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Interviews
Features

Chunklet 8

Issue 8

Mark Robinson/Air Miami

by

Arcwelder

by

Gaunt

by

Tech Support Horror Stories

The Piels Brothers artwork on the cover was printed on actual grocery bags which we cut down individually at Kinko’s one night. It was nightmarish. A few good interviews. God, this is old.

The first time I interviewed Teen Beat/Unrest head honcho Mark Robinson, I was a little taken aback by his overly shy demeanor. The year was 1988, and “Kustom Karnal Blaxploitation” had just come out which was one of the most aggressive, over the top records I had heard that year. So I wrote it off as a bad experience. I interviewed him 3 years ago when “Imperial f.f.r.r.” hit the scene. Same damn behavior. Add to this the fact that every interview I’ve ever read about him was bordering on tedium. I guess he’s just one of those cats you’ve got to know personally. C’est la vie!

So here I am sitting outside the Cat’s Cradle in North Carolina, and Mark is sitting on the curb reading so I think to myself “What the hell!” So for the third time, I interview him. His new band, Air Miami, played at the three day Merge 5th Anniversary party to a packed house filled with eager fans. Unrest similarities aside, Air Miami’s show (given it was their fourth) was worth seeing. If only Mark was just a little bit more talkative….

So the thing with Unrest is done, over with?
Yup.

Why? Just because?
I got sick of doing the same old thing, I guess. I wanted to do something different.

It didn’t have anything to do with bad feelings within the band?
You get sick of people after a while.

Yeah, but you’ve been playing with Phil (Krauth, ex-Unrest drummer) for ten years?
Twelve years.

Shit…
It’s just interesting to play with different people and do something different with a different name and different songs. I’m now in a band without a past and a catalog of songs that I don’t have to do. We played all new songs tonight and nobody’s ever heard any of them.

Is this Air Miami’s first show?
Fourth show.

Overall positive reaction?
I dunno, you tell me.

(laugh) People seemed to like it.
That’s cool.

It did tend to sound remarkably similar to some of the stuff your prior band was doing towards the end.
Really?

I guess that’s inescapable, right?
I guess so. I don’t notice it.

Are you going to be spending a lot more time putting out records on Teen Beat? It seems that within the last year Teen Beat has really turned into a more sophisticated operation.
We’re starting to do promotion. I just think we now have a lot more bands on the label. I mean, I was looking at our roster earlier today and half the bands on the label have been signed within the last eight months. The bands are “hand shaked” instead of “signed”. We don’t “sign” bands.

You don’t have contracts or anything? It’s all on the honor code?
(to the microphone) All major label people!!! If you want to sign any Teen Beat band, they’re not under contract, you can sign them.

Have any of them been courted?
Eggs was courted. Versus and Tuscadero were courted.

By Matador or what?
Epic and shit like that.

Wow! Do you feel pretty sick about that?
I don’t care. If a band wants to do something on a major label, then that’s what they should do. If they want to do that, why would I put out their record?

I don’t know.
If they want to be on Epic, then they should be on Epic.

And Blast Off Country Style is going to be on the Lollapalooza side stage?
Right.

Unrest was last year, right?
Yeah.

Do you think it’ll be a good experience?
I think so, I think it’s pretty good. You get the opening slot and get to play in front of a lot of people who aren’t necessarily into underground music. So I think it’s cool.

So getting back to Air Miami, how did you get the name?
Me and Bridgett have this obsession with Miami. And I kind of came up with the ‘Air’ thing. I was really into airlines.

It kind of flows out of the mouth.
There’s the obvious….y’know, “What’s the name of your band?” “Air Miami” (long pause) “What?” “Air Miami” “Oh…..”

It’s kind of like an anagram or pig latin or something.
(shrugs his shoulders)

So are there any plans with Air Miami?
We’re doing a 7″ with 2 songs on it coming out in September.

You don’t think that 4AD (Unrest’s former label) will show the same interest as they did with Unrest?
We’re doing an album for 4AD in November. We’ll be recording soon for that.

Do they treat you well?
They’re cool, yeah. They’re a small company, they’re very cool.

So the last 12 years with Teen Beat has been…
(interrupts) Nine…

Huh?
Nine years of Teen Beat.

