- Ben Harper
- Glen Hansard
- pearl jam
- signature live
- soul coughing
- star anna
goof & gremmie: Give us the story. Who are you? What do you do? How did you get become the manager of Easy Street Records?
Adam Tutty: Basically it goes back to 1996 when I first got a job at a record store. I’m from Rochester, NY. It was called the Record Archive, an independent record store. I worked there for 5 years. I started out minimum wage part time putting away records and CDs, then eventually became assistant manager, and finally manager of the store. I’ve always had a real fondness for the whole Seattle music scene, I’d always wanted to come out here. So in 1998, a spur of the moment thing, I booked a flight for the next day. Came out here for a weekend, didn’t know anybody or have any hotel reservations. I had such an amazing weekend, I ended up staying at the Moore Hotel (Moore Theater). I thought it was kinda cool that I was staying there. I fell in love with the city. Everyone here was so nice. It put it in my mind that I wanted to move here someday. So about three years later, I made up my mind that I was going to move out here, I drove across country in 4 days by myself. I didn’t really know anyone. I had a loose connection to a friend’s ex-girlfriend. She lived in a house with 3 other people and she was moving out and was looking for someone to sublet her room. I had a place to live when I got out here, but didn’t have a job. I don’t know if you’ve ever moved some place new, it was incredible and horrifying at the same time. It was great to be here, but it was terrifying. It was a lot of staying awake, game show watching, and beer those first few weeks. We were part of a coalition.
My old store The Record Archive is part of CIMS (Coalition of Independant Music Stores), and so is Easy Street. So my boss knows Matt through the coalition and kind of tipped him off that I was moving in out here. I met with him a few times, brought my resume. They weren’t really hiring. I ended up getting a job at another record store. They were going to give me a call to let me when to start. One morning the phone rang and I was sleeping. I answered and I was talking with the person about coming in for the job, I thought it was the place that hired me. About 2 – 3 minutes into the call I said “Wait, who is this?” and he said “It’s Matt, from Easy Street! Are you still interested?” I told him I just got hired by this other store, but I went in to meet with him again. I told him I’d think about it, but in my mind I knew that’s where I wanted to be. I waited a day and called him back. Looking back I probably shouldn’t have fucked around. They hired me, and a few days later – my birthday – was my first day of work there. I started out part time. I busted my ass as hard as I could. The Queen Anne store opened up about a year later, and I became co-manager of the West Seattle store for about a year, then eventually I became the manager of the West Seattle store.
Let’s say tomorrow some guy walks into the store looking for a job. What are the top 5 questions you would ask as part of an interview?
One question I’ve learned to ask over the years is “Are you in a band?” If I’ve got equally qualified awesome people, one in a band and one not in a band, I’m gonna hire the one not in a band. It’s so much easier to deal with… no tours, time off, recording, etc. I do ask what kind of music people like, just to get a feeling for where they’re coming from and to see how well-rounded they are. We’re looking for friendly people – customer service is definitely the number one thing now that’s keeping us going. With all the other options out there, we make customer service the number one priority. Make it better than going online and clicking buttons.
Want to talk about PJ20?
Unfortunately, I wasn’t there. A week later I was heading home for my 20 year high school reunion. Plus, I’m not a big festival guy. I did Lollapalooza back in ’95. Half the reason I moved to Seattle was so I wouldn’t have to go across the country to see them!
We’ve heard that the members of the band frequent the store. Is that true?
I think they all do. Ed and Jeff definitely shop at West Seattle the most. Mike comes in occasionally. I’ve never seen Matt or Stone out here at this store, but I think they do go to the Queen Anne Store. I know Mike goes to there as well.
Any stories about the band members that you remember?
Ya know, I don’t know if it’s really a story… but I’ve seen it happen twice so far where Ed will be in the store, in line waiting to get rung up, and somebody in front of him will be buying a Pearl Jam CD and have no idea that he’s standing there behind them.
In a couple weeks we’ll be interviewing Star Anna. Any tips for what we should ask her?
You know, I’ve never really met her. We’ve talked over email a couple times. She wrote to me looking for a part time job! My first thought was “Oh, you’re in a band.” So, we weren’t hiring at the time anyway. I think she’s pretty busy nowadays. She played in our store when the album came out, about a year ago. There were a ton of people there, it was a great turn out. I guess you can ask here “Hey, have you heard back about that job at Easy Street yet?”
You’ve added a cafe to the store. Can you talk about that a little bit?
