Quit Your Day Job

Quit Your Day Job: Oxford Collapse

Basement-storming Brooklyn post-punk trio Oxford Collapse penned “Please Visit Your National Parks,” one of the best shout-out-loud anthems of 2006, but get less credit for mellower, slinkier moments that cast a nighttime shading on the slippery Mission Of Jehu guitars/chorusing. The band’s aptly titled third full-length Remember The Night Parties is out now on Sub Pop, but the boys continue punching the time clock: Bassist Adam Rizer’s a carpenter/furnituremaker and currently works as a foreman at a South Williamsburg construction site, drummer Dan Fetherston does video and editing for a qualitative market research company (huh?), and vocalist/guitarist Mike Pace is employed by Medialink Worldwide (which he’ll explain below).

It’s been a while since Oxford Collapse released new material, so after tonight’s New York show with the Meat Puppets, the band’s instituting a “self-imposed moratorium on shows through the new year” in order to record new material for their next Sub Pop full-length, as well as an E.P. Dan Fetherston fills us in:

We’ve written twenty-five or so songs, plus are recording a handful of covers throughout the fall. We were originally writing for a double album, but have realized that that might be a terrible idea, so we still are going to record all the songs, but may disperse the songs on a longer LP, and various E.P.s, 7 “‘s, whatever. We really want to do a 10-inch! Totally indulgent, but if we can, then why not?

You heard it here first. Now take a listen to the aforementioned “Please Visit Your National Parks” along with “Lady Lawyers,” two standouts from Remember The Night Parties. Both are bursting at the seams after our discussion.

Dan Fetherston, drums

STEREOGUM: What is it you do for work?

DAN FETHERSTON: For the past six years I’ve worked at a qualitative market research company in SoHo. It’s a small company that does research for a wide variety of clients, from clothing brands to alcohol to household products, to television channels: Anything really. Fresh out of school, I was the video department manager for a few years. When we went on our first big tour in 2004 I quit, but have been lucky enough to be kept on on a freelance basis. It works out for the most part, because I can work when I am in town, although not having health insurance or a guarantee of a job can be a little scary.

It has its perks, mainly in that a lot of the time I will be traveling to shoot ethnographies in bizarre places like Phoenix or Marin County. Ethnographic market research is when you go into someone’s home and talk to them for awhile and just observe as they go about their normal, usually boring and depressing, routine. A lot of the time it’s fascinating and totally voyeuristic. We also do hidden-camera shoots, where we’ll follow these people into Stop And Shop and Marina stores, for example, and I’m wearing a black bag over my shoulder with a hole cut out for the camera.

STEREOGUM: That sounds pretty intense. What are you attempting to observe?

DF: We basically see how they live and how they interact with whatever company’s product for whom we’re doing the study. Sorry to be vague, but I’m legally not supposed to talk about it, obviously; it’s top secret stuff! I can say for the most recent we were doing the study for a television channel and studying people’s cable viewing habits, which depressed me. So many people’s lives really just revolve around what’s on TV. I guess living in New York for 10 years without cable and not hanging with anyone that has cable, I tend to forget that it’s as pervasive as it ever was, if not more so these days. I only watch cable on Jet Blue, and it usually bores me to tears after 10 minutes if there isn’t some old baseball game on ESPN classic.

STEREOGUM: If someone did an ethnography study on the Oxford Collapse during an average tour, what would they learn?

DF: Ha. That we are very punctual and responsible. I’ve made the joke that we are “the most punctual band in punk rock” but people are like, “Yeah right. You’re not punk rock.” You’d find that we go out of our way to find great food on tour. We go armed with Jane and Michael Stern’s Road Food, and we also seek out regional fast food like RUNZA, indigenous to Western Kansas and Nebraska; Five Guys Burgers and Fries, which we had in Central PA but now apparently exists in Brooklyn Heights; and Maid-rite, loose meat sandwiches in Iowa.

STEREOGUM: Did you go to school for the work you’re doing?

DF: I did go to NYU for film and television, but honestly the technical aspects of this stuff don’t really appeal to me. I’m kind of a Luddite, even though the other part of my job is Avid and Final Cut editing. This may sound naive, but technology bores me … I just don’t care. That said, though, the artistic end, when transcendent of the technology by which it was created, I can still find to be totally inspiring.

STEROGUM: How’d you end up with the job?

DF: I got it literally the day I graduated NYU. I went from the commencement in Washington Square Park to my interview. My girlfriend at the time got me the job. We had just broken up, but shared an office for the next year and a half. It was misery.

STEREOGUM: Are you creating any media work outside of the job?

