Lawrence Livermore: Confessions of a Former Rock Mogul

In 1987, Lawrence Livermore started Lookout! Records. Really, he just wanted to help the underground bands he saw every week at San Francisco's Gilman Street all-ages club. A decade later, Livermore sold the label, but not before Lookout! discovered bands like Green Day and Operation Ivy, helping unleash ska and pop-punk on an unsuspecting world. In advance of a show by his band the Potatomen (folky, upbeat rockers once accused of being a Smiths tribute act), WW asked Livermore about the vagaries of life as a former indie supremo.

Willamette Week: How does it feel to have started such a pop cultural force as Lookout!?

Lawrence Livermore: A bit surprising, of course, but also gratifying. While I thought from the start that bands like Green Day and Operation Ivy deserved to be heard by the whole world, I wasn't prepared for the kind of success that they and other bands were ultimately to achieve.

What do you miss about being a label kingpin?

There was a time that I knew that, by putting out a record for a band, I could multiply by a factor of hundreds or thousands the number of people who would listen to them. But there's also the old saying about the law and sausage--if you love either of them, you should never watch them being made. I think the same is true of music. The finished product can be sublime, but the process is often anything but a pretty sight.

What are you most proud of?

Knowing that I helped introduce some talented musicians to the world.

What do you regret?

It's almost the flip side of that same process: the part I played in turning a home-grown, DIY culture into a mass-marketed commodity. Ultimately, I decided that the good outweighed the bad, but only just.

The Potatomen play Friday at Pine Street Theater, 215 SE 9th Ave., 231-1530. 8 pm. $8 advance (Fastixx). All ages.

Hiss & Vinegar

The Fallout Shelter, the only all-ages punk-rock venue in Vancouver, Wash., closed abruptly on June 28. Andre Sanabria, the booker/manager/promoter for the club, was unable to make his rent for the space at 400 W Evergreen Blvd. that evening. The club shut down permanently.

"We gave him repeated chances," says Steve Sappington, the building's owner. "We started on a monthly rental agreement, then weekly, and finally rent was due before every show. We tried to accommodate him, but he couldn't run his business responsibly. We were sorry to see it end."

Sanabria, not surprisingly, tells a different tale. "Steve Sappington demanded the money at 3 pm," says Sanabria of the Shelter's last day. "I couldn't leave work 'til 6:30. He said, 'Fine, 7 pm then.' He then called me at 4:30, screaming and cursing, saying he 'wanted my shit out of the fucking building now!'"

"They told me to book as many shows as I wanted to.... My father and I (mostly him) invested over $15,000 in their building, and I was kicked out like common street trash. Now the money we once had to run our own club is gone."

Starting Wednesday, July 18, shows previously scheduled for the Fallout Shelter will take place at the Paris Theatre in downtown Portland (6 SW 3rd Ave., 224-8313). And yes, they will be all ages. Contact Sanabria at (360) 936-8806.

The much-feared new noise ordinance made a massively anticlimactic appearance at last week's City Council meeting, without going to a vote. "We'll pass it eventually," promises Mayor Vera of the measure that would allow the cops to issue noise tickets.

Meanwhile, Vera's anti-postering holy war has raised the ire of musicians and artists 'round town. A benefit show at Jasmine Tree last Thursday raised almost $200 for a grassroots effort with the repetitious yet accurate name The PDX Anti Anti-Postering Postering Campaign. The campaign, masterminded by Ahren Lutz of the gallery PS What?, has already pasted up some 300 posters by artist Christy Brown. As for the campaign's plans for its new bankroll, Lutz writes that they will "hopefully consist...of a postering bomb on the poles of this town, the likes of which has never been seen before."

Lately, legendary musicians have been dying at a frightening pace: first Joe Lee Hooker, then Chet Atkins, and then one of the jazz giants, tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson. Henderson, who died at the age of 63 from emphysema, was certainly in the same power hitters' league as Sonny Rollins and the late Stan Getz. For anyone interested in checking some of the best sax music ever recorded, we command your attention to Inner Urge; Mode for Joe; Page One; The Blue Note Years; Lush Life; State of the Tenor (Vols. I and II); So Near, So Far (Musings for Miles).

Apply for MusicFest Northwest--do it now, punk! Just visit and download an application form. It's free to apply, the gig pays and it benefits charity. And what else do you have planned for Sept. 21-22, anyway?

Does Rob Zombie live in Lake Oswego?

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