[ pitchshifter in seattle - july '98 / photos by jeff greenwood ]
by Craig Young

It's a hot July afternoon in Seattle, and the sun is burning down relentlessly as I make my way to meet Pitchshifter frontman JS Clayden for our scheduled interview. The band has just arrived in town and are outside their tour bus in the parking lot of the RKCNDY, tossing a nerf football around and waiting to load their gear in. Jon's trying to launch the ball over the top of a billboard that borders Denny Way. After a few tries he finally succeeds. Everyone cheers and I'm left wondering what the expression is of the driver who just had a green nerf football splash across his windshield from out of nowhere.

Back inside the cool, air-conditioned confines of the band's tour bus, which Jon has dubbed "The Dolphin" (affectionately or in spite, I'm not sure), we escape the heat and sit down to do the interview. I'm nervous as hell. I've been waiting a long, long time to see Pitchshifter in person, and to end up lucky enough to be able to speak with Jon Clayden beforehand is both a nightmare and a dream come true. Despite my foot getting stuck in my mouth a few times I find Jon (and all the band) to be generous and kind, well-spoken and intelligent, and, above all, to have a wicked, wicked sense of humor--but of course.

In the end I discover a tight-knit band, both musically and as friends, and who, after a long road together, are happy to finally have their music getting some well deserved notice, and glad to finally be allowed to focus on it exclusively on their own terms--all with the support of their new label.

[ johnny, mark, jon, 'd', jim ]

How's the tour been so far? Any memorable moments?

J.S. Clayden: Oh, a million! The tour's been really good. America's always insane 'cause every state's a different country. We played in Reno the night before last night, and there's some curfew for under twenty-one's in the town center after nine-thirty or ten, or something mad like that! So you can be married, with kids, have your own business, but you're still not allowed to go into the town center. Things like that make me realize how insane America is. There'd be a riot in European countries if that was the case. It'd be like "RIOTTT!!!" Ha ha! There've been a lot of memorable moments. Meeting Jello Biafra in San Francisco. He came to the show and said he really liked our stuff, and talked about working together. My jaw hit the floor and I was like "Aaahhh!!! You're Jello Biafra and I'm no one!" That was really cool. Fear Factory came out to one of the shows. The weird chick from the Addams Family movies turned up for one--can't remember her name. It's been quite mad meeting those people.

So now that you've been from one end of the country to the other, and have spent a whole lot of time in-between in the midwest, what's your take on American culture?

J.S.: I think American culture is like any other culture--it's just tits, beer, and shit TV. It's the same in Germany, it's the same in England. We read The Sun newspaper in England, which has an average reader age of eight, and which is the highest selling newspaper; whereas a paper like The Guardian that actually does have some valid points is way down on the list.

[ rkcndy, seattle - 18 july '98- it was all a blur!! ]

But as in any culture there's fucking really cool things in America that you don't get in other countries. Because we are from four-thousand miles east, the way people perceive us is really different. I think we actually, and I don't mean it in an arrogant way, but when we come to America people actually take us for our worth. In England you're nothing special and you're instantly dismissed, even though when we play there we play for a thousand people. But you can never really make that jump in England to be like Nirvana or whatever 'cause of that mystique of coming from somewhere miles away and, you know… I think when we come to America people do listen to our music and go, "We don't have any music like this here. This is indicative of where they come from and what they do." We're taken more on the value of what we're worth rather than "being cool."

Well, people here have definitely been looking forward to seeing you come and play. I know a lot of people, including myself, who have been waiting quite awhile to see you actually make it out to the west coast...

J.S.: People say that, say stuff like, "I've been waiting for six years to see you play and stuff." And it just freaks me out and I feel kinda bad 'cause we're just the support band and we only do forty-five minutes. Sorry you've been waiting for six years, I wish we could play longer.

[ believe me when i tell you we know who you are ]

Leave them wanting more for the next time you come back…

J.S.: We're going to be back in October or November. After this tour we do three weeks around Europe on the Vans European Warped Tour with The Specials, NOFX, Civ and The Deftones. Then we do two weeks in Australia headlining, a week headlining in Japan, then a couple of gigs in the UK because everyone gets upset when we don't play in England for ages. And then we're going to come straight back to America.

Is it going to be another coast to coast?

J.S.: I hope so. It should be a couple of months, probably until around Christmas.

Do you like being out on the road?

J.S.: I don't think I have any option. Ha! I think yeah, it's a nice lifestyle. It's kind of compulsive and destructive simultaneously. There's a lot of benefits. You get to meet a lot of people, exchange a lot of ideas, see a lot of things that other people will never see in their lifetime, experience a lot of stuff. One day we're up the CN tower and the next day we're on a rollercoaster atop a tower in Las Vegas. You think, "God, what are we doing? It's madness!"

I dunno, you can probably squeeze in what would take nice people half their life in like three months. But it's also quite destructive. Don't get me wrong, I used to drive a delivery truck--a waste of all my years in college. This is a far more productive thing to do with your life, I think. But it can be really destructive--it's impossible to have a girlfriend. We all had girlfriends before this tour, and we all went, "Hey honey, I'll be back on Christmas Day." And they all went, "Don't come back." Heh. So there are negative aspects. Luckily none of us have children or pets.

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