Pink House. 130 North Street. Back In The Day.

Fellow residents from the 1991-94 years were Clint Curtis, Shyam Patel, Raj Krishnasami, Lydia Craft, Jess Deltac, Kyle York Spencer, Caroline Rivers Hall, Mel Lanham, Michelle Sinnott, Jay Murray, N'Gai Wright, Scott Bullock (who crashed on the couch for a year before finally moving in), Bryan Ellerson, Karen Hurka, Sally Stryker, Ryan Mathias, Charlie Speight, Chris Palmatier, Trent McDevitt, and Steve William.

Besides holdovers and returnees Jay, Scott, Mel (& Laverne!), Chris, and N'Gai, residents during 1995-97 included Allen Sellars (who, like Jay, lived at both the Pink House and 401 Pritchard), Ian Williams, Zak Bisacky, James Dasher, Linden Elstran, Jiffer Bourguignon, Grant Tennille (who first made the scene as a fixture in N'Gai's room circa summer '93), Zia Zareem, Ben Folds, Tom Holden, and Chris "Chip" Chapman.

- Erik Ose

Monday, July 26, 1993

Prior to an alleged mugging across the street

Stay Free! #3, September 1993

Tsunami: Band Interview

To speak of Washington, DC-based indie rockers Tsunami is to speak of Simple Machines, the record label founded in by Jenny Toomey and Kristin Thomson. With an appreciation of pop aesthetics, Dischord ethics and fun packaging, Simple Machines has helped the D.C. music scene broaden its definition of punk. Spreading the DIY (do-it-yourself) doctrine, Simple Machines has also pioneered a how-to-release-your-own-record booklet to encourage others to do it their way.

After loads of noteworthy singles, the label recently released CD#2, which, happily enough, belongs to Tsunami. Deep End, the band's first full-length, came out early this summer and they've been on the road ever since. In July (7/26), the tour bus (actually a van) stopped at Local 506 to indulge for a criminally sparse audience.

Tsunami = Kristin Thomson (guit/vox); Jenny Toomey (guit/vox); John Pamer (drums); and Andrew Webster (bass/vox). Stay Free!'s chat with the band, which took place after the show but prior to an alleged mugging across the street, was conducted by Chris Palmatier, Carrie McLaren and Jay Murray.

SF!: How did each of you get involved with music? Like how'd you all get interested in playing and the indie-rock thing?

AW: Fun roommates and a wet-behind-the-ears tour.

SF!: So it was post-high school?

AW: Yeah. I didn't care about rock in high school.

JP: I did. I had a Moving Targets sticker on my car.

Kris: I was really interested in setting up shows in college. I totally fell into it like that, instead of playing, although I played instruments all the time.

SF!: Were you listening to music outside mainstream channels?

Kris: Yeah totally. I used to go to punk rock shows all the time. Then I just got more involved in setting them up. Once you get involved not just as a spectator but as a participant, it's much easier to participate in other ways. Whether it's playing or putting out records or whatever.

Jen: I was always into music, before I knew about punk at all. I was in choir s and stuff, and really into Simon and Garfunkel and the Dead. When I found out there were kids in my high school who were putting out their own records, that was the coolest thing. Incredible. That's how I started being involved with punk in the first place. And then I did similar things like Kristen, put shows on, stuff like that, and eventually decided to play.

SF!: So playing followed the other stuff?

Jen: Well there was punk and then feminism in college, and then I thought about why, since I'd been really into music, I hadn't stepped up to be in a band. And I had other friends who asked me that question. So the next thing was the band.

SF!: I recently had this meeting at my house with local women rockers and there was one woman who was visiting from Washington. She was surprised to hear that the number of women involved in our music scene hasn't increased much proportionately because she said there were a lot more women in the D.C. scene. I was wondering if you guys noticed anything like that yourselves and if you would attribute it to anything. Or traveling around if you've noticed differences in the number of women in your audiences.

JP: I've definitely noticed a difference since we've been traveling, but in D.C. I don't know. I've only been listening to music there since like '86. Everywhere else there seems to be more women in bands.

Jen: On the last tour, there were definitely more women in the audience, probably because we were identified with riot grrrls. We had mainly all-women or mostly women bands opening for us, which was really unusual. The same thing happened in D.C. When Fire Party, a Dischord band that was all women, first started playing, a bunch of women who had been part of the scene suddenly got in bands because all of a sudden there was someone else doing it. I think you always need someone to step up front and do it first and make it formal.

