Tomorrow night, May 14th at the Way Out Club, Pancake Productions' Pancake Master RØB Severson is throwing a 30th Birthday Party worthy of the ol' XXX (as he points out that the Romans called it). In addition to a performance by his own project, Googolplexia, the evening marks the official release of Bunnygrunt's, Lady, You Just Got Von Damaged!. Additional music will be provided by rap offenders King Kong Magnetics and Chicago's Lord of the Yum-Yum. We went straight to the Pancake Master for a full rundown of the festivities, a look back on his first thirty years, Bunnygrunt and a few of the best things happening right now in St. Louis.
PLUS: Stream Bunnygrunt's "Young Abe Lincoln" off Lady, You Just Got Von Damaged! ("it's a cover of a song that's probably 15+ years old by the band Crime Squad, a Saint Louis outfit that featured, among others, Tom Stephens, now of Tight Pants Syndrome, who penned the song in question," says Severson) and an unreleased Googolplexia Track "Lovesick and Sick of It" ("a cover of a song by the Fantasy Four, one of Karen Ried's between-Bunnygrunt's-breakup-and-reunion bands and whose album, though recorded almost 10 years ago, I only released at long last this past November as a Pancake Production") below.
There is a hell of a lot going on at this show: Care to run through a couple highlights?
RØB Severson: I'm pretty sure if I started talking about what was a highlight at this show, I'd end up mentioning everything listed on the flyer and then some. Heck, The Way Out Club itself is a highlight. Also, some of the stuff that's bound to happen, as the flyer suggests, is secrets and surprises, some of which I don't even know about yet, I'm sure. King Kong Magnetics are bound to bring surprises-a-plenty with 'em. At a show earlier this year, they all dressed up like me. This'll be their first show in exactly three months, so I'm sure they're chomping at the bit to show off something new and crowd-estrangingly (or -endearingly, depending on the crowd) offensive.
Bunnygrunt hasn't released a record since 2009's Matt Harnish and Other Delights, so if you see only one of their EIGHT May 2011 concerts, this is the one for sure (if you can't see this one, or even if you can, might I recommend Josef Steinman and a full set of Googolplexia with Bunnygrunt for FREE at El Leñador on Monday, May 16th, just two nights later?). Lord of the Yum-Yum triumphantly returns to town for the first time since August, and maybe he and I will bust some stuff out with our two-man a cappella band. Maybe you'll see some art, maybe you'll get your picture taken, maybe you'll hear country, rap, rock, and classical all in the same night, maybe you'll drink some cheap Southern Comfort. It's really nothing but highlights for Pancake Master's big Triple-X (as the ancient Romans call't it).
How did Pancake Productions get involved with Bunnygrunt?
First I was a fan who barely realized Bunnygrunt were even from Saint Louis (in fact I was introduced to them by a friend from Ohio), then Bunnygrunt broke up, then I was a fan of the projects all the members of Bunnygrunt got into post-Bunnygrunt, including releases on Matt's Bert Dax Cavalcade Of Stars label, then I became friends with former members of Bunnygrunt, then Bunnygrunt got back together, then Bunnygrunt's members and I became even better friends, then Bunnygrunt inducted members that I was friends with long before they were members of Bunnygrunt, then I released Bunnygrunt's record.
Well that last part is still sorta technically halfway in the future as of RIGHT NOW. If you're really crafty, you coulda gotten the new record, or at least a version of it, as long ago as early October 2010. But this Saturday is the big monster-official RELEASE release, no more special limited editions or the like. Although those're still available too. I think the exact words that led to my releasing this record were spoken by Matt Harnish, those being, "So when are you going to release a Bunnygrunt record?" They recorded the tracks (with Jason Hutto) mostly on my birthday LAST year, coincidentally! Lady, You Just Got Von Damaged! is at least a year in the making!
What is the thing you are proudest of in your first thirty years of life?
I'm pretty proud that my only income last year was a month and a half of unemployment, $1000 worth of game show winnings, and the cash-out of a 401K, and I still somehow started a record label which has NINE releases to date (counting the new Bunnygrunt). I may be bankrupt (and only more so for having started to release other peoples' records) but I'm mighty proud of all the sweet material that calls Pancake Productions its home. I'm also pretty proud of the new shiny purple GOOGOLPLEXIA accordion that I bought with the help of SLOUP friends although I don't think that'll make an appearance at my birthday party. Again, it does say both "Secrets" AND "Surprises" on that flyer, though...
Should birthday presents be kept under a certain dollar amount? If so, what dollar amount?
No present, no matter how cheap or expensive, will be rejected or returned. Presents are NOT necessary, but WILL be gratefully accepted. If you go above, say, $100K, it may start to get weird. So keep it thrifty.
What, exactly, happens to a lady when she gets Von Damaged?
Only recently did I realize that "Von Damaged" has the same initials as...well, V.D. I wonder if that has something to do with it.
The record title is Matt's, actually, but conceptually the artwork was a collaboration between Eric Von Damage and I. Since there was JEN-FI (1998, named for former member Jen Wolfe) and Karen Hater's Club (2005, named for bassist/vocalist Karen Ried) and Matt Harnish and Other Delights (2009, named for guitarist/vocalist Matt Harnish), it was decided: it's time for an Eric Von Damage (drummer) record. My suggestion for the title was The Travails of Young Eric Von Damage with some kind of portrait of Eric on the front, and Matt came up with Lady, You Just Got Von Damaged!, which nobody argued too much.
