Charlie Slick

Charlie Slick
synthesist, singer, dancer, and composer

Tottered on: 4 January 2007
Temperature: 47F
Ceiling: overcast
Ground: damp
Wind: SSW at 14 mph


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TT with HD: Charlie Slick


[Ed. note: The object in Charlie Slick's photo is a plate of White Castle cheesburgers. They made it into Teeter Talk even though 'sliders' (like 'swingers') are, strictly speaking, proscribed on the totter. Charlie Slick has a show scheduled at the Neutral Zone on 20 January at 8pm. Read more about that on Charlie's MySpace. More samples on Charlie's website.

If you want to listen to 'I know you love my synthesizers' whenever you like, purchase it from CD Baby--Charlie Slick. Charlie's label is Cerberus Records.]

HD: Well, welcome to the teeter totter!

CS: Thanks!

HD: So you've got a Korg PolySix synthesizer that's broken?

CS: I do, yeah.

HD: So it won't play at all, or it just won't play like you want it to play?

CS: There's like six oscillators in it ...

HD: ... is that what there's six of then, in the name, so that's where the name comes from?

CS: That's what I think it comes from. And I've opened it up and looked at it, because I play with electronics a little bit myself. There's a little diode that'll glow, like an LED, showing which oscillator it's using. It kind of fluctuates tuning, like it'll go in and out of tuning, but not in like a regular analog way. In a really wide way.

HD: So this is an analog synthesizer?

CS: Yeah, yeah, yeah. A lot of old analog synthesizers take a while to warm up, but it's not that. It happens in every oscillator--I've checked every oscillator and it does it in every one, so I think it's the overall tuning. Or just needs to be cleaned, I'm not sure.

HD: So it will play, it just sounds bad?

CS: Yeah, it just sounds bad.

HD: Does it just sound bad to you, because you know what it's supposed to sound like, or does it generally sound bad even to just a lay person?

CS: When I first got it, it worked really well, and as I was playing, it started sounding really sour to me. I kept thinking it doesn't sound good anymore, it sounds really sour. And if I'd play it by itself sometimes, it'd sound alright, but if I'd put it over the top of another keyboard, I could hear how sour it was. It just sounds sour, out of tune, not like something you might notice right away. But eventually it starts driving you crazy when you're listening to it.

HD: So basically you're no longer using it to perform?

CS: No, I bought it to use to perform. Normally I use a Korg Poly-800. It's an analog synth, but it's right at the beginning of digital, so you use a number matrix to change the things. It's a really good keyboard, but I want that big--you know, I want something that will impress people like when I show up with my big PolySix. I brought it to two shows and then it started acting weird, so back to the Poly-800.

HD: So it's just sitting there, you feel like you can't really in good conscience use it for a show.

CS: Yeah, yeah.

HD: When you show up to a show, sometimes you're not actually scheduled to perform, is that right? Or is this all just a part of the Charlie Slick mystique?

CS: I've got the regular Charlie Slick show where I show up with all my gear and I put on a big dance party. And then I've got the Charlie Slick hijacking, which I show up to house parties or usually acoustic shows or things like that with a boom box with the backing music on. My friend Andy plays the backing music. He hits 'play' and he pulls the boom box up and I dance around and just sing.

HD: Okay, so I had wanted to ask you that question, because I've seen your regular full-on show--at the Ear Fair--and there seemed to be an awful lot of equipment there. And I read about these hijacked shows, and it just seemed like there must be a lot of logistics to that: knowing where to plug stuff in, and just the sheer volume of physical stuff you have to lug around. But you've got it pared down to the point where that's not an issue?

CS: Yeah, the first time we tried to do it, I had this whole thing worked out, where I was going to bring all my gear, and we were going to put it in a car, we were going to open the doors and we were going to run it off the battery, and then just there were so many variables in the equation ...

HD: ... you were going to run it off the battery in the car??!

CS: Yeah, I was going to use a power inverter.

HD: So you do know something about electronics!

CS: A little bit. I know like basically cause and effect. Like I want to do something, so then I go and I work by trial and error to try to figure things out.

HD: So you're not afraid to just break stuff for the sake of ...

