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Lobsterfest Q&A: Sal Lake

By Shem Krey, Contributor

Athens legend Sal Lake and I sat down at Casa Nueva for a Q&A and I got a chance to ask this mysterious artist all the tough questions.

So, lets get to the generic questions first: Where does the name Sal Lake come from?

Well I dropped out sophomore year and I went hitchhiking, and then one of these guys that picked us up… well they were rock climbers.

And I was like… free climbing because… I don’t know I just like climbing things. I didn’t really know how dangerous it was but… one of these guys was like, “Shoot man, you’re like a salamander!” and I was like, “Oh man is that my road name now… is that my nickname? Oh boy!”

So then I started going by that when I was traveling around, and then I didn’t use it again until Morgan [Garrett, Frankie Teardrop band member] asked me to play my first show in like… 2010. He was like, “What should I put on the bill,” and I was like, “Uhhhh I dunno.” and I said, “Sal.” And that’s basically it.

So this is the second time you’re playing Lobsterfest? Uh… Third…?

So you played when Cloud Nothings performed? Was that two years ago?

I think that was two years. I don’t remember who I played with two years ago… I played to like five people at Central Venue, which was really funny. I had never been paid for a gig, and Shane [ACRN’s Promotions Director] gave me 50 bucks for whatever reason… I don’t know why. While I was playing I was basically just talking to Grant Engstrom…

Shane was in the back somewhere, I think Morgan might have been there, and then it was just me and Grant, we were just talking I was just like, “Yeah this is funny there’s like no one here,” so I don’t remember who else played that year.

Last year was cool though. Black Dice

[Speaking of] Black Dice… What do you think of the new Death Grips album?

I haven’t listened to it… Jenny Death? Haven’t gotten around to it yet. I’ve been working like 60 hours this week.

You played at the Union Last year though.

Which was sweet, well it’s… yeah it’s gone now… But that was sweet because they had an awesome sound system. I think that was the third time I played there. I loved playing at the Union.

Well, I hated the stage because it’s got like that pole there. When they rebuild it the poles probably not going to be there, and it’s going to be sweet.

Speaking of last year, we did an interview and you had a show the day after where I bought your CD. I know all of the CDs you sold had different packaging. What was the process for making them?

Me and my girlfriend would just sit around and collage weird stuff. She had like a massive collection of like National Geographics and whatever magazine these came from. We’d just sit around almost every night and just make funny pictures.

I should’ve brought you my tape that I made.

I’ll probably pick one up from you at the next show. So the biggest feature in that [CD] was the nudie card… aside from the CD. What’s the story behind that?

I had a friend in town that I hadn’t seen in a while, and he’s a bit of a character. For some reason we really wanted to play euchre or some dumb game, and we didn’t have any cards but he was like “No we have to get cards. We have to!” So then him and my housemate went around the block as if they were looking for sugar or milk, “You guys have playing cards?” and they came back with uh… Some nudie playing cards with like these women from like the '80s or '90s.

We had those forever, so I put them in my CDs because I thought they would be pretty funny.

It was really funny at the time. Especially in contrast with my CD, which had very homoerotic tendencies.

I like that smile in the middle. They’re just exuding happiness.

How’s sculpture going? That’s what you graduated with, if I remember correctly.

Yeah, that was my focus. I don’t know if you saw my final thesis, it was like an immersive environment. I’m focusing on sound right now though. I’m really interested in video, and I’ve been taking a lot of photographs… nothing cohesive since my thesis because I’ve just been saving money to go on big trips.

I’ve got some pieces in the works, and I’m working on getting a tape or CD out before I leave in May.

So would this be the third [release]?

Well, I would consider it the third. 'Cause I released my very first one--it wasn’t physical. It’ll be my second physical. The first physical I ever put out was a physical with Keiki who is a noise musician from Cincinnati. That was released in January, so I don’t know what I want to do. I think I might do CDs this time and send out the files to get them like professionally printed. Just to have something nice because I don’t know the next time I’ll be able to record.

But this will just be like a full-length. Trying to incorporate everything I’ve been working on… so like ambient, industrial and noise.

Yeah, how would you describe your style?

My style is just… all the music I listen to and trying to put it all into one project. So basically what I listen to on a daily basis is like Death Grips & Joanna Newsom… and Animal Collective, and then some dance music in there. I’ve been into LCD Soundsystem, which I never really liked until this year.

So I’m trying to incorporate the industrial grittiness of Death Grips but then contrast it with some really nice vocals and guitar. Harp if I could play it, but I can’t.

I hear you might be getting a saxophone in the mix.

Oh, yeah! Oh, lately, I don’t know if you’ve seen the shows I’ve played with a drummer--this winter I really got into Liars and Big Neck Police. Just noise rock like… really noisy Modest Mouse songs.

Sounds better than current Modest Mouse songs.

Ugh. Don’t get me started… Yeah and I wanted to play noise rock, and we played like three shows together, and it was really fun.

So what’s your guilty pleasure in music? What’s somebody where people would say, “Really? You listen to that?”

Sometimes I’m afraid to play Joanna Newsom, because some people are like, “Ugh I can’t stand her voice.” I love it so much I don’t want anyone to say anything like that so I’m kind of afraid to play it sometimes.

I like Frankie Cosmos a lot. I don’t know if that’s guilty… I don’t feel guilty but I’m sure some people would be like, “Oh.”

Well, that’s all I’ve got for generic questions so let’s derail it…How do you feel about kazoos as an alternative to the recorder in our schools?

Is this a thing that’s happening?

I’m not saying it’s happening, but I’m saying the petition is up…

I don’t know too much about the kazoo, but I feel like there’s a larger range of tone for the recorder. It feels nice, and I’ve seen a band use a recorder… I think New England Patriots use either a melodica or a recorder. He just makes crazy frequencies because he mics it and puts it through all these effects pedals.

I haven’t seen anyone do that with a kazoo. I think I might’ve seen Morgan Garrett play a kazoo once, which gives it some credit. I don’t know, I think I’ve always hated the Kazoo.

Where does your hate stem from? Shrill noises?

No, because I like shrill noises. It’s more just like… "What is it?" I think I’ve only played one twice in my life, and I’m just like, “What is this thing?” I’ve only heard it played jokingly, which I guess is great. If that’s all it amounts to then that’s fantastic.

I wonder if in our lifetime… will this joke instrument turn into a seriously played, concert hall performance instrument?

I’m picturing dudes on college campuses. Instead of the usual bare feet, long hair, playing guitar with girls walking up, “Oh you play the guitar,” it’s going to be like, “Oh you play the kazoo?” I think that would be great.

All that music with acoustic guitar, like Frankie Cosmos would just be played with kazoos.

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