Answers & Advice: Showbiz Ain’t Friend-Biz!

And the merits of the butt-peepage clause.

Nouela‘s debut LP, Chants, is out now. She plays the New York Fashion Academy at 9:30 p.m. Sat., Oct. 6 as part of SW‘s Reverb Local Music Festival.

Dear John: Should I audition for The Voice? —Nouela

Roderick: Is there a voice telling you that you need to audition for it, Nouela? Listen to me, that voice isn’t real. You’re wonderful the way you are, you don’t need to audition for anything! Whatever that voice is saying is just your own insecurities, and that’s really common. But we love you, and you don’t have to prove your worth. Stand up and say, “The Voice, you are a worthless piece of shit and I renounce you!”

I have to stand for 12 hours at a time for a job. The only shoes that don’t hurt my feet are Crocs. But people are so mean to the Crocs. What should I do?

I’d get a pair of wooden shoes from the Netherlands in an extra-large size and then wear my Crocs inside the wooden shoes. People are mean to Crocs because they look like shoes you’d wear to clean out an execution chamber, but wooden shoes are universally acknowledged as the COOLEST and most FAR-OUT shoes in history. People will be tripping so hard that you are wearing wooden shoes, they won’t even notice that your gross Crocs are tucked inside. Plus, it will make you look like you have huge feet, which is something everyone desires.

I recently started practicing guitar for the first time in 10 years. I think tabs are stupid hard. My brain would rather picture me playing on piano, then picture notes on a grand staff, then try to find notes on the guitar. How do I change this?

I think your method is the best. If you translate music through one instrument, then through imagined sheet music, and then into a second instrument, you will inevitably make enough small errors and transpositions that you’ll teach yourself the new instrument in a way unlike anyone else’s way. This is how I taught myself to play the “glass harp,” an instrument made of half-full wine glasses. You’ll be so busy trying to make sense of how your brain sees music you’ll probably end up inventing a whole new style of guitar playing.

My only suggestion is that you add one more format. Like, envision the tabs as MIDI files, then piano parts, then sheet music, then guitar, and pretty soon you’ll be playing like Robert Fripp.

Recently a member of a headlining band I was opening for walked in on me in the bathroom. He saw my butt and everything. What would you have done in this situation?

For every tour I’ve ever done, either as an opener or as a headliner, there’s been a clause in the contract that says the headliner has a right to see the opener’s butt(s). It’s just one of those bits of music-business boilerplate that keeps making it into contracts, even though most people don’t remember it’s there and almost no one ever invokes the clause. It’s a good idea to read every contract thoroughly. Still, I would chalk it up to experience, and consider yourself now a fully initiated member of the Guild of Openers, an organization that admits only artists who have worked their way up in the touring game according to the strict traditions of our profession. When you start doing major headlining tours, you may find that a butt-peepage clause is something you want to retain.


Kato Moody‘s band, Side Saddle, plays the Tractor Tavern at 7 p.m. as part of Reverb.

Dear John: Brooke is in Nashville right now, so I get to ask you whatever I want. What else should I try to get away with while she is gone?—Moody

Kato, I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but every time your songwriting partner leaves the room, you should always assume she is consulting a lawyer to cut you out of the songwriting royalties. Especially if she goes to Nashville. That’s basically all they do in Nashville these days. So as soon as Brooke left, you immediately should have set about changing all the passwords on your shared computers and the settings on all the gear, and then change your percentages on ASCAP or BMI as a defensive precaution. It might be too late now, but remember: It’s not called show-friends, it’s called show business.

Lexi is moving away, and we may be looking for a new harmony singer. Are you available?

What the hell did you guys do to Lexi to make her have to MOVE AWAY? I think you need to all sit down together and have a heart-to-heart, and say, “Lexi, we know you got a good job working at the White House, or met the man of your dreams and he’s a millionaire feminist astronaut, or joined a apocalyptic religious cult, or decided to just get a job somewhere that pays actual money on a regular schedule, or whatever, but you can’t BREAK UP THE BAND!”

I work for the ACLU, but I am in a country band. Can you help me?

You sound like exactly what this country needs. Will you help us?