AW: So you don't feel like the first freak.

Jen: There were other girls in bands, but Fire Party were the first that were enough a part of the scene that people thought they were cool to be in a band. Then it became sort of a role model thing. My whole theory is that in small scenes, there's a lot more place for women in the bands because the people who are alternative, or weird, or freaks, are so few that they need as many people as they can get. So, if there's girls...(everybody laughs)

AW: It doesn't pay to cut the girls out.

Jen: Exactly. So in weird cities, like those in Louisiana, there are punk rock bands with girls because there's not enough punks to divide themselves into traditional lines.

SF!: So you might have gotten involved more quickly if you hadn't been in D.C.?

Jen: Maybe. I needed someone I respected to ask me why I wasn't in a band before I joined one.

AW: I came from a really small, non-musical, non-punk scene in Connecticut, and there are no girls in bands there still. They could do to include the other half of the population, but there hasn't been anyone bold enough to step up and do it first. So they're still all-boy bands, and they're punk or they're indie rock.

SF!: Is there a reason to make a conscious effort to play with girl bands? A lot of women in bands don't like being tagged as women bands, or riot grrrls...

Kris: To some extent it's silly being categorized; all this stuff is so short term anyway.

Jen: I think we're all really interested in girl bands. When we know there's a girl in the opening band, we'll probably watch them longer.

AW: [Laughing] Yeah, it's much more exciting. Tomorrow night, Columbia, South Carolina: all I know is that the band that's opening for us has a girl singer and a girl guitar player. And I'm already more interested. Just by being a girl bold enough to step into a boy rock world, you're probably more interesting than Joe Normal Guy who just got in because all his friends were in. Any boy can be in a band, but it's sort of a sassy, spunky girl to jump into the scene.

SF!: Logistical questions: which came first, band or record label?

Jen: Record label, a year before the band.

SF!: Was that just an outgrowth of putting together shows?

Jen: Well, I was in other bands, besides Tsunami, and we had stuff that we'd recorded, and no one else was going to put it out, so we started the record label.

SF!: So you were in Geek (a pre-Tsunami band) before Simple Machines existed?

Jen: Yup, definitely.

SF!: Does Simple Machines have a goal?

Kris: We're just trying to put out records that we like, that are mostly our friends' bands, and sell 'em for a fair price. Up until now we've done mostly compilations, so we've worked with about a hundred bands now. We try to think of interesting projects and tie them up with themes or community awareness. We're into giving people information and ways to get more information.

SF!: When you made the jump from putting out 7-inches to CDs with the Mommyheads CD, was that a huge jump?

Jen: Not really. Kris and I have a lot more work...think our main goals are to set it up as a label that doesn't make the mistakes that a lot of labels do in this weird period where you end up overextending yourself, getting into debt, and then taking advantage of people. It's very hard because there's not a very high profit margin on 7 inches or even little CDs. The Mommyheads CD never recouped its costs. It's very hard to keep things in print; the amount of work is so big, we have friends who help us, but we pay them a pittance. The question is how to raise their salaries and keep the label going, to set it up so it's really a business that actually pays people a living, while being creative.

SF!: Are your goals for the band and the label at all on different scales? I mean, it seems like everyone in the band is sort of involved in the label. Is there any time that there's a conflict between those two priorities?

Kris: No. We plan both things together. If Tsunami has to go on tour, we figure out what's best for Simple Machines releases when we start. We rely a lot on friends who keep things going...

SF!: I know earlier you said you were trying not to make the mistakes other labels made. Has it helped to learn from Superchunk and the Merge folks? Having somebody kind of one step ahead?

Jen: We're totally the luckiest label for that kind of stuff. We watched Dischord and Sub Pop, and Slumberland to try to avoid problems they ran into. And we all help each other, if there's somebody who's not trustworthy, we let everybody know not to deal with them.

SF!: Do you guys hear a lot about people who used your how-to-release-a-record thing?

Kris: Totally. We get tapes and records every day. There's been over 800 booklets sold.

Jen: I think the whole packaging thing has totally blossomed in the last few years. People take a real interest in making releases look beautiful.

SF!: Have you guys gotten big offers?

