In 2019, I picked up a Nikon N2020 on a whim. I was looking for a 35mm Nikon that had a physical shutter speed dial and supported AF lenses. Originally, I thought I would be picking up a Nikon F4, but I didn’t want to spend that much. So, I started looking at other cameras from that period and landed on the N2020. The decision to go with the N2020 was only partially because of cost—there was also a sense of unfinished business. The very first 35mm SLR that I bought was a Nikon N2020, nearly 12 years ago. It was a short-lived experience. I shot a single roll and was so disappointed in the results that I sold the camera. Looking back, I know I didn’t give the camera a fair chance. In 2009 I was barely a competent photographer and knew nothing about shooting film. I thought it would be interesting to revisit the N2020 and see what my opinion was as a more mature photographer. Now, after owning this N2020 for nearly two years I want to share my experience with this unique—and oddly enjoyable—camera.
The Nikon N2020, or the Nikon F-501 outside the U.S., was released in 1986 and was Nikon’s first successful autofocus SLR. While the Nikon F3AF came out a few years earlier, it did not have much success and it also used AF lenses specific to the F3AF. The Nikon N2020, on the other hand, debuted the Nikon AF system that would be the standard for Nikon cameras for the next 30 years. The Nikon N2020 is based on the N2000, with the addition of autofocus. Both cameras marked a shift in design for Nikon. Gone were the film advance levers and an all-metal design. In their place, we have a built-in motor drive, auto film loading, and new polycarbonate construction. These cameras, especially the N2020, represented a transitional period in the photography industry. Cameras like this bridged the gap between the metal, full manual SLRs of the 60s and 70s, and the plastic, full auto SLRs of the 90s. As with any transition, it didn’t come without growing pains.
Nikon N2020 Autofocus
While the camera certainly has a lot of firsts to be proud of, it is objectively not that great. We’ll start with the thing that made the Nikon N2020 special, the autofocus. To say the AF is archaic would be incredibly kind. The N2020 uses an early form of phase detection, but it’s a completely passive system. Modern cameras have an active system that uses a form of range-finding to determine focus based on subject distance. Passive systems act similar to the contrast detection that was found in mirrorless cameras. The result of this early attempt at AF leaves a lot to be desired. Even in good lighting the focus frequently hunts, and usually has a bit of back and forth before it settles. In low light—and I mean anything dimmer than an overcast day—the AF can be unusable. Many times I had to tap the shutter button multiple times to get it to focus. Sometimes it refused to focus at all. Even when the AF is behaving, it is loud and annoying. Speaking of sounds, the film advance is downright depressing. Every sound this camera makes harkens back to a bygone era. A time of electronic advancement, of unnecessary motorization, and blinking red LED lights everywhere.
Nikon’s Design Philosophy
If we can move past the shortcomings of the N2020, of which are many, what’s left is something almost enviable. While other manufactures wanted to jump straight into the world of buttons, wheels, and LCD screens, Nikon tried to apply new technology to their existing design philosophy. The Nikon N2020 is a camera of duality—having one foot in the world of manual focus SLRs and the other foot (or perhaps just a toe) in the modern era. Save the AF and integral motor drive, the N2020 has more in common with the F3 than an F5. Shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and exposure compensation are all physical dials on the N2020. And it’s this sense of continuity and legacy that will forever endear me to Nikon. While Nikon has evolved over the years, it is always in a measured way. Nikon’s design philosophy honors their roots while treading new ground carefully. The N2020 exemplifies this. The design cues and tactical controls are very similar to an F3, with the addition of autofocus. It is a unique experience having the tactile control of a classic SLR like the F3, while using more modern AF lenses.
On the note of lens compatibility, the N2020 can use almost any manual focus lens. The major exception to this is “Pre-Ai” lenses, a limitation many late model manual focus Nikon bodies share. For AF, the N2020 supports the “screw-driven” AF or AF-D lenses, but can’t drive new AF lenses with integrated motors. It is also important to note that lenses without aperture rings can be used, but only in “P”. These limitations are important to be aware of when looking at bodies from this era. Out of my 10 lenses, only half will work on the N2020.
Shooting with the N2020 is an interesting experience, and a bit of a guilty pleasure, if I’m being honest. Dealing with the autofocus speed is a challenge, even trying to get a decent photograph of my cats can be almost impossible. Shooting it requires patience and understanding of its limitations. Learning and overcoming these limitations is one of the most enjoyable parts of shooting older cameras like the N2020. Putting yourself in a box and having to work to make good photographs—it’s a test of a photographer’s skill.
The Bottom Line
I like to shoot the Nikon N2020, not despite its flaws, but because of them. I like taking a step back into the 80s and experiencing what our parents did. There are certainly better cameras out there, but the N2020 has its place. If you want to use a real shutter dial and aperture ring, and want to use some of your AF glass, this is the only option short of a Nikon F4, which is easily 5 times as expensive. I feel the need to drive that point home because it is staggering. As of writing this, October 2020, the N2020 can easily be had for ~$30. The Nikon F4 on the other hand is $150-200.
If you are looking for a cheap way to dip your toes into 35mm or specifically looking for a more manual experience, this might be the right camera for you. After almost two years with it, I can safely say it is a camera I reach for often. Its unique experience keeps pulling me back. The Nikon N2020 isn’t perfect, but perhaps that’s the reason I can’t recommend it enough.
Photo Pro had been a staple of the Cedar Rapids community for nearly 40 years, and was the last camera shop for nearly 200 miles. It’s not just the loss of Photo Pro, but the fact they were the last of a dying breed.
Anyone who knows me is likely to be aware of my tenuous history with Photo Pro. While I do not lament for the owner, I do for the employees and the community. All the same, I want to reflect back on the impact local camera stores had on my journey as a photographer.
The year is 2009. I’m working as a supervisor at a Staples store — ironically also now closed. My work life had become more and more stressful, and I needed a change. At the same time I started to truly understand my passion for photography. I’d owned a DSLR for about three years, and this hobby was starting to seem like something more.
I knew the basics, and for the first time I felt like I was starting to grow. It was this realization that drove me to start spending time at local camera stores. These early interactions shaped my career as a professional photographer.
When I got started, we had two camera shops: Photo Pro and Porter’s. I didn’t find Photo Pro welcoming to a young photographer who wasn’t interested in weddings or portraits. Instead, I found my home at Porter’s. The staff seemed to both understand and appreciate the drive of a young photographer who wanted to shape his own path.
The spring and summer of 2009 is both a blur and one of the most significant periods of my development as a photographer. Much of this is thanks to the knowledge and kindness of Porter’s manager, Paul Adams. While Photo Pro filled me with doubt and skepticism, Porter’s welcomed me with understanding and encouragement. I found mentors that would inform my growth as a photographer for the next decade.
Porter’s put up a hiring sign in the middle of 2009. Paul asked me to apply and — even though I knew it would be a pay cut — I jumped at the opportunity. The thought of being immersed in the stuffs of my passion was inconceivable. To live and breath it was almost too good to be true. Sadly, it was. At least at that point. The bosses swooped in and filled the position. So, the dream was shattered.
