Tuesday, May 12, 2009
In Full: No Fun Fest's Carlos Giffoni
I'm no connoisseur of noise, but I love a lot of music that could be categorized as such. (My main man in that field is Joe Colley, on whom I wrote a bit here.) Thus I've always been curious about the annual NYC noise powwow No Fun Fest--running this Friday through Sunday at Music Hall of Williamsburg. I've never attended the event and have never covered too much of that stuff, but this year that all changes. Here's a TONY No Fun preview feature I wrote, which includes an interview with fest honcho Carlos Giffoni (above), as well as a "Five Essential Noise Records" playlist (with short streaming audio samples) that Giffoni compiled and a supplementary interview with Thurston Moore, a ubiquitous presence at local noise events. I'm very psyched to check out Sunday's NFF lineup, which includes the awesome-sounding pairing of Kevin Drumm and Prurient (though I just found out Merzbow canceled due to swine-flu fears--bummer!). Will surely report back next week.
In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to post my unedited conversation with Giffoni. I had a great time chatting with this exceedingly amiable dude. It's always cool to meet a serious achiever in their field who has absolutely zero ego or pretense about what they do. I definitely recommend Giffoni's own work, including the bracingly buzzy recent synth disc, Adult Life, discussed here. Below is the full transcript of the interview, which took place at a West Village Vietnamese joint on April 27.
HS: Can you tell me a little about your upbringing and how you started playing music?
CG: Sure, I was born in Venezuela, in a city called Barquisimeto. My family wasn't really what you'd call an artist-oriented type of family: My dad was an engineer and my mom was an office manager. But I just naturally gravitated toward an interest in doing music stuff. And I started playing in a punk band when I was 15 or so as a singer, and we did tape demos and played radio shows and stuff like that. So that was my first exposure to performing music. And then at the age of 18, my whole family moved to the U.S. and I moved with them. So I was living in Miami then for four years. And I was really interested in experimental-sounding stuff, even though—because I was in South American and access to the internet was limited, even at that point—I didn't know much except bands like Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine, just because I liked the stuff that was going on, kind of like what was called "alternative" music then. And then when I got to the U.S., I was able to dig a little deeper and I had more internet access and I had a few friends in Miami that were doing stuff that was related to Harry Pussy and things that were going on in Miami and I got asked to play in band then, which was Monotract, which was my first full-on experimental project that I was involved in.
HS: You played guitar in that band?
CG: I started off playing guitar and then later on, I started doing electronics and things like that. Again, it's kind of like the same thing: I didn't have access to understanding how certain sounds were made, and I just started as a guitar player and it went from there, and I got into other things. Just from being in the band, we started touring and trying to figure out how to do a 7" ourselves, all that kind of stuff, and we did a lot of smaller tours up and down the East Coast, a few tours towards the West Coast, and it was kind of like small shows, basement shows, and we started making connections with other bands that were doing interesting stuff and that's kind of how I really established my knowledge of underground music, was in the U.S. And then I moved to New York in 2000 and started organizing smaller shows, kept playing with the band, started doing collaborations with other people and then I got the idea to do the Fest, and the Fest started in 2004, after four years of being very active on the music scene here, doing my own shows and playing with other people.
HS: Since you started off as a performer, what led you to booking shows?
CG: I guess when I first got to New York I felt that there were a few people that were doing shows but it was very sparse, and there were still a lot of people that I had met from touring in the U.S. that would sometimes get in touch and ask me, like, "Is there any way we can get a show in New York? Do you know anyone?" And sometimes I could connect them to people and other times I couldn't and I thought, Maybe I should try myself to set up a few shows, and that's really how it got started, from asking a few venues that I had played if I could set up a show. That's how it started, from really, really small shows to what has become the fest now.
HS: How did you come up with the name?
