Climb inside the mile-a-minute mind of rock publicist Frank Nieto, a lovable L.A. transplant who loves Modest Mouse, once wore flannel like a badge of honor, and really gets off on working records.
My job is to get lovely folks like yourself to write about bands that I love. I disburse typo-ridden press releases (means I have passion!), bios. I send CDs, arrange interviews, coordinate TV appearances, get face time with writers, and travel a ton.
How did you get your start in the music (under)world?
A fluffer with a trick jaw. Just kidding. I started out interning in Los Angeles for quite a few record companies, jumped around until I found that right fit. I've done everything from retail promotion, marketing, A&R scout, college radio promotion, club booking/promotion, and now PR. Not all in that order.
How did you find your way to Seattle?
It's rather convoluted but here goes . . .
a. I had a nickname my friend in L.A. gave me, "Seattle-Based Frank." I was a complete romantic for all things Northwest (my favorite bands were Modest Mouse, Nirvana, Mavis Piggot, Spinanes, Hazel). I also used to go to shows in L.A. at a club called Jabberjaw that used to book a ton of Northwest bands. Also, I wore flannel like it was a badge of honor or something—I was kind of like an unrequited grunge/Olywa groupie from afar. Ha. It was almost all I could talk about (hence the cheesy nickname).
b. Back in '96, I had met some kind folks [who invited] me into their home after I was thinking of a change of pace because I wasn't too fond of the life in L.A. They said if you're looking for a change in life, move to Tacoma. Ha ha. So I did. I would travel to Seattle to see shows.
c. After a return to L.A. for a few years, I had met Michiko and Kento of the band IQU, and we hit it off. They asked me to be their publicist and said that I should move to Seattle. I finally made the move here in '99. I haven't looked back since.
What was the first record you ever bought?
Shoot. I actually forgot and I wish I could remember exactly. I think the first piece of music I might have bought for myself was either Duran Duran's Seven and the Ragged Tiger or a 45 of the Bronski Beat's "Small Town Boy." (Try explaining that song to your parents at age 12—AWKWARD!) All other records were bought for me (thanks, Mom!). If you count that, then it was Rick Springfield's Working Class Dog.
Thing that makes you head over heels about your job:
I think it's the excitement the band members have once they find out they've landed a big piece in Rolling Stone or were able to snag a spot on TV. I love knowing that I was able to be a part of that. To quote Vincent from Project Runway, it really "gets me off."
Any PR nightmares you've undergone?
On the record? Um, I'd be like that gay prostitute in Colorado, Mike Jones, exposing Ted Haggard if I answered that. Next question.
Some of the best records you've worked and why:
Well, I've got to do some great stuff. When I did college radio, I got to work PJ Harvey's Rid of Me. I am a huge fan of hers, and at the time, she was like my god. In the PR field, Ming & FS's Hells Kitchen, IQU's Sun Q, USE's United State of Electronica, Of Montreal's Sunlandic Twins, and Grizzly Bear's Yellow House were all records for me that have helped me open doors and lock some pretty great relationships with writers.
One of the most creative pitches you've given:
I once worked for this band called Human Television, and I pitched a "10 Songs as Reasons to Love Human TV." The record was a sleeper at press, and it was one of the early ones I worked on my own. I couldn't get anyone to write about them at the time. Total crickets. All of a sudden, people responded, and they started getting press.
How many/which bands have slept at your place while touring through Seattle?
A few. However, I don't think I can divulge who, because then they might not want to stay here again. Ha ha.
Who's the best houseguest and why?
OK . . . Doug [Martsch, of Built to Spill]. He's an extremely chill houseguest and sometimes brings his dog.
Your top five records to listen to while trying to help with writer's block:
Right now, it's the Knife, Silent Shout; Of Montreal, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?; Peter Bjorn and John, Writer's Block; Lily Allen, Alright Still; Welcome, Sirs.