MusicIamA Jeff Rosenstock AMA! I do/did the things for Quote Unquote Records, Bomb The Music Industry!, Antarctigo Vespucci, The Arrogant Sons Of Bitches, Really Records and a lot more!
Mar 3rd 2015 by JeffRosenstock • 33 Questions • 1343 Points
UPDATE: There's like A TON of questions here. I feel like my carpel tunnel that didn't exist before 7:00 today is acting up. I need to take a break. I will answer these as best as I can over the next 24 hours. Thanks so much for all the love, interest, kind words and questions. It's nice to me that anyone cares about the stuff I've made over the last ten years :-*
There's a crazy amount of questions here! I'm gonna answer them all but I'm gonna stop taking questions! Did I do this right????
My Proof: it took me roughly twenty minutes to find this proof photo again:http://t.co/pBVMwyOpcK
Have you considered making an alternate version of your record called "We Cook?" for chefs or is it true you hate chefs ?
Chris. I hit the "give gold" button thinking that this would give you a gold star for this post, but it tried to give you some of my BitCoin.
I also did this before I saw that it was in fact you Chris Farren that wrote this. I just thought it was some other funyun.
What's the nicest/most meaningful/most personal thing a fan/complete stranger has said to you about you and your music?
Thanks for the tunez, man
Don't know quite how to say this, but there's been a handful of people who have told me that my music has had something to do with them continuing to exist on this earth. I never quite know what to say to that, but as someone who would would not be alive himself if not for music during the dark times, that's a huge honor.
Hey Jeff! I've been a huge fan of yours for the last ~7 years. My question is: What jobs have you had in the past and how have they influenced your music/lyrics? Thanks!
Album Minus Band: For part of this, I was bagging up t-shirts at MerchDirect, immediately after I started my no t-shirt band. You can see how it crushed my soul a little to package up THOUSANDS of shirts that certain bands were selling in ONE DAY and I was like "ugh... merchandise..."
To Leave Or Die In Long Island: I was working as the art director at The Downtown, a music venue in Long Island. Shitty pay, but I worked with a lot of great people, got to be creative and listen to music all day. Working in a basement though and getting laid off when the company went under informed that music quite a bit.
Goodbye Cool World: I worked as a graphic design temp, mostly at Dover Publications, scanning in and re-touching old stock photos. I had a car, and I'd say the commute gave me a lot of time to think and get pissed off about stuff. I would also take a long train ride to the Manhattan from Forrest Hills like ALL THE TIME and get drunk then take a long train ride home again and wake up at like 7 for work every day. Pretty punk stuff.
Get Warmer: I worked as a dishwasher at Transmetropolitan Pizza in Athens, GA. Super fucking fun, great people, very Zen rote repetitive work that gave me a ton of time to just think about songs.
Scrambles: I was back in New York and back at Dover Publications doing the scanning again. I didn't have a car anymore so I did a lot of writing on the J train to the LIRR to Mineola. I got laid off at some point because I was on tour too much. This was definitely the point where it was like "fuck, can I give my all to music while still being able to hold down a job?"
Vacation - current: I've had a bunch of jobs over the past few years, none of them have lasted very long. I'm lucky enough to make a little money doing solo tours, producing/recording records, doing freelance graphic design, event production, truck driving, some freelance scoring (like this Dick's Sporting Goods ad!! https://vimeo.com/69864840) and running a record label. The best (and most memorable) job I've had during the past bunch of years was working at Brooklyn Brew Shop just packing up homebrew kits with some very very very great people. The company expanded and they couldn't really have someone who left as much as me anymore, but I feel like if I ever asked them for work they'd give it to me.
The last job I had was at The Shade Store doing some very very very repetitive graphic design stuff, basically taking photographs and turning them into repeatable patterns which is harder than it sounds. The graphic design department there was very nice, but I realized I had to keep playing and making music even though my band had broken up.
Yo Jeff you're an inspiring dude.
