Jan 7, 2019

Interview with Travis Keller!

Hi. 2019 is the return of posting more regularly on here. Every Monday, I'm going to post an interview from someone secret and new. I've already got a really interesting handful in the drafts that I can't wait to post. 

   This is an interview I'm really excited to share. When I first moved to Los Angles, I didn't really know anyone or what to expect from the people. Aside from a few friends I met in the apartment I was living in, I was mostly let down, especially because most of the people I met were co-workers of mine at the Guitar Center on Sunset Blvd. So needless to say, I wasn't exactly pumped on many people I was interacting with on a daily basis. You know the types, right? Huge ass egos, always wearing sunglasses inside, always looking down on other musicians who came in or worked there, and they were praising all the worst fucking bands ever while giving you shit for "only liking those bands to be weird." 

   Then I came across Buddyhead. There were these hilarious posts ripping on Lady Gaga and everything that for some reason was extremely popular, an entire collection of new sick bands I had never heard of, and it just kept getting updated every week. It was fucking insane. It was the same humor and approach my friends all had back in Cleveland, only we were all too unmotivated to post about it anywhere yet. Turns out he's also friends with just about all of my favorite bands from going on tour with all of them. Going to bars he would DJ at and having dudes from Queens of the Stone Age just waltz in and hang out, Nine Inch Nails, and so on. It was nuts, but a quick and cool way for me to get over being an annoying fan boy and realize cool people are cool people, whether it's best friends back home, or people who have put out some of my favorite albums. 

  So now that you're asleep, aroused, or a mix of the two: Here's what he's been up to. Grab something delicious though because it's pretty long. 

(All photos taken by Travis Keller) 

-Your new zine should be at my house soon and I can't wait. How long was the actual process from the time you thought up the idea to actual putting it up for sale? 

Aw thanks for supporting my art! I'm still pleasantly surprised every time someone says they've ordered it! 

I've wanted to do a book since I took a some of the oldest photos in the zine, back in like 1998. So I guess I've kinda been working on it since then. Like twenty years, in my mind at least. I actually started going through my archive about two years ago but it was so disorganized and just massive that it was overwhelming. It kinda took me a few times of like trying to organize the massive mess to even get the confidence to start on it, let alone finish it. I wasn't sure anyone would care, you know? I just had voices telling me it was a waste of time, etc. I tried again this past year by trying to scan my whole archive but I got bored about 1/3 of the way through the scanning process and just decided to make a a zine out of what I had digitized.  A lot of the photos that made it in I had never scanned or printed before, so it wasn't really the book I had planned to make. A lot of those were new to me or ones I had forgotten about. But it kinda just became it's own thing as i went along so i just rolled with it. Plus trying to steer it in a certain direction seemed like too much effort. But despite all that I'm super proud of the final product and the response to it has been amazing. Been connecting with old Buddyhead readers as well as people in the photos which has been cool, people sending me flyers of shows I was at and photos from back in the day they took. There's also tons more photos I haven't printed so I'm prolly going to have to do at least do one sequel to Past Lives. It's just kinda hard looking at old shit too much, gotta space those projects out or I don't enjoy them. Up next is Primo Zine #2, Stay Alive, which is photos and thoughts from the past two years. I talk to someone of my closest friends about making art and not giving up and a bunch of other shit. It's kind of a bridge between the new and old and a sampler of what's to come from me and the homies at American Primo.

-Were there any snags or issues with putting in any photos for the project? 

Not really, I put in what I wanted. They're my photos, I don't think anyone got bummed. If they did, I didn't hear about it. No one should get bummed, everyone looks cool and plus most of those photos are so old nothing really matters... at least in my eyes. But yeah, no snags really aside from just having the confidence to do it. Once I bought my scanner for $200 on amazon and stopped being a baby, it was on.  I didn't even adjust levels in Photoshop or try and make the photos look how they normal do, once they were in the computer they were done. The scanner is kinda crappy but I like the look it gave the photos. Punk rock style. Wham, Bam. One of the things I'm currently working on is just trying not to be too precious with art projects and not over think anything. Just trying to keep putting stuff out. It's hard and I'm not the best at it, but I'm getting better.

-What's your favorite part about living in Los Angeles? 

The weather, I can skate board everyday. I live in Korea town which is and has been one of the main hubs for street skating since the 90s., I see pros cruising around my hood and filming on the daily. There's a couple skate-parks within blocks of my house as well. And our apartment is pretty sick too. And bomb Korean BBQ. 

