Eric Axelson, Joe Easley, & Heidi Glenn
June 8, 2010
TP: When did you first start going to Kansas House. When did you first start knowing it existed?
HG: It was Ann for me…
EA: Ann and Bob were there at the same time.
JE: Bob Massey.
HG: Bob lived in the closet. That’s actually the thing I remember the most vividly.
JE: That room was crazy… but it was somehow very inviting. Like, it was all cozy. Crawl into his little closet at the end of the night. And he had his whole music set up right outside. It was like, what, 20 square feet or something?
HG: Yeah. He had maximized his space. But yeah, for me it was when Ann bartended and I just met her…
EA: At Galaxy Hut?
JE: When did we play that show?
EA: It was one of those birthday parties. Maybe your birthday party?
TP: Was it an Aquarius Party?
EA: Yeah, one of those January parties?
EA: 2000. Wait, because it would have been in January right?
TP: Well, February. February or January.
EA: I think it was January because it was right before we went on tour. That was 2000. Cause… I’m pretty sure.
JE: It sounds right. Let me go look it up on the Internet… I have a list.
TP: Who asked you to play?
EA: I think you probably did.
TP: No, I never had anything to do with the Aquarius Parties. I just showed up.
EA: Who would have asked us then?
HG: Ann, right? Because that’s when her birthday is.
JE: It would have had to have been Ann Jaeger. Or was it somebody from Most Secret Method? See… how this is going with the memory?
TP: Don’t worry… you’re not the only one.
HG: It was that year… it was Bob and Ann and Yukiko Moynihan cause that’s the name that would show up on the phone. On the line.
JE: It was not Yukiko. It had to have been Ann.
EA: Cause Yukiko was there for the Punk-Not-Rock stuff… I remember she was hanging out when they were setting up stuff. I’m pretty sure this show was 2000 because I think that was the night… I remember we were on tour, and think that I met Mary Richards for the first time that night. I don’t know if we dated but we went on some dates later that year. I’m pretty sure we were standing in the kitchen, and someone took a picture, and somebody was like: “Why is Eric looking at Mary?” and I was like: “I’m gonna go get a beer…”
TP: Someone took a picture, with what kind of camera?
EA: It was a Polaroid. I mean, that’s the thing… there may not have been digital cameras then. It was a Polaroid.
TP: Analog as opposed to digital.
EA: But I remember… we played the show and it was fun to play, but Ryan and probably Chris Farrell were djaying that night. And they were spinning the most slammin’ stuff and then we had to play. And it was like, I like my band and all…
JE: But it was hard to follow up something like that.
EA: Yeah it’s a lot more fun to dance to Troublefunk and Run-DMC or A Tribe Called Quest. And I remember we finished and we packed up in record time and got back into the party because we were like, I don’t want to miss any more of that DJ set. It was fun to play but I think we had more fun dancing that night.
TP: Do you remember if it had snowed at that one?
EA: Not that night. It was cold.
TP: But no snow. Talk about what it was like to play at Kansas, if you recall.
JE: It was pretty crammed in there. It was a small room.
EA: Yeah, it’s all hardwood floor, in front of the mantle.
JE: It wasn’t that different from a lot of other punk rock shows. You were at eye-level with everyone, and if it was a crampt room where people are like a foot away, I think that’s what it was like. That’s what I remember it being.
EA: Though it was weird, you were facing out towards the staircase, and there’s all these people standing in the dining room too.
JE: We had a chimney at our back…
EA: So people were kind of on both sides and then also the front door was there so like you’d be in the middle of a song and see someone get bumped, and someone kind of sneak past and close the door quick to keep the noise out.
JE: Yeah, people walking right past because the doorway to the kitchen was the same deal. You had to walk on what was considered the stage to get to the kitchen, which is where the beer was.
HG: I remember… now I had seen you guys probably five years before that?
EA: So it would be before the party, so you saw us in like ’95?
HG: At Republic Gardens…
JE: That was a Steve Cummings show.
EA: And I think I invited you to that show because you saw me at Whole Foods.
JE: Way to hit on my girlfriend man!
EA: I was! Do you blame me?
JE: She’s a nice lady, I like her.
