“In late 1990 I broke up with my girlfriend of the last three years, the punk rock photographer JJ Gonson, and I moved from Boston to San Francisco. I am honored to say that she is still one of my best and closest friends. But for a couple of years after our breakup we had as little as possible to do with each other. She in turn moved to Portland, OR.
In January of 1993 we reconnected and she rather generously offered my band, Ain’t, a show in Portland with Heatmiser and Gas Huffer. She also offered us a place to stay: 2522 SE 16th Ave. on the corner of SE Division, where she lived with her new boyfriend, Elliott Smith, and where his band, Heatmiser, practiced in the basement. Elliott and the rest of the band (Neil Gust, Tony Lash, and Brandt Peterson) were kind of shy and I guess a little nervous at the show as they were performing for the first time for their new label, Frontier Records. I dug their music; it was introspective and melodic yet played through Marshall amps. Neil and Elliott shared lead vocal duties and I liked both voices. I was happy for JJ as well — she had a boyfriend who was nice to her and a band to manage that seemed to be going somewhere. Of course, I was jealous for I had no steady girlfriend and my band was nowhere near as good. Continue reading →
“Sometime in late spring/early summer 1994, Laurian , me and the other 2 members of our band drove our crappy van (named Sal, because it had been rescued from a salvage yard in Sacramento and the engine was almost dead) 25 MPH over the mountain passes from CA to OR to record an album in Portland with Thee Slayer Hippy (Drummer for Poison Idea and producer – Heatmiser, Hard Ons etc.).
“I wanted to write country music, strangely enough, after I saw Elliott play country music. He and I were invited to play on a record by a band from San Francisco called Ain’t, they were friends of ours, and we recorded it in a studio in Northwest Portland. I was gonna play snare drum or washboard and he was going to play guitar. So he got there first, and when I arrived he was just dinking around– and you know, Elliott was a master guitar player, and he was playing this crazy-ass downhome Texas country stuff that I didn’t know he had, and I was just like, that’s the coolest thing I’ve heard in a long time, and it really peaked my interest in country music and old folk music. So that was another piece of the puzzle. That and hanging out with these guys through the Laurelthirst. But definitely hearing Elliott just like play. You know, he lived in Texas for awhile, and it probably just seeped into his bones. He probably didn’t do it very often, because I don’t think he really had a Texas sound much, but I remember that I was just floored. I was like, ‘how do you know how to do that, that’s so fucked up that you know how to do that!’ I made him show me how he was doing it. That influence is really on Western Electric.”