Here’s an interview I did with the fanzine Mutiny Zine back in 2008. Check it out below or at their site.
Hey Nate! What’s up?
– Not Much!
I just finished your book “You Idiot” which was absolutely hilarious. How has the response to the book been so far?
– Thanks! Glad you liked it. So far the response has been whelming— not underwhelming, not overwhelming. Just whelming. I have six books left and will be doing a second printing in a couple weeks, and so far people seem to be digging it. Can’t complain!
Sounds like it’s doing really good! How many copies did you make in the first printing?
– 550, i think? Somewhere between 500 and 600. Not a ton; I didn’t want tons of boxes sitting around if it totally flopped.
Are you happy with the way the book came out?
– For the most part. There are a fair amount of typos, and in retrospect i should have cut down some of the articles even further. But, I’ll fix both of those things in later versions I guess. Overall, I think the book looks pretty nice and I think it ended up with a good mix of topics. Hopefully it’s a good book to have on tour, or in the bathroom– good for reading random 2 or 3 page snippets at a time.
Tell me about Arsenic Books, is it a company of your own or how did you get in touch with them?
– I wouldn’t call it a “company” as much as a name I slapped on the book to give it a faint whiff of professionalism and prevent it from being dismissed outright by certain people. I mean, i think “self published” can be taken by some to mean “too crappy to be published by anyone else”, which, granted, is probably completely true a good portion of the time. Anyway, yeah– it’s basically nothing more than a pair of words I decided to put on the book.
The book is made up of a number of issues of your old zines You Idiot and Whiskey Plus. When did you first decide to make a zine of your own?
– My first zine was compiled when i was 13 or 14 years old. It was called “Pearl Jam Must Die”, and it was…. whatever the opposite of “good” is. Oh yeah, “bad”.
Have you always been into writing? How come you decided to start doing zines?
– Yeah, I’ve been writing goofy crap since I was like nine years old or something. It’s fun. I don’t remember why exactly I started doing a zine— probably mostly because I could. Kind of like why that guy climbed Mount Everest. And, in a way, creating the first 20 page issue of Pearl Jam Must Die was a similar triumph for mankind.
For those who haven’t heard of the book or your zines we need to make a few things straight. Neither You Idiot or Whiskey Plus were average music fanzines. How would you describe the content of your zines?
– That’s a tough question. Actually, it’s not really that tough; I’m just lazy at answering this sort of question. Uh…. I guess basically both zines examine and (over?) analyze various dumb things in our world.
I guess my next question is: How the hell do you come up with this stuff? Where do you find all these extremely stupid books and records you write about?
– Some of them I’ve found at random garage sales or stores. Others, i’ve searched out– for example, by browsing through books on Amazon that have one star averages, or searching for phrases like “sketchiest diet”. You have to wade through a lot of crap to get to the good crap.
Do you read “good” books as well or is it the crap that gets your attention? What’s your favorite writer/writers and why?
Oh, hell yeah! I sure hope that no one thinks I spend the majority of my reading time devoted to stuff like Why Knock Rock? and Turmoil in the Toy Box! Some of the authors I like are TC Boyle , Jonathan Lethem, David Sedaris, Michael Lewis, Matt Taibbi, stuff like that. I’ve actually been reading mostly non-fiction lately. But yeah, I definitely read “good” books more than I read “insane” books.
Some of the stuff you write about is so extremely stupid it almost sounds like you’ve made it up. Exactly how stupid are people nowadays?
– Hmm, it’s kind of hard to answer that, since there are so many different people in the world. It’s kind of like asking “Exactly how depressing are armadillos nowadays?” I mean, I can’t say for sure. It depends on the person/armadillo. That said, there are a lot of really fucking stupid people nowadays. I have nothing against people as a whole, mind you.
At times when I read your book I got the feeling that you’re pretty much bored to death. I mean, I would have to be pretty damn bored to go out and look for stupid stuff like this.
– Actually, I’m not really that bored. I dunno, I suppose writing this stuff amuses me, but I didn’t start doing it out of boredom.
One of my favorite parts in the book is when you give virtual reality a shot. I literally laughed my ass off when I read it. Can you give a brief description of that experience for those who haven’t read it yet?
