Tagged: interview

12. Jon McNeill

Image of Jon McNeil

Jon McNeill is an ethnodocumentary filmmaker, and applied anthropologist, founder and researcher with Hunter Qualitative… and a father. Fascinating guy.

Show Notes

Recorded Monday, May 6th, 2013, and this is episode number 12. Follow Ray, Kandace, Dan, or Needmore on Twitter. Please rate our show on iTunes!

The Interview

Ray:
Hi Jon.
Jon:
Hi.
How are you today?
I’m doing great. Thanks for asking.
Thanks for coming down for the show.
My pleasure. I was thrilled to get the invite. I’m walking where Hutch Harris has walked before.
That’s right.
It’s a unified company.
Yeah. Big shoes to fill.
Yeah. I’m just a lowly qualitative researcher.
Well, it takes all kinds. So let’s start from the beginning. Where are you from?
If we’re starting from the beginning I grew up in Tacoma, Washington which while I was there was the number one per capita for murders in the nation. I had nothing to do with that.
You were too young.
But now it’s not that anymore. I don’t know who has that title but they are quite into meth. So I left Tacoma, went to school down in Salem, Oregon and then after that migrated to Portland and I’ve been here pretty much ever since.
Okay. So you’re a Northwest guy.
I am a Northwest guy and the more I travel the more I’m just excited to come back to Portland. It’s a really special city.
I think we should insert a little snippet of song there. So what got you into anthropology in the first place?
Well, in high school I thought I was going to be a psychologist. I was really into dreams and I was like, “Oh, it would be a cool job if you could just analyze people’s dreams all day.” Then I started finding out more about what psychologists do and I was standing in line at a McDonald’s for breakfast one Saturday morning and I was looking around at all the other people also standing in line with me. It was a Saturday morning so we’re all kind of schlubby and some people aren’t even wearing shoes I think. Now, I’m looking at these people and thinking, “I don’t know that I want to listen to their problems.” I have my own problems and maybe that’s, you know. So I realized at that moment may be psychology, being a clinical psychologist is not for me.

So then I went to college and I wasn’t too into hard sciences because it felt like I was doing so much learning of what other people had already learned. You do a problem in your Calculus book and someone’s already done that problem, he created the problem. It’s not new territory. What I loved about cultural anthropology was immediately it was like a wide open field. It felt like I could go out and do my own research, come up with my own conclusions, and use my point of view to discover things about our culture and other cultures and that was really exciting to me. That’s what’s set me on this path.

I do that today in my job. I basically—anthropology at its core is, I would say, looking at what people create and then trying to understand people from what they create, culture mostly. I’m a visual anthropologist so I deal more specifically with art and products, photography, paintings, physical design and looking at those things to figure out who people are, who created them, who’s using them. How do they impact our perception of the world and the environments we live in? I get paid to do that which is fascinating. So whether I’m working on a study for a client about different types of carpet or the political discourse in America since the internet it seems like no matter what I’m always diving into these really deep human truths about what makes us who we are and I find that endlessly fascinating.

You went into college knowing you were going to do that?
I didn’t. My first anthropology class was just an elective and I wound up loving it. I actually started out as a music major just because I heard that if you majored in music you got free lessons so I thought, “Great, until I know what I’m going to do I’ll just major in music, get some free music lessons, and then I’ll figure out what I’m going to do after taking some different classes.” I pretty quickly switched over to cultural anthropology.
Okay. After graduation did you go right into doing your own thing or did you have other work?
I met a person, another applied anthropologist Genevieve Bell who is also in Portland. She works over at Intel. She spoke at one of my classes as a senior and she said, “If anyone’s interested in an internship over the summer get in touch with me.” I did and they didn’t have space at Intel at that moment but she knew someone at a place called Fiori which was a product design and development firm in Portland. So I got an internship there. I was actually starting working there before I graduated. Actually, the day of graduation I graduated, threw my cap up in the air and then got on a plane for St. Louis and started immediately and I’ve been doing it ever since.
I’m surprised to hear that Intel has anthropologists. I never would have guessed that.
Yeah, they have I think one of the more respected groups of anthropologists and psychologists all doing a lot of proprietary research all over the globe about Intel’s products and up and coming technologies and that sort of thing.
Okay. As you probably know, my lovely and talented wife studied anthropology as well and I always pictured it as something that was—I had never really thought of it as having a purpose in corporate life but it seems like you definitely have found that sort of niche. Can you speak to that?
Well, it’s not just you.
Fair enough.
I think the first day in class my professor handed out a sheet that said, “Careers in Anthropology” and like what you can do with an anthropology degree.
Right.
I think the students were supposed to go home and show that to their parents and say, “You’re not wasting your money on this. I can become a Peace Corp. person.”
Right. Right.
So I didn’t know what I was going to do. I just was fascinated by it and I think when you’re that age you choose major early sideshows and majors based on what I was fascinated by not on what I necessarily though I was going to be able to do with it. I figure—I don’t know. Things you can do with an anthropology degree like wait tables or–
What is on the list or was it–
Work at the post office. No, these weren’t on the list. These were just what I was thinking.
It was a serious list.
Yeah. Actually, I thought I’ll study anthropology and I minored in film and I’ll go to film school. I really wanted to direct that was kind of my plan. My dad was actually relieved to hear that I wanted to do film instead of anthropology that’s how bad anthropology is, right?
Wow. Yeah.
No, I totally stumbled into this career and there is actually and about.com article a couple of years ago about the ten weirdest jobs or oddest jobs and my job, ethnographer, was right below guy who picks up gum off the sidewalk. I’m in rarefied company.
So ethnographer, what does that mean?
Well it can mean a couple of different things depending on what degree you have whether you’re in academia or outside. Basically, ethnography is writing about a culture. An anthropologist traditionally, will go off to New Guinea and spend some time there with the cultured air, with a local tribe and then come out of it with a bunch of field notes and then over the years he or she will put those together into an ethnography.

Well, in the business world it became really cool to have an anthropologist do your research a few years ago. So they call basically any type of in-person, one-on-one research outside of a focus group facility ethnography and that’s always been something that I’ve kind of fought against because I have more traditional understanding of what that means. An ethnographer, calling myself an ethnographer, basically means that I go around and just try to spend time with people and understand how they live where they live through participant observation. Just hanging out with them, watching them do what they do and then piping in questions here and there and then also more contextual researcher where I’m interviewing them at length just where they live rather than saying come meet me in this address, in this sort of stark room and talk to me with six or seven of yours peers.
I do do focus groups and other types of research as well but really the bread and butter of Hunter is more ethnographic research with a documentary film element.