CS: ... no, and I've broken a lot. [laugh]

HD: But the PolySix is not something you'd be willing to just hack around with and see what works and what doesn't?

CS: Well the first thing I did was, I opened it up, there's a ton of pots on the board and I thought, Tuning pot, I'll go in there and I'll play with that! I don't have the repair manual, so I kind of just played around with it for a while, and nothing seemed to work. But I'm not about to go in there and start playing with resistors and chips and things. The Poly-800 I have now, I modified--I took out potentiometers and put in other stuff. And now it does cool stuff, but it's a little less reliable, just because I played around with it. And it's full of glitter all the time.

HD: From decorations or do you just throw glitter around for the shows?

CS: Yeah, I throw glitter all over myself and all over the crowd. Glitter is the lice of special effects. You can't get rid of it, it just gets in everything. I've got to blow my keyboard out all the time. I'll have dead keys, because they'll be full of glitter and there's no contact being made. So you've got to get in there with an electronics cleaner.

HD: Hmm. Ever think about just skipping the glitter? That'd be an easy solution.

CS: It would, but I find that when I do a show--I don't have a band, I've got all this backing equipment, and I don't think I used glitter at the Ear Fair show and that was really bad, because Andy didn't come to do the lights ...

HD: ... yeah, I don't remember there being glitter. And nobody wants glitter in their beer!

CS: Ehhhh, that's true. But it gets people out of their personal space. So I've got the dance music going and unfortunately, a lot of people are really afraid to dance ...

HD: ... you can just toss [the White Castle box] into the yard, by the way.

CS: Okay. So you get the dance music going and maybe people are a little reserved. So you get the fog going, you get the lights going, and the lights are turning on and off, and you start to loosen up a little bit. When you start throwing glitter everywhere and you've got a bubble machine going, everyone just kind of lets go.

HD: So where do you get glitter in that kind of volume?

CS: Michael's, actually. They sell these pretty big containers. I've experimented with a few different kinds of glitter. And the stuff I get from Michael's is the best. It's a pretty big jar. Usually silver. But I didn't have any at my last show and I used--they were like, what are those called? Oh it doesn't matter, they were like gems kind of? The kind you sew onto a dress?

HD: Oh, um, what are they called?

CS: Sequins. I used sequins. And that worked pretty well.

HD: That seems like that might hurt somebody, put an eye out maybe?

CS: Maybe. I do end up with a lot of glitter in my eyes at the end of the night.

HD: So when you hijack a house show, do you ever get calls from the house owner the next day, saying, Charlie you gotta get over here with a vacuum cleaner and clean up your glitter?

CS: Well, I never use the glitter at a hijacking. Hijackings are cut-and-dry. I never thought it'd be that cool to just show up with a boom box and start playing. And I was really sure that people were going to yell at me and tell me that I'm ruining their show and stuff. Which, part of that I wanted. You want to be like a rebel or something. But I always get met with open arms. It's like, Charlie Slick's here! It's time to have fun!

HD: Maybe you should try hijacking a show where nobody knows who you are, say like a University of Michigan Musical Society performance.

CS: After I'd done four or five and everybody was really excited to see me, I thought, This is cool and I really like it, but I kind of wanted to get thrown out! I kind of wanted it to be a little bit on the edge. So I was thinking of hijacking an actual venue show. No one would be able to hear me unless I got on stage, and I'd get on stage and try and steal microphones. Then I'm pretty sure I'd get thrown out. But I think that would be something that people would like.

HD: So is that a goal for 2007, to actually get thrown out of a venue?

CS: It's not a goal, but just to step it up and put myself on the edge. Because it was really exciting the first time I hijacked a show with a boom box. It wasn't really loud, and as a musician, usually you hide behind volume. And you hide behind being on stage. So at any point in time, when you're hijacking a show with a boom box, someone could go, Get out of here, right now! You know? And everyone would be able to hear them. But for some reason that never happens, no one ever says anything to me.

HD: So how did you come out with your Santa's Christmas wish list?

CS: Oh, with all the things I put up there [on Myspace]? I actually did get some cool stuff that people made, which is what I wanted most.

HD: Did they send the stuff through the mail?

