Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Dec 18th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Bleeding Hearts in Analog

music_jvJohn Vanderslice on liberalism and recording to tape

Some artists seem to cultivate character from their surroundings, while others develop as a reaction to that upbringing. John Vanderslice falls easily within the latter category. Coming to the Crepe Place on Friday, Dec. 11, Vanderslice brings his low-key songwriting quirkiness to a town well known for its own idiosyncratic nature, as well as its liberal politics.

Nowadays, Vanderslice serves much the same role in San Francisco’s indie music scene as Dave Eggers does in its literary one—both nurture their creative circles while also contributing to them. However, growing up it probably would have been difficult to guess that Vanderslice would end up as a bleeding heart singer-songwriter operating out of the Bay Area.

Spending his formative years in Florida and Georgia, Vanderslice moved to Maryland when he was 11 and was subject to some of the stereotypical East Coast propriety. “That’s part of how people are tempered, they grow up in a sane and very small environment where people know who you are,” Vanderslice says. “And some of that is very healthy and very good, and some people move out to the West Coast.” He even followed through with a more traditional lifestyle, graduating from the University of Maryland as an economics major.

“My dad intensely pressured me to study business,” the singer remembers, “and by the time I was comfortable enough to rebel against him I was already far enough along in my studies that it seemed that economics was the most interesting [bachelor of science degree] I could have gotten at the time, especially from a political point of view.”

One thing is immediately clear in talking with Vanderslice: the man is incredibly passionate and personally involved with his politics. His releases in 2005 and 2007—entitled Pixel Revolt and Emerald City (a reference to Baghdad’s Green Zone), respectively—each burst with political themes. “Those two records were like a safety release valve for this unbelievable amount of anger I was feeling,” Vanderslice explains. Songs like “The Parade” and “Kookaburra,” which he describes as “very surreal fragmented dystopian narratives,” developed out of trying to come to terms with the world post 9/11.

It’s not difficult to make the jump that Vanderslice’s liberal tendencies developed as a rebellion against the pressure of youth to fit in to a certain box. But in a time where many artists—independent ones, especially—are struggling to make a buck, perhaps it was that upbringing and business instinct that enabled him to achieve a comfortable status in Bay Area music.

In the ’90s, Vanderslice began the arduous task of developing a rehearsal space in San Francisco’s Mission District into a recording studio. Today it’s known as Tiny Telephone, an analog setup which has hosted indie rock luminaries such as Death Cab for Cutie and Spoon, and is a frequent haunt of producer Scott Solter. Vanderslice explains that Tiny Telephone is “based around tape machines. We have Pro Tools, but we really encourage bands to not record on a computer. I think it’s a real interesting challenge, and sonically it’s pretty profound to be hitting tape.”

Earlier this year Vanderslice released his seventh album as a solo artist, Romanian Names, his first record in years not overtly politically motivated, and very much a harkening back to the stripped down work in early albums such as Life and Death of an American Fourtracker.

“Romanian Names is my bedroom album,” he explains. “It’s much more about my personal life and navigating my own identity through the demands of relationships,” Vanderslice says, just moments before having to cut away from the interview for five minutes after receiving a call from his wife on the other line.


John Vanderslice plays at 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11, at the Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $10. For more information, call 429-6994.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Tramonti Pizza

Why there’s no such thing as too much Italian food in Seabright

 

Guitar or surfboard?

Guitar. The closest thing I ever came to surfing was sliding down a rock hill. Charlie Tweddle, Santa Cruz, Hats and Music

 

Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire