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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Factory Records: A Q&A with Dave "Noise" James


When did music first seep under your skin?

Dave “Noise” James:  So, I’m 43 years old, to give you a timeline.  I first got turned on to music by my parents, like pretty much everybody else.  My dad was really into—and still is—Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Lou Rawls.  Johnny Cash and Ray Charles really came from my dad and my mom gave me Beatles records when I was too young to remember.  She was really into like Neil Diamond and Barry Manilow, so I’ve always been down for anything.  They were never really into the coked-up stuff from the ‘70s, so I didn’t grow up with a lot of the same influences that my friends had, like the Crosby, Stills & Nash, or James Taylor, or any kind of that stuff from the ‘70s.  My parents were just more mellow.  I kind of got an appreciation from that.  My first records would be Beatles records—and kids get shitty toy records, those don’t count—but the first real records were like Beatles records from my mom.  I got a paper route when I was ten years old.  Because of the Beatles albums, I had an appreciation for records themselves.  Having a paper route, I had to get up at weekends each day at 5am or 6am in the morning and deliver the newspapers.  So I had bitchin’ access to garage sales.  I was up early and I was the first guy there so I had first pick of the records.  That’s where the bug started for record collecting, was just getting to the garage sales before anyone else and scooping stuff up.  Years ago there was a store at Harbor and Adams in Costa Mesa called Music Market.  They were pretty much…you could pretty much compare it to like what Amoeba is now—not as big square-footage-wise—but they were the place where, if it existed, they had it.  They had imports and everything.  I lived maybe a half mile from the place, so with the paper route money, I would just bike or skate over to Music Market with my friends and blow the paper route money on records.  There was a little circle of us that had a passion for buying records.  So between garage-sales and Music Market…

Were you the one passing out music to friends getting them hooked on stuff?

No no, I actually got most of my influences from my friends.  I wasn’t the trailblazer with music.  Like The Beatles I got from my mom, but like the Stones and the Who and the offshoots of that I got from my friends.  I had a buddy who was a year or two older than me and he was the guy who got into punk through some other neighbors who were older than us and latched onto that.  I guess if I chased my own kind of stuff, I was into really over-the-top Top 40 kind of stuff—Culture Club, Eurythmics, Thompson Twins—like I loved that kind of stuff too, I’m not ashamed to admit it.  Some days I’d be listening to Culture Club, some days I would go with Black Flag, or I’d put both in the mix and I’d be happy.  I was cool with whatever.

You are able to have a deep appreciation for music when you can see it from all sides.

It’s funny too, coming up with the punk rockers, there was like the punks versus the heavy metal guys—and I mean it all crossed over within a few years—but me and my friends, we really avoided the metal stuff.  We were into some of the stuff, but it took a few years for us to appreciate the metal, so I’ve got a way broader knowledge of the punk than the metal, which I’ve gained over the years.

(PHONE RINGS)

Let me grab this real quick.  (Answers) Factory Records.  Ah, open ‘til 8 o’clock tonight.  Yeah we’re at 440 East 17th St., we’re between Tustin and Irvine Aves., and we’re behind a barbershop called Classic Clipper Barbers, so look for them.  Sure, bye.  (Hangs up).  Sorry about that.

It’s quite alright.  Tell me about Noise Noise Noise, your old record shop?

I started that and it opened on April 2nd, 1991.  My knowledge came from, like I said, the garage sales and Music Market.  I actually started working at Music Market in January 1988, so I worked there for a little over three years I think.  I also did some time at a record store in town called Discount Records, and I did the record swap out in Buena Park, ‘cause there’s a big record swap every month.  So I had knowledge and that was like my college—working at Music Market.  I went to OCC (Orange Coast College), but I didn’t learn much there.  I was too busy drinking and not giving a shit, drinking and going to shows.  So I didn’t really gain much out of OCC, but Music Market I really learned about pricing used records, you know?

That’s a big part of the record store deal.

I was young.  When we were working there, a few friends and I, we look back and laugh at like the killer jazz we would come across and be like, ‘Fuck, no one cares about this,’ and then throw it in the $.50 bin.

