Carlton Gholz: This is the Detroit Sound Conservancy #RecordDET night at Urban Bean coffee house. We’ve been proud to be here all semester long. You can tell I’m a teacher cause I think in terms of semesters. This is December the 22nd, 2014, my name is Carlton Gholz executive director and founder of the Detroit Sound Conservancy. And we’re now on our 20th, I think 21st interview of the fall. We’ve had an amazing, amazing time and in this last one we’re going to do something special, a little different. We’re going to interview our last two interviewees together. And when the microphone explodes at some point, you’ll be able to hear it. We are with Lauren Hood and Adriel Thornton and they’ve been in the city for a little bit and good friends. So let’s just start from the beginning here. Who’s going to take the first question, Adriel is going to take the first question?
You just ask the questions and then we’ll chime in.
Chime in. Fantastic. Then you don’t, then you don’t need this. You don’t need a script. For both of you. Briefly describe who you are, you self identify, however you want to identify here and your relationship to Detroit music?
Adriel Thornton: Well, I’m Adriel Thornton and my relationship to Detroit music is long and complicated, but, for the most part I’m an event producer and I’ve been producing events in Detroit for, well, I mean, a long time. [laughs] So, you know, and I think it’s just as important to say I’m also a big music fan and a Detroit music fan. So that’s my relationship to the music really. Sometimes DJ.
Lauren Hood: Oh, right. I forgot, me too. I’m Lauren Hood. My relationship to Detroit music I from time to time have produced events and DJed and managed bands. But I would say my number one role with music is just as a fan. An attender of parties and concerts and shows and things of that nature.
Gholz: What was your first Detroit record you remember hearing? What was it? How’d you hear it and what’d you think?
Thornton: So really the first Detroit record I heard, I didn’t realize it was a Detroit record at the time. I was like, not even a teenager, I mean like a child. And I’m the youngest in my family, within our generation. So my older brother and my older cousins were always, they were years older than me and they were some of them were trying to be DJs and some of them were like, but early, you know, this is early. And, some of them were going to some of the early parties in Detroit. And, the first Detroit record that I remember hearing was “Cosmic Cars” by Juan Atkins. And one of my oldest cousins was like a regular party DJ at the time and would just be playing records sometimes in a basement. And I remember like hearing it and it sounded like the future that I imagined, you know, cause I was a kid and I was like expecting us to have flying cars and all that kind of stuff, like the Jetsons, you know, in 10 years! [laughs] You know, so like that to me sounded, I mean it sounded like the soundtrack of the future.
Gholz: I remember, I feel like I remember you telling me this story and, tell me if I’m wrong, but if I remember you were overhearing it in a car outside.
Thornton: No, that was, that was actually, that was a different story. That was actually the first time I heard “Cars” by Gary Newman I was at home and we lived on a dead end street. And so there was a huge playground right next to us. And across the playground was like my elementary school, both of them, cause Precious Blood was, you know, sort of kitty corner. And then the public school that I ended up going to later was like directly across the playground from us. But literally one night, it had to have been the summer because I think we were still like on the porch or something and it was way, way late, you know, but like who cared at that point?
That sounds like the future
Thornton: [sings], you know, from across the playground and it was, that was also a really crazy moment because, you know, you kind of, I could hear those synth lines and the vocals from there, but like pretty much nothing else. And it was, again, one of those moments that was like, that sounds like the future, you know. But that was when we moved from Detroit. We moved from Detroit to Virginia. That was one of my Mom’s good friends who had a daughter that was a teenager by that point. And I apparently, liked the song so much, that she, my going away gift from her was the 45” of cars by Gary Newman. [laughs]
Hood: Oh, my turn? Well it’s interesting you say the first time you heard Detroit music, cause obviously the first I would have heard of Detroit music, I know it was like Motown, right?
Thornton: Well, I forgot about all of that.
Its me in my room picturing myself in all black at a club in England or something with other people that are just, our eyes are closed and there’s weird lights around and we’re just in our own little world. And I still get that when I hear that music, when it comes on it, it takes me somewhere.
Hood: Well the first thing I would have heard would have been at my parents’ house in the living room as they would be playing like The Supremes or something. But my initial thought when I read that was, Hmm. And now the Adriel brings up techno. I’m like, Oh my first Detroit techno or my first Detroit garage rock band or my first Detroit like what? But as you were talking I was thinking more of like techno and I would say something about listening to Electrifying Mojo, but like he said that the music was the future in my head when I would hear songs like T-E-C-H-N-O-C-O-L-O-R, it’s me in my room picturing myself like in all black at a club in like England or something with other people that are just, our eyes are closed and there’s weird lights around and we’re just in our own little world. And I still get that when I hear that music, when it comes on it, it takes me somewhere.
Thornton: Now that you’ve been to that party Sometimes I’ve been to that party,
Hood: Now since I’ve been there in real life. I totally, yes. When I hear certain songs like that, any Cybotron, Model 500, or any of that stuff, I go to that warehouse in my head where everyone’s all sleek and dancing and in their own world.
