So, A Little Bird Told Me: A Completely Rocking/Completely Worthless Interview

Source: San Diego Union Tribune
Date: September 2nd, 2000
Author: Adam Gnade

(The completely uncensored/uncut version of Calculator Man & Hangar's interview with Adam Gnade of the San Diego Union Tribune)

Q: So, what is this Calculator Man and Hangar, Plastiq Phantom, Snodgrass, Project Trapezoid business? Who's who and what's what, etc etc.

Basically, Calculator Man & Hangar is like a Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich, where Plastiq Phantom (Calculator Man) is the Jelly (sweet, gooey, shiney), and The Snodgrass (Hangar) is the Peanut Butter (ugly, chunky, sticky). We've been buddies forever, and kinda got into music together, and we were doing our own things for a while. He grew up down here, but moved to Seattle like 4 years ago I think. Calculator Man is like Jelly cause he does all the pretty stuff, melodious stuff, pleasant to the ears, etc.. Hangar is the Peanut Butter cause he does all the abrasive, ugly, noisy shit. I'm a punk rocker at heart, so that's where that comes from. As for Project Trapezoid, sorry, but I can't reveal any of that information. Other related projects we have going on are Coop Dinger, Seth McSorley, and various other things which have not yet come to fruition.

Calculator Man:
Calculator man and Hangar = plastiq phantom (refered to as qp from now on, the snodgrass, and "and". (imputor?) plastiq phantom = me, calculator man, (currently signed to Sweet Mother Recordings. the snodgrass = hangar (imputor?). codename trapezoid = qp, the snodgrass, halicon, and diagram of suburban chaos (dosc). (halicon, and dosc, are on mine and jordan's label, imputor?)

Q: Secret code names: completely rocking or completely worthless?

No one gives a fuck who i am in real life, so code names are definately completely rocking.

Calculator Man:
worthless if you are rocking, and rocking if you are worthless.

Q: So, a little bird told me you have a really interesting way of recording this stuff. (Supposedly via 24-track recorders with Steve Albini foreseeing and injecting you with hourly doses of Diet Mt. Dew and liquid crack.) What's the deal?

Calculator Man:
there is no set way, me and hangar record our calculator man stuff, he'll send me samples., and i'll sequence them, then he'll add drums, and i'll cut them to shit, and then he'll cut mine to shit, and at some point we'll decide we have a done song. oh yeah, and we send out tracks over the fires 1058 miles each direction... that way i never have to see the asshole.

Fuck diet, I want the real deal. And not with Albini, we work exlusively with George Martin. Anyway, after Plastiq Phantom moved up to Seattle we corresponded over the internet with email, chat, ICQ, etc.. he would always send me tracks to check out, and vice versa, when we realized why not just try combining our stuff together? So that's how that started. Our first song, "Rob1.4 Is Our Droid" began as a simple bunch of cool samples I sent up to Plastiq Phantom. They were things like my roommate playing violin, my answering machine feeding back, my phone ringing through a wah, things like that. He cut them to shit, moved stuff around, added things, re-sequenced it, then sent it back to me. Then I did the same and sent it back. We do that 3 or 4 times and by the end we (hopefully) have a decent song. A few songs were actually done together in real time while we're visiting each other. "Call It Like Something" is both of us playing the same guitar at the same time. That's how close we are, we only need 1 guitar for the both of us.

Q: how does that work? (the guitar thing)

well i sat there strumming the chords, and all the while calculator man was sitting there pressing down the strings high up on the fretboard for the solo effect. that's how that song sounds so tight, our strums are literally exactly in synch, cause it's really just 1, the same strum. it actually only took a couple takes to get right, it was almost like an improv stream of consciousness thing. we wouldn't be able to play it the same way again. it was recorded on one of my trips up to seattle, at like 3AM when i had a plane to catch at like 7AM. the drums are ghetto, basically us pounding on cardboard boxes, using typewriters, shaking mariachi shakers, and cans of coins.

Q: Talk about some of the equipment you use.

First off, I'm a PC guy, currently running Win98 (though I'd be running Linux or Win2000 if they had drivers for my soundcard). The majority of the Hangar's parts are all software driven, but my non-CalcuHang solo stuff I like to throw in a lot of guitar & punk rock influences over the computer stuff. I have a DMAN 2044 4-in/out soundcard, and I record all my guitar & crap through a Mackie 1202VLZ mixer straight into the DMAN via Sonic Foundry SoundForge. For beats and crap I use FruityLoops and this freeware project called Buzz. It's basically like a full room of studio equipment in one nice software package. Saves a lot of space. You can build custom machines and routing paths on the fly. Same with Reaktor, that's a nice synth program. I don't know shit about MIDI or external samplers, so everything I do is all software based. Now all I need is a laptop so I can do stuff live w/o having to move my whole studio on stage. My next purchase is going to be a Layla card. I think Calculator Man's parts are all the opposite, he doesn't use any software, it's all real life analog synths & stuff. It's like every day he tells me he got this new piece of equipment from the 70s.