But, “Life, uh, finds a way”
A month later, in pursuit of the newly released Nikkor 35/1.8 DX, I found myself back at Photo Pro. On this trip I interacted with an employee about my age who didn’t seem quite as judgmental as some of the other employees. They didn’t have the lens, but he said he would call me when they had another one. Sure enough, I got a call the next week. Same guy helped me again. As I was trying out the lens, I overheard him talking with another employee about tech specs on a camera and I corrected them. After confirming that I was correct, he told me to apply since they were looking for someone. Following a rather stiff and uncomfortable interview, I was hired.
I started on my 21st birthday, a point of early strife between me and the owner. I worked there for about 10 months. While it was far from the dream I had envisioned, it wasn’t without rewards.
The employee who told me about the job? That was Levi Zinser, one of my best friends to this day. He and I bonded over art and the joy of photography. Levi was also the first person to get me to photograph live music.
The rest of the staff was older, but what they lacked in personality they made up for with experince. Most importantly, experience with film. I had never shot with film as an adult, so I was quite curious. At the beginning of 2009 I picked up a Nikon N2020 with a macro lens I was after — a lens that’s still in my kit to this day. I shot a single roll of film through that camera. It turned out awful. So bad that I sold the camera shortly after. Despite an initial bad experience I was still curious if film could create good results. It might seem weird today, but in 2009 film was largely considered dead. By this point Most photographers switched to digital and weren’t looking back. It was easily five years before the mass resurgence of film happened.
With the sage advice of my Photo Pro co-workers, I discovered my love for film. It stared with a cheap 35mm SLR similar to my digital — a Nikon N65 that cost me about $20. After running a few rolls through it and being generally happy with the results I moved up to the more professional F100. From there I went to medium format with a Bronica ETRSi, and then to large format with a 4×5 monorail view camera. The growth and experience I had in those 10 months helped shaped the photographer I am today.
While personal conflicts brought my tenure at Photo Pro to an end, what I learned opened a new world to me. That kept me going. Most of the people I worked with thought learning film was silly, but the experience lit a fire that burns to this day Although it needs occasionally stoking.
Fast forward a few years to 2012. I was given a second shot at my dream, and actually got hired at Porter’s. It proved to be what I hoped it would be — a welcoming environment for a young artist. I learned the value of being a teacher. Unlike at Photo Pro, I had co-workers less experienced that me. It wasn’t that our staff at Porter’s was less experienced. I had grown. I didn’t realize just how much I had developed as a photographer until I was back working in a camera shop. The years in between had be filled with learning, I wasn’t the amateur anymore.
Sadly, the dream had to come to end. At the beginning of 2013 Porter’s closed, just 8 months after I started. The loss of Porter’s still seems fresh. Our cohort was passionate about photography in a way that Photo Pro wasn’t.
The departure of Porter’s bought others a little more time. Iowa City’s University Camera shuttered in 2018, and now Photo Pro in 2020.
So, what’s next?
The void that is left isn’t exactly about being able to buy new cameras locally, but losing a resource for the community. Will we miss out on future photographers because we don’t have a camera store to get kids excited? If I didn’t start going into Porter’s in 2009, and didn’t have someone like Paul sharing his knowledge and passion, I wouldn’t have kept at it. I hope as 2020 comes to a close, and we eventually move past COVID-19, our community will have the space for another camera shop. I think having a space like that is vital to the creative community.
For now, I will focus on doing my part to keep the passion for photography alive in Cedar Rapids. I’ve opened my darkroom for business and I’m always down to answer questions about film shooting and developing. I hope having a local source for film developing, scanning, and printing will keep people shooting for now. We never know what the future might hold.
Mike Weber: Welcome back to 319 Creates. I’m your host, Mike Weber. On today’s episode of Quarantine Sessions, we check in with Iowa City musician, Dan Padley. We reached Dan at his home by phone.
Dan Padley, welcome to 319 Creates.
Dan Padley: Thanks for having me.
Mike Weber: So how are you holding up in the quarantine?
Dan Padley: Oh, it’s going alright. I’m still working. I’m still going to work at the hospital, so it’s not as wildly different as it could be. I mean, obviously when I’m coming home, I’m staying in and it’s been nice to make music way more than I have in the past. Keeping all my stuff set up so I can just plug in and play and record whenever. But that’s kinda what’s keeping me sane, I guess, is just playing guitar every day and making sounds.
Mike Weber: So for those who don’t know – and I don’t remember if I know, actually – what do you do at the hospital?
Dan Padley: I’m in the food service department, in the catering section.
Mike Weber: So has that changed at all with extra precautions with COVID-19?
Dan Padley: A little bit. We’re actually relatively slow right now, just because there’s not many service events going on. We’re kind of more or less on call, I think. I’m salaried there, so I’d have to be there.
Mike Weber: Lucky you.
Dan Padley: So it’s slowed down. But yeah, we’ve taken precautions. We just got issued the face shields yesterday. So that definitely made things feel a little more real. Not that it wasn’t real before, but it’s just like, yeah. Stuff’s happening.
Mike Weber: So then you said that you’ve been working on more music recently.
Are you just writing more material or are you trying to figure out – I know you did a live stream. We’re recording this on… I don’t even know what today’s date is.
Dan Padley: It’s Friday, the third.
Mike Weber: Friday, April 3rd. So, Thursday, April 2nd you did your first live stream. So why don’t we talk about that first.
Dan Padley: Yeah.
Mike Weber: Was that a new process for you? Have you ever done anything like that in the past? Were there any hiccups?
Dan Padley: I haven’t really. So, my friend Brian Johannesen, he did a live stream early last week, and then sent an email out to a bunch of musicians because that was kind of a guinea pig run for IPR to do their promoting of it. He said they wanted to do more, so reach out. So I emailed. It was kind of an impulse decision. And I realized that this weekend would’ve been Mission Creek and I was slotted to play there. I scheduled that for when my set would have been at Mission Creek. IPR was very kind to put that on and promote it and get the word out.
I haven’t really played solo much, until recently. I did a show at Goosetown early March. More like background music, like the ambient guitar stuff that I’ve been doing just kind of on my own. But in a live setting is new for sure. And then the week after that I had the great pleasure of opening up for Julian Lage and Dave King at Trumpet Blossom, which has been the last show I’ll play for a while. So it was a good one to take a break on, I guess. Then I kinda took those two sets. And I kind of realized I can carry some time. A lot of it gets eaten up by weird ambient loop stuff, which is fun. It’s fun for me anyway. I hope it’s fun for people that listen.
Mike Weber: Yeah. We actually tuned in last night and was listened to most of it. I’m constantly surprised with everyone doing these. I never really listened to or watched any of them before. And it’s interesting to me that we’re at a point technology-wise that this is not only doable, but you can actually sound pretty good doing it. When people started telling me that they were going to be doing live streams, I was just thinking of how a couple of years ago when I saw people doing it – putting their phone in the middle of the room and playing their guitar and nothing sounds good.
Dan Padley: Yeah.