And then you find out later that jazz record was worth $100?

Yeah, it was that we just weren’t into jazz and we didn’t have an appreciation for jazz or soul, so some people got some killer deals.  But yeah I’ve learned over the years.  So I opened up Noise in ‘91, and it was probably about four times the size of this and it had a back room and little office.  It was a lot bigger.  It started off just with used records and CDs were real hot back then—a lot of punk and indie kind of stuff.  Probably within six months or a year, maybe even the first few months of being open, a guy came in from LA and he had this stack of records and he said, ‘Hey I’m a distributor, I sell dance music.  There’s this new shit that’s taking over, it’s called techno music.’  He’s like, ‘Do you want to try it?’  I’d been to raves and stuff and I really dug that kind of sound, so I was like, ‘Yeah, just give me two of everything you have,’ and I put it out.  Within a week it was just gone.   And so we were one of the very first stores to sell the club music in Orange County—the techno and house.  I think it’s called electronica now, but back then it was techno and house.  That really filled the place up with customers.  We still did a lot with the punk and the indie stuff, but techno really put us on the map.  We became a really big store for that, and some other shops opened up in town after that that were just techno-based.  We started doing more of the hip-hop—just any kind of club wax, ‘cause nowadays everyone’s got their laptop, but back in the day you had to have turntables, a mixer, and a big ole’ crate of records.  We were one of the hubs for tons and tons of DJs coming through.  One of my favorite quotes ever is, ‘There is no record collection that is not hip-hop.’  It’s totally true because we sold all these different genres, so the hip-hop producers and samplers would come in just buying all this weird shit to sample and looking for beats and stuff.  Some of the techno-only stores didn’t have that, but we’d have the crazy jazz or the weird Prog records, or the reggae to sample, so people came from all over.

That was the time when sampling really took off?

Yeah it was essential.  It was huge.  And that was also during the pop-punk/ska explosion too, so we sold tons of that kind of stuff.  We did a lot of in-stores with local bands playing.  Home Grown, who got really famous, they used to play at the shop.  They played a few shows and I had a label so we put out a single for them, and we did a Sublime 7”.  We did a lot of cool stuff.  The label was me and Lob over at Vinyl Solution—to give him credit too—but yeah, it was killer times.  There was just so much going on.  Record stores today aren’t um…they aren’t necessary…like 15-20 years ago it was somewhere you had to go to find flyer to shows, you couldn’t just turn on Myspace or Facebook or any of that shit.  To look up shows, it was like, ‘Oh we gotta skate over to the record store and find flyers or grab a zine, see whats going on, to buy tickets, to get singles, all of that kind of stuff.  It was a real amazing time for music and we were just right in the mix of it.  It was rad.

Then everything changed?

Yeah, heroin shut it down in 2006.  I was pretty fucked up for the last few years of it and stopped paying rent and all those good stories that come along with drugs, so I shuttered it in 2006.  Yeah, that was the end of that.  For the first, probably, 12 years it was just amazing.  It just kicked ass and it was an awesome place to be, very good times.  The last few years were kind of sad, but, whatever.

Things are cyclical it seems.

(Customers walk in).  How you guys doing today?

Customers: Good, how are you?

James: Good.

Shopping through your store, I enjoy your labels and the commentary.  We’ve discussed how you have absorbed so many musical genres, but how did you discover all the information you post?  Is it through word of mouth or mainly online?

Yeah I use online too, but I’ve just been doing it for so long that a lot of it is just like…yeah it’s unfortunate that so much of my brain is wasted on useless musical knowledge.

Useless??

Well, a lot of it is.  For every interesting thing, there’s a hundred bits of useless trivia I’ll never use just sitting in my brain.  But yeah, I love putting the notes on, and people love the notes.  I get people that come in from the old Noise days and they’re like, ‘Man I still have the records and I put the sleeve on and I still have your note on it,’ and it’s rad to hear that from the people that they appreciate the little notes.

I keep all the packaging from records I buy…

That’s what you’re supposed to do.  And I do use the internet now to get information too, yeah absolutely, it’s great.

Gotta keep up with the times.

