the lost unwound interview

Spring 1992

#1=tobi vail, #2=kathi wilcox

Jigsaw: what drugs do you guys do when you’re on tour?
Brandt: last tour I did sleeping pills, niquil and codeine.
Vern: I took one codeine cuz I thought it would help me go to sleep but it kept me awake all night.
Justin: coffee. No beer, nothing.
Vern: Phillip from Chesire made us mushroom tea.
Justin: cut that out. I don’t wanna talk about mushroom tea.
Vern: I have to tell this story.
Justin: we have nothing to do with mushroom tea.
Vern: I have to tell about this.
Justin: we are not a psychedelic band.
Vern: ok, he made us mushroom tea, a big huge wine bottle of it.
Jigsaw reporter #1: what did you do with it?
Vern: and we were thinking, "we’re not gonna drink this"
Jigsaw reporter #2: was this just before you left on tour?
Vern: yeah.
Jigsaw reporter # 2: oh god.
Vern: yeah. So we put it back behind one of the speaker cabinets, but then we got depressed enough to drink It..
Justin: I would not have taken that.
Vern: you brought it up, you did too.
Justin: no.
Vern: yeah. you did.
Jigsaw reporter #2: ok, ok already…
Vern: anyway, you did, I know you did.
Justin: I didn’t. I would not have taken mushroom tea.
Vern: yes, uh huh. and then and then we went out there and it was broken all into bits. remember that? it was like when we were in Chicago or something.
Jigsaw reporter #1: I heard about this story already…
Brandt: we wouldn’t have remembered anything. we would’ve been fucked up.
Jigsaw reporter #1: (quickly attempting to change the subject): wait who do you like better Slayer or Metallica?
Vern: anyway so the bottle was broken already so we didn’t get to drink it.
Jigsaw reporter #1: Who do you like better Slayer or Metallica?
Justin: we argue all the time. Slayer.
Jigsaw: say your names and your ages and pinpoint a formative punk rock experience, like a show or something…
Unwound: we’re all 19.
Brandt: the first time I ever saw some velvet sidewalk.
Jigsaw reporter #1: where was that?
Brandt: North Shore, sometimes after the Valentine’s show (Bikini Kill, SVS and Bratmobile played the North Shore Surf Club on Feb 14, 1991)
Vern: we’re forever 19.
Jigsaw reporter #2: how come you guys are forever 19 and not forever 18 (like the Nation of Ulysses) ?
Justin: because 19 is a more awkward age.
Jigsaw reporter #2: you think?
Justin: yeah, it’s more fucked up.
Jigsaw reporter #2: how do you figure?
Justin: cuz it’s on the verge of going into 20’s and it’s the year after 18, it’s way more weird.
Jigsaw reporter #2: I think you guys are right.
Vern: I’m not sure about my formative punk rock experience one thing that changed my life was seeing Nirvana at the Reko Muse. That was a really good show…probably the first day Justin came over with his Bad Brains album was the day I became a punk rocker, that was probably it.
Justin: my name is Justin Trosper, I’m 19 and …
Brandt: forever.
Justin: forever, and I’ll have to think about that formative thing. I’ll think of something that’s truly something.
Jigsaw: name your favorite Olympia/northwest fanzine and you can’t say Jigsaw even if you were thinking it cuz that’s not the point of the question.
Brandt: Matt Lukin’s Legs and Pulp. Pizza Ria Take Out.
Justin: RockNBowl.
Jigsaw reporter #1: you’re fucked up! that fanzine totally dissed me.
Justin: RockNBowl, Matt Lukin’s Legs, the fist issue of Pulp and the second one and what’s the one that Craig from Fitz of Depression did? (no one remembers what it was called) Hunky Dory?
Jigsaw reporter #1: Chris Jordan has it. Vern do you have a favorite one?
Vern: I don’t really read fanzines that much. I read Pulp when it comes out and Jigsaw…
Jigsaw: where do you guys hang out?