But has it been fun doing the Teen Beat thing? Is it a job now or is it still a labor of love?
It’s a sole proprietorship so essentially that’s my job.

You don’t have to do taxes and stuff like that, do you?
Of course I do.

Well, y’never know, some people in DC are pretty resourceful. Or in Virginia for that matter.
(shrugs shoulders)

About a year ago, some folks asked me if I’d do an interview for their upstart publication CURVE. This publication was going to be, as they put it, “the Alternative Press of the South”. And although CURVE asked me last minute (in fact, they asked me during the show), they requested that I interview the band, Arcwelder, by the end of the night. Did I mention that they wanted me to write a 1000 word article to boot? Anyway, I was up for doing it, but the timing just wasn’t right. So, what I told CURVE was that I’d do the interview the following morning after the Welders woke up. Seeing as how they were staying at my house, along with their tourmates Tar, I didn’t see a problem. Well, the following morning John Tar and I went to retrieve their van which was receiving radiator repair a few blocks away. While we were doing this, Mike Tar (unbeknownst to me) interviewed the trio from Minneapolis out on my porch. In addition, he did the interview under my name so the CURVE posse would buy this baloney. So later that week, I brought the tape to the folks at CURVE and told them I’m glad I could help them out (they never thanked me, either). Well, that was quite a while ago and seeing as how they’ve never contacted me as to whether they were going to run the interview or not, I thought I’d use it for my own self benefit. After all, after what I went through, could you blame me? So without further ado, take it away Mike! Er, sorry….take it away, Henry!!!
The Arcwelder roster consists of Rob and Bill Graber (‘The Menacing Graber Brothers’) on both guitar and bass, and skins-man Scott ‘Blow me’ MacDonald….E-I-E-I-O!

(Please remember, Henry and Mike Greenlees are the same person for this!)

Welcome to the bummer!
Bill Graber: Well actually, it’s Henry and Mike Tar is here.

How ya doin’?
Scott MacDonald: There’s a little confusion there.

So why did you change your name?
Rob Graber: Hey, there’s an original question!
SM: Yeah, we’ve never had to answer that one before.
RG: What’s Steve Albini like?
BG: We changed our name because we got sued by the Tilt-A-Whirl Corporation. Which is kind of interesting because we had to change our name to Arcwelder.

Now is it true you wrote that song “Why Did You Call It That For?” [from Pull LP] based on your experiences with the Sellner Corporation (manufacturers of the Tilt-A-Whirl)?
SM: Yeah…
RG: [legitimately shocked] That’s beautiful!! I did not know that!!!

These guys didn’t know that?
RG: No, I never know what our songs are about.

And you’ve been singing that line!!
RG: [sings] Hey, Rob’s an asshole!
SG: That’s a little too obvious.

Why doesn’t Rob ever shut up?…that’s what the song’s really about!
SM: Hey, Henry, you better tone it down or we’ll have Mike come beat the shit out of you!

So how many tours have you done and why don’t you tour more?
RG: Because normally the bands we’ve been on tour with have been such dicks that we can’t…

The Tar guys are dicks!
Marc Zablocki (from Tar): That’s true…
BG: We’ve toured three times. Once with Flour, once with the Jesus Lizard and now with Tar. The reason we don’t tour more is because of our day jobs that we can’t get more time away from.

I have a guitar question. Do you use different tunings on your guitars?
RG: Yes!
BG: Good question!

Why do you do that as opposed to playing different fingering?
RG: Lack of technical ability…
BG: We can’t play!

But wouldn’t you agree that it takes a certain ability to find those different tunings?
BG: It’s knowing how we want it to sound, but not being able to figure out how to do it with regular tunings. Just turn the pegs until it sounds cool. After your done messing around, you can figure out other songs with that same tuning.

Some people might be thinking that you’re reinventing the guitar. Sonic Youth does that shit and they’re just playing regular guitar parts. You guys got your thumb on the wrong side of the fret board! You’re playing chords with your thumb over there!!!
BG & RG: (scream in terror)

In all honesty, do you see punk rock influencing what you do that much?
SM: I see parallels with us in the late 70s punk rock. A lot of the stuff that drove us to begin with was Wire, Gang of Four…
RG: Joy Division…
BG: When we started out, we were Joy Division clones. We were definitely not hardcore. Scott had that influence, but we beat the shit out of him.