It’s an amazing resource.  Back in the old days, we had to have all these…I think I have them still… (Reaches for his books).

The ‘bible’ books?

Yeah, exactly, that’s what I wrote on my very first one was, ‘Dave’s Bible, Don’t Touch.’  They’re all these price guides and there were magazines, and yeah you’d just have old stacks of Goldmine Magazines with the biographies and discographies on artists and what values were, and now you turn on the computer and it’s right there.

What do I want to know?  Type it in, hit return.  Easy as that.

Everything is up there.  It’s pretty good.

When and why did you eventually open Factory Records?

Noise shut down in August of 2006, and it was a few months after that I cleaned up my act.  I got clean and sober in January 2007, and I was unemployed.  I had some money, ‘cause I had to sell my house.  My house was on the verge of foreclosure, so I had enough money to cool my heels for a little bit.  I got clean and sober, and it was funny, right after I did I went out on tour with a Jagermeister-sponsored band, which—I always joke with my friends in recovery—is not a good idea for most people.  For me, it was like the best thing that ever happened.  You know I was tied to this record store for 15 years and I had this opportunity to go out with the band and see the United States as 65 mph.  I was like the designated driver and it was really bitchin’.  I went on a few tours of the United States with them.  You don’t get rich doing that, but it kept me alive for the time.

Rich in experience?

Yeah, it was probably one of the best things that I’ve ever done in my life.  It was amazing.  You know, you make enough to eat and there’s always a roof over your head and there’s always fun stuff to do and you’re seeing different bands all over the place.  I did that for a few years and I worked with them.  The band was called SiX.  They did a lot of little tours and they were really good at getting opening slots for a lot of big metal bands, so we worked a lot of festivals and a lot of fun shows.  I’ve got knowledge on doing merch and stuff like that.  So I did that and a lot of hustle kind of jobs.  I didn’t want to get a real job because if a tour came up, I didn’t want to have to quit.  Through the band, we had a lot of little half-ass jobs that we would do for a month or two that would keep us alive.  They had one of those spirit Halloween stores down the street and the singer for the band became the manager and just hired the whole band.  Normally it’s a bunch of teenage kids doing that, but it was like all these bands guys.  It was fun, we got to do it and we got our paychecks and went out on the road.  Did that, and a whole bunch of other little jobs.  Then it was time to get a real job, so I went over to Second Spin and I got a job over there.  I was working over there with awesome people and was having a blast doing that, and wasn’t even thinking about doing anything else on my own.  When the record store that was previously, he went out of business.  The landlady here is the lady that runs the barbershop right out front.  I’ve known her boyfriend for years and years.  I didn’t know this was her deal here, but she wanted to keep a record store here, so her boyfriend hit me up at Second Spin and was like, ‘Hey, you want to do another record store?’ and I was like, ‘No, I don’t think so, I’m really not into it and that place is really small,’ and blah-blah-blah.   He said, ‘Hey, just come stick your head in and check it out.  So I came over and the minute I walked in the door, it was like I was thinking, ‘Ok, I could do this and put racks on the walls here and do this and that, and I’ve got all this shit in storage.’  So I was like, fuck it, what do I have to lose?  So I jumped in and it’s been amazing ever since.

I remember the buzz going around when people heard you had reopened…

Yeah, I hear that all the time.  It’s cool and it’s nice to hear people saying good things.  Noise Noise Noise was a really influential store and people have been really stoked to have me back—not to toot my own horn.  It’s what I need to be doing.  I need to be in town, selling records.  It’s beneficial to both the customer and myself.  Yeah, it’s a mutual relationship.

What are your feelings on local bands and local venues?

You know what, I’ve gotta admit that I’m definitely new back on the scene.  For years and years, I’d go to see bands all of the time and hit all the local clubs, and once you hit that heroin, it just fucking kills it.  So probably around turn of the century my clubbing ended.  And it’s just been in the past couple of years I’ve been going out again and seeing things.  But I love Detroit (Bar) obviously.  I mean, I was there opening night for Stereolab.  We did the presales for it at Noise, and I’ve watched that place grow.  I love that place, I think it’s amazing.  I get to DJ there for the first time in a couple weeks.  I’m really excited.  Avalon (Bar) obviously I was there on opening night… (To customers)  If you guys need anything feel free to interrupt too.

