May 10th, 2007 | Interviews

dan monick

DJs Michael Stock and Ben White started Part Time Punks as a living-room dance party and moved into the Echo two years ago with Sam Cooper to help them with cinematic visuals. They won awards for best club from various newspapers—L.A. RECORD was the first!

Did you ever set any ground rules for Part Time Punks?
Michael Stock: The ground rules were the unspoken universals that Ben and I can communicate nonverbally—which is ‘no irony.’
What is irony?
M: In L.A., it’s bad music. Bad music that people are supposed to think is ‘funny ha-ha’ and dance to.
Ben White: Like you’ll hear Young MC come on—‘Ha ha, I used to like this when I was a kid.’ Versus sincerity, where it’s something you really geek out on and enjoy and when it comes to sharing that… People are usually protective about what they’re sincere about, so they use the irony as cover.
Didn’t you once win a dance contest with a Michael Jackson routine?
B: That was in middle school—a talent show. A group choreographed thing that started with a Michael Jackson bit. Which was kind of tongue-in-cheek, and then it went into ‘Baby Got Back.’ So when I was 13, I guess I was guilty—but it wasn’t ironic then. Those were high times for Sir Mix-A-Lot.
Does either of you ever know what the other is going to play next?
M: I know his records and he knows mine—I more often describe us as a two-headed monster. Once in a while, we’ll pull the same record at the same time. Like Vivien Goldman—‘Launderette.’
B: I’ll hope he doesn’t grab some shitty Creation record that I’m not into. I love when he pulls something I wanna pull. Usually there’s good telepathy—you can tell who’s spinning.
What are your unsupervised default settings?
B: Lots of British DIY weird stuff—kind of sloppy and experimental.
Desperate Bicycles?
B: Yeah, and the Homosexuals, of course. As far as Michael, I’d say indie pop. I have no idea, really. But that’s where I think we’re coming from. He filled my gap with all the rad obscure C86 bands I didn’t know, and I turned him on to like the Door and the Window.
What are the best records you turned each other on to?
M: The first Raincoats album. That’s actually how we met.
Is this a sweet story?
M: It’s somewhat half-remembered in the vagaries of too much post-punk and spliffs—somehow the first Raincoats album was involved, and he was like, ‘I’ll burn it for you, man,’ and it was a touching man-man moment. And I think my response—I made him a mixtape, like you do to get laid. But it wasn’t to get laid—it was to make a serious permanent pairing. Ben’s answer better be My Bloody Valentine.
B: Maybe the first Go-Betweens record, Send Me A Lullaby. Not too fey or sweet and really intelligent, but still catchy and poppy—basically classic-rock chords and kind of folk-y.
What theme night was the best surprise?
M: We did that Velvet Underground live on April Fool’s Day, and I got phone calls and emails—I’m not exaggerating—at least a dozen a day.
People really believe in you.
M: And I responded by saying it was all the original members—I lied until the thing happened. I lied to people standing in line that night. The Echo didn’t want to list it as the Velvet Underground because they thought people would be pissed off, and I was sort of hoping they would be. And when Spires played, people were like, ‘Eh.’ But the band was so amazing—they were the Velvet Underground, or Galaxie 500, which is almost as rad, and then Ben and I played covers all night.
And so you learned that it’s good to lie.
M: Lying for a good time is good. Like any romance. It’s all healthy and in good fun. Poor taste and good fun.
Are there records you love that you just can’t get people into?
B: Something I play a lot but I don’t know if people react to—except Jim Smith from the Smell likes it!—is this band Finally Punk from Austin. They kind of remind me of Mika Miko—but they’re different. Weirder.
M: That Klaus Nomi record—maybe if people are really intoxicated at like ten til and they just heard Bowie or Sparks. I’m obsessed with indie pop—jangly twee wimpy shit, which Ben only recently started biting on—and some people don’t like it. To a lot of people it all sounds the same. But the fact is Part Time Punks is at its best when it’s at its most schizophreudian—
Schizophrenic plus Freudian?
M: Schizophreudic rambling, from something jangly to DAF. One track to the next.
What does Part Time Punks put into Los Angeles music?
B: It’s hard to say—but things seem to really be picking up. Before Part Time Punks, you wouldn’t see like Smell kids with Ariel Pink’s crowd with the Hollywood crowd—people did not know each other at all. I feel like Part Time Punks is kind of a cross-breeding kind of place—kind of welcoming to all scenes. That’s what I wanted—for it to be really inclusive so people could mix like that. A place for people of like minds to collaborate. I don’t wanna make it sound like it’s that important, but I’m glad it functions as more than just a fucking club night or DJ night. And it’s fun for dancing, too.
M: Come one, come all—no bullshit, no costumes, no irony. You don’t have to dance to shit for two-and-a-half hours to hear four good songs. I hope people are coming—even if not to dance—just to listen. Our style is a little more like radio DJs. I had never played records for a dance party before the very first Part Time Punks. I knew nothing about DJing, which is maybe why it turned out how it did.
What have you learned?
M: I can beatmatch.
How do you beatmatch to the Desperate Bicycles?
M: Actually, when we do beatmatch crazy shit like that, we’re like, ‘Yeah, we did it!’ And meanwhile four people are having seizures in the kitchen.
How many records do you have and do they prevent you from ever moving?
M: I can never move. I have six thousand LPs and at least that many 7”s. They fill the closet from the floor to the ceiling. It’s like a library—there are several different filing systems.
What’s your most under-represented genre?
M: Anything that happened before the Velvet Underground.
What is your favorite single song of 1979?
B: I don’t wanna say anything pretentious. There’s so many I can think of—Pop Group, Gang Of Four, PIL—all the basics. But my favorite song? That’s the hardest.
M: I think the Homosexuals’ ‘Hearts In Exile’ might be 1978. Do I have to answer now? Can I go home and flip through my records?
[ten minutes later]
B: Scritti Politti, ‘Confidence.’
[six hours later]
M: The Durutti Column, ‘Sketch For Summer.’