means, “1 cranberry vodka and 2 rum and cokes.” Is this some new trend or game? Well, it’s really fucking dumb and makes me give you a badger like face and roll my eyes, and then I have to talk to you and ask you what it is. I know it gives you some kind of “power” to tell ME that means a cranberry vodka, but for reals, fuck off.
10. No burritos in the bar Why are you bringing your burrito/BBQ/whatever stinky food you got and think its OK to scarf that down in a bar? I’ve seen this for years and it will never stop. You stink up the bar, you smell like what you just ate, and you are that person. I would never ever ever ever eat at a bar, and I work at one! I would rather go eat outside than sit at a bar and look like a dumpy eating a burrito by myself.
So guys and gals, lessons like this should be kept in mind. Don’t be the total idiot at the bar. Now get out there! Happy Drinking Duuuuuudes!! - Rachel
Interview with Hayden Shiebler of Mother’s Daughter. By Pedro
Hayden Shiebler is the owner of the locally-based online boutique shop, Mother’s Daughter. Shiebler is also a film director/editor, and a photographer. Her roster includes music videos for Wax Idols and Devon Williams, her collaborative efforts with Tamaryn in Honey Suckled Video, plus she’s got a lot more coming down the pike. To say the least, the girl is majorly busy.
I checked in with Shiebler to ask her about her shop, clothes, her film work, and essential accessories.
Night Fog Reader: For people who aren’t familiar with Mother’s Daughter, could you tell us a little bit about it’s origins, and what its become? Hayden Shiebler: Mother’s Daughter is an online vintage shop I started in November of 2009. I spent months before holed up in my parents house in rural Tennessee developing the aesthetic and adjusting every miniscule detail possible. It started as part time side project and is now my full time job. Mother’s daughter is a store but it’s also become more than that, it definitely promotes a specific feeling and look. The specific feeling and look change subtly over time, just as people do. What can be promoted, sold and shared through the shop is limitless and that is really I think what sets it apart and made it what it’s become.
How would you describe your aesthetic? My aesthetic is very decisive and deliberate. Nothing is haphazard, even if it looks that way. I like contrast in all forms - mixing patterns, sobering combinations of black and white, etc.
I imagine that finding such unique articles of clothing can be challenging at times. Raiding the thrift store bins is often the method of many vintage-boutique shops. How is your approach different? Can you tell us without telling us too much? I don’t really know how other people do it, so maybe I don’t do it any differently? I just try to look at everything in the store, or estate sale, or antique mall or wherever I am. Also I sometimes let a piece set a precedent for my entire shopping trip. Like, if I find a pair of pink satin trousers - I will kind of buy everything else I see with that in mind. Not even matching just whatever look or vibe I get from a certain piece.
What’s your sweetest find? I don’t even know anymore, I love clothes but because I cycle through them so quickly they all have had their moments of being my favorite. I guess I have a 1930’s cotton lawn dress with all this beautiful mesh paneling that I will never wear, if I had to choose.
A lot of people have a negative knee-jerk reaction towards boutique vintage clothing. Personally, I see it as artifact and preservation work. How do you value vintage, and what do you find significant about these types of clothing? I’ve realized I don’t necessarily think you need to pay homage to the past to look to the future, that seems to be a common explanation for the value of vintage clothing. I bought vintage clothing as a teenager because I worked a minimum wage job and had to be creative with what was available to me. I never looked at it as being “valuable” because it was vintage, it was cool because no one else had the same clothes as I did and because I was given the chance to reinterpret something that had already been worn and make it my own. I think the value in vintage is giving a person the opportunity to take something that has had a decided purpose for many years, and let it become something that no one ever considered in the past.
You photograph most of the content for your shop’s site, and you often travel for shoots. How do you scout locations? Do you have any “dream” locations? I don’t really scout locations, I sometimes get recommendations from friends who have lived here their whole lives, or just drive toward an area that has caught my attention and do some exploring. We recently shot in the salt flats in Fremont, I expected it to be sprawling, pastel and dreamy. It turned out to be industrial, neon, and apocalyptic. This unexpected, impulsive element probably adds a bit of energy to the images. I wish San Francisco was a bit closer to the desert, any desert location is my dream location. I love the abyssal and stark beauty of the desert.
In addition to doing this shop and managing it’s visual content, you’ve also directed a music video (Wax Idols - All Too Human). How did this come about, and do you have anymore videos in the works? When I had previously taken photos for Wax Idols, Hether and I really meshed well creatively. She trusted my sensibility and I trusted her vision. I expressed my interest in starting to do video work, she needed a video, it just kind of came together really effortlessly - a natural progression. I have one video completed that was made in collaboration with Honey Suckled Video (Devon Williams “Your Sympathy”), three others that are on their way to completion (Dominant Legs, Religious to Damn, Plateaus). Some of these I’m solely directing or editing, others I’m filling all positions myself.
