Q&A With the Fluid's Garrett Shavlik

Garrett Shavlik's drumming had loads to do with the success of the Fluid, a classic Denver band that's reuniting at the Bluebird Theater on June 20 (click here and here to get the skinny). And although he's lived in Seattle for around a decade at this point, his musical history and Denver's remain intrinsically bound - which makes the following Q&A that much more vital.

Shavlik addresses his early influences and emergence as a drummer; a high school band that played alongside singer John Robinson's only pre-Fluid group; a move to Los Angeles that helped inform the musical moves he made upon returning to Colorado; the scene he shared with future Fluid comrades James Clower, Rick Kulwicki and Matt Bischoff; his recollections of the thrash outfit White Trash, complete with lyrics from the band's timeless original, "I Hate My Toes"; a short-lived band called MadHouse; Robinson's entry as frontman; a fond tribute to a late friend who once served as the Fluid's protector during out-of-control shows; an early excursion into video; the Fluid's rise, which was met with what he took to be resentment from some of his peers; the Sub Pop signing; the excitement of performing alongside the likes of Soundgarden and Mudhoney and the supportive nature of the Seattle scene; recording with producer Butch Vig, who was instrumental in bringing Nirvana into the mainstream; the difficult series of events that cropped up after inking a contract with Hollywood Records; his decision to leave the Fluid because of his excitement over Spell, a side project; the rift between him and Bischoff, fueled in part by musician Chanin Floyd's decision to devote herself to Spell instead of Bischoff's creation, '57 Lesbian; Spell's own major-label experiences; details about Shavlik's current band, the Press Corps; the rise of the reunion, preceded by a peacemaking conversation between Shavlik and Bischoff; and some speculation about what comes next.

You can't beat that.

Westword (Michael Roberts): Where are you from originally?

Garrett Shavlik: I was born in Denver but raised in Boulder.

WW: And how did you first get into music?

GS: Oh God. My dad, pretty much. He'd wake me up when drummers would be on The Tonight Show. He'd be like, "You've got to check this guy out." He was really into jazz, so I got turned onto music through him.

WW: So he wasn't a player? He was just an appreciator?

GS: Just an appreciator, yeah.

WW: When did you start playing?

GS: I was banging on stuff when I was two or three, and they were sick of me banging on pots and pans, so they finally got me a snare drum. And they were like, "You've got to take care of this." But I broke the head - so I got a paper route and bought a new drum head, because I wanted to play.

WW: Were you in elementary school when that snare drum came along?

GS: Yeah, I was probably, like, five or six. And then I got my first kit when I was eight, and I started teaching myself. Listening to records and things like that.

WW: What did you play along to?

GS: My sister's records. She had, like Led Zeppelin IV, and my brother had Rolling Stones records, and I was a big Beatles fans, and I'd listen to that stuff.

WW: So it wasn't Buddy Rich.

GS: No, I was into rock and roll. But I loved hanging out with my old man at eleven o'clock at night and watching Buddy on The Tonight Show or whatever.

WW: When did you get into your first band?

GS: God, the first band that was actually gigging, I was probably like a junior in high school, or a sophomore. It was a band called Editorial, and we'd do new wave and Stones covers and we'd play covers.

WW: That band came up when I was talking to John. He said he had a band whose only real gig was playing alongside Editorial...

GS: Yeah, we went to high school together, John and I, at Fairview. That's where we met.

WW: Do you remember that show where the two groups were playing in the school gym?

GS: I do remember that. Editorial had two drummers - my best friend through elementary and high school, Alan Parson, was a drummer as well, and we'd switch off. I'd sing and he'd play drums, and when he wanted to sing, I'd play drums.

WW: Did you say Alan Parson?

GS: Yeah, isn't that funny? It's spelled the same way, too. Alan was my best buddy, and we played drums at Fairview, in the marching band. He played snare and I played quads. We were thick as thieves... And then, after high school, I moved to Los Angeles for a while. I wanted to go for the hardcore scene. I messed around playing drums in L.A., but I never really got to play. I messed around playing drums with this band called the Terminals, but we never played out.

WW: Did you move to L.A. because you were into the music there and wanted to be where it was exploding at the time?