Customer:  Alright, we will.

James:  Yeah, just butt in.  Yeah Avalon opening night I was there.  I miss Mike, he was a great guy, but I’m glad that the bar is still there.  It’s a great little dive for little bands to get in, because they give bands opportunities to come in.  If you’ve got a PA and a mic, you can come in and do a show.  They’re really open with what they do, and they’ve given me a night to pretty much do whatever I want with.  If I can get a few heads in there to buy some cheap booze, they’re happy with it.  So it’s a lot of fun, and I’ve got a few different things coming up.  I finally got to hear the new sound-system over at The Observatory.  I’m excited to go see some more shows over there too.  I’m going to go check out a couple of shows at The Constellation Room, which is awesome because, every time I went to the Galaxy before, the music there was great for a bunch of has-been bands, and I definitely saw some old fogies over there.  But you know what, it was usually a big empty hollow hall, and to see them really utilizing that space, I’m pretty stoked over there.

There’s more to come at The Observatory from the sounds of it.

Oh I know.  Yeah, I kinda keep my ear to the ground.  I’m really excited because, for me growing up, I never went to the Cuckoo’s Nest ‘cause I was too young.  But growing up hearing about the punk bands at the Cuckoo’s nest, Costa Mesa has always been a city for music and arts.  (To customers) Take care you guys!

Customer:  Thanks, you too.

James:  You guys have a great day.
Dave Noise

Yeah, it’s funny when people claim nothing culturally relevant has happened in Orange County.

Yeah, you gotta look for it and you gotta hunt it down.  There’s a lot of bullshit you gotta dig through to get to it, but it’s absolutely out there.  It’s an amazing, amazing time for Costa Mesa right now.  I’m kind of including The Observatory ‘cause they’re right on the border.  For Orange County itself, things have definitely been shaping up.  I’ve heard there’s some bad blood between Detroit and The Observatory, but I think it’s going to be bitchin’ competition and it’s going to draw radder bands when it comes down to it.

They might end up pushing each other?

Yeah, they’re going to have to work to get killer acts, so I’m excited and I’m totally down for it.  They’ll both do fine, there’s plenty of bands out there.  There’s no need to worry.  Detroit is completely established as an amazing destination, and The Galaxy has morphed into this rad, all-ages Observatory now, so it’s really cool.  It’s a great time.  And there’s lots of other clubs.  People snicker at the Tiki Bar, but I’ve been there a number of times and there’s a ton of great shows over there.  It’s an amazing place.

The new sound-system at Tiki Bar definitely helped it’s status.

They’ve got a good vibe over there, and they just kind of do their own thing.  They were shuttered for a number of years, but they jumped right back into the same groove of what they’re doing.  I’m so stoked to see them back.  I had a friend who was the guy who was going to do the demolition of the place, and I would have been hired on to help knock the place down.  That’s what I was doing in between record stores, I’d help friends out.  One of my buddies does a demo thing and he was like, ‘Yeah, we’re going to do the Tiki Bar,’ and I was like, ‘Oh fuck, for real?’  So it’s really cool to see that it’s doing well.  And there’s even like, when you walk out into the parking lot here, there’s Mesa Music Services, and TONEbUTCHeR over there.  They do, they haven’t done it in a while, but they’ve been doing analog synth shows and stuff.  Those guys are so cutting edge and amazing.  I’ve seen a few of their shows and they’re just unbelievable, so we’re gonna do a show with them in a few weeks and I’m super excited to.

Will the show be at Mesa Music Services?

We’re gonna do it at the Avalon.  We’re gonna do one of the Avalon gigs…

Let me know about that.

I’ll post a thing on your wall.  Yeah, I’m really excited about it.  Those are some guys to look out for.

I’ve been wanting to talk to Todd.  He’s so quiet and modest though.

Oh, he’s cool.  You start talking to him and he’ll open up, and he’s really excited about the stuff over there.  To see that stuff coming out of Costa Mesa, that’s great, I love it.

