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Beat Street
By Todd S. Inoue

[whitespace] Clay Parton Socket Man: Duster's Clay Parton goes looking for a creative outlet.



Dusting Up
Clay Parton talks about Duster

OPENING THE Apples in Stereo show at Palo Alto's Cubberley Community Center on Friday (Feb. 27) is local indie-pop group Duster. Seattle's Up Records released the band's great new album, Stratosphere, although Duster is a project spawned by San Jose's Astronavigation. Since February 1997, Astronavigation has issued raw, limited-edition tapes by Elevator to Hell, Song:Ohia, Moon Socket, Tardis Broadcast, Orange Glass, Orbit 3-5 and Valium Aggelein. No other local label or individual makes music the way Astronavigation does. Similarly, Duster's music is a challenging and cerebral blend of lo-fi and pop, a rare combination in the South Bay. Duster member and Astronavigation head Clay Parton is always busy but had time to respond to a couple email questions.

Beat Street: Bring me up to speed on Astronavigation.

Parton: Astronavigation is a company that manufactures all-analog audio products. We are now adding entirely new products which are not strictly audio; the visual element is now added to our system. The only conclusion I've made is that the biggest customers help to pay our operation costs but hardly reward us with direction for the future. We are not customer-driven when mapping our products. We, of course, appreciate the customers, but we are not in a meeting about improving sales or asking each other 'round the silvery, cold conference table: "What is it that kids want?"

Beat Street: Why did you decide to release Stratosphere on Up Records? What could they provide that your own network could not?

Parton: Up wanted to do a 7-inch, so we did that. Then they wanted to do a full-length, so we did that. No major battle plan involved.

Beat Street: What influenced you in the recording of Stratosphere?

Parton: Stratosphere spans over a year of recordings. It's mostly a large experiment made up of smaller supporting experiments.

Beat Street: What do you want to accomplish with the album? Do you expect it to sell well in this area?

Parton: It's just a record, not a job résumé. And I don't think it will sell any different here than London--except they pay with pounds.

Beat Street: What should folks expect at the show?

Parton: To be crammed in a room full of robots.

Funky Five

The Hi-Fives debuted a few new tracks at last Friday's Stanford show. Titles included "It Won't Take Much," "Cat and Comb," "She Makes Me Good" and "It Won't Happen to You." Do you believe that the word "funky" could be applied to a Hi-Fives song? It's true: "It Won't Happen to You" had a James Brown beat spanking away. The band goes in to record its follow-up to And a Whole Lotta You! in June.

Ska, Paper, Scissors

Mike Park's Ska Against Racism show is making a local stop at the Edge in Palo Alto on April Fool's Day. The lineup is huge: Less Than Jake, the Toasters, Five Iron Frenzy, MU330, Mustard Plug, Blue Meanies and Kemuri. Park will also be playing a few of his own songs as the show's opening act. ... A further conundrum for ska fans: Jamaica's legendary Skatalites perform in Santa Cruz at Palookaville on March 5, the same night that Slow Gherkin returns from its U.S. tour to play Campbell's Gaslighter Theater with Animal Chin and the Hippos. Hippos and Animals and Gherkins, oh my. ... Fat Wreck Chords artist Good Riddance celebrates its CD release on Sunday (March 1) at the Santa Cruz Vets Hall. A.F.I. and Ensign fill out the all-ages bill. Show starts at 6:30pm.

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From the February 26-March 4, 1998 issue of Metro.

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