Mike Weber: And now Facebook Live has gotten to the point where it’s able to utilize different audio sources and you can actually use a decent field recorder and pump it into your computer. You can sound pretty good doing it.
Dan Padley: Yeah, I was hoping to get that figured out. Truth be told, I just had my phone on a music stand and that was the audio coming in. I’m lucky that I just have the guitar amp as the only sound source and my voice when I was talking very little in between.
The quality just across the board is pretty incredible. And it’s been nice to see how many people are doing it and making music and making it happen. It makes you think that hopefully – I mean, obviously we all want to go see live music again when this crisis winds down, whenever that is – but it’s heartening that hopefully there’s more music in the world all around with people doing these streams. Then you get friends from other places across the country – across the world – that can tune in and see you.
Mike Weber: Yeah. I was talking with Miss Christine earlier in the week – that episode actually should be going out today.
She was saying the same thing, that she has friends across the country that very rarely are able to actually come see her shows. To do a live stream was something that got a lot of her friends excited because it gave them the ability to see her perform live. I think that’s an interesting thing. As much as we all like going out and seeing a performance live – myself especially – there is a different dynamic to being able to do a live stream. There’s always going to be people that, for various different reasons, aren’t able to experience it in person. Just broadening your audience and being able to get your material in a live capacity.
I think there’s something very unique – you can record a music video, you can record a live performance and put it on after the fact. But there’s another layer to it when you are doing it truly live.
Dan Padley: Yeah, yeah. There’s that engagement too. Last night I looked over to my computer because I had to go in there so I could see the comments better.
And then I was reading a comment as I was playing and I messed up and had to get back on track. But it’s that thing of like, “Oh yeah, this is happening right now.” I’m not just practicing in my room. Yeah, it’s live. It’s alive.
Mike Weber: I really wonder now that more musicians are experimenting with this, how much of this is going to carry on after we get past the COVID-19 pandemic?
I almost wonder if we’re going to start seeing more venues starting to stream portions or all of the live shows, just to keep more people engaged. I’m looking at the situation and trying to find – there’s no silver lining in any of this, but that doesn’t mean that we can find something good to pull out of it.
Dan Padley: Mhmm.
Mike Weber: And I’m really wondering if – talking specifically in the realm of music – we’re all traversing the landscape of live streams, are we going to pull something good and useful out of this whole situation?
Dan Padley: Yeah, that’s a great point about venues getting involved in this, because I’m sure some already do this from time to time.
Just bringing the music even farther to the people. That reach. I had friends tune in from all over. Like I mentioned earlier, I had friends tune in who hadn’t seen me play in the decade, like friends from high school. It’s always fun to have that experience and this is one way to make that happen.
Mike Weber: Yeah. It’s interesting. I think it’s really cool that musicians have this outlet, but as a photographer, I’m still trying to figure out a way to do something right now.
Dan Padley: Yeah. Right. I mean music is such a temporal medium that it just happens.
I mean, it’s recorded and you can relisten to stuff. But yeah, I don’t know. It’s a different medium altogether. That engagement becomes gone in a certain way because you can’t – I guess you could live stream you taking pictures of something. Not sure how that works out logistically.
Mike Weber: Yeah, people have been making jokes that I should start taking pictures of the computer screen during a live stream and start posting those.
Nicole and I have talked about that. I think that there might be something there – at least from the realm of satire. Speaking as a creative in this moment, trying to find new outlets to put out creative work into the world – I think that’s why I fell back so heavily on the podcast because this is something that I can still do.
Dan Padley: Yeah, absolutely.
Mike Weber: And, even in this realm, what we’re doing right now. Doing this interview over the phone was not something that I had even remotely considered doing prior to the pandemic.
Dan Padley: Yeah.
Mike Weber: The first round of the podcast I did in 2018, I hit a wall logistically trying to get people to be in the same room as me. And now, I think we’re on the fourth or fifth one that I’m recording right now. This just seems to work. I think I’ve got the system hammered out.
Dan Padley: Yeah, I mean, there’s always those extra tech hurdles when you’re doing stuff like this. It’s really not that much to overcome.
Mike Weber: Yeah. To me it’s interesting. I think all of us, especially the creatives, are just trying to find different ways to make the most out of this moment of history that we’re living through. I think it’s really interesting and I’m really hoping to see that a lot of this stuff will carry on past the social distancing that we’re trying to live through right now.
So I’ll ask you the same question that I’ve been asking everybody. Once all this blows over, what would you say is your number one thing, what you’re looking forward to doing again the most?
Dan Padley: I think it’s gotta be either playing a live show or going to a live show with friends and just sharing space with people.
I mean, I have a roommate, but, yeah. I wouldn’t call myself an extrovert really. There’s something about being at a show, especially in Iowa City. There’s such a big music community of all different genres and it’s always a good hang with so many different people. And the shows, the big shows, kind of bring that all out and bring people together.
Mike Weber: Yeah. I’m really hoping that once this all blows over, the community as a whole will pull together and do a big show at one of the venues or multiple venues. Especially with us missing out on Mission Creek.
I think it would be really cool to see Trumpet Blossom or Gabe’s or both just do a long Saturday show. Start early, go late, and just bring everybody back together. As a member of the music community, I think that could be one of the most beautiful ways to wrap up this point of our history.
Dan Padley: Absolutely. I would agree with that 100%
Mike Weber: All right, Dan Padley, thank you for taking the time and talking with us today.
Mike Weber: Welcome back to 319 Creates. I’m your host, Mike Weber. On today’s episode of Quarantine Sessions, we check in with Iowa City musician, Jordan Sellergren. We reached Jordan at her home by phone.
Jordan Sellergren, welcome to 319 Creates.
Jordan Sellergren: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Mike Weber: So how are you holding up in this quarantine?
Jordan Sellergren: Oh, I’m fine. I cannot complain.
I’ve certainly been making the most of it. My business is still moving ahead, but some of the non-essential tasks have been reduced. So I’ve basically got time off and I’m taking advantage of unemployment.
Mike Weber: That’s always a good thing. So you work for Little Village and you also have your own music project?
Jordan Sellergren: Correct. Yup.
Mike Weber: So why don’t you talk a little bit on the effects on both of those.
We’ll start with the music project first. Have you had to cancel? Did you have any shows coming up that you had to cancel? Are you looking at doing any live streams or anything that?
Jordan Sellergren: I don’t have any plans to do live streams.
Well, I had a Codfish Basement Stormer show on the 21st of March that was canceled. And she called it off a bit before things started getting crazy in the States and really before a lot of the closures started happening. But it was totally the right move. There’s no way it would’ve happened.
And then the next show I had scheduled is our album release, which is May 23rd. And I will tell you that I think that’s looking less likely, not necessarily because of the state of business openings and stuff, but because I think my record pressing is actually going to be delayed about a month because they’re a non-essential business in Ohio.
Mike Weber: That makes sense.
Jordan Sellergren: But you know, it’s really no big deal. I don’t make a majority of my income – at all – from music. It’s just kind of a labor of love for me. I know my bandmates – they do way, way more than I do, you know, teaching and performing. But my personal show cancellations are certainly not going to be my ruin.