Okay. St. Louis. You go there, you’re working for Fiori, is that right?
Working for Fiori, trying to research video phones. This was 2003. We were working for a client that–
It sounds so quaint now.
Right? Working for a client who was going to put out the first video phone. So we had sent these prototypes out to different people across the country to get their sense of what they like, what they didn’t like. One was kind of a webcam deal, one was actually connected to a physical phone with a touchpad and then one you hooked up to your TV and kind of used your TV to communicate. More or less, all of those are in refined sort of versions today but back then this was a big deal.
Is it almost like a form of market research? Is that–
Yeah. I do research on a brand, say a brand comes to me and says we want to understand what people think about us. Or what people like about us or don’t like about us or I can do research on maybe a piece of advertising or a product. Getting peoples’ opinions on those and trying to figure out what needs to change or be improved so you really work the hardest or more people focused doing some type of segmentation research, trying to understand. Nike says we have a lot of these hiking shoes or running shoes that are being sold but we know that there are different types of runners. Help us try to understand the different types of people out there.

There’s a wide range. For instance, last year I did a study for a company called Break Media. They own break.com and a couple of other websites directed toward men. Basically if you’re a guy and online these are kind of the websites that you want to go to because they’re about stuff that you care about. So they wanted to understand what it’s like to be a guy today and try to look at some trends of what’s going to be happening in the near future for guys so that they can kind of be the experts of what it’s like to be a man.

We went around the country to New York and Portland and Kansas City and spoke with teenagers all the way up to people in their 50s or so and trying to understand what do guys think about, what it’s like to live in America right now and be a man, what are the pressures that they’re dealing with, what are the things that they care about, who are they trying to be are they trying to emulate previous generations, are they trying to forge their own paths, and through that we kind of got a sense of what the major trends for men are right now.

Hunter Qualitative. How did that come about?
I was working at a larger research shop in LA when I was living down there for a couple of years. in 2010 I decided it was time for something different and I wanted more control over my schedule and I wanted more control over the types of jobs that I did and kind of do research the way that I thought it should be done. So I started Hunter. It was just myself for a while and then I brought on a friend of mine. He became a partner in the business and more of the creative director and between the two of us we organize and do most everything in the company, all the studies and video work.
In preparation for our conversation I was watching the videos in the [inaudible 0:13:47].
Thank you.
What is it about that that makes Hunter so unique in your approach?
Sure. It’s funny because it did combine those two things that I was interested in all the way back in high school and college. I think that since I started doing this work I was always trying to push the boundaries a bit of how video could help people understand the “consumers” or the “users’ of their product or the people that are buying their product or liking their brand. It’s one thing to deliver a PowerPoint presentation or a Word doc report. They often get digested and then put off to the side or set somewhere on the desk or forgotten completely but a video and taking inspiration from old ethnographic documentaries that I studied in college.

A video is so much more powerful in a lot of ways because it can really bring the person and the brand closer together and help them understand each other better I think. It’s kind of always my goal to push that further. With Hunter we’ve been able to really have complete creative control with that and do a lot of things that I think before had been seen as that won’t work in market research, that won’t work with what we’re trying to do because it would be off-putting to the person you’re interviewing or the cost-benefit ratio isn’t quite right or whatever but I think Hunter has sort of been a test case for showing how useful it can be.

We have clients that use our videos still for training purposes. New people come on board and they say watch this, this gives you a really good sense of who our customer is, or they’ll use it for sales. They’ll go out and say this is some of the research we did and here’s this really compelling documentary put together based on the research and what we found out. It has a longer lifespan I think and it’s more engaging than just photos or words on a page.

Yeah. I’m trying to even picture a busy executive wanting to read a study like that but looking at the videos that makes total sense. I can see how anyone can immediately relate to that and feel a much greater, much greater connection to the subject, the people in the video especially since they are people. This seems like such an obvious and genius idea I assume it’s something that others have done. You sort of referenced something like that. Is this as old as film itself, this concept of doing ethnographic research?
Yeah, I think so. One of the first films was called Nanook. King of the North I think is the subtitle and it’s about this Eskimo. It’s black and white, silent film, and it’s a documentary. I think it’s one of the first—I think the first films were documentaries. They were just the people who created the technology going around and filming their families and friends, two people kissing, or whatever, the baby playing outside in the backyard. But Nanook was the first, I guess feature length documentary or one of the most famous first ones. I think that it has been with film as long as film has been around. I think if you get into the real nerdy academic cultural anthropology setting there are a few luminaries of ethnographic film within that too who have spent lots of time with different, various African tribes or places in East Asia and have tried to create films that do a really good job of I guess getting as far away from “The Gods Must Be Crazy” as possible. It kind of helps you understand who this culture is.
Is that the one with the Coke bottle?
Yeah, that was the one with the Coke bottle.
Yeah, okay. I remember that.
Not that. Right?
Right.
Something that sort of brings them closer, makes them seem less weird I suppose.
Right.
Does so in a way that doesn’t marginalize the culture or sensationalize things.
Is there a particularly good recent excellent example that you can think of in a good way? I feel like a saw there was BBC series that was—it wasn’t “Earth” but it was one about studying different—what about the babies? Did you ever see that?
I wanted to. No, I haven’t caught that one yet. Possibly. I believe his last name is Regio. He does the [inaudible 0:19:00] these really gorgeous two to three hour film that are mostly wordless I think just with a soundtrack and it’s time lapses, it’s slow motion and the shots are from all over the world. Those are really gorgeous examples, I guess, of something similar, trying to portray something without necessarily a strong Western point of view.
Okay.
Of course what we do often is more reflexive than that. We’re looking at American culture because traditionally cultural anthropologists go elsewhere and look at other cultures. I always thought it was interesting to look at our own culture and instead of trying to make other cultures look more familiar try to make ours look more strange that’s kind of what we try to do with the film too. Step outside of ourselves a little bit and capture what’s going on without necessarily putting our own familiarity with Western culture into it because I think sometimes you can find some interesting things that you just would take for granted until you actually pay closer attention to them.
I was given a question by someone else in the studio. Do you consider Carlos Castaneda to be an anthropologist?
Are people typing in things right now?
No. This was earlier today.
Oh, this was earlier.
Yeah, yeah.
Sure. I think coming from a world where frequently they try to restrict whogets in the club. I feel that that’s a term that can be much more openly used. I don’t think you have to jump through certain hoops or see things a certain way. One of my favorite anthropologists is a guy named Marvin Harris who is really a lot of things that post-modern anthropologist, people in the 1970s and later hate about traditional anthropologist. He’s a guy that often sits on his armchair or in his armchair, I guess, and writes books about–there’s this great one called Why Nothing Works and he comes up with this huge theory for America, post-World War II, and why things aren’t as good as they used to be. He just comes across like a homogeneal man, but …
I really like the guy.
Yeah. Oh, it’s a great book.
It sounds awesome.
It’s really well written and that’s something that a lot of technographies lack. It’s being well written. I think that that term can be broader. I’m so sure. Bring him into the fold too. He’s welcome here.
Okay. What do you mean? To the clubhouse? Where does the name Hunter come from?
I wish I remembered. The first study that I did was with a client, a friend of mine, and we were going back and forth joking about this picture, I think, of a dog who was wearing a sheriff’s badge. It looked like one of those–like Sears portraits. Some guy who might have been a cop took his German shepherd to Sears, brought him in front of the camera and took his portrait. Somehow, we came across it on the Internet. I think he was like “that should be your logo for new company.” I think we just decided that a great name for this dog would be Hunter. That’s how it originally happened, but what I like to tell people now is Hunter calls back to cultural anthropology in terms of the hunter-gatherer roots of the discipline. What I’m actually doing is hunting after solutions to client problems, but it actually started just completely randomly.
I’m letting you behind the curtain. You’re good. You’ve got me completely open up. I think it’s this matte.
Yeah. You got to think that’s lower. Why? You’re going to–I think you’ll be able to drive. Do you have like an ideal client or like a dream client that you would love to work with, or like a dream project?
I feel like I’ve done a couple of things who have become dream projects for me. I don’t know if there is one right now that I fantasize about, but, certainly, I’m looking to work with more local Portland companies. I think there are some really great ones here in town and I’d love to partner with more of them. A lot of my clients come from other places in the country. There’s something cool about working with a local company that excites me.

