Interview Podcast with The Street Eaters: By Todd Taylor and Adrian Chi

Dec 30, 2011

Interview Podcast with The Street Eaters: By Todd Taylor and Adrian Chi

The Street Eaters are a two-piece, wife-and-husband band from Berkeley, California. They play loud, weird, hooky DIY punk. It’s arty enough to be exploring and punk enough to get to the point; they’re a refreshing balance/counterbalance of quick charges and expansive sonic landscapes.

You may know Megan March from Neverending Party,

Megan March: Drums, vocals
John Geek: Bass, vocals

Interview by Todd Taylor and Adrian Chi
Photos by El Diablo
Transcription by Selena Mone and Todd Taylor

So, John, how did you end up in the role of Apples in the movie Neptune?
John: Oh my god. Have you seen it?
Todd: I only saw previews of it. I never saw the movie.
Megan: It’s brutal.
John: It’s about an hour and a half of just relentless brutality. That was involved with a bunch of people from the Spam and Geek Fest collective, directed by Anthony Marchitiello. Really interesting guy. Interesting film. A post-apocalyptic survival thing. Doesn’t really get explicit about what happened. He focused on a small group of individuals. It’s more about human-as-animal kind of things. My character was probably the most sympathetic character in it, trying to be the most human, whereas everybody else was… I mean, he dies. Brutally. About half way through the movie because he’s trying to be more human than animal, but everybody else is kind of being an animal.
Megan: It’s hard not to feel sorry for a character that gets shoved down a huge ravine naked.
John: Oh yeah. That. And then dunked in a freezing creek shortly after having his face burned in a campfire. This was all live, too. There was no CGI fakery. Just pain.
Megan: Did you get sticks and splinters stuck in painful places?
John: I don’t even want to talk about it. It’s an interesting film. Hopefully, one day, it’ll actually see some sort of a broader release, at least DVD. He’s done a bunch of shorts. The film has got some sound issues, so we may have to Foley it some day, but who knows.
Todd: John, you mentioned the fourth wall. What’s that?
John: You mean the separation between the performer and audience?
Todd: Yeah, but I don’t know what the first three walls are.
John: Well, that’s around you, on the stage. Unless you want to go through the back of the stage.
Megan: Is this a Pink Floyd reference?
Todd: [serious robot voice] No.
John: You’re supposed to pretend—besides the stage walls and the stage separators—that there’s another curtain between you and the audience that you’re supposed to be separate from. I guess that’s what most people in the performing arts and thespian arts do. But most of the good punk bands and rock bands…
Megan: We hate that wall.
John: It’s to be despised.
Todd: I didn’t know if it was a political term. Because there’s the fifth column. I didn’t know if there was a fourth wall.
John: Where did you pull it from, because maybe I was double-meaning it?
Todd: Every time I’ve seen you with the Fleshies, there’s no fourth wall.
John: We try to smash it. We try to do it as much as possible, too, although we are a little more bound by instruments.
Todd: And you can really tonk people with your guitar.
John: I don’t want to hurt anybody.
Todd: That thing can slash.
Megan: You’ve gotten close, man.
John: I know. I’ve got to be careful. Being sober is a good way to avoid people with that.
Megan: I think we were also really encouraging of having the audience break down that wall, too, because we try and get people to be closer to us and more involved when we play. When people are standing closer and their faces are in dangerous places, of getting hit by drum sticks, I find that more exciting. I think they’re excited, too.
John: Excitedly bleeding.
Megan: Excitedly dangerous.