HG: So I hadn’t seen you guys, and I don’t even know if I knew that you were playing that night. And I don’t think that I knew you, Joe.
JE: Yeah I don’t think we met until a couple months later at a house party, at the house that me and Clark were living in South Arlington.
HG: Oh, yeah, that would have been October of 2000.
EA: That would have been a lot of months later.
HG: So, I remember… I used to always stake the spot out, on the stairs.
HG: Like, I would stake it out. And if anybody was near me…
JE: It was kind of like a balcony.
TP: It was
JE: A three-seat balcony.
HG: Yeah, you could sit down if you wanted…
TP: Except more like ten people…
JE: Skinny, indie rock kids.
HG: Elbowing in… but I think it was like the second step or something. You had like, the banister to lean on. And I remember seeing you guys and I was like, this is gonna sound awful… I was like: they’re really good!
EA: Thanks, Heidi!
JE: They’re assholes in person but they’re really good performers!
HG: No! It’s just that the sound had evolved in those five years.
JE: Yeah… different drummer, too! That’s weird!
HG: Yeah… totally different drummer!
EA: Where’d the guy with the long hair go?
TP: That must be it!
HG: And I remember I was completely blown away by that show!
EA: Up top (Eric and Joe high five).
TP: So wait… go back for a second, because you actually said something that’s been coming up a lot, and it’s sort of how people knew about shows that were happening…
EA: I never did!
TP: So, like the Republic Gardens show… was it the Republic Gardens show or was it this show when you saw Heidi in the Whole Foods?
EA: Oh, I worked at the Whole Foods in Springfield in ’94, 95, and a little bit in ’96.
TP: So it was before that.
EA: I worked out in the suburbs, out in Springfield, and you know, mainly moms, and teenagers walking in and then Heidi walked in with a Polvo shirt one day and I thought: “who the hell’s in a Polvo shirt at the Whole Foods?”
JE: And then approached her and said exactly that.
EA: It’s a Polvo shirt!
TP: One of the things that comes up is… that none of us had, well maybe some people had, cell phones. But not really. Well, you had to be a very important person, I think. Well, not ’95, but 2000.
JE: Or a pager…
TP: So if you guys were playing a show around here, how did you tell people about it?
JE: We put up handbills… For the house shows, generally, the people doing the house shows.
EA: Calling friends. I mean email was happening in 2000.
JE: We waited for mainly for that scene to take care of itself.
EA: in 2000 Runnykine was probably happening.
TP: Yeah, definitely it was happening.
EA: I mean, I wasn’t on it but that’s where a lot of people heard about the shows and the parties.
JE: Was that Derek Morton doing Runnykine or was that Jimmy at that point?
HG: Or Hipfux?
TP: Derek was doing Hipfux and then Jimmy took it over.
JE: By force, really.
TP: Sort of… and then it became Runnykine. Like, Hipfux technically still exists, but it doesn’t.
JE: Was the punk rock show list happening at that time?
HG: I think Jimmy was doing that
TP: It may have happened around that time. There may be some overlap
EA: I feel like a lot of this I would hear about through practice, I think. I mean, I’d be at band practice, or I’d be at a show and somebody would like, hey, there’s gonna be a party this night.
HG: I think I just heard from Ann. She would call people.
TP: Or tell people when they were at the bar.
EA: I think there was email going on too for that kind of stuff.
TP: By that point there was definitely email.
HG: You would not have gotten one from Ann.
JE: You know what… I bet a huge portion of the transmission of that message was a result of people hanging out at the Galaxy Hut. People would just roll over there after…
HG: I was thinking about how tied, at least for me, how Kansas was to the Galaxy Hut. It was the same scene.
JE: It was the same people working there.
HG: It was like Ann’s house.
TP: Yeah… it was her annex. So, talk about then, what it was like to see a show, to be on the other side…
JE: I saw a Q & Not U show there that was fucking awesome, and like any house show in super tight quarters, and you’re all up in people’s grill, they can bump into you, which is awesome. And I remember seeing that show I saw had their old bass player…
JE: Matt, who was like, spazzing out, and he would bump into people. It was pretty bad ass.