I’m always trying to expand my reach locally. But the study that I referenced earlier about understanding the political discourse in America and how the Internet has impacted that, that was a dream project for me. Because we actually we got to go around the country and talk to Republicans and Democrats. We talked to mayors of small towns. We talked to people who sat on commerce boards for their communities. We talked to people in DC who were staffers and the Congress people, and all with the question of–this was during the primaries for the 2008 election.

We were trying to understand what’s changing now that there is all this additional access to information and it was this amazing time in America where people really felt so optimistic about where politics could go because of the Internet. One guy in the San Fernando Valley who–we met this group of older Republicans down in the valley and one of them was ex-astronaut, and we met at his house. All of these astronaut like NASA paraphernalia around. He said, “It’s like the Gutenberg bible.” Before the Gutenberg bible, Catholicism or priests handed down knowledge to people and said, ‘This is what you believe and that was the only source.’” But after the Gutenberg press came along, people could go find out those answers themselves. He said, “It’s like that now with the Internet and politics where before we had to turn our TVs and trust some guy in New York to tell us what’s important, now we can go ourselves and figure out what do I agree with, what do I disagree with, and the possibilities are so much more open to get the real truth out of it.

These people are just so excited about this. In Des Moines, we brought two small groups of people into the same room. One, a local Liberal group and one, a local Conservative group. We set the Conservatives on the right and the Liberals on the left and we are ready for this to hash it out. Whose party is doing a better job of harnessing the Internet? They wound up agreeing on almost everything, just that the politicians didn’t get it yet and that they were using it in a way and wishing that the parties would catch up. They all went out for drinks after that.

It was like this really cool time in American history that it was really exciting to talk to people about. The whole study culminated in this big presentation in D.C. and Karl Rove spoke at it and totally ignored me at the after party, even though I did the research. But it was just lots of fun and then I re-did the thing in 2010 and everything would change. People got totally cynical and we’re back just talking to the ruts again, and here we are today. There is that great time where a lot of exciting things were happening so it was a dream study.

In your bio on your website–and may I say, that is a lovely website. It says that …
I like it a lot too.
Good, good.
I’ll pass that along to the designers.
Just put that in the comment box. It says every study eventually gets down to explaining the same basic human truths. It sounds like we’re already touching on that, what are some basic human truths that you have explored or seen in the research you’ve been doing with Hunter?
Sure. One is in the nature of performance in everyday life like how much of what we wear or surround ourselves with is directed outward versus inward. Can we really separate that? It’s a deep thing to think about and it comes up in the middle of study about window cleaner or whatever. It’s surprising how these things show up.

What’s another example? Something like how you decide what’s most important to you in your life. When we did this study with men last year, we put a bunch of different qualities down on these 3×5 cards and some of them are more traditionally male like strong or good and bad, and some were less traditionally male like eco-conscious or good in the kitchen, or sensitive or whatever. We gave them all to each guy and said, “Score three of these and tell us which ones you feel are most important to you or you most want to describe yourself as.” Consistently, time and time again, it came up where people, guys in particular, wanted to be described as good hearted and well rounded, and a friend to many and a good father. These things that, I think, define men very differently from previous generations.

Ostensibly, this is a study that will be used to help sell advertising on a website but we’re talking to these guys about really personal stuff and having them really talk and think about what is important to me and how do I want to live my life, and that thing. We’ve had interviews where people say like, “That really felt like a therapy session.”

That’s funny. They started out talking–yeah, that you’d get so deep with …
Yeah that you just start at a very simple level, not knowing these people at all, and then after two or three hours you know intimate things about them. It’s so open and it’s such a privilege that we’re able to do that.
It makes you sound like a psychologist or you’re just probably a little of that too.
Yeah. I think there is some of that in it, but it’s a special thing where you–it’s I guess like a blind date each day that you meet somebody new and at the end of it, you have this really great understanding for them. I think it teaches you something about yourself too. I think at the end of every study, my point of view slightly shifts. When I was doing a lot of product research, I wanted whatever product I was studying no matter what. It was like oh, just having people talk about the products so passionately. It’s like yes, absolutely. I totally agree with that now.

I do want a truck just so I can put a cover on the bed of it. But now, talking to people more about concepts like politics or personality, and that thing, I think it still shifts your point of view on how you see the world. So that’s fun.

Now, you’re a total conservative or?
No.
Maybe not that …
No. That was one of the difficult things about that study. It’s biting your tongue at certain times, being like, yes, you believe that and that’s totally valid for you, and we’re not here to get into a discussion.
Thinking I’d step back as our listeners might already have guessed. We worked together on a website project and I thought it was interesting how many–but some of the references that you brought the table. First, I remember you talking about D to Roms a little bit. Where did that come from? Do you have a secret passion for design as well?
Well, I think working for a design firm–it was a crash course in that because I was sitting right next to industrial designers and engineers every day. Having the experience of renting a car in a different city and watching the industrial designers sit down in the passenger’s seat, and then start to take the car apart to see how everything was put together and how it was molded, and just like looking at things in a different way.

I picked up and soaked up as much of that as I could via osmosis and also intentionally. I think the [inaudible 0:33:28] comes from that. Just something that is very simple and beautiful in its simplicity has a purpose and is designed for that purpose, and no extra adds or what have you’s. That’s very beautiful to me. So I wanted the website that emulated that and I felt like we got that.

Another and I think was more when we were talking about the logo. One of the references you had was Rushmore and it was like a particular scene in that movie. Am I recalling this correctly?
Yeah.
That was the scene in the dean’s room. Where did that come from? Were you thinking about that before you even thought about the website? Is it just your favorite scene in the movie or was that …
It’s not my favorite scene in the movie. It is my favorite movie, I think. That and Vertigo, I think, jostle for the top spot, depending on what day you talked to me. If you want to do a film podcast after this, I will just totally stick around and …
Okay.
I just love the color in that like the really deep green accent with the gold frames. It’s very warm. It kind of feels like you’re–and I’ve never been to one of these, but you’re kind of at one of those hunting lodge men’s clubs after a day of riding your horse around, chasing after foxes or something. Sitting down with your smoking jacket and your pipe and having conversations.
Those places must still exist, I assume they … I don’t know, yeah.
I think I’d be terribly disappointed to walk into one. I would rather have this idealized you in my mind thanks to Wes Anderson.
Thanks to Wes Anderson and his work. How did you get snubbed by a Karl Rove?
Well, this took place at the end of that political study. At the end of the presentation where we got up and we said, this is what we found after going across America, talking to this many people in person and then also having a quantitative survey of a thousand people or whatever. These are the main games. Then he gets up and says, “Oh that’s hogwash. We have to be careful of the internet because people can go on air and say anything they want. They only use language on the internet that they would never use in person.” He just totally didn’t get it, right?
Right, right.
People were enraptured by him because he’s such a big personality. Afterwards we’re all in the bowels of this hotel at like an after party, a cocktail party thing. My colleague and I are just kind of hanging out against one of the walls thinking this is a totally bizarre experience for us because there’re all of these really important people milling about. Everyone’s completely ignoring us which hurt a little bit I guess because I really wanted to talk about the study some more, but people were more interested in Karl Rove, so everyone is gathered around him talking to him. He passed by and I think we raised our drinks or whatever. We were not important enough to spend time with.
You little puke.
It was an open bar so we just made use of that and went our separate ways but it was a totally bizarre experience.
That is bizarre. I think it’s interesting, you did a study I saw on the roles of men and traditionally female roles and stuff like that. I also know that you have a very young son.
Yes.
How has that study informed your parenting or has it?
No, it’s funny because like I said, it seems like these studies do kind of affect my point of view. When that study came around we were just talking about when is a good time and getting closer to the point of wanting to start a family. I was just taking notes for the study, but also really trying to tune in to what these dads were doing like trying to get some tips and understand what it’s like from their perspective. It was a great study.

I was worried that we weren’t going to get really to the depth of what it’s like to be a stay at home dad or a dad these days just by a simple interview. We split it up into three different interviews. The first time I sat down with a guy just one on one and spend some time with him for about two or three hours and just really trying to understand who he was. Then I came back the next day and spent time with him with his family and saw the dynamic there which was really interesting because the first day he might have said, “Oh yeah, my wife and I split all of the household duties 50-50.” Then the next day I talk to the wife and she’s like, “Uh-uh. He might say it’s 50-50 but there’s all this other stuff that I do that he doesn’t know anything about.”

I really created more of a three-dimensional picture of these dads. Then I hang out with him with his buddies just to try to understand how these new dads are figuring stuff out together, like what they’re talking about, what they’re asking questions about, what type of diapers do I buy, or what’s the best butt cream, those types of things. We would go golfing or we went to a Cubs game and we grilled out in the backyard, just these different things, guy things, to try to see them in that environment too. At the end of the study, I felt like I got a really good sense for who these dads were and what they were all about.
It absolutely informed me. I think that I took some from each of those guys and some from own dad and some from my friends who got started before me. Just creating this rue of hopefully good parenting skills or as good as a 3-1/2 month old knee incident all continued to get better as he gets older. Do you have any tips?

I’d say parenting is a game for amateurs. Do I have any tips? Gosh, no. I can recommend a good butt cream, but I’d have to go home and check with the label.
We don’t have to get into it. I think A&D is a pretty good one, but we …
Okay. How have you been sleeping 3-1/2 months?
Pretty good these days. My wife and I take shifts. He seems to wake up a couple of times a night, once somewhere in 12 to 2 range and then once somewhere in the 3 to 5 range. So she takes the first one and I take the second one. Otherwise we get to sleep, so I’m feeling pretty good. Last night I couldn’t get back to sleep after I got up for him so I just was up from about 3:30 on.
Its complex now that we have two kids because the older one would sleep fine and then we had a baby and then she started going to this thing where she’d wake up in the middle of the night. It was like, why? She was just feeling like, “Oh, I should be able to wake up and have someone.” We worked through that.
Good. Well, I will ask your advice when …
Just take that one and put it in your pocket, yeah. What’s next for Hunter? Do you have any exciting plans for the business?
Well, the next study that were doing is just coming up in a couple of weeks. We’re going to be gone most of the month of May doing a followup to this man study. This time looking at how men choose to buy something for the first time, choose to not get what they usually get but instead go a different direction. I think that will be really fascinating. We’re going to be in five different cities in the US over the course of the month talking to about 40 guys about that. Beyond that, my baby came and that was enormous and then our new camera came for Hunter and that was not as big of a deal.
What kind of camera is it?
Really great. It’s a Sony F35 so we bought the camera that shot that last Tron movie, Tron Legacy and shoots Modern Family episodes and now we have it for our documentaries. It’s a big step up in quality and it’s also really fun to monkey with.
Is it HD?
It is HD. It’s a digital camera. It came out the same time as the Alexa which is now being used on most digital nerd films right now. The F35 got left behind a little bit. We got a good deal on it. Now we get to use it for our purposes.
Nice. Well, we mentioned films, is there a movie that you’ve seen lately that you’re really excited about or is particularly good because I haven’t seen any movies lately?
The past three months have been kind of weird.
It’s the dry season, yeah.
We’ve sort of been stuck at home a lot lately.
Oh yeah.
I’ve been catching up. I caught up on a bunch of the Oscar movies from last year, Django and Les Mis and a few others that …
I haven’t seen either of those yet.
Les Mis I liked. Sharon was the one that really wanted to see it. I thought the cinematography was really interesting. They use a lot of wide open lenses so it has a great narrow depth to the field which was an interesting choice for a musical. I had the songs in my head for a couple of days after. The cool thing about that movie I read was that they recorded all of the songs live rather than recorded them before and have everyone lip sync. So it must have been a real headache for the engineers during the shooting but it was really cool to actually have it be a live performance.
Yeah, that’s crazy. I never heard that. That’s impressive. That reminds me of the … what’s that movie that Stanley Kubrick did where he shot only with natural light?
Barry Lyndon.
Yeah. That was a great movie though. Anyway, we will get together again and do a podcast about film.
Great. The one that I’m excited about, I haven’t seen yet, it came out at South Buy. There was a movie a few years ago, maybe 2006 called Primer about these two guys that built a time machine in their garage. It’s a real low budget indie film. That director has taken him all this time, but he just came out with a new movie. The reviews so far have just been outstanding saying that this is an incredible movie. The title escapes me right now, but I’m really excited to see that because Primer just fascinated me.
We’ll find it and put it in the show notes.
Great, thank you.
Well, thank you so much Jon.
My pleasure.
You’re at Hunterqualitative.com. Is there anywhere else people can find you online?
Yeah. I’m on social networks, Facebook, facebook.com/hunterqual and Twitter is hunter_qual, and same with Instagram. We are out there and Instagram has been a little quiet lately but once we start travelling it will pick up a lot more and we’ll have some interesting stuff on there.
Great. Thanks for your time Jon.
Thanks for having me. It was fun.
Cool.