GS: Oh yeah. I was blown away by it.

WW: What bands did you see during that period?

GS: I saw the Germs' last show. I show X. I saw Black Flag with Keith [Morris, the band's original lead singer]. The Circle Jerks, TSOL, the Adolescents - all those bands. At the Starwood on Tuesdays and Thursdays, it was hardcore night. It'd be Fear, Black Flag, the Adolescents, Mad Society. Just this slew of really great stuff. It just blew me away.

WW: James moved out there for a while, too, didn't he?

GS: Yeah, he was in Long Beach. But we didn't know each other then. I met him in Boulder, after we both came back. I never met him there.

WW: Why did you decide to come back to Boulder?

GS: I just needed to get out of there. It was a bad place for me to be. It was very destructive.

WW: Once you got back to Boulder, did you immediately throw yourself into starting a band?

GS: Getting jobs and stuff first and foremost, and then, yeah. Trying to find some people I could play hardcore with. That's how it worked out. Matt and James and I got together and started banging stuff out for White Trash.

WW: How would you describe White Trash for people who never heard them?

GS: Super-fast, really tight hardcore. L.A.-style hardcore. Kind of TSOL-ish, without the anthemic sort of vocals. Looking back, it's super-funny to listen to some of that stuff. It's over-the-top political, but really stupid eighteen-year-old political (laughs). You know, "The Ballad of Ronnie Raygun" and "I Hate My Toes," which was a super-funny song

WW: Did you say "I Hate My Toes"?

GS: Yeah, we had one song called "I Hate My Toes." It went, "I hate my toes/They're ugly and pink/I hate my toes/They're dirty and stink/Cut them off, let them loose." It's just funny stuff. But really tight, fast hardcore.

WW: Were there other bands in the Denver-Boulder area doing that kind of thing back then?

GS: I can't remember Boulder so much, but Denver for sure. There was Bum Kon and Child Abuse and the Frantix. And I've known Ricky since 1975, because we were skateboarders; it was really easy to hook up with him again. So White Trash would play with the Frantix quite a bit. And then touring bands, like the California bands, would come through and they'd pick us up. If they were heading east, we might play with them in Denver and then Lawrence, Kansas or whatever, and if they were heading west, we'd play with them in Denver and then maybe Salt Lake City. It was really cool. The Dead Kennedys and Black Flag and the Circle Jerks. So we got to be friends with all those guys - that whole hardcore circuit.

WW: So you got a little taste of the touring life...

GS: Yeah. And White Trash actually toured one time. We booked the whole tour on a pay phone off a stolen phone card. It was three weeks, and I think we played maybe five shows, and it was all through the Midwest. It was miserable, but it was really fun. We went up to Milwaukee and stayed there for like a week and get some weird gig and some bar and the bartender is the only guy in the audience, looking at us like we were crazy. But it was a lot of fun. Drinking Mad Dog wine and eating crackers.

WW: When did White Trash come to an end?

GS: It was probably like '84 when we called it a day. We went through a lot of different changes. Matt, our original bass player, moved to Denver and started playing with the Frantix, which was probably a smart move on his part, because they were sort of cult heroes. And then we got another bass player, and we had another guitarist, Granny Cleveland, who played with us for a while. But I think we just got burned out on it after a while. Matt and I and Ricky wanted to play together, play some straight-ahead rock. That was sort of the birth of the Fluid - and since James wasn't doing anything, we grabbed him, and got John and asked him to sing for us, and that's how the Fluid started.

WW: In between, there was MadHouse, right?

GS: There was MadHouse, right - with Augy, Augy Rocks.

WW: From what I understand, everybody loved Augy but the chemistry didn't feel quite right.

GS: Yeah, he's really an amazing guy, but just a really odd duck, you know? Very eccentric. Musically we were on different pages. We had the Ramones and the Stooges in our blood, and he wanted to be a rock star really bad - and we just wanted to play hard-driving rock. So creatively, it was very different.

WW: Given that the Fluid was John's first real band, is it surprising that he fit in so well?

GS: Was it a surprise? No, I was all gung-ho for it. He was a really gregarious kind of guy. I thought he'd be an awesome lead singer. He's very flamboyant and really fun and loud, and I thought, this might be a perfect fit, and it worked out famously.