CG: Right, so, yeah—It's kind of funny because at first I didn't know what it was going to be called; I had no idea what to call the fest and I started asking my friends about it. And "No Fun" is actually the first thing Thurston Moore replied to me when I asked him on the spot, "What's a good name for the fest?" So then I was like, "Alright, that's perfect." So it's tied to, like, the Stooges song "No Fun" and it was kind of like a joke too, but for me it was perfect for what I wanted to put together.
HS: Is the name meant as a joke? In other words, are people having fun in a traditional way at these shows?
CG: Yeah, I think people can have fun at anything, you know. But there's definitely one end of the spectrum, which is like very serious people doing very academic stuff and maybe that is something that I'm not that much into; I like some aspects of that. But then there's the other aspect, which is younger people trying to figure it out on their own, coming up with their own music systems and their own way of performing and I think that can be very enjoyable, so I think there's definitely room in there for it to be enjoyable, depending on the act. And the nature of pure noise, it's a little bit—it overtakes your senses, so if you see a noise show that's really loud and there are a multitude of frequencies that are all represented at the same time, it's both physical and it hits you also subconsciously in a way that you can't move [Laughs], you know, just letting the sound just wash over you. So that doesn't necessarily mean that it's not an enjoyable experience: It's enjoyable in a different way. So there's that aspect. But what I do with No Fun, there's so many different—It's not just like a noise thing: There's so many different subgenres and connections with other different types of music so you have to go band-by-band, act-by-act and see what they do.
HS: That touches on something I'd like to talk about, which is, where do you draw the line for what you book? What do bands like Bardo Pond, Phantom Orchard [Zeena Parkins and Ikue Mori] and even Lightning Bolt have in common?
CG: There's a common mistake in thinking right away that No Fun is just a noise festival, because there is a lot of that in what I do as a musician and the kind of shows that I usually put together. But the truth of the matter is that the fest is about underground music in general and things that I like. It's not to say that my taste is better than anyone else's; it's just that I happen to be in the position that this fest is possible and when I first started, I felt that there were a lot of bands that needed more exposure along with the experimental bands that were more established that could work very well together at a festival setting. So I think I can go as far away as my musical tastes go as far as what I consider worthy—not worthy, but what works at the fest. And more than the full fest itself, I'm more careful about a progression day-to-day and band-to-band, to try to make something that's interesting and engaging. I try not to put bands that are too similar back-to-back unless I feel that for some reason it's worth it. I think that's there's really no limit there; I mean this year, we have a few bands that you could consider pop bands, right? Not talking about Sonic Youth and Bardo Pond, because they have other things in their music and they're probably going to do sets that are gonna be specific to the fest, but there's like Xeno and Oaklander, and Blank Dogs that are pretty much pop music, so yeah, I think there's no limit there. As long as something comes from an underground approach and it has something interesting either structurally or sonically, then I think it could fit in the fest.
HS: So you're really thinking about programming an evening's worth of music and in a larger way, the three-night experience.
CG: Yeah, definitely when I'm working on the lineup, the way that I do it is I always have like ten bands, let's say, that I really want to have that year: [bands] that haven't been there before or that I feel like they need to come back and play again or they're like legends to me and I want to bring them in. So that's how I first fill a good chunk of the spots. And then there are many other bands that are always on my list, artists that I feel like they can do something really good. And then there's friends of mine that will come to me and be like, "Hey, check this thing out" or "Listen to this," and I'll check it out and I'll be like, "Oh, this is really good—let's give it a try." Once I have all those bands, once I have the full picture, then it's when I go and divide it by day and try to make it so that it makes sense from beginning to end. So it comes from having a larger group of bands and then trying to make it work on a day -by-day basis, both with the progression of the entire thing and the progression day-by-day. So, that's pretty much how it works. And then the headlining thing, it's kind of funny because I don't think some of the bands that are headlining are better or worse than some of the other bands playing before; I just try to make it so that there's the most amount of people watching each band.
HS: It seems like over the past couple of years, with Wolf Eyes signing to Sub Pop, etc., that this whole noise community started to pick up steam. When did you notice that it was catching on?