– Sorry about your ass! Briefly, I heard about this ‘virtual’ world on the internet called Second Life where people create avatars, spend real money, and then do crazily inane things like shop at malls, dance on dance floors, and so on. I gave it a shot and got kicked out of a country bar, banned from a strip club, set on fire, etc. It’s more amusing with the visuals of these things happening.
Have you been playing any on-line games since you did that test? Maybe it’s time to give it another try?
– I actually haven’t! You’re right, I should find a new one and give it a shot.
There’s also a really funny part in the book where you review records that you’ve actually haven’t listened to. Tell me a little bit about that. Did you give the records a listen after your reviews or are they still unplayed?
– I go over it in more detail in the book but basically: I let my friend borrow my record collection, he sold said record collection for cigarettes and beer, I no longer had a use for my record player so I got rid of it, people started sending my vinyl to review for my music zine. So, at that point I felt I had an obligation to review their works, but did not feel that this obligation extended to purchasing a record player with which to actually hear them. So, I gave it my best shot by looking at the cover art and skimming through the lyrics and stuff. I still don’t have a record player, so nope– still haven’t heard them!
How come you decided to put your old zines together in a book?
– Doing a zine fucking sucks. I mean, writing one is fine, but i hate the whole stapling/collating part. With a book, boom, you’re good to go.
MUTINYZINE is a strictly online thing but I can imagine doing a paper zine is a lot of work for sure. But even though you already had all the text done for this book wasn’t it a lot of work to put it all together?
– Sure, it was actually quite a bit of work to write and assemble it. But unlike with a zine, it’s a one time thing— there’s no copying, stapling, collating, etc.
What do you think of “zine-scene” nowadays? Do you have any favorite zines that you read?
– Gotta be honest, nowadays I really don’t read any zines or pay attention to the whole zinester culture and what not. The only zines I still read are ones from ‘back in the day’ like Cometbus and Burn Collector and so on.
How about online-zines? What’s your opinion on that?
– I guess I don’t really think of them as “e-zines” or “online zines” or whatever…. to me things on the web are just websites or blogs or whatever. Either they’re good and worth reading, or bad and not, is how I look at it. So I guess I have a pretty mundane opinion on online-zines.
A little bird whispered in my ear that there might be a scond book coming out. Is there any truth to that? It would be awesome.
– Yeah, i’m working on a couple different books right now– might be awhile since i’m busy with music stuff right now, but hopefully i’ll have a second one out soon!
Sounds great, are you willing to give away any details on that? What kind of book is it gonna be?
– Well, the first one is sort of based on the stories that were in Pick Your Poison, the other zine I used to do. It was more of a “personal zine” for lack of a better term and it was just various stories from my childhood and adulthood as opposed to the articles/research slant of You Idiot. As first I was just going to do a straight reprint of the old zines, but I went back and read them and realized a lot of the writing is garbage and some of the stories don’t hold up well. So I’m going to condense and re-write it all.
After that I’ll probably do a book full of work stories. I have some other ideas I’m kicking around too.
Apart from writing your playing some music. I know you’re in Off With Their Heads and Banner Pilot. Any more bands?
– Yeah, i’m in two other bands right now– The Gateway District and The Pyongyang Metro. I’m not in Off With Their Heads anymore, though. So, just three bands. That’s a nice round number. Actually, it’s not. Shit.
So, you left OWTH? That band has quite a history in changing the line-up I’ve heard. How come you left?
– Yeah, OWTH has probably had something like twenty members by now. I left just cuz they tour 11 months out of the year or something ridiculous and I can’t pull that off.
Do you have any musical updates you’d like to share?
– Sure– The Gateway District has an album coming out this May, and Banner Pilot is heading in the studio to record a new full length next month. Should be fun!
Resignation Day has been getting some awesome response from what I’ve heard. How do you think the new Banner Pilot record will sound?
– I think it’ll sound a lot better production-wise and there’ll be more variety to the tunes. Usually when a band says that it’s a bad sign, but i’m not talking about anything drastic here. I think it’ll be a lot better than Resignation Day, but we’ll see! Definitely excited to get back in the studio.
Ok, that’s it. Thanks for answering Nate and good luck with your bands and the writing!
– No problem, thanks for the questions!