So you grew up in Texas?
“Partially [laughs]. I’ve lived in a lot of places, a lot of different climates and areas of the country so I guess that just had a lot of random influence on me. Everything from Hispanic culture to Boston-Irish culture, I lived in Boston for a while. I was born in Richmond, Virginia. I was living in Washington during Junior High and then I moved to Austin, Texas and that’s where it’s all came full force, ‘cos I didn’t know anyone – it was a bad time to move, ‘cos you’re in high school, you have all your friends and stuff, so I really spent all my time working on music, ‘cos I didn’t really know anyone, buying records, and that’s where it all started. From that point on, whatever region I’m in, I get records from that region. But yeah, I guess Washington and Texas were the two places I lived most.”
Do you still buy a lot of records?
“Oh yeah, but less than I used to, only because your tastes change and I found myself getting rid of loads of records. As you get older, you get more picky, so now I’m picky and now the records I want are more expensive, so I buy fewer [laughs]…”
Would say that every single place you’ve been, there’ve been record stores worth plundering?
“Absolutely. I mean, there are a few dead ends, but as far as major areas are concerned, yeah. I really like to buy stuff that you can only get in that area.”
The sleeve design for Seven Seals is pretty striking. Do you use the same designer for all your records?
“Well the first record [Welcome] cover art was by Parra. He was really helpful from early on, he loved Welcome and asked to do it, so that was great. But other than that it’s either me or my good friend Liger, who’s kind of got a very…unique mind. So he did Seven Seals and he’s a little on the crazy side, in a good way. He did the ‘Thin Moon’ 45, which is my favourite…”
Another one that I loved, just in its simplicity, was the Egyptian Lover 12″ ['Cosmic Rapp'] sleeve…
“Yeah, he did that one as well.”
In terms of coming up with the artwork concept, is that collaborative? How does the process work?
“With Seven Seals – to a degree I just think I asked him to illustrate something really busy, so you can sit on the toilet and look at it for a while, you know?. But yeah, he did all that – it took him a year [laughs].”
Is the Liger Vision label [the imprint through which Pants has released several mix CDs] his baby?
“Yeah. He used to work at Stones Throw; when I did an internship there, that’s how I met him, we hit it off. He’s since moved to Tennessee, and yeah, he does Liger Vision. We’re fellow weirdos. ”
I didn’t realise until someone pointed it out to me: the Seven Seals artwork references Bruce Haack. Was that a conscious thing?
“That actually wasn’t a conscious thing, for me at least. But you know, there’s actually a ton of great records with that kind of vibe. Bruce Haack is a little more sacrilegious though – he’s got Jesus with horns on there [laughs]. But yeah, that was definitely the vibe, Mort Garson has that kind of stuff too, he’s another of my favourites, that real busy style, not sure if it’s a good or a bad thing going on in the picture…kind of heaven, kind of hell.”
Tell me a bit more a bit about your work ethic and approach to recording.
“I make a lot of ideas, constantly. There’s probably 100 songs again for this one [the album Pants is currently recording]; most of them that aren’t actually songs, but just little grooves or ideas. I get those out and then I always get back to them, weed out the best. The worst is spending a day on a song start to finish and then the next day realising you really don’t want to use it. So that’s it, I make a lot of ideas, and keep listening to them in the car…”