CG: I think probably around 2002 or so, 2003, I started doing some shows that were the same idea of No Fun but condensed into one night. So the first big show that I had that was a complete success beyond what I expected was a show where I had Wolf Eyes and Lightning Bolt, and Deerhoof also played. I think it was 2002 if I'm not mistaken—I have to double-check that. So yeah, it was a sold-out show, full capacity, between 400 and 500 people—I can't even remember what the capacity of the place was. But that was the first time that I felt like, Alright, there's enough interest here that if you have the right event and there are people that want to know these bands, I saw there was possibilities there beyond the usual basement shows that were happening until then. And then, like you said, shortly after that, there was a lot of success in what Wolf Eyes was doing and there were other bands that started playing and more people started coming to shows. Maybe in a way that has rebounded a little bit now, when it's harder for a regular noise show to have a few hundred or a hundred people now, which happened a lot around the first year of No Fun when I would even just have a Hair Police show with a few other bands and we would get 200 people. Maybe the same show today would have 100 people. But the fest has kept growing and we keep getting bigger venues and it keeps getting sold out. And instead of growing up, it's grown sideways, where there's like more interesting bands now, there's like a younger generation of bands that is happening, and there's more people around the world that are willing to set up a show and make something happen. So I think that's a healthy thing in a way. Instead of just a few bands picking up, it's kind of grown across a little bit.
HS: And you're doing a No Fun Fest in Sweden?
CG: Yeah, I just announced today that I'm doing a Swedish version of the festival September 18, 19 and 20. I have support from someone over there that's been organizing shows for years, and we're doing it at this really amazing venue over there called Fylkingen, where they did all these sound-poetry records many years ago and it's like a really beautiful venue underneath a really old historical structure there. Yeah, I'm really happy with that and I'm working on the lineup but I don't want to work too much on it till the fest in the U.S. is over, then I'm really gonna go deep into it, start announcing bands and stuff like that. But it's something that I've actually been working on for about three years now, just trying to get the right setting to have the fest in another country. And there were some opportunities where it almost happened in Switzerland a few years ago and that ended up not working out and there was some other talk of having it in some other places, and everything was right for this to happen in Sweden this time. And I'm looking forward to that more than anything, like trying to bring it to other countries and see what happens. My dream ideally would be to have it in South America one day. I think that's a longshot, but who knows? It could happen.
HS: How do you go about marketing and promoting something that's so uncommercial?
CG: I do advertise in a few magazines, like Wire and Signal to Noise, that are geared specifically toward experimental music. But other than that, a lot of it is really like word-of-mouth: e-mail lists, different [message] boards that I'm on, and I do have a press list that I e-mail with my events and the fest information. And that's pretty much the way it happened. Even from the beginning of the fest, I think it was such a success that I kind of had press people coming to me and asking me about it and wanting to write about it, so I was really lucky that it happened that way from the first fest and from then on, I built my own contact list and I build my own network of people and different online venues that I spam with information about the fest. And that's pretty much how I've done it. A lot of people get surprised when they figure out that it really is just me doing everything for the fest. And every year, I have volunteers; I have a few friends that help me with different things, for example Maya Miller always does the signs, posters, ads—that kind of a thing. And I have a few people that have helped me with other things. But yeah, that's kind of how it is: just trying to figure out alternative ways to promote and to make stuff happen.
HS: Considering the success of No Fun Fest, do you ever think about the fact that this music might belong underground, that it's not meant to get popular?
