Quit Your Day Job: Nude Beach
A couple of weeks ago, Brooklyn rockers Nude Beach dropped the memorable clip for “Some Kinda Love,” a clip where an invisible narrator went through some kind of nervous breakdown. But, that wasn’t the only truly notable thing about the video; in the clip, the narrator walks us through the day jobs of Nude Beach’s Chuck, Jimmy and Ryan. We thought it was only fitting to revive Quit Your Day Job and dig in a little further. Their responses to our e-mail survey are below.
CHUCK, VOCALS/GUITAR (BARISTA)
SG: Which coffee shop do you work at? Do you just work at the one place or do you work at more than one?
CHUCK: I’ve been working at Culture on 38th and 6th for two years. My buddy Johnny No Pants hooked it up for me but he recently was put away on some kind of embezzlement charge.
SG: Do you like it? What’s your favorite drink to make/drink to drink?
CHUCK: It’d be awesome if it weren’t for the customers. I like espresso.
SG: I feel like all my friends who work in coffee shops have many celeb run-ins; who’s the biggest celeb that comes into your workplace?
CHUCK: No one too fantastic. Someone from Earth, Wind & Fire, and I heard David Byrne stopped in once. My most famed encounter was when I worked at [a coffee shop called] Ninth Street on 10th St. I had only just started working there and was fixing a cappuccino when some asshole leans over the counter and says, “Is that my drink?” I responded without really looking up, saying, “Yeah, yeah, this is your drink.” He leaned a little closer and said, “That’s a lot of milk, dude,” and I look up to be staring into the eyes of Matt Dillon. Dillion was a regular and surprisingly not as completely dumb as he seems, but almost. He’d come in and say things like “What’s playing on the iTunes today?” and then recommend bands like the Sex Pistols and Johnny Thunders, no shit. I had been harboring this plan to recite the “A kid who tells on another kid is a dead kid” scene from Over The Edge but I chickened out. Also, by all technicalities (and I’m almost embarrassed to know this) but what you like to drink, Mr. Dillon, is in fact not a cappuccino, its a cortado. Get it right.
SG: What’s your favorite coffee shop in NYC/Long Island that’s not your own?
CHUCK: Funny thing is, I don’t like coffee all that much. But I’ll use this as an opportunity to shout out Molasses Books.
SG: A while back we hosted a debate about making a living playing music, and featured a couple different artists’ mindsets and expectations. What do you think? Does a band like Nude Beach deserve to make a living doing music, or is making music/playing music/etc. a privilege?
CHUCK: We unfortunately probably don’t deserve to make a living making music — or at least our “career” as a band seems to tell us so. I think we all have little to no expectations, though, and as someone who has little variation of previous jobs/job skills and no college degree, I’m afraid my employment opportunities will remain on a fairly low and even plane. Fortunately I never really thought of making music as a job, and have certainly watched it eat away the money that I earn making coffee, but part of why I work is to have money to play music/make records/tour. It gets difficult when you can’t work ’cause you gotta play music, but you can’t play music ’cause you gotta work. It’s certainly nice when your hobby brings along a nice little prize though.
SG: What’s your favorite coffee shop soundtrack?
CHUCK: Thin Lizzy, Gram Parson (and related), and more recently Relatively Clean Rivers. Culture gets insanely busy though, and when I want people to get what they need and leave I blast White Zombie or Sublime.
SG: Any crazy customer stories?
CHUCK: Once this women threw a tuna sandwich at Johnny and stormed out. It was incredible.
SG: Could you see yourself doing this for a while? Or is it just purely a “pay the bills” situation?
CHUCK: I could see myself doing it until I’m fired.
RYAN, DRUMS (RECORD STORE CLERK)
SG: Which record store do you work at? Your record is out on Other Music … what’s the connection there?
RYAN: I work very part-time at Academy Records in Brooklyn. It’s a great shop with a ton of used and new LPs. When we first self-released II, I used to just walk around selling them to stores myself. Other Music loved the record and carried it, played it in the shop, and sold almost 100 copies. They approached us about doing a second pressing soon after.
SG: How’s the local record biz these days? I feel like NYC/BKN still has a pretty robust record market; there are still shops like Other Music and a few in the East Village that seem to be able to pay their rent all right.
RYAN: Record stores can survive in places like Brooklyn, Portland, etc. because people still care about the medium. People like buying LPs because they sound better, are more aesthetically pleasing, last longer, are generally cheaper etc., etc. It’s a no-brainer for most music lovers. There are some great new shops in Greenpoint right now like Co-Op 87 and Record Grouch.
SG: Is there a record you play that, when people come in, they’re like, hey what is this? Or how do you like to listen while you’re in the shop?
RYAN: I used to listen to the Men’s first couple of LPs in the store all the time. Mark would bring them in and I would buy ‘em off him. People would always ask what was playing when I would rock the second side of Immaculada. Academy is also funny because there are certain records that no one would dare play in the store, and then others that EVERYONE who works there can agree on. For example, there are always store copies of the Circuit Rider LP, Alexander ‘Skip’ Spence’s Oar and probably some Jandek.