Thornton: Right. I guess, you know? Yeah. To just sort of bounce back to what Lauren said, I took that question in my head and instantly defaulted to techno. But yeah, I mean realistically like, here’s a funny thing, the first album that I ever owned, which my parents bought for me was The Mothership Connection Live. Like I’m not even kidding. I don’t know why. I can’t remember, like, you know, I was a kid who, I can’t remember all the details. My brother was very into music for like, as long as I can remember, he’s just two years older than me, but, I mean music has always been this guy’s life and he’s been into Motown like literally as long as I’ve known him. But that expands out to just music period.
Thornton: So I think that as you know, a little child, I felt like I needed to have some sort of music that I owned, and, the Mothership, I think I liked “Flashlight” or something like that. Really a lot, which I must have, when I think about it, I know that like my parents were playing it, but I, you know, it was probably backed up with hearing stuff on the radio. Maybe even a little before Mojo, cause I remember Mojo from like really the mid-80s, which was still like, you’re a child. You know what I’m saying? Like in that mindset. So it was all magical, mysterious. But before that, you know, and I’m probably gonna age myself a lot with this, but I remember Wolfman Jack, having a show on the radio.
Thornton: And I remember like these radio personalities being like celebrities. And the crazy thing is I remember also hearing a variety of music like “Fly Like an Eagle” to me is like very much a part of like my formative soundtrack as is the P-Funk stuff. And you know, I’m just, I’m going off on a whole tangent now, but I’m just like, you know, me and my brother, one of the first songs I can remember us like really like that was kind of our song in a weird kind of way was “Afternoon Delight” You know what I’m saying? Yeah. And I thought for some reason, you
Hood: [sings] “Afternoon Delight”
Thornton: You know, to a child’s ear, obviously we were missing the message that we found out it really meant later on. And you know, we were adults.
Hood: What did it mean?
Thornton: You don’t know?
Hood: I’m just figuring it out right now.
Thornton: You don’t know?
Hood: No, no.
Thornton: It’s about fucking, can I say that on here? Yeah, It’s a song about fucking. It’s a song about making love. “Skyrockets of light, afternoon delight”
Gholz: I think it’s time for our next question.
Hood: Can we talk about Mojo some more? When you were talking about how you like, what did you say was, Oh, Steve Miller Band was also formative.
Thornton: Yeah, yeah.
Hood: Well, that’s what I used to like about listening to late night Mojo. It would be like one extreme to the next and that is where I first heard like Pink Floyd and yeah,
Thornton: The B-52s
Hood: Yeah the B-52s! Oh my God, “Mesopotamia”. [inaudible] I can remember the first time you heard Mesopotamia? It was like, what is this?
Thornton: I remember the frist time I heard “Rock Lobster.”
Hood: Oh, me too. “Rock lobster” I heard in somebody’s basement in a house party. I was like, and it was black kids. It wasn’t like you would think,
Thornton: Well that was the thing. I think we should . . .
Thornton: I think both of us should probably put this in context too for the sake of this because I think this is something that has been really forgotten about is that this is all in the context of, this was, all of these experiences that we’re mentioning were in a very black context in Detroit, like black radio period, go quote unquote. I mean you obviously have the soul stuff, all that kind of stuff, but I just remember our whole environment even as like, I mean I’m talking like a preschooler to like, I mean elementary school. I used to go to preschool, or afterschool, preschool and afterschool at this place called Playmates at the Northwest Activity Center. And a couple of older kids were so into KISS. These are black kids, were so into KISS that we all were so into KISS and out.
Thornton: Like, when the KISS Halloween special, do you remember the KISS Halloween special?
Hood: That I don’t.
Thornton: They came up. Oh, I remember that shit because like Ace was the bomb and then they had this car with like a black car with like the stripe on it. It was like out cold, but it was like everybody was into it and so it was, I mean I think that for a long time, the early musical, the formative years of music for me were absolutely positively colorblind in that sense. Like I like no, I didn’t think of it or view it. It was like there was no music that was off limits based on like, and I don’t remember people really referring to things like it’s black or white.
The city used to be different. I could go to a rap show or a rock show or a techno party, you could go to anything and no one made you claim allegiance to any one thing.
Hood: I feel like now it’s very different. Like what are you? Like before it was just like, Oh, I’m here, I can go wherever I want. It’s just very different now. Cause I remember, yeah, going to rave parties but also going to the garage rock show, go into everything you could! like, but you weren’t, you were allowed to like lots of different music.
Thornton: Yeah. You could go from the Hip-Hop Shop to The Alley for a techno party
Hood: And see the same people!
Thornton: And see the same people and then go, you know, go off somewhere else to like some indie rock shit, you know, and like it was the same people and you would see those same people at, you know Akira at, at the place that used to be Bloom. Remember the movie theater was there?