CS: No. I didn't get anything through the mail yet.

HD: There is a thrill to getting something through the mail. People don't use it anymore.

CS: That's what I think, too. I just kind of wanted to start making things and sending them to people in the mail, just because it's exciting to get stuff. My friend, Andy, he made me an action figure ...

HD: This is Andy G, whose last name I can't pronounce?

CS: Andy Gabrysiak. Yeah, he made me an action figure of myself and he put it in a Star Wars box, and then remade the name so that it said 'Charlie Slick'.

HD: So when you say 'he made it', you mean like out of pipe cleaners or?

CS: No, no. He took like a GI Joe and he re-painted it. And then he made a synthesizer for him out of Sculpey, which is kind of like a plastic that you bake. That was the coolest present I got.

HD: Does it actually look like you?

CS: Yeah, I think so.

HD: So people who know you would look at it and go, Oh, my god that's Charlie Slick!

CS: Yeah, yeah. Well, with the synthesizer, I think that really says it's me. Because I don't dress that unusual I don't think.

HD: No, you can pull of that everyman, just-a-normal-guy-on-the-street kind of pose quite easily, I think.

CS: That's what I want to try to do. I don't want it to be special that I dress different. I want it to be special that I make fun music.

HD: So I'm trying to think what else was on your list. I actually printed it off in case I forgot. The list, I think, makes a nice organizing principle for a conversation. So number one was original pieces of art. So you got that.

CS: I didn't get enough, though. I wanted some of my friends to send me a song or something, you know?

HD: One of them is money, that's an easy one to put down.

CS: Yeah, everyone needs money.

HD: But this song 'Video Store' that's mentioned, I looked for 'Video Store' on your website, but I couldn't find an MP3 of it. Is it there somewhere I'm not looking?

CS: No, it's actually on the CD. The MP3's on the website, they're either like demos or they're from my first album, which I still used guitars on. I don't use guitars anymore. I was kind of hoping people would buy my album, but whatever, you know?

HD: What is the market for physical CD's like out there right now, I'd imagine it's pretty depressed?

CS: I don't know. I kind of like that it's that way, because it means maybe that you have to get a little bit more creative in giving people a reason to buy them. For me I think I sold a lot. I mean, for me, I was pretty impressed, I sold probably like 120 CD's. And at $8 apiece, I don't know if I ever really made any money. But the album I did before that--before I was really doing any shows--I sold zero, so. I felt really good about 120. But I don't know, it makes you think about things. It makes you be creative. If people aren't just willing to buy your CD, if they're willing to just download it, or. My CD is on iTunes, but no one's bought it off there, either. I mean, of course, I want people to have the music. I don't think I'm going to make any money ...

HD: ... there's something to having the physical package of the CD. Most CD's anymore, though, if they include the lyrics, then they're so tiny that you can barely read them. And there's very little reason why anybody would want to have the physical package--for most CD's. It's not like those big huge vinyl album jackets that used to be works of art unto themselves. But the Ypsisongs collection, which you have a track on, I think the physical package there was something there that made it a little special. It was made by hand, and you could tell that a human being actually touched every one of those things.

CS: Yeah. I agree. I have some friends who are actually doing T-shirts that are kind of personal, so that people might like to wear a T-shirt. For me, I'm more a musician because I like to make things. I make things all the time at my house. And I thought, What better than to be a musician and have a brand name! You just get to make all kinds of things for your brand, or whatever you're supposed to represent. I think that's why I buy albums, I buy records, when I go to the store--I don't have any CD's any more. Not that I'm an elitist or something ...

HD: ... so you actually buy vinyl? Where can you buy vinyl around here any more?

CS: Encore. And they still have them at Wazoo. And there's some good places in Detroit that have vinyl. And you can get them off the internet. It's cheaper for the most part, unless you're buying something new. But not everything new comes out on vinyl. I wish my album could come out on vinyl. Because like you said, I really like the big picture. It's kind of silly reason to like vinyl, but I like the big picture. My favorite part about finishing an album is having the album in my hand and looking at it and knowing that I finished it. But it would be even better if I had this big piece of vinyl, and put it on the record player, and set the needle down, and it spins around. But, I don't know. I'm trying to get more creative so that people will want to buy the CD. I really want a name. I really want a name so that whatever I do, people will be like, Well, I saw this guy hijack a show, maybe I'll buy the CD. Or, I saw this guy show up with a bunch of weird equipment one day, maybe I'll like watch this movie he made with his friends, or whatever. It's not so much CD's. I'm not worried so much about selling CD's as much as I'd like to ...