How do you feel your new LP, Pull, is different from your previous ones, if at all?
SM: Superior recording.

Who recorded your past efforts?
SM: Brian Paulson has done all of them.
BG: Yeah, but this last one was done at a better studio. 24 tracks and the other ones were done on 16. I think Brian’s gotten really good in the last two years. I think we had a better idea of what we wanted to do.
RG: We stayed out of each other’s way a lot more.

Did you do anything different this time preparing for the recording?
BG: Yeah, we recorded the whole thing twice. Once on Brian’s 8 track just messing around.
SM: That was for demo shopping, really.
BG: Yeah, that helped. Because Corey (Rusk, Touch and Go Records owner) saw us on the Flour tour and then we made these demos and we weren’t sure if we were going to send them to him because we didn’t think he’d like us. Then he called up and asked for a demo which was really cool. So Brian Paulson sent them down and Corey said “Hey, this rocks my world!”
SM: The rest is history.

So how do you think Corey Rusk was clued into the Arcwelder experience? Did you have some friends pull some strings for you?
BG: I think it was through Flour and Brick Layer Cake (both Touch and Go bands) and Brian.
SM: And little Stevie Albini.

I know from experience that it’s not easy to get Corey’s ear.
RG: Yeah, the first two records, in hind sight, are not very representative of what we sound like.

To me, it seems like the supportive parts have gotten more detailed…..more harmo-lodically…
BG: Harmo-lodically.
RG: Harmo-lodically?!?!
BG: Wow, that’s a good word!!! Man, Henry, can I make a suggestion? This guy Pat Reily just “TM’ed”, that means trademarked, the word ‘three-peat’. When the Chicago Bulls ‘three-peated’, he trademarked that! Now with ‘harmo-lodically’ you could trademark that!

That’s a hell of a word! Well, as fucked up as you sound with your tunings, if you close your eyes and listen, a lot of your songs come together in a pop way which is kind of good. Every part blends together real well and is supporting the basic melody of the tune.
BG: Hey, that’s great!
RG: Hey, ‘harmo-lodically’!
SM: Hey, I’m going to trademark ‘blow me’ after this interview.

About a year ago, some folks asked me if I’d do an interview for their upstart publication CURVE. This publication was going to be, as they put it, “the Alternative Press of the South”. And although CURVE asked me last minute (in fact, they asked me during the show), they requested that I interview the band, Arcwelder, by the end of the night. Did I mention that they wanted me to write a 1000 word article to boot? Anyway, I was up for doing it, but the timing just wasn’t right. So, what I told CURVE was that I’d do the interview the following morning after the Welders woke up. Seeing as how they were staying at my house, along with their tourmates Tar, I didn’t see a problem. Well, the following morning John Tar and I went to retrieve their van which was receiving radiator repair a few blocks away. While we were doing this, Mike Tar (unbeknownst to me) interviewed the trio from Minneapolis out on my porch. In addition, he did the interview under my name so the CURVE posse would buy this baloney. So later that week, I brought the tape to the folks at CURVE and told them I’m glad I could help them out (they never thanked me, either). Well, that was quite a while ago and seeing as how they’ve never contacted me as to whether they were going to run the interview or not, I thought I’d use it for my own self benefit. After all, after what I went through, could you blame me? So without further ado, take it away Mike! Er, sorry….take it away, Henry!!!
The Arcwelder roster consists of Rob and Bill Graber (‘The Menacing Graber Brothers’) on both guitar and bass, and skins-man Scott ‘Blow me’ MacDonald….E-I-E-I-O!

(Please remember, Henry and Mike Greenlees are the same person for this!)

Welcome to the bummer!
Bill Graber: Well actually, it’s Henry and Mike Tar is here.

How ya doin’?
Scott MacDonald: There’s a little confusion there.

So why did you change your name?
Rob Graber: Hey, there’s an original question!
SM: Yeah, we’ve never had to answer that one before.
RG: What’s Steve Albini like?
BG: We changed our name because we got sued by the Tilt-A-Whirl Corporation. Which is kind of interesting because we had to change our name to Arcwelder.

