The Potatomen

Members:
A.J. Stichal: Bass
Garett Goddard: Drums, Backing Vocals
Lawrence Livermore: Vocals, Guitar
Patrick Hynes: Guitar
Chris at one time played Drums

See Also: The Lookouts, Bumblescrump, Squirtgun

It was the spring of 1992 and things were a lot quieter and simpler around the Lookout estate, which at the time consisted of my room. In those days Lookout was just Chris, Patrick, and myself, and things were still slow enough that there’d be days when there wasn’t even that much to do and we’d sit around listening to records or talking. Hard to imagine now, but that’s the way it was… In one of those moments of idle whimsy, someone made up the concept of The Potatomen, which would be an all-acoustic band that would play simple folk-type ditties and never play on a stage. The name came from the fact that we were all on tight budgets and as a result had acquired a fondness for cheap, nutritious foods like… potatoes. Most of the concepts that got kicked around the Lookout room vanished like soap bubbles landing on the radiator of reality, but for some reason I took that one seriously, and while I was away in England that spring, I wrote a bunch of songs, much to the surprise of the other soon-to-be Potatomen. We started practicing one afternoon, and just when things were going good, one of the neighbors hollered, “Turn that racket down.” Since we were playing acoustically and there was nothing to turn down, we were a bit flummoxed, but one of the three resident geniuses came up with the idea of moving down to the mostly deserted streets of West Berkeley to practice. And so we did, and after we’d mastered a song or three, we realized we were just down the block from Gilman Street, where a show was just getting underway. Well, we thought, why not move our session over there, so we could both see the show and get in some practice on the side of the building in between bands? The minute we started playing some girls came running over to see what was going on, and since they were exceptionally rad girls (they turned out to be the girls of Tiger Trap, who were playing their first Gilman show that day), everyone else followed. People danced and, even though they didn’t know the words yet, sang along. It was quite an experience. We became regulars on the sidewalk outside of Gilman, and when the weather turned cold, inside the Gilman store. We played other places too – the parking lot outside Winchell’s Donuts, several people’s living rooms – but for a long time we remained mainly the Gilman sideshow band. But as fate would have it – and this is a fate that befalls many bands, for better or worse – we began learning to play our instruments. By the time we’d made our first records, we’d changed a lot, to the disgust of some and the delight of others. Where our early songs were mainly a blend of country and old rock and roll along with some punk and folk influences, the new stuff began to be tinged with a serious Smiths sensibility as well. “It’s not punk!” has been one of the most frequent charges leveled against us, and we’d certainly agree. It’s pop music, pure and simple, and if you don’t like pop, well, you probably won’t like us. Fair warning. After “On The Avenue” and “Now” were recorded, Chris left the band, and since then we’ve had a revolving door policy not unlike that practiced by some other Lookout bands when it came to musicians. But the core of The Potatomen has remained Patrick and myself, and while we may not be the most popular band on Lookout (to make a wild understatement), the songs we’ve created come as close as anything I’ve ever done to revealing the true state of my heart and soul. If that sounds like something you’d be interested in, please give a listen.

Discography:

L188 Iceland
Compact Disc / 12″ Vinyl
(November 1997)

L187 The Last Great Thing You Did
Compact Disc
(October 1997)

L160 All My Yesterdays
Compact Disc / 12″ Vinyl
(November 1996)

L169 Heide Sez…
Compact Disc
(October 1996)

L124 The Day I Said Goodbye/The Beautiful & Damned
7″ Vinyl / Compact Disc
(1995)

L101 Now
Compact Disc / 12″ Vinyl / Cassette
(1995)

L100 Slice of Lemon
Double Compact Disc / Double 12″ Vinyl
(1995)

L098 On the Avenue
7″ Vinyl / Compact Disc
(1994)