An unexpectedly shocking interview with Shayde Sartin of the Fresh and Onlys

Colette Pomerleau / September 22, 2013
the Fresh and Onlys. Photo by David Black.
the Fresh and Onlys. Photo by David Black.

Before playing their show in Portland at Mississippi Studios, I had an interview scheduled with founding member and bassist of the Fresh and Onlys, Shayde Sartin. I was anticipating to discuss where the band was going musically, the San Francisco music scene, and recent inspirations Sartin has experienced. What we actually discussed was not entirely different, but was not what I had expected.

SSG Music: I live in Portland and I’m going to the show you guys are playing next week. Do you expect
anything from the Portland crowd, from your past experiences?

Sartin: Portland’s significant in that it was the first show that I ever remember with this band. I don’t really like it that much, but I think it’s a great city. The people there are very fantastic. Rob Enbom (of Eat Skull) lives there, so that makes it quite a unique city. I remember that being the first show we ever cut loose.

SSG Music: You talk about primal or caveman tendencies a lot. What does that mean for you specifically?
Sartin: Well I think by nature I’m primitive. I’m a nihilist through and through, but I’m primitive more than that. I wish that I wasn’t, you know. I’d give anything to be different, but I can’t.
SSG Music: You can, I believe in you.
Sartin: (laughs) I don’t know man, you should see me. I’m not such a good guy. I have these tendencies, and I’m not so good. I feel like a disappointment to people mostly but…
SSG Music: Musically or in general?
Sartin: Both.

SSG Music: You guys throw around romance and being romantic. Why do you feel that way about music and life if you guys are primitive? Those are very interesting things to use together.
Sartin: No one ever asked that question. If you think about it, primitivism and romance go hand-in-hand. Don’t you think? You can’t separate the two. I’ve been really fortunate to have this silly band. We’re primitive and romantic. No one ever really recognizes the beauty of our band and I feel really fortunate to be a part of it. What are you gonna do? I don’t have an option. I don’t. I literally don’t have any options left. I’m completely fucked.
SSG Music: As far as music projects go?
Sartin: Yeah, I’m fucked. This is all I have.

SSG Music: Have you released solo material at all or is it just Fresh and Onlys right now? What’s your main focus?
Sartin: It’s just the Fresh and Onlys right now. That’s all I give a shit about. All these other guys, like Wymond and Tim, they have solo bands. I don’t really give a shit about being solo. Can you imagine a Shayde Sartin solo record? That would be fucking silly. It’d be stupid. I respect those guys for being solo artists. I think it’s a manifestation of not wanting to deal with me, to be quite honest. I think that they just don’t want to deal with me all the time so they have to have solo bands.

SSG Music: Where in the world have you not current been, but you’re wanting to go mostly for inspiration?
Sartin: You know it’s funny you ask because I normally don’t think about these things. My first musical love ever was Wham! I’ve been currently reading this Simon Napier Bell book on Wham!, him taking them to China. They were the first western band to appear in communist China in the 80’s. I was a massive fan. I’m 37 years old; I’m very old. They were the first band that I ever loved and I still love them very much. George Michael was pretty much the best thing in the 1980’s after Prince. I mean, he was seriously the best song writer after Prince. So I’ve been reading this book and it makes me want to go to China.

SSG Music: If you were forced to play in a city you had no interest in playing, how would you make the most of that experience?
Sartin: I make the most of every experience. I have few talents, but one of them is experience. I know how to live.

SSG Music: If someone kidnapped you and put you on a space shuttle, would you be upset or would you make the most of that experience?
Sartin: Where would I be going?
SSG Music: That part isn’t important.
Sartin: That seems like a total dream to me. I’d love that. I’d give anything if someone would just come and take me and not tell me where I’m going. To me that sounds like the greatest gift I could possibly have.

SSG Music: I wanna talk about Soothsayer. For you, what was the biggest inspiration for that EP?
Sartin: Well, I mean it’d be a better question for Tim (Cohen) and you know, Tim doesn’t really say much. Did you see the cover? That says everything. In 1999, I had no fucking idea what I was doing. I got on an airplane and I came to San Francisco. He (man on the album cover) picked me up from the airport. I tried to start a band with him and it never worked out. He met a Swedish girl, and ended up marrying her. He divorced her and then he ended up in Sweden, and had those twins that you see on the cover. He’s a fantastic person. He’s the only reason I’m alive. If you ever heard him speak he has this patient, beautiful baritone.

SSG Music: I’m never going to look at that cover the same, and I guess no one else will either. Are you in San Francisco right now, is that where you’re currently based?
Sartin: I’m sitting in San Francisco right now, in my house- which is a hole in the sky. It’s a burned out house. My house burned down, so I’m currently homeless.
SSG Music: Why did you try to burn it down?
Sartin: I didn’t burn it down, the neighbor burned it down. I think he was a hippie and fell asleep smoking weed. It’s just what happened. I just live in this burned out place. I currently can’t convince any girl to be with me, so I’m just homeless.

The interview took a personal turn at this point, and at the editor’s discretion, that segment of the interview will not be included. Shayde Sartin did not appear in Portland with the band. You can read the review here.

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