Now is it true you wrote that song “Why Did You Call It That For?” [from Pull LP] based on your experiences with the Sellner Corporation (manufacturers of the Tilt-A-Whirl)?
SM: Yeah…
RG: [legitimately shocked] That’s beautiful!! I did not know that!!!

These guys didn’t know that?
RG: No, I never know what our songs are about.

And you’ve been singing that line!!
RG: [sings] Hey, Rob’s an asshole!
SG: That’s a little too obvious.

Why doesn’t Rob ever shut up?…that’s what the song’s really about!
SM: Hey, Henry, you better tone it down or we’ll have Mike come beat the shit out of you!

So how many tours have you done and why don’t you tour more?
RG: Because normally the bands we’ve been on tour with have been such dicks that we can’t…

The Tar guys are dicks!
Marc Zablocki (from Tar): That’s true…
BG: We’ve toured three times. Once with Flour, once with the Jesus Lizard and now with Tar. The reason we don’t tour more is because of our day jobs that we can’t get more time away from.

I have a guitar question. Do you use different tunings on your guitars?
RG: Yes!
BG: Good question!

Why do you do that as opposed to playing different fingering?
RG: Lack of technical ability…
BG: We can’t play!

But wouldn’t you agree that it takes a certain ability to find those different tunings?
BG: It’s knowing how we want it to sound, but not being able to figure out how to do it with regular tunings. Just turn the pegs until it sounds cool. After your done messing around, you can figure out other songs with that same tuning.

Some people might be thinking that you’re reinventing the guitar. Sonic Youth does that shit and they’re just playing regular guitar parts. You guys got your thumb on the wrong side of the fret board! You’re playing chords with your thumb over there!!!
BG & RG: (scream in terror)

In all honesty, do you see punk rock influencing what you do that much?
SM: I see parallels with us in the late 70s punk rock. A lot of the stuff that drove us to begin with was Wire, Gang of Four…
RG: Joy Division…
BG: When we started out, we were Joy Division clones. We were definitely not hardcore. Scott had that influence, but we beat the shit out of him.

How do you feel your new LP, Pull, is different from your previous ones, if at all?
SM: Superior recording.

Who recorded your past efforts?
SM: Brian Paulson has done all of them.
BG: Yeah, but this last one was done at a better studio. 24 tracks and the other ones were done on 16. I think Brian’s gotten really good in the last two years. I think we had a better idea of what we wanted to do.
RG: We stayed out of each other’s way a lot more.

Did you do anything different this time preparing for the recording?
BG: Yeah, we recorded the whole thing twice. Once on Brian’s 8 track just messing around.
SM: That was for demo shopping, really.
BG: Yeah, that helped. Because Corey (Rusk, Touch and Go Records owner) saw us on the Flour tour and then we made these demos and we weren’t sure if we were going to send them to him because we didn’t think he’d like us. Then he called up and asked for a demo which was really cool. So Brian Paulson sent them down and Corey said “Hey, this rocks my world!”
SM: The rest is history.

So how do you think Corey Rusk was clued into the Arcwelder experience? Did you have some friends pull some strings for you?
BG: I think it was through Flour and Brick Layer Cake (both Touch and Go bands) and Brian.
SM: And little Stevie Albini.

I know from experience that it’s not easy to get Corey’s ear.
RG: Yeah, the first two records, in hind sight, are not very representative of what we sound like.

To me, it seems like the supportive parts have gotten more detailed…..more harmo-lodically…
BG: Harmo-lodically.
RG: Harmo-lodically?!?!
BG: Wow, that’s a good word!!! Man, Henry, can I make a suggestion? This guy Pat Reily just “TM’ed”, that means trademarked, the word ‘three-peat’. When the Chicago Bulls ‘three-peated’, he trademarked that! Now with ‘harmo-lodically’ you could trademark that!

That’s a hell of a word! Well, as fucked up as you sound with your tunings, if you close your eyes and listen, a lot of your songs come together in a pop way which is kind of good. Every part blends together real well and is supporting the basic melody of the tune.
BG: Hey, that’s great!
RG: Hey, ‘harmo-lodically’!
SM: Hey, I’m going to trademark ‘blow me’ after this interview.

