It’s not every day that you get a chance to meet and interview a band who’s music you truly enjoy, but that day did come for me on December 2, 1994 when GAS HUFFER finally made their way to Lawrence, KS while on tour with the Cramps. After two great albums on eMpTy Records they decided it was time to move to a new label, Epitaph Records, and release their third album “One Inch Masters”. Interview by Mike Watts.
Wright - Vocals
photos by Charles Peterson
GAS HUFFER LP DISCOGRAPHY:
Janitors Of Tomorrow - 1991 Empty Records
Integrity Technology And Service - 1992 Empty Records
One Inch Masters - 1994 Epitaph Records
The Inhuman Ordeal Of Special Agent Gas Huffer - 1996 Epitaph Records
Just Beautiful Music - 1998 Epitaph Records
The Rest Of Us - 2002 Estrus Records
FB: I HEARD THAT NONE OF YOU HAVE BEEN JANITORS YET YOU PUT AN ALBUM OUT CALLED “JANITORS OF TOMORROW”. IS THAT BECASUE YOU WANT TO BECOME JANITORS?
Tom: I’ve never been an actual full fledged janitor but in connection with other jobs I had frequently, and still to this day, permformed janitorial duties.
Joe: Mopped many floors.
Matt: I’ve swept many a floor.
FB: DID ANY OF YOU HAVE A TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE WITH GRADE SCHOOL JANITORS BECAUSE I KNOW THERE’S ALWAYS THAT BALD GUY WITH ONE EYE AT EVERY SCHOOL. (laughter)
Tom: Weird old guy. (laughter)
FB: (in grumpy old janitor voice) “GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE YOU KIDS!!!”
Matt: Actually I have. I was putting up posters for some event at a high school, not my high school, but I was advertising for an event at my high school and the janitors came out. They were yelling at us, “Tear those things down!!!” (laughter) ‘Cause it was like for some dance or something, it was like a big monster face and all the A’s were circled and stuff. (more laughter).
Joe: I prefer to say “custodial engineer”,
Matt: That’s right.
Tom: I’m sure that someday I will be a full blown janitor.
FB: DO YOU LIKE TO HAVE A THEME FOR YOUR ALBUMS?
Don: Yeah, we like ‘em to be round.
FB: TWELVE INCHES WIDE.
Joe: We haven’t done a rock opera yet if that’s what you’re gettin’ at.
Tom: I don’t know if we ever really conciously thought of one.
Matt: I think the only one that really had an album title before we started recording the album was “Integrity, Technology, & Service”. So I don’t know if that...
Don: We finally did have a title song, it was the “I.T.S. Creedo”.
Joe: No “One Inch Masters” theme.
Matt: But the title for that album came after the album was actually (done).
Matt: But I think getting the four of us to unite around one concept (couldn’t make it out).
Matt: We’re already united around the concept of Gas Huffer, man.
Joe: That’s about it.
FB: BUT ALL YOUR ALBUMS HAVE THE THREE LETTER INITIALS THOUGH RIGHT.
Matt: I guess so.
Tom: Oh wait it’s “Integrity, Technology, AND Service.” (laughs)
FB: I’VE SEEN IT AS I.T.S. A COUPLE TIMES.
Matt: It’s always—for some reason it’s always in catalogs as “I.T.S.”.
Tom: I haven’t heard anybody call the new album “O.I.M.”.
FB: I’VE SEEN IT INITIALED SOMEWHERE.
Don: I saw that.
Joe: In the add for the comic book.
Tom: Yeah, “J.O.T.”, “I.T.S.”, “O.I.M.”.
Joe: Well it’s just like one of those things like those supermarket best seller kinda things like “The Client”.
Tom: “The Parcifall Books”.
Joe: You find the favorite words that people recognize and they’ll buy every one.
Matt: OK, we’ve got three cups with a bunch of words cut up in them and we pull one out of each cup. Do you want us to admit that?
Tom: Our next album is going to be “Huge Step Forward”. (laughter)
Don: actually our next album’s gonna have to be three words too, “Brain Cell Massacre”.
Tom: Then again all the ideas we came with so far like “Brian Cell Massacre” and “Christmas On Ice” all have three words.
FB: IS BEER THE FUEL FOR THE GAS HUFFER MACHINE?
Joe: No. I prefer freah fruit juice.
Don: Usually, usually.
Matt: That is one of the fuels for the Gas Huffer machine.
Joe: It’s more like a (something) ‘cause it puts you in the skids.
Don: It’s not the fuel, it’s more like the oil in the Gas Huffer machine.
Tom: The actual fuel that would be Hardee’s. (laughter)
FB: I’M SURE EVRY BAND HAS A STORY OF WHEN THEY WERE DRUNK AND SOMETHING STRANGE HAPPENED, DO YOU GUYS HAVE ONE OF THOSE STORIES?
Tom: No. (laughter) It happens every other night. The funny things about stories that we have is that we can’t remeber
exactly what happened. (laughter)
FB: NOW THAT YOU’RE ON EPITAPH IS THERE ANY PLANS FOR YOU TO DO A VIDEO? ‘CAUSE A LOT OF THOSE EPITAPH BANDS HAVE VIDEOS.
Tom: Yeah, we actually did a video that’s supposedly coming out soon.
Don: We have a video.
FB: WHAT SONG DID YOU DO IT FOR?
Don: “Crooked Bird”.
Tom: Yeah. We’ve actually made a few videos, they’re all just totally low budget things.
Joe: Now we’ve made a high budget video. It’ll be out in January.
Matt: Not high, higher.