HD: ... create a brand name.

CS: Exactly.

HD: So you're thinking of some different name besides 'Charlie Slick'? Or you're talking about the idea that you want the name 'Charlie Slick' to be branded as, That guy who hijacks shows or whatever?

CS: I had a lot of bands, and every time we'd start getting going, someone would quit or someone would move away, and then the name brand that you kind of developed--like the Angry Men or whatever--would just be gone. You can't really be like, This is Rick from the Angry Men. So this time around, I thought, I'll just be Charlie Slick, that's who I am. So that no matter what I do, I'll still be Charlie Slick, I won't be that guy from the Harley Davidson Project or something. I'll just always be Charlie Slick.

HD: You can't really quit yourself.

CS: Exactly. That was basically why I did that.

HD: You mentioned guitars that you used to use. So you have some kind of traditional musical background as well?

CS: Uhh, I don't know if 'traditional' is really ...

HD: ... okay, well, non-synth.

CS: Yeah, yeah. I started playing guitar--that's the first instrument I had and I played it like everybody else does. You know, power chords, and then eventually a little bit more technical, and then getting into sort of like jazz and blues scales and doing solos. And then one day I got a hold of some synthesizers--I've always been into ... I like Nine Inch Nails and they use synthesizers--and then as I'd get into synthesizers, I'd just care less and less about the guitars. Then I recorded this album, and it was guitar and synthesizer. And I thought, This album, it's pretty cool, but ...

HD: ... but what if we get rid of the guitars?

CS: Yeah, I wanted to make it sound different. Everyone does kind of the guitar-synth thing now. Everyone's got a guitar. So I was like, I hate guitars, I'm done with guitars! I always do silly things on them, play stuff that no one cares about. I'm just going to play the synthesizer, keep it simple. I didn't want it to be too flashy, just all synthesizer. I really like it. It's become sort of a staple now.

HD: So you know enough about music to be able to, if someone said, Hey, Charlie, we need to do this in a different key! you'd understand that kind of language?

CS: Yeah, most of my songs are in C-major. You know, all the white keys? But I write stuff in other keys. I know all the scales. It's all ...

HD: ... you know how to use all the notes.

CS: I do, I do! I can also use all the black keys! [laugh]

HD: Well, back to this song, 'Video Store'. You mention on the list, I think only half jokingly, that you'd like Blockbuster to buy that song. Would you be willing to change the lyrics or rewrite the lyrics to accommodate their new promotion? You know, they're trying to enter the same market that Netflix is in. If they said, we like the tune, it's kind of catchy, but we need to brighten up the lyrics to service our brand image here. Is that something you'd be willing to do?

CS: I'd like to say, No, I wouldn't do that. I have weird rules about that. The thing is, if someone was to offer me $20,000 for something, I know exactly what I could do with $20,000, you know? Immediately. Including a $5000 synthesizer. But I kind of want to do it on my own terms. Like, if they liked the song, or if they said, Can you write us a song? And then they'd be kind of like at my mercy. Because I think you can be creative and be ridiculous in a way like you did stuff like that. Because I could have fun writing a song about a Ford car! Really, I could do it. It'd be fun and I'd do it in a way that was my thing and interesting, but I don't think I'd ever want to take a song I already wrote and change the lyrics.

HD: Fair enough. So instructional dance videos? [Ed. note: from the Christmas list] Do you have a collection of those?

CS: I don't have a collection, I just have one. I think it's called 'Break-dancing I and II' or something. I'm really terrible at break-dancing.

HD: But you actually do it. I've seen you, and there's pictures.