The first experience I had with computers was in 1982, the seventh grade at Boltz Junior High School in Fort Collins, Colorado. I remember that we were working with the newly introduced (and cyber antique) Apple II computer. At the time, I hung out with the guys who I guess would be called the computer geeks at school. I say “I guess” because there was no other reasonable classification they would fall under. For example they loved the movie Tron, spent countless hours in Dungeons and Dragons, and could recount Monty Python skits verbatim at the drop of a hat. Physically, they had pale skin, squishy bodies and wore glasses that hid only a few of their kajillion pimples. And to boot, they had the social skills of a brown paper bag. I’m not proud that I hung out with them, but I can say that it gave me a leg up on the computer phenomenon.

And since the 12 or so years since those, uh, glory days, a new hand held calculator now holds more capacity than one of those rinky dink pieces of junk. I still feel pretty inept in front of the computer, but stories like the following make me feel marginally better. They were culled from the cyberpages of TECH SUPPORT TALES, an electronically published zine which retells the horror of the unbaptized in the realm of computer-land. But the horror, baby, the horror!!!

I’m pretty sure all of my friends from those days in junior high are in the computer field. I don’t know exactly why, but there’s no place else in society for them. The thing that it makes me ask, however, is where would their place in society be before the advent of Silicone Valley? Would they have been normal, upstanding members of society? Or, would they still be the introverted, socially-retarded folks they are today? Oh hell, who cares…. Let us recount their stories from the battlefront!

Let me reitterate, the following stories are true!!!!

WHAT DOES THIS THING DO?

Many people have called to ask where the “any” key is on their keyboards when the “Press Any Key” message is displayed.

A tech once calmed a man who was enraged because “his computer had told him he was bad and an invalid.” The tech patiently explained that the computer’s “bad command” and “invalid” responses shouldn’t be taken personally.

One customer held the mouse in the air and pointed it at the screen, all the while clicking madly.

DISK!? YOU MEAN LIKE A CD?

Problem: User cannot access the disk drive A:

Solution: User put the 5.25 inch diskette in the tiny gap between drives A: and B: and then attempted to close the drive A: door.

Problem: User cannot access disk information.

Solution/cause: Wife put disk on refrigerator door with magnet to remind customer to take disk to work with them.

Problem: User is having problems with diskettes.

Solution/Cause: User took the “Remove diskette from sleeve and insert into drive” literally and sliced open the protective cover of the disk, inserting the disk media into the drive.

You Can’t Really Be That Stupid?

Customer had trouble loading a new utility which came on 5.25″ floppies. Called and told tech that floppy drive might be bad, and that he should send it in for a replacement. When it arrived, the disk drive door was open and several floppies were jammed inside. The customer later stated that the program said “insert Disk 1, insert Disk 2, etc.” and didn’t say anything about taking any disk out!

A customer was having diskette problems. After trouble shooting for a while (magnets, heat, etc.), tech asked the customer what else was being done with the diskette. Her response I put a label on the diskette, roll it into the typewriter….

A customer called up the company that made her hand-held scanner, complaining that it wasn’t scanning correctly. After several minutes of hardware and software questions, the tech asked what exactly the person did to scan. “Well,” she said, “I simply put it on the side of my head and drag it down.” (And she wonders why the “brain scanner” can’t find anything!)

A customer complied with a tech’s request to send in a copy of a defective diskette. A few days later, the tech received a letter from the customer along with a Xerox copy of the floppy.

A tech advised a customer to put his troubled floppy back in the drive and close the door. The customer put his phone down and was heard walking across the room and shutting the door to the room.

THE COMPUTERS HAVE EYES!!!

A customer called to say he couldn’t get his computer to fax anything. After 40 minutes, the tech discovered the man was trying to fax a piece of paper by holding it in front of the monitor screen and hitting the “SEND” key.

A customer was perplexed by an error that would appear every time he tried to print. The computer would say, “Looking for LaserWriter” and after a while, “Can’t find LaserWriter.” His solution? He turned the Mac so that the screen faced the printer.M