I can’t resist myself from asking a fashion advice question. Could you list 5 articles of clothing or accessories every person should have? I live in San Francisco, this may only be practical for people who live here too:
1. black suede or leather ankle boots, with a heel. 2. suede mini skirt 3. silk kimono 4. tailored trousers 5. cropped sweater
Mother’s Daughter carries these things consistently, so my list is kind of obvious.
Counting Up with 1-2-3-4 Go! An interview with Steve Stevenson.
I wrote this article for GET BENT, a collaborative blog that provides news, reviews, and features about underground garage and punk rock. Be sure to check them out. Here is the article in it’s entirety.
Pedro Hernandez of Night Fog Reader checked in with Steve Stevenson, founder of 1-2-3-4 Go! Records to ask him about the label’s humble beginnings, the record store, the struggles, and this weekend’s action packed anniversary party.
Based out of Oakland, CA, 1-2-3-4 Go! Records stands out as a local punk rock Mecca. Not only has it put out dozens of records over the last decade, its roster includes local favorites like Shannon & The Clams, The Sandwitches, and Personal and the Pizzas. But it’s more than a label. It also acts as a retail store that provides punk rock vinyl to hungry ears in the Bay Area. The label celebrates its 10 year anniversary this weekend July 22-24 at Oakland’s Metro Opera House and is bringing some real cut-up talent like Nobunny, The Bananas, King Khan, Zero Boys, Ringers, plus tons more.
It was in 1997 when Stevenson naively flirted with the idea of starting a label. “I asked pretty much nothing but huge bands that I didn’t know personally. So obviously I got a lot of no responses…” It wasn’t until 2001 when 1-2-3-4 Go! put out its first release. At the time, Stevenson was working at Singles Going Steady, a record store located in Seattle, WA. Stevenson explains that it was there where he received a demo from a band called Spitting Teeth. “I asked them if they wanted to do a 7 inch. They said yes, and in August of 2001, their record came out, and it just snowballed from there.”
Putting out that first record gives you a hundred times more credibility than someone who hasn’t, Stevenson says. In a world where there’s so much talk of starting a label, putting out cassettes, 8-tracks—yes, seriously, 8-tracks—Stevenson explains that “only a handful of people actually do it, and only a handful of those are actually serious about it.” But like any serious business, Stevenson has met some challenges. “There’s a ton of money you have to put out up front that takes around 6 months to start recouping in a meaningful way.”
And even after those 6 months, there are still hiccups along the way. Just ask Stevenson if Phil Collins has a place in punk rock. “I’ve had small stuff, like a whole pressing held up because something stupid, like a picture of a guy holding a Phil Collins record cover over his face on the inner label. Because we didn’t have permission from Phil Collins for that picture to appear on there, they wouldn’t press the record at all. So we had to have all new labels made, and $100 or so dollars got pretty much thrown in the trash.” I guess Phil Collins would prefer to be featured in a Bone Thugs & Harmony music video than on the insert of a punk rock record. What would Peter Gabriel do?
Within this challenging industry, a lot of major labels have struggled with the changing nature of the record biz, but Stevenson credits the shop to the label’s current success. “Having a store really gets you face-to-face with a lot of people you may not have met or talked to otherwise. My label has taken the direction it has over the last 3 years because of the store.” And every year, the label gets into a musical rut, but it’s this rollercoaster that he finds interesting. “You’re sure you’re not going to hear something new and interesting, and then some brand new thing comes along and blows your mind, or you hear something old that sets you off on a new musical tangent. I still enjoy discovering music and learning new things about it. It exposed me to all kinds of things I probably wouldn’t have known about otherwise.”
That raw enthusiasm that Stevenson employs in exposing himself to new music is just as potent when directed towards his label. “Take it seriously, and go for as much gusto as you can muster. Oh and it’s not a crime to keep a record in print. To me, the point of doing a label is making music available to people. Not doing stupidly small pressings and never repressing when there’s huge demand. I mean, it’s kind of cool to see your stuff go for crazy prices on Ebay, but I’m about making records. Not collectors’ items, exclusively.”
With a work ethic like that, it’s good to see that despite the ups and downs, 1-2-3-4 Go! is still going strong. The action starts tonight, Friday July 22, with a sick set from The Cute Lepers, Personal and the Pizzas, Nobunny, and more. Full details on the anniversary fest here. Still not sure what to expect? “Fun, and 17 of the coolest bands going at the moment. There is ZERO filler on these shows. I don’t have the time or willingness to do something like that. I really encourage people to watch every band, even if they haven’t heard of them before. I was really thoughtful about putting together these shows, so you may find your new favorite band this weekend.”
SOME ALBUMS WE LIKE AND SOME LESSONS WE LEARNED FROM THEM. Pamela picks ten albums and spills life lessons in prose.