The cafe opened up in 2000 after the store had been open for 12 years. Matt bought the space next to us. It’s definitely helped our business. Where we are in West Seattle its called the California Junction. It’s a GREAT destination place for coffee, lunch, breakfast. On weekends its usually a 20-30 minutes wait. While people are waiting they can shop in the record store. Sales in the cafe have gone up for the past four years.
Were reduced margins on record sales the motivation for opening up the cafe?
Well, it was before I started, but I’m sure that was part of it. When a new record comes out, say a $15 CD, we’ll put it on sales for the first couple weeks. Maybe at $12. That CD probably costs us $10 – $10.50, so we’re really only making about $2 on a CD if we’re lucky. Back in the day, when people were actually buying CDs still, we were selling a shitload, but the margins have always been small. That’s where used CDs come in. The margins on used CDs is better. You can get the whole REM catalog for about $3 a CD.
We want to know who we need to talk to to get a new item on the menu… the Gremmie Outta Control. Take every side on the menu and mush them into one bowl. What do you think of that?
I’ll ask Matt what he thinks. You never know.
So can you tell goof and I about the Stuffins Demos? What does Stuffins even mean?
It’s what the tape I was given was labeled. It said “Stuffins Demos” on the front. Meaning, I guess, there’s “stuff” inside. The same person that gave me the early demos with “Touch Me I’m Sick” is the one who gave it to me. I can tell you about it. It’s mostly instrumentals, in fact I’m looking at it right now. There’s 17 tracks. 9 tracks are instrumentals kinda like the Chinese demo from the PJ20 soundtrack. In a couple of them you can hear bits and pieces of things like Garden. A bunch of it is just the band working on stuff, you know like fucking around. But it’s really interesting as a part of the band’s history. You know on the on the PJ20 soundtrack the song Acoustic #1? There’s a reason why it’s called number one. It’s because there are three of them. There are 3 acoustic songs. The first is prolly the best of the three. The second is kinda very dark and mellow. The third is kinda short, maybe a minute and a half and more upbeat. But they’re definitely very cool and worth hearing.
No this is totally different. I’ve never seen or heard of these before this demo tape. Let’s see, there’s a demo of leash that’s on here too. Nothing I’ve seen or heard before and not like on the Versus remix. The best part of the tape – or maybe not he best – but the most interesting part is a cover of “Owner of a Lonely Heart” by Yes. It’s….interesting. [laughing] It’s Eddie doing a falsetto. The best part is at the end you can hear Ed say to the producer Rick Parashar “Rick, don’t ever tell anybody we did this.”
I have a question for you guys. How are you able to post all the stuff you do on gremmie.net?
Well if you look at the site you have gremmie’s basement which is all live shows from the past few decades. The Tenclub doesn’t care we host these and even encourages it up to a point. That point is, at the moment, 2008 because the Tenclub is still selling those shows on pearljam.com. On the main gremmie.net site though there’s a lot of b-sides which are studio tracks. I think the answer is two-fold. First, Tenclub is really cool. We’ve tried our hardest to maintain a good relationship with them. A good example is the “Touch Me I’m Sick” demos. When we first got copies, we emailed Tenclub and said, “Look we have these demos, they don’t smell right, should we host them or not?” Second is that they’re b-sides. Let me give another example, the tracks Poor Girl and Devil Doll from the WM3 tribute with X and Fastbacks. Nowadays you can’t find these anywhere. I think that’s part of the equation, we’re able to fill that gap. We’re not taking money out of people’s pockets by hosting because they came out 5 years and even then, the album they were on wasn’t selling like mad.
Have you ever talked with Tim?
We met him at PJ20. See, our buddy Dirty Mike rocks a wheelchair and at PJ20 we sat in the handicapped accessible section. Tim came over before the show and said hello to everyone. We took a couple of pictures with him too. He seemed like a really nice guy and genuinely interested.
I understand when people get frustrated at the Tenclub, but honestly Tim is without question one of the most genuine, generous, friendly, outgoing, caring people I’ve ever met in my life. I’ll you this story. Remember the
2003 Christmas single? Well, it hadn’t been released yet, and Jeff had come into the store and I asked him – as a fan, “What¹s going on with Christmas single?” Jeff explained to me why it was being held up. So I went online and told everyone the story, like a knucklehead. Within the next day I got an email from Mr. Tim Bierman and the second line was like, “Who the hell do you think you are? Why would you say those negative things?” I emailed him back and said, “I am incredibly sorry. I didn¹t mean to offend you guys or anything.” He responds back “You know it¹s cool, I thought about it. That’s how Jeff is, out there telling people stuff he’s a friendly guy. Don’t sweat it.” Then I wrote back “So sorry, thank you, thank you….” Week or two later Tim came in to the store and introduced himself and I apologized again and he was cool about. And since then we’ve been friends.
