Quit Your Day Job

Quit Your Day Job: The Fresh & Onlys

San Francisco’s the Fresh & Onlys make for great autumn listening. There’s something gothy about their psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll swing, but the sort of vintage wind-blown vibe that’s more internal than dyed hair or eyeliner. That atmosphere was definitely there on “Invisible Forces” and “Dude’s Got A Tender Heart.” You know, a sort of refined Gun Club garage thing (they still do mention Buzzcocks, Mekons, and Country Joe and the Fish as favorites). As far as their employment info, bassist Shayde Sartin explained:

I’m the only one currently with a full-time job. I work at Amoeba Records on Haight Street. I have for 8 years. Tim worked there as well until recently. Wymond is a dad and student. Kyle bar backs and moves furniture, hangs art and whatever else he can get.

I spoke with Sartin about his 9-5 at Ameoba. In the spirit of our record store discussion, after you’re done, check out his Jewelled Antler-related work in Giant Skyflower Band, Skygreen Leopards, and truly great/sadly missed Flying Canyon.

STEREOGUM: You’ve been at Amoeba long enough to see record sales go downhill industry-wide. What are some differences between now and then?

SHAYDE SARTIN There are almost too many to list! The funny thing is vinyl sales have actually increased in sales whereas CDs have become the new cassette. No one is buying CDs at the moment. You’ll even see really bizarre stuff like Sheryl Crow on vinyl. I guess record companies are trying to appeal to “real” music listeners by doing releases on a more legitimate archival format. It’s sad really. Record store culture is still very strong, but there’s a solid shift happening with who is actually in the store because they are enthusiastic about buying new releases or digging for older music. The diggers are always here. The people that hear Eva Cassidy on NPR probably know how to download it at this point.

STEREOGUM: I worked in a record store in the ’90s. It was definitely a place where a certain “scene” or community existed. Is that still there?

SS: There’s definitely still a sense of community in record stores. I see a lot of the same people and keep up with their interests. I learn more from the people that come in to dig than I learn from anywhere else. I’ve never fully embraced the Internet as a source for finding new music. I’m not cynical of the Internet, I’ve just never owned a computer. I will say that smaller record stores have that feeling that existed in the ’90s more so than a larger record store like Amoeba. Your first record store is as important as your first girlfriend in my book!

STEREOGUM: Has Record Store Day been helpful?

SS: Record Store Day is surprisingly successful in our experience. I wasn’t so interested in it at first but it has made an impact on peoples awareness and actually boosts sales. I know Aquarius does really with it as well. Shows you what I know about retail logistics.

STEREOGUM: Nowadays record stores are doing more than selling records — I’m thinking of your and Other Music’s video series or Aquarius’s on-line reviews, etc. What’s it been like adapting to that approach? (I saw your “What’s In My Bag?” clip.)

SS: I’m still coming to terms with the idea of virtual stores and I should reiterate that I’m not opposed to digital stores or a record store existing online. It’s simply that I’m pretty inexperienced to using the computer in that way. I think it’s a wonderful resource. There’s just no denying that certain instincts are getting lost for digging around dusty boxes or flipping through a new arrivals bin. Some of the thrill is lost as well. That feeling of curiosity that will lead you to risk wasting fifteen bucks on something because the cover is cool or a certain label put it out or you recognize the producers name or the thank you list is cool. That’s not to say it doesn’t exist anymore. It certainly does but so many people now will drop it in the bin, Google it on their iPhone and then make a decision based on someone else’s taste. I guess that’s not such a bad thing.

STEREOGUM: What’s your job title? Your duties?

SS: I don’t have a formal title. I’ve been here for so long that I’ve ended up creating a few jobs by finding things that needed to get done more efficiently. I recently inherited the country section which is fun. I have a great affection for country music so now I’m the first to see anything strange or unusual that comes in. I mostly oversee used product getting to the floor quickly. Making sure that collectibles and things of that nature aren’t getting overlooked or under-priced. I guess that makes me the bad guy!

STEREOGUM: Any especially colorful regulars?

SS: There have been many over the years. There was this older dude Gary that was obsessed with crooners. He brought me naked pictures of his wife. There was one fella that I swear was a cannibal that would say “fuck you” under his breath to me. When I would say “huh?”, he would pretend he didn’t say anything. Really creepy! Then there’s this other dude that smells like methadone who brought in pictures of him partying with Killing Joke in the ’80s. That was pretty cool. There’s an endless parade of weirdos here. It is San Francisco.

STEREOGUM: You’re in (and have been in) a number of bands. Have you ever thought to create a special Shayde Sartin section in the store?

SS: As long as I could be the floor person.

STEREOGUM: Do you have any recent recommendations? I’m curious about local stuff that might be flying below the radar.

SS: I would hope that you guys have stumbled onto Grass Widow by now. They blow my mind. I would go see them three times a week. They have such a pulse when when they play. The Sonny & the Sunsets record just came out and I really love that as well. I used to play with them, but the Fresh & Onlys started taking up too much time. It’s very mid-70s Modern Lovers. Really pure and open. No tricks or reverb damage. The Baths are also incredible. If you have yet to hear them, check it out.

STEREOGUM: What do you do when not working in the record store or playing in your bands? I’m thinking of non-music hobbies.

SS: I wish I had more non-music hobbies. I do still draw and paint when I have time. I got into embroidery and doll making for a bit. I tend to walk around and dig through pawn shops and thrift stores when I can. 40 hours a week leaves little time for much else. Plus, I’d rather be writing and recording when I have free time at this point. Music is the most gratifying thing. Turns out I’m a really good cat dad!

STEREOGUM: Where do you see record stores going in the future?

SS: I think about this all the time. I wish I had a real answer for you. I don’t see them disappearing or anything like that. I also don’t see them becoming fully digital entities either. They will change but peoples desire to come and interact with other people that are passionate about music will never go away. Even younger people that are incredibly i-tarded get really excited when they realize how awesome it is that someone recognizes their taste and turns them on to something totally left-field the next they’re in the store. That’s what really counts. I mean … I guess there’s Pandora or whatever. That’s really cool, huh?


Grey-Eyed Girls is out via Woodsist. Also, vocalist/guitarist Tim Cohen (ex-Black Fiction) has some solo recordings worth checking out. Here are a couple favorites:

Tim Cohen – “Take Aim Goliath” (MP3)
Tim Cohen – “Haunted Hymns” (MP3)

[That’s Shayde taking it easy]