Legitimately, how do you care so little about making cash? You're like the Alan Watts of DIY punk and I really admire your work ethic & outlook on business and music. I want to quit my office job and make music full time because of fuckers like you.
After ASOB I just stopped looking at music as a viable career option. So it was easy, just have other jobs, pay the rent that way and keep the music as this passionate thing I do when I'm not at work. I think our society defines us by the way we make money, and I just don't agree with that. When I was driving a truck around delivering props for photo shoots, I wouldn't call myself a truck driver, I would still call myself a musician.
I'm almost on the other side of that now, and I feel very fortunate about that, but part of me always wishes I had time to do more work, because any time I'm sitting around doing nothing is like hell to me. I don't know how to relax.
Really enjoyed Kudrow. Any chance of new stuff in the future?
I don't really know! We have two songs that we never recorded... it'd be fun to record those some day!
Hey Jeff, I'm Erikk G. We went to high school together. I follow you on Twitter and really dig the music. Way to go my friend. My question is: where can I find copy of the movie you made for Commercial Music, which featured you trying to light a cigarette on the stove and me playing what I think was a gay guy? Also, any idea when you're next playing in DC? Thanks dude!
HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA Whazzup Erikk. Is your screen name still Tapeball__ I didn't wanna type the number and blow up your spot.
I think we lost the only copy of the movie Burnout, I gave it to John and I really hope he lost it. Holy moly. There's some great editing in there. Holy fuck.
I'm playing DC on... April 25th at Comet Ping Pong! Hit me up on the twitters and I'll guest list ya!
First off: LOVE the new record, congrats.
QUESTIONS: 1) I see that P.O.S worked on Get Old Forever, which is super rad. Is there any possibility at all in the future of a Jeff/P.O.S collaboration, beyond just production?! 2) I posted this on your Facebook page, and I'll ask it again here: WILL YOU MAKE ROSENSOCKS?! I need more cool socks to wear. 3) This isn't a question I just wanted to say thanks for being awesome and keep doing what you're doing. 4) Pizza or tacos (OR BOTH?!)???
1) Me and Stef have been friends for years, and we've talked about making something together. I know he's working on his own thing and getting healthy right now. I think it's a matter of one of us actually having a directional idea of what we want to do, so we have something to build off of other than just being buds!
2) Yeah duh
3) This isn't a question o wait you said that
4) It goes pizza, burritos, pho for me. Laksa is creeping up on that list though.
Hey, Jeff! So, I stumbled onto your music a couple of years back while I was fucking around on YouTube and looking up some Tom Waits videos. The first song of yours that I heard was your cover of Anywhere I Lay My Head. This lead to me promptly dropping everything I was doing and rushing off to get ahold of all of your music. It was kind of weird, like one of my favorite musicians just introduced me to ANOTHER one of my favorite musicians.
ANYWAYS, my question to you is: What is your favorite Tom Waits song/album? And will you play some Night Birds at your upcoming Houston show?
Rain Dogs is my favorite which is a boring answer I know, but check out this boring answer. Anywhere I Lay My Head is my favorite Tom Waits song which is a boringer answer. I'm also a big fan of Blood Money, Swordfishtrombones and I think Bad As Me is underrated. No Tom Waits covers at the Houston show, but fuck, how crazy would it have been to guess such a specific cover.
Are we ever going to get a digital version of the Adults!!! remaster? It's great and I wanna listen to it in my car!
P.S. Thanks for drawing a cool tat on me at the S1D House!
Yeah it's on iTunes and Spotify. I keep forgetting to put it on Quote Unquote, I'd do it now but I'm doing this AMA now!
Hey Jeff! Glad to see you're doing this Ama! I'm a huge fan of yours and all your stuff from Asob to your current solo stuff. I'll try to keep it short.
On each Antarctigo Vespuccia album you only sang on one song for a few lines why is that?
How long does it take you to write a song?(like a song from "We Cool?").
Do you ever plan on doing another reunion show for ASOB? Or BTMI!?
How tall are you?
What advice do you have for aspiring musicians?
