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An interview with Tubers

by alex deller. i interviewed 12 hour turn quite some time ago. here alex catches up with tubers. quite some time ago.

Another oldie. This one was pieced together sometime after that first awesome Tubers LP but before the second one. At least they’re still having at it…

Let’s put this in simple terms: Tubers are fucking great. A splendidly fluff-free punk rock act just kicking back and playing the kind of songs you’d kill to have written yourself. Bastards. Jeff and Rich were kind enough to answer a few of my questions via email, and for that I’m extremely grateful.

Collective: Hey there, Tubers. Herein you will kindly do the “standard” punk zine thing and tell us all just who you are and what you do. Unless, of course, you have any better suggestions for starting the interview?

Jeff: I’d say this is a fine way to start an interview. My interpretation is that we are three buds that like to play the rock-and-roll together. We all do many other things, however. I tend to serve food to people at a fancy restaurant in a fancy hotel, go to school, surf or kite-surf when I can (which is not often enough), and play the kicker in my living room. I also try to grow vegetables.

Rich: I’m a teacher for trainable mentally handicapped in the public school system of St Augustine, Bakery Outlet labeler, Tubers, Solid Pony and Verde bands, runner, gardener, perpetually learning “surfer.”

Collective: So, how was the (now not-so-recent) European tour? Any harrowing tales of woe or entertaining hi-jinx? Was it odd to be playing something like Trashfest with bands and in front of crowds who might not necessarily be kindred spirits musically? What / who are you particularly looking forward to on this year’s bill?

Jeff: The not-so-recent European tour was one of the most satisfying experiences of my life, and luckily not too heavy on the woe. Lenny head-butted me over a game of kicker. I almost did not get in to England because the officers did not like my ‘story,’ nor my lack of plane ticket back home, which resulted in a missed show in Brighton. Our big van breakdown occurred on our drive to London, resulting in interesting night sleeping five inside the van in a weird industrial part of some weird city, as well as a missed show and a quite misplaced 400 pounds (about 750 dollars for us). Lenny and I also got dick-milched right in the strasse, as Rich put it. Hi-jinx? Well, I’m pretty sure we played with Keanu Reeves’ band in Newcastle.

Rich: Europe was fantastic. I had been telling my bandmates how great it was to be there with my previous band 12 Hour Turn and Ingo (of The Company With the Golden Arm) who arranged tour. Ingo offered to set up a tour for Tubers / Solid Pony and it turned out to be all I remembered. How we would ideally like to tour DIY in a mostly organized fashion, meeting lovely people and seeing beautiful places. Receiving acts of generosity like meals and places to sleep and inspiring us to do the same at home. 12 Hour Turn played Trashfest and it was chaotic as was this time around… We were unfamiliar with it otherwise but had a great time and look forward to it this time also.

Collective: As I understand it at least one of you guys had already been over to Europe with other bands. What did you learn from your previous experiences, and did this familiarity help ease your passage? What do you like best about playing over here as opposed to playing gigs in the States?

Jeff: It was actually everyone except for Rich’s first time touring in Europe, though a couple of us had been over there before just to travel around. As to the second question, I can pretty well answer with a resounding “everything.” Show-goers and promoters are hospitable, enthusiastic, attentive, and just generally excited. Breakfast and dinner were the norm and not just the exception, as it usually works the other way around here. Delicious and nutritious to boot. It made me feel (whether it was true or not) that we were genuinely appreciated, musically and otherwise. That’s a nice feeling.

Rich: What I learned was that Ingo, our driver, their friends and the venues etc. really take care of us. It’s unreal how much generosity there is.

Collective: I think you may have explained this self-same issue at some of the UK shows, but as you weren’t able to make the London gig I couldn’t get to hear the tale for myself. Could shed some light on why you decided to call yourself “Tubers”?

Jeff: Our name was actually a difficult process – we all had other ideas but nothing that jumped out enough at all of us to the extent that we could agree on it. I put Tubers on the table, and it was actually a sort of settling, though of course now we are all very happy about it. The three main Tubers interpretations we encourage and usually explain include Tubers as rooted vegetables (potatoes, carrots, ginger, and the like); Tubers as those who float down rivers on inflatable inner-tubes, which we very much enjoy; and Tubers as those who get tubed in the ocean while they are surfing, otherwise known as getting “barrelled” or “shacked,” which is one of the heights of the surfing experience.

Collective: The LP has this really great sound to it that I just can’t stop harping on about. It seems really spacious and “booming” – was this a particular sound you were gunning for, or merely a happy coincidence? How was it achieved? This all kinda ties in with what I take to be a homespun and communal feel to the record – I don’t know if I’m being way off the mark here, but hey…

Jeff: I am the worst person to talk to about sound and the most aloof during the recording process. As far as the sound on that record, however, I guess I’d attribute it to Rob McGregor’s knowledge and expertise, as well as Rich’s meticulous and perfectionist nature. Rob has been recording bands in Gainesville for decades, including some of my favourite bands and records of all time.