The Job is a talk show about design, music, business, culture, technology, the web, and Portland, and featuring interviews with interesting people. Hosted by Ray Brigleb and brought to you by Needmore Designs.

11. Amy Ruppel

Image of Amy Ruppel

Amy Ruppel combines talent and versatility like no other artist in Portland. Her whimsical style and quirky point of view has given her the ability to combine the analog with the digital, the old with the new, the modern with the historic. I sat down with Amy to talk about her upbringing on a midwest farm, her jet-setting wanderlust, and all the years in between.

Show Notes


Recorded Monday, April 29th, 2013, and this is episode number 11. Follow Ray, Kandace, Dan, or Needmore on Twitter. Please rate our show on iTunes!

The Job is a talk show about design, music, business, culture, technology, the web, and Portland, and featuring interviews with interesting people. Hosted by Ray Brigleb and brought to you by Needmore Designs.

10. Peat Bakke

Image of Peat Bakke

Peat Bakke is CTO of Portland startup Little Bird. He’s also known for travelling, speaking, and photography. On this week’s episode, we talk about all these things and more.

Show Notes

Recorded Monday, April 22nd, 2013, and this is episode number 10. Follow Ray, Kandace, Dan, or Needmore on Twitter. Please rate our show on iTunes!

(more…)

9. Hutch Harris

Hutch Harris

Hutch Harris is a singer, songwriter, guitarist, and leader of The Thermals. We talk with him about his history, his philosophy, and what went into the recording of their new album Desperate Ground.

