Travis Keller and I sat down and did this interview about 2 weeks ago (March 9th). Travis owns and operates the website Buddyhead.
Wark: Where did you grow up?
Keller: I grew up in the Northwest. Idaho. On the border of Idaho and Washington, very close to Seattle.
Wark: How'd you end up here in LA?
Keller: Flew here with 1,000 bucks in my pocket. The town I grew up in, is the kinda place people are born in and stay there to die… I didn’t want to be like that or anyone I saw growing up for that matter. California was my escape from that life. Never gets too cold here… definitely never snowed 6 feet like back home… every band in the world comes here... and it looked good in all the photos in my skateboard magazines. I got an apartment in the valley. I thought that was la. Aaron informed me that I’d moved to the valley actually and not Los Angeles…. So once I had even cash I moved to a small apartment in Hollywood so I was closer to everything.
Wark: Was it a shitty neighborhood?
Keller: Yeah my downstairs neighbor used to cook the worst shit... dog. It was so awful smelling... It got real bad when he tried to stab me when I went to complain one day about the smell.
Wark: How'd you end up meeting Aaron?
Keller: I met them [The Icarus Line] when they came through my town in Idaho as the Kanker Sores. They said they were from la and I said I was moving there, so he gave me his number. He was the first person I called when I moved here. I didn’t really know him…he'd pick me up and take me to shows all the time when I first moved here cuz I didn’t have a car. Most of the shows they'd be playing. One of the first shows I went to when I was FOTB (fresh off the boat) was the Kanker Sores, at the drive in and KARP in a record store in Pasadena. It was pretty amazing being out of Idaho and seeing those three bands play in such a tight space. The energy was like nothing I’d felt or seen before… I knew I’d move to the right city. I still have no regrets, even though I don’t listen to At The Drive In much.
Wark: How much do you bench?
Keller: I have no idea.
Wark: In your experience with the Los Angeles party scene, who does more coke, Britney or Rivers?
Keller: I have never partied with Britney.
Wark: what 3 bands will matter most in music 3 years from now?
Keller: I never know what matters most in music. I kinda follow my own taste. Current bands that matter to me now are Primal Scream, Spiritualized, The Icarus Line, 400 Blows, All Night Radio, Dead Meadow, The Shins, Wire, Broadcast, Fiery Furnaces, Shat, Hot Snakes, ***rilla Biscuits, Beehive and The Barracudas, Shellac, Death From Above, Silver Jews, TV On The Radio, Queens Of The Stoneage, and Tom Petty.
Wark: Who is one musician that you really like, but you think they're currently totally blowing it?
Keller: Umm Iggy Pop.
Wark: Hiltons or Olsens?
Keller: Sleeping Pills.
Wark: Have you learned any lessons, and is there anything you regret?
Keller: I don't have any regrets I wanna disclose.
Wark: If Chinese democracy had come out, would you back it?
Keller: If it was a good album.
Wark: Whom did you adopt the word dickpig from?
Wark: How long has Buddyhead been around, and how did the idea originate for the gossip and shit talk?
Keller: 1998 I think is when we started. It just happened… I started the site to showcase my photography and somehow it morphed into a fanzine of sorts where we just wrote how we talk and think. Some people liked, it others didn’t. From there it morphed again into a record label were we release records from bands we like and don’t think anyone else will…
Wark: I got this question in an email -...so this isn’t my opinion but why do you talk so much shit and still sign shitty bands like your enemies friends? It’s kind of a mixed message.
Keller: I don't think your enemies friends is shitty. So I guess myself and that person have a different opinion on music. Opinions are allowed as far as I know, and everyone can have one... I think.
Wark: Which review CD did you get the most money for at Amoeba when you sold it back?
Keller: No Idea.
Wark: If Fred Durst wanted an internship would you consider him?
Keller: No. To be an intern you must have some sort of music literacy.
Wark: Do you guys have an office?
Keller: Kinda. I live with Don Devore, he lives by the washing machine and doesn’t pay rent. He’s good at throwing parties and slaying on guitar. He’s running for mayor of LA. We have two desks in my living room and one for me in my bedroom. We have an intern here from Ohio that cleans our kitchen too. Don makes the intern drive him around too cuz he’s careless. Interns rule.
Wark: Where would u like to see the Buddyhead label to go?
Keller: To a place where it makes money and pays for itself, instead of sucking me dry. Also to a place where
Wark: Has anyone given you shit about what you say on your site in public? Fights? Lawsuits?
Keller: I think so.
Wark: What about fights? Has someone actually fought you over something you've said?
Keller: You wanna get me beat up again or what man? Let the fight thing go! We’re lovers, not fighters. Yes, it’s true some people can’t handle what we say, so they turn to psychical violence and prove us right by being the jocks they really are. Ok you want the dirt?
Wark: Yeah dude…
Keller: I got decked somewhere around eight times a couple years ago by some dude who raps in Rancid. His rapping is on Shampoo commercials.