Then Eric was pet-sitting for his cousin, and...well, you'll see the artwork soon and can extrapolate how it all unraveled, if you haven't already. I think it's a pretty strong title, and I'm mighty happy with how the art came out (with thanks-a-million to Amy Froggpockets, Ann Hubbard, and Cat McMillan). I like to think of the devastating wake of heartbroken ladies that have been VON DAMAGED! by Eric Von Damage, but only theoretically. I don't think such a wake actually exists. He's just too darn KIND!
What are the upcoming Pancake Productions we should be writing in the largest font on our calendars?
I mentioned the extent of my 2010 income, and 2011 is looking even more sparse, financially, so I'm not intending for too many immediately-forthcoming releases--certainly not the nine or ten I'll have released by the time the one-year anniversary of my first release (Time and a Half by Popular Mechanics and the Pancake Productions Summer Sampler MMX, both released 07/17/2010) comes around. I actually have had to turn a few acts/records down that I really, REALLY wanted to help. I also had designs on records by Sleepy Kitty AND The Painkillers before those rascals at Euclid scooped me on 'em! (Of course I actually love Euclid and am just happy SOMEONE is releasing this stuff.)
But don't let that discourage any of y'all from contacting me if yer interested in working with Pancake Productions...money isn't everything. Really, money isn't anything. And by the time you're contacting me, maybe I'll have some to throw at you. There's more than one way to skin a cat, though. No doubt I'll keep the $1(/Free) Pancake Productions sampler tradition alive and put out another fine Summery Sampler, maybe in July sometime (I have a few of the Wintry ones left and they'll be available as long as they last at the merch table this coming Saturday, and after that they'll be available for full online download like last year's Summer Sampler), maybe in a slightly reduced run (of the first two I made 199 copies, I may cut that down to 99 for the next one[s?]) to make sure I can get rid of 'em more quickly. There's nothing like trying to move copies of a "Wintry Sampler" in the 90˚F heat we've been experiencing lately. Lastly, since I've been putting my own material on the back burner in order to release other peoples' records (never let anyone try to say Pancake Productions is a vanity label!), my next stuff to release may be the Googolplexia record, or a Googolplexia split of some kind, or...well, let's file some of that under "Secrets & Surprises," too.
What are five of the best things happening in St. Louis generally, off the top of your head?
In no particular order:
1) Tuesday nights with Bobby at the HideAway Lounge (5900 Arsenal) - hang out at the old man piano bar, request a song from Bobby, and maybe he'll even let ya sing. I went to the HideAway every single Tuesday night without exception for like a six-month period a coupla years ago. Nowadays I'm lucky to get in there once every coupla months, but every time I do I regret not making it more often.
2) FBC Rides - Ride yer bicycle to Turtle Park around 10:30PM every full moon to find out more.
3) Wacky Wednesdays at North Oaks Bowl (101 North Oaks Plaza) - Get to Missouri's biggest bowling alley (in terms of # of lanes, anyway; they've got SIXTY-FOUR of 'em) every Wednesday night from 6PM 'til 11PM. Everything's a buck-fifty (shoe rental, one game of bowling, a hot dog/soda combo) or a buck-seventy-five (hugest plate of fries you've ever seen, 16oz. draft beer), plus bring a gal-pal cuz it's "Ladies' Night" (two for one cocktails...one for her, one for you, am I right fellas? ...Fellas?) and I've NEVER experienced a bartender that poured 'em stronger than Francine does. WARNING: Bring cash! (actually their website says they accept credit cards now)
4) TV Time Tuesdays at the Mini-Moolah Lounge - Justin "TOP GEAR" Tolliver programs whole evenings of various (usually vintage) TV shows around a given theme and shows them in the lounge in front of the Moolah theatre starting around 7PM every Tuesday. He used to host it on the roof of his downtown apartment building on Monday nights, and maybe/hopefully someday that'll return, but for now, it's still loads of fun and Ann "COOLHAND" Hubbard always makes goofy relevant drink specials up to fit the TV themes.
5) A billion-way tie between Stag Nite at El Leñador; any given weekend Trivia-Night fundraiser; Super-8 Movie Madness on the first Tuesday of the month at the Way Out Club; anything ever happening at or sponsored by: Floating Laboratories, Pig Slop Studios, Cranky Yellow, Cinema Saint Louis (see: this spring's "Vincentennial"), or the PPHQ Garage Lodge; South Broadway Athletic Club rasslin'; bowling at Saratoga Lanes (8 lanes upstairs since 1916!); Craves, Caves, & Graves (CravesCavesAndGraves.com); Dudes Magazine; Playing shot-glass chess in the park (any park); SLOUP; Fish Fry Season; Squidball (Squid-Ball.com), and probably a hundred other things I do and experience alla time that I just don't remember right this instant. "Off the top of my head," as you say. I shoulda known that once I got started, five wouldn't be enough. Follow me sometime. The more the merrier, always.