WW: The first time you guys got together to play, did you sense that the combination was going to work?

GS: Yeah, definitely. Ricky's riffs, and I'd been playing with Matt for a long time. Yeah, it just slid right in. It was really cool. Very easy to write. I think when we first got together, I think we wrote, like, six songs in one practice. It was awesome. At least the basic structure of it, and then figure out the lyrics and the vocals. But it was very easy... I think it was a natural progression. I think hardcore was on its way out, or at least we were growing out of it, and to go into the old-influence stuff like that was great. I was a huge Stones fan, and Ricky's a huge Stooges fan, and so I was getting to listen to the MC5 and getting turned on to things I hadn't heard. And Wax Trax would turn us on to everything - and I had Trade-a-Tape up in Boulder. Some of those guys were in the original Dead Kennedys, and they'd get all the British imports. We'd be like, "Oh, this is so cool." And the Bomp stuff. Getting turned onto this stuff, and you'd want to play a different style of music. Slow it down a little, let it groove, you know. All of our heads were sort of in that collective thought at that point, so it all gelled very easily.

WW: Because you guys had all been in other bands, was there an audience waiting for the Fluid right from the beginning?

GS: Not necessarily. It took a while to build up. There was a huge rockabilly scene that was happening in Denver at the time, too, and a lot of the skinheads, a lot of the skins turned to rockabilly, and so they didn't like us, because we had long hair. I think that was kind of our rebellion against hardcore or whatever. And also, Black Flag had long hair, so it was like, "Hey, those guys are cool." We grew our hair out and were walking around like a bunch of hippies, but we were very unhippie-like when we played. That was just kind of the shtick. So at certain shows, if the rockabillies showed up, it was kind of hairy. But we started bringing in our own audience. Brian Nelson put out our first record - he had that warehouse called the Funhouse. There were a bunch of rehearsal studios, and he had a huge stage in there, too. We'd play there, just fill it up.

WW: You mentioned the skinhead contingent. Was there violence that would happen during shows that didn't have a whole lot to do with what you guys were doing?

GS: Totally, yeah. It was scary, man. We had a really good friend of ours, Danny Einertson - I knew him as long as I've known Ricky, and he and Ricky were childhood friends. We used to call him our knock-out artist, because he'd take care of us. He hated the skinheads, and he was an incredible fighter: super-wiry, super-off-the-cuff, just crazy. Sweeter than hell, though. One of the most beautiful people you could ever meet, God rest his soul. But he'd take care of us. He'd be like, "If those guys mess with you, I will take them out." And I'm like, "Thanks, Danny." (Laughs.) It was awesome, and he was so sweet about it - but he was so fast. It'd be like, "Man, he just decked that guy. My God, that was fast."

WW: What happened?

GS: He got in a massive car accident with his wife, who was four-months pregnant. It must have been '97. I came back because Spell was doing some shows. I had moved up here, and I came back that summer because we just wanted to play together again, and it was while I was there that he died. It was horrible. That was really crushing to everybody.

WW: My condolences.

GS: Thanks.

WW: You mentioned Brian Nelson, who financed Punch n Judy - and everyone remembers that project was supposed to be a single, but it very quickly blossomed into a full-blown album.

GS: Well, we definitely had the material to do a full-length, and Brian had originally just talked about doing a seven-inch. And we were like, "God, we've got enough material to do a full-length. Why don't we just do that?" And he was like, "That's cool. Let's do it." So we did - at a cardboard box manufacturing company.

WW: Do you feel like that recording captured you? Or were there factors working against getting a good representation of your live sound?

GS: I think we were very naïve as far as the recording process went. We were all thinking we wanted a big, loud sound, so let's go put it in a big room - a warehouse. Which is stupid, because then the music would just travel all over the place. You can't really get a solid sound out of that. But the energy while we were recording was just awesome. The performances were killer. Yeah, it's pretty lo-fi. It's super-lo-fi, but it is what it is, and it was an awesome experience. We had a lot of fun. We got to put horns on it. We were like, "Let's try this. Let's try that." So it was cool. Punch n Judy is a cool record.