Tell me more about your experiences as a DJ?

Avalon Bar is like the main one.  My story DJing was that I used to do La Cave over here, and it would be like funk and soul, and lounge funk and cool stuff like that.  There used to be this weird, coked-up hipster club in Newport called The Thunderbird and it was where all the kids would go to do coke and dance to house music.  A few of us friends, we had the entryway and we played like jazz and acid-jazz.  That might have been my first real DJ gig, was doing that every week.  I’ve played at like Memphis, Habana, like all the little places around town.  It’s kind of funny—this is a good story but kinda sad—when I was really fucked up I told Steve Fisch, who was spinning over at the Kitsch Bar and need someone to substitute last minute, so I was like, ‘Dude, I’ll take a crate of records and I’ll go do it.’  I got there and the couple of wires there on the mixer were crossed, so it was like it was all backwards.  I should have just unplugged the wires and fixed it, but I was so fucking high and frustrated, needles were skipping, and this and that, and I pretty much just passed out on the turntables and got thrown out of the club.  That was like 2002 or 2003, and that was the last time I’d been on turntables in front of the public.  Last year Avalon hit me up and said to come on down.  I was like, whatever, it’s cool, I’ll do it.  Went and got some records out of storage and got behind the turntables.  It’s like riding a bike, it just comes right back.  I’m not one of these fancy guys that matches beats, no fancy skills, no scratching, none of that hipster, cool club shit.  But I bring cool records that people want to hear, and I know how to program it in my head so it’s not all scattered all over the place.  I’ve been having fun doing that at Avalon.  I got an invite to play Detroit in a couple weeks.  I started doing it with Mammoth Thunderpower, so it was just dig out the old cool heavy metal and the hard rock, and put a little punk and new wave and psych in there.  It’s all about rock n’ roll, just fun rock n’ roll—and no attitude, that kind of thing, just stuff that will make people dance.  None of that cookie-monster metal shit, but fun hard rock.  I really enjoy doing it again.

How do you feel about the different mediums of sound, like vinyl, tape, and digital?  Obviously you have an affinity for vinyl…

I’m just a vinyl person.  I’ve always been into vinyl.  I love CDs too, I know they’re not cool to like anymore and they’re outdated or whatever, but some days I come in here and I feel like sitting and reading a book out front, it’s nice to put five CDs in the old five-CD-changer and not have to get up for five hours.  So they serve their purpose.  I have a CD player in my truck.  Whatever with all this digital shit.  I don’t know how it works and I wouldn’t know how to put an mp3 into an iPod or any of that.  If I sat and thought about it I could.  I’ve got some little iPodish kind of thing and I used to go on walks.  It took me longer to figure out how to put songs on there than it would to go on my hour-long walk, so it’s like, fuck it I’ll bring my tape-deck and I’ll just go walk around with that.  In the late ‘90s, when Napster and all that shit was out and about, I was telling people that…excuse me a second. (To customer)  You ready to roll or are you still digging around?

Customer:  I’m ready to roll.

James:  Alrighty, you’re all set, see you soon, enjoy!  What was I talking about?  Oh, Napster.  Yeah, in the late ‘90s, I guess that’s when it was, I guess it was Napster that was the main thing and started to take hold.  I said all the time when people would ask, ‘What do you think is gonna happen?’  I would say, ‘No one is gonna get into downloading music.  It’s not gonna fly.  Nobody wants to sit in front of their computer.  People like to go shopping.’  What do I know?  I’m pretty retarded with that.  So, I’ve grown to accept it.  I can’t fight it—what am I going to do?  Fight Steve Jobs or something?  Not going to happen.  I’m just accepting of it and am grateful that there are people who still like to come in and dig and buy records.  People say it’s like a fad and whatever.  It’s not a fad, it’s just there’s certain people that like it and records are gonna remain popular.  There’s always been people down for their vinyl, you just have to size your store to accommodate it.  The mega-stores of way-back-when—there used to be one on every block.  Doesn’t work that way anymore.  There’s been two Towers in this town, a Virgin, there was Licorice Pizza.  Yeah, there’s been all sorts of stores.  Whatever, there’s room for the little ones.  You gotta be a person who doesn’t want to get rich doing it.  If you’re doing this to get rich, it ain’t gonna happen.

