Larry Herweg plays drums in Pelican, the instrumental Chicago-to-Los Angeles quartet who recently released its third full-length City of Echoes.
The new collection has a different feel than 2005’s The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw, as if being grouped as MFA-toting “heady metal” by the NY Times in 2005 inspired the band to let their always-present poppy side come up for air. Guided by deeper grooves/guitar twanging hooks and minus the thorny, incrementally building 10- and 11-minute epics, the more streamlined sound approximates Trans Am zipping along the highway with the top down, allowing for a greater dynamic spectrum (see, for instance, the jangling title track). There’s also plenty of beauty as on the slow swelling, expectation playing Codeine-to-half-Caballero outro “A Delicate Sense Of Balance” or the crunchier “Far From Fields,” which follows the discussion like a big ol’ exclamation point unrolling at half-speed for maximum dramatic effect.
So, why’s Herweg taking a break from cymbal splashes and fills for Quit You Day Job? Well, when not on tour he works at Whole Foods. A longtime employee, he started bagging and “cashing up” at a store in Chicago and presently picks up shifts at one in L.A.
STEREOGUM: How long have you worked at Whole Foods?
LARRY HERWEG About seven years. I think I started in 2000 when I was going to University of Illinois at Chicago. I have my Bacholers Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences with focus on Sociology. It was a great job for being in school during the day and needing to work evenings.
STEREOGUM: Which location was it?
LH: I started at the Lakeview location in Chicago. It’s on the corner of Ashland and School.
STEREOGUM: What are you duties?
LH: I started as a bagger and then became a cashier. After I finished college, I started working full time. My bands were becoming busier, so I just decided to stay at Whole Foods. They let me take a lot of time off to do shows and were pretty flexible with my schedule. Over time I started doing “cash up,” which was preparing the bank deposits every morning. I had to arrive at 7:30AM and count two safes of money, go through everyone’s registers from the night before, organize all form of payment, then prepare a bag of money that usually contained $20,000. I had to have a manager look over my work and make sure everything zeroed out. By 2005 Pelican had gotten super busy and I decided to step down and go to a season status, meaning I lost my benefits, but would remain on their payroll and work when I was available. I didn’t work for almost 12 months. I moved to L.A. in that time. The L.A. store took me as a transfer, so now I pickup shifts in Hollywood.
STEREOGUM: Get any discounts?
LH: Yeah, 20% off everything. It’s pretty nice.
STEREOGUM: Has being around organic food for so long effected your eating habits?
LH: For sure. I was vegan when I started there. It was perfect for my eating habits. Overtime I stopped being vegan, but continued to still eat organic foods as much as possible. I try to eat a salad every time I work, just to stay healthy. When I return from tour I look forward to eating healthy for a couple weeks. Eating on the road sucks, putting garbage in my body for weeks at a time.
STEREOGUM: Organic and vegetarian food’s become much more popular in the past seven years. What changes have you noticed at Whole Foods since you started?
LH: Well I know Whole Foods has opened a bunch more stores nationwide, and a store in London, England and one in Canada. So I guess that’s a good sign of growth. It seems like more people are becoming familiar with the term “Organic” as well. I remember hearing recently Wal-Mart was trying to carry some Organic Foods in their stores. I know the local grocers by my parents, in the suburbs of Chicago, started carrying a small “health food” section with Organic options. Although, it still seems like the same clientele at Whole Foods. I mean most of the stores are in trendy/yuppie/urban neighborhoods, so you get mostly wealthy customers who can afford the prices and punk/hippy/artist types who can’t afford it, but shop there anyways. The Hollywood store gets all types though; crackheads, trannys, models, and celebrities.
STEREOGUM: Yeah, I know from visiting my local health food stores that customers can be … tricky. Any particularly trying cash register interactions you’d want to share?
LH: Do you mean high maintenance? Oh yeah, but it makes work entertaining. I had a guy the other day that has O.C.D. He worried me ahead of time. He wouldn’t let me touch any of his groceries. He made me key in all the bar code numbers from the items he was buying. I had to hand him a bag, so he could bag it himself. And the kicker was he made sure his total purchases didn’t go over $25, that way he didn’t have to sign the credit card slip or touch a pen. There was a man who came out of the restroom and asked a bagger for a plastic bag. It was for his underwear he just shit in … that was pretty good. He mentioned he thought he clogged the toilet as well. Nice. There’s never a dull moment at my store. Last week we had camera men following a movie star to the doors, a druggie trying to grab money out of a cashier’s drawer and getting tossed to the floor by security, and a 400 lb man running across our parking lot in a women’s bikini and thong!
STEREOGUM: So what are the main differences between the Chicago and L.A . stores?
LH:I just feel like the stores are like the cities … Chicago is uptight and fastpaced, and LA is snotty and laidback.
STEREOGUM: Do you work w/ any other folks in bands?
LH: Always. In both Chicago and L.A. In L.A. I work with a guy on my team in a band called Minutes To Midnight. In Chicago I worked with guys from Head Of Femur and Defender. The Place is always full of artists and musicians.
STEREOGUM: Do you cook at all? If so, could you share a recipe with our readers?
LH: I like this dish called “Mash Potatoes”. They are amazing. You take four Yukon Gold Potatoes, peel them, dice them, and boil them. Once they are soft, you drain the water. Then add some butter and milk. Then guess what… you mash them! Haha.
STEREOGUM: Soy milk or rice milk?
LH: I actually don’t drink either anymore. I used to prefer Soy milk just because it has more protein than Rice milk. I don’t drink much milk really, aside from some in my Granola and the occasional latte. So I use good old-fashioned 2% dairy milk, organic if possible.
STEREOGUM: Otherwise … tofu or tempeh?
LH: I guess tempeh. Tempeh’s healthier and digests better than tofu. I ate so much tofu in the last 11 years I kinda hate it now, but still eat it every once in a while. Being vegan for years was soy overload. I ate so many soy products, My body was starting to hate me. I think your body appreciates variety and while I do think the ideas behind veganism are awesome, I don’t think it’s the best diet for most people.
STEREOGUM: Favorite organic baked good?
LH: Carol’s chocolate chip cookies are pretty brutal.
STEREOGUM: I think that’s it. I was trying to think of a question involving eating pelicans, but that’d make no sense…
LH: I heard they taste like Turkey?! We should have a Pelican BBQ. We could play and grill up some dead birds.
City Of Echoes is available via Hydra Head.
[Pelican: Laurent Schroeder-Lebec, Larry Herweg, Trevor De Brauw, Bryan Herweg]