WW: Afterward, I hear you took charge of trying to get the album out to different fanzines and so on.

GS: We had a friend named Stu Wright - he lives up here now, and he sort of took on the managerial aspect for us. He used to work as the music director at KJHK in Kansas. He was a Jayhawk, and he was working for the college radio station. So he had this plethora of information for getting hold of people: CMJ when it was basically a Xerox print out and that kind of thing. And they had all the addresses of the radio stations and their music directors, and that was a great thing to work off of. So we sent 300 records out to radio stations and the fanzines. [Bruce] Pavitt got one, his Subterranean Pop fanzine, and our video as well. That's how that whole thing started.

WW: Tell me about the video. No one's mentioned that yet.

GS: No one's mentioned the video yet? That's funny. A guy named Eric did this video for us in Denver, and it's for "You," which is a song on Punch n Judy. We shot it around the Funhouse, the warehouse that Brian Nelson owned.

WW: Was it a performance clip?

GS: Kind of performance, kind of just being goofy. Walking around, shooting us. Just video footage of us messing around and some live stuff of us rehearsing. It's really old, but it's really kind of funny to watch. You can watch it on YouTube. We look really young.

WW: How did the album end up on Glitterhouse?

GS: That was a trade between Glitterhouse and Sub Pop. Glitterhouse wanted Green River's Rehab Doll and Sub Pop was like, "Let's do the Fluid record." Did Ricky talk to you about this?

WW: He did - about meeting the guy from Broken Jug.

GS: Yeah, at Straight Johnson's, I think. Rick and I were there, and he'd heard it somewhere, and he said, "I've got a buddy, Reinhard Holstein, who has Glitterhouse Records in Germany. We should get him this record." And he really dug it - and Reinhard really wanted to get his stuff to the states, so they made an import kind of deal with Sub Pop. And that's how that whole thing started.

WW: Did you have an inkling about a burgeoning scene in the Northwest?

GS: No, I didn't know anything. I'd heard the Soundgarden thing and that was about it. That was kind of really heavy to me. But when we got up here, everyone was just so appreciative, and we played with Mudhoney and got to be really good friends with those guys. There was some cool action happening up here. I love it up here. It's got a good vibe, it's got a really creative energy. It's not self-defeating. People help each other out up here. It's still that way.

WW: Is that a contrast in your experience with the Denver scene?

GS: Very much so. I feel like if you started to get out and do things like touring, and you were starting to sell out even like a 200-seat club show, a lot of the locals would get pissed off at you because you were a sellout, and I found that really ridiculous. Especially some of the local musicians. It was like, I'm still me, and I thought we were good, we were friends, and they'd turn their back on you.

WW: While in the Fluid, you felt this level of resentment?

GS: Yeah, definitely. And I felt that way with Spell as well. We were just trying to do our own thing, and we were the same people we'd always been, but all of a sudden we had a larger audience. I didn't know why. So I got frustrated with that. And when we'd come up here, especially with the Fluid: God, I mean, it would finance our whole tour. We'd do two shows, an all-ages show and a 21 show, and we'd made enough bread to finance the rest of the tour. It was awesome. Every faction of the Seattle scene would come out to see us. Like, some Tad people would never go see Gas Huffer, or some Mudhoney people would never go see Soundgarden, but everybody would come to our shows. We were kind of like the uniter. It was really cool, it was really fun. And it wasn't like they didn't like each other. It's just that they didn't care for that type of music. They were all friends and they'd go to the same parties, but they wouldn't go to the same shows. And we'd bring everybody out. It was awesome. Very cool.

WW: What are some of your best memories of the Fluid tours?

GS: There were a lot of them. Whenever we'd play up here was an awesome experience. The city would just open its arms up to us. We'd hang out with the Sub Pop guys and all the bands. Touring with Mudhoney was a lot of fun, because they were getting really huge. Sonic Youth had brought them up underneath their wing and they'd toured together, and "Touch Me, I'm Sick" was getting really big. So they were riding on that, and we were opening for them - and they had a lot to prove and so did we. Our whole attitude was, "Every night, let's just kill. Let's just kill. Let's do everything we can to just destroy this place." So we did. We had them running scared for a while, which was really fun.

