Brian Foss used to dig around in the dirt looking for slugs and unspent bullets at bluegrass shows, has a soft spot for rock-'n'-roll-playing superheroes, and still wants to know why Dead Moon broke up.
Job title, duties:
Booking agent, night manager, part-time janitor of the Funhouse
How did you first start getting cozy with the seedy underbelly of the music world?
Who sez I'm cozy? I grew up in a household full of music. Everyone in my family played music (Mom played piano, Dad the banjo, my sisters played the flute and guitar), plus my dad was a record collector, so music has always been a part of my life.
I spent the early part of my life in Florida and I went to high school in Alaska in the '80s, and then I lived in places like Cody, Wyo., so I really didn't get to "grow up" around a vibrant music scene until I moved to Seattle in 1988.
It took me a few years to figure things out, and I gotta say, I felt run over by the whole grunge explosion. It was too fucking weird—one night I'd see a band play the Central or the Vogue and maybe I'd have a beer with them. Then the next week they'd be on MTV or something.
I went from knowing nothing about a "local scene" to discovering a ton of cool local bands to being grossed out by how big everything became. So, after getting tired of going to big shows, I started again, going to shows in small dives like the Ditto Tavern and the Lake Union Pub and other dives. In the early/mid-'90s, I started going to punk and garage rock shows, and I found I had a better time.
I tried to run a record label in the mid-'90s, and I put out a couple of 45s; and while it was fun releasing the records, I was horrible at selling them, so I quit. Then some friends of mine and I started up a pirate radio station, and we did benefit shows to raise money, which started me booking shows in 1998 or so. Then I got a job at a club (Gibson's), and now I just can't stop! I like keeping things on a smaller level, which is why I always book at smaller venues.
How did the Funhouse manage to land you?
Before the Funhouse opened, it was called Zak's, and I was the last booking agent for Zak's—until the business owner stopped paying rent and got booted out. When the Funhouse folks took over the space, they asked me to come back. Since then, I bought into the business, and am now a co-owner.
What other jobs led up to this one?
Beyond booking at the Funhouse, Zak's, and Gibsons, I also booked some shows at the Sunset, the Comet, the Monkey Pub, and five or six other joints. I was also a residential counselor for mentally ill adults for 11-plus years, but now I'm working at the Funhouse full time.
What was the first show you ever went to?
The first show I ever bought tickets for was a Kiss concert in 1979. Superheroes who play rock 'n' roll—damn, did I love that band! My dad used to take me to bluegrass festivals when I was a kid, but the main thing I remember about them was they were held at a firing range, and instead of watching the bands, I would dig around behind the target area for slugs and unspent bullets.
What are the top Funhouse shows you've booked?
I will say having Dead Moon play here was a highlight. I also loved having Sky Saxon & the Seeds play. So many people told me Sky Saxon was a complete nut, but while he was peculiar, I really liked the guy!
Beyond spending my free time with my best friend, my wife Cyndi, I am also one of the DJs on KEXPs punk show, Sonic Reducer.
What's your take on the Dead Moon breakup?
At their Funhouse show, Fred Cole told me he really liked the Funhouse and it felt to him like he found a new home in Seattle—I cannot tell you how good those words sounded to me! But geeze, who woulda thought they'd break up???? I never thought it would happen. I thought it was a prank at first. I STILL wanna know the full story!
Top five records to listen to when . . .
I listen to music all the time, and I'm always listening to new stuff, so I don't really have "records to vacuum by" or anything like that. But when I'm pissed off, "Wrong" by Nomeansno is a good way to get the poison out in a positive way. For driving, I love "Roger the Engineer" by the Yardbirds. And for some weird reason, I've been putting on "Nature of the Beast" by April Wine for nights that I'm drunk and I wanna fall asleep.
Any parting words?
The city and state have been going after nightclubs for no good reason. If you want Seattle to keep having a healthy nightlife, please support the Seattle Nightlife and Music Association (SNMA), a new group formed to keep our club scene alive. They are on the Web at www.seattlenma.org.
A weekly peek behind the curtain of the Emerald City music world, Behind the Scene sheds light on folks you won't see onstage, but who make it all happen.