Calculator Man:
i have an 8" dildo, and a 9" dual shock mounted vibrator, and 16 ass beads, and some samplers, and some syntheseisers, and some analog keyboards, and if you really want specifics you have to talk to my ass beads first.

Q: The national indie-rock scene: completely rocking or completely worthless?

Calculator Man:
i hate hipster indie to hangar about indie rock...

I fucking love and adore most of the music, and there's a few gems of wonderful people in it, but as for the scene in general, I'll let my forthcoming album's title do the talking: "It Takes A Nation of Indie Rockers to Hold Me Back."

Q: the Internet, completely rocking or completely worthless?

Completely rocking, for sure, considering that Calculator Man & Hangar would not exist without it. And the fact that I make a living off of it. But it's definately scary too, with all this Carnivore FBI bullshit that's going down. So many privacy issues that are really scary.. I see this potentially beautiful thing about to be anally raped by governments and corporations and it brings a tear to my eye. And as far as the Internet bringing the Record Industry down, as the prophet Speedo said, "killin ain't wrong."

Calculator Man:
kicks ass for the lord.

Q: if your music were a dead American celebrity, who would it be?

Paul McCartney.

Calculator Man:
John Crapper.

Q: the guy that invented the toilet?

Calculator Man:

Q: Word association, part I:
  1. Math rock
  2. Modest Mouse
  3. bottled water
  4. Rodger Hedgecock
  5. Happy Meals
  6. freeway 5


  1. Math brought my GPA down in college, dude
  2. The drummer got a Pinback bootleg from me, and I DJ'd with him once at Calculator Man's house. He kicked my ass.
  3. Fuck bottled water. Tap rules.
  4. The Locust.
  5. Hamburgler. That guy was a bad ass motherfucker.
  6. Del Mar

Calculator Man:

  1. don't get it.
  2. two cool guys who love our records, and that singer guy.
  3. refreshing.
  4. ?
  5. mariah carey.
  6. takes you from san diego to seattle, 1058 miles apart, we are.

Q: so, a little bird told me that if you play yr CD along with Jim Cameron's blockbuster megamoneymachine "Titanic," it provides a perfect soundtrack that culminates with Leonard DiCaprio saying, "I really, really like potassium" into Kate whats-her-names chubby ear. True?

Calculator Man:
we stayed at leonardo decaprio's hotel in hollywood, and the fucking waitresses wouldn't fucking serve us martini's we are fucking rock stars staying at a rock star hotel, and they ignore us like roadies... fuck the standard!!! that hotel is like motel 6 with a cheap ikea makeover! Hey LEO!! Your worthless piece of shit fufu hotel that can sucka my cocka leo bitch ass cheesehead fucking slut bagging cockless slinging dildo head trout slapping asslicking velcro masturbator.

Q: Were there, like, glowing glamour shots of Leo all over the place?

Calculator Man:
no, Leo, owns half of the hotel and stuff... they have a semi nude chick in a big fish tank behind the reception area... hangar and I kept on throughing 20 dollar bills into the tank, and asking her to take it all off... obviously "and" didn't say anything to her, and then me and hangar went and ordered some martinis, only to come back to our room and find "and" getting it on with her... he is such a slut, and gets all our women. he just is.

Q: San Diego music scene, completely rocking or completely worthless ? Who do you like? (Love? Hate? Lust after? Or just plain want gone?) And what's the deal with the Rob Crow sample (on track 14 of the snodgrass)

Always completely rocking. My favorite bands from SD are definately Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Nirvana. Who is Rob Crow?

Calculator Man:
I don't know much about san diego anymore.

Q: How long ago did you move?

Calculator Man:
like 4 years ago.

Q: Explain yr sound in culinary terms. If you don't know any culinary terms, how 'bout explaining yr music in .... fishing terms? Third choice: dancing terms.

How bout all 3?
cullinary terms: We are that tossed salad they sell at McDonalds where you just put a whole bunch of pieces in the cup, shake it up, then eat it. That and the moment when the salsa from El Indio squirts out your asshole the next day. That pretty much describes our music.
Fishing terms: when 2 peoples' lines get tangled but they still catch a big ass 400 pound fish.
dancing terms: david byrne

Q: The modern 'zine world: completely rocking or completely worthless?