I mean the whole Tenclub itself, they are maybe 10-15 employees. They bust their ass. So when people badmouth the Tenclub – and some of its understandable like when you’re going to get tickets and the site crashes – but no one feels worse about it than Tim does. It’s run by a few people and they try to do the best job they can. They’re a small business just like Easy Street.
I think most people are under the impression are that the organization is bigger than it is. Frankly, I don’t know Tim Bierman. I met him once and he seemed like a very pleasant individual. But my impression of Tim is more of a reflection of the handful of vocal, entitled Pearl Jam fans. For example, on All Encompassing Trip a while back, Tim said something about how It’s great when the good fans are really supportive but it’s always frustrating to deal with the assholes.’ And I’m paraphrasing here but all that some fans take away is “Tim Bierman called the fans assholes.” But it’s probably true, some fans are assholes. More importantly, as head of Tenclub he’s a lighting rod for millions of fans across the world. And if you look at the great bridges built with fans – who else does that? Nobody. But these entitled fans stampede right over that and acutely focus on “Tim Bierman called us assholes”. Well you know, maybe he’s right.
How about one of my favorite Ed stories?
So Easy Street is part of a beer-league softball team. A few years ago we’re doing our 20th anniversary of the store and I don’t know how he did it – but this is the beauty of Matt (Easy Street owner). He was able to get us onto Safeco field and play a game. That alone was pretty amazing, so we’re out there playing catch and who shows up? Eddie. So we end up playing catch and take batting practice.
So Adam Tutty, 20 years ago, you’re living in Rochester, you’re in love with Pearl Jam. If Adam Tutty of today was able to talk to that kid he’s like, “Listen in a few years, stick it out, it’ll be fun, you’ll be throwing a baseball with Eddie Vedder on the same field the Mariners play on.” Your head probably would’ve exploded, right?
You know, when I turned 21 I started keeping a journal for a few years and a year or two ago, I just dug them out of my closet one night was just having a reading of them, laughing at myself. You know, being the angry 21 year old guy in 1994. So I had this one thing that I had written down, “I would give anything just to sit down and have a beer with Eddie Vedder and just have a real conversation with him. Not like a fan. Just two guys sitting down having a drink.”
And then it happens. That’s like your whole bucket list isn’t it?
[laughing] Yeah that’s definitely one of my favorites.
I used to play baseball growing up. How is Ed’s arm?
Uhh….how’s his arm….uhh…how old is he again? [laughing]
Ha! Enough said.
He’s not bad. He definitely made the right career choice to pursue music and not baseball. He can hit the ball though. Not a home run hitter, but a singles guy for sure.
Tell us about the Live at Easy Street show? It must’ve been pretty crazy.
Yeah it was. The whole leading up to it was this top secret thing where only 3 people at the store knew about it. Matt (Easy Street owner), me, and the other manager who runs the Queen Anne store. So it was keeping that secret for, it must’ve been 3 if not 4 months of not being able to tell anybody about it. But then the whole getting ready for the show, it was a pain in the ass but if there was one band that I would ever do all that shit for, it would obviously be them. But you clear out the whole store, box up every cd, move every rack, so we did that the night before and Ed came out and said “What do you want me to do?” [laughing] Here, have a beer and kind of just supervise. [laughing]. There we were moving all the shit out and putting into the store van, all these boxes of cd’s that we could and I don’t remember originally what the plan was to do with the van, maybe leave it behind the store which wasn’t a great idea. So Ed came up with the idea “You can park it in front of my house, it’ll be safe.”
So he drew some directions, we packed up the van and drove it to his house. Someone gave me a ride back home and the next day we had the store closed for the whole day. Meanwhile, they’re bringing in all their gear as inconspicuously as possible. Luckily, I was surprised that there wasn’t a lot of people that were figuring out what was going on. So we spent the whole day setting up the stage, the equipment and at around 5pm the band came in and did their soundcheck for about an hour. So that was kind of fun. It was basically 10 people in there for about an hour just watching them. It was pretty awesome.
I remember everything about the show for the most part. After the show, I really have no memory of. Next thing I knew it was the morning.
I remember going upstairs and talking with Eddie, taking a picture with him. There was gonna be party down the street, so I remember going there and there are two things I remember about that and one of them is only because I have a picture. It’s me with Cameron Crowe, it’s me thanking him, profusely, for making the movie Singles. I think it got to the point where it might’ve been like….
