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Photograph by Sara Sanger

Angst for the Memories: Josh Staples can actually smile, and does so often, particularly when a free lunch is in the offing.

Rock 'n' Taco

Taking Josh Staples out to lunch

By Sara Bir

Have you ever noticed that about 75 percent of star interviews appearing in mainstream press outlets mention whatever the famous person happens to be eating by the third paragraph? "'I had to go on a macrobiotic diet to fit into the latex lion-wrestling suit I wore during the filming of Charlie's Angel's III,' says Cameron Diaz, gingerly sifting through a pressed sea vegetable salad at Rayon, the trendy new L.A. eatery that she and Justin Timberlake recently opened together. 'But I absolutely can't live without chocolate! I eat half a gram a day.'"

There will be no such tomfoolery here. Having lunch with musician, graphic artist and man about town Josh Staples is hardly such a namby-pamby affair, and this is no mainstream press outlet. "I'd rather have shows every night than sit around a computer," Staples says as he nibbles two unassuming and possibly healthful vegetarian tacos at Santa Rosa's Mazatlan.

It's the type of eatery where you wouldn't expect to see a bona fide rock star noshing tacos on a late weekday afternoon. Staples, however, is not a bona fide rock star; he is way too nice, and will undoubtedly remain so, no matter how big his two very active bands--the punkishly terse New Trust or lavishly balladeering Velvet Teen--become.

Rubbing elbows with such pleasant company is, in this instance, not a privilege reserved only for upper-echelon journalists such as myself. Now, thanks to the wonder of the Internet, mere mortals can also dine with polite and cordial homegrown rock royalty. All you need do is visit www.joshstaples.com and peruse the "Take Josh Staples Out to Lunch!" offer, in which Staples proclaims, "Marvel at the rich tales of debauchery and danger that Josh is weaving--live before your very eyes! . . . You see, the rock and roll lifestyle has left Josh Staples and many more like him without some minor privileges you may take for granted--like money or food--so really, you'd be doing the art world a service."

"I kind of put it on there as a joke, but I figured someone's going to have to do it," Josh admits. Has this mad scheme actually worked? Oh, yes. And yours truly is not the first kind soul to take Josh Staples out to lunch. "This would be the third," he says, "but I flaked on one. It was very bad of me. There were these two girls who were supposed to take me to La Bufa, but it was the day before I was going on tour, and I had so much to do. My bad. It won't happen again."

Damn straight it won't happen again, buster, because like any faithful starving musician, Josh understands that there is indeed such a thing as a free lunch. And before you start to get too many ideas, note that I have already looked on Beck's and Thurston Moore's websites, where no such comparable offers exist.

Let us pretend, however, that you could go to lunch with any ol' rock musician you please. Why choose Staples? In my experience, there are plenty of very personable folks in crappy bands and plenty of jerky assholes in great bands. But with Josh, you not only get the best of both worlds, you're able to hang out with a portion of two fine bands simultaneously.

At Mazatlan, I opt for a Negra Modelo, but Josh, in a very un-rock-star maneuver, kindly declines the tipple. He's taking a break from recording vocals with Velvet Teen frontman Judah Nagler for the band's upcoming string-laden Elysium mini-LP, which should be out sometime this summer. In between playing shows with both bands, Josh will record an LP with the New Trust, also due out sometime this year. Phew! How does this guy stay sane?

In all likelihood we can thank his wife, Sara Sanger, who plays in the New Trust as well. If getting along with a band is really like being married to four people at once, you might as well actually be married to one of them, right? And she does not object to her husband's dining with total strangers--one of which could be you. Friend, you can't afford not to.

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From the March 24-31, 2004 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.

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