CG: I think that as far as getting super popular, I don't think it'll ever happen. I think that when we talk about popular music, we have to talk about something that can be liked by at least half the population of the world. And I feel like that's not really for experimental music to succeed in that way, just because there's no giant machines that are behind it, promoting and making things happen and exposing it to a number of people in the world that it becomes pop music. It's the same thing with jazz—jazz wasn't pop music before but now, it's pop music. Or, like, rock, it's pop music now; it wasn't when it started. But with noise and experimental music, it's always going to be underground. I feel like maybe it reaches up a little bit with certain bands that get popular enough to be noticed, but that's not something new; that's always happened, like with Throbbing Gristle, for example, which hit a certain peak many years ago and then went down. Even things that are kind of noisy but are more like electronic music like Autechre or Aphex Twin—that's something that got popular to a certain extent and went back to being interesting only for a certain group of people. So I don't see a ceiling like that for any of these bands where they could become like a mainstream band. Could it happen? Sure there's a one in a million chance that it happens; there's always like the strange situation when a band like that reaches out and gets popular. But I think also it's not what they're going into it for. Like if I'm a songwriter, I'm going into it like, "Yes, I want to be successful someday and reach as many people as possible" and that's my goal. But I feel like a lot of these bands, they just want to be able to create something unique, be able to travel a little bit and have a good time with their friends. They just have a need to create this type of music and that's good enough. So, that's how it is for me, for example, in my own music. I do it 'cause otherwise, I don't know what else to do. [Laughs] I have to do it. Then if there's some other things that come with it, like traveling and being able to put out records and things like that, that's great, but I don't think anyone's expecting any more.
HS: Do you personally hope to not have a day job and do this full time?
CG: Sure, I think that would be the ideal situation, right? And I could if (a) I didn't live in New York City, which I love living here so I can't do that, and if (b) I was willing to live at a level that I'm not willing to live at, right? [Laughs] So you know, now I have an apartment—a nice place. I live with my girlfriend and I have two cats. I travel to visit my family overseas once a year, right? But there are many people who just do music and they try to figure out a way to work within what they have, right? Meaning, like, for example, Wolf Eyes. Those guys, they're not working; they don't have day jobs. But, you know, they have to be touring all the time and they have other avenues of making money, like with their own label and things like that—it's a lot of hard work. So, yeah, I mean, I would love to not be doing anything else, but I'm aware that currently, that's not something that's doable for me. But sure, someday, even if I get a better job situation, like before I had where I could take off whenever I wanted and kind of work from not being at the place—Sure, I would love a situation like that. We'll see what happens; you never know. We'll see. I mean, I did do it for a period of three or four months a while ago, when I was just doing the label and I had kind of like a teaching gig that was like once a week. We'll see what happens.
HS: Do the people you work with know about your work with No Fun?
CG: It's kind of funny because I think a lot of people do not know, but every once in a while someone will bring it up, like, "Hey, so how's No Fun going?," just kind of like putting me on the spot. Or recently, they see something on Facebook or they see something somewhere on the internet, and they're like, "Oh, that's you! You play with this person!" or "You do this fest!" So it's always kind of funny. My boss knows because I went to school with him, so he's aware of everything I did before he hired me. But yeah, it's kind of always, you know, not a very well-kept secret in a way. Like whoever wants to know, they can know.
HS: Where does the funding come from?
CG: Yeah, so that's the million-dollar question, like how did I make it work financially. I have to say that I took a giant risk, especially on the first year, with all the costs, where for some reason, credit-card companies really like me. I have these credit cards with a really high spending limit, 'cause I guess right away when I first got to the States, I started getting credit cards and I was pretty good about paying them. So the reality of is that I always have one or two credit cards where I put all the cost and then I pay it back with the ticket sales, and that's how it's worked. I did have like somewhat of a—it wasn't a sponsorship. It was kind of like a sponsorship from a beer company at one of the fests that the venue worked out so we had something to work with up front. But it just basically pays for itself with ticket sales and there's been like a few years where I lost some money. There's been a few years where I ended up a little bit on the plus side, so yeah, it's tough [Laughs]. It's just me and my credit cards, man; it's not easy.
HS: It must be really interesting for you to reach out to Merzbow, Cluster and other forefathers of the noise scene. What's that like for you?