WW: So it was friendly competition, but competition nonetheless?

GS: Oh yeah. Totally. It was super-fun. Killer.

WW: One of the frustrations some of your bandmates have mentioned to me is that you were never able to capture your live sound...

GS: Very much so. [Producer] Butch [Vig] came the closest. Glue was probably our best recording.

WW: What did you think of Roadmouth?

GS: Oh, it's horrible. Just flat. Jack didn't know what to do with us. He'd been working with Mudhoney, and right before he'd done Roadmouth, he'd just gotten done with Nirvana. Those bands are stripped back and a lot of fuzz and a lot of effect on stuff. And we come in with Marshalls and there's virtually no effect. It's just gain and feedback. He hadn't worked with a five-piece band like ours at that point, I don't think, with the style of music we were playing. He's a great guy, but he just didn't understand what we were doing quite yet.

WW: Whereas Butch Vig had more of a sense of how to capture your sound?

GS: I think he did. He'd worked with Urge Overkill and Killdozer, those Midwest bands that were more along our lines. Because the Fluid wasn't really a grunge band, per say. We were a rock and roll band. Grunge to me is kind of super-low, drop-d distortion, kind of languid and loose. And we were kind of fast and sometimes fairly tight (laughs). It was a rock band. Butch, I think he just had a better idea of what we were trying to do. But I'm not trying to dog [producer] Jack Endino or anything at all. He did one seven-inch for us after that - he did "Tin Top Toy" and "Tomorrow," and that sounded pretty damn good. And he felt bad about it, too. Still, to this day when I see him around town, he'll say, "Sorry about Roadmouth." And I'll say, "Stop it! It's no big deal." He's a sweet guy. I've actually worked with him not that long ago - actually just about a year ago. He did some stuff for this band, Alta May, that I was in. Jack's a great guy. It just didn't work out that time.

WW: One of the things I've asked the other guys is, Was there any resentment at all when other bands from Sub Pop were getting signed to major labels and taking off. But if I'm hearing you correctly, there never was that sort of vibe among those bands.

GS: Never was. No, no, no, no. We were actually excited for them. Like, they can pave the trail, and they're all family, they're all friends. If anything, we were excited for them and super-supportive of that. And that whole wave happened right at the same time. Nirvana going with Geffen and Mudhoney going with Reprise. And the 'Garden was already gone. They only did that one thing - they did like a couple of EPs, and then they were on SST, and then they were on A&M. So there was no resentment. We were excited for them.

WW: For you guys, I understand there were several deals that seemed ready to happen but didn't quite...

GS: Oh yeah. We were doing showcase dates for people from majors and just waiting for that one thing to gel. And then it was between Virgin and Hollywood, and we went with Hollywood. Probably not the wisest choice as I look back, but they were just coming up, trying to be a label - part of the Disney umbrella. And they didn't really know what they were doing.

WW: What were the main factors that convinced you guys to give them a shot. Was it enthusiasm?

GS: Yeah, a lot of it was enthusiasm. But I think we all thought at that time they'd let us have our freedom to let us do what we wanted to do. Like, within the contract, you guys can do your own artwork, you've already been touring, you're ready to go - we'll just put out your stuff and promote it the best that we can. That's what we thought. And yeah, the enthusiasm from the people there was great, but they just couldn't execute it.

WW: In terms of the recording, do you feel that they did give you that freedom?

GS: Definitely. Our producer was this guy who really wanted to prove himself, and he was a nice guy. We recorded in Sausalito, and he never tried to change any of our music. Some producers will help you rewrite your stuff because he thinks it'll be more effective: Like, let's drop this chorus. You know, manipulate songs. He didn't do any of that. But he was a hardass as far as recording went. I'd have to do drum parts over and over again because he'd say I was three-hundredth of a second off in this one area, and I'd just be like, "Oh my God." I'd be changing heads all the time, so I could never get my tones completely right. Heads need to warm up on your kit, and they need to be played for a while, and then your drum starts to sing. But I'd be changing heads after every sixth take. It was grueling.

WW: And that kind of recording was something you'd never done before?