Show Notes

Ray:
In case who are wondering, we’re just doing a podcast.
Hutch:
Yeah, check this out.
Okay, cool.
I know iTunes is out. It’s cool.
Okay. All right.
Yeah, it’s awesome.
Excellent. Yeah, cool.
Am I good? Do you want me here? You want me close?
Point it at your mouth but I think you can be good half foot away.
Yeah. Okay.
It’s probably better too quiet than clipping. I’d set up another interview one day and then left and then all hell break loose. This is clipped pile of shit and you can swear just getting that out there right now.
Fuck you guys.
Yeah.
Cool.
I’m going to go way back.
Okay.
We got a little time here, where were you born?
Me? I was born in New York City.
Okay.
I lived there for eight years.
Okay.
Then …
The first date?
What’s that? Yes, sir. Yeah, and then moved to San Jose when I was eight because my dad got in to, he work for start ups in Silicon Valley.
Really?
Yeah. He actually worked, I don’t know if you remember since, is it called …
I probably …
It’s called Syntelligence.
Oh no, I don’t.
They made …
I like the name though.
They made the keyboards, yeah. Some of the companies that went and they were gone so quickly. God I wish I knew, I’ve never done electronic music but there are some famous keyboards that are still used that Syntelligence made. I see them now, they are like these cool retro because now they are like almost 30 years old.
Now they are like, probably like collector’s pieces in some museum.
Yeah.
Is Hutch your real name?
It is.
Okay.
Hutch was my mom’s maiden name.
Oh, okay.
Yeah, all my relatives on her side their last name, it’s like the Hutches, those are my cousins like Tom Hutch and Jane Hutch.
Okay.
It’s from Ucci, it was changed by Italian immigrants from Ucci to Hutch to sound more American.
Interesting.
Yeah.
How do you spell Ucci?
Just Ucci like Gucci.
Okay, all right. I’m sure you listened to a lot of music in high school but how did you get into playing?
My dad is a pianist, he was always trying to get me to play instruments. I played saxophone, I played piano as a kid, hated it. I played saxophone kind of liked it. I got a guitar when I was 14, loved it and then yeah. My dad was always encouraging me, it was easy. I just asked my dad if he’d buy me a cheap guitar so he bought me a guitar when I was 14 and then loved it. Just kept playing.
Do you still play cheap guitars or do you play fancy?
I do still play cheap guitars. I got my first fancy guitar this year but usually I mean whatever. The first guitar I had probably cost like 60 bucks. I guess I play slightly better cheap guitars now.
Yeah.
I don’t need anything fancy.
That’s scored at three digits in the price there. Did you originally start recording around that time? Are you comfortable with recording? Is that something that your dad would listen to?
No, not so much. In New York he had done like off Broadways and stuff and then he had done like industrial shows and then he was making money doing auditions with people like he would go with singers to auditions. People were always rehearsing for their auditions in our apartment and then my dad would go with them and play the piano with them. He was doing that and before he got a real job and then he know he was doing off Broadway stuff.
That’s crazy you went from that to Silicon Valley.
Yeah, at the same time he was getting his Masters at Columbia for Engineering.
Okay.
No. I didn’t start recording till probably I would say probably when I was 17 or 18. Probably when I was 18, got a four track and then started recording.
Portastudio or something?
Yeah, of course.
Oh yeah.
Love it.
Yeah. You still have?
I still have, right now I have four, four track because that’s in two 8-track. I only want more cassette machines, I don’t ever want to get rid of any of those. I love those.
This have such a nice sound.
Yeah, I still use them all the time.
Do you ever listen to a band called Medicine?
No.
I think the guitarist in that band it was like 80’s Indie. They were like America’s My Bloody Valentine but the guitar is … Check out Medicine. I’ll put it in the podcast notes for you.
Okay, go.
He would run his guitar through a portastudio as part of the chain.
Love that.
I got the most hissy, awful sound.
Yeah. Actually when we just recorded last year for the newest record I love that vocal sound I get from the four track so I just brought the four track and the cheat mic that I like and just did … it’s the same thing, I just sang through the four track and that went to tape.
Nice. Let’s get back to your dad. Just kidding. How long have you known Kathy?
Kathy and I met just after high school. 19 years, 19 or 20. This is my 20th high school reunion is this year. I can’t believe it’s been that long. I got an email about it and I was like “The 20th? Are we planning for 5 years from now?” I was shocked.
Is it in Portland? Did you go to school in Portland?
No, it’s in San Jose.
Okay.
Yeah, Kathy and I moved to Portland 15 years ago. We moved here 98 but yeah we both graduated high school in San Jose.
Are you going to go with that? It’s not what Facebook is for, you’re still going to go?
I’m not going. I actually did go to the 10 year. I have another old friend, my friend Jeremy who lives here and he’s the only other person I went to high school with who lives in Portland. For so long our friends were going to the 10th and we’re like “No, we’re not going. We’re not going. Fine.” We did go down. It was all right, the people that we want to keep in touch with, we keep in touch with. It’s actually more than you might think, I still keep in touch with plenty people from high school but yeah I don’t need to go. I don’t need to go down for the 20th anniversary or reunion.
How do The Thermals come about?
Back to the four track. The Thermals started on the four track just at my house. Yeah, just recording songs in my kitchen.
Just restlessly recording.
Kathy and I were doing the band called Hutch & Kathy quite different, still a rock band but a lot mellower, acoustic guitars and drums. This was a little project that I started doing, just writing songs and doing just songs one at a time. Writing a song during the day, I was working [home town 00:07:31]. I would get off at noon usually, go home, write a song, record that song. Write the whole song and record it in one day which became the whole, that was the method for that whole first record. Just me at my house. It wasn’t incredibly labored, it was something that just was very easy and fun.
When did the name come? Was that part of the project or just you needed something to call it when you put a dozen together.
I remember brain storming names, when Kathy and I were doing the band I wanted to turn it into something that sounded more like a band. I don’t want to keep it calling Hutch & Kathy. I feel during that, somewhere between Hutch & Kathy and The Thermals I just started brainstorming names. To me The Thermals felt very Northwest to me. It made me think of [Grunge 00:08:27] in the 90’s where people are wearing thermal underwear under their, cut off jeans and have thermal leggings on. That in my mind and then …
They still do that in Minnesota, it was just in cities and they are still doing that.
Cool.
There you go.
I think the 90’s, now that it’s 20 years. 90’s can really come back now so all that great stuff, flavor savers and threads I guess.
I have at least one vinyl pressing of yours that, of you yourself that predates that. What were you doing before The Thermals yourself? You, not recording as Hutch Harris?
There was a band called Urban Legend that Kathy and I did.
That might be what I’m thinking about.
Yeah. It was something that went through a bunch of different I don’t know, there wasn’t like one single sound, there were some loud stuff and there were some mellow stuff. That was the name we used not very long, maybe a couple years. Kathy and I had to be [Halo 00:09:30], when we were really young we could never have a band … Have a band for two years, that was so long. It was just always about moving on and making something. Really I guess it make sense that once we had The Thermals we really have all the success that all the other projects never really knew. It made sense to move forward with that and not just toss it out so quickly.
Right. That make sense, you always hear about bands yeah going through that. Sorting themselves out, shedding a few skins, finding more comfort.
Yeah, definitely I feel even like the Beatles and Velvet Underground, Grateful Dead all these huge bands they all started as something else when they had a different name and eventually find what works the best.
Has your recording process changed a lot since you were just recording at first thing with the four track?
No, we go to the studios. Back then it was just always at home with the four track and maybe I love the studio but it’s so expensive. You’re always just trying to get in and out as quickly as possible.
For example, you don’t have the luxury of writing a song in the morning and spending the evening recording it?
Exactly. Yeah.
It’s more you got to come in with a set.
We’re just doing both now. We still demo all the songs on a four track and I’ll use that to write lyrics and that’s a good way. I love recording on the four track at home because it’s just good practice. I’ll just practice singing those songs as I record them. Then yeah now it’s really when we go to studio it’s all about knowing exactly how everything is going to go. Yeah, because you’re just paying for it when you’re in there.
Right. How long does it usually take to record an album for you in the studio?
Usually a week and a half of tracking and then another week and a half or two of mixing.
Okay, yeah. Usually, is it up to you where you’re recording? How you find or decide where to …
The most recent record that we made, the producer [John Yellow 00:11:46]. I got in touch with him. He’s in Jersey, he records mostly in New York or New Jersey. Then he suggested this studio Water Music in Hoboken. We went there but the previous records was a jackpot in Portland and then the two previous records for that were both in Oregon City at Supernatural. Really, I think I just jackpot I just knew because it was famous, it’s a famous Portland studio. Supernatural, I actually don’t remember how I heard about it but it’s nice too.
When you started out, when you put together a band I guess for playing those songs originally with a four piece, it seems like you guys have settled on the three pieces?
Yeah, comfort zone. Yeah.
Do you ever missed the four piece? Was there a …
Yeah I do. It’s just less work for me. Singing, just singing and not playing guitar and sometimes I think maybe we’ll do that again. There’s something really nice and respectable about being a trio but I do miss just singing … it’s just the thing is when you’re just singing you really have to, when you’re not singing you got to make sure you’re doing something, you have to keep it interesting. When you’re playing guitar and singing you’re either doing, either playing or you’re playing and singing. You’re never like “Oh, am I entertaining enough?”