SG: What’s your favorite record store of all time? What makes a great record store?
RYAN: My favorite store of all time is Academy Records, where I sometimes work. So many people sell them their used records so it’s a constant flow, and the new arrivals bin changes pretty much daily. Every cool record I’ve ever acquired has pretty much come from Academy.
SG: Do you always want to work in/around music? I would imagine working at a Record Store is pretty chipper for a dude in a band.
RYAN: Yes I love music and it’s my life. My other job that I had for a while was doing music classes at a children’s interactive museum.
SG: You get the “Is playing music a career you’re entitled to, or a privilege?” question too. Go.
RYAN: We never set out to make Nude Beach our job, it was always just an excuse to hang out and write music. We all wanted to book DIY tours, record LPs, make T-shirts, because that’s what bands do and it’s the only thing we like. If we can make money from Nude Beach that rules but it was never our purpose or intent. If anything we’d just have to be really lucky.
JIMMY, BASS (DOG WALKER)
SG: What neighborhood do you walk dogs in? I’m gonna guess, like, Boerum Hill based on the screenshot. Brownstone Brooklyn? I could see West Village too … there’s gotta be some paper in walking dogs in the West Village.
JIMMY: I walk mostly in “South Slope,” where you get the full range from beautiful old brownstones to industrial sites near the waterfront on 3rd Avenue.
SG: What kind of quirks do some of the dogs you walk have? Is there a particular dog you enjoy?
JIMMY: I love the dogs that I walk, but they all have weird quirks. This one dog I walk is a giant four-foot-tall labradoodle sort of thing, and he’s a total sweetheart. But I don’t think he realizes he’s not a tiny puppy anymore. He’ll jump on me and the other dogs when I come to pick him up, and he’s big enough to knock me over. They’re all sweet though, I can’t say I really have a favorite. The quirkiest dog I know is the pitbull, Texas, that I live with, who bites everyone who comes into our house on the ass. He loves the taste of butt.
SG: Are there weird trust issues between dog walkers and owners? Have you ever almost lost a dog or something?
JIMMY: Being a dog walker is all about weird trust issues. You have keys to all these people’s homes and you’re coming in and out all day while they’re at work, taking care of these animals that are basically children to them. I’ve never lost a dog or had anything really bad happen (knock on wood), but a dog walker friend of mine once got blamed for a home being robbed of thousands of dollars of computers, jewelry, etc. It turned out that some guys cased the building and picked the lock, but the first thing the owners did was blame the dog walker for possibly leaving the door unlocked.
SG: Dogwalking seems enjoyable, but also potentially stressful. What do you like about it?
JIMMY: It is stressful at times, but I like being alone most of the day to think about things and I’m glad I’m in a job where you’re hanging out with friendly dogs instead of getting yelled at by customers all day. The best part of being a dog walker is the flexibility. It’s really easy to leave for tour or take a personal trip, you never have to work at nights, and most clients are very receptive to taking time off for music things. They usually think it’s pretty cool.
SG: Have you ever picked up a client at a show or something?
JIMMY: Never picked up a client at a show, but all of the work I’ve had as a dog walker has come through music. I started doing it covering a friend’s route who was going on tour with the great band Big Eyes, and now I work for a small company with a longtime NYC musician who has played in Yo La Tengo, King Missile, Bongwater, and a bunch more. Lots of punks and musicians are dog walkers — it’s all about the flexibility of scheduling.
SG: What’s an average rate for a dog walker?
JIMMY: Most dog walkers are making between $10-$15 for a half hour walk in the Park Slope area, and you try to squeeze as many clients into a day as you can. If you work for an agency you might get paid an hourly rate instead which is usually pretty bad.
SG: Here’s the “Is music a career or a privilege?” question again. Have at it.
JIMMY: I never expected Nude Beach to be a thing that would make any money. When we started the band my goal was to be able to play at the house parties I’d been going to in Brooklyn. The model for recording artists today is pretty flawed. If you’re working with a label and start to make more money (even marginally more) there’s typically a lot more expenses, expectations of touring, etc. that will cost you more than before, but on the other hand it is great to see a wider audience enjoying your music that maybe you couldn’t reach otherwise. I’d love to make enough money from a band to live and not have a regular job, but you have to get to a serious “next level” of success before you can do that, and the amount of wildcard factors, wastes of money, and potential for personal disappointment to get to that next level is daunting. In short, your band has to get lucky. I think it’s fine to get paid for your music, and I’d be a hypocrite to say otherwise, but I am also very interested in alternative, DIY models for music releases, distribution, and sustainability, and think there are a lot of possibilities for bands and musicians on that side of things.
Nude Beach plays with Roky Erikson tonight at the Bell House in Brooklyn. Tickets here.