Quit Your Day Job: Tony Castles
Brooklyn-based Das Racist-associated pop crew Tony Castles recently released the No Service EP, a five song collection featuring a track called “Dream Job” — though not all the work the “freak funk” trio are here to discuss sounds especially dreamy. Guitarist/keyboardist Willie Miesmer is employed by WNYC and drives a truck for an antique furniture company, drummer Gabriel Wurzel works on a coffee truck, and until a few months ago vocalist/bassist Paul Sicilian did analysis of TV programs for advertising companies.
Willie Miesmer, guitar/keys
STEREOGUM: What do you do at WNYC?
WILLIE MIESMER: I write interviews for The Leonard Lopate Show. I used to work for the The Takeaway, a morning news show. I am an eternal intern. I like it though.
STEREOGUM: Does the job involve a lot of research?
WM: It can. I’m new to it. It seems like a lot of the task is getting the mood of the show into the writing. It has a different tone than Howard Stern for instance. You’re not going to ask how bologna feels on the guests shoulder, maybe I should though … Also, you want to try and put yourself in the mind of someone who’s asking the questions, as if this is the first time they’re encountering whatever it is you’re talking about. The types of free associations a spontaneous questioner might make can be illuminating.
STEREOGUM: If he was doing an interview with Tony Castles about their day jobs, what are some questions you might suggest?
WM: “Why do you move furniture for a living?,” which would lead to the music…
STEREOGUM: Speaking of… Ever break any antiques?
WM: I broke a tacky mirror from ABC Home on 19th and Broadway recently. There’s a security guard there with faraway eyes who covered for me.
STEREOGUM: What’s the strangest thing you’ve had to move? Any Medieval torture devices?
WM: Dumbbells for Adriana Lima. Glitter. Sand. At the end of a long day they sent us to a farm outside of Scranton, PA, where a farmer had all this military surplus gear my company wanted for a show at the Armory, I think. All the stuff was dropped off at the edge of a field on a dirt road in the middle of the night. It was terrifying.
STEREOGUM: Are you lifting the “antiques” or are you purely the driver?
WM: Lifting and driving for me, please.
STEREOGUM: Do you have a background in art handling?
WM: No. But I would like to give a shout out to Build it Green in Queens.
STEREOGUM: Do people who find out about your job asked about Antiques Roadshow?
WM: No. But some of these stores are all about that sort of thing. An old woman at a command center surrounded by rooms and rooms of antiques. That sort of deal.
Paul Sicilian, vocals/bass
STEREOGUM: So, how do you go about analyzing television programs for advertising companies?
PAUL SICILIAN: I track the advertising in television shows, sports telecasts particularly, and write surveys to assess the effectiveness and recall rates of each one.
STEREOGUM: Can you maybe go through a particular program and how you broke it down?
PS: No problem. Shaq slams a dunk right after the Taco Bell starting lineup flashes on the screen. So I write “What did Shaq do to put the C’s up 2-0 in the first quarter?” If the survey taker gets it right, they’re asked who sponsored the starting lineups right before Shaq slammed a dunk. Then Ray Allen swishes a jumper from downtown before the Rolaids Halftime Show… “What did Ray Allen do to put the C’s up 55-22 in the second quarter?” And so on.
STEREOGUM: Do you have background in this area? Schooling?
PS: Nah, I studied math.
STEREOGUM: What’s the least sellable show you’ve come across?
PS: Rachel Zoe’s show didn’t sell me anything.
STEREOGUM: The most?
PS: Sports shows sell a lot of alcohol I think. Project Runway broke recall records when they attached advertising to a segment about breast cancer. The analysts used that to recommend clients seek emotional or sexy ad spots.
STEREOGUM: Do you find it difficult watching TV without these things in mind?
PS: I used to, but I got fired in October.
STEREOGUM: Did you work out of an office with a bunch of other analysts? Or from home?
PS: I worked in an office at night with other writers and editors. The stuff we worked on got published the following day. Lots of computers and TVs and free pizza on the weekends.
STEREOGUM: What reason did they give for the firing?
PS: They laid everyone off who didn’t want to move to Florida.
Gabriel Wurzel, drums
STEREOGUM: How long have you worked on the coffee truck?
GABRIEL WURZEL: About a year and a half.
STEREOGUM: Which truck?
GW: The MUDTruck
STEREOGUM: Which one? Or is it roaming?
GW: During the day it’s parked in the middle of Astor Place in the East Village. At night it sleeps in a dark garage on a serene and quaint block, deep in Alphabet City.
STEREOGUM: What’s the history of the coffee truck in general? Feels like it was birthed in the ’60s, but I have no idea.
GW: I don’t really know for sure. My understanding is that after the Vietnam war, the city distributed mobile food permits in order to provide jobs for veterans. I’ve heard that in the mid ’80s the city stopped distributing new permits altogether. As a result It has become more and more difficult for new food trucks to operate legally.
STEREOGUM: Have you ever worked in a non-wheeled coffee shop? If so, any difference between the two? Are people requesting different types of drinks?
GW: I’ve never worked in a “real” coffee shop. Before working on food trucks I worked as a research technician in a neuroscience laboratory…
STEREOGUM: I imagine people are in a rush.
GW: Customers seem to be in a rush pretty often. But so are pretty much all people in Manhattan. I’m always impressed to see people wait patiently in line during thunderstorms and blizzards. People need their caffeine fix. I’m the drug dealer.
STEREOGUM: Do you have rivalries with any other trucks?
GW: Mud has been around longer than most of the food trucks out there. We have pretty much claimed our turf and luckily nobody really messes with us. I have some experience working on ice cream trucks and I’ll say that someone could make a really interesting behind the scenes documentary about Mister Softee and the ice cream truck business in New York City.
STEREOGUM: Any kids mistake you for an ice-cream truck?
GW: All the time. My favorite is the kid who walks up and asks for a cheeseburger.
STEREOGUM: Does Smashing Pumpkins’ “Today” video mean any more/less to you if they set it in a coffee truck instead of an ice cream truck?
GW: I have always loved that video. Sometimes when I’m stuck in traffic I’ll blast Siamese Dream and escape into that grand fantasy where I leave it all behind and take the truck to California. I figure if I pound enough coffee along the way, at some point I’ll start hallucinating and see young, attractive people making out all over the side of the highway.
No Service is out via Famous Class. Their new “Juice” b/w “Heart In The Pipes” 7″ is out 6/21 on clear vinyl. They’re currently tracking an LP due in the Spring.