Justin: the Restover Restaurant.
Jigsaw reporter #1: where’s that?
Justin: that’s the one we went to last night.
Jigsaw reporter #1: it’s in Tumwater.
Justin: yeah.
Jigsaw reporter #1: isn’t it in Chehalis or Tenino or something?
Justin: Tumwater.
Vern: towards Littlerock. Exit 99. Truckstop.
Justin: where else? The Rib Eye.
Brandt: King Solomon’s.
Justin: for night it’s the Rib Eye and the Restover. For daytime the Smithfield…various nooks and crannies, alleyways and firewalks and such.
Jigsaw: How did Tumwater High School affect your outlook on life?
Vern: where’s my cigarettes?
Vern: well I think it has a lot to do with our sound, honestly
as far as lyrics go too..
Brandt: it made me angry.
Justin: pissed me off. It’s like the basis of our punkrockness.
Vern: you should see how many punk rockers there are now.
Jigsaw reporter #1: there always has been.
Justin: yeah, there’s a recent explosion though—
Vern: kids who were completely straight looking three months ago were at the show on Friday (KARP, Jumping Chickens etc at the Uncola) with spiky hair and mohawks.
Jigsaw: what was your favorite Melvins show and why cuz I read somewhere recently that you guys like the Melvins…
Justin: that’s another reason why we like the Melvins so much, cuz we’re from Tumwater High School. It has a lot to do with everything. I don’t know why though.
Brandt: my favorite Melvins show was---and this is really hard cuz every Melvin’s show is really different and great in it’s own way—I guess the one with Beat Happening and Nirvana at the grange hall on steamboat island road….
Jigsaw reporter #1: when they played ‘keep on rockin in the free world’
Unwound: yeah, that was cool
Jigsaw reporter #1: I got kicked in the head at the beginning of that song and passed out and didn’t come to until the very end of it but I didn’t hit the ground cuz there were so many people there.
Vern: the cops tried to break up the show during that song I think.
Jigsaw #2: was that the show where Calvin put holes in the ceiling with his head?
Jigsaw #1: yeah.
Jigsaw #2: there hasn’t been a show there since that happened…
(talk about whether or not Nirvana was good that night)
Vern: my favorite Melvin' show was the last one (with Beat Happening and Witchy Poo at the Vortex March 20, 1992) it was re-inspiring. It’s hard to decide though.
Justin: I really don’t know. I’ve liked every show. I mean I never saw them with Matt Lukin so it’s hard to say when they were best or whatever.
Jigsaw reporter #1: wait, who was the bass player at the grange hall show?
Unwound: Lori.
Jigsaw #1: that was really cool..
Justin: yeah.
Jigsaw: What’s your favorite Melvins T-shirt?
Unwound: the ones we made courtesy of the Tumwater High School graphics department—Vern’s wearing one.
Jigsaw reporter #1: Can you describe it for our readers?
Unwound: it’s just the Gluey Porch Treatment graphics, the orange ones were cooler though.
Justin: cuz there was this girl, this is good it was a formative punk rock experience, at this point of my life and dying to hear anything about them right, and so there was this girl and I had probably written Melvins on my peechee or whatever and this girl—she’d sit a couple seats away from me, and I looked at her one day and she had this orange shirt on and I looked at it and saw it was a Gluey Porch Treatments shirt and she totally wasn’t even a punk rocker and I was like ‘that’s crazy, she’s got a Melvins t-shirt’ and it was Buzz Osborne’s sister and she was in my science class.
Jigsaw reporter #1: what was her name?
Brandt: Kristi.
Justin: Kristi Osborne, and she told me all this stuff cuz I was like, ‘what do they do’ you know ‘do they skate’ and stuff like that. ‘do they drink beer’, you know I answered all the questions—it was pretty cool.
Vern: you know the t-shirt that was kind of a Black Flag or Misfits rip off?
Jigsaw reporter #1: yeah.
