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The Death-Defying Warehouse Party Life: An Interview by William of Orange
About an entire local music industry that's rarely heard from, briefly navigated by a remote being that coalesces, rarely, around music scenes and their absurd atrocities; published by "The Stranger" weekly newspaper of Seattle, WA.
Sonny Chelf is the orneriest house party producer I know who hails from Tacoma. In fact, he's the only such producer I know from Tacoma. Most of those kind of guys hang about the Seattle area, drifting back and forth in their musical skeins and ongoing search for monetary angles.
Jason Alley's from Issaquah. They both operate forklifts in warehouses for their real livings. And I met them over coffee awhile ago at Starbucks on Broadway for a happy, peppy interview with two of the greater Seattle area's own warehouse party producers.
Sonny, casual, relaxed and vivacious, wore "Portuguese" golden earrings; Jason, soft-spoken and shy, wore a diamond-blue ball cap over his sweet blue eyes and blond hair. Sonny is fair and Black, but doesn't sound that way until you press him, and then a trickle of southern Blacklish begins to filter in, conversationally speaking.
How long have you been involved in the warehouse game, I suddenly ask.
Sonny: The first part of this took place in 1981. That was in Germany. Parties in Germany used more hype. Parties here seem to be more about money and competition.
Jason: I joined TUF Productions for the last party. I joined with another party than ours?some producers have a different agenda than others?(indicating Sonny, giggling.)
What is your agenda? I asked the cute black dude.
Sonny: First we sit there and have a headache. Nah, usually I like to find a space first. That's kind of a last minute thing you have to do.
Jason: There's been a lot of problems with the city. The city is pushing hard to shut the shows down.
Sonny: There was a battle over permits being in order.
Jason: The city would threaten to take the house over.
Jason: The city would intimate that a party would be through. The owners of the building would refuse to rent to those who produced shows, for fear their properties would have police action taken against them.
These statements led to general murmurings amongst us.
So, whatever is your "agenda" now, I softly inquired.
Sonny: (About) the agenda? Line up the DJs!!! They come from everywhere, basically. When we produce a flyer, we try to promote it (the party) day in and day out. During that time, we finish producing the rest of the show. Lights, sound, security, permits, "etcetera." And then it's showtime! I like to get in a building at noon, but it never happens. Just to fine-tune the building! (He laughed, sliding slowly backwards in his seat.)
Jason: If we have decorations, some people put up fences. (I never found out what "fences" are.) It needs all completed. The sound system usually arrives in the middle of things.
We joked around about the house movement?."Yeah, the houses are moving!!!" as I'm not much of a raver m'self, yet. The joints do indeed jump.
What message to others, anyway, do you guys have to impart?
Jason: Positive energy.
Sonny: Peace, love, joining one another together. But after the party comes the teardown. I hate it, but it has to be done.
I asked Sonny if that's his real name. Yes, it is. He was wearing a hunting cap, Polynesian earrings, and he vaguely resembled a certain letter of the alphabet due to his glasses.
Jason's blue ball cap was fastidiously reversed. Two more either-bread and mayonnaise guys could not be found, but they were definitely having to skirt the law.
I finally found out what happened last spring, which had been the current House Party Mystery Scenario.
Sonny: A dividing of the whole scene here occurred. There were occurrences of two parties being thrown on the same night. Something had to stop. Seattle's not that big. It's not that good here, we need more party room. Evolution (back in October, and partially run by a close relative of mine named Joachim, incidentally) just had 1500 people. It was over 15, really.
Jason: We had over 1200. But Seattle is not really a good indicator. In LA (what doesn't begin, end, and stall out in LA?) they have BIG huge parties, with a couple hundred thousand people, easily.
A couple?what? I stupifiedly intoned, slurping my Starbucks. That couldn't be real, I thought, they'd need a football stadium?which they have, somewhere.
I dreamed to myself, the party interview vortex has been reentered. I've been being told that everyone and no one ever interviews these warehouse party guys. Now I see why. No one ever believes them when they talk about the party sizes.
Sonny then said he begged in on things with Jason through a mutual friend of theirs named Tim. On Tim, Sonny said, "we've talked to Tim. How're you?" This, referring to my earlier interview more on the Seattle end of things, with Joachim. Tim, there, is not a part of the company anymore. I guess that's the party vortex for you.
Sonny next managed to imitate the world's blandest, meekest expression, which was already on Jason's wan, pink face.
Jason: All I have to say is we hope people keep supporting the shows.
Sonny: I'm the quiet person of all this. I like to come in like the wind and leave?like?the wind?.
Jason: I like to be around the people. I like to be around the friends. (I always got the impression this is a tightly-knit, hard-to-enter crowd. But I asked them about making a living at it.)
Sonny: I like to be around this for the money. If I didn't do this for the money, I wouldn't do it.
It feels like I've learned, after several interviews with Seattle/Tacoma's warehouse partying folks, that there's no money in this, really. Off the last shows, they don't seem to have made a dime.
PeaceFrog's Civilization party in November barely broke even, in fact losing at least $200. One of the PeaceFrog producers told me only about half the people coming in even paid. I don't think Joachim got his cut at all. But their group is still plugging away at making the lively, eventful, and appreciably loud parties continue to happen.
Sonny said, the way I feel?it might make the WRONG money?(I think he meant the probably drug revenues from hangers-on selling at the parties.) Me, I broke in with: But, what if you were, say, normal?
Jason: Good point.
Sonny: What if everybody else was like what's on the street, already there. (Recall that Sonny's Black, please.) You're gonna get 'em "thowed in jay-al." I've done two (parties) in Tacoma (an infamously Black establishment, in some ways.) There's a problem with that. Seattle people don't travel. The Dome is too commercial. This isn't?a commercial event...that I do.
