Wumme has questions:
Were Guided By Voices the doing and undoing of the label?Yes.
But I did plenty of undoing on my lonesome. When GBV took off it would've been pretty easy to put out a bunch of similar stuff, goddess knows I got every Pollard-wannabe demo known to man after Bee Thousand came out. I didn't want to exploit that niche as one should do according to the record label textbook and I didn't like the idea of releasing x number of records per year just so bigger media would take Scat seriously. It almost did happen, though - in 1995 it was nearly certain that I'd sign Neutral Milk Hotel, but Jeff changed his mind and went with Merge because my short-lived Matador deal creeped him out.
But in the end I take full credit and blame for my fortunes. I think 20, 40 years from now the catalog will be more interesting and noteworthy as a result of my choices. My goals have always been more historically-oriented than success-oriented.
Why the eventual move to St. Louis?Growing up in Cleveland is sort of like being in an abusive relationship. I've always moved frequently. I went to 8 different elementary schools, 3 of them in New York (Utica) or Florida (Ft. Lauderdale). I even spent a summer in Glendive, Montana while my mom recovered from broken nose, ribs and double pneumonia. Once I left home at 17, I tended to have a new place to live every 6-9 months. I've lived in six different spots since moving to St. Louis for that matter, and suspect I will not be here forever either. So I'd wanted to leave Cle for years, but my band was there and I had little money. At the end of '94 we no longer had a regular band and I did have some money. St. Louis was one of the more welcoming and beautiful places we'd been. Label and success-wise, it would've been better to move to NYC or Chicago. But I like a slow pace, so NYC was out and Chicago just seemed like a bigger, yet somehow lesser, version of Cleveland. StL was just right. I also liked the idea of being somewhat anonymous. That said, I don't think I'll ever totally lose the bluntness and cynicism that is the Cle heritage, but StL has softened up the edges a bit. I've learned to be a little friendlier. I'll always love Cleveland, I do enjoy visiting very much, but it's also a place filled with scars for me. It's a heavy town psychically and I'm a sensitive fuck.
Or you could say it was fate. It's strange, on several occasions I've written songs which later came true in unexpected ways. There's "Stuck in St. Louis" on the Della Street EP, and the line in "Kick Up Yr Heels" that goes, "from St. Louis, Missouri to the Florida keys," some other examples too. I went on a trip to the Keys not long after moving to StL. I even married a skinny girl with pretty little feet, too... didn't see that one coming.
Is Damon Che as much of an asshole as they say?Man, if there was ever a guy who got a bum deal on the intertubes it's Damon. People who don't like him seem to have popular websites and people who do like him don't seem to have computers. I've met plenty of genuine assholes and he is not one of them. He's got a temper, he's self-critical and will not sell himself out musically. 99% of any asshole behavior on Damon's part is due to some combination of those things. He may not always express himself in the most constructive ways, but he's actually a very relaxed, easy-going cat 99% of the time I've been around him.
But hey, even if everything written about Damon were true, and even if it were worse than what's out there, he'd still be one of the greatest all around musicians of our day and I'd still be honored to consider him a friend. Asshole is just another word for misunderstood.
And jeebus, haven't any of these fucks heard the Buddy Rich Tapes?