March 14, 2005

John Vanderslice Talks to *Sixeyes

John Vanderslice is now finishing up recording his latest offering of lovingly and painstakingly crafted songs in his award winning San Francisco analog studio, Tiny Telephone--surely more of his great narratives set to music that he feels is right. I get the impression that he goes by what feels right, not what sounds best--that, to me, would result in sterility and 'dead in the water' music. Dead in the water... sounds like a Vanderslice song title to me and he's welcome to it. Anyway, no, I am sure he goes by his gut feeling. And that might explain the term adopted, adapted, or assumed by Vanderslice to describe his recordings... 'sloppy hi-fi'. Vanderslice and his long time engineer, Scott Solter (Solter being one of a premiere stable of engineers who work at Tiny Telephone), are no doubt skilled enough of 'studio knob twirling' and of ear to produce aural sensations that could make the hairs on the back of your neck dance. That term sloppy is without question referring to the gut feeling again, going with what feels right, even if it isn't perfect. Using that bit with the mistake in it because it feels good.

To return to the subject of his upcoming release: It will be his fifth solo album since bringing his critically acclaimed band MKUltra to an end; the as of yet untitled disc is slated for an August 23rd release on Barsuk... here's the track listing:

1 dear sarah shu / 2 plymouth rock / 3 farewell transmission
4 high and low / 5 pixel revolt / 6 trance manual
7 new zealand pines / 8 radiant with terror / 9 continuation
10 dead rabbit / 11 the kingdom / 12 exodus damage
13 dead slate pacific pt 1 / 14 dead slate pacific pt 2 /15 crc7173, affectionately

John is a very kind and giving fellow and he took some time out to answer some stunningly short questions I posed. Here's what he said:

Black and white or color?
oh that is such a tough one. when I shoot film I alternate between the two, 36 exposures at a time. there are limitations to both. and beauty in both.

Potato chips or french fries?

french fries. with real mayo, dutch style.

Digital or analog?
analog. a big part of my life has been keeping these old tape decks running. I have owned countless multitracks, mostly ampex. nothing sounds as good.
+ me and my 424 [mp3]

David Lynch or Tarantino?
how about both? kill bill vol 2 is a flat out masterpiece. lynch is a true artist who is always capable of making a great movie.

Strings: steel or bronze?
a like bronze d'aquisto 11s.

Yes or no?
+ they won't let me run [mp3]

Dogs or cats?
I grew up a cat fanatic. but have recently come to understand why people love dogs. it took me a while.

Spring or summer or winter or fall?
fall in san francisco is perfect.

Headphones or speakers? definitely headphones. grado 120s. or etymotics with my ipod.
+ speed lab [mp3]

Beer or wine? I like red wine. zinfandel or sangiovese or burgundy. or anything good, I was a waiter for 8 years and did time at chez panisse in berkeley so I am a little spoiled.

East coast or west? I'm a west coast rider. just like the game says. I grew up on the east coast (maryland and florida). but I am addicted to northern california.

Surfing or skateboarding?
neither. I'm a wuss when it comes to stuff like that.

Painting or photography?
I love photography. sometimes I think touring is a cover to shoot photos.
+ my old flame [mp3]

vhs is a pathetic format. see I am not a total partisan analog person. dvd is the shit. hopefully encoded by someone smart like criterion. but DV sucks bad. I am a cinemascope kind of guy.

Thanks John!

Visit John's site for a generous offering of mp3s.


  1. Anonymous12:10:00 PM

    Actually, his new one will be his fifth solo record since MK Ultra:

    Mass Suicide Occult Figurines
    Time Travel is Lonely
    Life and Death of an American Fourtracker
    Cellar Door

    (Not counting MGM Endings, the remix record)

  2. Anonymous9:24:00 AM

    I <3 John Vanderslice. His mom came to his last show at the Black Cat in DC and all the staff knew her.