In the beginning especially (but even now, to a lesser degree), your tapes came across more like hilarious "art" than basic old Jerky Boys-style prank call tapes. Everything from the way you took your own voice out so all the listener would hear is a person on a phone getting angrier and angrier -- to the movie dialogue and music breaks between calls - to the way you would cut and repeat certain parts of calls, or run them through effects to make them sound more interesting. Did you have an overall "vision" when you started? Or were you just looking to "make a tape" and whatever happened happened?
Thanks, and I guess I mainly just set out to see what would happen. Obviously, I had ample time on my hands then. I thought it would liven things up if I really went off and used crazy effects. Only a few people said they didn't like the effects and found it too annoying.
How did you become known? How did the tapes originally get traded around and how long did it take for a "buzz" to heat up about you?
I started a little label called D.U. Records (the acronym is meaningless). I treated the LPC cassettes like legitimate releases and sent them out for review. The reviews were good and I sold some through the mail. I submitted a cassette to Vinyl Communications and they wanted to release a "Best Of" CD. They did, and then they released a "Best Of, Volume 2" CD. This is when significantly more attention was paid to the recordings. Receiving that blurb in Spin magazine, I thought, had to be the high point. It was all downhill from there. By the way, at www.noisetent.com, you can get the full D.U. Records catalog, and order if you like.
Is there a "prank caller" underground community? I mean, have you, for example, ever spoken to Crazy Wally or the Jerky Boys or Mark Knopfler (http://www.junkyardwillie.com/webpages/sites.htm - third one down - it's a CLASSIC)... or is it more of an "each person does his own thing" sort of genre?
I got an email from Mark Knopfler once and I knew it was of course not the guy from Dire Straits, but you could not reply to him for some reason. Then I learned that he had prank tapes and who he was. I have not really talked to any other people in the "genre." I am pretty sure people use bits of other people's material, though. I have a pretty good collection of prank calls on CD and tape, but that's about it.
I know you address this in the old Q&A on your site, but I'm not sure how old that is, so let me ask it again: Have you ever run into anybody in public who has recognized your voice from being pranked by you? If so, what was the reaction?
No I haven't. I have gotten accused of stuff that I never did, though. That's pretty unfortunate, but I guess I sort of have it coming, all things considered.
Do you ever get scared when people on the phone are threatening to kill you? Or does it just make you happy because it makes for entertaining listening?
No, I never got scared. I usually just tried not to laugh too much. Late at night, I find some of the material a little creepy. Then the sun rises and I'm back to not thinking about it again.
If you follow such things, who in your opinion are the best prank phone callers with material floating around out there?
"Arnie Vs. Binnie," I think, had to set the world's record for the most calls from one guy to another guy. That stuff's insane, but has some classic moments. I understand that the participants are both deceased, though. I also like that old "Cambodian Refugee" stuff. Most other things are either not very funny, or so mean-spirited that! I sort of hate to admit finding it funny.
Have YOU ever been prank called? If so, how did you respond?
Yes, natch. I guess you would say it's usually pretty uneventful. I'm not big on answering the phone a lot of times.
Have you continued making calls since Caller ID came out? If so, how have you gotten away with it?
Not that I spend anywhere near the same amount of time on it anymore, but I do know the Public Utilities Commission is fair to a fault. Any phone technology is countered with the option of overriding it, and so on. It's not difficult to get around. How did you get a CD deal for the two "best of" compilations and Volume 4? Did you approach the labels or had they heard the tapes and just thought they were hilarious, and thus looked you up?
Vinyl Communications was an odd label and the owner of that label always liked funny phone recordings. After I sent him a cassette, it was all over. He was sucked in. That's how those "Best of" CD's came about. The newest one, "LPC 4" was released on a new label, that believe it or not, was created for the purpose of releasing LPC 4. And that website, www.longmontpotioncastle.com, was also created by a fan. It's cool, it's interesting. I really appreciate that people, well, appreciate it.
At this time, my two favorite LPC calls are both on Volume 4: the one where you call the record store and start singing some ridiculous moronic rap song, and the one where you ask the guy at the Motel if he'll let you stay in somebody's room for 20 minutes or so. Do you have any favorites among the calls you've recorded?