Do you ever plan on making some more of those "Jeff Rosenstock is bummin me out/gettin me stoked" shirts? They sold out b4 I could get one :(
"Three Cheers of Disappointment" is one of my favorite albums of all time which makes makes me wonder, do you plan on making another ska song or do you feel you're done playing ska?
I just wanna say your an amazing artist and your music inspires me everyday so thanks for that, I hope I get to meet you some day!
Those songs all started out at Chris's. We tried to find places for me to take the lead on the first one for a second, but it never felt like it would benefit the song except for that one part where I essentially play drunk Chris. I think Chris would like it if I sang more, but I kinda love just doing one part per record and thinking about all the other stuff instead. We do both sing choruses together though.
Darkness Records, Hey Allison and I'm Serious I'm Sorry took about an hour or two to write. Beers Again Alone took about 7 years. Some songs come to you right away and some take some time.
Nah, no plans for that shit, although we do all love each other. That ASOB reunion was very fun and I don't want to spoil the memory. It's barely been a year since Bomb played our last show, I doubt even thinking about that right now would qualify as reunion territory
Do what feels good.
I don't know, anything can happen. I'm not a real planny guy.
Like I said in question 6, I'm not a real planny guy. Especially with songs. I just want to write what feels natural. I still love ska and if those songs start coming to me again, I'll be stoked and try to get them good enough for a record like I do with any of the others.
Thanks a lot, Chris! That's all very nice!!!!!!!!!!!
Hey Jeff! I'm a big fan of your work. I'm in constant amazement at how all the stuff you do is so fucking rad. You've been a huge influence in my life.
On another note, I saw btmi play in Missoula Montana a few years ago, and the audience was pretty rowdy, and a guy knocked over your keyboard and you seemed pretty pissed, so on behalf of that asshole, I just wanna say sorry we pissed you off.
Anyway, I was wondering if you guys are going to be playing any Bomb songs on your upcoming tour? Or will it just be solo stuff? The new album is so fucking good by the way. Stoked to see you on tour!
First let ME apologize. I'm usually pretty down with rowdy. At that show I happened to have a sprained wrist (why I wasn't playing guitar) from a dude who drunkenly tackled me in Minneapolis. I was wearing the "hey I've got a broken wrist thing" and that kid just kept literally pulling my wrist and pushing my keyb and it was like "ahhhhh this hurts and i can't play and you're blackout drunk and not wearing shoes. we're never in montana, please let us try and play our songs!" So sorry I got aggro. I love Montana so much.
There's not gonna be any Bomb songs on this solo band tour. We've got enough songs we'd like to play and it would be disrespectful to the other dudes to be like "hahahahaha eat shit I don't need ya." We need each other for Bomb!
I know it's kinda cliche, but just wanted to say thanks for all the music and for being such an inspiration over the years. I suppose the important question is what is the greatest Simpsons episode ever made? (Also, hate to be that guy but any plans for the UK at any point?)
Oh, and any news on the documentary?
My favorite Simpsons episode might be "Colonel Homer" oddly enough 'cause it's not super funny. "You Only Move Twice" is definitely like the one that always cracks me up. I'm LOLing like crazy while I'M WATCHING THAT FUCKING SHIT
Trying to get to the UK next year. And I finished all the titles/graphics for the documentary today! So it's almost all done!
Jeff! What's next now that We Cool? is out? Who's the best character on Lost? Also, I fuckin' love you, can I buy you a drink or something at the Philadelphia show this month?
Touring, writing new songs and hopefully making them good! Best character on LOST is Mr. Eko!!!
You don't need to buy me a drink I'll just steal ALL. OF. CHUMPED'S. BOOZE.
hello jeff! i've been going to your shows since high school, and every time we spoke you've always had such a great energy and nothing but encouraging words to say. thanks for all those good vibes. your new record is dope by the way.
i have two questions! do you have any tips for programming drums? i've never really found anything like BTMI! in terms of original percussion, be it you slamming some pasta boxes or pretty much just blasting them programmed beats. i'm starting my own projects and can't get it quite right just yet, so any ideas would help.
and second, how do you work with people? does it just get easier as you get older? ive been kicked out of/quit a bunch of bands and im just not sure if its me, or if its them, or if making music just really is that difficult and straining on your personal relationships.