Mike Weber: So then let’s talk a little bit about Little Village. I’m assuming you’re working pretty much entirely from home at this point, correct?
Jordan Sellergren: I am working from home and it’s fairly intermittent. Like I said, we’ve had to, well, basically we’ve ceased printing for the month of April.
And I’m a print designer. That’s what I do. I do the magazine. I do a few other publications that are also temporarily ceasing print. So I kind of took a furlough and have just been focusing on homesteading, I guess, in the meantime.
Mike Weber: Let’s talk about that. What kind of projects have you been trying to get done around the house?
Jordan Sellergren: I’m a landscaper/gardener, kind of a novice. We bought our house in 2018 and ever since – I’m walking around the yard right now, actually, if I sound at all out of breath. So ever since 2018 really, I have devoted a lot of energy into making our yard kind of like a sustainable paradise. We have some really nice wooded area in our yard. We don’t have a huge yard – we’ve got about a half acre. But, there’s just a lot of really awesome shit that grows – a lot of native woodland plants, we’ve got garlic ramps. And then there’s also a lot of landscaping projects that you constantly have to fine tune. So yeah, I’ve been plenty busy. The weather’s been good. I think that it’s very possible there will never be time like this again. So I’m taking advantage of it.
Mike Weber: Yeah. I think it’s really interesting seeing the ways that different people are utilizing the extra time that they have. This whole project of mine – 319 Creates – has been a backburner project for me personally. I’ve always been more focused on my photography. This has seemed like a really good opportunity to be able to do multiple interviews with different people, but all around the same topic.
Jordan Sellergren: For sure.
Mike Weber: And, having the time to do that is… Not only having time personally, but the fact that we collectively as a society have extra time right now.
Jordan Sellergren: Everything is on hold.
Mike Weber: Yeah. So I find it really interesting just seeing all the different ways that people are finding to utilize the time.
Jordan Sellergren: Yeah. And you know, I really thought I’d be working more on music, and I’m sure it’ll kind of come rushing back at some point. But, the first week that everything was shut down, I was definitely focused on music. I was playing guitar for hours a day, and putting up some recordings and stuff like that.
Then the weather got nice. And I honestly, maybe I play guitar for half hour a day, maybe, maybe, maybe. So yeah, it’s interesting. I mean, I have a lot of different interests. So my focus is kind of spread out.
And it’s really nice. I mean, you don’t get bored when you have a lot of different things to do.
Mike Weber: Yeah. And it’s nice for people, just having the time to do that. I know personally, I’m constantly looking at different things to do.
One of the things, aside from the podcast, that I have recently gotten into learning how to do… Not specifically because of the quarantine, but it just so happened that’s when I decided to do it. I’m learning how to screenprint.
Jordan Sellergren: Oh nice.
Mike Weber: I’ve had the time. Last week, I didn’t have any shoots going on. I didn’t have anything else in my world happening. You know, I’ve got most of the stuff in the garage… I think I’m going to try and build a printing press. And I did.
Jordan Sellergren: Awesome.
Mike Weber: And it’s been cool to have that type of extra time. But you know, I wish it was under better circumstances.
Jordan Sellergren: Well, we all do. You know, I think a lot of people who are in a position where we’re not essential workers. So we can just kind of take a break and accept the isolation, you know, home shelter for what it is and focus on other things that we normally wouldn’t have time for. But it’s basically like, when else do we have time to focus on this shit?
You know, I just don’t. I have to carve out moments of my life. I’m exhausted at the end of the day. I feel for people who are still busting their asses and going out in the world, sacrificing their safety. I dunno, I feel really lucky. That’s all I have to say.
Our kids are home. But they’re at an age where they’re not really demanding. They’re pretty self entertaining.
Mike Weber: Yeah. It’s interesting seeing how different people are just adapting to this period.
Jordan Sellergren: For sure.
Mike Weber: I’ve talked to other people who – not even just from the financial aspect of being furloughed or laid off or losing gig work – but just as people who are very extroverted are in dire straights right now. And I’m not gonna lie, I’m one of them.
Jordan Sellergren: I’m an extrovert, absolutely. But I totally appreciate the time. It’s nice to have – to be forced to go inward a bit. But yeah, I mean, I miss shows. I miss seeing my friends. I miss seeing music and I miss playing music for other people. I miss my band.
Mike Weber: As you’re processing through all this and enjoying the extra time, as you look forward to when this inevitably blows over and life resets back to normal – what do you think you’re looking forward to the most? Being able to go back out and do and experience?
Jordan Sellergren: Oh God. I don’t even know if I’ve thought that far ahead. I will say it’ll be really nice to get Little Villages back on stands. We have an awesome web team of journalists and editors, and you know, developers and social media people who are still busting their asses. But, the print magazine is my baby and this is the first time we’ve ever not printed. So getting that back to normal will be a relief, I think, for us. And I hope for the community. I think people may not miss it right now because they’re not leaving their houses. But, it’s odd. It’s odd for Iowa City and to some degree Cedar Rapids to not have our physical presence out there. So that, for sure.
Honestly, otherwise, playing shows. Obviously it’s just so fun and it’s such a great creative challenge, and personal challenge. It’s constantly challenging to get over your own fear of presenting your art and doing it well. Leaving at the end of the night and feeling like you didn’t suck. So having that opportunity to get back and kind of hone that again. I look forward to that.
Other than that, I’m fucking enjoying myself so I dunno. In a way I think it’ll be difficult to readjust to going back to normal life.
Mike Weber: Well, I’d say you’re doing pretty well.
Jordan, thank you for taking some time and talking with us today. I’d say take care of yourself, but I think you’re doing a pretty good job.
Jordan Sellergren: Yeah thank you. I’m doing alright. I’m mitigating all the garlic mustard in my yard right now as we speak. So I’m trying to do my part.
Thanks for having me.
Mike Weber: You can find Jordan’s music on Bandcamp. She has a new album coming out May 1st with a physical release to follow. You can preorder the vinyl today.
You can subscribe to the podcast on most platforms, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Play. Thanks for listening and we will catch you next time on 319 Creates.
Mike Weber: Welcome back to 319 Creates, I’m your host Mike Weber. On today’s episode of Quarantine Sessions, we check in with Dave Helmer of Iowa City band, Crystal City. We reached Dave at his home by phone.
Dave Helmer, welcome to 319 Creates.
Dave Helmer: Hi. Thanks for having me.
Mike Weber: So how are you hanging in there with the quarantine?
Dave Helmer: Oh, I’m doing alright. Practicing a lot of guitar and spending more time kind of cooking than I have been.
Mike Weber: So how has this affected, I mean, obviously you haven’t been able to play live shows anymore. Have you guys tried doing anything else to fill in the gaps?
Dave Helmer: Well, we did do a concert, maybe a couple of weeks ago. We did an online concert and that was alright. That was a lot of fun. And that helped. Definitely. Put a little bit of scratch in our pocket. But other than that, not really. Just been laying low. You know, you can save a lot of money by just not going nowhere.
Mike Weber: That’s very true.
Dave Helmer: And, I repair guitars. So I still got a few repairs going, but that’s kind of dried up too.