Hood: Yeah. Yeah.
Thornton: You would see all these same people moving around in the same circle or like The Warehouse on a Monday night, which was, they played, you literally heard everything from Bad Brains next to Fishbone.
Hood: Or like Three Floors of Fun, when it was actually three different kinds of music, like techno at the top, hip-hop in the middle and like alternative in the basement. And everybody went on all three floors,
Thornton: Depending on what she wanted to hear at that moment.
Hood: At that moment.
Thornton: I was like, I want to hear some Bjork, let me go downstairs. [laughs]
Gholz: Was the first, or best, so you don’t, it doesn’t have to be a Detroit act necessarily, but, what’s the best live music performance you remember hearing in the city? Who was it? Where was it? Who’d you go with? What’d you think? Live, live performance.
Thornton: In the city? Well, I mean, I, you know, I have to default to, you know, you know who I’m going to say. Prince.
Gholz: But which one?
Thornton: Right, right. And there in lies, I think the, the most, so there was his, like the glyph album tour, at the Fox that was off the chain. But I also saw him at the Opera House for the whole Rainbow Children thing, which was like an intimate, like it was the, the whole tour was designed to be, it was called One Night Alone, I think. And it was designed to be a more intimate environment with him. And, I would say like as far as actually physically in the city, those two. I’ve seen him a bunch. Like, you know, I’ve seen him, maybe two or three times at the Palace. And I mean, you know, yeah, those aren’t in the city, but, yeah, I mean for me . . .
Gholz: What is it about Prince and Detroit?
Thornton: Well, I think part of it, as far as my own personal experience is growing up in the city, that was absolutely enamored with him. I mean he credits Detroit for like really making him. And when you add to that, people like Mojo or the Wizard used to play, like you just used to hear it, again, this is another set of cousins, you know, I think the first time I’d ever heard “I Wanna Be Your Lover” it was because one of my older cousins on my mom’s side, you know, was a teenage girl and she was all about like, she was all about, she was all about this guy Prince, you know what I’m saying? And again, I had, I just knew that I liked stuff, but I had no context about like, like he didn’t matter to me at that point,
Thornton: I just liked it. And I remember the first time I heard it though, because she was babysitting us and yeah, she played it. So I think, it’s interesting cause I, Prince is, his music is like in a weird kind of way. It’s turned out that it’s been sort of like the soundtrack to my life. You know, it’s sort of always been present even before I was consciously making it present. Yeah, I remember my dad buying me the Controversy tape, the cassette, for Christmas one year. And, my Mom wouldn’t let me have it. She showed me and she was like, “your dad got this for you for Christmas,” you know? And, but she was like, “but I’m not letting you have it because I listened to it,” made the mistake of listening to it [laughs] and she was like, not having it as like, no, this is too raw for like a child, you know? And so, I mean I’ve always, he’s always sort of been in my universe, or I in his probably is more likely. [laughs]
Gholz: Same question to Lauren.
Hood: That is such a tough one. Like favorite shows that I’ve seen in Detroit. I have a million and I wish you would make me do it by genre. Cause I really, I really, I have one for every genre.
Thornton: Afghan Whigs
Hood: Yes. Every Afghan Whigs show in St Andrews Hall has been amazing. I really enjoyed the Kraftwerk show that was at the State Theater. I just remember I was in the balcony for that. I had no hookup at that point in my life. I don’t remember what was going on. I didn’t have better seats but I was in the balcony. But I just
Thornton: Did you talk about the one when we did the afterparty? Oh the one before . . .
Hood: No, before that might’ve been an one, but I just remembered the whole balcony was like one half would do the boing and the other half did the boom chack and I just, I really get moved when there’s like crowd participation in shows and I loved that. That was great. Another one of my favorite shows, I don’t even like this guy that much, but I saw John Legend in The Shelter and yeah, it was before he blew up. My friend Ben was in town from Chicago and he’s like, what should we do tonight? Anything happening? I’m like, “Oh, there’s this guy I heard on the internet. I think he sounds really good. He’s playing in The Shelter, it’s only $10. Why don’t you get us tickets and we’ll go.” And then like, yeah, within a year he had like blown up and was doing arenas, but I saw him like in The Shelter with like 10 other people, like him and a piano. And I get really, I get really moved, especially by people and their, just their instrument and like their soulful voice in their, I don’t know, it was very like gospel and spiritual and I don’t even like that guy that much. But that was one of my favorite shows that I’ve seen in Detroit.
Thornton 18:50 Placebo, placebo, Low and transit.
Hood OMG Low.
Thornton Like coffee house? Yes. Before, before he, before they blew up, you show
a local band. Oh, there’s one, his name alive.
Hood Oh my God, his name is alive.
Gholz Regional. Absolutely.
Thornton So yeah, there are some, you’re right,
Hood there’s too many. I mean, but I have to say, you know, I can’t,
Thornton mine is definitively Prince because just you said the best.
