Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
Aug 03rd
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

 

Health Screening

Santa Cruz wellness expert releases app to improve workplace well-being

 

Leo Sun; Full Moon, Venus Retro in Leo; Saturn Direct

It’s a complex week of planetary movements, challenges, demands and callings. We’re in the time of the Leo Sun. Leo—fixed fire, gold, the heart, generous, strong, noble, the king/queen—needs appreciation and praise from everyone in order to move forward. During Leo we gain a greater sense of self-identification by recognizing our creativity. It’s therefore a perfect time for Venus retrograding in Leo. In Venus retrograde we review and re-assess values. Venus retro in Leo concerns our self as valuable, acknowledging talents, gifts, abilities and offerings. Friday, Venus re-enters Leo (29 degrees, a critical degree) continuing the retrograde to 14 degrees Leo on Sept. 6. Friday (Full Moon) is also the (8 degrees) Leo solar festival, Festival of the Future. Leo is the heart of the sun, the heart of all that matters. When attuned to this heart, we have understanding and inclusivity. The heart of the Lion is Mitra (think “Maitreya,” the coming World Teacher). Leo prepares humanity to receive divine love from subtle sources and later to radiate that love to the kingdoms. Sirius, Ray 2, where love originates, streams through Regulus (heart of Leo), into the heart of the sun (Ray 2) and into all hearts. The heart of Leo is Regulus. Joining Venus, the love underlying all of creation appears. Saturday is Sun/Neptune (confusion or devotion) with late night Saturn turning stationary direct. Ideas, plans and structures held long in abeyance (since March 14) slowly move forward. (Read more on Leo and the week at nightlightnews.org and Risa D’Angeles’ Facebook page, accessed through my website.)

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 31

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Holy Cannoli

New bakery opens in Ben Lomond, plus Randall Grahm’s quest to grow 10,000 new grape varieties, and Mexican cooking classes

 

Is Santa Cruz turning into Malibu North?

It's got a ways to go before it gets wrecked like Malibu, but I think we need to be very careful about growth. Maria Mattioli, Santa Cruz, Psychotherapist

 

Bargetto Winery

A much-anticipated annual event at Bargetto Winery is the release of their very special La Vita red wine. June 7 was the day to be heralded this year, and I happily squeezed my car into their overloaded car park in eager anticipation of tasting the new La Vita nectar.

 

Margaritaville

Popular Capitola spot gets new owner and complete makeover