interviews with dylan posa and weasel walter

Note – I am slowly going through and cleaning up my folders on our hard drive. I just came across a bunch of old interviews I did with people while I was a journalism student at Columbia College Chicago. These two are from when I was working on the college magazine for two semesters. A friend and I did a piece about working musicians who still had day jobs. There were others that she interviewed, Dylan and Weasel were the ones I interviewed. It was done in the fall of 2000, I think. If you happen to be Dylan Posa or Weasel Walter and you want this taken down, just let me know. I’m putting it here for posterity and nerdy archival reasons.

Dylan Posa – Cheer Accident – Reckless Records

One of the things that helps about working a retail job is the tremendous amount of freedom you have in terms of leaves of absence and so forth. It’s also the lack of real responsibility, as sometimes you really need to not think about anything else. Also, Reckless happens to have a really generous policy on employee purchases, so musicians being music freaks that they are can amass a huge collection of stuff. I happen to also like working, because I don’t really manage my time very well and it imposes a schedule on me. I can’t really face a whole week with nothing set, so it’s nice to know that I have to sandwich song-writing sessions in between day shifts.

What shit jobs have you had in the past. how does yr current one stack up? Which was the best? Most accommodating one for yr rock n roll lifestyle? Any horror stories?

The current situation is by far the best and most accommodating. I think the worst was Blockbuster Video – lots of supervision and very few perks. I think we got free rentals (but only a certain amount a week). We had to be clean-shaven (there was a razor and shaving cream in the bathroom), you couldn’t wear gym shoes, there was a monitor up in the manager’s office where he or she could monitor the cashier’s every step. We were expected to stop thieves ourselves. I’ve never had a temp job, but I imagine those would be even worse. That’s probably better for musicians who are skilled in computer stuff, because they can drop a job in a minute and still pick up something else at any time.

What do you feel it takes to survive as an independent musician in general and in Chicago?

Well, that’s tough for me to say because I happen to like the position I’m in. The record label doesn’t pay my way so I don’t feel beholden in any way to alter what it is that I do for them. So many bands get burned this way, I’m still surprised that bands don’t just do it themselves nowadays. I think in terms of survival, Chicago breeds a sort of incestuous cross-pollination where everybody plays in everybody else’s side-project. That seems to work here.

How hard is it to balance yr passion with yr need to survive?

Not very hard for me, as it turns out. I work pretty slowly anyway, so I like to have something to do. Of course, this could all be justification until my amphetamine addiction becomes affordable.

I think I asked this already but what are yr five favorite songs relating to or that help get you through a shift at work?

Ex-French T-Shirt – Shudder To Think
Now That’s The Barclords – Urge Overkill
Freddy’s Dead – Curtis Mayfield
The Sidewinder – Lee Morgan
Daddy Needs a New Throne – Camberwell Now

Weasel Walter – Flying Luttenbachers – Unemployed at the moment

What kind, and how many shit jobs, have you had in the past while working in music. Were they awful? Good? Beneficial for your music schedule? Traumatizing? Which one was the best?

At this point I see any occupation that doesn’t directly further my creative goals as a waste of my time unless if it pays a substantial amount. I am not independently wealthy and I’ve done what I’ve had to to survive and devote my life to making things. I’ve worked as a record store clerk, a bike messenger, a telemarketer, and other crappy jobs like that in the past 10 years. Those last two jobs were so terrible I wanted to kill someone. Creating music and the various processes that surround it soaks up the majority of my time, although it does not pay well.

How long did it take until you could live off of yr music? How did you feel after you realized you could?

I haven’t had a job in more than 2 years, but I’m going to have to get one soon to level off my growing debt. I have been extremely thankful for the time I had and I didn’t squander it. It’s great to wake up every morning and concentrate on what I want to do. Unfortunately, what I do isn’t at all in style, so the income is extremely sketchy. I’ll probably try computer temping. It’s not worth my time to work at some dumb job for less than 20 bucks an hour at this point… my time is extremely valuable to me and I’d rather starve than have it wasted!

What do you think it takes to survive as a musician in general and as a musician in Chicago? Do you feel you have it?

I am not the average musician. I have focused on creating the kind of art that is has proven to be largely unpopular and uncommercial. I think the thing that it takes to be a well-paid musician anywhere is the ability to conform to the musical roles that fit the demands of what is desired by the paying public. I refuse to do this. I am not interested in
compromising my aesthetics for acceptance. I have the ability to survive as a human being, but I am not making a good living off of my music. I accept this as reality. I do not recommend trying to be a professional musician unless if you’re absolutely sure what you want to do and you are ready to accept the consequences for making that choice. This society has no respect for culture, so most people doing experimental or truly creative music will have to be prepared to starve.

How difficult is it (was it) to balance yr passion for music with your need to survive?

Very difficult. So-called “Musicians” are a dime a dozen – close to worthless, really. The market is saturated with mediocrity and much of this is rewarded because most American consumers are mediocre people and that’s what they relate to. The music business is a conspiracy run by a wealthy and powerful minority who call the shots on what the majority have options to digest. This way they can control it to their advantage. It’s very difficult to fight this.

Is signing to a ‘major’ label an issue for you?

No. My attitude and creative goals do not meet the requirements of pleasing rich guys in suits and making them lots of money. I want to destroy them. That’s why Napster is so important — it takes money out of these parasite’s pockets (much less than would come out of the artist’s pockets). This is why you hear so many industry weasels complaining.

Being on a so-called major label sure doesn’t mean you make any real money per se. These labels are set up to make lots of profit for the suits and hardly any for the artists. A lot of the money is advances that have to be paid back and often can’t be, putting the artist in a position of debt and impasse. You’d be surprised how many “big” artists don’t really have a pot to piss in. Don’t kid yourself about the music business. It’s who you know, half the time.

radio loways – september 2014

01. sympathy for the strawberry – sonic youth
02. watch that grandad go – bauhaus
03. 122 hours of fear – the screamers
04. un uomo da rispettare (titoli) – ennio morricone
05. the autumn wind is a pirate – cheer accident
06. sombre reptiles – brian eno
07. more than a feeling – sleater kinney
08. side b – aluk todolo

radio loways

the songs that took my attention in september of 2014. listen, won’t you?

unhelpful notes –

sympathy for the strawberry – yeah, that’s a sonic youth song two months in a row. i love this one. mellow noise constraint action. and i think my absolute favorite part of the song is lee ranaldo’s organ bit. i love that.

watch that grandad go – i first heard bauhaus on a tape that i found in one of the art rooms in high school. perfect, right? i think it was the sky’s gone out on one side and burning from the inside on the other side. i was curious and listened to it and eventually it grew on me. then i didn’t listen to them for like ten years and it wasn’t until the last five years or so that i’ve been really listening to bauhaus. i like most of their output – but i really like when they get kinda dubbed out and danceish. so this track is actually one of my favorite songs of theirs.

122 hours of fear – you’ll have to turn this one up, cuz it’s quiet. and it should be loud. i’m so fascinated by singers/front people who so completely believe in their part and can put on this amazing entertaining show. it’s so not how i am. i can play guitar in a band and just kinda be the guitar player in a band in the background. but i can’t conceive of being the focal point of the show. and yet there are all these people who can do it. who can emote and act and embody characters and have a particular persona on stage. aside from being an awesome band – the screamer’s singer is definitely one of those front people types.

the autumn wind is a pirate – for years i had been trying to figure out which song it was that i loved so much by cheer accident. ever since i saw them play at the hideout on the occasion of dylan posa’s last show with them. they had a horn section. and all these insane tech-prog parts. and yet they were goofing around and doing silly dances and laughing and making faces and laughing. very un-prog. or maybe very chicago prog or something. but anyways. they played this song and i loved it. completely. and in that fade part where the guitar gets quieter and quieter and then it’s gone – when they did that live they got completely quiet and all you could hear was the sound of people talking through the doors at the bar. and yet the musicians kept moving and playing their parts just so quietly you couldn’t hear them. and then they brought it all back. it was a brilliant set. brilliant song. i’m gonna say it’s one of my all time favorite songs of all time.

more than a feeling – not my favorite sleater kinney, but i’d never heard this before until i stumbled across it a couple weeks ago. i hate the original version of this song. mostly cuz it’s such a fucking earworm. it’s always in my head. always. always when i’m doing dishes. or cooking. or walking home from work. or at work. i’m always – more than a feeling, that i’m feeling for you! bah bah – bahm bahm – bahm bahm bahm bahm bahm – bah bah. just like that. annoying.

side b – i seem to like french metal. it’s interesting. and yeah – that’s aluk todolo up on top.

and yeah – that’s the screamers down below.

cheer accident!

i’ve been wondering which cheer accident song this was for years. years! since i saw them play it at the hideout for dylan posa’s last show with them. now i know it’s name. the autumn wind is a pirate. it was a massive song then. it’s a massive song now. cheer accident! yes!