Gholz: Motown is known the world over. Describe one aspect of Detroit music history that you wish got more attention, we’ll go Lauren first.
Hood: Oh, I like when Adriel goes towards his, and I have time to think. An aspect of our musical history
Gholz: So Motown, so most people say exactly what you said earlier. You know, their first memories of Detroit music generally speaking, you know, it varies. But Motown is, has a lot of people say Motown. So the question is, you know, what’s one aspect of the music? I mean, cause everybody does mean when the Super Bowl comes through, when the, when Monday Night Football comes here, they show the Motown Hitsville USA. I mean it’s just, it’s obvious.
Hood: I don’t know. I might ask you to come back to me on that. I feel like all the eras of Detroit music that I’m really into got their international recognition. Like our, you know what I mean? Like our big garage rock blew up our electronic music blew up. Our Motown-y things blew off. I don’t know that there’s anything that’s like a secret to the rest of the world in terms of our local music that I can think of right now.
You’d be surprised of how little Funk is known
Thornton: Okay. I do. Have you ever heard of, no, I’m joking. [laughs] But I do have an answer for that, but in my opinion, I really feel like, so out of all those things, and this is going to sound really strange to people who know about it, but you’d be surprised of how little funk, is known. Like, really, I mean, I think people, people know George Clinton, you know what I’m saying? But they really don’t, you know, in a strange, in the same level as like Motown and even the indie rock and all that kind of stuff. I think that sort of like the roots of that and, and like Parliament Funkadelic, and what they all did for the city, I think is known really, really well. And like maybe locally, maybe regionally, but as far as like on the same level nationally and internationally as those other genres?
Thornton: I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s, I don’t think it’s permeated the same way. That’s not to say that the music hasn’t, I think everybody around the, I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, but everybody around the world probably has heard again of like “Flashlight”, you know? But I don’t necessarily know if they actually connect the dots to it being like Detroit. So that’s kinda my point of, it’s not so much maybe that the music hasn’t permeated, but that the message that that was a Detroit Sound may be lost on some people.
Gholz: Yeah. Why wouldn’t we be able to, as you’re driving in om I-94, it says, welcome to Detroit. It says home of Super Bowl 40. And I’m like, why not the home of funk?
Thornton: Or the home of, you know, techno or even the home of Motown.
Gholz: God bless Super Bowl 40. I don’t want to go there.
Thornton: No fuck Super Bowl 40. I mean what did that do for Detroit? Except we put good smoke. It showed how Detroit is really resilient at doing smoke and mirrors. I mean, you know what I’m saying? We’re good at doing fire and smoke, smoke and fire.
Gholz: And we also tore down one of the Motown buildings when the Super Bowl happened.
Thornton: Yeah, I mean I think in a weird kind of way it helped, like the one benefit of it is that it helped galvanize people I think and make it, it was a push to not embarrass us, you know what I’m saying? So it was like, “Oh now all of a sudden we’ve got some money to tear down this, we’ve got some money to fix a road here and we’ve got some money to do some, some cosmetic, you know, improvements if somebody feeling exactly like that.”
Hood: It’s like we got people coming over, let’s clean up.
Thornton: Really, I don’t think it was, well like why is it getting credit when people roll into the city? I don’t understand. Well, of course
Gholz: If you come up with something more, you want to jump in here, Lauren, feel free.
Thornton: You guys wasn’t even in that shit.
Gholz: So normally I have a section where I ask some individual questions. Just sort of like an opportunity for either of you to talk about what you’re doing now. So Lauren Hood, what are you doing now?
Hood: Oh, I have a number of hats that I wear. Professionally, the one that pays me the most is my work at Loveland. So I work for a startup technology company where we’ve mapped out occupancy and condition info on every single parcel in the the city, entities like the Land Bank use that data to make their decisions about, demolition and rehab, nuisance abatement, things like that. Then I also have my own LLC, Deep Dive Detroit, where I facilitate dialogues and things that people don’t like to talk about, like race and privilege and new Detroit. I hate saying versus new Detroit, old Detroit. I don’t know. One of my friends described it as, “Oh, so you do conflict resolution?” Well, kind of, but I think I create a safe space for people to say the things that they wouldn’t normally say in each other’s presence and get people to a table together that wouldn’t normally ever be in the same space.
I feel like right now is a really scary time in Detroit where we need to be preserving our culture. So many things are changing really quickly and I just, I fear that we’ll become Anytown, USA. It’s like we want everything to be shiny and new but shiny and new lacks character a lot of the time.
Hood: What other hats do I wear? I also serve on the Historic District Commission and on the board of Preservation Detroit. Not necessarily because I love architecture. I feel like right now is a really scary time in Detroit where we need to be preserving our culture. So many things are changing really quickly and I just, I fear that we’ll become Anytown, USA. It’s like we want everything to be shiny and new but shiny and new lacks character a lot of the time. So I kind of want to fit in wherever I can trying to preserve our Detroit-edness, whatever that means.