CS: At my show I have a little routine that I throw in there. It's basically the simplest moves from the break-dancing video. I think the reason I haven't gotten any better is that no one's challenged me to like a break-dancing competition, yet. If I had like a partner who was really into break-dancing, then I'd be competing with them. But for me, it's just kind of: I really want to do it. It's better to learn if you're watching someone else, because if you're watching a video and then you try to do it, you need someone else to say, No, you're spinning the wrong way! And I watch Saturday Night Fever a lot. I mimic the dance moves off that. It was really funny when I stopped playing guitars, then I set up this show, I'm getting ready to go like three days before. And I was like, Wait, what am I going to do while I'm on stage?! Like I'm just going to sing?! Wait, hold on, I didn't even think about this, I'm not going to be behind a guitar! And it was really scary, because I was like, I don't even know what I'm going to do. I guess I gotta dance. So I'm in my room, and I'm like, How do people dance?? Because I don't want to look like an idiot! So I started doing like the step-back-and-forth dance.

HD: This is in your room in front of the mirror?

CS: No, not in front of the mirror, just I had my microphone, and the music is playing, and I'm stepping back and forth and it's a totally new world to me, because I'm so used to behind a guitar, and kind of humping the guitar and stomping around or whatever. So I'm just stepping back and forth. And it was really kind of difficult for me to just keep stepping back and forth in time with the music, which is totally ridiculous. And then I show up at the show and that's all I did for the whole show: I sang and I kind of stepped back and forth. But something that I noticed immediately is that everyone really liked it. And I wasn't even doing anything, I was just stepping back and forth.

HD: But it does kind of create an expectation, doesn't it, that at some point he's going to bust out some really amazing moves?

CS: Yeah, and I would jump around and stuff like that, but I noticed right away that people liked it more than any show I'd ever played before. I don't know if it was because it was just different at the time.

HD: So even though the break-dancing moves you're doing might be simple by break-dancing standards, I mean, you're essentially doing a hand-stand balance for one of them. That requires some upper body strength.

CS: A little bit.

HD: Do you do sit-ups and push-ups, or do you lift weights?

CS: I work at a garden store! I've got to load people's cars with mulch and dirt and stuff. I work at Downtown Home and Garden.

HD: Oh, really!

CS: Yeah, just right up there. So I've gotten a little bit stronger since I've worked there. I used to do pull-ups. And I try to do pushups every once in a while, but you know, I never really got on any sort of schedule. But there's a little bit going on. It took me a little while to get the hand-stand thing going. And if I don't do it for a while, sometimes it can be disastrous when I go to do it.

HD: You're young enough now that you'll just bounce back though. Looking ahead to your mid-30's, I'd suggest a stretching routine of some kind.

CS: Stretching, yeah!

HD: So what's the heaviest thing you have to lift down there on a regular basis? I mean you've got some really heavy stuff like those concrete items, but I suspect that's not a day-to-day sort of thing.

CS: No, and also you usually move those with two people, so I think that ends up being less than the heaviest thing is. The heaviest thing to move there, I think, on a daily basis in the summer, would be the 3.8 cubic foot peat moss. It's a pretty big brick. And it's kind of so awkward, you can't really get it on top of your shoulder, so you always have to hold it in front of you, which is tiresome on your arms. Whereas like the birdseed, which is 50 pounds, you can throw on your shoulder and you can just carry it out to the car.

HD: Do people who come into the store, just because you work there, do they just assume you know everything there is to know about gardening and plants? Or maybe you do, in fact. Do you?

CS: No! When I first started working there--I got the job because the guy who lived across from me, I was sort of friends with, and I saw him downtown. My car had just died and I used to drive delivery at Tios, and so I was out of a job and a car. And I was like, I need a job! And he was like, Well, I'm quitting mine, you want my job? I was like, Yeah! So I went in and I interviewed, I got the job. But I knew nothing about gardening or anything. I didn't know any of that stuff, like birds, or birdseed, or bird houses, or cooking, or cookware. So it was just me asking questions constantly. And now I've developed this foundation of knowledge that I've stolen from everybody else. And I have that BS that everybody else has, like when somebody asks you a question that you don't know, you resort to other facts that you know. Like, Can I used this for an Amaryllis? You're like, Well, you know, most plant want drainage.

HD: [laugh]

CS: That's what most people want to hear anyway.

HD: Most plants want drainage??!!

CS: Most plants want drainage, they don't want wet feet.

HD: Now do you know that for a fact?

CS: Yeah, most plants do. Unless they're like swamp plants or something like that.

HD: You know anything about ferns?

CS: Yeah, I know a little bit.

HD: Because we've got ferns that grow here. Every spring they pop up, but I'd like for there to be more of them. So I'm wondering if ferns are the kind of thing that will spread if you do the right things to them, or do you just have to buy more ferns?

CS: I think it depends on the kind. But I remember growing up that ferns had seeds on the bottom of their leaves. I don't know if that's the kind of thing that if you rub off that maybe they'll grow. All I really know is really about indoor house ferns. They like to be moist, they don't like direct sunlight, they're pretty low light things.

HD: Do they also want drainage?

CS: They do! Nothing likes wet feet! Except for like venus fly traps and other swamp-type plants.

HD: Let's see, other garden questions. Oh, I know something I want to ask you about Downtown Home and Garden. You know there's that cat?

CS: Oh boy.

HD: Does he actually live there?

CS: He lives there. His name's Lewis. Everyone loves that cat. They really do. Yeah, he lives there. His food's upstairs.

HD: I wish he was more receptive to my advances. If he's cuddled up somewhere and I go to pet him, generally his response is to get up and walk away to where I can't get at him.

CS: Yeah, it depends what time of day you go there. And he likes to be pet on the head.

HD: Okay. If I get a cat, I like to rub their belly.

CS: He's not really into the belly thing. And he doesn't like me at all. I'm not sure if he can tell that I don't like cats.

HD: Oh, you don't like cats?

CS: No, I'm allergic, and just don't like'em. I mean I like animals or whatever. But mostly I'm not into ...

HD: ... maybe he just doesn't like guys.

CS: That could be. But John, who works there, Lewis is kind of his cat. John's worked there for a really long time, and John takes care of him. He loves John, so it might not be guys. And by the end of the day, everyone's pet him over and over and over again, so he gets kind of nippy at the end of the day and doesn't want anyone to touch him. Kids poking him and stuff.

HD: How old a cat is he?

CS: Well, he's adopted, so they're not quite sure. I think they were saying around 10 or 12.

HD: You know, Downtown Home and Garden has that outside patio that they use as a venue for plays in the summer? I don't know if it's lots of plays, but I know that I've been sitting, looking out the window at Old Town and said, Holy Cow, there's a performance going on over there! Do you think there's any possibility that that could ever become kind of an under-the-radar music venue?

CS: I doubt it. Mark [Hodesh] is a pretty cool guy, the guy who owns the store. I have a lot of respect for Mark. He's a great boss, too. But I don't think that's the kind of thing he'd be into. And the kind of music he likes, he likes blues and, I think, like funk and old jazz.

HD: The sort of thing that maybe wouldn't be outdoor patio music that would cut through the traffic noise?

CS: Yeah. He likes throwing a party, though. We had a Christmas party and we were talking about getting a choir come down. So the play thing, he doesn't really set that up. He lets someone come. But he has get-togethers every once in while.

HD: I'm thinking he should have a show so that you can come and hijack it.

CS: Yeah, I'm sure he'd love that! One of the things he said to me that made a big impression on me was--I was driving with him, we're going to go pick up a car, and we're driving down South U.--he goes, Look at this generation! This generation's a bunch of pussies! Where's all the boom boxes and spray paint?!

HD: [laugh]

CS: And I just lost it. I just said, I can't believe we're thinking the same thing, Mark! I'm thinking exactly the same thing! [laugh]

HD: Hmm, well spray paint, I know you can buy spray paint at The Planet.

CS: Yeah.

HD: I heard that the bricks-and-mortar retail operation there was going off line and that it was going to be just internet. You know anything about that?

CS: I don't want to talk any smack about it or anything. I used to play at The Planet once upon a time when it was up above ...

HD: ... on South U. ...

CS: ... yeah, on South U. and there was that room at the back and it was free ...

HD: ... above the Village Apothecary.