Rich: It’s a sound I think we all like, but we just went to Rob McGregor since we’d all worked with him in the past and that is what came out without very much suggestion about it. Rob just did an amazing job with it and he’s always getting better and better. We’re all stoked on how it came out.

Collective: Some of your songs sound like they’re really aimed at specific individuals (e.g. the line “I’ve seen you age enough to know where I don’t want to be”) and the shadow of alcoholism looms over much of the album. At certain points it really seems like you’re letting all and sundry read your private mail. Was this not awkward for you at all?

Jeff: Rich wrote the lyrics for all but two songs on that record, so I must give recourse to however he answers the question.

Rich: Some of the lyrics are pretty vulnerable. I write songs at home where I don’t think about sharing them with anyone, so when they’re done there is no hiding. It’s nice this way I think, though sometimes maybe they’re melodramatic. Lyrics for me always start with a specific subject but hopefully can translate to more general terms. And yes, alcohol is something to cope with for me – you can’t escape its presence. It’s part of a destructive lifestyle our culture participates in with addictive fervor, but I can’t condemn it. Although I seldom do it anymore, I’ve definitely had some great times with it, and also taken some years off my life because of the trouble I’ve caused. I love many people who love the bottle.

Collective: There seem to have been a nice little crop of simpler, rootsier (for want of a better word…) bands popping up over the last few years (like, say, Reactionary 3 (RIP…), Tiny Hawks, Sinaloa…) playing a swell, no-nonsense brand of emoish punk rock, and I guess it’s convenient to bracket you guys in with them. Was there anything you wanted to sidestep, avoid or specifically achieve with Tubers? What were you initially aiming for with the band sound-wise? Are there any up-and-coming bands you’d like to recommend who follow a similar blueprint?

Jeff: I’m with you on the appreciation of the no-nonsense, simpler brand of punk rock, what with all the over-production and pretentiousness (both in sound and on-stage) that tends to abound these days. I’ll actually take it as quite a compliment to be bracketed with some of those bands. Not to drift, but I’d like to just say that my favourite bands have always been the bands my friends are in – or, at the very least, bands that you can go see without a stage and have real conversations with afterwards. Twelve Hour Turn (Rich’s old band) is actually still one of my favourites. I think if I just had to listen to bands from Richmond, Virginia and Gainesville for the rest of my life I’d be just fine. True North (and everything else those guys have been or are involved in) will always stand out, as will Stop It! and their new creations, like Brainworms and Pink Razors. I must also recommend Jacob’s other band, Environmental Youth Crunch, who will be touring with us the first two weeks when we return to Europe. Also, pretty much everything Rich puts out on Bakery Outlet will be most radical – I can guarantee that.

Rich: We didn’t have any specific agenda with Tubers – just to write what comes to us as a band. So far I think we’re all very happy with what comes out and I’d perhaps feel uncomfortable if we did aim for something else.
Bands. . .. hmmm. .. .well I’d have to say Bakery bands past releases and future (future = R3, Matty Pop Chart, Emperor X, Environmental Youth Crunch, Alligator [I hope], Twelve Hour Turn…) I’m elated that all these great people have wanted to work with me. They truly are my favourite recent / recently-deceased bands, along with other friends’ bands as Jeff has mentioned.

Collective: What’s on the horizon for Tubers? The LP seemed to arrive out of nowhere and it’s all been rather quiet since. Any new releases planned?

Jeff: We finally got our act together again and recorded a new album just a couple of months ago, and we should have copies of the CD when we come over. We did indeed have a lull, owing in part to separation but also a slight creative slump. I guess with all the other things going on in our lives – be it other bands, work or school – we tend not to be a “full-time” band. Although I believe we would love that, I don’t see it happening any time in the near future. Oh yeah, let’s go ahead and say we’re shooting for an Australia tour / surf trip summer 2008.

Rich: Well, we return to Europe in June / July, though unfortunately no UK this time around. Lenny (Solid Pony and Bakery Outlet partner) built a studio in his house a short time ago, and we recently finished recording the new Tubers album there, so the CD should be ready for tour. Bakery Outlet / The Company With the Golden Arm will release it. There’s also talk of a split something or other with Brainworms from Richmond, VA.

Collective: Anything else you’d like to add, say or recommend?

Jeff: Thank you very much for your interest. When I read interviews, the last thing I want to be is bored, so hopefully we’re not boring. I also recommend reading books and going outside as much as possible. That’s about it.

Rich: Thanks!