RFC Interview: Office
After a successful showing at SXSW in March and a month long residency at Schubas in May, local indie-pop buzz band Office is back at work again tonight for a headlining show at The Bottle. RFC recently caught up with the big cheese of the operation, Scott Masson, to find out more about this smartly dressed new outfit. For those who haven't heard you, describe what Office music sounds like We attempt to make our music look, sound, and feel like one of those old black and white films that has been "colorized" 10 years after it's release....where every hue is slightly radiated, glowing, and a bit off. A beautiful nuclear fallout, and nobody hurt during the explosion. That's the best way I can describe us. What inspired your sound? Inspiration is a weird concept. I can honestly say the music of Office is inspired by people like Eugene Mirman, Dave Chappelle, Rimbaud, Warhol, Paolo Conte, Tom Waits, Damien Hirst, and Charles Bukowski more than any rock and roll band. I'm speaking from my own opinion, of course. I don't listen to music all that much, and when I do, it's usually in short and sweet increments. I often feel like I was born in the wrong decade, so the majority of my music collection is older than I am. If you ask anybody else in our band, they will have a better understanding of what they're inspired by musically. I appreciate the powerful combination of melody and lyrics, but I still don't even consciously think about where it came from. Describe the live Office experience. What we do onstage is celebrate the lost art of The Song, and our own eccentricities within the music market. Period. We don't care who hates us or loves us. Our live show is simply four musicians, and one singing/dancing secretary, performing these songs as if our lives depended on it. Performing is like going to war sometimes. We put our suits and makeup on, and we go to work. It's quite simple, really. The show is stripped down sonically, but that's usually more exciting and immediate for the audience anyway. We love our listeners, and we try not to ever lose ourselves to ego, idiocy, and industry politics. This gets more difficult as more people start hearing about you. We don't hide behind all the studio trickery, overdubs, and edits when we're onstage. Our band's main purpose is to keep things as truthful as possible, and this philosophy translates well into the live context. How did the band come together? Have any of you been in other groups before? The band came together in late 2004. We were all mutual friends, but none of us were extremely close. Now, we are almost like a family, as corn-ball as that sounds. Erica and Alissa were in an all-female band called "Twat Vibe" before they joined Office. Erica has also been a well-respected DJ throughout Chicago for years. Tom and I met while we were both employees at a paper store in Oak Park. He came from various punk rock bands like I did. The topic of Fugazi came up one day at work, and we both agreed that we should be in a band together. Alissa and Erica joined later. I am originally from the suburbs of Detroit, and was in tons of bands back in the 90s. I was mostly a bass player during those days, and the stuff I was involved with was pretty progressive. My fascination with production came around 1995. To make a long story short, my song-writing didn't see the light of day until I had already been doing it for about 4 years alone in my bedroom. I was self-conscious about my singing voice up until around 1998, and kept my songs to myself, a cassette 4-track, and a few close friends. I think I started playing instruments when I was 7 years old with the piano. Why did you choose the name "Office"? Because it creates an interesting dialogue between the audience and ourselves. Public vs. entertainment. Masculinity vs. femininity. Commerce vs. art. Simple vs. complicated. It blurs the lines between creativity, work, play, fear, and love for most people. Some people become their careers. In a lot of ways, I feel this band has become my number one focus in life....so the name makes sense. There are lots of groups of people who share a common goal, and they each have their own task within the organization. With that being said, every band is an office. Your self-released record from last year sounds pretty tight...have the majors been vigilant? Thank you! Hmmmmm......Oddly enough, "Q&A" was recorded in my bedroom on really lame equipment. Proof that you don't necessarily need to wait around for anybody to create. Technology developments have allowed artists the luxury of working on their own schedules, and ours is pretty hectic. Office will likely need an indie label in the end, unless there is some major label out there with a different approach. Indie labels allow artists more of an environment conducive to productivity and creativity, as well as giving those artists control over their own business decisions. You can make more money on an indie label, I think. It's my belief that major labels want to control every aspect of a band's career, and we simply cannot let this to happen to our band. They say "it's just the business", but those companies can never control the power of the Internet and exchange of information. They also know they can't have a bunch of educated progressives like us running around, causing too much noise, or writing the kind of pop music we write. But yes.....we do get flirty emails from people, phone calls, and folks from labels attending our shows. I was very receptive to this "courting" at the beginning. It was exciting, but now it's just funny. I'm waiting for the one A&R person who will blow my mind with his/her ideas. Most A&R people we've dealt with seem to miss the point of our band, and I often find myself thinking about food or sex when I'm having a conversation with them. They hear dollar signs, and we hear the notes we haven't played yet. Tonight's Office show at The Empty Bottle starts at 10:00p, with openers Raising the Fawn and Brenmar Sumday(feat. Elissa P). 21+, $8 at the door.