CG: It's really great. I mean the first year, everyone that played, I knew from playing shows or collaborating or playing the same festival or in some way or another, I met them and I could directly ask them to participate. From the second or even more in the third year, I started to reach for things that I just wanted to have no matter if I knew these people or if it was possible or not. So even beyond what's been presented at the fest, there's been many other acts that I've tried to get but they have not worked out. But it was very easy for me to approach them, I have to say, because I already had the first year and I had the second year of the fest, so I had something that I could show them: that it was a legitimate event, that I had press for it, that there was other bands or other acts that were similar or people they knew were playing. So it became a lot easier to make it happen. Something like Cluster, for example, I noticed that they were planning to play one reunion show in Berlin and I noticed that there was a festival that they were playing in Scandinavia, which I had played. So I just asked the festival person in Scandinavia if he could put me in touch with them. It happened like that. And I always try to make a connection somehow with the person I'm inviting even if it's through a third party as opposed to trying to contact them through an agent or their website or something like that. Because I feel like that's part of the fest, that personal quality that is on that level that is not like this big festival even though it's kind of become that. There's not 20 people; there's no state funding like there is for festivals in Europe. So I think that's part of the charm of the festival is that it's personal; it's more of a community-driven type of thing, at the promotion level, the booking level, everything that's done for it. And the volunteers that help me, at least half of them are friends that really want to help me out and who want to be there. So yeah, it's been really great to have Merzbow, Cluster and Incapacitants. And sometimes, like Incapacitants, who are these super-legendary Japanese guys that have never played in the U.S. before, I went to Japan. I went and I did a tour in Japan, and part of the reason was to meet them and talk to them, and I have a connection to them, and they see that I'm a real person that just wanted them to come and I could offer them everything they needed to make it happen. It's interesting, and it's been a really good experience to make that happen. And it's made some really interesting things happen for me at the musician level too, like when I went to Japan last time, I played with Merzbow, so we played together a few shows and that came because he had come to the fest and we had met and we had been interchanging music, I had been sending him stuff, he had been sending me stuff. So in a way it's all kind of connected to what I do personally as a musician, the fest and my personal life with my friends.
HS: How do those older musicians react to the younger artists? Are they open to that music? Because a lot of that music is very different...
CG: Definitely. I think that it depends. I would think that at first they feel very curious about it, right? To see that there's this event going on and that there's all these other bands that maybe they've never heard of. So I think that in that sense they're very open-minded about it, and I think in another sense, sometimes it's like you say—it's so far apart. Like when Cluster played, I can't remember which band it was; it might have been like Nautical Almanac or some band that played earlier on, but Joachim [i.e., Cluster's Hans-Joachim Roedelius] comes to me and he's like, "Why is it so loud?" [Laughs] And of course there's still going to be a distance between them, but maybe sometimes you can kind of reach, sometimes maybe you can't reach that distance, but I think that it has to be interesting for them as musicians to see that (a) there's this much interest in their stuff by young people and that (b) there's all these younger bands that are in some ways continuing what they started.
HS: For someone like Merzbow who's been around for so long, he was already a legend, but it must be a big benefit to him to have this whole new scene that's embracing that music.
CG: Yeah, I think that's definitely the case.
HS: You mentioned that there were some artists that had not worked out. What would be your five dream acts that you'd like to have at the fest?
CG: Sure. That's hard to think on the spot. Klaus Schulze would be one person, with the stuff that I'm more interested in now with synth music and electronic stuff, who actually told me he's never played in the U.S. and that he will never play in the U.S. So he's against coming here.
HS: Is that for political reasons?
CG: I don't know. I guess it's his own personal—not liking the way America is in general, both politically and in the international situation with the rest of the world. So that was a bummer. Masonna, which is a Japanese performer that's really amazing. He's wanted to do it before, but it's never worked with the dates; there's always something that conflicts. And another Japanese act that I've been wanting to make happen is Hijokaidan, which actually the two guys from Incapacitants are now in the band and it's Jojo Hiroshige, who did the Alchemy Records label. And Maryanne Amacher. She's like an amazing electronics—she's been around forever. She only has two records, which is mindblowing, but she has her own "ear music" concept; she makes these really resonating high frequencies that make one of the bones inside your ear vibrate and create tones inside your head. So she's really someone that I admire just because she's been doing it for so long and that's really interesting to me. But that's never worked out either. Let's see, how many is that?