EA: No barricade, no bouncers. It’s funny… it’s actually a good question. It’s something, that, in my head, it’s like: it’s a house show. It’s like any house show.
JE: That’s the best part, there are no rules.
EA: Yeah, but for someone who is listening to this or seeing this kind of interview who has never been to a house show doesn’t understand that there’s not a stage, there’s not a PA, there’s not a lighting system, it’s like, a lamp in the corner with the shade off it, or a sheet over it, or something, or bands with amps singing into a bass amp.
JE: And hopefully they’ve got a mike stand.
HG: And they’ve moved some of the furniture.
EA: Yeah, there’s like sofas out on the porch to make room for everybody.
TP: Was there anything different from Kansas House shows and other house shows? Or was it pretty similar.
EA: It was pretty similar except that it wasn’t in the basement. A lot of house shows were basement shows. So there wasn’t like a claustrophobic stuck in the basement feeling.
JE: And while Kansas House was dirty, like, group houses that host punk bands and have them in the basement, the basements are always fucking disgusting. And Kansas Street was gross, but because it wasn’t in the basement, it didn’t have that problem. I don’t know why…
HG: Well, I think there was a certain amount of respect that you paid to Kansas because it was somebody’s living quarters. I just remember, once the show was over, you were done. You were outta there.
EA: Ann kicked you out!
HG: Ann kicked you out! Except she’d be like: you, you and you can stay.
JE: Like, all house shows are peoples living quarters. But this is a different element. And basements are much more typical because people are like: well, if we fuck up the house, we better fuck up the basement.
JE: And for whatever reason, it was okay at Kansas, which made it kind of awesome.
TP: Talk about, in general, as a tangent, the anatomy of a house show. How do the transactions work? If there are any?
EA: I mean, the show we played was a party, it was a birthday party, so there was no cover, and we weren’t on tour. But I imagine when Juno played they probably asked people at the door for three bucks? Five bucks? And whoever lived there or was involved with the show sat there with like a cigar box, or a bag and kept change and marked peoples hands with a sharpie, like drew on your hand. Normally the windows would be stuffed with cushions form sofas to help deaden the sound so that the sound wouldn’t go out the windows, and call the cops. The PA would be a tiny practice PA, two speakers; there would be two mikes. And what else is different about a house show?
JE: No last call! They keep going…
EA: Until the police show up.
JE: Or until people got tired. Until there was nobody. Like, if there was a DJ, it would keep going until people got tired.
EA: But from the band side of things…
JE: No merch… I think it’s pretty, unless if somebody comes up to you and asks if you’ve got a shirt for sale or something. But we didn’t have any merch set up.
EA: Probably local.
JE: Probably different for a touring band.
EA: I missed the Juno show. I guess touring bands played there…
TP: Were you not at the Juno show?
JE: We were out of town for that. I heard that thing was fucking mind-blowing.
HG: I don’t know why I didn’t go. I must’ve been away.
EA: We missed a lot of the shows, but we didn’t miss a lot of the parties…
TP: You missed an amazing show… ‘cause you were on tour?
EA: We were gone, like, four to six months out of the year.
HG: Which would have been right at the height. That show that you guys played there would have been right at the height, and I’m really curious to know how—what you asked—how that show came to be. I wonder who asked you.
TP: Like, your guys’ show?
EA: Well, I think Ann asked, like: hey guys, it’s my birthday party and I want you to play.
JE: She probably said it just like that.
TP: Or, you guys are going to play the Aquarius Party and this is the date. And you just did it.
EA: Whereas Juno was probably going through on tour and needed a date between Philly and Chapel Hill.
TP: I’m not sure if Juno played at the Black Cat, but I remember the reason why they played there was because they couldn’t get a show.
EA: We played with them at the Black Cat. We had them open for us.
EA: But I mean, that show was later in 2000. Cause that was the year we were gone almost.
TP: Because I think that show, the mind blowing Juno show was because they couldn’t get a Black Cat show, but I know they played a Black Cat show.
TP: Did you ever go there, since you were always gone for shows…did you ever just go there to like…
HG: Joe has a good story about that!
TP: Go there?
JE: I do?