Jen: Never. I don't think a major has talked to us directly, ever. Some major independents...

AW: We got a form letter from MCA.

Jen: They heard about the show tonight. They heard how bad it was gonna be.

SF!: Does the lack of hype make your life easier?

Jen: We have hype...I don't know. Mudhoney never got approached by a major label until they went looking, because they made it really clear that they weren't interested. So maybe that's it. Or maybe we're just really pathetic.

SF!: Well, you guys are kind of successful with your own thing.

AW: When there's a major guy, he comes up to you, "I know you do it all great yourself, but we could do better."

Jen: Well, it's funny to listen to those people go into dumb bandspeak, like "We could give you some tour support."

AW: "There's a lot of exposure on the national level for your act."

Jen: I think everybody should put out their own records first, so they know what all that stuff means.

SF!: Do you guys use contracts?

Jen: Yeah, we do.

SF!: For 7 inches?

Jen: Not for the 7 inches but for Scrawl, and Tsunami is on contract to Simple Machines.

SF!: Do you guys all pay yourselves through your band thing? Or do you have day jobs?

Jen: We used to have jobs, but we just quit them recently to tour.

AW: Six weeks on, six weeks off...

SF!: How do you get the Working Holiday series organized? (Working Holiday is a 12-part series of 7" split singles, one for every month in 1993. Each single is thematically related to a holiday within the month of its release.)

Jen: We just sat down and did a wish list and almost every one came through. We figured it out all ahead of time and got 24 bands up front. Then one alternate band wrote a song that we could stick in when the first fuck-up band didn't get us stuff on time, which happened with the third single.

SF!: My favorite is the Cocktails song...soooo hot!!

Jen: That's the one!

Kris: That was the alternate we used. (Liz Phair was the fuck-up).

Monday, July 19, 1993

Life is hedonistic and lazy in Chapel Hill

Whassup wit you, homegirl? How's small town Rhode Island treating you? I am writing to you from Chez Pink, upstairs at my desk on a hot, hazy mid-summer Monday afternoon.

Or should I say I'm currently perched in the Tree House, since that's what the Pink House has become this summer. Passengers and fellow travelers heading in and out the doors, coming from all directions, at all times. Two-legged animals everywhere, new and different ones every day.

Jenny and I will be coming up north to Rhode Island for the first ten or so days of August. Jay has mentioned coming up there with Lydia around the same time. It would be fun if we could all get to do two things while we're there – hang out with you and go out to Block Island for a day, and visit Caroline in Boston.

And have you heard about the MTV Beach House that's in Hyannis, on the Cape? It's this big beach house that MTV has rented, and they're filming in it all summer long. Sometimes it's like an outdoor version of The Grind dance show, the one hosted by that obnoxious kid Eric from the first Real World. We want to show up there and crash the scene. As long as you look like a funky beach clubber, they'll let you on the show.

Life is hedonistic and lazy in Chapel Hill. Last night I went to the Power Company in Durham. On Saturdays this summer it has become the mecca for fun loving straight people who are down with the dance scene. I was hanging with friends who are working for ADF this season, and dancers from one of their visiting companies were there at the club with us, mostly beautiful gay men in half-drag. Cute women friends of my friends thought I was just the sexiest straight dance god they'd seen all night.

N'Gai has set about to fill the Tree House with mysterious music at all hours. He's bought a flute, cello, keyboards, and now congas and drums. Other miscreants drop in for sessions with trumpets, guitars, microphones and amps.

Speaking of N'Gai, he may or may not be headed for New York in August. The project he's working on with Tony Deifell (and Ian Williams, who signed on to do some editing) keeps generating job leads in different places. I hope that you'll still be working in Westerly by the time we get up there to Rhode Island, so I can find out where you'll be in the fall.

I've enclosed all your mail that's come to the house so far. In fact, it was the postcard you got about this tropical vacation cruise you've "won" that finally motivated me to sit down and write. Please send us a postcard from Tahiti.

- Letter to Kyle

Saturday, July 3, 1993

Positive Energy: North Carolina's First Outdoor Rave

I'm going to go visit Jenny this weekend for the Fourth of July, sit on her roof and watch fireworks Sunday night, go with her to this huge outdoor rave in High Point on Saturday. They've been running kinda primitive but funky looking commercials for this rave on local TV. So that should be fun.