Thanks. I like those, too. I also like the old ones where I kept calling the man at the Packaging Store. It reminds me of being a teen in the suburbs with absolutely nothing else to do.
LPC 3 says it came out in 1995 - why was there a seven-year delay before Volume 4 came out?
I was in a rock band, Abdomen. We toured, and recorded a lot. That, and some personal stuff. LPC 4 is unique in that it has newer recordings (2001-02), but it also contains unused material from back in the late 80's.
What first attracted my interest in LPC was a record company sticker calling Volume 4 "more absurdist prank calls." I just liked the idea of "absurdist" prank calls! How would you personally describe Longmont Potion Castle to people who've never heard it?
That about does it. They may be dumb, but they're not stupid. I'm at least half right, I think.
Do you have any idea at all how many copies of your tapes and CDs have sold? I honestly had never heard of LPC until I saw Volume 4 in a store a few months ago! How large is your audience, as far as you can tell?
Thousands of people. A lot, as far as I'm concerned.
Have you ever tried to prank somebody, and had them recognize your voice and say "Hey! Longmont Potion Castle!"? I always wondered that about the Jerky Boys too - they sold a ton of CDs, you would think that eventually they'd call somebody who knew their work!
No. But of course by calling the same people they remember me, just not by name.
Is it illegal for you to have CDs out without having gotten signed approval from all the people you called? What would happen if somebody heard themselves on it? Could you or the record label be sued?
It's so not legitimate. The newest label that put out LPC 4 put a blurb on the back cover - discovered in the dumpster behind Longmont Potion Castle. They are really interested in keeping that anonymity. I would never want my name credited, either, or anything like that.
What else do you like to do with your time?
I'm a musician, I have a wonderful girlfriend, I like to eat...
Is it true that you're working on a solo music CD? What's that like?
Yes. It is very indie/hard rock. If I had to liken it to anything, I'd say it's sort of like Sugar, Dinosaur Jr., Doughboys. I think it's the best material I've ever done. In the last year I also scored a new 24-track recorder as well as some terrific new mics and tube gear. So, it also sounds better than anything I've ever done. I love the experience of writing, playing, recording, mixing and mastering an entire album alone. By next winter it will be done and I intend to assemble a live band version as well, although in Denver you might as well not even bother.
Your NOISETENT studio seems to be doing well, judging from the list of bands who've recorded there. Is that where most of your income comes from? Or is it a combination between that and your D.U. Record label sales? Or do you also have to work a day job?
In 2002 I worked at the studio full-time. That's never happened before, and it lasted 6 months. It was fun. I've always worked day jobs and I currently do again. I've been at it a while, though. In Denver, other than the studios in the phone book, it's basically me and another guy who do the bulk of recordings of bands. He gets a lot of major-label projects and I get a lot of local bands who struggle to afford a recording, and who seem to seldom even release their records.
How old are you now? Your voice doesn't seem to have changed much throughout the tapes and the new CD. Were all of the calls recorded when you were a teenager or are you still making prank calls?
I'm 30. I think I sound different now, but thanks. That old stuff is so natural sounding because I would literally sit there and talk to strangers for hours and it showed. I still gravitate towards phone pranks sometimes because I've always done it. It's still fun and people want to hear it.
I read a review that said there are some calls to celebrities on your releases. Did I miss those? Who are they?
I don't know how to answer that. They're unlisted on there, and I'm unlisted on there, you know? But just for your information, GG Allin and Sidney Portier both make an appearance. GG is the one who is "sitting here drinking Beam," and Sidney is the one who insists that "no one in this house ordered any millipedes."
What's NEXT for Longmont Potion Castle?!?!?!!??!!??!??!?!?!?!!?!??!
I will have the back catalog of releases permanently available at www.noisetent.com. I think that the people running the other label who released the newest CD are having significant personal changes in their lives, and I don't know how they intend to manage the label, if at all. There's really nothing left out of the hours and hours of LPC stuff on cassette - it has all been thoroughly combed through and already released at this point. But, I have about 30 minutes of unreleased stuff put together, so we'll see!
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