It’s about the love.

Right.

Tell me about your obsession with vinyl artwork?

It’s like, a vinyl cover is like four CD covers.  It’s just so much bigger.  I don’t know why I love it, but it’s cool to be able to open it up and smell the dust.  The art is just amazing—the photography or the drawings.  It relates to the time.  God I have so many records in storage, but I’ve collected so many records with like Star Wars art on the covers.  I collect covers from the ‘50s and ‘60s and ‘70s just ‘cause they’ve got hot girls on the covers.  I could make coffee table books for days out of the hot-chick record covers.  Jazz record covers, and I’ve got weird spaceship records, just collections.  Sometimes I just get it for the cover.  I’d have to sit and think of what I have.  So many different times I’ll think, ‘That’s a killer cover.  I don’t even know what the music is, but I want it for the cover,’ then take it home.

And then there’s the music inside…

A lot of times the stuff inside doesn’t even hold up to the cover.  Sometimes there’s amazing covers and the music just blows.  But that’s alright, the cover’s look rad.

Do you play music?

Not at all.  I did one single in 1994 before Curt Cobain died when he overdosed on pills in Rome.  He took a bunch of Rohypnol and overdosed.  I was standing in the shower one day, like when all bright ideas come to you, and I started humming The Smiths song, ‘Girlfriend in a Coma,’ but I switched it to Cobain in a Coma, took that idea to some musician friends, and within a week we had recorded a song called ‘Cobain in a Coma.’  We put out a single—just real fast, we cranked out this clear vinyl, silkscreened 7”, sent it to the distributors and they said, ‘Oh this is kinda cool.’  A week after we sent it to the distributors, he killed himself and the single disc is like infamous now.  It’s me singing on it and that’s like the only thing I’ve ever done that’s musical.  I went into the studio and read the lyrics.  It was over at Mike McHugh’s studio.

At the Distillery?

Yeah, he’s an old buddy of mine.  So we just went there one night and just banged it out in a night.  It’s a pretty legendary record.  We made like 1,500 of them and it sold out overnight .

Do you have any copies left?

I have one here somewhere that I keep around to play to people.  I mean, it’s horrible but it’s funny.  It’s like, I can’t sing, but Mike worked it enough to where it’s not killing your ears, and we did a lot of effects and stuff.  It was rad.  Can’t play, but timing was perfect.  I can’t play anything to save my life.  Yeah, no musical skills here.  I’d love to learn how to play bass, but obviously not enough to actually put the time into doing it.  I’d love to be able to just kick back and do that.  If I really wanted to I’d do it, so I guess I’m not that passionate about it.  If it ever strikes me, I’ve got plenty of time here to do it.

 I heard that you and Darren from Vinyl Solution go way back?

I knew him before I opened up Noise.  I used to shop there.  When did he open?  ’89 or ’90 or something and I started shopping there right when he opened.  When I was new at Noise, we used to trade stuff back and forth all the time.  Yeah, he’s an awesome guy.  I’ve got nothing but praise for that guy, he’s an amazing dude.  He knows how to do it over there.  He knows punk rock like you wouldn’t believe.

He’s a wealth of knowledge.

Yeah, he knows his shit for sure.  Maybe not the techno records, but if it’s punk rock and new wave and all that, dude’s like an encyclopedia.

It’s cool that everyone has their own arena.

Yeah, like I have to say that’s I’m pretty well-versed in a shitload of different types of music.  A lot of stores will have their one focus, but I can come in here, and I know enough about different genres to keep the store real eclectic.  I’m pretty stoked on that, but I don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of bands like a lot of these guys around here do, and I don’t care to.  I’m not interested, but I know the basics of a lot of different things.

