Traditions can be cozy, the warm embrace of the familiar allowing us to settle into a groove. Hoping to continue a tradition started last year, I headed to each night of Stumpfest IV to talk with an opening band and let them bounce questions off each other. The first night saw me interview local crushers Prizehog in a wet corner of Mississippi Studios’ patio after much beer and some weed had flowed. The resulting conversation is below.
So I was reading an interview from a couple months ago, and I found something you said about moving to Portland to have more time to work on music. Some people describe Portland as a place where young people go to retire. Do you think that sentiment is true?
Rion (R): Ding ding ding.
Vern (V): I don’t really feel like I’m retired.
Yeah, I’m not saying you are, but the idea of somebody moving here specifically to focus on music, that might feed into that.
V: I can see that. We’ve definitely met some retirees.
And you are going on a little tour soon?
V: We just did a little weekend trip.
R: A holiday.
I know Ben is new to the band, but with you two, are there any roles that people tend to play in the band?
V: We all show up and have fun, that’s the main thing…
R: Ben plays drums now. Vern still plays keyboards. I’m actually singing. That’s me….
V: …But for the most part we are pretty communal.
R: Share the load…
V: And I do a lot of the booking.
You do the cooking?
V: The booking.
Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you said you do the cooking.
V: I do the cooking sometimes, haha.
Ben (B): You guys haven’t cooked anything for me yet.
V: We haven’t done a lot of cooking together.
R: Not yet.
B: Well that was the first time we’ve gone out of town together, last weekend.
V: We all share everything. Like Rion said, share the load.
R: Its socialistic.
You seem to play with a lot of different sounding bands.
R: Hell yeah. Why would any band want to play with anyone that sounds like them?
I’m not sure. But that seems to kind of happen. I mean that’s happening right now [at Stumpfest].
V: That’s true.
R: We are Stumpfest 2015, Prizehog, and now it’s like, Stumpfest 1974, and you’re like, man, ’74 is still kickin! Rock and roll.
So that is intentional?
Vern. Yeah. You want to have fun right? So you make it weird.
Does that shape your sound at all? An eye towards versatility?
V: Versatility is the spice of life!
Does that motivate any of your musical decisions? Saying “Oh, we don’t want to sound too much like…”
V: It’s not a mission statement. It just kinda happens. Its au naturale.
R: When people write songs, they are songs before they sound like anything else, you know. It’s a song. There are a lot of songs written that sound like songs before they sound like anything else.
Is that how your songs are written? Isolated statements first?
R: Well yeah, they’re songs, they’re not meant to sound like particular others…
V: We don’t aim to sound like anything. It’s more like, this is the thing our brains vomited out. And it turned into a song.
So that’s going to continue? You guys are just going to keep playing with whoever the fuck?
V: Fuck yeah. Definitely.
That’s awesome. I saw you a couple years ago..
V: You were at the Sadhorse show!
That is a really good memory.
R: It’s like a steel trap.
Well, that show was totally different than this…
R: Every band sounded completely different.
So how this show come about? Playing Stumpfest? Did you ask?
R: Thanks Ben.
B: Basically yeah. Rynne and Sarah are buds, the whole crew are buds, and we share a practice space with Black Pussy, and they mentioned it, and suggested we play it.
R: With their merchandise.
V: We share with their merchandise.
R: Yeah we don’t share a practice space with them, just their t-shirts.
You practice in their merch storage space, is that what you are saying?
V: Yes, that is a true fact. We used to practice with a jazz band there…
R: The Heavy Dose….
V: No, the Healthy Dose.
I was going to say Ben, it seems like you’ve played almost every Stumpfest.
B: Hot Victory has played the last two.
And then you played this, so out of four total that is three. So that is why we’re here.
B: That’s the connection, but these guys knew some of the other bands beforehand, it seemed like it was a pretty natural thing.
Ok. Does anyone have any pre-show rituals that they do?
V: Dummy check.
What is that?
Vern: Make sure your stuff works, dummy.
Hah, that’s awesome.
B: Jumping jacks. Pushups. I’m trying to work in pushups.
V: Pumping iron.
B: The thing is, floors are nasty at clubs.
