Interview from Beanz Baxter Magazine #10
Interview by Michael Hassett, 7 July 2001
Beanz Baxter Magazine, PO Box 2013, Hotham Hill 3051, Victoria, Australia
1. What's it like living in Austin, Texas, as opposed to living in San
Francisco? Does it affect the band in anyway? Do you miss San Francisco?
Lance - Austin is hot as hell. Shit, when I first moved here it was 120
degrees! But I like it here. We're all happily destroying the ozone as
you can't really go anywhere in the Summer without being hit in the face
with frosty air condition...
Austin is a lot cheaper than Frisco. The people are a lot nicer here.
There aren't nearly as many yuppies, dot com scum or SUVs here. I mean,
it's Texas, but it's not. Everyone is nice. Almost too nice. But it's
cool. Someday I'll move back to the Bay. But this is nice for now. The
music scene in Frisco can be a little oppressive. Ditto for the social
scene. Austin has really helped me to clear my head.
2. What has J Church got on the horizon release wise in the near future?
I read in the newsletter that you will be releasing an EP here in Australia
soon? Could you tell us as little more about that?
Lance - Oh yeah, I've known Mat for years. He used to do a Noise Addict
fanzine! He offered to do something with us and we had the stuff available.
It's sort of a concept record... Uh, I know that sounds horrible. But
it's basically a series of songs that follow a guy working in Silicon
Valley over the course of his day. It's loosely based on the movie Office
Space. It's an EP. But it's 7 songs long, so you're getting your
money's worth. All unreleased material...
3. What was the recent tour with Propagandhi and Avail like? How were
the crowds and did you have any stand out shows?
Lance - Uh, it was cool. I mean, I love Propagandhi. I know those guys
really well. We've toured with them before. I love hanging out with those
guys. It was the first time we really got to hang out with Avail. That
was really cool too. Really great guys. I don't know that we went down
so well. I mean, we had pretty good responses every night. I mean, we
were never booed off the stage or anything. We always had our crowd representing
at most of the gigs. But, overall, hardcore kids aren't that down with
J Church. Before that tour, we had done some gigs with Ted Leo and some
gigs with The Dismemberment Plan. I think we went down better with those
audiences. I don't know. It's hard to say. The stages were huge and you're
talking about over a thousand people a night. I will say this, it was
definitely fun and I'd do it again.
4. What do you think the chance of you ever coming to Australia to play
Lance - Oh, I'd love for J Church to go to Australia. We've never been
offered. I don't know. We put out a record on Spiral Objective that did
okay and we had that CD on Au Go Go. Now we've got this new thing in the
works. Someone is bound to offer us a tour, right? I was there before
when I was playing guitar for Beck and we toured with the Blues Explosion.
I love it there. Got to buy all kinds of cool Saints and G.A.S.H. records.
I love New Zealand too. Shit, we've been everywhere else. We've got to
get there someday!
5. Although J Church isn't commercially well known you do seem to have
a massive underground following in the punk scene. Has it always been
this way and are you happy with it this way?
Lance - Yeah, I'm happy with how successful we are. We've always been
about the same in terms of popularity. I mean, it's hard to follow us
as we do some weird things at times. We'll put out a dozen records one
year and then nothing for the next four. I dunno. For our proper studio
albums, we shoot to sell in the 10,000 to 15,000 range. I can't complain
about that. I mean, there was a time when 1,500 was huge. We're not commercial
in what we do and what we are, so we're never gonna be on MTV selling
a million records. People always categorize us which really works against
us as we don't really sound like any one thing. I mean, some people call
us emo. Some people call us pop punk. Some people call us indie rock.
But we're not really any of those things. We do what we want and as a
result, every album is commercial suicide. But that's fine with me. I
like what we do and that other people enjoy it is really flattering.
6. Your last album One Mississippi was in my opinion
one of your best to date. How has it been received in the year since it
was released? Do you enjoy playing the newer songs live? Or do you have
a soft spot for the older ones?
Lance - I don't really know. That record really marginalized people for
some reason. Some people thought it was our best and others thought it
was our worst. I don't know. I like a lot of that record. I like it more
than any of our other records. But that's not saying much. Anybody
and I Reach For Her Hand are two of my favorite songs
ever. I especially love the lyrics on those songs. But we can't even play
them live because of the weird arrangements. I don't know. Maybe it should
have come out as two separate albums. It was sort of my attempt at "one
for me, one for the fans". I think that side 1 and side 3 are, for
the most part, J Church as people see J Church. Side 2 and side 4 are
what I really wanted to do. Experiments that work and fail. The bottom
line is that we don't record enough and we're not in a position to put
out as much material as we used to. I'd love to get away from doing random
7"s and just put out two or three full length albums a year. Then
people could pick what they want. I'm gonna get my songs documented one
way or another. But it would be nice to keep them all in one place.