I think you’re being a little humble…

No, I’m serious!  Honestly, some people can pull out like a jam record and they’ll know all the different songs on it and who produced it.  I gotta get on Discogs and look, ‘cause people come and are like, ‘Hey, I’m looking for such-a-such song.  What album is it on?’  I’m like, ‘I need the computer.’  I gotta go look in the racks and see, I’m not that good.  Some stuff, yeah.  But even the Beatles records I’ve gottta look up on the computer.  I don’t know what song is on what.

There are quite a few Beatles records.

I can’t keep track of all that.  I’m honest with people though, I don’t know what Led Zeppelin song is on what album.  I gotta go look.

Is it on III or IV…?

It’s all this useless knowledge that’s taking up space.  I can’t remember the little important stuff.  But now it doesn’t matter, the computer is right there.

Obviously the music industry has changed a lot.  What’s your view on more modern music, and the contemporary industry?

Honestly, I don’t even follow it anymore.  I really don’t give a shit anymore.  As long as there are distributors that are selling…I don’t order tons of new stuff anymore, it’s mostly used stuff for what I do, so I don’t really follow the labels anymore.  I’m really happy to see so many independent labels pressing vinyl, and even some of the major labels doing some of this stuff on vinyl, but I don’t give a shit about the music industry as a big whatever anymore.  Yeah, it’s just a big fucking disaster I’m sure, and it can go keep imploding on itself as much as it wants, but there’s always going to be—in my lifetime, at least—a scene of people who care about music for music and not the money.

Now with all the digital technology, it’s so much easier to create and promote globally.

I don’t even care about that kind of stuff anymore.  Every year it just gets lamer and more worse.  The artists that are on the charts are just getting sillier and sillier.  Like people from…what’s that Simon Cowell show?

Uhh, I think there’s a new one…

The old one, what’s the…

American Idol.

American Idol, thank you.  When shitheads from that show are the ones who are on the top of the charts.  There’s just something wrong…Yeah, that’s what it is, it’s horrible.  I don’t even care, it doesn’t affect me anymore, so let them do what they want to do…

And just stay in your bubble and let it decompose.

I guess one of the downsides with the internet and technology, is that there’s so many fuckin’ horrible bands out there—way more than there used to be.  Every time I turn on the computer, I get ‘friend requests’ from people that want me to listen to their new dubstep mp3 or whatever, and it’s like too many people do it now.  I’m not interested in people shoving stuff down my throat.  But it used to be like that, people would bring it in on cassette or whatever.  But now it’s just so easy to flood me with crap, but it’s also easier to delete.  It’s a lot more impersonal too, I don’t have to say no to them in person, I can just delete and be done with it, so that works out well too.

What do you want to see happen in the future of the music scene in Orange County?

I guess right now today, the most exciting thing for me going on locally is with like the Observatory, and I think the scene is really gonna get rad, just with the competition between some of the clubs around here.  I don’t know about the Yost, I haven’t really been following that.  I think that turned into a techno-kind-of-club, or electronica.  I don’t know how much they’re in the mix.  I’m excited to see more of the bands that are going from San Diego to LA.  Detroit’s been doing it for 10 plus years, getting some of these big names to stop.  With the Observatory now, I think we’re going to be more of a destination right in this locale right here.  It’s pretty exciting.  That, and I hope people keep loving vinyl.  It’s what I love to do, and people seem to dig it.
Entrance and Cheapo Bin

Wanna give a scope of what you offer here at Factory?

We definitely have a lot of the pretentious high-end shit up on the wall for the snobs.  We’ve also got, as you can see out front, the world-famous Cheapo Bin, and it’s all $1.99 or less and I constantly keep it stocked with different stuff.  People love it, ‘cause you can come in and for ten bucks—one of my favorite offers is that you can come in and for $20 you can come in and get dollar-tacos and a drink at the bar, and like five new records, and it’s rad.  And we’ve got stuff in between.  We’ve got new release stuff, we’ve got cool reissue stuff, all reasonably priced.  An average record in here is gonna cost between $2.99 and maybe $14.99, so it’s within reason for folks.  But yeah, there’s absolutely something for everybody.  You can come in and get records for like a $1 out front, or if you need an $800 Beatles record, we’ve got it on the wall, so there’s a mix.  Cassette tapes and CDs too.  CDs aren’t dead for me, it’s just a minimal amount of wall-space and I’m happy to have it up there.  We’ve got a little something for everybody.  It’s just a very relaxed place to come into.  There’s no attitude in here.  I’ve been doing this long enough, I’ve seen High Fidelity, and I know about the record store jerks and all that stuff, and there’s none of that in here.  It’s just a cool place to come and hang out and get some good tunes.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