Todd: I was talking to Tim Kerr (Big Boys, Poison 13), and this was before Biscuit died, and he said, “You know what, I don’t think the Big Boys can ever come back and do a reunion because we won’t have the audience we were playing for at that time.” He was the first person I heard say that. It’s absolutely true. It’s also very honest to realize that you may only have four members, but it really has five hundred people. The people who are in the same mind space and giving you energy and helping you out. Even on tour, all the people who helped you out or did things. That’s part of the band.
Megan: And they can be strangers, too.
Todd: Absolutely.
Megan: And I want to meet them and hang out.
John: Getting back to that fourth wall thing. Why would performers be above everybody else? There’s no point. Everybody’s involved. We’ve been shitworkers as much as we have been performers in our lives in and around music. We like it all. It’s all part of the same culture.
Todd: Another topic: Top rocker that wears glasses while performing? And I ask this question because I know John wears glasses, but never on stage.
John: I mean, Todd Congelliere (Toys That Kill) wears them sometimes on stage, doesn’t he? Or does he usually take them off?
Megan: He does! And he’s got the headband…
John: Yeah he’s always got the headband…
Megan: And the sweat.
John: Yeah, you’re right.
Todd: He’s there for business.
Megan: ADD/C, they all wear glasses...
Megan: And they’re all forces of nature.
John: And, wild asses. Daniel like with the [sound effect] flying, going nuts. I don’t know he keeps ‘em on his head.
Todd: Because my gift to people who rock out with glasses, I sometimes carry little racquetball straps you put on the back of your glasses because, especially the sweaty…[ makes sound] whew, right off.
John: I think I’ve seen Colin from Defect Defect wear them.
Todd: Yep, exactly.
Megan: Oh, he totally does. He’s got the little strings in the back.
John: Yeah, he’s bouncing around like a damn beach ball.
Todd: And his glasses are always fucked up, too.
Megan: I’ve noticed that.
Todd: I’m trying to get you guys out of your comfort zone.
John: Yeah, no that’s good. Making us use these brain cells…
Megan: Think about it, think about it.
Todd: Who do you think America’s Crass is?
John: There are some brilliant bands around right now who are very evocative of Crass and do an excellent job of it, both lyrically and musically. The first one that popped to mind is, obviously, Surrender.
Megan: I’m a big fan of Surrender.
John: Enormous.
Megan: I wish there were more American Crass bands. There aren’t that many peace punk bands. Surrender’s the one I can really think of that is unabashedly political about their lyrics—dramatic, very intense—and very staccato and rhythmic musically. But they’re definitely doing their own thing, too. Because we did see a Crass cover band when we played in Worcester. We played in a converted firehouse when we were on tour with Shellshag and there was a Crass cover band, which was amazing. Loved it. Maybe there can’t be an American Crass band. The only ones that there can be are cover bands.
John: Also, Crass was such a specific product of its time and place. But I love the idea of peace punk. We really need more peace because we just keep declaring wars. And there needs to be people saying no, whether they’re a voice in the wilderness or a few hundred thousand voices in the wilderness. It’s still a voice. Okay, sure, shouting at the sun doesn’t necessarily change anything, but if you get enough people shouting at the sun, then at least some are providing shade.
Megan: But also ignoring something that you’re against doesn’t make it right. It’s okay to have an opinion.
Todd: My personal balance is being aware of it and having it not drive me into a hole of depression. Understanding that, “Okay, this is as far as I can take it.” Because there is no shortage of horrible, horrible things that are happening on a continual basis. And I think that people get addicted to that, in and of itself. So, yeah, it’s a balance. Awareness and activity and very important.
Megan: That’s a great reason to make art about something, to get it outside of yourself.
Todd: Externalize it. Get the toxins out.
John: It does reach people, too. If you’re outward enough with what you’re doing and, really, are trying to get it around as much as you can—like you do, and like we do from touring all the time—you do reach new people. There are people at the shows; you’re not always preaching to the converted.
Todd: I think that’s a fallacy.
John: I think it’s a complete fallacy. There are a lot of people who are not aware of some of the things that you’re saying and maybe they’re open to listening and you’re open to what they have to say about it. But sometimes they just might not have much of an opinion on it at all. This is a weird example, but in swing states or places like that where you play, sometimes it’s also people who you think are converted but they are just so separated from the issues and doing any direct action to deal with them that they end up totally disenfranchising themselves. “You know, you’re actually in a state where your vote actually means something.”
Megan: Take Florida.
John: Two hundred people are going to decide some election. It may be between one tool and a complete tool, but that gives you, still, power, whether you back a third party that would help to pressure the lesser tool into being, perhaps, slightly less of a tool.
Megan: But also in the context of the punk scene, “the converted,” I think there’s a lot of issues which are silenced and we have songs about domestic violence and women’s reproductive rights, which, to me, are songs about human rights and civil rights. And to be able to sing about those things has produced some really powerful conversations afterwards. People being like, “Wow. You wrote a song about that? I’m afraid to talk my best friend about that.”
Todd: The ADD/C dudes came up with this, too: “The best thing you can do is to become an example.” Day in and day out. They cited Mike Pack. You could say, “He’s just a guy who records bands.” Not really. It’s much more than that. It’s daily conversations. It’s actually putting things out in the world instead of just thinking about them. Very important.
John: He’s definitely a do-er.
Megan: And he’s a guy who is able to do something amazing like that and consider himself still punk and have a family.
John: And, at the end of the day, we can crash at his house and watch Gilligan’s Island.
Megan: ‘Til four o’clock in the morning.
John: Which sounds awesome to me right now… or any time, really.