I try to write catchy drum parts. I'm not sure if that makes sense. Sorry. I program in reason, I used to use the sequencer in ReDrum but now I just play it and quantize it and fuck with the piano roll stuff. The more successful programmed drums I've had are the ones where I haven't been afraid to like FUCKING GO FOR IT.
Working with people can be tricky. I know I am not great at it at times and a handful to deal with myself. I think the most important this is to be honest and straightforward about your ideas and try to remember that the people you are working with are people too and as long as you can get on the same page about making whatever you're doing as great as possible, you should work together fine? Are my answers GIBBERISH AT THIS POINT?
Hi Jeff! The new record is great. You may already know that. We’ve said it a few times. But, more to the point, I have a few questions so I’ll try to keep it short.
- 1) What’s the average production time for an episode of Back to the Island, including editing & writing recording themes?
- 2) What is your favorite book (if you have one)?
- 3) From my cohost: She says “Syke! Life is Awesome!” comes on her running mix with eerie regularity when she’s starting to drag and it always pumps her up (so thanks for that!), but ever since the first time she heard it she’s wondered about the line at the end “And if you hadn’t fucked my ex-girlfriend, I would still owe you $3,000!” She really wants to know what the deal was with the money and the cheating, if that’s something you’re willing to discuss.
Thanks for all the cool things you put out there for the world to enjoy!
1) There's the hour of watching it, after which we IMMEDIATELY record the episode. If we are doing a good job, we write down what songs we have to write, if we are doing a bad job I have to listen through while editing (which takes about 30 minutes) and call up Chris and say "um! can you write this one!" That's why we started saying "Hey Chris, play that Grandmother's Day Theme Music!" and so on... that way we could force the theme songs on each other. Each song takes around 20 - 30 minutes, we fly through them, Chris quicker than me most of the time. So probably 3 - 4 hours per ep.
2) Long answer above - Cat's Cradle, Catch-22, Tenth of December
3) We'll talk about that over a beer some day.
Does Chris Farren's moustache come with a creepy white van or did that come separately?
DON'T TALK ABOUT MY FRIEND CHRIS FARREN LIKE THAT!!!
Thanks for doing this! I have really appreciated your music over the years and have always enjoyed your passion and devotion to music. You have been someone whose music always kept me afloat.
What authors would you say have influenced your life the most? What are some of your favorite books?
My favorite book for a while was Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. It's just so fucked up but also really funny and weird. I think now my favorite book is Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. I got on board with him pretty late and it's like discovering Operation Ivy in your 30's or something - everything is just perfect and that book is so crushing and confusing and amazing. I also think Tenth Of December by George Saunders is gonna be in the running for my favorite book of all time, the way he ends his stories by giving you a perfect balance of uncertainty and closure is fucking genius.
What challenge do you want to do next as a musician? I recall reading you had decided to abandon the drum machine at a certain point in Bomb the Music Industry, do you self impose certain restrictions for each project?
Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. All I ever want to do is keep it feeling fresh and not just record the way I feel comfortable recording. I've thought about going to a cabin in the winter for 30 days without any outside help and trying to play everything. That'd make for some pretty epic drum tracks for sure!
Hey! Will you be playing BTMI and ASOB songs live moving forward, or will you just be playing your solo stuff?
Just solo stuff with the band. If it's just me an a guitar, only ELO songs.
Hey Jeff, big fan of ASOB, BTMI, and now your solo work. Been listening to We Cool? all week and love it.
Because of the raw and intense emotion of the song, I wanted to ask if the subject of 'Last On My List' has been the inspiration for any other songs you've made. Unless thats too personal in which case
Do you think Quote Unquote records has been a success and did it turn out to be what you hoped?
Oh and does the beginning of Hall of Fame sound kind of, Weezerish to you?