Gholz: That’s a lot. The Historic District Commission. Can you say a little bit more, have you gone to many meetings? Can you just talk a little bit more about that?
Hood: Well, I’ve served on the commission for three months and I’ve been to every meeting since I’ve been a commissioner.
Gholz: There you go! Excellent. Attendance is really important.
Hood: Oh yeah. Well I think it’s like a huge responsibility, I would never accept that and then not show up. And I think that’s why I got asked to fill a position for a person that wasn’t showing up and it wasn’t I don’t know. I’m pretty vocal, and sometimes, yeah, sometimes I’m worried that am I going to get kicked off? Cause you know, I don’t really agree with a lot of the things that happened in there, but I feel like they just, they wanted somebody who cared enough to risk it in that way.
Gholz: Can you just say just a little bit about what you’ve been doing in terms, I don’t know if you’re ready to talk about it. So I’ll like, in terms of Cass Corridor stuff, could you just say a little bit about that?
Hood: The oral history?
Gholz: Yeah, whatever you want to say about it.
Hood: So yeah, I kind of came up with the idea of recording some oral histories and attaching them to our parcel map at Loveland. So we’ve got that condition info and that occupancy info photos really just, you know, dry numbers. You don’t really look at that and like get a feel for what a neighborhood is like. I’m like, maybe we need to attach some stories to this and get some people talking about the places they live in. I hate using words like “placemaking,” but I feel like oral history is kind of a way to let you know what a place is. So we’ve been collecting stories and I thought Cass Corridor would be a good place to start because this is like the center of all the change that is happening in particular with the arena development. So the first oral history that we collected was from the Comet Bar and we went there on its last day.
Hood: We were like, “Oh my God, the Comet Bar’s closing. We should get over there and talk to the owner!” So we did that. That was the first one. We’re trying to edit one right now for the Park and Eddystone Hotels because the Park is in danger of being demolished with the new arena development. So it’s an advocacy issue for Preservation Detroit. We really want to get that oral history recorded so we can start circulating it and get people to rally around its preservation. The Eddystone, not super endangered cause it’s right across the street from where the development boundary ends. But yeah, we’re trying to get that out as soon as possible.
Gholz: Can I, I’ll switch to get Adriel back in the conversation here. I do want to hear about what you’re doing now, but to segue, you’ve been in the Cass Corridor for a number of years. You’ve written Down in the Alley you’ve lived in the Corridor at different times. You’ve had businesses in the Corridor. What’s the Cass Corridor say anything you want about the Cass Corridor or what it means to you and your understanding of the city?
Thornton: I mean, you know the Corridor’s cool. [laughs]
Gholz: Or not?
Hood: You mean Midtown?
Thornton: Right? Right. I’m not familiar with this Cass Corridor. What do you mean? I think that the Corridor is cool
Thornton: And I really do mean that. Like historically has been, but when I popped on the set, you know it was A) still called the Cass Corridor by everybody. And it was everything you could think of funky in the best way. But, you know, it had its dark side too. And I, you know, for me that always . . . I’ve really always had sort of an appreciation for all of that because it’s like, I think every city needs, this is going to sound really strange. I think every city needs dirt,
Hood: A seedy underbelly?
Thornton: A seedy underbelly, you know, it’s just like, you know, New York hasn’t been the same since they started cleaning up the meatpacking district to me. You know what I’m saying? Like that was where if you want it to get dirty, you could. And I think that serves a purpose though, in a major city. You know, I mean, good or bad, I feel like it serves a purpose. And it’s one of those things that when you think of like living in a city, I don’t want to live in a suburb. I want to live in a city. So I don’t want everything to be clean and sterile and docile. You know what I’m saying?
Thornton: I want things to be like a good mix of all of the above and there’s gotta be some sort of like dirt in the mix there. And I think that the Corridor for a long time served that purpose at least when again, from the time I popped on and was aware of things. With that being said, living in that area like and it extended up, you know, the Corridor included sort of like the South Wayne State area. Was that to me was sort of like the artistic hub of the city. Like you could, you could go there and the people you ran across, 9 times out of 10, they were an artist or they were involved in some sort of art. They were creative. Creative. Yeah. They were creative in some way. I mean, sure, they might have been heroin addicts, but they were in a hot band. [laughs]
Hood: It’s funny cause it’s true, it’s funny cause it’s true.
You had the freedom to go places and listen to what you wanted to hear and you had these different scenes, but you still had, there was like a group of people that were connected to all of them and it was in the Corridor, you know what I’m saying? Like I first experienced that. It was like, you had the Red Door and that was the default after hours for everybody, you know, black, white, you know, boy, girl, gay, straight, you know, professional, you know, drug dealer all ceased to matter. You know what I’m saying? Because it was just like this group of people who were hip enough to have heard about this place, who ended up there, you know? So to me that was beautiful.
