Since 2005, after making more than $1.5 million profit from selling the Singing Serpent Studios property on 17th Street near City College (co-owned with partners), Rafter Roberts has been able to finance his own rhythmic muse.
The group that carries his name — Rafter — can be anything from a one-man band to an eight-piece ensemble. Lately, Roberts is often accompanied onstage by drummer Andy Robillard (Gogogo Airheart), with whom he toured Europe in 2009.
Last November, Rafter’s cover of the Pink Floyd song “Happiest Days of Our Lives” appeared on a Wall tribute album packaged with British music magazine Mojo (issue #193). In April, he released his new album Animal Feelings.
“I imagine, as wide a range of things that we humans feel, [animals] feel too. A neglected, abused, and unloved pet probably feels pretty shitty and blue, and a well-loved and cared-for pet is probably pretty high on life. Dunno about snakes and shit, but my dog wags his tail a lot and licks my face, and I know he’s a happy woof.”
WHAT RADIO STATIONS DO YOU PREFER?
“For recreational listening, I jam AM 600 KOGO and FM Magic 92.5, San Diego’s old school. I am solely informed by Dr. Laura, Art Bell, and Art Laboe’s Killer Oldies.”
BEST THING YOU EVER HAD TO LET GO?
“Denver Lucas’s Stratocaster lived with me for several years after his death, and I had to let it go to his stepdad when he asked for it. I loved that guitar. I loved, and love, him. I loved, and love, [his band] Powerdresser.”
LAST TIME SOMEONE YELLED AT YOU?
“Fans be yelling at me all the time, ’cause they recognize me and want to holler at me. I love it, and I holler back. Thankfully, real people in my life don’t yell at me. They know it turns me off.”
CRAZIEST THING YOU’VE MADE MONEY FROM?
“Music for TV. It’s totally weird. I put armpit farts in there under the snare drums and sell it for Ks upon Ks. It’s a phenomenally, obscenely absurd world I get to dabble in. Music for dog food, toothpaste, Indian casinos, Walmarts…”
WHAT WOULD YOUR GRADE-SCHOOL TEACHERS SAY ABOUT YOU?
“I think they’d remember me fondly but be glad I’m now a grownup and not a strange little goober in their classroom. I think I always inhabited my own little world and was probably a pain in the ass. A lovable one, but still... I think I still live in my own little world, but it’s very high functioning.”
WHAT SONG LYRIC WOULD BEST DESCRIBE YOUR LIFE?
“Oh man, great question. Talking Heads, ‘Once in a Lifetime’: ‘And you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?’”
YOUR MOST EFFECTIVE PICKUP LINE?
“‘I love you.’”
BROKEST YOU’VE EVER BEEN?
“When I first moved to San Diego I’d go to Las Brasas taco shop in the a.m., and I’d order a $2.50 potato burrito. Then I’d just eat chips and salsa and hot carrots until I was full from their serve-yourself chip-and-salsa bar and take some more chips and salsa home with my uneaten burrito. For lunch I’d eat half the burrito and for dinner the other half. That’s about the poorest. But I was rich in spirit. Hell, yes.”
IF YOU COULD CHANGE YOUR NAME…
“I would choose no name at all and just be a nameless human.”
ANYTHING LEFT ON YOUR “BUCKET LIST” TO DO BEFORE YOU DIE?
“Nothing. I am satisfied. Seriously. What’s the point of desire?”
TELL US SOMETHING TRUE ABOUT YOURSELF THAT NOBODY WOULD BELIEVE.
“I think I’m a pretty open book. Maybe that I’m excited about the idea of nuclear Armageddon or human extinction? But, nah, people who know me know that I’m down with long-format evolution.”
OKAY, THEN. TELL US THREE THINGS THAT FEW PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT YOU.
1) “I respond calmly to emergencies.”
2) “I would like to take dance lessons.”
3) “I want hearing aids that have some sort of psychedelic effects processors built in so I can walk through the world in a strange hazy state. Also, psychedelic glasses, so it’d be like living in the drug trip part of a ’70s movie but you’d be totally straight. Yeah.” ■