Fuck zines. They're a way for the authors/contributers to quench their needs/desires to feel important. They all review the same records with the same pretentious pessimism. I think I'm gonna start a zine that only reviews other zines. There will be 2 ratings, "this fucking sucks" and "this is the best fucking zine ever."

Calculator Man:
everybody has a record label, everybody has a zine... 99 % of everything sucks... but the closest thing to a zine that i think is cool is the T-inator... just go read your favorite or least favorite online zine through it, and it makes it much better.

Q: so, a little bird told me that you guys play Buffalo Joe's in the Gaslamp every other college night. What are yr feelings on pink hot pants, doing spirited covers of "the Thong Song" and downing jello shooters?

Yeah we're down with the Disco Pimps. Calculator Man even has an official Disco Pimp Fro. If only I was suave enough to get some of that action...

Calculator Man:
We love bitches and sluts, exp in pink pants, and sometimes hangar likes to wear pink pants.

Q: If you could use yr music to kill anyone (living or dead), who would it be?

Paul McCartney

Calculator Man:
spock, and the entire startrek fleet.

Q: Pinback: completely rocking or completely worthless?

Completely Rocking to the nth power + 1. They're pretty much the only band around these days that can completely drop my jaw.

Calculator Man:
dunno, somebody gave them 40 grand this year, they might be OK.

Q: Who, a record company?

Calculator Man:
i think for tour support.

Q: Y'all got some interesting samples. I heard a little Public Enemy; there was a couple kids talking about sex, a church organ (which made me rill sick to my stomach for some reason) and a toilet flushing, etc. How do you go about gathering it? Field recordings?

Calculator Man:
man fucking hangar, the penis song isn't supposed to even be out yet... pssh what a wanker... we grab all our samples from running around with a porta dat, and we also freely accept samples from anyone willing to give them to us, hence hey janice.

You can't make sample based music w/o using some public enemy.. to not would be blasphemy. as for the toilet flushing, that was me taking a piss at doheney state beach. we take our dats everywhere we go, like camping, to disneyland, in the la riots, things like that. we even got our picture with fred dirst in the la riots, but he wouldn't let us interview him.

Q: Modern, mainstream, electronic music: completely rocking or completely worthless?

Please define "modern," "mainstream," and "electronic" ... but my hunch is that it's all rubbish. These days everything's mainstream. The only way to be underground is sit in front of your computer being a nerd, not having sex, and making noise with your electronics. That's the only way to be completely rocking these days.

Calculator Man:
worthless... you gotta get un mainstream to find the treasures, but even then it is starting to get real hard to find good stuff.

Q: Like what?

Calculator Man:
planet Mu stuff like jega. squarepusher, Luke vibert, and Aphex (is he mainstream?), and mike paradinas' stuff like kid spatula kick ass also.

Q: Word association part II:
  1. Aphex Twin
  2. the Locust
  3. Rocket from the C.
  4. Mark Mothersbaugh
  5. che cafe
  6. Trummerflora
  7. ravers
  8. Mary J. Blige
  9. Guru Guru
  10. Lou Reed
  11. punk rock
  12. the Beautiful Mutants
  13. emo

Calculator Man:

  1. See URB, July August Issue, page 112 i think.
  2. fabulous.
  3. huh?
  4. over him.
  5. never been there.
  6. no fucking clue.
  7. complete waste of space.
  8. see above answer.
  9. boutros butros
  10. blue in the face
  11. crusty
  12. i'm so emo, i killed myself, and wrote a song about it.


  1. :)
  2. Roger Hedgecock
  3. and my leg.
  4. Red Pots
  5. As much as I love it, they wouldn't book Plastiq Phantom for a show, so...
  6. Zu Casa es Mi Casa
  7. Chicks at raves always tell me my glowstick's not big enough.
  8. Love the 12" diameter earrings.
  9. Boutros Boutros
  10. Bananna
  11. Wesley Willis
  12. fuck the beautiful mutants.
  13. I prefer Om.

Q: finally, where can people pick up yr music? Besides the Virgin Megastore?

Lou's records or or Napster or the Ice Cream Man. And hopefully when my printer is working i'll make some more bootleg copies and take them to Off the Record and stuff. but that place's prices are way too inflated. They'd probably say it is an import and sell it for $25.

Calculator Man:
Pretty much any decent record store in seattle,, Lou's in San Diego, and when the plastiq phantom full length comes out - hopefully spring. it should be distributed nationwide, in Japan, New Zealand, Parts of Europe, and other places i forgot about.

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