Go to shows, Sonny said. I have a real job. I work, in a warehouse, driving forklifts. I'm a laborer. Saturday nights are my date. That's the party date. (He pretty much implied this is his social life. I am forced to think both Sonny and Jason are house-devoted, maximally.)
After this pleasant, caring interview time was spent, one happy writer left those two fine, unrude, music-bestrewed dudes to hit their next appointment in town. The memory lingers, but the music is fortunately elsewhere, waiting for the next party to begin. From the sound of things, I would suggest checking out LA, if I were you.
Karen Peralta is the occasionally tired but proficient Owner, President and Executive Director of Rainbow Writing, Inc. at http://www.rainbowriting.com. We're partnered with Four Seasons CDROM Store at http://www.cdromshowcase.com/fourseasons, which sells great cheap cds. Someday, they will be music cds as well.
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Record Collecting Still Thriving in the Twenty-first Century
It may surprise many to find that the hobby of record collecting, long thought dead after the introduction of the compact disc, is still alive and well. Granted, many music fans have long replaced their records with CDs, but for many Baby Boomers and Generation X-ers, the hobby of buying and collecting record albums and singles continues to be a focal point in their lives.Records offer the tactile sense of a substantial product, unlike the CD. The seven-inch, 45 RPM single often came with a picture sleeve that has no equivalent among compact discs. The nostalgia of records draws many back to their younger days. And records still sound great. A recent check of the Bay auction site showed 959,857 records for sale. That's just under one million records!These records aren't selling at garage-sale prices, either. At any given time, there might be six thousand records by the Beatles for sale, some of which have sold for up to $40,000. Elvis isn't far behind; his first five singles, issued on the small Memphis-based, Sun label, routinely bring $2000 at auction in nice condition. Other artists, such as the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, James Brown, or Madonna have issued records that not only command sky-high prices, but also draw a lot of bids. The greatest interest in record collecting is in artists of the 1960's and 1970's, but newer bands, such as Nirvana, draw a lot of attention from younger collectors. Nivrana's first single, Love Buzz issued in 1988, sells for up to $2000 and there are several other bands, such as the Misfits, that have released numerous records that sell for more than $1000. What do collectors do with these records? Some play them, some frame them, some simply put them on the shelf. There are collectors who only buy records that they intend to play and others that simply want anything that was ever commercially released by the artist that interests them. There is no pigeonholing a collector; they come in all shapes and sizes. For them, finding a long-unavailable single that has eluded them for years is like winning the lottery.For those who are interested, there are literally thousands of Websites devoted to artists, records, and record collecting. There are well-known magazines, like Goldmine , Discoveries, and in the UK, Record Collector. Anyone who thinks they might be interested in collecting records has more resources available to them than ever before. Twenty years ago, people thought that records would be long forgotten by now. They couldn't have been more wrong.
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Motorhead-"Inferno"-Review by Les LewellynWhen David Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters fame release the sensational CD "Probot" this year it rekindled my metal tastebuds. For those of you not familiar with his project I'll explain. He recorded songs on which he played all instruments and he had guest vocalists come in and sing as well as write the lyrics and play whatever instrument they might also play. The cd features vocalists such as King Diamond, Snake from Voivod, and many other great singers/musicians. The whole cd flows like it was a gift from God or at least the Heavy Metal God. On that cd Lemmy from Motorhead does a fantastic job on the tune "Shake Your Blood". On first listen I was excited to hear Lemmy singing on such a awesome tune and the excitement was enough for me to do some google searching and that is where I found out that the boys were back and had a new CD released on the indie label Sanctuary entitled "Inferno". Like Monster Magnet, being on an indie has enhanced their sound big time!Always a rough and tough rocking band, Motorhead has never rocked like they do on this CD. What's amazing is how great Lemmy's vocals sound. I have loved the band since their beginning and my fondness for Lemmy dates back to his Hawkwind days. I have to say I have enjoyed Motorhead whenever I've bought a cd and listened. But NEVER have I been entrapped into their sound like I am today.The opening song, "Terminal Show", features Steve Vai on guitar. I have to admit even though I'm a guitarist I respect Steve Vai but I just can't get into the instrumental cds he's released. Actually, I dig them I just don't find myself playing them very often. But Steve takes hold of "Terminal Show" and sounds like he's in the band. He refrains from overplaying his part and he fits Motorhead like a glove. Philip Campbell, Motorhead's guitarist, allows Steve Vai to play with no conflicts and it's sweet as honey! But Philip Campbell then goes on to play lead on all the rest of the tunes like a banshee in heat except the end of "Down On Me" on which Steve Vai returns. What's cool about this is the fact that the two tunes on which Steve Vai plays guitar are not necessarily the best on the cd. It's a seemless collection of tunes that will rock the toughest crowd. I can only imagine how great they sound live and I can't wait to catch them on their current tour.Mikkey Dee returns on drums and this cat pounds the hell out of them. Lemmy attacks the bass like a maniac and his vocals are his best to date. The cd never gets politcal but it does paint a dim look at life in these troubled times. It's really kind of creepy how convincing Lemmy sounds on the tune "Killers". Obviously the dude is fascinated with murder because he sings three tunes about the topic. I'm glad he's got his bass and band to keep him busy!!!!I know I claimed Monster Magnet have the best cd this year but I have to say that Motorhead are coming in with a tie at least! "Inferno" is a must buy cd for any hard rock fan. From start to finish the album soars past and demands repeated plays. I am sure that Motorhead's old fans will freak out over this cd and also they've created a cd that will hopefully get them some new young fans. Visit their site at http://www.imotorhead.com Buy this CD!
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