Prissy Clerks and Gimme Noise go shopping at Treehouse Records (INTERVIEW)
Accordionist Emily Lazear, guitarist Clara Salyer, drummer Tim Leick Jr and bassist Howard Hamilton III show off their subsidized records.
Photo by Andrew Penkalski
Gimme Noise wants to help our Twin Cities musicians push this envelope of rock 'n' roll shit-shooting, and it's something that can only occur in certain local spaces where any inch of floorspace can play soapbox to any yokel fancying himself a Robert Christgau. These places are called record stores.
"The Local Bin" is a decidedly simple conceit: Take bands record shopping and start talking. With financial provisions rivaled only by the wealthiest of Edina 10th-graders, Minneapolis's crunchy rock dream-weavers Prissy Clerks willingly played guinea pigs for an afternoon outing with us to Treehouse Records, where we discussed their work a bit -- but let the tangential cues around us take over. A bunch of it was captured on video. The group plays Friday at the Basilica Block Party.
When we talked, you guys chose Treehouse Records. Are there certain reasons you guys preferred to shop there?
Howard Hamilton: I think it's really just a classic, old-fashioned record store.
Clara Salyer: Yep. Classic.
So as a local band trying to move physical copies, do you guys feel that you develop closer relationships with these store owners? It seems like you and [Treehouse owner] Mark have a pretty good rapport.
Clara: I think so. Like when you take your records to the Fetus, instead of only meeting the record clerks you go downstairs and meet the people behind the operations. They're all part of it.
Howard: For me, I've been in like 10 bands over the course of the last 15 years, and
every time you've got your 7-inch, you gotta make the rounds to sell CDs to them. That's really how I know Mark is from selling records. It's not even from buying records. But it helps, because you already know the person then.
You guys have done in-stores before, right?
Clara: Just Hymie's, and that was fun. We played with Bombay Sweets, and Nate from Bombay Sweets has two little kids who are adorable. It was kind of a family event. There were all these little kids there with big ear muffs on. It was super cute and interactive.
When you guys play at these intimate gathering places, do you have to reconcile how loud you want to go?
Clara: Yeah. Playing quiet, most rock bands would agree, does not feel as fun, so we kind of have to dial back in certain spaces for the enjoyment of the audience. And it can sometimes take out some of the fun for you. But when you're playing at a record you want people to enjoy it. If they go home deaf, it wouldn't be fun for anyone.
Howard: With this band there's a little bit of a struggle, because [Clara] sings kind of quietly. And we have an accordion that's miked-up. So we usually have to make a choice of "Is this going to be a loud show?" And usually we just have to turn our stage volume down in those situations. And at least our music caters to that idea whereas other bands just have to be loud bands.
So do you guys remember the first album you ever bought?
Clara: It was Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends, so it wasn't really music. The first music record I got was Tommy by the Who, but I did buy Shel Silverstein first.
Howard: The first I think I ever bought was Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap by AC/DC on cassette. I think I shoplifted it. Then the first LP I ever got was Stray Cats' first one. It was the first experience of going into a creaky record store in Ohio, and I had no reason to go in there before. They were playing Talking Heads, and I found my Stray Cats record and just got the hell out of there like I had that one goal.
Emily Lazear: I remember when I was little I listened to The Point! record. It was this movie that Harry Nilsson did the music for, and Ringo Starr narrates. They were all songs, but then it tells this story too. It was an animated movie. But I think the first record I ever bought, total honesty-time, the Footloose soundtrack. I loved it. I still love it.
Tim Leick Jr.: The first piece of music that I ever got on my own accord that I wanted was Shaggy on CD, the one with "It Wasn't Me" and "Angel."
Clara: I think I only had that on Now That's What I Call Music 5.
Tim: And now they're on like Now 40. But the first vinyl purchase I ever made I think was Fragile by Yes.
How do the two worlds of being an artist and simply being a fan of music intersect for you guys?
Tim: For me at least, buying music is personal. I love just about anything post-rock, and Prissy Clerks is nothing like post-rock.
Emily: Yeah, there aren't a lot of accordionists, so it's hard for me to find my "accordion idol." Regardless, there are bands I find that I think remind of at least the kind of music that I make.
Clara: I really just think about the music I want to listen to, and I think that's where the crossover happens.
Howard: It all leads to that moment where you're listening to music, and then get up and robotically write your own songs. You're kind of waiting for that moment of inspiration. It doesn't come out constantly.
Three Favorite Finds:
Bobby Conn, On the Farm
Clara: He's this weird guy from Chicago. One of the first Youtube videos I ever watched was him in the late '80s dancing on this kids show in Chicago. His song title was super inappropriate, and he had to change the words so he could sing it. And I guess he's still making music because this is from 2007.
Do you remember what the inappropriate song title was?
Clara: "Giving Head to the Man." I think he changed it to "Getting Ahead" or something like that.
Emily: "Giving a Hand to the Man"?
The Untamed Youth, California Street
Clara: The Untamed Youth, because they're youth. And they're untamed.
The Ventures, Play Electric Bass with the Ventures
Howard: It was the first thing I found in [Treehouse,] and I'm super excited about it. I like the Ventures, and I liked them as a kid. I always saw on the backs of these that these kinds of records exist -- these "play with" records. You can't find them anywhere, because by the time I was looking for them, it wasn't even cool to have these old records. I saw a "Play Guitar" one once, and I used to have a Ventures guitar. It was like 28 dollars or 40 dollars or something like that. This record was one dollar, and it wasn't even beat up. I'm super excited.
Here's a video from our visit:
Prissy Clerks play at the Basilica Block Party on Friday, July 6 at 6 p.m. See the entire lineup and schedule here.
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