All Roads Lead to Linda

Note to Rome: Is canonization reasonable for a living rock-club owner?

"It's been very interesting because I've always been on the musicians' side of the business, and now I'm kind of pulled onto the side of . . . not necessarily the enemy, but almost like the parents of the children. When you're with the musicians, it's like playing with the kids. There are no boundaries and no rules, but once the record company and management and agency get involved, then they have to get the kids in line, and it's like, 'Okay, guys, this is all fun and games, but here's what you have to do to succeed.' And that's where the boundaries come in, which has to happen or they'll be stuck playing in garages for the rest of their lives. I literally sent Time Bomb hundreds of tapes over a year and a half before they picked one."

(The one they picked was Disappointment Incorporated, whose debut was released in August. She describes their sound as what you'd get if you put Beck, Bowie and Jane's Addiction in a blender, and she hopes they don't mind the comparison because it's a compliment.)

This is unbearable. Her vision is infectious. She's growing larger than life as the minutes tick by. The Cult of Linda is closing in on me. I think I love the Doll Hut. I must leave the faux dark of the interior and head back into the garish light of day, where I'm comfortable with the way everything sucks. Left to her own devices, she'll find a way to change that, too. "I may be a dreamer," she says, "but that's how things get done."

Lipping With Linda

OC Weekly: What's your advice to bands that are trying to make it?

Linda Jemison: I work with so many different bands, and the longer I do this, the quicker I can figure out whether a band is going to do well or not because there are criteria. At the beginning, I hear a tape. And if I think the songwriting and vocal ability are good-and players all seem to have good quality in their playing-then the next step is to see them live. Then when you see them live, [you judge] if their live performance is exciting. If you're having the worst day of your life and you have to play a show that night, you've still got to put on a show. You can't let the world know that you've had a bad day. I think a lot of bands sometimes concentrate more on their playing than their performing, and I think it has to be a real 50/50. A good attitude and wanting to work hard are so important, too. It's really a group effort, and a lot of times, it all falls into one person's lap, and that can be the death of a band. And then there's touring-bands have got to get out on the road. Bands that sit in their hometowns and play the same places over and over again very rarely get signed.

Bands who just play their hometown don't get signed because . . .

Well, some get signed. What's important when a label signs a band is knowing that they are able to tour because it really is a mental strain to get out on the road day after day after day with the same four or five guys stinking in a van. I think it's important for a band to route their own tour, book it themselves and learn how it's done so when they do get a booking agent, they can tell the booking agent how to do his job. Because if you leave it in someone's hands and you don't put any demands on them, they'll book it how they want to, and you may end up playing to no one in the middle of nowhere. So educate yourself before you have someone doing your job for you. Know how to do your job.

What's the best thing about the scene?

The best thing is that major and independent labels are finally recognizing that OC bands have talent: OC bands are finally getting signed and getting recognition. That's the best thing for the musicians. As far as for the fans, I think they may not realize how good they have it right now. There are a lot of clubs open, and there are a lot of avenues for them to see live music, and they should take advantage of it while we're all here because I've survived through many clubs closing down and it being very dry as far as live music.

Are there any clubs you really miss?

Cuckoo's Nest-that was ages and ages ago. It was the place to see punk bands in the '70s and '80s.

What do you think is the worst thing about the scene?

Lack of support for bands. I think people are so caught up in their daily jobs that they go to work, go home, eat dinner, watch TV and go to bed. That's fine for some people, but if you really love music, you should come out and support your local musicians because sometimes that's how they make their living. I think if people took just a few more risks and stayed out a little bit later and came out to support the local scene, they'd be surprised. They'd have a good time.

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