JE: Oh you’re right! We were at the Galaxy Hut, drinking… a lot. Me, and Ben Adams and Clark, and a couple other people. Ben was working at Go! And was like: Hey, we just got the Bombs over Bagdad video, let’s go watch it! And everyone was super psyched and super drunk, and we went there and we watched it, and it’s a fucking mind-blowing video. And then we watched it like seven more fucking times after that. And we were all drunk and it’s a totally dirty video. And every time it got to the same parts we’d all go “oh!” And fucking yell, and it was awesome. And all we did was watch that five-minute video.
HG: At like, four in the morning.
JE: Yeah. It was drunken. I don’t know why that was okay. You would think that Bob or somebody else upstairs wouldn’t have been cool with that, but it was okay.
EA: Group house.
TP: He was up in his closet, in his loft… his soundproof loft.
HG: His closet!
JE: But not a lot of times outside of house parties, though.
EA: Or the Punk-Not-Rock stuff…
JE: Or, events I guess.
EA: I might call Bob or Ann, you know, so I could say hi. If I was in the neighborhood, or the Hut—swing by so I could see who was there.
TP: But you wouldn’t necessarily call first, you would just be like, let’s go see who’s there.
EA: Yeah just kinda show up… and my bike didn’t have a muffler so you would know I was there!
TP: So they would have ample time to hide! Talk about the Punk-Not-Rock stuff…
HG: I didn’t go to a single one!
EA: Oh, you didn’t?
TP: I think I went to one of them!
EA: They were good! I went to all of them. All the ones I was in town for. Bob set it up because he knew tons of people in the punk scene who had classical backgrounds or who had other aspirations outside of indie rock, and people who played violin or percussionists or who were into Philip Glass or Steve Reich or whatever. I think that was the main thing, he wanted to have it where it would just be low key, people would bring whatever they wanted to play, there would be four or five people and then after each performance there would be a Q&A where you ask questions.
JE: I also wonder if that was the precursor to Nerd Night, you know?
EA: Hunh…. Yeah in someways, yeah.
TP: Who does Nerd Night? Do they know about Punk-Not-Rock?
HG: What’s Nerd Night?
EA: It started in New York and they brought it to DC.
JE: It’s that thing they do at DC-9 where they basically have people who are experts in their field in, like very nerdy topics and they’ll talk…
EA: it sells out in advance.
TP: Poor But Sexy played one of them.
TP: But it’s interesting, too because Nerd Night will have somebody who is like, an Etymologist and then bands. But at the Punk-Not-Rocks, Bob would ask you questions… afterwards?
EA: Sometimes. I think Vin did some kind of snare drum solo he had learned, because he has a degree in percussion, and he would do it and then he would stop and say: are there any questions? And it would be kind of open floor, and people would be like: what kind of sticks are you using? Why aren’t you using lighter sticks? Things like that. Or—the middle part, where it got really busy.. it was kind of open discussion, but if you didn’t know about it or you didn’t understand, then we’d talk about it and move on to the next performance. People brought cookies… there would be cookies on the table.
JE: And it was very, very weird, because everyone sat down.
EA: And the other thing is that people were invited to write their own stuff. So people would bring in pieces they wrote. Like, I remember Durst brought in something he wrote when he was in college that he hadn’t worked on in years but flushed out again and got a quartet to do. And, I think that was the launching pad for Bob and the opera. I think one of the songs, I could be wrong, so you should ask him, but I think one of the songs he wrote for that was a stepping stone.
HG: Well, it was all the same people.
EA: Yeah, and I think I brought Durst to one of those to meet Bob…
HG: Wait, you knew Durst?
EA: I knew Durst from work. We worked together.
HG: I didn’t know that…
JE: Did he know Jean Cook before that? Does that mean Jean knew Leigh? And Jimmy knew Leigh?
EA: High school?
HG: They went to a different high school.
EA: I think one of them went for one year to Lake Braddock and then switched to TJ. Jimmy went to TJ, right?
JE: Jean went to TJ.
HG: Leigh went to Lake Braddock.
