How We Listen is an interview series where Byta interviews artists, their teams, and everyone else working in music about how they find and listen to music, new and old.
Who are you?
Scott Kannberg aka Spiral Stairs. Founding member/guitarist/occasional singer from 90’s heartthrobs Pavement. From 1989 to 1999, Pavement released 6 critically acclaimed full length LP’s and relentlessly toured the world. In 2010, they reunited for another successful worldwide tour and the 30th anniversary is coming in 2020, so fingers crossed. If that wasn’t enough, I also have 5 solo records, 2 as Preston School of Industry, and 2 as Spiral Stairs (3rd Spiral coming in 2019).
Where are you based?
Currently living in Merida, Mexico. It’s in the Yucatan. Moved here a few years ago from Los Angeles with my family. We had been in LA for 3 years, but felt we needed a life change. Hopefully, moving back to the states next summer. And then back to Australia at some point.
Where do you work? What do you do?
I still make a living through music. I’ve been managing the Pavement catalog for years as well as my own music. It’s a hustle. In Merida, my wife and have been also flipping old colonial houses. It’s so cheap down here. But it takes forever to get something finished. Red tape.
What are you listening to?
The Kelley Stoltz Que Aura record. Straat LP. Jim Ford. Beefharts Sun Zoom Spark box set. Bryan Ferry’s Horoscope demos. These turned out to be on the Manouma record from 93 or so. Roxy Music live at the Wembley Pool circa 75. Great bootleg with most of the Siren Songs played live. I am also obsessed with the first two Nick Lowe records. I’ve been getting into his older stuff as well. Trying to track down the G W McLennan solo records. Only heard a handful of tracks from those records, they are so good. At the moment, it’s been hard since all my records are in storage back in California.
How do you find new music?
Online mostly. I belong to a bunch of fan sites on Facebook that take me in weird directions. But I like old music mostly. I’ve been reading a lot of music books. The John Peel one was great. Also the Jon Savage 1966 book was killer. And the Van Morrison and Roxy Music bios. And Simon Reynolds Glam book. And Dylan’s Chronicles took me in so many directions.
What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Service and why?
If i had access to my records, I’d listen to records. And my cds. Unfortunately, i only listen to stuff on my computer here. Or my phone from stuff i’ve downloaded from iTunes. I surf the YouTube a lot. I don’t have Spotify. I don’t really agree with it. I think it’s killing music. It’s definitely killed making money in music. The only people making money now are techies (and the advertisers). And all they listen to is fucking doof doof. So there you go, robots who design robots listening to robots. The future is bright. But i do understand that it’s the way most people listen to music. On their location device.
Where do you do most of your music listening?
At home, or when i’m out exercising. If i do listen to the few vinyl records i have here, i do it on a portable record player i got in Japan in the 90’s. Still sounds great.
How do find and listen to pre-release music?
Occasionally, i’ll get sent a pre release. Last one was the Mark Eitzel record, not to be confused with Mark Kozelek.
What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?
Ads. Of course it’s easy. Too easy. Finding out about bands was always fun. There used to be a mystery to it. Now, you can find out everything, see what they look like, see if they’ve been accused of sexual assault, see what their political leanings are. All on the internet.
How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?
ITunes playlists. Or surfing through the YouTube.
Do you tip other people off to new music? How?
My Twitter feed, or Facebook feed. I’m not really one of those kind of people who instagram what record i’m listening to, but i am in the early process of doing a podcast where i alphabetize my record collection. Lots of stories there.
Anything you want to “promote”?
New Spiral Stairs “We Wanna Be Hyp-No-Tized” out in March. All PSOI and Spiral records have now been re-released digitally as deluxe editions with b-sides and extra tracks included.