Yeah, that sounds awful. I think I’m going to get a little weird for a second. Could each of you describe a recurring dream that you’ve had?
V: I guess I’ll go first. I’ve had a dream since I was a little kid that my cat fell through a fire escape and got electrocuted by a power line.
How does the dream end?
V: Not good man. I wake up, the cat has been electrocuted, and I wake up out of shock.
V: I didn’t want his cat to go outside at our place in San Francisco because of that dream.
Well I’m glad that’s never actually happened.
V: Me too.
Ben do you have a recurring dream?
B: I do but I totally can’t think of it right now for some reason. Generally my dreams are pretty messed up. Last night I had fever dreams.
You can describe a fever dream, sure.
B: Last night I had a dream that only consisted of a door opening and shutting over and over again.
B: It was something weird like that. Whatever it was, it was the same thing over and over again.
That sounds awful.
B: Yeah it sucked. I guess when you have a fever your dreams get really weird.
Yeah, you get delirious. Rion, do you have a recurring dream?
You’ve never had a dream occur more than once?
R: Everything is new. 100% new stuff. All the time.
That’s cool. Here’s another question inspired by my reading that previous interview. You’re big Simpsons fans.
R: Who isn’t?
Well that’s what I was going to say, the album title is a Simpsons reference, but its late era. Most people stop before that.
V: We’re not too cool for that.
R: We’re not like “I watched my mom’s cable back in the day, but I don’t like the Simpsons after that.”
V: All Simpsons are good Simpsons.
So you don’t think the old stuff is better?
R: No, you watch it all.
V: If you’re a Simpsons fan, you watch the fucking Simpsons.
All of it?
R: Sit your ass down and watch.
I’m one of those guilty people, I don’t watch after Season 10. Don’t do it.
V: Open your eyes man.
I haven’t even seen the movie.
R: They’ve been fucking killing it.
V: They kill it all the time.
R: All the time.
So do you have any favorite quotes, or episodes?
B: When Milhouse jumps off the fucking dam and he’s like “Myyy glassseessss” Or when Mary Poppings gets sucked into the jet engine…
R: She’s not even Mary Poppins, her name is something else…The Don Hertzfeld intro, John Cage intro, all last season. Just the intros alone are fucking on it.
V: En fuego. Relevant, awesome, hilarious.
B: Halloween specials are always some of my favorite.
R: Simpsons memory: In a Treehouse of Horrors, when all the advertisements come alive in Springfield, and everyone is paying attention to them destroying the city, and Lisa’s like “I figured it out, all you have to do is not pay attention to them, and they just go away.”
V: That’s great.
R: And Homer is sitting with the Big Boy donut and Homer can’t not look, and Lisa is like “Look away!” and he’s like “I can’t, it’s a huge donut!”
Haha, classic. To end this interview, I’m interviewing the opening bands every night, so maybe Ben will remember this….
Ben: I will? Ok…
Actually nevermind, Hot Victory was the last band so you didn’t get to ask any questions…
R: I’m glad that the two bands with girls in this festival get to be interviewed.
V: Ladies first motherfuckers!
I need you to give me three questions to ask the next band. It’s like a chain letter kind of thing.
B: Who’s your favorite Hobbit?
B: But that’s not really a question, there’s only one right answer, so…
Ben: It’s Bilbo Baggins, obviously.
So I’ll let them know when I’m asking that there is only one right answer when I ask “Who’s your favorite Hobbit.”
R: Gimli dude.
Haha, that’s an answer, but, what’s a question for the next band.
R: For Muscle and Marrow? When are we playing with them?
When’s the next time Muscle and Marrow is playing with Prizehog?
So, “Who’s your favorite Hobbit,” “When are you playing with Prizehog next,” I need one more. It’s a lot of pressure I know.
V: A lot of pressure. I’m diverting to a food question. What’s your favorite kind of cheese?
Ok, that’s it. Hobbit, when are you playing with Prizehog, cheese. Great.
V: These are important facts, we need to know.
I vehemently agreed and with that left the band to continue their enjoyment of Stumpfest while I took it all in. Check out Muscle and Marrow’s answers in their interview here. The final interview of the series, with Billions and Billions, is here.