A longtime though non-constant resident of Olympia, Washington, Vern Rumsey first came to prominence as the bassist for Unwound, flagship act for Oly’s Kill Rock Stars label. Since Unwound’s dissolution in 2002, Rumsey’s thrashed and droned as Red Rumsey, RedRumsey, and a variety of other monickers. He brings the RedRumsey concept to the Til-Two on Thursday, September 18, sharing a stage with his new friends the Teach Me Equals, plus local acts Nada Bing and Nothingful. Expect late-night Nirvana covers.
- Thursday, September 18, 2014, 8 p.m.
4746 El Cajon Boulevard,
What are your earliest memories of playing San Diego, with Unwound?
My first memory of playing SD was at a coffee shop in town. I don’t remember what it was called. It didn’t go well. I remember thinking how weird it was that the street lights were yellow. The best early memories of San Diego were at the Ché Café. That’s where we felt like we fit in. The shows were packed with excited and exciting kids. I liked the energy there.
Which San Diego venues have you played over the years, and which are your most memorable San Diego experiences?
I don’t remember all the venues. I don’t remember the name of that coffee shop, for example. Other than the Ché, we played somewhere with Rocket from the Crypt...I can’t remember if that was at the Casbah or not. Unwound did play the Casbah, though.
My favorite memories of San Diego are about what happened after our shows. We stayed in this punk house right under the flight path of the airport. We would be loud and have so much fun hanging out. There was a party every time we would play in SD. I would wake up on the back porch to planes flying close enough you could have hit them with a BB gun. They were so loud. Also, just all the friends we made there over the years. People I still adore and keep in touch with to this day.
I slept in the van every night at that point, and we happened to be just a block or two from that punk house, parked right in front of a doctor’s office. I woke up in the middle of the night and had to pee. I got out of the van to find somewhere to relieve myself and found a dead body, covered by a white sheet in the doorway of the doctor’s office. It freaked me out, but it was gone in the morning, and no one believed me.
Another good memory was playing in the basement of Croce’s with Long Hind Legs and Thrones. I’ve always loved Jim Croce, so I was pretty happy about that, even though there was nothing special about the venue or the show.
What led to your decision to go back out on the road?
I had no plans to, but Greg and Erin from Teach Me Equals asked me to go and I really enjoyed what they were doing. I had some songs that I had been working on, as RedRumsey, over the years and thought, I could use a vacation from my living room. I love Teach Me Equals. If they hadn’t asked me...I would have never done it on my own.
How did you meet the band, and what impressed you about them?
I met them through a series of emails, then Greg [Bortnichak] and I talked on the phone. At first I thought they were asking me to either roadie or play bass for them. I listened to them and loved them. I found out they didn’t want either. They wanted me to open for them. They are a great band. Very unlike anything new that I’ve heard. I love classical music and strings and they do it so well. They are just so darn nice, too.
How much stage-sharing will you do with them?
Right now it sounds like they will play a couple of songs at the end of my set, then keep going, then I will rejoin them at the end of their set for a couple of songs. I think we are hoping it is pretty seamless between the two sets.
What are your plans for after the tour finishes?
Since I started doing RedRumsey again, I will keep doing it. I like playing music, I just haven’t found the right people that want to do it, or can’t do it as much as I can. My plans are to write a full CD. Teach Me Equals and I have talked about doing the East Coast and maybe Europe next year. I just want to make it through September right now. One thing at a time.