Mike Weber: So you were mentioning that you’ve been working more on cooking, are you trying to actually learn more stuff or just that’s how you’re spending your time?
Dave Helmer: You know, we’ve been making veggie tacos, chicken tacos, some soups, you know. Kinda constantly using onions and garlic, the kind of mainstays. But yeah, just getting the time to cook is nice actually.
Mike Weber: So is that not something that you normally did?
Dave Helmer: Not really, no. I usually work until, you know, go to work at 10 in the morning, come home anywhere from 7 to 10 at night.
Mike Weber: Oh geez.
Dave Helmer: Every night, pretty much. You know.
Mike Weber: So then you have a lot more time on your hand.
Dave Helmer: Yeah. The guitar workshop and playing shows really takes up a lot of your time.
Mike Weber: Wow.
Dave Helmer: I mean, maintaining tools. It’s been kind of nice, you know, trying to find the silver linings in things. It’s been real nice just to be able to practice guitar. That’s the one thing that I’ve really been enjoying a lot of.
Mike Weber: Are you writing any new music?
Dave Helmer: Yep. We have a new record we’re working on, of a bunch of old tunes. But, new ideas are always kind of flowing. I record little snippets on my phone. Or if I’m sitting at my recording desk, plug in and try to get a good fidelity document of something, you know? But, yeah. There’s new ideas flowing.
Mike Weber: So, is there anything else that you’ve started doing in this time period that you didn’t really see yourself doing before?
Dave Helmer: Oh, we’re working on putting a garden together out in the yard. We live here in West Branch. We’ve got enough yard to have a garden, and that’s something that I can’t imagine we would have time for. But now that we do, we’re gonna go for it. We’d never done a garden or anything. Or I haven’t, but Sam has.
Mike Weber: Yeah, gardening is pretty cool. Nicole and I do that here in Cedar Rapids. What type of vegetables are you thinking about planting out there?
Dave Helmer: We already got some garlic going and some carrots and some potatoes and some lettuce, onions. I think zucchini and cucumbers too. I kind of imagine I have a lot of back pain in my future.
Mike Weber: It’s not that bad.
Dave Helmer: Yeah, it’ll be okay.
Mike Weber: So what would you say that you’re most looking forward to once this whole thing starts to blow over?
Dave Helmer: A couple of things I’m looking forward to is, just getting to crank up a tube amp with a band, and playing a show. That’s going to be a lot of fun when we get to do that. And, just being able to get together with people, play music. I mean, with other guitar players and drummers and stuff like that. And, having people come though my workshop is kind of nice. You know, right now, no one’s coming by at all. I like that too. Having people come in and hang out while we talk about their instrument, their guitar. I kind of miss that.
Mike Weber: Yeah. I feel like everyone’s kind of feeling a certain amount of social isolation right now.
Dave Helmer: Absolutely.
Mike Weber: A lot of us are used to going out and playing shows or just going to shows. And for a lot of us in the music scene especially, that was the way that we interacted with everyone around us. And now that has been completely removed. I think that’s been a period of adjustment for most of us.
Dave Helmer: Yeah. Are you missing it too?
Mike Weber: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. I think we’re at a point here that we’re definitely close to, if not over, the longest that I’ve gone without shooting a live show in five plus years. So.
Dave Helmer: Yeah, I bet.
Mike Weber: So yeah, it’s a bit of a struggle for me. That’s one of the reasons I started this project. Just trying to keep myself busy and engaged with the community when my normal path of doing that has been removed. And as awesome as the Facebook live concerts are, and as much as I’ve been enjoying watching all the bands do them, my engagement with the music scene has always been behind a camera. Trying to figure out a way that somehow I can do that with a live feed doesn’t exactly work. And I’m not sure if there’s a way to make it work. So yeah, for me personally, I can’t wait for things to calm down and us to all be able to get back together. And actually see you guys play again. See anybody play and be able to get back behind a camera. Because I mean, almost everything that I do in my craft as photographer does kind of revolve being in close proximity to people, and I can’t do that right now. So it has been a period of adjustment for sure.
Dave Helmer: Yeah, it’s crazy. I agree with everything you said.
Mike Weber: Yeah. And it’s nice to be able to do this, at least. Working out ways that I can still communicate with musicians and get musicians’ stories out to people. Because I view my photography as I’m telling the story of the music scene. Right. And, by doing stuff like this with 319 Creates, I’m still able to do that to a certain extent. But it’s different. And I think that it’s good for the music scene to hear these stories and get these interviews – as far as how they’re dealing with this crisis right now, but it’s not the same.
Dave Helmer: Sure there’s so many people. But from between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, there’s so many players and musicians that all their money has just disappeared, you know?
Mike Weber: Yeah. And it’s crazy too, because a lot of the musicians I know, while they do make money from playing music, a lot of them have day jobs that are something in the service sector. And that whole industry, with very few exceptions, is just not there anymore.
So you have a lot of these musicians who not only are they losing their income from playing live shows, but they’ve also been furloughed or laid off. They’re just left kind of holding their hands and going, “What do we do now?”
Dave Helmer: Well, hopefully people have documentation and everything’s in line to show they’ve been working, you know?
Mike Weber: Yeah, I hope so too. But from my understanding, they’re being a lot more flexible as far as the onus of proof that you have to provide to the state to get some help.
Dave Helmer: I hope so. Yeah, I just hope it stays that way.
Mike Weber: I hope so too. And at the end of the day, my hope – and at this point I feel like maybe I’m just being a bit too optimistic – is that this is going to resolve itself relatively quickly. I know deep down inside that we should probably be prepared for another month, two, maybe even three of this.
Mike Weber: But, there’s definitely part of me that’s being really hopeful that we are towards the peak of that curve and that things are going to start getting better. They’ll figure out a vaccine or something and everything will return to normal by summer. But you know, with every day that goes on. Everyday brings another postponement or cancellation. The other day, I saw that a 80/35 was canceled for this year, and that was a big shocker to me.
Dave Helmer: I mean, that’s big. That’s summer in Des Moines, you know?
Mike Weber: Yeah. It’s crazy to me. It sounds like Luke over at Flat Black is still like, “I’m preparing for Gray Area, but at this point I’m not holding my breath that it’s still gonna happen.” So. Yeah. I mean, I’m really looking forward to when things get back to normal, but it’s an interesting time right now.
Dave Helmer: Yeah. I wonder if there’s – it might be till September, October. Or even further than that. It may be a long time, so we get to play and wait and see. I hope not. I hope that it gets resolved soon, but mother nature is going to do what she’s going to do, so we’ll just keep rolling with it, you know?
Mike Weber: Yeah. Like I said, my hope right now is just that the doctors out there will figure out a solid treatment – or even better, a vaccine for it – and we’ll get that out into the wild and everything will go back to normal. But for right now, yeah, we’re just kinda stuck with this. I also look at it from the standpoint of, the longer that we’re kind of cooped up, I wonder how much pent up creative energy, we’re just kind of bottling up. And once things do return to normal, the explosion that we’re going to see of bands getting back together, new bands forming and just this deluge of new creative content.