- Letter to Firas

STATE'S FIRST OUTDOOR RAVE THIS WEEKEND (Greensboro News & Record, Wednesday June 30, 1993)
What promoters say is North Carolina's first outdoor rave begins at 10 p.m. Saturday at Castle McCulloch's Tiltyard on Business 85 in High Point.
The Positive Energy Rave, an all-night dance party, boasts 60,000 watts of surround sound, strobe cannons, a giant video screen and a 7,000-square-foot tent. Performers include Young American Primitive of San Francisco, D.J. Tarentella from Los Angeles, and three top rave disc jockeys, Ed LeBrun, Drew Detweiler and Jason Ross. Tickets, $12 in advance, can be purchased at all TicketMaster outlets or by calling 852-1100.

It's PartyTime, Kids!

Host with the most, Matthew Dan Stewart

Instinctive travels up and down the East Coast

This is your main man Erik the revolutionary guru, coolin' in Chapel Hill at the Pink House. What's up! I got your eminently digable letter that youse sent me from Jerusalem. It sounded like you were up to positive tricks as usual, causing trouble, skeezing on bodacious cuties, fighting the IMO powers that be in occupied Palestine.

It's now Friday. You know what I'm going to do tonight? I think Derek Shadid just got back in town from his internship in New York. Maybe I'll give him a call. You wouldn't believe what a treehouse the Pink House has been this summer. Numerous random passengers are along for the ride at all times. People breeze in, slide out. This shit happens constantly.

I myself only got back to town about a week ago. In fact, I read your letter my first night back, up real late with Lem. It was a trip. We were listening to some very psychedelic Hendrix at the time, a song called "1983...A Merman I Should Hope To Be," from Electric Ladyland. At one point the song talks about giving a shout to all the friends who aren't around, and I had dragged out a picture of you, just to enhance the letter reading experience, so it was cool. Remind me to show and give you copies of the pictures I took at the Inauguration when you get back in the fall. They turned out very satisfactory.

Before returning to Chapel Hill, I had spent nearly the entire month of June traveling instinctively, all up and down the East Coast. My journey began when out of the blue, I heard from a friend of mine named John Hamilton Palmer. This is a cat I met in Paris last summer. He was working for Vogue magazine at the time on an editorial assistant's internship, hanging out with supermodels and DJ's at cool clubs all over the city. He traveled with my brother Jared on to Amsterdam and then to Milan, Italy, where his Dad lives and works in the fashion industry.

Anyway, this friend of mine John returned to the States at the end of last summer, and has been living with the rest of his family in Savannah, Georgia, ever since. So then he calls me up, and tells me that he's headed to New York, where he's going to be working for Conde Nast again, the publishing company that owns Vogue. He says he's leaving in a few weeks, so on the spur of the moment, I decide to take a little road trip down to visit him.

I convince Chris Pedigo to come with me. At this point, Chris was getting ready to leave for Middlebury, Vermont in a little while, where he's taking summer Russian classes.

We roll out of Chapel Hill on a Wednesday afternoon, and make it to our first destination, Myrtle Beach, S.C., before 10 pm that night. See, the Digable Planets were playing there.

(We met) this woman (who) knew Myrtle Beach really well and after chilling with me and Chris for awhile decided she'd take us out and show us around town, meaning all the remaining after hours bars and clubs. Cool! Her name was Jean, and we went with her all over town. Everywhere we went, the scene was the same. Young, horny kids, lots of women wearing sexy summer beach clothes, everybody essentially looking to get laid.

The next day, we get on the road by late afternoon and drive southward, towards Savannah, Georgia.

That night, we hang out with my friend John. Chris also knew him from last summer in Paris, so it was like a mini-reunion. Anyway, he took us out clubbing. We got into two clubs for a couple of dollars, free drinks because he knew the bartenders, and split our time between both all night since they were totally within walking distance. A fun night.

The next day was Friday. We got up, chilled, and got on the road, bound for Atlanta. Blew into town late afternoon, and headed directly for Little Five Points, which is sort of the Greenwich Village of Atlanta. Very funky. Here we collected club flyers, local magazines, and other information about the nightlife that evening.

Then, we sped all around the city, scouting out all the nightclubs where we had free passes to get in for the night. Some people in Little Five Points stopped us on the street and thought my friend John was so beautiful (he used to be a male model) that they put us all onto the guest list at one joint. We hit four clubs that night and had many adventures.