Wark: Where did that happen?
Keller: At the El Rey in Hollywood at a “Plea For Peace” show, ironic enough. I was drinking beers with Matt Skiba and next thing I knew I had a few fist marks on my face. Sucked.
Wark: Did he say anything to you first? Or just deck you?
Keller: He said, “Are you Travis?” And I said “Ummm… Yes?” That was the conversation.
Wark: Wow. That's intense. I'm sorry dude.
Keller: I'm over it.
Wark: Are you surprised by the reaction Buddyhead has been getting over the past couple of years?
Keller: No. I’m surprised we’re not getting more of a reaction. No one else is doing what we do that I know of.
Wark: How many hits does your website get a day?
Keller: Somewhere around 9.5 million…which is like 300,000 different computer nerds.
Wark: I heard you're a DJ and spin at different nightclubs?
Keller: Unfortunately, you heard correct. But don’t worry, I’m not good at it. I just play records I like, drink free drinks, and get paid for it.
Wark: What are some records you like to play?
Keller: Kinda changes week by week. Whatever I’ve been listening to. Anything from the Jesus Lizard to Depeche Mode to the Dammed to Led Zeppelin to My Bloody Valentine to Primal Scream to the Beatles to Jesus And Mary Chain to 13th Floor Elevators to Bad Brains to The Melvins to Born Against to Spacemen 3 to Kool Keith…. kinda all over the place
Wark: For the kids reading this, what would records would you recommend them to buy, instead of listening to the other shit that's out right now?
Keller: Depends on what they're into... if I was forcing my own current personal taste I’d say buy “Violator” by Depeche Mode. “Funhouse” by The Stooges. “Taking Drugs To Make Music To Take Drugs To” by spacemen 3. John Lennon's “Plastic Ono Band”. Jesus and Mary Chain's “Psychocandy” and “Bang” and “Goat” by The Jesus Lizard.
Wark: What are some of your favorite movies?
Keller: Donnie Darko ain’t bad. I haven’t seen that many lately… been watching rock n roll DVDs pretty much.
Wark: Which DVDs?
Keller: I got this cool Lou Reed one that takes you through the making of the “Transformer” album and another one of the Depeche Mode videos...which are all amazing little videos. And the Led Zeppelin one is good as well, oh and I got this live Birthday Party DVD which is punk as fuck. It has them live on the BBC and Nick Cave is smoking and drinking whiskey while he’s humping the air!
Wark: Bad ass, have you checked out the Michel Gondry, Chris Cunningham, or Spike Jonez DVDs?
Keller: Yeah I have those. They're nice, but I’ve seen all those videos so many times on TV I don’t really ever feel like watching them.
Wark: What's your favorite curse word of the moment?
Wark: Anything you'd like people to know about your upcoming releases for Buddyhead?
Keller: Right now we just put out a label sampler its 2 cds full of stuff. Next week your enemies friends you are being videotaped comes out. That's their first record. And then we have an ep from a new la band called wires on fire. They’re all like 17-18... they're a punk band.
Wark: Any unreleased tracks on the label sampler?
Keller: Most of them are. There’s a few album cuts...live burning brides…two new icarus line songs, one is old one is live…live radio vago…a cover from dillinger escape plan…TWO NEW SHAT SONGS… radio edit of a text song that’s new and a live ink and dagger song which is actually two old songs together…plus the cd’s are laced with the best prank calls from our friend torture device…he makes prank calls in the name of good music.
Wark: Anything else in the works?
Keller: I’m working on three dvds, a photo book, and a buddyhead coffee table book, which will archive our website... all the old shit. That'll be called the first four years....
Wark: Will the books be found in record stores or bookstores?
Keller: Hopefully both. We’ll see.
Wark: If Jack Black asked you to put out a Tenacious D record, would you?
Keller: No, I'm not really a fan. I’d let him buy me dinner though. Shat’s funnier, and he's for real.
Wark: He used to be the bass player for Dillinger right?
Keller: Yes and m.o.d.
Wark: Cool... do you have any cool stories about the man behind Shat? I heard he's insane.
Keller: Several… I wouldn’t know where to start. Well he’s not insane, he was shot in the head and had to relearn how to walk and talk. He's basically a 30-year-old with the mind of a 14-year-old…
Wark: Wow that’s incredible.
Keller: Cept his musical ability and sex drive is accelerated… hence shat.
Wark: Do you think the Internet has somewhat leveled the playing field for artists to get exposure?
Keller: I guess so. I don't know if that's really a good thing though. Seems like if you're gonna be a band... you can't really skip steps by using the Internet...otherwise you're gonna suck. I mean it definitely makes it easier for bands to get their songs out there but I hear too many shitty bands as it is.
Wark: If Heaven exists, what would like to hear god say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
Keller: I’d rather not discuss religion, but "I’m gonna break right into heaven, I can’t wait anymore".