San Francisco’s Pamela are making their mark as a ‘tude driven psych mess. The band put together a list of 10 albums for Night Fog Reader, along with poetic prose articulating the wise lessons of each record.
Solstice is a summer mixtape that encapsulates all the exciting things that are coming our way this summer, along with the staples that are the soundtrack to my ears. This is also the first mix I’ve made for NFR. If you’re not familiar, The Bold Italic is a local content site that covers a broad range of topics: lifestyle, food, music, and events. It’s also fair to note that Night Fog Reader co-founder, Michelle is also a Bold Italic contributor. Nikki Grattan wrote up the mixtape so be sure to check that out. I hope you enjoy it.
Interview with Sean “Lucky” Siegle, local soul DJ, and creator of Pretzelwerkz. By Pedro
You might know Sean “Lucky” Siegle as a local DJ. His nights are established and notoriously fun: Soul Party! Saturdays at the Elbo Room, Nightbeat at the Edinburgh Castle, and the weekly slow jams party Lost & Found at The Make-Out Room. But he’s more than just a DJ - he’s also a pretzel master. No joke. Lucky grew up in a town that had such a surplus of pretzels they actually dumped old pretzels on the road to melt the winter ice! Pretzelwerkz can be found at the Elbo Room, and at Rooky’s – perhaps the salted soft pretzel saved your drunken self without you even realizing it. It was quite tasty treat if you remember. I sat down with Lucky at the Elbo room a few weeks back to discuss his pretzel legacy and what led him to nail down the prefect pretzel.
Pretzelwerkz pretzels can be found at the following locations: Elbo Room - Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays 5pm-2am Rooky’s - Saturdays 12-6pm
Night Fog Reader: Tell us about how you got started making pretzels. Sean “Lucky” Siegle: I made pretzels just out of personal desire because I couldn’t find an authentic one in San Francisco. I’m from a place called Reading “Pretzel City” Pennsylvania. My grandfather moved there from Bavaria in his 20s, my dad was born there, and he sold pretzels on the corner when he was a kid. I did the same thing as a kid. It’s been inherited in the blood. In fact, there’s more pretzels made and consumed there than anywhere else in the states, something like 80 percent of the pretzels in America are produced there.
One of the impetuses behind this is seeing a pretzel on the San Francisco “100 things to eat before you die” list. I went there and got it, and it was an $8 super pretzel. I know what a real pretzel looks like, and what a frozen twisted pretzel looks like. One of my best friends growing up, his grandfather invented the pretzel twisting machine, and his dad made it into this whole pretzel twisting business. Basically every non-handmade pretzel that you eat in America is made by this machine. So I went and had this pretzel, and was so disgusted by the fact that something like that would be on the “top things to eat before you die list.” I said, “crew this, I’m going to make a real pretzel.”
What makes your pretzel a pretzel? It’s an old world recipe that’s been modernized by using only 100% organic and sustainable ingredients. We’ve gone to the ends of the earth to get everything right. The salt that we use is $10/lb alone.
What kind of mustard do you use for your pretzels? I use a mustard that I have imported from a Jewish deli in Brooklyn. It was the best one we found out of all the ones we tried. The name is undisclosed at this point.
Do you think pouring nacho cheese from a machine ruins the integrity of the pretzel? Yeah, I would say that definitely. A lot of time and effort goes into making these pretzels – and to taint it with something artificial is probably getting away from the purpose.
You told me that you’ve been working on the pretzel for a while. How long have you been doing it for? I worked on the actual research and development for 2 years before I started giving them to people. After that I’ve been selling for them for over a year.
So long did it take you to memorize that knot? Did you really like tying your shoes as a kid? I worked on the knot until I got my own personal take on it. I tied them conventionally for years before I realized it was a lot easier to make them upside down and tie the knot at the bottom. I had a lot of trouble tying my shoes and telling time as a child – they were two of the hardest things I learned to do.
You once told me that your dad said you really “nailed it.” So did you really “nail it”? I would say that the east-coast blue collar stereotype would hold true in this situation. People aren’t really going to sing your praises unless you do something that holds true to their hearts. Compliments don’t come easy, let’s put it that way.
Did you know that the pretzel used to be called the “dough knot”? No. I didn’t.
I made that up. But seriously, tamale vs. pretzel - who wins? It depends on what market you’re speaking to. They’re so culturally different. They both go great with beer, and it just depends on what you’re in the mood for – something south of the border, or something from the south of Germany.
Are you aware that there are corn dogs, bagel dogs, but no pretzel dog? Just sayin’ Actually, there are pretzel dogs.
Be sure to check out Pretzelwerkz at Rooky’s, and check out Lucky DJing at Nightbeat on Saturday (6/25) at the Edinburgh Castle.