Old country is cool now, but new country gets a bad rap. Do you know of anywhere around here I can listen to my Brad Paisley CD without getting a mustachioed lecture?

There are plenty of Ballard dopes who will lecture you all day about the brilliance of Bob Seger and John Cougar, but turn around and dis on young country, oblivious to the fact that Brad Paisley is indistinguishable from Bob Cougar Mellensegercamp. Then they’ll wax all philosophical about old-fashioned country music, forgetting that fully half of old country is hokey comedy music designed to make hayseeds spit chewing tobacco through their noses by making racist jokes sound like nursery rhymes.

The lessons here are threefold: First, the more seriously someone takes country music, the more of an idiot they are, unless they’re German and can’t help it; second, Young Country is just Classic Rock with someone singing in a fake Southern accent, which basically describes the Rolling Stones; and third, you can listen to whatever dumb music you like IN YOUR CAR, which is where everyone listens to the dumb music they like.


Brooke Asbury is also a member of Side Saddle.

What started the vintage country/honky-tonk scene in Seattle? When and where did it start, and what bands and/or scenes or groups contributed to it getting popular? —Asbury

Many years ago there were men and women, young folk, who walked the land in cowboy shirts and horn-rimmed glasses, back when you could find those things only at Goodwill. It was a long time ago, and no one knows when they first arrived. They weren’t being ironic—there was nothing ironic about them. They believed in music, American music, and they liked their hair greasy and their beer in cans. They worked on their own motorcycles. The real ones drove Fords. They listened to old-fashioned music and made new music that sounded old-fashioned but as if it was powered by a harsher cut of trucker speed. These folk blurred the line between punk rock and cowboy; they were both and neither. They were The Outsiders.

Then the great fashion drought hit the Americas. All the fashions had been done, so younger kids just started taking fashions from everywhere and glomming them together. Pretty soon all kinds of people were wearing cowboy shirts and horn-rimmed glasses, ones they bought new at American Eagle Outfitters. Very few of them worked on their own motorcycles, and they were all strumming acoustic guitars and making old-fashioned music that sounded like city folk taking turns farting on a banjo. The “lifestyle” went out of it, and pretty soon it was just another style.

Somewhere on the outskirts of Georgetown, a few old stragglers are hanging on, but they can’t hold back the tide. Every third kid on Capitol Hill looks like a sharecropper from Oklahoma now, and none of them would even consider driving a Ford.

Does vinyl really sound better than digital?

Well, try saying the following sentences aloud and tell me which sounds better: “Our new record is only out on vinyl.” “Our new record is only out on digital.” Vinyl sounds better in that context, doesn’t it? Vinyl wins.

Let’s try another: “I’m breaking up with you and taking all your vinyl.” “I’m breaking up with you and taking all your digital.” That second one doesn’t even make sense. Vinyl wins again!

One more: “I’ll be at your house in 10 minutes wearing all vinyl.” “I’ll be at your house in 10 minutes wearing all digital.” Even though the last one makes almost no sense at all, it’s somehow more intriguing. Like, what the hell are they talking about? I think I’d go with “digital” on that one, just to see if they show up dressed all in fingers. I mean, when someone says “I’ll be there in 10 minutes wearing [whatever],” it’s a safe bet they’ve got a halfway decent night planned for you, and even if they’re speaking half gibberish, it’s probably a good idea at least to have them show up so you can look at them through the peephole.

So anyway, to recap: Yes, vinyl almost always sounds better than digital, except in certain instances where you’re just throwing caution to the wind.

What groups or publications are the movers and shakers on the Seattle music scene right now? Who’s got the credibility to be pushing things forward in Seattle and then outside of Seattle?

Brooke, this is the type of question you should never ask anyone, even in jest. As a musician, you want to do everything in your power to avoid ever talking like this in real life. The “business” side of the music business can be accomplished just by being honest and thorough in all your dealings, just as you would in any business, including crime. If someone ever uses the phrase “credibility to be pushing things forward” while discussing an artist, you should spray them with mace and run.

Answers & Advice: Showbiz Ain't Friend-Biz!