This article was contributed by Gabe Connor, founder of THICK FOG. The second issue of THICK FOG will be out early this summer.
You might remember Will Ivy (guitar/vox) and Kirsten Knick (keyboard/vox) as your 24th St. neighbors, but they have fled the fog and are now live in Los Angeles. The band’s other members, Chrys Nodal (bass) and Jon Wujcik (drums), still reside in San Francisco. The NorCal/SoCal divided Lilac are reunited in SF to play a show in support of Noise Pop Festival’s 20th Anniversary Festival on Friday.
Gabe Connor: Is there an intentional homage to some patron saints of music in your song titles? “Cathedral” is also a Felt song, “So Young” a Suede song, “Cease to Exist” a Charles Manson song, “Christine” a House of Love song. Or are some of these actually covers layered in slaying blissed-out grunge and I haven’t noticed?
Will Ivy: “Cease to Exist” is in fact a Charles Manson cover. But I feel an overall sense of “there’s nothing you can sing that hasn’t been sung” so I feel like it is with good intentions that I give my respects to the bands and songs that inspire me. This is especially relevant with the title “Christine”. I was first drawn to the name in the House of Love song, and then realized the name is in so many other songs (Siouxsie and the Banshees, etc). So the name became a way for us to write love songs to music without just outright saying “I dig music.”
GC: Has moving to LA marked anything new for you guys as a band? Do you think the songs will be less sludgier and overcast now that the weather isn’t like painkiller grey?
WI: New territory, new inspiration, new challenges, new everything. I feel like we were getting a little burnt playing tons of SF shows and practicing the same songs over and over (the songs are still always sloppy too, haha). So now when we get together it’s more invigorated. Who is to say what our next record will be like…dreamier?
GC: I know you recorded your last EP (Lilac, out now via Omega Records) with Different Fur Studios in SF. What’s it like working with them? Do you expect to record the full length with them and release it with Omega as well?
WI: Working with Different fur is amazing, and we are very lucky to work with the very talented Patrick Brown. We actually already recorded the new LP there, as well as material for two 7” releases. During the EP we were still getting acquainted, and the band was so new, but I think the listener will be able to see our development as a band and the growth our confidence in the studio. I don’t want to talk about release details yet.
GC: I notice there seems to be a trend in your band image and in your lyrics regarding religious and spiritual themes. Whenever I see you guys you’re likely to be bearing eternal ankh pendants (essentially the Lilac trademark).
WI: We are by no means a religious band, but we are spiritual and moved by concepts like eternity. Kirsten especially is always adorned with rings and crosses and emblems and she decorates the house as such. We are also narcissistic artists that want to live forever. Ha.
GC: Do each of you have a particular style icon? I know people say Will’s Doppelganger is Russell Brand, but I beg to differ. He can’t dress like, at all.
WI: Who is Russell Brand? Kirsten is really inspired by the Yeh Yeh French girl scene: Francoise Hardy, Jane Birkin, Brigitte Bardot. I’ve also seen her looking at a lot of pics of Liv Tyler lately. Will is constantly confused about his style.
(Kirsten Knick of Lilac)
GC: Have their been any sonic or process differences between the writing and recording of the full length v. the EP?
WI: For one we were broken up during the writing and recording of the LP so it’s full of tension, angst and longing. At just a sonic level, both Kirsten and I did mostly all the writing on the EP, and I recorded most of the instrumentation (drums, bass, percussion, guitar, etc). But on the LP we were more established as a band so it was definitely more of a collaborative group effort as far as writing and recording.
GC: As a band you recently joined the Twitteverse. How do you feel about it? I struggle with it every day. Do you have a tweeting mentor?
WI: It’s just a fun place to send all these free flying jokes in our heads. I can’t believe it when I see people with literally thousands of tweets. We are two people contributing to one Twitter and we STILL only have 200 something tweets. It’s fine; no real opinion.
GC: Anything concretely in the works for Lilac? Can we soon expect new releases, videos, and a tour or do we have to wait for armageddon?
WI: “Nothing’s concrete, except for you and iiii”
Tour: Soon maybe
Video: Really soon
Lilac play alongside Veronica Falls, Bleached, and Brilliant Colors tonight at the Rickshaw Stop. Tickets are $12 adv/$14 dos. Lilac are on first at 9 on the dot, so get there early.
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
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.
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.