Vern: I thought that was a cool one., I lost it in the Deschutes River when me and Justin were innertubing one time
Justin: every Melvins t-shirt has been a good one.
Jigsaw: did you guys really meet in school sports?
Brandt: yeah.
Vern: actually yeah, that is true.
Justin: not school sports exactly, summer time sports. 3rd grade.
Jigsaw: Did you really start your band in 4th grade?
Justin: well we talked about it a lot. me and Brandt started this band once in soccer team but we just sang dumb commercials.
Jigsaw reporter #1: what was it called?
Justin: Strawberry Red Apples.
Vern: is this true. honestly?
Justin: sort of.
Jigsaw reporter #2: What about purple heads?
Vern: me and Justin had a band one time called the Dead Eddies. That was 7th grade.
Justin: it was about a guy. 7th or 8th grade, yeah.
Brandt: our first musical endeavor was called the Purple Heads. we were a digital band
Jigsaw reporter #1: was that your infamous college rock band?
Justin: no we were trying to be like Devo at this point.
Jigsaw reporter #1: What was the college rock band called?
Justin: Mumbly Peg.
Jigsaw reporter #2: I think I remember something about this..
Brandt: you guys have a Mumbly Peg song. I hope you realize that.
Justin: oh, Bikini Kill does do a Mumbly Peg cover..I don’t know which one…
(they then try to unsuccessfully demonstrate this to us and claim it doesn’t sound right because the string on the guitar is broken)
Justin: well you guys don’t do it anymore.
Jigsaw: Do you guys skate?
Justin: only on banks in Tumwater. Tumwater banks, surf skating.
Vern: I used to skate. I got frustrated because I couldn’t do anything so I sold my skateboard for 50 bucks.
Justin: I make up my own rules.
Jigsaw: what do you think of the new Tumwater explosion?
Justin: we think it’s cool.
Vern: it’s really cool.
Justin: it’s totally inspiring.
Brandt: the fact that anyone could be inspired by us is incredible.
Justin: yeah. We can’t probably put it in any good eloquent working though.
Jigsaw reporter #2: which Tumwater bands do you like?
Vern: KARP.
Justin: we like any of the punk bands from Tumwater but we don’t like any of the high school talent show bands.
Brandt: heavy metal bands.
Justin: cuz they make fun of the punkers.
(talk goes into various talent show spandex pants type bands…eventually they bring up That Darn Cat…)
Vern: I didn’t know you were gonna play that talent show until I got there and saw you dressed up or whatever…
Jigsaw reporter #2: who?
Justin: That Darn Cat. me and Brandt and Adam.
Brandt: we were trying to start a money making eagles lodge type band and also play the same kind of music at total hardcore shows.
Justin: it was a serious venture. we were gonna learn how to read music off of music stands. but then we realized it was the stupidest thing ever. and we FREAKED OUT. lounge music. it was total fake jazz.
Jigsaw: what do you think of new wave?
Unwound: we are new wavers.
(Vern goes into meaningless anecdote about Eddy Van Halen doing a song on some soundtrack called Donut City)
Jigsaw: what’s your affiliation with Donut Nation?
Justin: Donut Nation is an organization dedicated to destroying the donut status quo by means of hanging out, usually late at night and freaking out. In donut shops, preferably. and making stuff up. making up rules and writing letters and making up songs.
Jigsaw Reporter #2: I think it has to do with destroying the square meal aesthetic.
Justin: yes, definitely. it has everything to do with that. we have songs about it.
Vern: what?
Jigsaw: you went on tour with no record out. what was that like? hi points, low points…
Justin: it was insane. cool. insane though.
Brandt: no one knew who we were. hi point: Indianapolis.
Vern: CBGB’s.
Brandt: Indianapolis. lots of energetic kids not knowing who we were at all, jumping 5 feet in the air and stuff.
Justin: yeah.
Jigsaw reporter #1: what was the coolest hall you played?