DF: In my “free time” I’ve been working on a feature length documentary about a band from Kansas called The Embarrassment. It’s been going for about a year and a half now, and I have about 60 or so hours of footage, lots of contemporary interviews with the band and their conspirators, old footage of them performing from ’79-’83, and two shows for which I organized multiple camera shoots last summer in Wichita and Lawrence. It’s a work in progress, and I’m currently editing the trailer, with the intent of then shopping it to get further funding to complete the edit. I have no idea how to produce though — again that aspect of the industry is just so depressing and boring to me. Luckily, my good friend and our sometimes saxophone player, Mike Henry, loves that kind of thing and claims he’s going to help me schmooze it up.

STEREOGUM: What turned you on to the project? And, while we’re on the subject, does the world need another Rolling Stones documentary?

DF: Is there another Rolling Stones documentary in the making? [Editor’s Note: Yes] The Maysles pretty much killed it early on with Gimme Shelter. I’ve been listening to the Embarrassment for years. My friend in college Andy Adler turned me on to them. He was as he claims, “hip before it was hip to be hip!” I’m not going to have any kind of high production value in mine, as much as I would like to … but I want to make a film that is less rock doc and more of a slice of life of these four dudes from Kansas who started a punk rock band because there was nothing else to do in their hometown, and in that process created a strong and lasting body of work. I want it to be something my 75-year-old mother could see and in which she could find something worthwhile.

STEREOGUM: Wait, your mom’s 75? Is she an Oxford Collapse fan?

DF: Yeah, 75! Yes, I was a mistake. My sister’s were 21 and 15 when I was born. My mother has no idea [about Oxford Collapse]. My parents were born before rock and roll. They think the Beatles are cacophony. Some kid who was working on their house a few years ago left a Puddle Of Mudd CD in my parents car when he borrowed it one day. My parents then played that CD for all their friends thinking it was my band!


Adam Rizer, bass

STEREOGUM: How long have you been working in carpentry?

ADAM RIZER: I’ve been making fine furniture since 2005, but I have been involved in framing and finish carpentry in varying degrees since 1999, or so.

STEREOGUM: What’s your training in that area?

AR: I worked for a finish carpenter in Ohio for a while. Then, when I moved to New York, I was eventually able to talk a furniture maker into hiring me to work long hours for no money until I knew what I was doing. I followed that up by formally studying with an Arts and Crafts furniture master in Pennsylvania.

STEREOGUM: What sort of furniture do you make?

AR: Whatever you’ll pay me for, but I have a set of nesting tables that I am quite proud of. I am working on a vanity that I am pretty excited about.

STEREOGUM: Are you selling it or making it as a hobby?

AR: Definitely selling, but I recently took a job as a foreman at a new design/build firm. So my time to build furniture is currently limited.

STEREOGUM: Do you have a storefront somewhere?

AR: No storefront. Mostly one of a kind custom pieces. Email me, we’ll talk about your needs.

STEREOGUM: Ha. What’s the name of the company?

AR: The furniture company’s called “The Cuyahoga Furniture Co.” The design build/firm’s called “The Build NYC.”

STEREOGUM: Ever make anything to assist with touring? A loft for a van? Some sort of cabinet?

AR: Ha! Not really. This has been a source of some contention. I was supposed to build a little box for our old van, but that was before I had studio space and my old boss wasn’t keen on me using his stuff for my projects, so it never got built. I was going to build us a loft in our old space but we moved out. I have built a drum riser for Dan and I made a pedal board for Mike.

STEREOGUM: How’d you get into construction?

AR: I’ve been building things my whole life, either for my family or for summer jobs, etc. Most recently I needed a little extra money so I did some pick-up work for The Build; they liked my work ethic and wanted to hire me on permanently. I really like their approach and they are very up and coming young firm so I had to say yes.

STEREOGUM: Dan mentioned you head up a crew who doesn’t speak English and you don’t speak Spanish. What’s that like?

AR: Extremely frustrating. They always just respond “yes” or “ok” to whatever you say. You ask them to build some stairs, they say “yes,” and then tear down a wall. I am taking an intensive Spanish course soon.

STEREOGUM: What’s your role exactly?

AR: I am the site foreman. I coordinate the carpenters, painters, sheet rock guys, electricians, plumbers and the HVAC guys, basically making sure they are following the drawings, and not falling behind schedule. It is kind of like juggling a troop of flaming monkeys, if the monkeys only speak Polish or Spanish.

STEREOGUM Any on-site anecdotes?

AR: None that I can tell until we pass inspection.