You mean to have a little dance or something?
Yeah or do I need to climb the scaffolding or jumping along.
Exactly.
Jump for the audience. That’s great but really it’s a lot of work just singing because you really have to be on the whole time and we used to joke when I was younger. I grew up, this thing I was in it was that cool to have just a singer who just sang. We would always call it the useless lead singer. We like bands like Pearl Jam but we would look at any better be like “Come one, pick up a guitar or something” that I totally changed the way I feel about that. Nirvana was obviously a band that we all looked up to and that seem like perfect. There was just three of them and they were really cool and Greenday too. There’s a lot of bands that just take the last, people doing a lot with less people.
I remember Nirvana, someone saying that they were about to join that band. They were going to have a fourth member or coming in singing intended on it but never got around to it?
Other guitarist come and go, there’s the guy who’s on Bleach and then Pat Smear joining and it was cool but it was something that’s really cool when it was just the three.
Yeah, absolutely. They certainly had a good sound. Have you ever listened to, I’ve been meaning to ask you this for a long time, have you ever listened to The Clean?
Yes.
New Zealand band.
Yeah. Awesome.
There’s like this, I don’t remember the album, that’s another one word thing, Big Cat? Do you know that song?
I don’t know, I have that Anthology that’s like gig, hits are 40 songs or something.
Okay, it might be on that.
Yeah.
I totally, I was like “You sound like this New Zealand bands.”
That’s cool. I feel there’s so many bands that sound like them. A lot of it sound like them that aren’t really as cool but yeah I really like that. It was actually Kathy. Kathy had that and she turned me onto that.
Oh cool. You’ve been doing a lot of touring, I guess you’re in town for your little press tour now?
Yeah.
When you’re touring, what do you do with your time? I always wondered what do you do all day. Are you just waiting for the venue, you sound check and then you just have hours to kill?
Driving mostly, in this country we’re driving all day because everything is so …
Fucking far away.
Far, yeah. What’s great is we rent these Sprinters now, we don’t take our van out anymore. For the past four or five years we’ll just rent a large Sprinter and they have wifi boxes on the top of the van.
What is this, is Sprinter a kind of a van?
Yeah, Mercedes makes them and then I feel like one other, maybe Dodge makes them. You’ve seen it, it’s like the delivery van.
Okay.
Something Euro style delivery vans and they are normal. There are smaller ones and then there are larger. The ones we take probably seats like one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, it’s like nine or maybe eleven passengers. We have captain’s chairs. They are really cozy. It’s much better. It’s like in between your basic shitty van and the tour bus. You’re not on a bus but it’s not nearly as expensive. There’s a company Band To Go that just rents Sprinters and maybe regular vans but mostly Sprinters to bands. Ever since we got internet while you’re on the road, that saves everyone’s life.
Sure.
Seriously.
There’s wifi built in or something?
Yeah. You get it most places. When you’re in West Texas or Wyoming or some areas you’re going to lose it but overall so then you can do your email and you can do a lot of stuff.
That’s pretty cool.
There’s video games and TV and stuff. Just as long as no one has to read a book. It’s funny because this is what we used to do. Everyone just read books all day. This is what the future looks like.
As you mentioned, you used to serve coffee. Have things changed a lot over the past decade? Do you feel like the same person? Do you still drink good coffee? Do you still …
I still drink Stumptown coffee everyday. Seriously everyday.
You bring it on tour?
I do, yeah. It’s funny we would just went down the California and we did bring it. Yeah, I still love coffee more than anything else. I haven’t been drinking alcohol because it’s really hard to my voice. We just did South by Southwest and I had remembered the previous, a time there because you know you’re doing two or three shows a day. Then it’s really easy to just drink and party all night. I remember the previous year where I had really lost my voice and I really didn’t want that to happen again because it’s terrible. You still do the show but it just sucks. If I went and saw a band and just the singer couldn’t sing I’d be like …
Asshole.
Yeah.
I do party.
I stopped, we we’re just been playing so many shows and I have not been drinking really just to save my voice but now instead of looking like “Oh man I can’t wait to have a beer” I’m like “Oh I can’t wait to have a cup of coffee.” There always has to be something, some kind of delicious addiction.
Sure.
Coffee is something I don’t have to give up.
Do you get a change to cook when you’re on the road or you’re just eating anywhere?
No, not at all. At home, yeah but not yeah not at all. The more, I feel like Trader Joe’s saved us and Whole Foods have saved us even though it’s like so expensive.
It seems like going down each of the coast would be reasonable but then there’s this gaping fucking middle section of America where it’s like you could be driving for like days.
Yeah. It is getting slowly it’s getting better. I remember when Kathy, Kathy and I were touring well before The Thermals and sometimes yeah your only options were fast food or something at the gas station. You didn’t have a GPS or a smart phone or anything that would find you. You can find a coop actually and then a lot of places where you would think there’s nothing even in South Dakota or just seriously middle of nowhere there will be something healthy. Now you have like the tools, on your smart phone to find it. That makes a huge, huge difference.
Where’s the nearest coop?
Yeah, I forget what … that sound for us I can’t remember the name of that app but it was like a fine vegan food app and I don’t need to find vegan food but wherever the vegan food would be it’s healthy.
It’s a good lead.
Yeah, it will take you to some like a coop or somewhere.
How many people tour with you?
For a while it was six. It changes a lot, the most is six. Three in the band, someone selling the merch, sound and then tour manager / driver. We’ve gotten a way with four and that is fine too. It depends on how crazy or how busy the tour is going to be and how long it’s going to be too.
You guys just drive each other fucking crazy?
Again the internet in the van. Seriously, it’s the pacifier. Seriously, it’s something that everyone can just zone out. That’s what television is for a family. Something that everyone can just zone out on and get your brains sucked out and you don’t have to pay attention to each other.
Don’t you worry about social media corrupting us?
Yeah, I do at some points but what the other thing is you’re going to kill your, whoever you’re closest.
Right, yeah. Preferable.
There’s no perfect.
A lot of your themes in the songs that you’re writing are religion, politics, big things, violence, violence, love, war and death and killing.
Violence, yes, I’ve seen the new video.
Where do you, besides the tour van where do you get inspiration for these?
Film a lot and the new video yeah it’s very violent and this record specifically we wanted it to be really cinematic. We wanted the songs to sound not like the soundtrack for a movie but the movie itself. We really wanted to make a record that was really like an action movie just in the form of a rock record.
Okay, how did that idea come about?
We’d like there to be a theme for each records that the songs, I like to tie all the songs together. We don’t want the record to be just a random collection. Just all these songs that happen to be written at the same time. We want there to be a theme and a loose story but really just something that ties them all together. I really wanted to write something about war but not any specific war. About more just the urge that people have to kill each other because people are constantly killing each other and especially here in this country we’re just very obsessed with violence. I just thought that would be interesting and entertaining. Violence, this horrible violence in the world all the time but at the same time we’re so obsessed with being entertained by violence too. It’s not a statement on that, it’s more like we just wanted to be part of that as well.
Sure, just be a part of the discussion. Maybe, do you feel like that’s a net positive for the band to talk about that stuff? Do you think that’s what your fans are looking for?
I do think they are. Yeah, I think the songs and the records that people most like from us have been that. If you look at the The Body, The Blood, The Machine. I would say so far the favorite record, I think most people would agree on that, fans of ours that they like that record the best. To me that is the most crazy, violent record that we’ve made.
Yeah, do you ever worry that, I remember after one of the … There’s been a lot but there was a school shooting and then I saw, is that a movie about time traveling gangsters? You see that movie?
We don’t know. It’s not gangsters quad, is that?
No. The one where someone would appear and then …
Yeah. I did see that.
Bruce Willis.
Yes and Joseph Gordon Levitt but what is the name?
Okay, we’ll remember it.
Okay.
At some point here. Maybe Corina knows but we’re watching the movie and it was like right after the shooting and there’s Bruce Willis goes and he’s shooting children and I remember thinking to myself the same thing I felt when I saw that video. Is this going to make people not want to watch the movie or is it going to make them feel more engaged with the movie. I think it probably made them more engaged but it’s always hard to tell. With touchy subjects like that, if you write a book about religion I don’t know maybe the fact that there’s the new Pope becomes gets people talking about your album or something I don’t know.
You have to risk it, you can’t … Especially since our record was, we weren’t going to change. Our record was finished before Newtown and I have relatives that live in Sandy Hook right by Newtown who were like themselves affected and for me personally I wasn’t like ‘Well no one is offended.” I was like “I hope my aunt and uncle specifically aren’t offended by this record.” The thing is the band is not selling millions and millions of records, a lot of people mainstream people who don’t pay attention to underground music, they are not going to see the video, they are not going to hear the record. I think if we were like Coldplay or [Rihanna 00:26:05] someone who’s like a worldwide celebrity I think you probably have to pay a lot more attention to stuff like that because the whole world is watching what you do.

