Growing up, Greg Laswell says he confiscated his sister’s upright piano after she showed no interest in the instrument. “It was my sister’s 13th birthday present, but she never got into it…I remember waiting for her to finish practicing the soundtrack to Land Before Time after school so I could take it over until dinner. I’ve admitted this before, but the first song I learned on piano was ‘Pop Goes the World’ by Men Without Hats.”
Laswell arrived in San Diego in 1993 to attend Point Loma Nazarene University. After graduation he played with Shillglen, who released one album before Laswell decided to go solo. Vanguard Records signed him in 2006; his sophomore release with the label will be out July 8.
Recently, Laswell’s cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” was number one on the iTunes folk charts for ten consecutive days.
WHAT’S IN YOUR CD PLAYER?
1. The Beatles, Revolver: “My favorite song of all time is ‘Eleanor Rigby,’ and it’s on my favorite Beatles album.”
2. Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska: “I found it years ago when I was still in college, and it never gets old.”
3. The Cary Brothers, Who You Are: “It’s rare that I actually get into a friend’s album as much.”
4. The Pixies, Surfer Rosa: “Because it’s the Pixies.”
5. Rufus Wainwright, Release the Stars: “Because of the song ‘Going to a Town.’ ”
1. Fargo: “I love this movie so much that I named my dog Shep Proudfoot. I actually burned two CDs of just the audio of this movie at my studio and listened to it when I was on tour.”
2. The Big Lebowski: “Perhaps one of the most quotable movies of all time. This film becomes better each time you watch it.”
3. A Clockwork Orange: “Stanley Kubrick is one of my favorite directors. Steven Spielberg once said that all great directors steal from someone, but Kubrick steals from no one.”
4. Pulp Fiction: “There was Greg before he saw Pulp Fiction and then another Greg after.”
5. Love Actually: “Even really masculine, muscular, steak-eating, sports-watching, ass-kicking brutes like me can completely enjoy a good romantic comedy. And, yeah, sign me up for that scene where Mark goes to Juliet’s house on Christmas Eve and holds up poster boards that he has written to her. That works just fine for me.”
MOST VISITED WEBSITES?
1. theonion.com: “News-parody site with stories and videos.”
2. ottentomatoes.com: “Excellent movie-review site.”
3. cnn.com: “I got rid of my TV, so it’s my news source.”
4. myspace.com: “Hard to be a musician without it these days.”
5. marthastewart.com: “So many ideas for crafts and decorating on a budget. I’m currently learning how to be a better scrapbooker.”
LOCALS DESTINED FOR FAME?
1. “Anya Marina. She knows how to write a lyric and where to place it within a song. Her stage presence is captivating, and it’s about damn time people learn about her.”
2. “Molly Jenson. Just go listen to her online, and you’ll see why.”
WHERE DO YOU HANG OUT?
1. “The Ould Sod in Normal Heights. It’s not a ‘scene’ — people don’t look at what you’re wearing when you walk in. It’s the kind of bar that Toby Keith was singing about when he wrote ‘I Love This Bar.’ ”
2. “Balboa Park. It feels like I’m on vacation every time I go there.”
WORST JOBS YOU’VE HELD?
1. “I was a ‘Subway sandwich artist’ — at least that’s what my hat said. I was surprised at how rude some people can get when you accidentally put olives on their sandwich.”
2. “Hotel del Coronado front desk attendant. Rich people blame everything that goes wrong on the poor college kid behind the front desk. I literally walked off in the middle of one of my shifts and never went back.”
3. “Bike-taxi driver in downtown. It seemed like a good idea at first, but most of the people who wanted a ride from me were drunk, fat people. I worked there for one day.”
4. “IKON Office Solutions copier salesman. One of my roommates out of college came home one day and told me about all the money people were making selling copiers to schools and businesses. I did it for nine months, to buy my recording studio, and then got the hell out of it. Cold calling people is a terrible existence.”
LENNON OR McCARTNEY?
“Paul McCartney. I find that most of my favorite Beatles songs are ones he wrote: ‘Blackbird,’ ‘Yesterday,’ ‘Here, There, and Everywhere’ — the list goes on. I also think he was the better singer. No one else could have pulled off ‘Hey Jude.’ ”
INSTRUMENT YOU WISH YOU PLAYED?
“The cello. It’s my favorite instrument to listen to.”
BIGGEST POLITICAL CONCERN?
“Whether Obama wins. We have been under two families for the last 20 years, and I believe that we need a fresh start. His support of embryonic stem cell research is among the many things we agree on.”
SOMETHING ABOUT YOU FEW WOULD KNOW OR GUESS?
“Sometimes, when no one is around, I’ll pop in an Avril Lavigne album. And thoroughly enjoy myself.”