Interview with Patricia Hall of Soft Metals. By Pedro
Soft Metals are an electro-synth duo based out of Portland, Oregon. The couple – Patricia Hall and Ian Hicks started playing music together in spring of ’09. Their seductive sound draws from italo and dark wave influences. Maybe you caught them open for Glass Candy back in October? Their self-titled LP is due July 19 via Captured Tracks, but they’re dropping by Amnesia this Saturday (6/18) to send you into an arpeggiated luminous bliss. I checked in with Patricia Hall this week to ask her about the weekend, music, snacks, and foil.
Night Fog Reader: I’m stoked you’re playing SF again. For people who haven’t listened to your band, how would you describe your sound and influences? Patricia Hall: We’re really excited to play in SF again. This will be our 5th SF show since May of 2010 and each time we have had a blast. For those who haven’t heard us, I hope you will take a moment to go over to our SoundCloud and have a listen or pick up one of our releases and form your own ideas. We’re definitely electronic/synth-based, but we don’t think of ourselves as genre specific artists. Our approach is to just go into the studio and jam and see where our subconscious carries our hands over the keys. We have a lot of influences: 80s synth pop, post punk, early synthesizer experiments, shoegaze, house and techno, and psychedelic vocal pop. Our sound is dense, dreamy, beat driven, melodic, but also noisy.
Your band utilizes vintage analog equipment to create your sounds and textures. Can you tell me a little about the challenges and positive aspects of that process?
Using vintage analog equipment definitely informs and inspires our sound. Software synths and drum machines have really come a long way in the past few years but the actual user interfaces of the older gear and the complications in syncing it all together force you to make a decision about a certain set up, get creative, and just go with it. We use a lot of trigger outs that are provided on the older Roland drum machines and Kenton converter boxes to deal with syncing our pre MIDI gear. The challenge with this type of set up is, if something goes wrong, troubleshooting can difficult with so many separate boxes linked together (basic soldering skills have come in handy more than a few times too), the positive though is you get a more modular system that you can tailor to a specific show, jam session or whatever.
Last year’s The Cold World Melts EP felt like a short tease. Okay, I wanted more. What can listeners expect from the new LP?
The LP consists of ten all new recordings including new versions of “The Cold World Melts” and “Voices” which were on the EP. There is a diversity of sound that really demonstrates our wide range of influences. The production is a lot more complex. We both challenged ourselves a lot, trying out a lot of new techniques for the first time. We want to avoid following a formula. We tried out something new on every song. I think that inspired /experimental spirit can be detected in our music and I hope it excites the listener as much as it excites us when we’re making the music. I think the vocals are a lot stronger on these recordings as well.
You’re packing in a lot this weekend: the PDX to SF drive, EOTB BBQ (dj set), the OK HOLE show. What’s the soundtrack to this weekend’s hustle? And what snacks are you packing?
Instra: Mental, Iron Curtain, Crowd Pleaser, Steve Moore, Jeff and Jane Hudson, Neon Judgement, Logic System, LFO, Linear Movement, Leda w/ Peter Baumann, Phalangius, Section 25, Moderne, Lone, and Drexciya.
Snacks: health food. We want to be full of energy for the weekend! Breakfast burritos, kombucha, coffee, bananas, apples, peaches, mixed nuts, tortilla chips and guac.
What’s your favorite meal spot in SF?
Turtle Tower, La Taqueria, El Farlito, Saigon Sandwiches, Gracias Madre.
I heard Remy Marc (dj) is driving down with you this weekend. I don’t remember much of anything whenever I hang out with him. Are you ready for that?
Haha. We’re good, old friends with Remy. He’s a lot of fun to hang with. I’ve learned my lesson from having a few of those nights you can’t remember. The first and only time I ever blacked out was at a party we were doing together. We want to have a good show, so Ian and I are going to put a limit on our level of decadence, but we hope that doesn’t stop everyone else from having fun!
I’ve been dying to ask this question: What’s the most functional object you’ve molded out of aluminum foil?
Interview with Kristin Klein, Tour Managing Queen. By Pedro
Kristin Klein has been tour manager for bands like Ariel Pink, Atlas Sound, The Black Lips, Deerhunter, the Fresh & Onlys, Jay Reatard, The King Khan & BBQ Show, and Thee Oh Sees. She lives in San Francisco and loves Mission Chinese. She also has a pop-up shop called Vacation which has a three date residency at The Make-Out Room starting this Saturday (6/11). I sat down with Kristin at Mission Chinese a few weeks ago to ask her about tour managing, and what she’s up to these days.
Night Fog Reader: Why would you do what you do? Kristin Klein: It’s a dream job. I’m lucky enough that my friends do really amazing things and can afford to take me with them. I also dropped out of high school – so touring happened on accident. But it’s an awesome job. I get to travel the world with my friends and go to a different city every night. What’s the longest you’ve had to hold it in? Hold it in? Like how? On tour?
Yeah. There’s this SXSW where I peed myself. But I was wasted, and there was nowhere to pee. I was just trying to pee on a dumpster but ended up peeing all over myself. So that was probably a three or four hour wait. But in the van I’m good. I’m like a camel. I’m really good in the van. Its always the dudes that have need to pee. It’s never the girls that have to go pee. I find that with myself whenever I have to go (pee) just a little bit, I just REALLY want to go. Yeah, dudes have no control. It’s like a boner. I think I’ve exercised mine (bladder) as well. You can do breathing exercises to expand your lungs before you go under water. I think that I have stressed my bladder to the point of holding more than a normal person’s. Is tour managing an art? If so, who’s your inspiration? It’s definitely not an art. I think anyone can do it as long as they can keep their shit together. It’s really important to not be doing it because you are interested in any level of celebrity. It’s important to separate: You are there working for the band, you are not there to be associated with the band. Do you have any groupies? I do. Not really groupies. I have a Flickr page because my memory is horrible. I would take camera phone pictures and post them to my page and have probably been doing that for the past five years. There’s a girl named Madeline who I’m still friends with, and I just sent her to the Fresh & Onlys show. She lives in Bloomington, Indiana - I think she’s my biggest fan. But there’s also a girl in Birmingham, Alabama that was following me and my exploits on the internet and wanted to be a tour manager. She’s touring now with a couple of bands, which is cool. I think she sorta looked up to me as a influence. My hero is this guy Bob Whittaker, he’s a tour manager. I met him on tour with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. He was the tour manager for Mudhoney all throughout the 90s. He’s this legendary guy who always had it together, was always was on the band’s side whenever they needed it, and I think back then it was totally a different world because there was no internet or smart-phones. But he was also known as the most insane party animal. Ever. He’s an amazing dude. Now he’s working with R.E.M., and a bunch of different people. For people who want to be a tour manager, do you have any words of advice? No. It’s just luck. If you’re lucky enough to know people. It’s all about getting a job because you know people. I was lucky enough that when I started doing it, two groups of my friends in Atlanta, their bands got popular. Have you ever been approached by a band and thought, “FUCK NO”? Totally. I did one tour with a band, and I didn’t like their music - the tour was a nightmare. There’s been a couple of other bands that were privately funded, rich kid type deals - they want me because they think I’m something that I’m not. You know? And I’ve turned that kind of stuff down. Have you ever been a victim of license plate profiling? I think it’s certain states that are always going to fuck with you. I got arrested in Kentucky, and that wasn’t because of the license plates that was because of a sobriety stop in the middle of the highway. I heard about that. Did you have the mushrooms in you, or on you? You know, I was touring with a band who were Canadian, who were in the United States on artist visas. If an American didn’t take the charge their entire livelihood in the United States would have been nullified. Their visas would have been revoked and they would never be able to perform here. Technically I was the guilty party, but I think everybody can read between the lines. That wasn’t license plate profiling, but if you drive through Arkansas with California tags, or any other tag that’s not Arkansas you’re probably going to get pulled over. The Fresh & Onlys just got stopped in Ohio. Searched. Tim Cohen got put in a cop car. - I saw Shayde’s (Sartin) photos, that sucked.
So hiring a manager vs. DIY, and why? Well, when your tour makes 180K in 30 days you need someone to be a little bit more responsible than the lead singer or whatever. A lot of what I do is accounting. I do is all of the advancing, I’m the person who is in touch with each sound engineer, each promoter, and each venue. I handle all of the logistics, I have a travel agent booking hotels, and figuring out the drive times. I mean there is so much stuff that goes on. So if you have a lot of press, it helps to have someone coordinate all of your publicity. I tour with Thee Oh Sees to help them out because they’re good friends. But they’re completely capable of doing it on their own, because they’ve been self-sufficient and John (Dwyer) has been touring for years and years and years. But hiring a tour manager makes it so much easier than having to take care of everything yourself, and be the person who has to play every night. What are the best roadside attractions? The prairie dog farm which is on the border of South Dakota and Kansas is amazing. Salvation Mountain, and the Salton Sea in California – outside of Coachella. It’s this huge mountain that this crazy guy made out of adobe, hay and latex paint. It’s totally amazing to see. The Badlands in South Dakota is amazing – it’s totally worth the extra 30 minutes to drive through. Barringer Crater in Arizona is awesome. It’s outside of Flagstaff, and it’s the biggest meteorological crater in the world. North Bend, Washington which is the town Twin Peaks is – the real Twin Peaks is called North Bend, and you can go there and go to the R&R diner and get cherry pie and a cup of coffee. Who decides stereo rules? The driver. It’s always up to the driver. So if you’re ever on tour, and you stop by San Francisco. What’s the first thing you do? Usually you’re coming from Portland, so lots of times the first thing you do is run to the venue because you’re late. But every time I would come to San Francisco before I was living here I would go to Tu Lan - I would make everybody go to Tu Lan. It’s this Vietnamese dive restaurant on 6th and Market. San Francisco was never a town I had a lot of time in. What we would always do is that after a show is that we would all go to the Knockout. So it was more like a “we’re in San Francisco, let’s all go to the Knockout after the show.” What’s the best festival in your opinion? In the U.S. or … Whichever. There’s a festival called the Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona. It has consistently been one of the most amazing festivals I’ve ever been to. It’s on the ocean, and a million people that you know are there – from other bands. There’s always a really good line-up. Everything is awesome about it. Also, All Tomorrows Parties are really fun. I heard that Barcelona is teaching the world how to party. Oh my god, they start at 2 in the morning and end at 11AM. It never stops. What are you doing these days? Trying to get a grown up job that isn’t tour managing. What does the future hold for you, you think? Hopefully a job with a salary and 40 hours a week. Could you tell me about Vacation? I toured with Deerhunter a long time and I saved up my money and I opened a vintage store – it was like a curated boutique. We would do live shows, it was an art gallery, and we’d have parties. We’d keep really weird hours. Lots of kids would come around and hang out. We would carry any local music whether or not it sucked. It was very inclusive of everyone in Atlanta. Then I met a dude out here and kept spending more and more time out here, and then finally decided to move. So I sold my store, and I moved out here, and would love to do that again some day. So I’ve been doing it here as pop-up shops because there are so many places to do it. I have a space that I want, it’s ready to go I just don’t have enough money to get it. I need an investor. I have a friend who is helping me build an app, and all of the money that I get from the sales of that app will hopefully pay to open the store. What’s your app idea? Are you allowed to talk about it? No. But it would be awesome to do something like that here. I basically drew upon all of my friends making and doing amazing things whether it was in a band or awesome art or whatever, and then helped make it public, in addition to having cheap stuff to buy. So San Francisco is sort of the same way. There’s so many people doing really awesome things - it would be really awesome to do something like that here. Kinda like a bigger and more than just clothing version of Painted Bird. That’s the closest thing in San Francisco that I have to Vacation.
Interview with Lauren Hess of Agent Ribbons. By Pedro
Agent Ribbons are a two-piece grrl band that brew a mean baroque pop sound. They’ve spent the last few years touring with bands like Camera Obscura, Cake, Brazilian Girls, as well as DIYing it à la Chevy Astro. These days, the Ribbons call Austin, Texas home, but they got a lot of love for San Francisco. Drummer Lauren Hess lived in the Lower Haight when the Ribbons were still on the West Coast. I checked in with Hess last week to ask her some really important and significant questions. Agent Ribbons play the Rickshaw Stop this Tuesday (5/3) with The Pipettes (UK) and The Bitter Honeys (Oakland).
Night Fog Reader: How has this tour been so far? Lauren Hess: We’re about a week into tour and it’s been lovely so far! Tucson was filled with friends and good times. San Diego was an unexpectedly packed show and had a couple of days off in San Francisco. We’re about to play in Goleta after a day on the beach. Can’t complain!
Do touring habits ever turn into everyday habits? We try to break tour habits when we get home: drinking, smoking, crap food, and late nights.
What’s the soundtrack to your van at this moment? Between our mp3 players, and some mixes our friend made. That includes tons of stuff like Bardo Pond, Those Darlings, Os Mutantes, Sonic Youth, Daytrotter Sessions, Adam and The Ants, Mountain Men, and more!
Everyone digs your band’s rags. Where are your favorite clothing shops, off and on the road? Thrift stores anywhere! Church of Satin in Tucson, Mission Thrift in San Francisco, and other secrets we won’t tell.
I know you lived in SF for a bit. Austin vs. San Francisco burritos, who wins and why? Texas is all about the taco. Cali is all about the burrito - apples and oranges.
Your album title Chateau Crone basically translates into ugly castle. What’s up with that? More like fabulous ladies.