Thornton: No, it’s funny though, but it’s true. You know what I’m saying? But that like that area is where I really first found that whole, what Lauren was talking about earlier about having that sort of, you know, you could, you had the freedom to go places and listen to what you wanted to hear and you had these different scenes, but you still had, there was like a group of people that were connected to all of them and it was in the Corridor, you know what I’m saying? Like I first experienced that. It was like, so yeah, you had the Red Door and that was the default after hours for everybody, you know, and you know, so and it, and black, white, you know, boy, girl, gay, straight, you know, professional, you know, drug dealer all ceased to matter. You know what I’m saying? Because it was just like this group of people who were hip enough to have heard about this place, who ended up there, you know? So to me that was like beautiful. That was sort of like the Corridor in a weird kind of way,
to me it was sort of like the definition of King’s dream, you know? And it was, it was so beyond, we were beyond like the human machinations of hate, like race, and socio-economic statuses and things like that. It was like if you were cool enough to hang out down there, you were already in the mix. Yeah. You didn’t have to subscribe to a certain way of being in order to be in the mix. And I mean, I’ve met some of the most creative people in my life in the Cass Corridor.
Gholz: It reminds me too when you said about the Dr. King’s dream I was thinking of at the end of his life working with garbage workers and trying to get union rights for garbage workers and he didn’t mind getting dirty as well.
Thornton: You know, I think really being in an area, you, the other one of the greatest lessons I learned from it was that, to an extent empathy for other people and being able to feel their scenario, not blaming someone for being in a certain position. You know, we all come from where we come from and there’s, I think one of the things that we’d like to do in this country is if someone doesn’t have the right job or the right look we blame them for not living up to our standards.
Hood: I feel like we didn’t use to, here in particular she talk about, yeah, yeah.
Thornton: In general. But being in the Cass Corridor part of Detroit’s underground creative community is where I really learned to not do that and to empathize with people. And to actually realize that, wait a minute, this isn’t their fault. You know, this isn’t some problem they have. You know, these are just people being people, and you know, a way that taught me that I could also be free to be whoever Adriel was.
Hood: And evolve and change and like this one day and not the next day just because nobody judged you. Yeah.
Thornton: Right, Cause I felt like
Hood: I miss that feeling going over there and being like, yeah, I’m with the cool kids. It feels, it feels a little different.
Thornton: Well I think the defin like comparing it to today, I feel like the foundation of that is what, let me say this, the echoes of that are still there. It’s just that like in a weird kind of way, the definition of what’s cool has changed, there like in the Corridor. And you’ve got, the interesting thing is that like, if we were bike riding down Cass, at two in the morning, which we used to do, just because we were kids and we were just like, let’s go for a bike ride, our imagination would go wild because it was so underpopulated and things weren’t open. But there were quite a few things that were open and served. Again, it served a purpose. I remember a certain building where after two o’clock you could knock on the window, you’d have to go up the steps on the front porch and you had to knock on a certain window and you had to do it a certain amount of times and then you could buy a 40. And that’s all you could buy. That’s all you could buy were 40s.
Thornton: So that was the go-to spot after 2. You never went in, you never went in. But that was, yeah,
There were others.
Yeah, there were other spots,
Where you could get other things
Thornton: but I’m not saying but that was, that was because that literally was on Cass. And that was if you absolutely needed a 40 after 2. That was the after hours, 40 spot. And it was so specific.
Hood: When you absolutely need a 40, after 2.
Gholz: Adriel. Dear Adriel. What are you, what are you, what are you doing now? And give us, what is Adrial doing now?
Thornton: Day job wise, I do corporate marketing for a venue in Detroit which is in the heart of the city. But I’ve, I still do event production. And sometimes that’s event support for other events like doing street marketing and things like that for them. And other times that means actually producing these sort of bigger events that happen in Detroit. In addition to like still doing my smaller club stuff. And, I’ve really shifted into doing a lot of, like more of the PR marketing stuff and really growing my business that way. So that’s what, you know, I’m still very much in the mix.
Gholz: How’s the night at Menjo’s going?
Thornton: It’s going actually fairly well. We just did it.
Thornton: I just had a party there, Saturday, Fierce Hot Mess was there. And I had Steve Mizek from Chicago complain and that was really, that was fun. A lot of fun. And I do a Thursday night there, which is a weekly. And so that’s actually going really well. And I mean obviously it’s kind of new at this point. I think we’re five, maybe this Thursday, which we aren’t doing. Cause it’s Christmas. I think we’ll be like the sixth week. And it’s been pretty, pretty strong and pretty consistent so far. So, you know, I love to continue to do, we all evolve and grow, but I also, I think at the heart of it, like one of the reasons I got into promoting or event production in the first place is, having the ability to share what I liked with other people. And so, it’s odd because I feel like,
Gholz: But that’s what Facebook is for, Adriel.