HS: Four [Laughs]
CG: Okay, so... Hmmm... There's a lot of stuff. There's a band from the West Coast called Caroliner, which I really, really liked, and I actually set up a show, helped them set up a show years ago, but they're not really touring or doing anything, and I feel like they're really good because they're another band that are very, very strange and they have a whole kind of like ethos around them that's very interesting but they're also like a rock band in a way, like a psychedelic rock band, but they're a noise band too. That's another band that I would say. So I think that's five that have not worked out. I mean, there's others and I could think about it and I could keep coming with them, but...
HS: A lot of these collaborations that come up at No Fun Fest, like with Merzbow and Chris Corsano, is that you suggesting that?
CG: In some cases, it is. I'm always for trying to make that happen, right? Try to make like a bridge between the generations and the different styles in a way. That's not always possible. So if I have something in my mind that I think would be perfect, I do suggest it. And it some cases it has worked, some it hasn't. But sometimes things just work out perfectly. For example, Masami—Merzbow—he just did an album that has a lot of drumming on it, a lot of freestyle drumming. So when I invited him, I mentioned, "Oh, I really like this record that you just did." So he said, "If you know a good freestyle drummer that's going to be around at this time, I wouldn't mind playing with them." And Chris had already said yes to come and play a solo set on Friday so I figured that would be a really best-case scenario situation for a drummer for Merzbow. So that was my suggestion but it came together on its own organically. I think that's the best scenario when things happen like that. I think there's a lot of things that have come from bands and people that are just at the fest and they meet each other and things happen from there, so I feel like there's been tours and collaborations and records that have spawned just from all those people being in the same room for three days, talking and interchanging ideas and approaches and things like that. So I think that might be one of the things that are a merit of what the fest has done, that it has sparked a flame a little bit to make things like that happen.
HS: Where do you see the fest going from here?
CG: My answer to that, like we were talking before, is to go out of the U.S. I feel like instead of me trying to reach for acts and make it make sense at a larger level, like keep growing and getting a larger venue and trying to get a headlining type of act. For me, the answer is to go to other places, right? When I did the fest at first, there weren't as many young bands in New York that were doing interesting stuff and now there are, and I feel like, maybe if I go to Sweden and do it there, maybe there will be some renewal and some interest there and maybe there would be some new people that would start bands. And my ideal situation is to keep doing that and to keep expanding in that way that No Fun could happen anywhere in the world. It doesn't have to be a giant event, but it can be a decent size, where we can get a good crowd and we can have a unique, very different event to anything for three days anywhere in the world. So I think that is the ultimate goal for the fest right now. Who knows, it might change next year, but that's what it is for me right now.
HS: There's a common criticism of noise or electronic music being someone just standing there pushing buttons—that it lacks a compelling performance element. How do you respond to that?
CG: Right. I think in some cases that is true. Because of the nature of noise music, I feel like there's more attention to specific frequencies and details in sound that require full attention. I know that at least for me in some of my music, it is like that. But I also feel like that is not true at all; it depends on an act-by-act case. You see something like Wolf Eyes: When they're playing, it looks more like a rock show. Or even Merzbow, some of the time he's just sitting there but other times he's really getting into it physically with like handmade instruments. So I think that that's not true at all. You have something like the Macronympha performance years ago. That wasn't even safe [Laughs]—it was so physical that people got hurt.
HS: What happened, they were breaking glass or something?
CG: Yeah, I think someone got hit by a bottle and needed 10 or 15 stitches on his head. It was mayhem, and it actually came from like a feedback reaction between what the performers were doing and the audience was getting involved too and all of a sudden the audience was onstage and there were things flying everywhere [Laughs]. It was almost like a riot there. So that's a perfect example of how certainly there are specific occasions where there is not a lot of movement from the performer, but that's not the all-across rule. There's many shades of noise and experimental and what acts you could see at the fest.