My friends... most of my friends here are still trying to make shit and be creative even though we're getting older. That's inspiring to me. None of my friends have given up like everyone has told them to and I love that. 

Tacos here rule. 

Weed's legal.

When asked that same question back in the day my Uncle Scott used to say "the five hottest girls from every high school move here to make it! Woooo!" 
He also used to say to only plug your guitar STRAIGHT IN, no effects. Man up. Legend.

-Stooges or Oasis? 

The Stooges hands down. Funhouse is the peak of rock n roll and the birth of punk. it was all downhill from there. And this may be an unpopular opinion but I'm pretty sure "Appetite For Destruction" was the last good rock record. Don't @ me.

-How do you feel about digital music distribution? 

It sucks and it's super fucking lame. But it's also convenient and whatever.... it's 2019. Times have changed for sure, I'm just rolling with it. But yeah fuck streaming and digital music, hopefully some day it too will go away.... even though I use it everyday. Mainly I think it's devalued music and changed peoples listening habits for the worst. Mine included. 

-What's the story about meeting Bowie at the Hammerstein Ballroom back in 05? 

I was on tour with Nine Inch Nails.... And Trent asked me to go let his friend David backstage, as he did sometimes. It was just easier for me to cruise and grab someone. I went thinking it was just gonna be some dude named David but when I walked out to the hallway it was David fucking Bowie chilling there like a vampire god. I've met a lot of famous people and normally I don't get starstruck, but that dude fucking floored me with his star power. Never seen anyone shine so bright and be so elegant. He was sweet, gracious and extremely well spoken. I could barely breathe as I walked him back to Trents room and then left to give them some privacy. Not that great of a story but it was a complete thrill. I still haven't gotten over both him and Prince dying.

-What makes an interview you've read or heard interesting to you? 

Just hearing about real shit. Connecting with someone on a basic level. Just hearing about real things... the struggle of making art on any level or the process they have. I've been really into Geoff McFetridge interviews, he gives some pretty killer talks that are on youtube about being an artist and all that. But I'm also basic, throw on a Charles Bukowski interview and I'm still on that guys team.

-You've gotten to see a good chunk of the world going on various tours. Were you ever in any immediate danger where you thought you wouldn't make it home?

Oh yeah for sure… off the top of my head some of the scariest places/situations we’ve ended up in would prolly be when we got pulled over in Texas (we had lots of weed on us, California plates and all of us had really long hair), same thing but the South instead of Texas and breaking down in one of the roughest neighborhoods in Washington DC… all scary but the scariest and where I wasn’t sure if I was gonna make it out alive was when we went to a strip club in Budapest. We went in and each bought Red Bulls, hung out for like five minutes and went to leave because it was weird vibes and they said we owed like 250 Euros. They showed us the fine print of the menu which had all these hidden fees and drink minimums on them. Total tourist trap. And then four bouncers surrounded us… between the size of those dudes and the language barrier we just figured we’d pay them but we didn’t have enough Euros on us so they had to drive us to an atm in a beat up Honda Civic. As we got deeper and deeper into the neighborhoods I was pretty sure they were just gonna kill us. But in the end it was just super weird and sketchy, we paid em and somehow found a cab back to our Hotel. That was equally scary and embarrassing.

-How important is album artwork to you? 

I wrote a review of some album for Heckler Magazine in 1997, it was one of the first few things I ever got published. But the reason I remember is was cuz the first time I visited the Sub Pop records offices in like 2000, Andy Kotowicz (RIP Legend) took me into his office and showed me he had a quote of mine from that review which he had blown up big on his wall. It said something along the lines of great artwork can make a good album even better. I still feel that way. But at the same time it's def less important these days. Then again everything is less important these days, fast food culture.

-What was the most challenging interview you had to do and why? 

Prolly Ian Brown cuz I could only understand him about 50% of the time. We drove out to Bakersfield for some lame KROQ show, Morriesey was headlining and Ian Brown was playing with a Stones Roses tribute band. It was jacked, they sucked. Moz cancelled too. I didnn’t even transcribe it cuz it was just a mess and this was before most people were watching video online so the interview just sat on the mini dv tape we shot it on. Gonna have to dig that one out soon. I’m pretty sure it’s a gem.

-Do you have a particular time of day, place, or ritual you need to dive into working on a project? 