For us, we have the luxury of flying under the radar. You don’t have to, I don’t know if I would feel differently but for me and for us we’re not going to change what we’re doing and you don’t want to hurt people’s feelings but also a lot of people will, if they see it fuck I don’t know. Everyone has the option to just not pay attention to what you’re doing.

Right. Yeah, as a musician how do you feel about the album like the record, the LP that we grew up with versus Pandora? How do you feel about the direction that all of this was taking?
I like both, like I was saying we still think of album as one, a thing. As long as, label still want you to do a record. I did this other band and I just did singles and it was like you definitely couldn’t get the press to write about it the way they would if you did a full length because we’re still just stuck even though we’re so obsessed with singles. In the culture, really the album is still what you do. It’s still the rule. If the label came to be and said “Hey don’t do it wrong” you just like “Just do some singles this year. I would be fine with that.” Every label we worked with they want a record and from that record to come single. Everyone’s still doing both. I love stuff like Pandora, I love singles, I love the radio.

I think the important thing is to make a good record where all the songs are connected but also within that there have to be good singles. Also, I only speak for us now. I wouldn’t say everyone has to make a record with a theme but you don’t want to go too far with that. You don’t want there to be songs that have to depend on one another on the record. You need to write good enough songs, any song could get pulled off the record and still work just on it’s own.

There can always be a surprise hit as supposed on LP. You don’t think it’s going to … Do you still think of it as side one side two?
Definitely, yeah. We’ve always, I feel like we’ve talked to other bands or other people about this and they feel the same way that side two is usually the darker or more introspective side. Record should take a turn and even if the majority of people are going to be listening on a CD or just on a device we still like to think of where’s the end of the first side, where’s the beginning of the second side. It’s just nice, nice to have two chapters to the story.
It reminds me a lot of the stuff that Bowie did like the Berlin […] like that. It was always like the front side was rock and roll hits and then the back side was like what the fuck is this?
Totally, yeah. It’s really cool. That’s the extreme I guess.
I feel that’s a really good example. Side two is the place, yeah maybe side two is just one crazy long song or just a place. I feel Pink Floyd did some of this.
Right.
They literally would have a side that was one song.
Yeah, really. I think, is Echoes just on metal? I think that’s just one song on that second side.
Yeah.
That’s great. Side two is very loud to just go off to deepen.
It’s like the chef’s table, I guess. As someone who shares the love of comedy, yeah David Cross. Just random question about it I’ve been meaning to ask you this, are you excited about the new season of the rest of the development?
I really am. Yeah, because you know it’s good that … I don’t know if the movie is coming still. I forget what but I know about Netflix making the episodes. I think it’s great because so many times a movie, a sitcom or a sketch that was never as good as episodes.
Oh yeah.
The format you keep it that same short length. To me, I’ve loved so many things David Cross has done but rest of the development specifically it’s so rewatchable, they are so intense. You can go back even if, Kathy and I have watched all those seasons just multiple times because they are just, it’s brilliant.
Yeah they are really just dense with weird inside jokes that you do, it rewards repeated viewing which is good. We want that in all of your media.
Yeah, totally. Kathy and I were discussing this the other day because we were saying it’s funny how we’ll just watch the same things over and over and we like to think a good television show or movie is like a record too. You should be able to just consume it repeatedly if it’s good.
That’s a thing, I was really into I don’t know the last album that Phoenix did.
Yeah.
It seems like the album or in that media or movie or whatever, it’s such a fulcrum of marketing. Your marketing efforts is like so center on that that it seems like Phoenix has had their new album done for six months.
Yeah.
I swear to God, I’ve seen leaks of it forever.
Really, yeah.
I feel they are holding it, they were holding it deliberately until that SNL episode.
Oh yeah.
The other night. It comes out this next week, I feel all this marketing is focused on having just the right gigs to promote it.
Yeah.
Do you worry about the fact that the single is basically gone? The single on the B side and stuff or do you still feel that’s a valid art form.
I still feel … The way things have changed so much even just since we’ve been a band, how everything is gone digital. When we started this band, we were still printing glossy photos, the whole the 8 x 10 glossy. We have that, then after two records that was done. Then any kind of paper promo was done. There was nothing set now, there’s just all … There are still CD promos but I don’t know why because everything is just a watermarked mp3 file that’s being sent out. My computer doesn’t even have a CD drive.
Yeah.
I can’t even play one. I can’t imagine what another ten years will be. It’s fine, it doesn’t bother me. I feel overall music is … I don’t think it’s changed. I feel like everything around music has changed and marketing has changed and format has changed but I don’t think it’s affected the way people write and what people are doing. I don’t think it’s affected it as much as you might think considering everything else around it.
Yeah. People’s attraction to music and the reason for music isn’t going to change.
Yeah.
It’s still part of a discussion in popular culture. It can be top 40 or it could be Indie underground whatever it’s still … i don’t know where I’m going with that. What is a piece of music equipment that you couldn’t beside your four track, that you could not live without when you’re on tour?
It would just have to be my guitar. I play those … I’ve always used the telecast here, I love it. Lately I’ve been playing the Left in line, 72 reissues because … We adjusted the trip or we just flew, we didn’t have, we didn’t bring any amps with us. We just would borrow amps from other bands or the show. The promoter would just have a back line brought in. In South by Southwest we played eight shows, we played two shows a day for four days. Every show had a different amp and they send you the list of what they have and usually it’s fine. It’s like a DeVille or a Twin. Usually they have a couple options, I always go for I don’t want a Marshall.

I don’t want like a stack or anything but it just means like so in four days I played eight different amps. I don’t really, I usually don’t care. It sounds fine. If you have, to me if you have pedals that you like it will sound similar enough. Just saying that I can take almost whatever amp. I have a ton of amps, I can bring whatever one. I think they are all fenders, there’s probably six or seven. To me as long as I have my guitar and my pedals I’ll play through whatever. We were in France, the back line blew. It was a half stack, it broke right before the show. I went direct, that was the only, it was one show like hundreds and hundreds. I wouldn’t ever want to do that again but it was an option. It’s plugged there, I mean it did not sound great but I can live with it.

This is a stereotypical question, what’s like your desert island album?
It’s probably The Breeders. It’s either Last Splash or Pod. It’s probably Last Splash. I feel that record I could listen to over and over. It’s hard, so hard to pick one. Maybe Agent Orange, Living in Darkness. These days I haven’t listened to much besides our record when we’re mastering and Agent Orange and like that record. Seriously over and over again. Yeah, the rest of the development I feel Last Splash it lend itself, there’s so much weird hidden stoney just weirdness going on on that record. I feel every time I listen to it I hear something new and crazy. That’s a good reason to bring that.
You have a new album coming out?
Yes sir.
When?
April 16th.
Okay.
Will we be out on this before that?
No.
Okay.
No.
Then it has already come out?
It’s all ready to drop, yes. Where can people go to buy it? Online? Is it iTunes? Just look for The Thermals?
It’s on iTunes of course, I would say the best place to buy it is at SaddleCreek.com.
Okay.
You can buy it on our website, you can just buy it at thethermals.com but the best place I think go to Saddle Creek’s website.
Saddle Creek.
If you just want to buy the mp3s, it will be at the same price as iTunes but it’s going to go right to us and the label as opposed to giving Apple their whatever.
A cut. Right.
Too much label.
Yeah, right fair enough. Cool, thanks Hutch.
Awesome, yeah. Thanks for having me.
Yeah. Cool, easy. Can I see what are you’re using? You like this?

Recorded Tuesday, April 16th, 2013, and this is episode number 9. Follow Ray, Kandace, Dan, or Needmore on Twitter. Please rate our show on iTunes!

The Job is a talk show about design, music, business, culture, technology, the web, and Portland, and featuring interviews with interesting people. Hosted by Ray Brigleb and brought to you by Needmore Designs.