Damn, man, I'm not even half done telling you about my instinctive travels of the last month. Maybe in a future letter I'll pick up the narrative. Just to give you a taste of stories to come, from Atlanta, we took John back home to Chapel Hill with us, chilled for a week, then I drove him back down to Savannah. During that week at home we threw a mad party at the Pink House, attendance levels approaching six hundred or so. Then I headed north, stopping in D.C. to hang with my friend Dana for half a week before continuing on to Rhode Island. There, I saw friends and family, and spent a particularly adventure-filled long weekend in Boston before coming back to Chapel Hill. Swung through D.C. again on the way down to chill further with Dana. I had planned to head further south to Miami for that weekend (this was this past weekend), and hang with this woman Rashmi Airan, but at the last minute decided that the journey had to end.

So here I am, back in Chapel Hill.

I think that in early August, Jenny and I are going to travel up north to Rhode Island for one or two weeks. Lydia and Jay may come with us, and we'll chill with Kyle at some point, who's working at a community newspaper in a small town on the Connecticut-Rhode Island border. When I was going through D.C., I found out that Erica Salmon (the one we stayed with) is living on campus at GWU this summer, trying to do some painting. I'm glad you had time to write, and please write back. I'd love to know what's up with my boy Firas and his many adventures in Jerusalem and the surrounding environs, dealing with Israeli security forces, hooking up with chicks from Duke. N'Gai just received your letter, too. He says hello. You know what? We were just watching Yo! MTV Raps and a video came on by Pete Nice and Daddy Rich. Pete Nice used to be with 3rd Bass, and everybody in the room was like, yo, check this motherfucker out! He looks totally like Firas!

- Letter to Firas, 7/3/93


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Simpson (1) Old Well mural (1) Olde English 800 (1) Oliver North (1) Olivia D'Abo (1) Olivier from Paris (1) OrangePolitics (1) Owari (1) Pam Hartley (2) Papagayo's (3) Paris (4) Paris party (1) parties (25) Pat Anders (2) Paul Cardillo (2) Paul Dawson (1) Paul Ferguson (1) Paul Giragos (1) Paul Green (1) Paul Hardin (3) Paul Klee (1) Peggie Porter (4) Penny Bakatsias (2) Pete Corson (1) Pharcyde (1) Phi Mu (2) Philadelphia (2) Phoenix (1) Pine State (5) Pink House (79) Pipe (1) Plastic House (5) Plaza Theatre (2) PLUR (1) poetry (1) posters (1) Powdered Toast Man (1) Power Company (1) Prague (1) Preston Harrison Dunlop (4) Providence (1) Psych-Out (1) Purple Gator (1) Purple House (8) Pyewacket (1) Queen Steve Kennedy (1) Quince Marcum (1) raccoons (2) race relations (2) Raj Krishnasami (10) Raj Narayan (1) Rama Kayyali (1) Randy Jones (1) Rashmi Airan (10) raves (5) Ray Combs (1) recording sessions (1) Reggie Workman (1) REM (1) Ren and Stimpy (2) RHA (1) Rhode Island (1) Richard Hess (2) Richard Wright (1) Rite Aid (1) roadtrips (4) Rob Lowe (1) Robb Teer (5) Rooster (1) Rosemary Street (5) Ross Grady (1) Roy Ayers (1) Roy Lichtenstein (1) Ruby Sinreich (4) Russian House (4) Ryan Williams (1) sad news (3) Sally Stryker (3) Sapphire (1) Sarah Davis (1) Sasha (1) SCALE (2) Scott Bullock (8) Scott Holmes (3) Scott Schobel (1) SEAC (8) Shannan Bowen (2) She-Devils On Wheels (1) Sherry Lumsden (1) Short Street (2) shows (1) Shyam Patel (5) Simple Machines (1) Skylight Exchange (2) slackers (1) Smith Center (1) Smokin Joe's (1) social segregation (2) Sommerfelds (1) Sophia Sacks (1) Soul Society (1) Sound Factory (2) South Campus (1) South Philly (1) Southern Village (1) spider crickets (1) Spike Lee (4) Spins (1) Spirit Of '76 (1) Squirrel Nut Zippers (1) Stabbing Westward (1) Stacy Philpott (1) Starpoint House (1) Stay Free! 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