EA: Jean went to TJ. That’s what it was. Punk-Not-Rock was fun because you didn’t have to like the piece, and some of the things were really grating, but it was okay because you could say: that was really dissonant. And they would say, well, back in the 1920s in Germany the composers were all into this. And it was really not pretentious because you’re sitting there, eating an Oreo. You could not get it and it would be okay to talk about it. I loved it. I miss it. It was really cool.
JE: And if you only listened to punk rock, it was like a weird thing that was different, and a stepping-stone to things, if you were interested.
TP: And I think– if you could talk a little bit more– if there’s anything else to say, they were completely different than house shows, because you sat down.
JE: Well, you come in, and the first thing that happens is that everyone looks at you, because they’re all sitting down and it’s quiet. None of the acts were loud, right? So you walk in and you open the door and there’s, like, 30 people who all go…
HG: Is it really like 30 people?
JE: It was people, like sitting, Indian style looking at people who looking at whomever was performing…
HG: Was the furniture set up for that?
EA: Yeah, I think it was.
TP: Yeah, I think it was because I remember the one I went to, that exact thing happened to me, and you don’t walk in when somebody’s playing…
JE: That may have been why it happened to me! Like if you don’t abide by the rules…
TP: I think there may have been a sign on the door or like you’re not supposed to walk in. Or maybe somebody let you in?
JE: No, no… that’s totally possible. I definitely did it once, early on. Because I remember walking in and it was like, white blinking eyeballs.
TP: Because I didn’t get there for the beginning, so I had to wait while somebody played something…
JE: Yeah, it’s really distracting when somebody opens the door in the middle of a quiet un-microphoned thing.
TP: And there was definitely a sofa because Jason Caddell was on the sofa.
JE: No surprise there…
TP: And I had to walk over people, I had to walk behind people to go stand in the back, by that window, or in the stairs. But it was totally packed.
EA: There was a basement, I remember that.
TP: There was a basement… the basement is so nasty. You have to see.
EA: Didn’t someone live down there?
TP: Did they?
HG: Yeah, I thought that Chris Richards lived down there.
EA: I think he lived in the back sunroom thing. Wasn’t that the back room behind a sheet?
EA: Or maybe he moved to that room… But nobody ever went down there.
TP: But Dead Teenagers practiced down there, and I think other bands practiced down there. I feel like… I was there maybe twice.
EA: Right… I remember now. I was only upstairs like twice and maybe downstairs like twice.
TP: But, the basement… it’s so nasty.
EA: Should we watch the video.
JE: It was nasty, and there was like a fuckin… I remember somebody had a cat and there was fucking cat piss…
TP: Chen had a cat…
JE: It was so gross…
HG: Well who else was in that house to begin with.
EA: Here it is… Mary Chen, Chris Richards, Jonathan Kreinik, Ann, Bob, Yukiko. Tom….
TP: I didn’t know Chris Richards lived there.
HG: He moved in the night of that party, I think… that Ann had, it was in August of 2000.
EA: He lived in the back room.
HG: He had just graduated from college. I don’t know who else…
TP: Derek Morton lived there… that’s how I know it.
EA: I’m gonna say that our band played there January 29th, 2000. Mark that down.
TP: So do you remember anything else about what the house looked like on the inside before we look at this?
HG: I remember there was like, that sofa, that was right when you walk in, and there was a red lamp, light bulb? Do you know what I’m talking about?
TP: Yeah, I think so.
EA: Was it hanging?
HG: Yeah, and it was still sort of scene setting. It didn’t feel like your just average living room. There was something kind of art galleryish out of it.
EA: I remember the star clock.
HG: It’s in that photo.
TP: I forgot the star clock until I saw it in the picture.
EA: That was a groovy picture… I don’t know who the band playing was, but behind the singer’s head was that clock and it looked like Jesus.
TP: do you remember any of the other stuff that was on the walls?
HG: I remember Holloway had photos hanging up there for a while. But no, I don’t remember any art.
EA: I think they had more like older pictures or like posters but I can’t remember what though.
JE: Oh the alley, and that grubby back porch with the kegs.
EA: Where you and bob wrestled.
JE: No, me and Bob wrestled in the living room.
TP: Wait, so what happened?
HG: Me and Bonnie wrestled Joe in the alley.
TP: Joe and Heidi and Bonnie were wrestling… why were you wrestling?