GS: Exactly. It was just grab your balls and gas it. You play. That's how we always did it. It was usually one or two takes, and if it didn't happen then, the energy was going to die on you. You don't have that initial rage and energy for the song. After about the fifth take, you start to hate the song, and then you start overthinking things, and then you screw up. Usually, the energy of the first two takes is the best.

WW: You didn't play any part in the mixing process of that album, right?

GS: No.

WW: Was that because you were frustrated about what had gone on?

GS: I can't remember. I know James and I just drove back. For some reason, we had to get back. I might've had to work. And James definitely needed to get back. I think we just needed to get back. I probably trusted Matt and John and Rick to take care of that. It was no big deal. But that was a frustrating recording experience, for sure. I think everybody would probably say that. Matt kept blowing up bass amps, and on Thanksgiving, I think he went down to Hyde studios and recorded all his bass tracks in one day. It was bizarre. And we were in Sausalito, living on houseboats. It just felt discombobulated the whole time. Just weird.

WW: At that time, had you already started to do stuff with Spell.

GS: We might have been talking about jamming around. I think it was July of '93 when Tim and I and Chanin finally got together - when Chanin finally sat in with us. And that was another one of those things where we wrote five songs in one night. That was really cool.

WW: When it came time to support Purplemetalflakemusic, what did the label want you to do?

GS: They wanted us to tour a lot, which we did. We did nine weeks with a little bit of breaks and then go back on the road. And then we got home, and there was talk of us doing dates with the Smashing Pumpkins. Art Collins, our manager, was like, "The Pumpkins would like you to do the Metro anniversary shows with them." And the Pumpkins wanted us to do some other shows with them, and they were offering us some pretty good money. And then, some executive at Hollywood wanted us to go down to Dallas and rent a house and work the Dallas circuit, which was just absurd. Like, "What are you talking about?" Why would we do that? We were already doing a whole national circuit. That was unfathomable to me. And when push came to shove, after that nine weeks, we just said, "Fuck it," and stopped. Ricky didn't want to go out on the road anymore, he wanted to be home, and at that point, I wanted to bag it anyway. I wasn't feeling very creative or happy with what we were doing anyway. And I was really happy with what was happening with Spell. I didn't want to burn those guys, but I didn't want to burn the Spell people, either. I had to make a decision, so I quit.

WW: So for you, the fun was gone.

GS: Very much so. It was a drag. I mean, I'd sit behind the kit and I'd be like, I know this stuff, and I know it really well, and I'd always try to play the best I possibly could. But I just wasn't feeling creative anymore with it. Just sort of dead in the heart of it.

WW: It's an indication of how important you were to the band that it couldn't continue after you left...

GS: That's very sweet of you to say, but I was really hoping it would continue, because I would have loved to see those guys live. You know what I mean? I would have loved to have been in the audience at a Fluid show. I was kind of stunned. They were working with Dave from the Frantix and they were going to do this gig with Neil Young, and I was like, "Man, I'd love to see that band play live." And it just didn't happen. Dave's a hell of a drummer, too, and I thought it would be really cool to see that band play.

WW: As you know, I was a big fan of Spell.

GS: Oh yeah. You guys had us on the cover. I remember taking a bus down to my restaurant job and seeing it in all the newsstands. It kind of freaked me out (laughs).

WW: Well, right after having a bad experience with a record company in the Fluid, you went right into a bad experience with a record company with Spell - or would you characterize it that way?

GS: I think Island was a whole different monster from Hollywood. Island was very much established. Actually, it wasn't that bad an experience with Island. I think what happened is, our manager really screwed that up. Alex MacLeod was Spell's manager. Very gruff Scottish man. Awesome guy, but really abrasive. He was the road manager for Nirvana, and we got him as our manager, and I think the label and Alex butted heads quite heavily.

WW: So there was friction behind the scenes?

GS: Oh definitely - and I didn't want that to happen, either, but it did. Matt had '57 Lesbian going on, and Chanin was playing with him as well, and then she just decided to start playing with Spell full time. That was a bit tense. I didn't want that to happen, but it did. But the Island thing was actually pretty cool. The people we were working with were great. I have no bad feelings about that. It's just hard to sell records when there's such a glut in the market. And at that time, there certainly was. It was overblown completely.

