Neumo's production manager Suthap Manivong has never done 'shrooms (seeing Comets on Fire is as close as he's come) and isn't amused by greenroom graffiti, but a mural of a giant gorilla with his junk hanging out changed his mind.
I serve as a liaison between the Neumo's staff and the artist/artist management when they are at the club. Duties include but are not limited to planning event logistics, scheduling, and managing the floor.
How did you get your start in the music (under)world?
As a kid growing up, it started out as going to shows and wanting to find out how I could be involved with that stage. I've been in bands, wrote reviews for college papers, even put on a benefit show for a school project; but it wasn't until I became involved with the Vera Project, as a booking and promotions intern, that I seriously explored avenues of employment in this industry.
What made you want to work in such a crazy business?
It's the challenge and craziness of the job that appeals to me. The hours are crazy—very long—the personalities I meet are unique, and the work keeps you on your toes. There is, more often than not, some unforeseen situation that you have to extinguish. I thrive on situations such as these.
Top shows you've produced at Neumo's:
I don't necessarily think the best shows are the biggest shows. For me, it's not all about production value or attendance numbers. For me, it's all about how a crowd reacts to an artist, and how the artist presents that music so that the sound stands alone without artifice.
1. Comets on Fire: Pyschedelic freakout! I was not a fan before seeing their show, nor have I ever done 'shrooms, but this is as close as I'll ever come to touching the stuff. They have an acutely honed sense of tension and release that they can extend for an exhausting two hours or more. I loved every minute of it.
2. Cursive: I always look forward to when a Saddle Creek crew comes through. They are always humble, gracious, and genuinely nice people. Being all of these, they are also an amazing live band with a monstrous presence. Their show was by far the best of the year.
Favorite artist to work with:
Jamie Lidell. I admire people who can turn around and take charge and turn around a clusterfuck of a situation, while still keeping a cool head and focused on the task at hand. The first time he played in the States was about a year ago, opening up for Four Tet. The airline lost all his luggage, including all his gear to play the gig. Instead of canceling outright, Jamie and his manager scoured Seattle to reassemble his back line. They managed to piece together a workable rig and played a brilliant show.
Funniest graffiti left behind in the Neumo's greenroom and by whom:
I don't find graffiti amusing, especially when it's on our walls. Typical graffiti in the greenrooms amounts to "so-and-so was here" scribbles, poop jokes, and boob drawings. But I've got to hand it to this band who snuck this past me. We've got this 6-foot-wide mural in the main greenroom. I discovered this the next morning with the owners. They were incensed, but I marveled at the time, the stealth, and the audacity it took to engineer it. I imagine it must've taken them a few hours, and at least a pack of black Sharpies. The end product was a pretty gnarly gorilla with its junk hanging out that will take at least five coats of paint to cover up.
Are there any bands who have actually used the shower in the greenroom?
Not really, but when they do, artists and crew members gladly appreciate it. I guess when you are stuck on the road for months, sleeping on buses, vans, or random people's floors, showers become a luxury—no matter how gross the showering floor is.
Most random thing you've had to get for an artist:
Nothing really pops into mind, but I've heard a story of one artist that played here wanting a bucketful of individually wrapped fried-chicken pieces. [Editor's note: See last week's Behind the Scene for clarification.] I heard the staff at that time obliged.
Top five records to listen to . . .
While settling a show:The Rubinstein Collection, Vol. 49: Chopin 19 Nocturnes.
While balancing books at 2 a.m.: Soundtrack for the Wong Kar-wai film In the Mood for Love.
After a long shift: Rachel's, Systems/Layers.
While bored/passing time/singing along: Magnetic Fields, 69 Love Songs.
When no one's around: Mariah Carey, The Emancipation of Mimi.
A weekly peek behind the curtain of the Emerald City music world, Behind the Scene sheds light on folks you won't see onstage, but who make it all happen.