My friend who tragically died in a car accident when I was a teenager hasn't come up in any other songs. Unfortunately a fact of life is that as it goes on more people you're friends with will die tragically and you'll spend many hours wishing you had just spent more time telling them how much you loved them.
I never thought anything would come of Quote Unquote. I hoped it would help people hear the bands I put up on there, and it exceeded my expectations wildly.
Yeah, there's definitely a bit of a Weezer vibe on some of the songs on this record. That song was more inspired by seeing Shellshag perform on the Chris Gethard Show test pilot, and they played this song that had such a cool slow chunky heavy beat but it was super poppy too. I think most of the stuff on the new record that people attribute to my (very clear) love for Weezer has more to do with my obsession with the self-titled Fountains of Wayne record, .010 by Ulysses and Rock and Roll Part Three by Ozma - I was listening to all of those a lot at the time of writing this.
Hi Jeff, huge fan. Really love the new album
A lot of your songs seem really personal, I was wondering if there any that are particularly difficult to perform? Will Bomb ever get make more music? And do you have any idea on a release date for the documentary?
and most importantly, do you have any plans to tour the UK? I'm sure you can just tag along with AJJ in a few months
I get in a totally different headspace when I play and write music than when I am just talking to people. This probably makes it seem like I'm more comfortable talking about certain shit than I actually am. I think this stems from the first bunch of songs that I ever wrote, which no one will ever here, in my bedroom as a kid just playing a guitar and screaming sad bullshit into a tape recorder. So for the most part, no. It actually feels nice to get that stuff out, especially when people sing along 'cause it makes me feel less alone. I think "Last On My List" by ASOB was pretty hard to do the few times we did it, and will probably always be hard. "Sick, Later" was tough to play acoustic. But again, honestly, for those I tend to just dig into the terror and sorrow and I think that's how I deal with those situations.
As far as I see it right now, any "Bomb the Music Industry!" record would just be a cash grab, using the name as branding or something. That would be completely antithetical to the whole mission of Bomb. Maybe some point way down the line we'll all naturally be like "let's play music together again" and I'll have a bunch of songs and we'll do it, but there's no plan to make that happen any time soon. I've said this before though, I'd really love to reunite Bomb when we're like 55. I think that'd be funny.
No release date for the doc. UK soon I hope!
Hey Jeff, You're my favorite musician and a huge inspiration for my own music-making. How do you go about writing your songs? do you do it in one sitting on acoustic guitar and then hammer out all the details later? Or do you do all the music first and then just fill in lyrics?
I tend to write musical stuff in my head - then I chase that idea and see if there's a full song in there, and if so I'll try to demo it out. Or I'll record the idea in my phone and re-visit it later. I wrote a song recently that I think turned out great and it was from some piano part I wrote like a year ago and totally forgot about until listening back on my phone.
Lyrics have started to come last for me as it's more of a challenge to not constantly repeat myself. Whenever I have a song that all comes at once it's like the best fucking feeling in the world. Novelty Sweater, I'm Serious I'm Sorry and Darkness Records were like that.
I've loved the evolution of your music as of late. "We Cool?" felt like a very different album for you sonically, but still undeniably you. Do you have any ideas about the kind of music you plan to make in the future? Can we expect genres that you've never explored before?
The songs I'm working on now are pretty power-poppy and short. I've thought about trying to write some music without loud guitars one day, have something else take over the loud. I'm always trying to explore new shit, whether or not it sounds like it, otherwise what's the point of making another record?
Dude! You're amazing! I look forward to seeing you in Brooklyn on Sunday along that vein, what was your favorite show you've ever done?
Edit: said Saturday originally...
We're playing in brooklyn on SUNDAY!
Favorite show? It's pretty hard to compete with the last Bomb the Music Industry! shows at the Warsaw in Brooklyn. We played a show in Los Angeles at the End Of The World bookstore (or I have the name wrong?) Our original show got canceled that day, they set something up for us last minute, and it was just such a great cool fun fucking time. Loved it!