Kristin Klein is amazing. Not only has she shepherded some of our favorite bands (Deerhunter, Black Lips, Atlas Sound, King Khan, etc.) around the country, but she does so while still being super nice! Recently, she started a spectacular thrift store, Vacation, with some friends in Atlanta. She shared some great stories with us on the Porch, so be sure to keep reading and to say ‘Hey’ the next time she brings an awesome band to your town!
The Porch: How did you get started with music?
Kristin Klein: I moved to Atlanta in 2001, everyone here was so creative, it was really awesome. The attitude was “Let’s start a band! Let’s start a record label! Let’s tour! Let’s have a mud wrestling pit in our back yard!” and we did it. Everyone I knew was making music, I was making music, it was a really good time to be 21-24. We would have crazy parties and outrageous house shows. Atlanta was such an underdog city, we had to make it awesome because we didn’t have a choice.
The Porch: What was your first tour?
KK: My first kinda real tour was The Black Lips’ first tour after Ben Eberbaugh, the first guitar player had died. Jack Hines was playing guitar for them, and the tour was in my minivan. That was the tour where they recorded the WFMU radio sessions. My best friend Jane came, she was in the Alphabets with me, and we had the 4 Black Lips, us 2, and all the gear in a Dodge Caravan. It was so amazing the whole time. It was fucking freezing and we were driving through Baltimore ice storms, Jared played this prank on me by putting one of those muffler whistles in the tailpipe and it made me nuts, Jack was stealing traffic pylons from the car while driving through the Holland Tunnel…it was everything you hear about in a Black Lips tour.
The Porch: What bands have you worked with?
KK: I don’t set out to work with bands, I just happened to have these killer friends that make even more killer jamz. And then I ended up being fairly responsible, keeping the shit together. I’ve been touring with Deerhunter for almost 3 years, I just took a break this last time around to tour with King Khan and BBQ, and this summer I toured with King Khan and the Shrines. This spring, I toured with Atlas Sound, and then this January, I worked with this awful band from France who were miserable people and the tour was hell, but I got paid. That was the first time and also the last time I’ll ever work with someone I dont know, and the first and last time I’ll take a job for money and not for love of the music. I’m working with this band from Atlanta called All the Saints, and I’m working with Mark Sultan’s solo project and I’m working with all the King Khan stuff…that’s all bands I’ve worked with personally, but I’ve been on the road with just as many bands with the bands I just listed, like they have been support for us, or we have been support for them: Liars, High Places, The Ponys, No Age, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Nine Inch Nails, Valet, White Rainbow, Women, Jacuzzi Boys, etc. It’s wierd because when your life is bands, then all your friends are in bands, and it kinda makes it easy to have a job like mine.
The Porch: What is the hardest part about managing bands?
KK: Trying to have a personal life. It’s really hard to have a boyfriend, all of my best friends are basically phone calls. I’ve been home in Atlanta for maybe 2 months this year, and during the time I was there I opened a store. So, if im not doing music stuff, I’m doing store stuff and that leaves nothing for my actual life. I’m trying to work on that, actually!
The Porch: What is the best part about managing bands?
KK: There is a real satisfaction in helping somethng you believe in. I don’t want the fame part or credit or anything – I never have – but I’ve always been in the background. I’m like a rock, I think: always the same person, always with the same intentions. The more bands get popular the more slimy, weasly, dishonest people you encounter. Just like total fucking scene leeches and people who want cool by association etc. Everyone I work with, I think, knows that if no one gave a shit about their music next month I would still love it and them. Being able to work with your friends in this, like, dream world life we have, and having it work, is amazing. I get paid to help and hang with my friends. It’s like some hippy fairy tail voodoo alternate reality good job dropping out of High School daydream universe I’m living in!
The Porch: Where is your favorite place to stop on tour?
KK: Man, the Contineltal Divide in Arizona for western stuff, the Badlands in South Dakota, this secret truck stop in Tennesse that has the most amazing backstock you could imagine, the Bins in portland, Boise, Idaho thrift stores, the Mauerpark Flea Market in Berlin, Czech restraunts on the German border, Seely, California for tounge tacos, the Appalachians in the spring, Columbian hot dogs in Miami…
The Porch: Best tour escapade?
KK: Um, there was a drug thing that happened in LA involving me and this band. This record guy and I ditched Deerhunter and I was more fucked up than I ever have been in my whole life – that was pretty amazing. Hahaha. And when Deerhunter did the tour with the Ponys, we kept drawing all these things in the van’s grime, like dicks and turkeys and tater tots and funny sayings. It was so funny. Or recording at Moon Studios in Berlin with Deerhunter – that was fun. One time, me and Moses went to eat in Sweden and we got the grossest liquid-to-solid meat gel sandwhich. It was so gross and we were drunk and it was really hilarious. I got really wasted in Stolckholm one night and made a 120 Euro phone call to the USA and lost my glasses in the toilet…
The Porch: Biggest tour disaster?
KK: Everything that could have possibly went wrong on the shitty tour with the Frenchys I did in January did. Lost luggage, fucked up visas, broken rental vans, missed flights, bad turn out. God, it was a nightmare. Anyone who knows me knows all the horror stories, I’ve told them like a million times!
The Porch: How does your awesome store work when you are out on tour?
KK: I started the store with my two friends: Stephanie and Megan Macksey. It was kinda this vision me and Stephanie had, for years. We had the chance to do it, we actually signed the lease during the Atlas Sound tour – she was playing drums and I was tour managing. I had a vision, and had these things to compare it too, like stores around the country. On tour, I got to show the stores to Stephanie and we were totally on the same page about what we wanted to do. We built it from the ground up, and Megan signed on. Without them, I’d have no way of doing it from the road. It would be totally impossible to have Vacation without them. I buy tons of shit on the road, or find people that make amazing things and put them in touch with the Vacation team at home…I’m like the traveling buyer!
The Porch: What are your favorite thrift stores?
KK: The Bins in Portland, Boise, Idaho is unbelievable….the entire state of Florida, particuarlly Flamingo Plaza, and i love the Savers in California and Value Villages in Georgia. Haha, what a total dork, huh?
The Porch: What was your best thrift store find ever?
KK: A brass 1940’s acorn necklace. I collect antique lockets, so when I score one it’s a big deal. My jean jacket is from Morgantown, West Virginia, my record shelf is from an old library in Ohio…
The Porch: What is a perfect day for you?
KK: Waking up in my bed in Atlanta with my cat. No email. There’s this dude I know who lives real far away and I imagine my days would be pretty perfect if he was closer.
The Porch: What have you been listening to lately?
KK: I will listen to the same song on repeat for like days at a a time, making everyone crazy. Like “Giddeon’s Bible,” the John Cale song. And, lately, lots of Guided by Voices and Todd Rundgren… and The Swans are my favorite band, so I always default to them. Folk Implosion! I listen to a lot of NPR when I’m driving.
The Porch: Do you have any favorite websites?
KK: I obsessivly Flickr. Flickr is an internet revolution. The deeper you get, the more mind blowing it is. My friend Jen’s blog is awesome, and my friend Lisa’s blog is awesome too. My friend Simon has a good blog too. But, honestly, I just obsessivly Flickr and try to find taxedermy peacocks for sale.
The Porch: What are your plans for after this KKBBQ tour?
KK: Maybe India with King Khan and BBQ and then the Black Lips in January. Maybe Europe with Deerhunter in February. I’m definitely doing the Shrines tour in the spring. I’m trying to stay home more, so well see!