HS: From what you described and from performances I've watched online, it seems like the crowd gets pretty rowdy.
CG: I think in some cases what happens is that there are some people who are coming from places where they don't get any of these bands to play in one day, or like in one year, they don't get a third or fourth of the bands, and they come to the fest and they're so psyched and pumped up that it becomes an energy that's way more exciting than any other show that could be happening. And even from the beginning of the fest, that's how it felt. Even when the first band played, it felt so different than any other show I had been at, just because the people were so excited, and there were so many people there from different parts of the country and even from different parts of the world that were there, and that was their one big event they were gonna go to for the year. I think that's what causes a more physical reaction than normal for these bands or for this type of music, is that excitement. It's built up every year.
HS: Is there ever a point when you felt it was getting too out of hand?
CG: [Laughs] Well, whenever the owner or the manager of a venue comes running to you with big eyes and screaming, I think that's when you've gotta try to make things calm down a little and maybe talk to a few people and try to see how you can make it work. But other than that, I try not to get in the way of any of the performers, like their concepts or ideas. I try to make sure what they're doing is safe, but other than that, I don't try to get in the way.
HS: So even from the first fest, you had people traveling to attend?
CG: Yeah, even in the first festival, I clearly remember there were a few people from the U.K.; there were a few Europeans too. And I feel like this year, I know for sure because some people have written me asking about hotels and things like that. There's people from Sweden, Japan, again from the U.K. There's people from Greece that have come over, from Mexico. I remember a few years ago we had a guy from Mexico who wanted to take pictures with me and who was really excited about being there. I feel like maybe at the beginning, it was like just a few Europeans that were traveling over more than anything and a few people from England, and now there's people from all over the world: Japan, there's a few people coming from Istanbul this year. Even from the beginning, I think there were a lot of people traveling to this and even more so now.
HS: Have you personally attended every single night of every fest?
CG: Yes, I've been to every single one, and I have seen as much as possible of each night, except for the moment when I had to sit down with an owner to settle something or before when we had two stages, I always try to make it so there's a possibility of seeing everything if you run up and down between the two stages. This year we only have one stage, but half of the time, it's been two stages, and I run up and down to see most of it. I think I've seen at least a little bit of almost every single act that's played.
HS: Does it ever just become too much for your eardrums?
CG: Sometimes it could become too much just to my body from running up and down and having to be there early for soundchecks. I think at least half of the time, I've gotten sick right after, like I got the flu or something, just from being physically strained. Other than that, no: It's what I enjoy, so for me, it's like, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I mean, I do like being on the beach in the Caribbean too, so I think that would be a hard choice. [Laughs] But other than that, I think that for me, I'm actually having a good time.
HS: If you could say what you're most proud of about No Fun, what would it be?
CG: I think that it's definitely for me, especially in the last year or two, seeing a lot of new bands and a lot of younger guys, like Emeralds or Noveller or Infinity Window that I feel like maybe they wouldn't be around or maybe I wouldn't know about them if it wasn't for the fest happening. So things like that, seeing that there's renewed interest and that bands are going to continue to challenge the expected music, it's the most exciting and fulfilling thing for me.
HS: Can I ask you your age?
CG: I was born in 1978, so that makes me 31 now.
HS: One more thing: What do you think is the importance of someone like Thurston Moore, who's always talking about this scene in the press?
CG: I think that for me personally, even more than the fest, I've been friends with Thurston for over ten years now. So for me, it was very important to have someone that I could connect to the music I liked growing up and then connect to what I like right now. So in that sense, I feel like he's an important person in the way that he could be somewhat through his music and through his other bands a conduit to more interesting music as well and more unique things that people would not find out about both if it wasn't for Thurston doing music with Sonic Youth and also having a personal interest in noise and new music. So yeah, it's super important to have people like that.