Thornton: Facebook is not real. It’s not real. Can we just put that on the record? I get as a promoter, I love it. I wish that I had something like a Facebook,
Hood: My Facebook persona is amazing.
Thornton: Like back in the day, you know what I’m saying? Because that would have made promoting a hell of a lot easier. You know, we wouldn’t have had to make a bunch of flyers, we wouldn’t have had to go places, you know? Yeah. We would have saved a ton of money and time, et cetera, et cetera. But yeah that shit is not real. And I wish people would stop acting like it was. Like, I’ve literally, I’m sure you’ve had this happen too, where people have like, you know, called you out because of
Hood: OMG all the time. There’s one in particular.
Thornton: Actually we’re going through something right now.
Hood: Cause that’s what he wants. Right?
Thornton: I’m not giving, I’m not giving him, I’m not giving him that stuff, but we’re actually experiencing something right now where I shared something to Lauren’s page because I was like
Hood: 30 comments deep now.
Thornton: did you, I was like, did you see this person we have in common wrote, right? So I’m posting it to her page to see, because it was the link to the actual article and now it’s very of course it’s very dramatic. You know,
Hood: They’re like 30 comments deep now.
Thornton: Like people like 30 comments deep, he’s in a tizzy about it. And trying to egg us into like this battle and like, our whole thing is like, wait a minute, this isn’t real. It’s like not real, you know?
Gholz: Why Menjo’s? I want to hear more about the club!
Thornton: Yeah. It’s been around forever. It’s a great room like, right. Well because Menjo’s is a historic venue. We had stopped doing Fierce Hot Mess, we had put it on hiatus for a little while and Andrew, who’s one of the residents of Fierce Hot Mess had been approached by the new team at Menjo’s to do that. They were interested in having them DJ something or another. And he actually brought the idea of doing a Fierce Hot Mess there to me. And well, after I met them, and talk with them, I really kind of liked the idea that they have for the venue. They really are interested in making it an all-inclusive venue. And they to that point, they cannot charge a cover when you do an event in Menjo’s, they won’t allow it. Because they feel that that is a restriction that’s a barrier to people being able to come in who just want to get down, you know?
Thornton: Yeah. I’m not even kidding. And so like hearing, you know, hearing, obviously as a promoter, I’m like, the mechanism that I usually use in order to pay for everything is the door. And they were just like, well we counter that with you, get, we’ll just pay you outright, you know, up to a certain amount. You know what I’m saying? It’s not like it would be at a super club, but it’s worth it to me to be able to say to the potential attendees of an event that there is no cover. You can come here for free. Like there’s no barrier, there’s no restriction. And I mean, I would love to do that with everything, but again, the mechanism that I usually have to use is a cover, cause everybody’s got to get paid. So, that is one of the reasons why Menjo’s I mean in addition like the sound system they have there is arguably one of the best in the city. It’s insane.
Gholz: Let’s talk about this cover thing. Cause you know, Cincinnati has historically alone in the downtown quarter, a no cover policy for live shows. You can walk from venue to venue in the downtown area even if they have musical events. It’s just different way of doing things, it’s a different way. You’d have to think it through.
Thornton: I do have a comment about that. So for the most part, like I love the idea of being able to do that. There is a flip side to that though. And that is that anybody can come. [laughs] And by that I mean that sometimes people who aren’t necessarily, people who pay a cover a lot of times to an event really want to be there. And maybe they’re buying into your aesthetic, like, as a promoter, I name my parties and I have logos for them and I have a certain aesthetic that I create for them. So maybe they’re buying into that. Maybe they’re buying into the special DJ and maybe they’re buying into the venue, but they want to be there. And it sort of sets the tone from sort of the beginning.
When you’re dealing with a group of people who really want to be there it’s different the kind of vibe that they’re bringing to the table in the first place. When you do things, here’s the danger of doing things for free, is that people have no skin in the game at that point, other than maybe the time it took to get there.
Thornton: Maybe the gas they spent, but realistically they have no skin in the game of what’s actually happening there. So they might be into what it is that you’re doing, but then you might have some people who, were just floating down the street and heard a beat. And what you hope happens is that they get into what it is that you have there, but sometimes they don’t. And that can be a little problematic. And the other danger with that is that with no skin in the game, I feel like people need it to be hot a lot earlier than it should be. Because, if it’s not, when they walked in, again, they have no skin in the game. So it means nothing for them to turn around and be like, “Oh, let’s go check something else out. You know, because this isn’t hot yet,” you know, and you could say, “Hey, it’s only 10:30”
Thornton: As much as you want. But again, there’s nothing to keep, there’s no incentive for them to stay there, you know, at that point. And you know, there are pros and cons of both, and so I can’t even imagine like in a Cincy, like that, you know, I mean, I at the same time, I guess that must encourage everybody to have their games super stepped up like at the beginning.
Gholz: You gotta be swinging!