JE: Because we were pretty drunk. And we were at a party and I think I challenged everyone… and you guys took the offer, and you guys took the offer, and I won.
EA: Like a National Lampoon movie, man.
JE: And at one point, on a different day, I wrestled Bob Massey in the living room…
EA: And almost broke the house!
JE: Almost broke the house and also, did not know what I was getting into.
EA: Bob’s a strong guy.
JE: I thought I could take Bob, and… it was a draw. But damn, I did not realize, he’s a strong man!
JE: It always seemed like the house itself was like waifer thin. I was always worried I would break shit.
HG: Oh, that’s right, I remember the walls were that burgundyish color. I totally forgot about that. That must be why I remember there being a red light. It must’ve been the light from the walls.
JE: It’s pretty tight quarters in there.
EA: Oh, it’s that photo on Facebook from that party. It was taken from that staircase, shooting across.
TP: The one where you guys, where Marc and Ann…
EA: flippin’ people off. That’s the show were we played.
JE: And Bonnie Schleigel’s like… it’s awesome.
EA: And my shirt’s unbuttoned down to my navel… like Barry Gibb man.
EA: And it’s knocked down now, right?
TP: Yeah… you guys saw it the other day?
HG: Yeah, it was gone. Remember?
JE: Yeah, we drove past there… there’s nothing there. Just weeds.
HG: It’s a parking lot.
EA: Joni Mitchell…
TP: Yeah cue the Joni Mitchell!
EA: You know I never really hung out on that porch. Maybe for smoking cigarettes…
TP: You never really hung out on the porch?
JE: That’s where they kept the kegs man!
EA: I didn’t drink.
TP: Did you say you didn’t drink?
EA: No. I’m lying.
JE: It’s weird that it’s nestled among the towers.
TP: Well, I guess the towers weren’t always there.
HG: And it was the only house on the block, pretty much. Everything else had been torn down.
TP: I don’t remember anything… like I remember there being a house across the street…
HG: It was a car dealership. And if you parked in front of it, they towed you.
TP: Yeah, so… Marc Nelson was talking about how cops never came to shut shows down. But I do recall there being incidents like that. Like, if you parked in that guy’s lot. The cops wouldn’t shut the show down but they would tow your car.
JE: What’s your final guess on the date?
EA: January 29th
HG: Is that really on there? Oh my god!
TP: Damn! Eric Axeslson for the win!
HG: Who djayed it?
EA: Um, it was…
TP: DJ Ryan Nelson!
EA: Ryan Nelson and Chris Farrell. And Josh LaRue may have spun also. Am I right?
JE: You know what, there wasn’t enough facilities, for these house parties. There were the two rest rooms. There was the basement one and the other one was upstairs. The basement one was gross and had a low ceiling and cat poop. And a long ass line.
EA: Well that’s group house in general. Irving Street was two bathrooms.
JE: But this was a tiny little house. And the cat poop was the thing…
EA: This wasn’t that sketchy.
JE: That must’ve been a hard room to practice in with the low ceilings.
EA: “Watch your fool head!”
TP: I want to know who wrote that.
EA: Ryan or Ann.
TP: I was gonna say, that’s a Ryan Nelson-ism.
EA: I remember hanging out in the driveway.
JE: Yeah, totally. I remember parking my van in there. I hung out with Jaeger a couple of times in the van.
JE: That house was so beat to hell…
JE: It’s weird, it was on a pretty major road. You’d think that no party would last longer than ten minutes with cops riding around. But they always went all night.
HG: I think I saw Dead Teenager’s first show there.
TP: I was at that show.
HG: Did you get a tape? I remember I got a tape.
TP: What else was significant. What about the neighborhood around there?
EA: There wasn’t! There was a donut shop.
TP: There was a what?
EA: A donut shop!
JE: That was like two blocks away? And there’s the 7-11.
EA: I remember going there once and taking a walk to the 7-11 for food.
JE: Which was totally appropriate because the only thing there was drunk food. There was that terrible diner…
TP: There was Mario’s…
EA: That pizza place.
JE: That place was fucking gross.
EA: Grosser than the basement?
JE: The cat poop wins.