Interviewing Chris Ziegler, the editor-in-chief and co-founder of dark horse music mag, LA Record, is way more complicated than your run of the mill conversation with a person-of-note. Intellectually speaking, the 32-year-old music enthusiast, DJ, and former OC Weekly music editor is sort of like a perpetual motion machine. Ask him a question and he just goes off. Without the aid of a tape recorder, one's shorthand abilities are noticeably lacking against Ziegler's prolific musings. It leads one to wonder how can anyone manages to keep up with him.
Ziegler's cell phone kept cutting out as he spoke from the road in Arizona as he was heading to visit with his parents. “I'm headed south on interstate 10. I just passed the truck stop and the state prison,” he mentions through the wonky haze of the digital ether. No matter, the gist of the story came through.
LA Record, the fiercely iconoclastic journal of all things musical and independent, is about to release it's 100th issue. Known for unique photography, zero-dollar price tag and covers featuring modern bands recreating iconic images from classic albums, the rag evolved from a glorified poster with some words scribbled on the back to a respectable monthly magazine featuring indie musicians as writers and a core group of contributors.
To celebrate, LA Record will be throwing a month-long festival in a boatload of venues throughout Los Angeles and Orange County. By purchasing a 100 Card for $24.99, the bearer is granted free or discounted entry into a myriad of shows featuring bands such as Au Revoire Simone, Jail Weddings, and Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti; The Cowabunga Babes at the Doll Hut, and Anything Everything at the Commonwealth Lounge. According to Ziegler, there are other shows still in the works including a denouement to the month's festivities. Here's the current list of shows. “We're still looking around. We're looking for a place that's cool that would let everybody in.”
All of the proceeds from the 100 Card benefit the CalArts Community Art Partnership which supports art education for school kids.”(Art) is the first thing they tear out of the budget. We go to schools and ask the kids what they want to learn.”
Ziegler says LA Record is “just about to turn into the thing we've always wanted.” He explains that the mag will switch from a monthly format to a quarterly, which will be longer and allow for more in-depth reporting. “We're hoping this quarterly, which is 80 pages, will allow for really long-form interviews. We're starting to break away fromthe Q&A, which is near and dear to my heart.” This way, Ziegler says, writers will have the chance to write longer, and bands will get the opportunity to speak.
Ziegler's unadulterated enthusiasm for music is obvious in every conversation: it's in his explanations for using artists like Black Lips singer Jared Swilley to interview Seattle band The Dutchess and the Duke. “He did a really cool job…musicians have been interviewed a ton themselves and they go at it totally differently. Kind of an 'inside the actor's studio' thing.”
It's also in his explanation of the band whose cover concept and commitment impressed him the most. “Cold War Kids did a great job on a Dylan record…They showed up perfect. They were completely decked out like they stepped off the album cover ready to go.”
Ziegler's enthusiasm especially shows up in his support for music from all locales and his minimization of imaginary genre boundaries so important to more cynical types. “I'm not into anything being divided for any reason. Southern California is 45 minutes from everywhere else.”