"Just South of Los Angeles" by The Ultimate Bearhug - A Review


Dowload the album for free at http://theultimatebearhug.com/

            Since I’m more of a cynic than romantic, the initial track of Just South of Los Angeles caught me off guard with its cheerful disposition and bouncing melody.  However, after repeated listening sessions, I realized “Sunshine” was the perfect opener to set the sparkling temperament that carries on throughout the 2012 release from Orange County locals, The Ultimate Bearhug.  Comprised of female lead, Doll Knight and guitarist-songwriter, Barrett Johnson, the duo recorded at Zion Studios in Santa Ana with the musical idealist and producer, Dallas Kruse, who also contributed his own additional melodic talents to round out the ultimate charming tone for this 10-track album.
            Ms. Knight may come off as simply young and sweet upon first speculation of this collection, but she also encompasses a mature sophistication and displays passionate vocals on the second song titled, “I’ll Be Your Woman,” a swaying down-tempo arrangement blessed with the air of Kruse’s Hammond organ.  To follow is a true gem of a composition, entitled “Foolish Things (Explicit).”  During a night of heavy drinking, Knight’s character recalls many instances of when her previous love led her to self-destruction.  Each word is articulated perfectly in tune, especially as she depicts the moment when, overcome by booze, she drunk-dials deep into the night, only to declare to her ex-man, “I said, ‘Fuck being friends, you’re the foolish, the most foolish thing I’ve done.’”  However vindictive she may be in her vendetta, Doll’s delicate demeanor still remains in tact after the final notes settle.
Foolish Things (Explicit) Live Acoustic
            Next is “Boxcar Blues,” a waltzing dream of a song that would serve as Dagny Taggart’s (of Rand’s Atlas Shrugged) anthem, considering the lyrics, ‘If I’m still in my seat, I can feel your heart beat/Maybe I’m na├»ve, but it’s everything to me, oh that I could fall in love with a train/My heart belongs to an engine’s song, it carries, oh it carries me away.”  Beginning as a double entendre, the lyrics of the song naturally coerce the listener to consider the romantic words to be about a man, but Knight purposefully waits until midway through to openly reveal the true object of her affection: the very train she’s riding on as a passenger.  After a moment of shock, and few more listens through, I couldn’t help but appreciate the quirkiness of the scene and how beautifully it is set up.
            Every time the doo-wop style, “Heaven Knows,” would come to a close, my stomach would drop during the few seconds of silence, waiting solemnly for the first notes of Johnson’s haunting theme on acoustic guitar.  The title track, “Just South of Los Angeles” consistently sends chills down my spine.  A deep boom of a bass drum echoes, and the musicians officially disappear into the mood of the music, as all great composers do.  With poised musical execution and graceful harmonies, the group provides a gut-wrenching platform for Knight’s desperate lyrics, “Just south of Los Angeles and out late again, the champagne’s no fun without you/And I only get lonely in crowded rooms/Oh, if only you knew.”  The heart breaks a bit before this song comes to a close, but still it’s impossible not to hit the replay button.
The concluding arrangement, “Woke Up Late” ends on a positively high note as Knight croons, “I think you were made for me, give me more days like these/Nowhere else I’d rather be when you’re next to me,” complementing the album’s opener, “Sunshine” and giving the collection a solid completion. Supplemental string sections, no doubt composed by Kruse, offer the orchestration an elegant mood and a professional finish.  As Knight and Johnson’s voices fade out together in harmony, “Don’t go yet, don’t let go yet,” the listener clings onto the final musical moment with The Ultimate Bearhug.  If romance isn’t a friend of yours, best to stay away.  But if you are in love, get ready to play on repeat.
Just South of Los Angeles Live Acoustic