Mike Pace, vocals/guitar

STEREOGUM: Can you explain your job? Dan mentioned it’s a “corporate video place in Midtown.”

MIKE PACE: I work for a company called Medialink Worldwide. We’re a video company that produces as well as distributes content for corporate clients. I’ve been here for three and a half years. I work in the Satellite Operations department, which means that I help manage the studio we have in our office, as well as work in Master Control, where we send video up to satellites to be taken down by various news organizations.

STEREOGUM: What sort of background do you need? Was it something you came to immediately after school?

MP: Towards the end of college, I got a job as a cameraman for a personal finance show — coincidentally, Medialink was one of the companies who provided us with additional content (video news releases) for the show. After that, I did some freelance work for MTV and CBS, and eventually I found my current position from the website tvjobs.com.

STEREOGUM: What are your responsibilities?

MP: Some of my responsibilities include setting up the studio for shoots, lighting, camera work, engineering, directing, etc. In our studio we have various set-ups: curtain backdrops, a green screen, a fake kitchen set, a fake bookcase. Basically whenever you see a interview on a news program where someone is sitting in front of a bookcase being interviewed “via satellite,” in New York, there’s a good chance it’s coming from my company or one of our competitors.

STEREOGUM: Ever try to slip in a book you like or a secret note to a friend? Maybe your favorite brand of stew in the kitchen set-up?

MP: This has never happened, probably out of fear of getting fired.

STEREOGUM: Can you mention some of your more interesting clients?

MP: We’ve had some cool people come through recently — P. Diddy, Fat Joe, “Maria” from Sesame Street, Amanda Bynes, Kermit the Frog, Steven Cojocaru, the woman who was the voice of both Rocky and Bullwinkle, Tom Collichio — plus the usual assortment of doctors, lawyers, cooking experts, and spokespeople … basically anyone who is pushing a product/supporting something, and wants to get it out to the news.

STEREOGUM: What was Kermit like?

MP: I didn’t work on the Kermit shoot, but I heard he was very frustrated — it ain’t easy bein’ green, you know.

STEREOGUM: I had no idea one person did both Rocky and Bullwinkle’s voices. Was she scattered?

MP: June Foray was a very sweet old woman who was hawking the new Rocky & Bullwinkle DVD boxset. She told me about living in the Hollywood Hills and asked if I was Jewish.

STEREOGUM: What’s been your favorite interaction so far?

MP: “Cojo” and I agreed that Black And Blue is the most underrated Stones record. I told “Maria” from Sesame Street that she was an integral part of my childhood, and when she asked me if I had any children, I said, “No, but my mother is gonna be thrilled that I met you.” Fat Joe’s son was the coolest six year old I’ve ever met.

STEREOGUM: Do you get any free stuff from the shoots? Like are you sitting on a huge collection of slicers and salad spinners?

MP: I’ve gotten to take home some perishable items — nice loaves of bread, wine, specialty beers, stuff like that. Nothing too weird, since the majority of this stuff is featured on morning television.

STEREOGUM: Have always dug your video for “Please Visit Your National Parks” (.MOV). Did you organize that shoot?

MP: In terms of organizing our own video shoots, we’ve shot some stuff on our own, but for our own posterity. When it came time to do the video for Sub Pop, we wound up going with one of the treatments someone sent us … it was a lot more fun for me to be in front of the camera than behind it!

STEREOGUM: Would you ever want to shoot one of your own videos in the studio where you work? Maybe try to plug some sort of Oxford Collapse product?

MP: I would love to shoot a video at our studio in front of the green screen or a curtain or something. Real simple, public access style a la the Schmenge Brothers.

STEREOGUM: Does the job get in the way of touring or are they flexible?

MP: Actually, everyone in my office is really cool and supportive. My boss used to be in this band that played with the Spin Doctors and the highly underrated funk-metal group White Trash years ago, so he appreciates what I was doing. Once touring started to take up a lot of my time, I switched from being on staff to being full-time freelance, which is a lot easier than taking me off the payroll when I leave for months at a time.

STEREOGUM: I went to the Medialink website earlier. Looks super professional. Is there any sort of dress policy?

MP: Well, since it’s assumed I’m going to be on my hands and feet in the studio all day (which is hardly ever the case), I can get away with wearing button downs or polo shirts and jeans, but that’s usually what I wear anyway. You can’t forget Casual Fridays, though!

Oxford Collapse – “Please Visit Your National Parks” (MP3)
Oxford Collapse – “Lady Lawyers” (MP3)

[Left to right: Mike Pace, Adam Rizer, Dan Fetherston]

Remember The Night Parties is out on Sub Pop.