Justin: St. Paul, Speedboat Gallery. We had insane driving bouts all the way through Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, eastern Washington. 20 hour shifts.
Brandt: North Dakota, waking up totally strung out on sleeping pills and we were listening to Eggnog and seeing Justin and Vern sitting in the van seats and we all had the same vision of all these mammoths being pushed across the roads—
Justin: and we didn’t even say anything to each other—and then I finally said ‘you know what I’m thinking of, The Empire Strikes Back on the snowy planet where they’re riding on mammoths and we were all picturing the exact same thing.
Brandt: there were all these cavemen Neanderthals driving these wooly mammoths across…
Vern: and they were having a war.
Justin: a battle, we were all thinking about this battle. There were 3 warriors going to battle.
Vern: cavemen riding mammoths.
Justin: I told Dale about this and he told me about a similar Neil Young experience he had.
Jigsaw: this is a serious question, which you are obliged to answer. what do you think of all girl/girl-identified bands?
Unwound: we like them. we like them. we especially like Bikini Kill, Calamity Jane, Bratmobile, Autoclave…
Justin: I really like Blondie. and Girlschool.
Jigsaw reporter #1: what’s your favorite Girlschool release?
Justin: I like it when Girlschool do it with Motorhead or whatever.
Jigsaw: what are you doing as far as releases go?
Unwound: we have a tape, which is available through K, and we’re on the Kill Rock Stars label.
Justin: our double live LP is coming out soon.
Jigsaw reporter #1: one of the reasons why I first got into your band, when you were Giant Henry was because you guys were younger. not that 17 or 18 is young to be playing shows really, but I just didn’t see anybody your age in bands at that point around here unless they were immersed in this clean cut, reprehensible, straight edge, post hardcore aesthetic. do you have anything to say about this, I mean how come in Olympia there aren’t more kids in bands, well actually it seems like there is right now and that’s probably because of you guys to some extent.
Justin: well we were just totally inspired and we knew we could do it because we started to meet people.
Jigsaw reporter #1: you mean you knew you could get shows because there were places to play?
Brandt: yeah, it seemed totally impossible but then we started to realize how accessible everything is, it’s really not that hard…
Jigsaw reporter #2: not in Olympia.
Justin: there is a total weird generation gap between us and most people in Olympia in bands or whatever, cuz they went to all these shows and experienced the hardcore thing when it was happening or whatever and we didn’t. we just started going to shows a few years ago. I’d sit in my room wishing I could go to shows and it never happened so that’s why I had to get in a band.
Vern: and part of the reason why it didn’t happen is cuz most of the bands you really wanted to see had already broken up.
Justin: right. But even when the Community World Theater was happening (in Tacoma 86-88)…we didn’t have any friends who would drive us that far.
Vern: we were too young to drive.
Brandt: and my parents wouldn’t let me do anything, ever.
Justin: we had to start bands to make up for that in order to survive, high school and stuff.
Jigsaw: well what about the aesthetic thing. I mean you guys seem more grounded in hardcore even though you are younger than that. did you listen to KAOS?
Justin: yeah that’s one of my formative punk rock experiences. listening to Donna Dresch’s show and that other guy from Dangermouse. Yeah, there’s this whole thing like ‘you didn’t see Black Flag so you don’t know’ but I don’t really think it makes that much of a difference…I mean listening to those records totally changed my life.
Jigsaw: what bands do you like that are still in existence now?
Justin: Some Velvet Sidewalk, well just the whole local thing is pretty incredible at this point….and then there’s this band we played with on tour called Versus, from New York, they’re really great, and Circus Lupus, Bikini Kill, Nation of Ulysses. I think all my favorite bands are either from DC/Olympia or New York. Crackerbash, they’re from Portland….
Jigsaw: How do you feel about the DC/Olympia/Honolulu scene connection?
Jigsaw reporter #1: are you aware of this?
Jigsaw reporter #2: are you aware that you could conceivably be playing a show there in the next six months to a year?