WW: All the majors were signing modern rock bands willy-nilly and throwing them against the wall...

GS: Exactly - to see what sticks. And very little did. They were trying what they could to market us. It happened with the Fluid, too. There was just so much crap that was coming out.

WW: After that first album came out, how much longer did Spell stick together?

GS: I moved up here because I thought it would be fine, and then we had to do the second record. We moved up here in September of '96, and I was here for two days, and then I immediately flew to L.A. to record the second record. So there was that whole time we were in Los Angeles. We did that record, and then the label dropped us. Got a phone call about a month and a half after we were done recording, and the label dropped us. That took the wind out of me. I was devastated at that point. I was like, what am I doing? I was up here and I had some good friends up here, but I just felt I had no direction. It sucked. It was a really dark time for me. And my wife was just taking off, soaring. She started doing real estate up here, and here life was going creative and crazy and fun, and I was just going the other way. That year was really bad for me. That was tough. So that summer, when Danny died, Tim and I would talk on the phone, and Chanin, and they'd be like, "Come do some shows. Come back to Denver and do a couple of shows." And we did, and I needed that. I needed that energy. I loved that band. It was super-fun, and super-creative. I got to sing, and I'd always wanted to do that. It's hard to be behind the kit and use the rhythm of your voice, because you're using your breathing for playing as well. But that just seemed to work really easy for me. It was really fun. I loved that band. I miss them a lot.

WW: So the second album never saw the light of day?

GS: Nope. I've got a copy of it...

WW: Who'd you make it with?

GS: Nick Launay. And he was great. But there were machinations that were happening with the label. They were trying to get Chanin out front a lot more, and get me away from singing, which is something I loved doing. But I was like, "Okay, let's try it." So the songs I was singing on that record, I'd let Chanin do lead vocals on, which was fine. But in the long run, it didn't come out as best as it could have. We were all kind of disappointed with that record. Sonically, it sounds really good. It was recorded very well. But I think some of the energy was lost.

WW: Do you guys have the rights to it?

GS: No, but I probably could get them. It's been long enough. It would be fun to do something with that.

WW: A lot of the guys in the Fluid dropped out of music, or were on and off with it. But even after Spell, you never really quit.

GS: No, I've got a band now called the Press Corps. I'm singing in that band. Dan Peters is playing drums, from Mudhoney, and Bruce Fairweather from Green River and Mother Love Bone is playing guitar, and Erik Roper, who was in Cold Crank in Denver, is playing guitar as well, and Marcus Pina is our bass player. And it's killer. It's really fun. When I moved up here - Spell just sort of disintegrated, because I'd moved up here - but I still had to play. And Erik Roper had moved up here; he wanted to get out of Denver and try something different. And he lived right across the street from us, and I have a basement, and we just started jamming around. That turned into a band called Alta May, which was Erik and Marcus and I. It was a power heavy trio. We put out one EP and two full-lengths. I was singing in that, too. Different than Spell - a lot heavier. But it was great, because I had an outlet, and it made me feel better. And that's when my whole attitude started getting better. Getting jobs and finding a purpose in life in Seattle. That was great. It lasted about six or seven years. And then called it a day on that - and in the back of my mind, well, I've been wanting to play with Dan forever. He's like my best friend and we were both drummers. I always wanted to get together with him and do something. So Erik and I and Marcus and Dan started jamming around, and started writing songs. It was very natural and very easy, and then we got Bruce Fairweather to play with us, and now we've got a record out now on Flotation Records. We just did our CD release party the first of April, and just played with Mudhoney down in Portland last weekend.

WW: Do you play out regularly?

GS: We try. There's a lot of other things going on. Dan's got a lot of commitments with Mudhoney - Mudhoney's still going on. And he's got three kids and Marcus has two boys and Erik's got a daughter, and we've got to work around those types of things as well. But we play when we can, and we get a pretty good crowd. It's cool. We've got our MySpace page so you can check it out...

WW: Obviously, you're still doing a lot musically - and then you heard about the potential of doing these Fluid shows. Was there any part of you that thought, I've moved on from there? Or did it just sound fun?

GS: It sounded fun, but I was a bit hesitant as well. I was a bit hesitant from the past - bad blood. I felt like there might be some bad blood about certain things, and I wanted it to be fun. But then I started thinking about it, and I thought, this could be a real gas. We're going to play three or four shows and hopefully knock 'em down again, you know. Just that energy, I miss that, too, and it would be fun to sit behind the kit for a while. So I'm kind of jazzed about it.

WW: Matt mentioned that the two of you had a phone conversation and cleared the air.

GS: Yeah, we did. We needed that to happen, because that was the biggest contention, between me and Matt. But I feel really good about it now. I was a bit worried about that. Like, I don't want to fight onstage with him. That would be really horrible. What would be the point of that. Well, it might be entertaining (laughs). But no, I wanted us to both be on the same page, because we were a fucking really good rhythm section. Me and him would like in so hard and so good together. You could throw a bomb on stage and we wouldn't miss a beat, and I want that back. It's got to be that way to give Ricky and James and John solid ground to do what we do. We rehearsed so much that way. When we'd rehearse, Matt and I would work on our parts together, and it was so tight, so laid down, and that magic has to happen. So I had fear of that. And then after chatting with Matt, it feels really good.

WW: As you know, the Denver contingent has been rehearsing, and they've had John Call playing your parts.

GS: Which is awesome.

WW: They've mentioned that you're such a unique player that John has kind of had to go to school on the Garrett style. Do you perceive that your style is very different from most other drummers?

GS: I don't know. I know some guys are very four-four: a very hard four-four beat, very steady on the beats. And I like to sit back and groove a little bit. Dan Peters is very much that way, too. Swingy, almost. Ricky had talked to me at length about that. But it's so great they get to play with John, because I love John, and that's great that they've got somebody to bang out some stuff with them so they can work on it. But I guess I've got kind of a unique style. I don't know. I'm a lefty who plays a right-handed kit.

WW: Maybe that explains it.

GS: I have no idea (laughs). I'm just glad they appreciate my drumming.

WW: I'm told you came across a vintage live recording of the Fluid. How did you come across it?

GS: Jack Endino gave it to me. He was clearing out stuff from Reciprocal Records, and I saw him at a show - and he said, "I've got something for you." And he gave me a reel-to-reel, quarter-inch tape of us live in 1990 in Portland. From that came the split single we did with Nirvana. He said, "I want you to have this," and he gave me three CD copies, too. It's pretty cool. It'd be fun to put that thing out, too. Maybe have that for the Sub Pop twentieth.

WW: So it's recorded really well?

GS: Yeah. It's mixed. He had a mobile board down there, a truck that was right outside of the Satyricon. It's really good, it sounds really good.

WW: Do you have an interest in a remixed Fluid compilation?

GS: That'd be fantastic. There's a body of work out there, and I'd love to remix some of our stuff. I think the public would dig it. It's not available, the Fluid isn't available. I think Sub Pop still has the Glue/Roadmouth split out, but that's it. And there's Clear Black Paper and Punch n Judy and some of the Purplemetalflake stuff. And our seven inches, stuff we did with Reinhard - some of the EP s and stuff, the covers. It'd be nice to have that out. I think people would appreciate it. I know I would.

WW: After these shows, if there are other opportunities that come up, would you be open to listening to them? Or would you like them to stay what it is.

GS: Right now, I'd like it to stay what it is. If there are festival offers or whatever. The money's got to be right, because I'm a real estate assistant now; I do staging of houses and marketing. And it's got to be lucrative. I hate to be a butthead, but that's the way it is for me. And it's hard for everybody. We've got jobs and kids and things like that. To make something like that to happen, there's definitely got to be a bit of a payoff. But I'd be open to listening to it.

WW: In the meantime, how much are you looking forward to these shows?

GS: I'm really looked forward to them. I'm jazzed about it. I can't wait to see those guys. I'm pretty psyched.

WW: When was the last time you played in Denver?

GS: When was the last time I played in D-town? It was probably a Spell show, at the Bluebird.

WW: So we're talking about at least ten years.

GS: Yeah, it's funny. Alta May did quite a bit of touring, but we never got to Denver. We did Ireland and England, and we did some states stuff, but we never got to Denver. I don't know why. But I'm coming to Denver now.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts