The Cribs are soon to bring their new album ’24-7 Rock Star Shit’ to Portland’s Hawthorne Theatre. As someone who has lived in the city for over a decade, we caught up with bassist Gary Jarman to discuss our beloved PDX ahead of the show.
What drew you to Portland in the first place?
So it’s a really simple story. My wife plays bass in Steve Malkmus & The Jicks and The Cribs toured with them and that’s how I met my wife. Those guys invited me out to visit and so I went. I didn’t go in with any preconceptions, it was about ten years ago and Portland hadn’t really started to pick up all of these cultural plaudits at that point. When I first went there I was totally blown away because it was the other side of the world for me. It felt remote, it was February and the weather was awful and it was really dark and grey. I was really into that feeling because it felt creepy and it felt a bit sinister and it definitely still had a dirty punk rock edge to it.
I guess you had the best people to show you around…
My wife had been in bands on the nineties grunge scene and her friends had too, so between my wife and Stephen Malkmus I made friends with their friends, people like Sleater-Kinney and my friend called Sean who was in a band called Crackerbash who were a big Portland grunge band. So I met loads of people who were all totally on my wave-length. They had the same feeling that I had growing up, which is growing up in a nowhere town and building your own sub-culture and everyone is cynical. I fell in love with the city and all those people. I felt like I had all these kindred spirits. I never went home because I felt like I was home.
It still carries that edginess really…
Portland does have this thing about it. My wife’s circle of friends who were there in the late eighties and nineties were pretty closed off. They were an insular group because they were the misfits in town. Once grunge became this co-opted, commodified thing, I think there was a lot of bitterness in Portland and that carried over. Modern Portland is like that too in someways, if you don’t know anyone there it does probably feel a little bit closed off. Now I feel like Portland is a real beard and granola kind of town. It doesn’t feel fucked up to me anymore. I probably moved there at the tail end of it feeling like that. I still love it but it feels very happy and healthy now whereas a lot of people remember it as being a dark sort of weird town. It’s still got elements of that, it’s in the cities genetic make-up. I fear that the culture there is becoming more homogenised because people are moving to Portland because that’s what they want.
Where would you go to discover a new band today?
In terms of record shops Portland has always been really consistent. Jackpot is still like the best record shop in Portland for sure I think. Everyday Music is absolutely huge. Music Millennium as well. It’s just the same three all the time. As far as venues go, a lot of the smaller venues are really cool. The Know is still booking great bands. I try and keep away from the hippie vibe places. I just like he dives really. The Twilight Bar is a good staple, I went there a bunch when I first moved there. In 2006 a lot of the places that had been open since the late eighties could still afford to operate there so I’d end up in a lot of those places. Most of my friends had spent their lives in there. The B-Side Tavern, that’s my favourite bar in Portland. I also really like Roscoes which is quite near my house.
And lastly, how about that coffee?
Oh man that’s the thing about Portland. You just don’t get better coffee anywhere in the world. It gave me a pretty skinny perspective on stuff because it’s so fucking strong. I didn’t realise when I first moved there just how quickly I got addicted to coffee. I’m actually trying to cut back now. I can be a neurotic person as it is, so it really doesn’t help me. But it tastes and smells so good, I feel like the whole city smells like it, you can’t escape it.
Pick up tickets for the PDX show right here.