Quit Your Day Job

The Year In Day Jobs

It was a good year for indie-rockers with day jobs … or bad, depending on how you view work or if downloading free music makes you feel guilty. Quit Your Day Job launched at the beginning of February ’07 with Girl Talk, aka Gregg Gillis, who shortly thereafter quit his day job as a biomedical engineer. I’m not saying I had anything to do with it, but Gillis wasn’t the only person to leave the workforce after stopping by QYDJ: Hutch from Thermals hung up his coffee grinder (as did ex-coffee worker Ryan Kattner of Man Man), the boys in the National cut back on the graphic design/left behind book industry work, Le Loup’s Sam Simkoff’s no longer a paralegal, and the No Age dudes are too busy rocking the world to be in the classroom or designing commercial sets. No, not everyone who’s jumped the 9 to 5 now will be gone from it for good (15 minutes and all that). Good luck, friends.

Of course, Not everyone wanted to quit their jobs…

I heard time again that a job allowed folks to use their mind in different ways, to step outside of the band and gather their thoughts awhile. Members of Wrens, Oneida, the Caribbean, and Les Savy Fav — lawyers, doctors, librarians, and teachers in their ranks — plan to keep on working and doing the band stuff in tandem. It doesn’t seem like Frog Eyes’s Melanie Campbell wants to leave her job as a nurse anytime soon. (Castanets’s Ray Raposa is no longer a surf instructor, but he lives in Brooklyn and the East River’s waves are no good … I imagine a move to some other coast might push him back into the water.)

It was interesting to see patterns develop. Like the amount of teachers. If you were a kid of high school age or below, you might end up with a member of Division Day, Magik Markers, Professor Murder (fittingly), Sam Champion, etc., at the front of your classroom. A few of these folks have positions that depend on whether or not they’re touring. Randy of No Age seemed pretty bummed he’d have to give up his gig for a while. And who could forget the pic of Sam Champion’s Ryan Thornton showing the kids some drum basics at Beansprouts nursery school?

It’s hardly an exhaustive study, but we had more graphic designers than any other non-teaching job description — see Bodies Of Water (where you’ll also find a teacher and a soup-loving commercial actress), the Forms, Bowerbirds (who approach it from their rural airstream), and the Postmarks, among others.

As far as other multiples, there were two known wine experts (in Panthers and Bowerbirds), a couple few visual artists (see Bowerbirds again and the Acorn), and a pair of American Apparel workers (Nic Barbeln of Clipd Beaks and Deerhunter’s Moses Archuleta). Nic had already left his job and I am guessing Moses has at this point, too. Moses, you still there? We had our share of bartenders, notably the Hold Steady’s Galen Polivka, who penned a humorous essay about his experiences. I found carpenters in Oxford Collapse and Yeasayer, but neither built me anything.

There some jobs, that though different, I sorta connected together conceptually in my head: West Indian Girl’s Mariqueen Maandig’s job at a day spa, Whitney McGraw of Page France’s job in a dress shop with two 60 year old women, and Misha’s Ashley Yao and her work as a professional model. Or the different types of gardeners in the multiply employed Excepter (see also for art handling, record store running, and time-based media archiving) and those aforementioned Clipd Beaks.

Then come those that stand our for the originality of their resume. Who would’ve thought Reine Fiske, guitarist of Dungen, was a postal worker? Or that Larry Herweg, Pelican’s drummer, worked at Whole Foods and knew his way around a box of tofu? When not writing songs, Travis Morrison writes javascript. Oddest job? Maybe Figures’s frontman Christian Hjelm and his role as a video game tester (that’s right Guitar Hero geeks, dude gets paid to do what you waste time on for free). That Augie March drummer Dave Williams works as a parking lot attendant was pretty surprising, too. HEALTH’s Jake Duzsik is a medical historian, though it’s not what it sounds like. We all need to eat and there was some food prep going on here as well: Jana Hunter, pizza maker? Yup. (Though she’s since moved and therefore left the extra cheese industry.) Jesy Fortino, aka Tiny Vipers, also did her share of restaurant work, though of the Mexican variety.

Most musicians stressed the fact that they need the work to be flexible so they could take off on tour and not get fired. In that department, temping’s always an option (as illustrated by Marissa Nadler and Division Day). Others found ways to overlap their music with their gig, like Laura Veirs and the music lessons she teaches out of her house, the multi-tasking Lou Rogia, aka Lewis & Clarke, or FatCat USA head Adam Pierce of Mice Parade.

My personal favorite match between someone’s music and their work is Pissed Jeans vocalist Matt Korvette’s role (outside his label White Denim) as a claims adjuster. Stories of coworkers smashing their keyboards and spying on folks to detect tax fraud fits so well with the group’s grinding, claustro, post-Jesus Lizard howling. It was also fairly fitting to end the year with a prank by those irrepressible Toronto punks Fucked Up, who approached us saying guitarist 10,000 Marbles works in a light bulb factory, but turns out that in Canada, “light bulb factory” means “co-op.” Punk’d and embarrassed, we’ll be asking for references in the new year.

Know any musicians who work? If so, please drop a line in the comments below. We are always looking for tips! Here’s to a gainful ’08.