Joe: Well for us it high, the last video we made was free and the one before that cost $400.
Don: This last one we made cost $4,000.
Matt: That’s extremely cheap.
Don: We had a budget of five (thousand), we brought it in a thosand dollas under budget what are you talkin’ about.
Joe: The last Madonna video was some like fifteen million dollars, something like that.
Matt: I thought it was $40,000 not...
Joe: How the hell do I know? They filmed in New York city for like fourteen days solid filming.
Matt: It thought it was in Spain.
(They debat the locastion & cost of the new Madonna video).
FB: DO YOU GUYS HAVE ANY DESIRE TO MOVE TO A MAJOR LABEL ANY TIME?
Joe: I couldn’t see any possible reason to. Epitaph basically caters to the the type of music that we want to play and they treat us like kings.
Don: They treat us better than any major label.
FB: A LOT OF BANDS GET LOST IN THE SHUFFLE.
Don: We don’t get lost in the shuffle at Epitaph.
Joe: We get a lot of personal attention from them and I don’t think we ever had any real interest in a major label. Of course we never got any real offers from major labels, so it’s easy to say that but I don’t think it’s somehting we’re interested in.
Don: I don’t see even why bands like the Offspring would even think about going to a major label. If you can sell over two million copies of a record on an independent label I don’t see any reason to go to a major.
Joe: You know where your money’s going, more or less. I mean you know it’s not goin’ to....
Don: You know who your friends are.
Tom: We’ll just sign on with an indie label and let the indie label turn into a major. (laughter)
Matt: We’ve avoided the whole problem. (more laughs)
Tom: (jokingly) Then I’ll say, “We signed with ‘em before the Offspring hit”.
Don: I have a certain amount of faith that Brett will not sell out to a major label.
Joe: He’s had offers already.
Don: Sure man, I’m sure everyday he gets offers.
Tom: He’s a pretty sharp business man.
FB: HERE’S ANOTHER QUESTION FOR YOU TOM, ARE THERE ANY MORE PLANS FOR THE MONKEYWRENCH TO DO ANY MORE RECORDING?
Tom: Uhh, no. It seems like the summer before last we were supposed to go down to Austin to record an EP but everybody’s beem real busy.
Don: Explanation: Tim Kerr won’t do it.
Matt: Tim Kerr is the one that wants to do it.
Tom: Yeah, he wants to do it.
Matt: Yeah I was talking to him...(couldn’t make out the rest)
Don: He couldn’t get his fuckin’ lackees to get him down there?
FB: DID YOU EVER PLAY ANY LIVE SHOWS? (the Monkeywrench)
Tom: Yeah, three live shows. They were all in Seattle. We were hoping at one point to go down to Texas to do so shows. ‘Cause you know Steve & Mark are pretty busy with Mudhoney, Martain’s in Bloodloss.
Joe: Tom’s in Gas Huffer.
Tom: Tim’s in—well I guess he was in Jack ‘O Fire.
Matt: They did some Poison 13 reunion shows. Did you hear about that?
Matt: It was pretty amazing. I only saw one.
FB: I BOUGHT A POISON 13 RECORD FOR 50 CENTS AND I THINK IT’S A HELL OF A LOT BETTER THAN SHIT YOU COULD BUY FOR 15 BUCKS.
Matt: Yeah. (Laughs) Sub Pop re-released all that Poison 13 stuff too. Is that out yet?
FB: YEAH I SAW IT TODAY.
(We talk more about Poison 13 and the new tribute 7” on Bag of Hammers records that Gas Huffer contributed a song to)
Don: Mr. Fotheringham did the cover.
FB: WHAT’S THAT GUY LIKE? IS HE PRETTY WEIRD?
Tom: He’s a total nut, he’s really funny. He likes to play out the artist angle. You go to an opening and he’ll be like standing there in the corner with a beret and a big mustache on & a big coat with a paint splat.
Don: There was this picture that Mudhoney did, Dan Peters is baby Jesus and the rest of Mudhoney are the three wisemen and Ed Fotheringham is a sheep and he had cotton balls pasted all over his entire body & he’s down on all fours.
Joe: He posed in that Teriyaki Asthma record too. (a compilation on C/Z records)
FB: WHAT’S THE SEATTLE SCENE LIKE NOW THAT ALL THE HYPE IS DEAD?
Don: Just like it used to be, thank God.
Tom: It’s kinda cool, we’re on the map anyhow. There’s a lot of labels so it’s a lot easier for bands startin’ out to just get a single out. I used to take years and years and years to get a single out, Basically the only way to put a single out was to finance it yourself.
Joe: I think a lot of kind of the negative aspect of it was some of these bands got a little more obsessed with it in the business aspect of it. Because all of a sudden there became a reality that that was maybe a possibility at all. But I think that’s kind of tapered off, that’s kind of over. I’m sure there’s still bands that kinda shoot for that. But there’s always a real supportive scene, more like helping each other out. I think that kinda spirit has sort of come back.
Tom: There’s always clods like that in the music scene who are just obsessed with, “We’re gonna make it to the top, we’re gonna get signed!!”. It used to be in Seattle we had this weird situation where people from L.A. were moving to Seattle in order to get “signed to thr big time”.
Don: Now Epitaph is gonna suck all those people back to LA..
Tom: (laughs) Yeah it like the migration of tribes of bozo rockers.
FB: DOES IT RAIN IN SEATTLE AS MUCH AS EVERYONE SAYS?
Tom: It rains a lot.
Joe: It just rains a lot of days, it doesn’t rain hard.
Matt: It kinda pisses.
Tom: It always grey and overcast.