Gholz: So this is our final question of the evening. We’re going to go, we’re getting to the end here, in both of you and we’ll get Lauren here cause Adriel’s been talking a little too much here.
Hood: He’s a talker!
Gholz: Not too much. You know what I mean? What should the DSC give us some of this, give us some advice. What should the DSC be concentrating most in the coming years? You know, we’re young, we’re only two years old. I just got back to the city, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But, you know, we need some advice. We need some ideas, we need some direction. What would you want us to be doing?
Hood: Ah, that’s an interesting question. Let me think. Preserve as much as you can through recordings. I feel like there are so many amazing shows that I’ve seen in this town and there’s no record of it anywhere. There’s just, you know, me saying I was there other people saying they were there and that was awesome. I don’t know. I wish you could somehow get video footage of things so that people could feel what it felt like to be at St. Andrew’s at certain points in time or to be in The Majestic at certain points in time or just to, to be in those warehouses we were at. I guess you can’t, I wish you could, could go back and capture those because those were magical, mystical times when you didn’t know what you were walking into and you’re like, “holy shit, we didn’t know that.
Chasing that feeling
Hood: It wouldn’t be like that again.” I feel like going to things now is, going, going to musical performances now feels a lot different than it used to feel and I wish there was some way to capture that magical mysticalness of what it used to be. Maybe cause we didn’t build it up before. We’re just like, “Hey, I’m going to go check this thing out. And it was awesome,” but it was always kind of awesome. But then now when I go to shows like that, I’m just, I’m trying to, I’m chasing that feeling that I used to get going to see live music and I haven’t felt it in a really long time. I can’t even remember in recent history how the Adriel did call me out on my Afghan Whigs. So there was an Afghan Whigs show a few months ago in Chicago that was kind of amazing. But that’s just cause me and that band have a thing. I don’t know what it is. I just love them. But there’s something about, I don’t know, that lack of judgment, that kind of lack of barriers. Like we were all there and we all loved it. And I don’t know, I just wish there was a way to recapture what it used to feel like. Can you work on that? Can you work on bringing the magic back?
Gholz: We will work on that. We will work on that. We will work on that.
Thornton: There are glimpses of it. I mean, I think like really a fun time I had actually was with you.
Hood: Where were we at?
Thornton: We went to see Van Hunt and Amp in Chicago. I know, I know. But what’s the question?
Thornton: What should the Sound Conservancy be working on?
Oh, I really do think that like, I mean I’ve been watching what you’re doing and obviously, you know, sometimes involved, sometimes not, but I feel like what you guys are doing is like what you should be doing. I don’t really have any advice for you. I think you’re doing it, you know, I think you’re, you’re doing the most important thing, which is if you want to talk about something that I wish I had done from earlier, is I wish I done a better job of documenting,
Thornton: you know, I really do.
Hood: But we didn’t have phones with cameras and …
Thornton: well, not only that though, but I also, I, you know, it wasn’t like we, I think we were just doing what we were doing and not necessarily thinking that like this, like, you know, 20 years from now this is going to be, you know, really hot, you know, to like look back on or whatever or that this was going to become a thing.
Thornton: Or be significant. It was just a party at the time, you know? And I really, and these were just our friends who were DJing or these are just our friends who were like on stage performing or these were just, you know, it was like people we knew and even when it became people we didn’t know it was still like, it was just, we were all part of that community anyway, so it didn’t feel like, anything was epic.
Hood: Did we think it would just keep going?
Thornton: Yeah. Probably, you know, I wish that we had done a better job of documenting. I really do. What? I don’t even have all, I don’t have every flyer that I have for every party that I’ve done. I don’t even have that, you know, and I wish that, like I was there documenting it and talking about, and you know, for my own sake. So I think that that’s probably, to me one of the most important things that you all are doing is really sort of reaching back and in a weird kind of way, you’re kind of looking through a, not a crystal ball but maybe like a time machine and, and you’re doing the documenting that we should have been doing at that point, obviously from a historical point of view, but, I think that’s a really important thing that you guys are doing.
Thornton: And I would just say that, well, maybe there is advice and that’s to, to maybe figure out a mechanism or encourage people to actually do that now for, you know, to sort of make them realize that they’re part of this continuum and they’re part of the stream and that they shouldn’t necessarily look at it as disposable as we did. You know? And, sort of just even, even if you don’t think it’s anything to just document it. Yeah. Take some pictures, I think, which people are doing now because of social media, but still, you know,
Hood: Maybe that’s another piece of what you can do to elaborate, connect the dots, connect the timeline, make the people that are doing that documentation work now, connect to the past and connect to what’s going to happen in the future. Just tie it all together so people see as part of a bigger thing.
Gholz: So magic and an intergenerational connection. We’ll work on that.
Hood: I miss the magic.
Thornton: Surely we know some Wiccans.
Gholz: Adrial and Lauren, thank you so much for coming and talking tonight, thank you both.
Thornton: Thank you!