CS: Right. And I put on some good shows up there, because it was small and I was just starting out. And it was a really cool place and they offered a lot of things that I wouldn't necessarily buy. But I'd go in there and look around or whatever. But a lot of the stuff in there, I thought, was stuff that people don't buy. It was geared towards a generation that's all about just taking it ...

HD: ... when you say 'just taking it'?

CS: I don't mean stealing it. But it'd be like books about hating the government or reasons for doing whatever, but it seemed like stuff that people who were into that would just go on the internet and find. And not really spend the money on it.

HD: Okay, so you're talking about the printed literature.

CS: Exactly. And it was all stuff for people who wanted to live outside the mainstream. You know, like Adbusters Magazine? They wanted to be away from commercialism. So it's hard, if your target demographic is people who want to live outside of commercialism and money, it's hard to ...

HD: ... it's hard to make money at that.

CS: So at the beginning I was wondering how this was going to make money or stay open. And they moved into the Natural Canvas space, and now it's going to move offline, so.

HD: Do you know for a fact it's going to close the brick-and-mortar part of the business?

CS: Yeah, I heard from a guy who used to work there who's pretty good friends with the guy who started it. [Ed. note: Although what HD and CS had heard had some basis in reality, it turns out that a last-minute deal allowed The Planet to persist.]

HD: You got anything else on your mind today?

CS: I don't know.

HD: So did you give anything really great for Christmas? I mean, you had this elaborate list of things you were hoping people would give to you, so I was wondering if there's anything you gave as a gift where you'd say, Wow, this is a really kick-ass gift.

CS: That I gave? As far as giving gifts this year I wasn't very good, I didn't feel very good about very much that I gave. I gave my friend Allan, an LL Cool J record on vinyl, which I was really proud of, because you don't see a lot of rap on vinyl come in. I don't know if that's because we're not in New York or something. But my friend Allan used to listen to 'I'm Bad' by LL Cool J and then the LP it's on, Bigger and Deffer, came into Encore and I bought it. I saved it for him and gave it to him. I was really proud of that. It wasn't that creative.

HD: How long in advance did you buy it? How long did you have to save it for?

CS: Well, I was looking for it for a long time, but it actually came in about three or four weeks before Christmas. So it wasn't too long. And I got Andy this Nine Inch Nails LP, Pretty Hate Machine, which he'd been looking for for a long time. And so I felt good about that. But I wanted to be really creative this year. And I wanted to paint everybody pictures. I started painting people cigar boxes, and I said, I don't feel good about this. I didn't really have enough time to spend on it and I didn't really have like a vision for it all. I kind of didn't give anybody cigar boxes, and I just bought people stuff.

HD: Well, there's something to be said for being low-key about gift-giving, because if you do something really spectacular--like painting cigar boxes for everyone strikes me as in that category, over-the-top, amazing--all you do is raise the bar for yourself.

CS: Yeah.

HD: Next year people say, Well, last year, I got a painted cigar box from Charlie, what am I getting this year?

CS: The coolest thing I ever made for somebody is, I took a suitcase--I love suitcases, I have like a suitcase fetish ...

HD: ... you paint them, right?

CS: Yeah, I paint them a little bit and Andy paints them. Andy's a really good painter. What I'll do is I'll paint the background or something. Like I'll paint a color and have it fade to white and then have some circles on it in different colors. Because I don't have any talent really, I just like doing it. And Andy'll come in with like a black paintbrush or some smaller paintbrushes and really jazz it up and use my background and do something really cool over it. Lately he's been really into drawing wieners.

HD: When you say 'wieners', you mean like hot dogs, brats, ...

CS: ... no, I mean like male genitals.

HD: Okay, just clarifying.

CS: Which, I happen to like paintings of male genitals as much as the next person. But he did this really good one that I really like. I painted a taco and then I painted the background to fade from red to yellow. Actually what inspired it was, I said to Andy, What should I paint? And he was like, Paint a Taco Bell sign! So I painted a taco. And then he went over it and he drew a penis going through the taco and then wrote 'Chuck's Sexy Room' So now it's a sign above my door. I like it a lot. It's just getting kind of weird now, I'm starting to wonder.

HD: Alright well listen, thanks for coming over to ride the teeter totter!

CS: Totally. I had a good time.