I’m really hoping that once everything blows over, we’re going to see this renewed energy in people to do stuff like go out to shows. Because we’ve had conversations in the past – you and I – about attendance at local shows. And I’m really hoping that this situation will make more people appreciate what they have. Especially, in Cedar Rapids, which is not a known for its music scene. I feel like it is always pulling teeth for me to get some of my Cedar Rapids friends to go to Iowa City for a show. And I’m really hoping that –
Dave Helmer: That’s a long trip though, to be fair. That’s like your whole day driving from Cedar Rapids to Iowa City.
Mike Weber: I mean, I guess. I’m just used to it. It really doesn’t feel like it’s that big a deal to hop in my car and drive 28 minutes down the road.
Dave Helmer: I’m just joking. Yeah, I agree.
Mike Weber: I’m really hoping that this will kind of get people to realize that they can’t take this stuff for granted. You know, we’re sitting here in a time where two months ago, any Friday you could have gone to Iowa City and there was probably at least three different places you could have gone to see live music. And now that’s not an option anymore. I’m hoping that this’ll just remind people that the arts and the music is something that they shouldn’t be taking for granted and they need to get out and experience it while they can.
Dave Helmer: I think it will. I think there’s so much talent between the two communities, you know. And then you think of the two communities as one. There’s so much in the corridor. There’s so much there. There’s great singers, there’s great songwriters, there’s great bands. I bet there’s going to be a huge creative output. I bet there’s a lot of people practicing their guitars and writing songs. And I think there’s going to be a big boom of quarantine songs after all this is over.
Mike Weber: I really hope so.
Well, Dave, thanks for taking some time and talking with us here today and we’ll catch you later.
Dave Helmer: Totally. Thanks for having me. Have a good day.
Mike Weber: Welcome back to 319 Creates, I’m your host, Mike Weber. On today’s episode of Quarantine Sessions, we check in with Devin Alexander of Quad Cities band Giallows. We reached Devin at his home studio by phone.
Alright. Devin Alexander, welcome back to 319 Creates.
Devin Alexander: Thank you so much for having me back, man. This is great.
Mike Weber: So I will say that the episode that you were first on has not gone out yet. It was actually going to go out about two weeks ago when all this started happening, but I’ve put all the other projects on pause for 319 Creates until the world resets back to normal.
Devin Alexander: Yeah it’ll be a little bit.
Mike Weber: So Devin, how are you holding up in quarantine?
Devin Alexander: Well, I’m working from home and, the band is still jamming for the time being. I know we’re not supposed to be, but the drummer and guitar player are relatively quarantined in their day to day lives as well. And I’m working from home now, so it is not too bad of a deal.
Mike Weber: Well, it’s good that you’re still able to see your bandmates and do a little bit. I know the other day you guys did a live stream. You want to tell me about what made you decide to do that and getting it set up and how you feel it went?
Devin Alexander: Well, we’ve been talking about doing live streams since, boy, at least last June when we played at the live from Factory of Fear Haunted House event. And, at that particular time I couldn’t do Facebook streams with high quality audio for some reason. They just said your profile is not updated yet, so you can’t do this. So we were doing YouTube. But just last week I figured out that Facebook now allows you to select a wide variety of input sources now. So we were just like, alright, let’s just start streaming practices because we’re not gigging. And if people throw us a little bit of tips through our PayPal account, then we can at the very least, be slowly working towards, you know, vinyl money or whatever.
I thought it went pretty well. From a technical standpoint, I’m basically just micing up all the sources in the basement and then mixing them in Logic. And then, Logic by itself won’t be a source for Facebook to look at, but I have another program that sort of like coalesces all sources on your computer into one assignable output source. So that’s the only reason why it works the way it does for us because I already have that piece of software.
Mike Weber: Interesting. And that was actually the question I was going to ask is how that all shakes out with making that work. That’s something that I’ve definitely, I’ve been kind of keeping an eye on all the local bands that have been trying to do livestreams. And some of them sound better than others. But I think it’s really cool that we’re now at a point from a technology perspective, at least, that options like this are available.
Devin Alexander: Yeah. And I think people who are waiting to jump into it now have a reason to. You know, if you’ve got live gigs, you’re probably like, “Eh, streaming.” But now that we don’t have anything better to do, it’s like, “Hey, I guess I’ll figure out the streaming thing.”
And for us at least, it has worked out really well. I’m very happy with the overall sound quality. And you know, even though it’s basically like a low bit rate MP3 over Facebook, it still sounds relatively listenable. It’s not, you know, a single microphone on a USB camera pointed into a big basement. It’s, individual sources, and I’m giving it some mixing love here.
Mike Weber: Yeah. I didn’t have a chance to watch your livestream. I was actually on one of the last shoots that I’ve had to do at the time, but Nicole watched it and she said that she was actually really impressed with just the audio quality that you were able to achieve through the stream. Because you’re right, some of the people that we’ve seen doing the livestreams – they don’t have the type of equipment that you do and they’re just throwing up their phone and doing what they can do. Which is still really cool and it’s still a way to be able to experience some local music. But when you’re able to take it to that next level and be able to have the fine tuning that you can do in Logic. I think that’s really cool. I mean, the next step of course, is trying to figure out how to get a better camera attached to it. That’s something that I’ve actually been looking into. Nicole and I were talking talking about –
Devin Alexander: The one that we’re using is just that Logitech C 920, which actually looks really good if I light the basement well enough – which I can, but I’ve been keeping it really dark. I found that in general, an audience will forgive a low video quality if the audio is good. But the other way around it’s not the same. If the quality is gorgeous, but the audio is garbage, people are like, no.
Mike Weber: Yeah. And that’s one of the reasons, like we were talking a few weeks ago when I invested in this new audio recorder. But that’s like when I do video. You know, I have a higher end camera and I can get really good quality video, but that’s not the end all be all. And people will rather look at a poor video with good audio than a good video.
Devin Alexander: Yup, exactly. Exactly. They’ll forgive video quality a lot, but if they have to listen to garbled stuff or stuff that’s really crushed by like, you know, bit rate compression, or like I said, like a single microphone in a room when people are actually trying to play music and the microphone is not in the right spot. It’s just all symbols. Usually it’s all symbols.
Mike Weber: So I’m going to bring us back to – you mentioned that you’re working from home now. Was that something that you had ever done prior to this? Is this a whole new experience for you? How has that working out for you?
Devin Alexander: I have never worked from home. Today was day five of working from home. I started last Thursday. And it’s a fucking nightmare because… For a variety of reasons, it’s a fucking nightmare. I don’t have any kids and I don’t have any dogs or whatever, so there’s nothing in my house that’s distracting to me. But, the place that I’m working wasn’t quite ready for the entire establishment to start working from home all at once. So the only thing that’s a nightmare for me, I should say, is just inability to interact with customers the way that I normally do, you know. Which is quick, efficient, get them what they need and get them on their way. But, that might be resolved tomorrow, we’ll find out. They’re doing some infrastructure upgrades. But anyways, that’s boring. But, I don’t mind working from home. I actually like everything except not being able to do my job.
Mike Weber: Well you can’t have everything, I guess.
Devin Alexander: Yeah. Right.
Mike Weber: Yeah. I’ve found it very interesting that it seems to me like there’s a lot of different opinions on this. Like Nicole works from home on a pretty regular basis. Before this all happened, she was working from home three or four days a week, so this is nothing really new to her. And some weeks she just wouldn’t go into the office at all if there wasn’t a need. And now her company has gone full on. I don’t think that there’s anybody that’s actually in the office at this point.
Devin Alexander: Well, good.
Mike Weber: And for her it’s like it’s another day. She feels like she’s way more productive when she works from home anyway, so this is all good news for her. But it’s interesting seeing some of the other people, kind of like you were saying, that just they’re not used to that and it’s such a jarring experience. Going from getting up, getting dressed, going to the office, working, coming home – to you just kind of roll out of bed and you sit at your desk.
Devin Alexander: Dude. It’s so good. That is like my favorite part.
Mike Weber: You and Nicole will agree on that.
Devin Alexander: Yeah. It’s like set my alarm for five minutes before I have to get on the computer. Done.
Mike Weber: Yeah. That’s what Nicole does on a pretty regular basis. But I also find it interesting, people complain about losing the trip. Like it’s no longer work. It feels weird. I’m still at home. And I’ve also been really surprised, how there are a lot of people who just don’t have a desk at home.
Devin Alexander: A what?
Mike Weber: A desk. Like just a place to sit your laptop down and work. She was telling me how some of her coworkers have had to like go and buy a desk because they had nowhere in the house to set up a laptop. And I’m like, really?
Devin Alexander: That’s so weird. I mean, people like myself who do a lot of audio stuff where like I have already got a desk. It’s got all my stuff on it.
Mike Weber: Yeah. We were talking to somebody and they were like, “So Nicole, how are you doing working from home?” You say that like this is a new thing.
Devin Alexander: Yeah. There’s no difference there.
Mike Weber: Yeah. And for me, with the little work that I still have, I mean, I always worked from home anyway because I’m a freelancer, so that’s not really a change on my part. But I think it’s interesting and I really wonder in the longterm if this whole large social experiment, as it were, is really gonna change the way that people and companies think about work habits. Like, are we going to see that most people tend to be more productive working from home than coming into an office? And will that cause a shift in the way that businesses and organizations allocate their resources?
Devin Alexander: My favorite thing about it is that they have no – not a single leg to stand on – now saying that the internet is not a utility.
Mike Weber: We were actually talking about that a little bit earlier today
Devin Alexander: It’s like, yeah, it’s the real deal. So you either, you know, make it the real deal for people or you better not expect them to work from home because at this point, just about everybody has the internet, I’m sure. And if they don’t, they probably don’t work for, you know, a tech industry or something like that. But I think everybody who sits at a computer is expected to be able to work from home. What about those people who don’t have that?
Mike Weber: Yeah, and taking it even broader than that – we’re starting to see, not necessarily here in Iowa, but in other states and other bigger cities that some of the school districts are opting to finish out the school year remotely and are actually asking students to do stuff like via Zoom and other types of video conferencing to still finish out the education that they’re supposed to get for the rest of the year. And it seems to me it’s really difficult to put that onus on, especially lower income people when they might not have the internet. And even if they do, I think a lot of people don’t necessarily realize the amount of people who their only access to the internet is via their smartphone.
Devin Alexander: Yeah.
Mike Weber: Which in a lot of cases is not capable of doing the things necessary to facilitate any type of teleconferencing or video conferencing or anything like that.
Devin Alexander: Yeah, exactly. So we’ll see what happens after this. I hope that what it really does is, you know, helps make the argument that the internet is just like water, is just like electricity is just like plumbing, etc.
Mike Weber: I feel like a lot of people in the tech sector have vocally been trying to push for a broader understanding of what access to the internet really means in recent years. And I feel like this is just spelling out their case word for word for them. Showing just how important it is to have reliable internet in every home. And moreover – this was something interesting that I was listening to on NPR the other day – beyond just that, we’re also now opening up this conversation to, this job which you as an employer said could not be done by somebody who is disabled. We are now proving that it can be.
Devin Alexander: Eat shit, you fucking idots.
Mike Weber: Yeah. Like if you’re saying that you can’t hire somebody with disabilities because they have to come to the office and you can’t make accommodations and now that same job is being done remotely.
Devin Alexander: By people, at home, on the internet. Yeah, it’s like eat it guys. Start hiring people who can do stuff. Hopefully when it comes back – like I’m exceptionally lucky to still be employed during this, but I have many friends who are now unemployed and collecting unemployment as a result of what’s going on because they work in a very public facing situation. I hope that when they get hired back, it also draws a lot of other people into the workforce who maybe weren’t in there before for exactly the reasons that you were just talking about.
Mike Weber: Yeah. And talking about people who don’t have the luxury of just shifting over and working from home and have been furloughed, fired, laid off, what have you. I’m hoping that this is creating more of a understanding of the nature of the way large portions of our economy work. I feel like in the past we were very flippant about like the need of service workers and to watch how overnight that entire industry can just be shut off.
Devin Alexander: Yup. And now we’re like thanking our grocery store workers and thanking our fast food workers. Not that I didn’t before, but now it’s like, Jesus, thank God they’re here. Before, you maybe take it for granted because things aren’t about to go down the tubes. But now it’s like I go to Hy-Vee and I’m like, “Hey, thanks for working. I appreciate it.”
Mike Weber: Yeah, I’ll tell you that I went to Hy-Vee earlier today and I was very happy to find toilet paper.
Devin Alexander: Oh, you had some, huh? Interesting.
Mike Weber: Yeah, I had some to begin with. You know, I usually go to Target.
Devin Alexander: I’ve been wiping my butt. I’m a modern man.
Mike Weber: But, you know, I usually go to Target and I get the big package. That’ll last me like two months. So I still had a bunch when this thing started. I’m like, “This’ll last like a week or two. People are going to stop losing their minds and the stuff’s going to come back into stock.” And with every day that went on I ended up like, “Okay, I think we need to get some groceries.” And I go to Hy-Vee thinking they’ll totally have toilet paper today. No. Yesterday I ended up going to like three different stores. People are still hoarding this stuff. I just, I don’t get it.
Devin Alexander: So stupid. And selling it on eBay per roll. I didn’t see this personally, so I could be full of shit, but I heard from a friend who was like, “Have you seen people, they’re selling it by the roll or the selling it by the, you know, by the square?” It’s like, dude, come on guys.
Mike Weber: Yeah, I mean, I wouldn’t be surprised. I think I read somewhere that, I want to say it was Facebook marketplace was actually proactively looking for people who were trying to sell toilet paper and removing the listings. You can’t do that.
Devin Alexander: Good. They should get the shit kicked out of them – with no toilet paper to wipe it off, I guess.
Mike Weber: Yeah, probably one of the funnier things I’ve seen recently – we have a couple of local bars that are still trying to stay open and do like carry out only service. And one of them was doing a giveaway promotion. It was like, the 20th or 30th customer that came in also got a couple of cans of beer and two rolls of good old bar toilet paper.
Devin Alexander: A couple rolls. That’s awesome.
Mike Weber: Yeah, it’s interesting. It’ll be interesting to see, as all of this kind of moves forward and passes on, just what things are going to stick around from this period? Like as we go six months down the road, let me say that again. Six months back into normal life. Like once things get back to normal, once this is fully in our rear view mirror, what things that we have learned in this period are we going to look back at and hang on to? And how much of it are we just going to basically instantly forget as we move on?
Devin Alexander: I hope we don’t forget too much of it.
Mike Weber: I hope not too. And I’m seeing a lot of positive things that people are doing. That, you know, they didn’t do previously. For me, I miss my friends a lot. I can’t go see them, or at least I shouldn’t go see them. So we’ve been doing a lot of video hangouts, which is not something that I would have done previous to this. I think that opens up a lot of possibilities for, you know, having closer connections with your friends. I think it’s really easy on a Friday night when your friends are like, “Oh, we’re having a couple of people over. You want to come over?” to be like I don’t want to leave the house and just not have that interaction. And when it becomes more acceptable to do those types of video based hangouts, I think it’s going to allow more people that access to do that personal interaction that I think we all need.
Devin Alexander: Yeah, for sure. As an example, I was talking to Al’s wife today, by the way, he had a little girl in February. Congratulations to them.
Mike Weber: Oh, wow. Awesome.
Devin Alexander: She was saying, they were thinking about reaching out to people this weekend to play that, “You Don’t Know Jack” online trivia game where you can just log into it with your phone. So it’s like exceptionally easy.
Mike Weber: Yeah. You know, Claire and Larson from Dead Emperors, right?
Devin Alexander: What’s his name?
Mike Weber: Matt Larson.
Devin Alexander: Did he used to play bass in, um… Is he a bass player now?
Mike Weber: He’s a little bit of everything. He was a bass player. He originally was bass in Dead Emperors. Now he’s guitar in Dead Emperors.
Devin Alexander: Okay. No, I haven’t met those guys yet. I feel like when this is all over, we’re due to have a gig with them here at some point.
Mike Weber: Yeah. But, so we’ve been trying to do hangouts with them and they found, I think it’s Jackbox Games or whatever. You get a room code you put in and you can just do it all online. That’s been,
Devin Alexander: And it’s like, you put in your stuff and you can follow along on a TV. Or on your computer or your smart TV or whatever. And it just, you know, it just works. It’s like, “Oh, all right, cool. Very cool.”
Mike Weber: Yeah. And I think if we hang on to that extra layer of social interaction, I think it will be a nice thing for us to take away from the situation.
Devin Alexander: I think it would be a very… Like I’m perceiving this whole situation, sort of in the analogy of someone pinching the garden hose closed. As soon as we can get back together and start doing stuff, I feel like there’s going to be a pretty awesome explosion that first weekend when they’re like, “Uh, actually I think we’re pretty good.” That first weekend is going to be insane. It’s going to be live music everywhere. It’s going to be live comedy everywhere. It’s going to be live entertainment out in the world, and people are going to be – at least for a little bit – they’re going to be like, “Man, I missed this so much.” I hope, you know, I hope.
And then I hope, like you said, we retain some of those other avenues of staying close with our friends when we don’t feel like going out to bars and we don’t feel like whatever. We can just be social in the privacy of our own homes. Isn’t that strange? But that’s my hope. That’s my desire is that when all these events that got canceled get rescheduled, I hope that the entire, you know, the entirety of humanity comes out in full force to support those things. Beause that’s the other thing that people were sort of taking for granted is entertainment. It was everywhere. I mean, it’s still technically all over the internet, but as far as like music, art, comedy, performance, movies, all that stuff. It’s like you can’t take that for granted anymore because what would we be doing right now if we didn’t have that stuff?
Mike Weber: This will lead me into my final question. So if you had to pick one thing. Like right now, we’re thinking forward. We’re thinking to when all of this is going to blow over and life is going to reset back to normal.
Devin Alexander: Sure.
Mike Weber: What are you looking forward to doing again the most?
Devin Alexander: I don’t think you’ll be surprised to hear that I’m just looking forward to playing live again.
It’s going to be, you know, by that point, I bet it will be over a month. If not, you know, six weeks, seven weeks or something of pent up being able to rock out really loud with a bunch of people who are ready to be rocked on. That’s what I’m missing. Second to that will be being able to just have people over and watch a movie or, you know, I got a birthday party coming up that is going to definitely going to be rescheduled. I like to cook ribs and, you know, cook stuff for people.
This year it went from being, you know, sixth annual and no big deal to, “Oh, this party’s going to get f’n real this year.” Because when we finally get to reschedule it, it’s going to be out of control. In a good way. But yeah, I’m looking forward to just being able to play gigs because I think – not to belabor the point – but I think I was taking… I think local bands, you know, bands that play mostly in their home towns, and even bands that tour constantly. I think bands in general maybe start to take live shows a little bit for granted. I don’t mean that in a negative way. But I mean to be able to capture the excitement of those first few live gigs. Like I kind of remember my first couple actual live gigs in front of an audience. I kind of remember them, but after a while it kind of goes away. I don’t really get nervous. It’s a pleasant feeling to jam out live. But to pinch that garden hose shut like that, and then eventually let it fly and just, you know. Just spray it all over the audience is going to be terrific.
Mike Weber: Yeah, I mean, I’ll piggyback off that real quick at the end here. But I feel the exact same way. I’d have to sit down and figure it out, but we are really close to the longest that I’ve ever gone without shooting a live show since I got real serious about photographing live music.
So it’s going to be a very interesting experience when we’re finally at a point where it is safe for me to grab my cameras and go out to a bar and experience live music again. Like it is going to be something really exciting. And also, you know, by that point it’ll be like, “Oh, do I remember how to do this right?”
Devin Alexander: You miss going out to a bar and having every band look exactly the same because the lights never change?
Mike Weber: Yeah. I mean, I just like getting out of the house.
Devin Alexander: Oh yeah. Totally.
Mike Weber: I like listening to the music and I like experiencing it. So for me, I think that that is… I mean, if you would’ve asked me last week, I probably would’ve said, I just want to go out to a Mexican place and get a margarita and sit down.
Devin Alexander: Dude. Right?
Mike Weber: But as the days go on and the days turned into weeks, it’s becoming more and more like… no, the thing that I miss the most is being able to get out of the house and do the photography that I want to do.
Devin Alexander: Yeah. Get out and connect with humanity on that level in an artistic and an expressive way. Yeah.
Mike Weber: Well, all right, Devin, thanks for taking the time and talking with us today. We’ll catch you later.
Devin Alexander: I appreciate the invite, man. And I look forward to hearing this one. And the other one as soon as you’re ready to put them up.
Mike Weber: All right, we’ll catch you later.
Devin Alexander: All right. Thanks. Bye.
Mike Weber: You can find Devin’s band on Facebook, Instagram, and Bandcamp. You can find more information as well as the transcription in the show notes.
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