7. Is Adam going to be a permanent drummer or does he just step in for
Lance - Well, yes and no. I mean, he's got a family with a second kid
on the way. I don't see how he can do the band full time. As it is, we
had to have Andee fill in on drums for our European tour. I don't know.
He's been in and out of the band since the band first formed. We shall
8. I recently got a couple of CDR's from your live series of shows and
was wondering where you got the recordings? Were they just lying around
or did you get other people to send them to you?
Lance - Yeah, those tapes were just lying around. I've always loved how
Bluurg did a lot of tapes. I was a big fan of the Subhumans and I thought
it was cool that you could get all of these live and demo tapes through
their label. I wanted to do the same thing. But tapes are sort of obsolete
these days. So I burned 50 or so CDRs and started selling those. People
are into it, so I've made a new series of live CDRs. The quality varies
pretty greatly. But they are nice documents of the bands evolution and
aren't really meant for mass distribution.
9. What's on the horizon for you Lance? And for J Church as a band (non
Lance - Well, we've got a singles collection coming out on Honey Bear
called Meaty, Beaty, Shitty Sounding. I'm gonna be working
pretty hard on that. I've also got a book in the works. It's a documentation
of the anarcho punk scene of the late '70s and '80s. Busy, busy, busy.
10. One thing I love about J Church is how you always end up putting
all your singles onto one CD. This is great for someone like me who doesn't't
have much hope in collecting all the 7"s. Can you give us an idea
of what might be on the next singles collection coming out on Honey Bear
Lance - Yeah, it finally compiles all of the ELO covers. It's got all
the different b-sides from that CDEP and 7"s. God, I don't totally
remember what's on it at the moment. It's 20 songs all together. I think
it's the best singles collection so far. Some old stuff too, like the
track from the Small 23 split and Travelers.
11. Do you still keep in contact with Gardner? Or any other x members
of J Church?
Lance - Not really. I haven't lived in the Bay Area in over a year. I
don't really keep track with many people there. I guess I keep thinking
I'll just move back. I suck at keeping in touch with people.
12. Can you tell us a little more about the 7" Singles Club you
have going and how people can get involved?
Lance - Yeah, I love singles. I just can't really afford to do them with
my label in mass quantity anymore. So, I started a new singles club. Six
singles for $45, all limited to 100 copies. It's so fucking expensive
doing such a small run of singles, I've had to charge a bunch and I'm
eating the cost of a lot of the postage. But it's a labor of love. Bands
have been really lagging in getting stuff to me, so the start date has
been moved back to the end of the year. There will be singles from J Church,
Cringer, Cilantro, Semiautomatic, Tami and Princessed.
13. Do people often compliment you on your amazing guitar playing and
Lance - Yeah, I don't take compliments very well. It really freaks me
out when people that I respect like what I do. It's really weird. When
I played guitar for Beck, that was really big for me in that it gave me
a lot of self-confidence knowing I could beat a lot of other people in
an audition and that I was good enough to play professionally. It's weird.
But I appreciate it...
14. I think the best thing about J Church is that no one song really
sounds the same, each new songs seems to adopt a new personality and style
all it's own. Is it your aim to keep things different and never to start
Lance - No, I wouldn't say it's an aim of the and. I just have a lot of
different interests. I try to write when I'm in the moment of digging
on a band. When I wrote Rich And Young And Dumb I had
obviously been listening to a lot of Queen and Sweet. When I wrote Lucidity,
I was obviously listening to a lot of Bitch Magnet. Sunshine
is obviously an homage to Jesus And Mary Chain. New Book
was totally influenced by Cool by Superchunk. I mean, I really wear my
influences on my sleeve. The Velvet Underground are all over our stuff
as are the Pixies. I think it's pretty obvious.
15. Do you ever have problems with getting money from smaller record
labels that put out your stuff? I'd imagine it would be hard to always
chase this up.
Lance - Yeah, I guess. But I try not to worry too much about that stuff.
Usually, it's only a matter of a few hundred dollars. There have been
a few times when we've been owed thousands and thousands. That's when
we've gotta get a little serious. But I run a little label. I know how
hard it is. When you do a label that mostly puts out records that sell
a few hundred copies, you obviously are doing it for the love of the music
and not because you wanna make some $$$. So I try not to come down too
hard on anyone. I mean, they're usually my friends anyway.
16. Do you find your fans have changed at all over the years? And the
scene in general?
Lance - Ah, the scene is always sort of the same. It just reacts to the
mainstream. That's how the underground thrives. It's a response to the
banality of the mainstream. It goes with that flow. But I don't know that
it changes so much. We've had more unproductive times and we've had more
17. Do you think you could live an existence without music?
Lance - Hmmm... I'd like to say "no". But I guess I could as
long as I had my books and film and art.
18. Any final thing to say to your Australian fans?
Lance - Hey, I'm desperately looking for the first two SPK 7"s as
they were released in Australia. Anyone ever see those? I'm also looking
for a 7" by X covering a John Lennon song. I'll trade or buy!!!
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