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Courtesy Clerks get back to work.

Byline: Lewis Taylor The Register-Guard

Ever since Mark Rogers (guitar, vocals), Mike B. (bass) and Ron `Topof- you' Bullard (drums) came together in the University of Oregon dorms in 1998 and started playing house parties, the Courtesy Clerks steadily have climbed the ladder of the Eugene music scene.

The group was mentioned in a February issue of Rolling Stone magazine, and Eugene's favorite bag boys have shopped their new CD to major record labels ever since. A punk rock band with a healthy respect for 1970s metal, the Clerks have put out two albums: "Tales From the Vortex" and the fiery new release "Get Your Rocks Off."

In anticipation of the group's CD release party, we spoke with Mike B. (for Barnhill), who recently relocated to Eugene after a brief stint in Seattle.

Here's an edited transcript of the conversation:

Question: I hear you're shopping your new CD around. How's that going?

Answer: We've been getting a lot of good responses from different people, and we're just pushing it as hard as we can now. We're all getting so damn old that it's time to just push as hard as we can. We haven't sold our souls yet."

Question: `Cocksure, girl stealin' party rock?"

Answer: That's what Rolling Stone said.

Question: Is that a fair description?

Answer: Yeah.

Question: So that small story has attracted a lot of national interest in you guys?

Answer: Definitely. My take is that all the labels and people in the music biz have interns with nothing better to do than look through publications for anything they could try to exploit or capitalize on. ... Fine by me.

Question: How do you think your new record differs from your last one?

Answer: It's truer to our live show. It's definitely angrier and just more rockin' over all. We cut a lot of the bubble gum out.

Question: You recorded it at the Rat Nest studio. Why did you go there?

Answer: We have a lot of faith in our buddy JRat, who built it himself, and he's just a good friend of ours. We had a lot of faith that he knows what he's doing, and he gave us all the time in the world to finish it up. We didn't pay by the hour.

Question: Is it a home studio or a full studio?

Answer: It's a full studio, built in a mechanic garage space, and it's deluxe.

Question: You recorded your previous CD there?

Answer: We recorded it with him (JRat). He brought all of his portable equipment to my old basement and my bathroom and my garage, and we recorded in my old house, and he just followed us around from place to place.

Question: Why did you choose to do the new album in a proper studio?

Answer: Because he (JRat) finally had a space, and it felt more real than singing vocals in a shower. It just felt more pro, and it gave us extra motivation to really push it very hard.

Question: What did you do to get that live feel?

Answer: A lot of drinking. A lot of beers. And whenever one of us would go in to record, the others would go in and watch and encourage him. We were just there for each other.

Question: Was it a short recording process?

Answer: It took us forever. I think we spent at least seven months. We all were working and going to school. In whatever time we could (find), we tried to get it done.

Question: This is your fifth year together?

Answer: Yeah, I had this misconstrued idea that we'd all move to Seattle when I moved to Seattle, and it turned out to be a pain, so I came back. And Seattle's got too many scene- sters in it, anyway.

Question: Sounds like a hard place to make a go of it.

Answer: Definitely. Especially going from some place like Eugene where half the people in town we know from the bars and from classes, to (a place) where everybody has matching haircuts and stupid jackets.

Question: How has your fan base changed? It seems like you started off with a lot of students. Is that fair to say?

Answer: Yeah, it started out with like all our friends from the dorms. Just playing random parties and whatnot. I do think our fan base has gotten more, like, completely separated. There's a really young crowd that likes us and a crowd about my age, which is pretty damn old.

Question: How old are you?

Answer: 26. There really aren't any (fans) in between. The 19- to 23- year-olds aren't quite there. Most of them graduated and moved away. We have our loyal fans who come out to shows, and we have to be constantly trying to promote ourselves and find new people, because everyone keeps moving away.

Question: What's kept you guys here?

Answer: It's an easy city to be a slacker in. You can survive really well, and it's just a great city. The summers here are amazing, our friends are cool and there's so many good bands in this town.

Question: What bands do you like?

Answer: Some Cheap Christ, the Pass Out Kings, Hellenbacks, 2 Bucks Short. Chevron is probably my favorite band in the world right now. They're brilliant. I've known those kids since they were 18 years old. I remember seeing them put music to some film in some classroom back in my freshman year. They blew me away, and ever since then, I've just worshipped those guys. They're all virtuosos, and they write the best songs that anyone's writing these days.

Question: What's the future hold for you guys? Do you have a plan?

Answer: We're going to keep playing together, keep practicing and tightening up our live set, 'cause we sometimes let that go. We can't do that anymore. And just pushing the CD out to everyone we possibly can.

Question: How do you mean "let your live set go"?

Answer: When we don't practice enough. Our girlfriends or our jobs or all these other things take over our lives. We always have to kind of re-evaluate what do we want to be doing, and it always comes back to "the band." We just gotta push this thing as hard as we can and hopefully set up a tour for the end of the summer, and we need to buy a van.

Question: What are you touring in now?

Answer: We're using Ron's old-school VW bus that he pimped out back in high school, and it's too pristine to be taken on the road. Or Mark's Volvo or my Honda Civic.

Question: What kind of van are you going to get?

Answer: A cheap old one. Whatever we can afford.

Lewis Taylor can be reached at 338-2512 or


Courtesy Clerks' CD release party

With: Pass Out Kings, Joshua James & the Runaway Trains

When: 9:30 p.m. today

Where: WOW Hall, 291 W. Eighth Ave.

How much: $5 at the door

GuardLine: To hear music from the Courtesy Clerks' new album, `Get Your Rocks Off,' call GuardLine at 485-2000 from a touch-tone phone and request category 9943


The Courtesy Clerks take off in drummer Ron Bullard's VW bus, which the group uses to travel around the state for gigs. Clerks: Seattle experiment a real pain Continued from Page 9
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Title Annotation:Eugene's punk band hopes for big-label success with new CD; Entertainment
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:May 23, 2003
Previous Article:Music Briefly.
Next Article:Marley leaps out of dad's shadow.

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