Artist: Das Damen
Album: Jupiter Eye
Label: SST Records
Choice Song: Girl With The Hair
HIS: I’m gonna get all dinosaur on your ass and tell you about the old times. Way back when before we had Pitchfork or Spin.com. Back before fresh, young, experimental artists were playing late night tv or licensing their music to car companies. Back when discovering new bands was all a result of being at shows or trading tapes or reading Forced Exposure or the Aquarian or watching 120 Minutes. Or simply wandering into the record store without any impending purchase in mind and flipping through the racks, settling on an album based on cover art, intriguing name or title, and of course record label. There are certain record labels whose tag on the back were just as important as the name on the front. Those little label logos meant that while you may not know what you’re getting sonically, you know it’s gonna be fucking good. Those labels were a stamp of approval. An impersonal personal guarantee. An assurance of quality. I’m talking about labels like Dischord, Touch And Go, Sub Pop, Matador, Homestead, Flying Nun, Rough Trade, Merge and scads of other, smaller imprints. One of the most important of these, of course, was SST. In my life I’ve probably owned a hundred SST LPs, CDs and tapes and I could probably count on one hand the ones I didn’t like. I mean, shit man, we’re talking about the place that gave us Dinosaur Jr, Black Flag, Meat Puppets, The Minutemen, Saccharine Trust, Descendants, Subhumans, Husker Du, Soundgarden, Bl’ast, Screaming Trees, The Dicks and of course Das Damen. This place was like an all-star team. I can certainly remember the first time I bought Jupiter Eye (on CD so many years ago) and I can certainly remember that I had never heard of Das Damen before. I was probably looking for a Dinosaur Jr record and came across this album whose art kicked ass. I picked it up for further inspection, noted the SST logo on the back and marched immediately to the register, never worrying that I might be wasting my money on a record I’d never heard by a band I knew nothing about. SST thought it was cool thus it had to have been cool. I trusted in that. I sure hope kids still trust labels like that.
HERS: Most New Yorkers aren’t New Yorkers at all. We didn’t fit in enough in our hometowns to stay, but when we get here, where we’re from is all we’ve got. I’m a southern girl from North Carolina when I’m here in the Big Apple, but back home I’m a New Yorker. We make precisely no sense like that. So when I took the HIS to my HERS to my hometown, I wanted to show him everything. The hood on the West Side of town where I went to high school, the Bojangles we’d skip 7th period Latin at, the Dairy Queen we ran to from soccer practice, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the park where I drank my first beer (a 40oz OE, obviously), the amazing grocery store that is Harris Teeter — ya know, the important stuff. Stuff I desperately ran from when I fled north for college and some of the stuff I miss the most. Ain’t that how it always goes? Mostly I wanted him to get that old school southern feel where people are people and really know each other, really touch each other, hug each other, go slow, sip slow, cook slow, talk slow and do it up right, nice and sweet. Stuff I didn’t even realize was a southern thing until I left. Unfortunately we didn’t have time for it all because it was a hot and humid 90 degrees in the middle of brutal southern summertime, the AC on my mom’s old Volvo wasn’t working and his patience was running thin. I’d gotten a dude who hates to fly all the way to NC and now he’ll never really get where I’m from. All he’ll remember is that it’s fucking hot in North Carolina in the summer. But we had time for one more stop on our whirlwind tour. And as this relationship has a habit of doing, we veered off course. Instead, he showed ME something about my own hometown. Typical. A record store, at that. Also typical. It sits minutes away from my house on a street I drive every time I’m home. Never saw it before. In we walk and within seconds he’s already shaking hands with the owner who’s called him by name and they’re rapping about music and life. Before I know it the classic southern moment I was chasing all day was happening right here and now. But this wasn’t all that typical come to think of it. Because this happens in almost every record store I step foot in with the guy no matter where we are. Maybe it’s not a southern thing then. Maybe it’s just a good people thing. Or a people thing period, as opposed to a machine, an automated service or computer. I realized that perhaps what he likes so much about record stores is what I love so much about my hometown. And there he goes again. Making me see my own world in a different way. Anyway, we walked out with a lot of music that day (typical), including this record.