“Hey buddy, back off…I get it, you like Singles. Take it easy.”
So at this point, it had to be about 1 in the morning and I definitely had a lot of beers, but I wasn’t drunk, it was more of this natural high for the most part. That’s one of the few memories I have. My second memory is waiting in line to go use the bathroom and Ed was in front of me. He walks in, I’m standing there, the door closes and about 2 seconds later it opens back up and Ed goes “Hey, there’s 2 urinals…come on in.”
I don’t remember talking to him in the bathroom or anything, cause that would’ve been weird…
Plus what do you say to Eddie Vedder at a urinal?….I think for creepier Pearl Jam fans, that’s on their bucket list. “MUST TAKE A PISS WITH EDDIE VEDDER.”
So that was one of the last things I remember and then some of them were leaving at some point, it must’ve been 2:30 or so and I remember being with my friend. We went back to the store because at the marquis to the store, we were gonna put up a “Thank You Pearl Jam” sign and for whatever reason, I think my friend convinced me to do it then, at 3 in the morning drunk, so what we had to do to get to the marquis we had to go up to the second floor and then go out this window. So that was around 3, 3:30 in the morning and then the next thing I remember is the phone ringing around 9am and it was somebody at work and they said ‘Uh, what do we do?’ (because the store was empty and what we were doing then, we had these guys coming in….they were gonna make new cd racks, so they were working on that).
So I live a block away from the store. I got up and went to work and I was still on this high, like I wasn’t hungover, I was tired, I had all this energy. I’ve tried a number of drugs over my life, nothing crazy like heroin or cocaine, but I’ve never experienced that kind of high. I remember something like two days later just totally crashing. Well, not so much crashing, but feeling down. I sort of realized what it must be like for these bands. When you go on these big tours and you play for 50,000 people, what kind of hours that must be and when it’s done and they come back home, back to real life.
So that’s pretty much the story. It was a great show
They played a full set that night. 15-20 songs but they only released 2/3 of the show? Was that because the band didn’t think they played that great?
Yeah, I think they were maybe kind of unhappy with some of the songs, the sound or whatever. Kinda sucks that it wasn’t the whole thing. Tim actually has a copy of the whole show, but then he lost it. The only copy I have is the one that’s been circulating for years now.
Have you seen Ed recently?
I have a funny story. I was out to lunch a few weeks ago with a friend. We had lunch and after I went to the bathroom and then I came back looking to leave and my friend said “Hey, did you see your boy?” I said “who?” He said “Your boy Eddie” I said “What?” he said “Yeah, he was here for lunch. He just walked out.” I said “Are you sure?” I can’t remember the day but I think it was either the day before or day of the first show of his tour. That’s how he is though. He’s incognito. He can be anywhere at any time.
Yeah, like a super hero.
He doesn’t even try to wear disguises, hats or try and hide himself. It’s weird, he just blends in somehow.
That’s pretty cool. That’s not something you see a lot of for gigantic rock stars in particular.
Have you guys ever met him?
He is everything you would want your rock star to be. Very sincere, humble. He’s the real deal. When he talks to you, he generally listens to what you’re saying. The weirdest thing is, one time I was talking to him and at the time I was dating this girl who would later become my wife, who then became my ex-wife, but that’s another story. When she had met me she asked what my favorite band was and I said “Pearl Jam.” and she thought I was kidding. But she believed me after she came over and saw my apartment. But I was talking to Eddie one day about this girl and how we were listening to Vitalogy together and her favorite song was Tremor Christ. Fast forward 9 months later and he came into the store again and we were talking again and I mentioned my girlfriend Megan…and he said “Oh, the one who loves Tremor Christ.”
At that point you have to wonder who’s stalking who right?
He truly listens to even the smallest shit you’re talking about. Another cool story I have about how generous he is. My brother lives in Spain. He’s a teacher. A couple of years ago, must’ve been ‘06 or ‘08, I remember him asking if there was any way I could get tickets for him and I said lemme see what I can do. So I talked with Eddie’s assistant and sure enough I got tickets AND backstage passes for somebody that Ed never met before. My brother, he’s 6 years older than me, he likes them, not a huge fan. So I get a call later that night about midnight my time, but it’s my brother just to thank you again. He goes, “Show was incredible. Now just hanging out with Eddie, drinking some wine…hold on, here he is.” Ed gets on the phone “Hey, how ya doing?” So I thanked him again. Ed replied, “No worries having fun, taking pictures, I’ll make some copies for you.”
Thanks for chatting with us, it’s been such a pleasure talking to you.
Thanks guys! Love the site!