I’ve got myself a pretty random schedule, sleep wise. I’m all over the place and I like to take a lot of naps so the time of day varies. Normally I go skating early in the morning, cruise around Koreatown and then come back home and work on shit in the art room we have at our apartment. Our roomate moved out and instead of getting another roomate we just started making shit in there. Ollie does her glitter skateboards and makes music in there. I’ve got negatives and prints everywhere and a desk where I’m currently working on my Stay Alive zine. When it’s a video project we’re usually working out of Joe’s studio - Valley Recording Co. - in Burbank. As far as rituals, I like to smoke joints and listening to music when I work on the computer. Today I was listening to the new 21 Savage, Nas - illmatic, Tones On Tail, Love & Rockets - Sweet FA, Lee Hazzlewood - Trouble is a Lonesome Town, Miles Davis and a big old block of Manaveli/2Pac.

-What type of board are you rollin on these days? 

I’m riding a Pharmacy blank board, they’re $25 the third Thursday of every month at the shop in Hollywood. Before this I was riding a Deatwish deck. Indy trucks always. And I just got some big old soft wheels for Xmas. I didn’t want big soft wheels but now that I got em, they’re pretty sick. I fall less with em. I just need to get another set up with small wheels for skateparks I think. That’s prolly what needs to happen.

-What makes a great band or album in 2019? 

For me a great album can be a lot of things… but no matter what it’s just gotta make me feel something. Something I can connect with and be like… yep! 

-What's the last book that blew your mind?

Fuck I just realized I need to read more. This is gonna make me sound like a goon but it's true. Last book I read was Sammy Hagars autobiography. Did you know he invented indoor sprinklers? I fucking swear. Made more money off sprinklers than Van Halen. Another great part is when 1991 rolls around he's convince the youth movement can't get enough of RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW. I love his delusions.

-Favorite random album you snagged at a record store? 

I lost my entire record collection of about 6,000 LPs in a fire in 2010, it's only been recently that I've started acquiring LPs again. And honestly most of those have been gifts. Back in the day I remember finding an original press of funhouse from France that was sealed, I was pretty amped on that one. Oh and lately I found a couple records I had put out on Buddyhead used, which was cool because I don't really own any of the records I've released. I'm in the process of recollecting them all. A couple people lately have mailed me a few icarus line 7 inches randomly which is pretty cool as well.

-What are some premium LP's you've still yet to replace from your unfortunate fire in 2010? 

Mostly all the test presses and rare copies of records I put out on Buddyhead, those are the ones I’m most bummed about. All the rare stuff that I was involved with. Sure wish I had my Treadwell 7 inch too. Actually wish I had my Treadwell shirt more tho. The rest of my records that died in the fire….  I don’t really care about to be honest, they can be replaced for the most part. I guess it’d be cool to have funkadelic’s maggot brain, original press of NWA and the Posse, Velvet Underground discography, Terry Reid - superlungs LP, my Mudhoney LPs from high school, Dylan bootlegs I got in Europe and Public Enemys Fear of a Black Planet. But I don’t really care about stuff or collecting things these days, I’m more worried about buying film to shoot.

-What's a band you love the music to but wish would get a different singer?

Every band currently played on the radio.

-Most listened to band of 2018? 

Not really a band, but I guess John Lennon. He's still in the rotation every once in a while, he's good to clean the house too. Plastic Ono Band still gives me the feels. But yeah I didn't really listen to any bands in 2018, rock music is dead as fuck. 2018 was mostly contemporary rap music for me.

These were in heavy rotation this year.

Pusha T - Daytona
Makaya McCraven - Universal Beings
Jay Rock - Redemption
03 Greedo - God Level / The Wolf Of Grape Street
21 Savage - i am > I was
Kodak Black - Dying To Live
Kendrick Lamar - Black Panther soundtrack
A$AP Rocky - Testing
Playboi Carti - Die Lit
Vince Staples - FUN
Young Nudy - Slimeball 3
Freddie Gibbs - Freddie
Gucci Mane 
Young Thug - Slime Language
Future - Beast Mode 2

-What's going on for Buddyhead in 2019? 

For sure I'll be doing a book/zine on Buddyhead. Or maybe I guess I should say, no for sure. But yeah, it would be like a greatest hits of the website, articles, interviews, funny shit, plus photos and testimonials from readers as well as people who helped out or that just came in contact with us. Something you could hand to someone who never saw the site and they would understand what it was, what we stood for and why people cared about it. And someone has started a documentary, which is exciting and will be really cool if it happens. Other than that, not shit. Lots of American Primitive shit coming. Joe's working on a new album, I'm working on a bunch of new zines/selling prints and we'll have new merchandise on the Primo site this month. 2019!

Now go glue something heavy to an old person and go back to scrolling through Instagram. 

- Novak