Now we're gonna get all meta on your asses! We've been doing The Blogger Lowdown for months now, introducing you to the people behind the scenes of our favorite blogs. I recently came to the realization that you guys out there in internet-land probably know more about who runs other blogs than you do about your humble Digsters. So here is the first of three Blogger Lowdown: Digster Editions, where you get to know the inner workings of the TWD writers' brains. Don't be scared, we're a lot of fun!
How about a little back story on yourself to start things off.
Like all the writers of Those Who Dig, I was born in Erie, PA. I left for college in Indiana and then went on to grad school in North Carolina, and then after 6 years away, I found myself back here.
How did you come to join Those Who Dig?
Here’s a little of the TWD origin story. The three of us went to the same high school, where I was a year ahead of you and Dave. I’ll leave it to you guys to talk about how the two of you became friends; I ended up meeting Dave first when we both ended up in the Student Government homeroom my senior year. I then met you through him pretty much and we all became really good friends because of having so much in common, I’d say especially pop culture taste – music above all – and similar sense of humor.
Flash forward to summer 2010. You and Dave had already started the blog, you and I were back in Erie. We had met up for drinks (shout out to the Plymouth!) and you asked me to join Those Who Dig. You can get into all the reasons, but you specifically cited the time a few years prior when I put forth my theory about Pulp Fiction and the Wu Tang Clan, the connections I see between them and how much I like both. You were hoping I’d bring writing like that on the blog. I still haven’t posted on that and I probably have been lacking in the outlandish yet insightful connections department, but I said yes and it’s been great nonetheless. And that post will appear soon… (UPDATE: 4 months later, here it is!)
Do you have a day job/alter ego?
I have a day job working for the City of Erie as a zoning officer. I went to grad school for City Planning, so it’s at least reasonably related to what I went to school for but I have no expectation of being a zoning officer much more than a few years tops. It’s been kind of neat learning more about our city and how it’s run, but let’s just say there are plenty of moments that make me wish I could be a blogger full-time.
What kind of music did you grow up with? Did this contribute to your tastes now?
I am the oldest kid in my family as well as my extended family locally, so in the absence of a cool older sibling or cousin, my tastes began with my parents’ musical collections. My mom liked a lot of Motown and 70s singer-songwriters like Carol King and James Taylor, and I remember her playing Bad by Michael Jackson a lot, but I never got too into any of that then. I was more responsive to music my dad played. He had a big vinyl collection and lots of CDs. I would say it was mostly of the classic rock tradition, but there were definitely some outliers.
When I was really little, I would just respond to whatever sounded fun; as a five or six year old I loved “Jump” by Van Halen and Jimmy Buffett’s “Cheeseburger in Paradise” because the music was upbeat and I loved jumping and cheeseburgers. Simple. Later, I remember liking bands such as Neil Young, Tom Petty, and the Who before my own tastes were formed and I do think that sort of classic rock aesthetic has been somewhat informative on my own tastes. I got into bands that were into those bands basically.
Any interesting musical tastes or purchases early on? Any guilty pleasures now?
Haha, oh man. I had a paper route during 7th and 8th grade, right when I was getting into music and so most of that money just went to buying CDs. I was always listening to alternative and modern rock radio, plus watching MTV, VH1, and the Box and would buy music I had heard and liked without much thought if the rest of the CD would be any good. As you can imagine, those first several purchases had some real duds, such as Fuel and Marcy Playground. I did like them for a brief time but quickly moved on. However, anything I got from that time that I do still like, I really don’t feel that guilty about revisiting now. Maybe I should, but I still occasionally play things like the first album by Third Eye Blind or Dude Ranch by Blink 182 and dig them guilt free. Haha, goodbye credibility!
What’s the one album that you have the greatest emotional connection to?
Oh man. I think it’s probably the Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. They were my favorite band for quite a few years, mostly during high school basically, and this album was just so powerful. It covers almost all of the things I love about music throughout its 24 tracks and I even feel like I still discover something new each time I play it. I think you can find a resonant moment for just about every emotion you might ever feel, it is truly an epic adventure to experience the whole thing, especially the first time. It has also been a springboard for me to get into other bands and artists. I return to it frequently, love almost all of it as much as I used to, and can’t even begin to count all the memories and life moments both big and small I associate with this album.
What’s the best venue you’ve ever been to?
Another tough question. It’s got to be a tie between the Metro in Chicago and Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro (Chapel Hill). Both are awesome. Good sizes, good sound. I have a lot of great memories from the number of wonderful shows I’ve seen at each.
Any stellar shows or purchases recently?
Hmm…not really. Erie has really been killing me on the show front. Last stellar thing I saw was in June in Toronto: Band of Horses, Broken Social Scene, and Pavement (didn’t arrive in time for Beach House, which kills me). I wrote about it for the site. It was amazing. Haven’t bought anything all that interesting lately, though when I was getting some 2010 releases I either didn’t have or wanted a physical copy of, I bought Beach House’s Teen Dream and it came with a DVD with a video for each song. I would love it if more bands did this, I dig it.
How else does Steve spend his time? Any interesting hobbies outside of music and blogging?
Music / blogging is definitely the main one. Between that and trying to figure out some major life changes, there hasn’t been room for much else, but I do love to read and travel, even if I don’t get to do as much of the latter as I’d like.
What’s the one song you keep going back to that defines you right now?
You and your “pick one out of infinity” questions! Haha. But I have to say “Car” by Built to Spill.
It is a contender for my favorite song of all time, easily one of my top 5. (I have Dave to thank for getting me into the band by the way.) I’ve loved this song from the moment I heard it years ago and haven’t stopped since. Lyrically and musically, the song is a journey that feels like the perfect encapsulation of how I feel about life and how I aspire to live it. I believe the best songs are the ones you can not only hear yourself in, but also the person you can become, and that’s “Car” for me.
Did you ever touch Touchdown Jesus?
Haha, no. Not quite tall enough for that. But at the end of senior year, I was on a special tour where we got to go out on the field at the Notre Dame Stadium, walk through the tunnel, see the locker rooms, etc. During that I did get to touch the “Play Like A Champion Today” sign that the football team smacks before taking the field each game, which is a pretty big deal in the ND community.