Friday, March 7, 2008

Friday Interview : Jim Fairchild (Or, "Sorry I'm late.")

This interview was supposed to be posted on Friday, and look, here it is, Sunday already. Time flies.

I am going to write a brief introduction for this week's guest, Jim Fairchild. Jim is the mastermind behind the band All Smiles. Before that he performed with a number of other groups including the late, great Grandaddy and (if I'm not mistaken)the currently great Earlimart.

I've only met the guy once, but he has always been really polite and kind and nice and he is damn handsome. So watch out (Sorry for the lame intro but it is midnight in Albuquerque and time for bed a Tecate and then bed). Read the rad interview after the jump.

Hot Mess Magic: As many folks probably know, you used to be in a band called Grandaddy. Which was a big deal to me and a lot of other people and probably an even bigger deal to you guys, the guys in the band. When that chapter of your music ended, what made you want to get up and start your own thing? Do you ever feel like you're doing things over?

Jim Fairchild :
Thanks for letting us be a big deal in your life. We were a very good band. Then we weren't. The lines between starting my own thing and Grandaddy ending are very blurry. I had always made up songs, always felt the smolder and had taken it seriously. But I had never taken the time to turn a very insecure voice in to one I was comfortable with. Grandaddy's illness and subsequent death let me know that it was time to really prove to myself that I could finish something without help or the calm comfort of others.

And I am doing it over.

H.M.M. : You recently relocated to Chicago, right? Do you have any tips on how to deal with the cold? What is the one food item you would recommend everyone should try Chicago-style?

J. F. : The way I deal with the cold is to go to the West Coast; between family stuff, recording, and Santa's holidays, I've spent about three weeks in Chicago since the beginning of December. Elsewise, I variously:

stay inside, wear too many clothes on Michelin man bike rides, and make sure that my library card has enough non-overdue space for books and movies.

But I guess the answer to this question lies in the fact that we sold our house and are moving back to Portland in three weeks.

The food in this town can be crazy good. Chicago exclusive hits would be Hot Doug's on California. They are the encased meat emporium, but their veggie dogs are insane as well. Very careful applications of home made condiments to accompany the constantly shifting and invariably intriguing selection of what I think are also home made sausages. Find them here:

Also Lula on Kedzie is one of my favorite restaurants in America. Or anywhere. A seasonal menu that changes constantly. Thoughtful and you can eat cheap or spendy and keep it clean either way. They are an egalitarian establishment.

H.M.M. : I heard you recorded 10 readings of a warning on an old 8 track machine. When and where did you figure out how to record yourself? Are there any disadvantages to doing that sort of thing yourself?

J. F. :
Yeah, it was recorded on a 1/2" 8 track machine, sometimes in Portland and other times in Los Angeles. I have been recording stuff on my own for years and definitely tried to pay attention while I was helping Jason on those first couple of Grandaddy records. Also Aaron Espinoza taught me a lotta shit.

I sometimes think recording alone is a pox on my existence, and sometimes find myself the happiest person in the world when I'm doing it.

H.M.M. : In your opinion, what is the most important part of the recording process?

J. F. :
Discipline. And the knowledge that your plan is about to change.

H.M.M. : For awhile it seemed like you had two "All Smiles" bands, one group of guys playing with you in Modesto and one group of guys in Chicago. Did they get jealous of each other? What are the important ingredients, or the elements that make a band "tight"? Who do you think is the tightest band you've ever seen live?

J. F. :
I'm certain there was no jealousy. Everybody that has played in All Smiles I think I'm very friendly with. The band recording this new All Smiles album is pretty dope: Joe Plummer, Solon Bixler and Nik Freitas. Good delegation and inspiration are the most important components to people playing together. My favorite live band was probably Vio-Lence some time around 1989.

H.M.M. :If you were in the New York Philharmonic, or let's say the Chicago Philharmonic (if they have one), what instrument would you want to play and why?
J.F.. :Bassoon. I think otters would like me playing it next to their coastal Oregon coves.

LINK : All Smiles Myspace
LINK : Dangerbird Records

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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Hot Mess Magic Showcase (Or, "Why the Monolators rule.")

I have written about the Monolators before. I wrote a short live review for Duke’s blog about the time I saw Eli Chartkoff do a back flip off a kick drum, tumble down a half-stack and play a guitar solo while practically standing on his head. That was at the Que Sera in Long Beach. Ashley Jex was playing bass, Mary Chartkoff was on drums and Tom Bogdon was hauling ass on guitar.

Surprisingly, despite the amount I had to drink, it has all remained pretty clear in my head.

I also remember the first time I saw them play in Fresno. At Tokyo Garden. They killed me with their tune, You Look Good On The Train. There is something so innocent and energetic and maybe a little spastic about the way they play, the way they write songs, and the way Eli’s thin frame shakes to the music. That night they got a nice size crowd of Fresno-folks up and moving around, drinks in hand, and afterwards everyone was out of breath and sweaty and the dance floor was covered in beer, gin and vodka.

I also learned that people with whiskey don’t dance often.

Well, I am pleased to announce that these kids will be returning to Fresno to perform at Club Fred on March 30th at our “semi-monthly” (whenever we feel like it) HOT MESS MAGIC showcase. Sweet.

Originally the Hot Mess Magic showcase started off as a show to display the talents of friends that I share a studio with in Fresno, and we used the proceeds to offset the rent we paid on the place. Then I slowly started to realize that most of the time, it was just me and James Brittain-Gore performing and organizing and promoting the thing … so this time we’ve decided to revamp the idea and have some out-of-towners and some great non-studio-sharing locals on the bill as well. And make it more of a fun night and rely less on OUR talent and more on others’ talent.

Needless to say, there will still be tons of talent on display.

So mark this stuff down in your calendar : Hot Mess Magic, Club Fred, March 30th, with The Monolators, Rademacher, and Brian Fucking Kenney Fresno. Starts at 9pm.

Most importantly, remember the Monolators. This is one of my favorite LA groups and I am really happy that they are able to come up on that date. They have some great records and some great vinyl on sale at their site and on the myspace. Check it out.

DOWNLOAD : We Fell Dead (mp3)
DOWNLOAD : TOp of the Stairs
LINK : The Monolators Myspace

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

FYI : A Long Story About Losing Things (Or, "Remember to Niilo-check")

Sorry I missed a post yesterday. It was quite a retarded day for me.

See, last week I played a club in Los Angeles, and it was a fine show. We were playing one of those late-night midnight slots at a club. And traditionally when we finish a set and we’re the last band of the evening, we don’t strike our gear from the stage right away, we head directly to the merch booth (or maybe outside for a cigarette first) and try and unload as much stuff as we can and shake hands with as many folks as possible.

So the order of events looks something like this :

1. Sell Stuff
2. Load Out
3. Double check to make sure you didn’t forget anything
4. “Niilo-Check” to make sure you didn’t forget anything

The Niilo-Check is named after our old bass player Niilo who mistakenly forgot his bass at a house party, even after we requested that each member of the band do a double-double check. Luckily, he got his bass back the next day in Fresno, as one of the bands we were playing with at the party in Oakland played with us the next day in Fresno.

But we learned that you should always “Niilo-Check” after a gig. If you don’t, you might as well write “hubris” on your head in sharpie marker.

That night in LA, we had just finished loading out, Step 3, and I was starting to do a mental Niilo-Check and then I realized that I had left my ID and Credit Card at the bar, because I had started a tab. I went back inside. Most of the staff was mopping floors and wheeling around big trash cans on wheels -- one of the bouncers saw me and told me that they had locked all the IDs in a safe and that I would have to come back the next day during the day, as only the Day Manager had the key.

I was pissed.

I was pissed, but I realized that no one could really do anything about my problem. So I went home and I emailed the Day Manager the next day and got this reply:

Yes, your ID and CC are safe here at the xxx.
Feel free to call me or email me whenever you would like to pick them up. “

Which was great. I had wanted to see a friend play in LA the following weekend anyway. I emailed the Day Manager back and told him I would be there on Friday at 9pm and that was that. I thought.

The rest of the week comes and goes, meanwhile I can't use the ATM or charge stuff on my card or drive, and then on Friday, I went back to the club and requested my ID and stuff. No one there had the foggiest clue what I was talking about. What ID? What Card? The giant door guys and skinny teenage ticket takers were all defiant and standoff-ish and recommended I come back in the afternoon on Saturday.

Instead, I spent three hours in the club, tracked down the Night Manager, and reminded said manager about the email I sent to the Day Manager and a little lightbulb went off. I could tell. this person was gonna help me. I was told to wait 10 minutes by the bar and that the Night Manager would be back with my ID. I was stoked at this point.

30 minutes later the Night Manager returned and told me that the staff couldn’t locate it and they recommended I come back in the day and talk with the Day Manager. "The Day Manager was the guy who originally emailed me and told me that he had my card and ID," I explained.

At this point I was pretty pissed and I spent another night in LA, next morning I call the Day Manager, and after a few searches and a few minutes on hold, he told me that he was really sorry, but that he couldn’t find my stuff either.

Later, yesterday, I found out that on that Saturday $350 of expenses were charged to my card at a WalMart in Palmdale before the Visa folks shut down the card.

So, card canceled and with no ID, I spent all weekend in LA stressing out. Then all day yesterday in the DMV and at my bank, waiting in line, disputing charges and filling out paperwork. Then I went to work and band practice. So I didn’t blog. Shoot me.

I guess I am thankful this happened now and I’ll get to “learn” from it, and I was also in my home state, so I could go to the DMV ,go to my local bank and get it all taken car of before I hit the road next week. It would have really sucked if this happened in like, North Carolina.

And I don’t think that all the staff in the aforementioned un-named LA nightclub are vindictive, evil thieves, but regardless, people make mistakes and there are vindictive, evil thieves who WILL take advantage of you and STEAL from you. Which someone did along the line somewhere. Which sometimes seems like such a foreign concept to me. I don’t always make good decisions, but I don’t think I’ve STOLE from someone (except candy once when I was 10. and I got caught and cried like a bitch when they told me they were gonna take me to juvie for stealing a snickers).

Oddly enough, the only two times I’ve had anything ripped off like that have happened while I was playing shows. Once in Fresno where someone swiped my favorite Korg Electribe Synth / Sampler ( I miss you baby! ) and the other this last weekend when my ID somehow walked out of the bar. So that’s a bummer.

The point of the story : always Niilo-Check and never leave your card or ID at the bar. If you lose it, you will be so fucked.

» Read more on FYI : A Long Story About Losing Things (Or, "Remember to Niilo-check")