Justin: that’s cool, we’ll do anything for free…
Vern: what are you guys talking about?
Jigsaw: we better not hex it.
(Vern goes into long monologue about the non-existence of such a thing)
Justin: I’ve always been anti-Hawaii.
Jigsaw: us too but it’s pretty incredible..
Jigsaw: next question. ok so Rites of Spring broke up and then started Happy Go Licky which was the exact same members. Giant Henry broke up and then started Unwound with the exact same members. I see a correlation…anyways, this happens sometimes in bands. I mean, what was that all about? you can skip it if it’s too personal or whatever.
Justin: I’ll say something. ok, well it’s like we’re best friends and we have a certain chemistry or connection or whatever and we have to be in bands together. I sound like an idiot.
Brandt: we grew up knowing how to play certain things, like I was a guitar player, and I was never serious about drums, my dad just bought me a drum set because I wanted one and he has a lot of money and then we just started Giant Henry with me as the drummer and none of us knew how to play these instruments and we thought it would be funny. it was a real gut reaction punk rock thing. we didn’t have a focus or a goal or whatever and it was crappy. we just did it for ourselves and people would sometimes come over to watch us practice and then we broke up and Justin was in Supertanker and I was in Lil Abner and then I was in Glad with Chris Jordan and then we started playing Giant Henry again and the songs started sounding better so we starter trying harder to write good songs at that point…
Jigsaw reporter #2: but you don’t play any Giant Henry songs anymore.
Brandt: only one, Crab Nebula.
Vern: Love and Fear was a song that happened between Giant Henry and Unwound.
Justin: it’s just the whole thing, we learned how to play instruments together and we discovered punk rock at the same time and we used to get drunk together and stuff, it’s like History Lesson (Pt. 2) by the Minutemen, I don’t mean to say we’re like the minutemen but it’s the same thing, we have a sameness or whatever that comes from all these shared experiences.
Jigsaw reporter #2: common references?
Justin: yeah. we went to Tumwater and started going to shows together…so that’s why we had to be a band still.
Jigsaw reporter #2: what do you think about hickeys and the social political ramifications of the Hickey Underworld?
Justin: I’m not smart enough to figure it out. we don’t get hickeys that often but we support it I guess. maybe someday. (laughs) and you guys just drank all my beer! that’s ok I don’t want any more.
Vern: we’re gonna get more.
Justin: I don’t want anymore.
Jigsaw: what was the last movie you saw?
Justin: Ladies and Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains. you said it would change my life and it pretty much did…and now I understand why there are a couple in particular bands in existence, such as Bikini Kill. I was sitting there the whole time going ‘this is so cool, Bikini Kill!’ and it’s not just the girl thing either, the whole youth aspect is also incredible, all these kids going nuts over a band, the Skunks or whatever, it’s like Nirvana, or even just the Tumwater High School thing, that bands made up of total dorks can make kids go crazy. like that movie, the girls start out as total dorks and they totally just started pissing people off cuz they couldn’t play. it totally makes sense. it was realistic. and everybody in the whole movie is an asshole.
Jisgaw reporter #1: and the ending is so cool cuz even though they supposedly made it or whatever, you’re not satisfied at all. it’s meaningless and stupid.
(nobody else will tell what movies they saw)
Brandt: it was really dumb, ok Star Trek 6.
Jigsaw reporter #2: Damn!
Jigsaw: what are your star signs?
Justin: Scorpio.
Vern: Aquarius.
Brandt: Leo.
Justin: are we compatible?
Jigsaw reporter #2: no.
Jigsaw reporter #1: we don’t know.
Justin: are you guys posers? you guys are astrology posers. I still haven’t talked about my formative punk rock experience.
Vern: you’ve talked a little about each of them.
Jigsaw: what was the first band you ever saw?
Unwound: Fitz of Depression.
Justin: so yeah, we’re young.
Vern: Brandt stop picking your nose.
the tape runs out….