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LA Booker Interview: Jennifer Tefft of Spaceland
LA is home to dozens of classic, independent, badass rock clubs. Many of these clubs helped launch most of your favorite groups. But those bands would have never made it on stage if it wasn't for the booker, the person who actually hires the bands to play the show on the particular date.
Wednesday we introduced you to Patrick from Safari Sam's. Today we are very happy to share with you the all caps thoughts of Jennifer Tefft of Spaceland.
Easily one of our favorite places to see live music, Spaceland is cozy, warm, and has great sound. It's got a cool and trippy back room thats pretty much soundproof so if you don't wanna check out the opening bands you don't have to. They have huge beers and great bartenders. And the valet prices are so cheap that you can toss the dude your keys and look like a hot shot for your date as bro parks your Hyundai (which is way easier than trying to find parking in the ever-restrictive Silver Lake hood surrounding the former gay disco previously called Dreams.
Probably best known for their sparkly backdrop, Spaceland's first show in March of 1995 was Beck, Possum Dixon, Lutefisk, followed by a set by a brand new band called the Foo Fighters. Since then the club, which has only just gotten around to erecting a sign that actually declares the correct name for the joint, has seen the likes of Weezer, Dinosaur Jr., Tsar, and Wolfmother, among many others, and was the first LA club to book the Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys, Art Brut, Bloc Party, the Drive By Truckers, to name a few.
Name: JENNIFER TEFFT
Address: 1717 Silver Lake Blvd., Silver Lake, 90026
What sort of bands normally play your club: UP AND COMING LOCAL, REGIONAL, AND NATIONAL ACTS, AS WELL AS ESTABLISHED ACTS. A LOT OF THE BANDS ARE INDIE ROCK, BUT WE BOOK ALL KINDS OF MUSIC.
What are the most famous bands that have played your club: arcade fire / ARCTIC MONKEYS / ARTHUR LEE & LOVE / BECK / BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB / BLOC PARTY / DANIEL JOHNSTON / DANIEL LANOIS / death cab for cutie / dEVENDRA BANHART / DINOSAUR JR. / ELLIOTT SMITH / FLEA AND JOHN FRUSCIANTE (OF THE RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS) / GIRLS AGAINST BOYS / GUIDED BY VOICES / HENRY ROLLINS / hot hot heat / imogen heap / JET / JOHN RICH AND JEWEL / jon brion / KAISER CHIEFS / KEANE / LUCINDA WILLIAMS / MC5 (DKT) / MUDHONEY / My Morning Jacket / NEKO CASE / NEW YORK DOLLS / OF MONTREAL / OZOMATLI / pavement / peaches / PETE YORN / PINBACK / puffy ami yumi / RILO KILEY / ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT / SCISSOR SISTERS / SPANK ROCK / SPOON / SUPERGRASS / T-Bone Burnett / THE BLACK KEYS / THE BRAVERY / THE BREEDERS / THE DECEMBERISTS / the faint / the foo fighters / THE FUTUREHEADS / the gossip / the headcoates and the headcoatees / THE Killers / the kills / THE KOOKS / THE MARS VOLTA / the melvins / THE NATIONAL / the posies / THE Rapture / THE RAVEONETTES / THE Shins / THE VIEW / THE VINES / THE WALKMEN / the white stripes / TWILIGHT SINGERS / ween / WEEZER / Wesley willis / wire / WOLFMOTHER / zwan, and many more…
Coming up soon: HANSON, BUZZCOCKS, other surprises
Who is the owner of your club: MITCHELL FRANK OWNS SPACELAND PRODUCTIONS (THE EXCLUSIVE PROMOTER). JEFF WOLFRAM OWNS THE BAR.
How can bands/managers reach you: JENNIFER@SPACELAND.TV
How did you get your job booking shows?
I STARTED BOOKING SHOWS AT COLLEGE, IN NOV OF 1992. I WAS JUST BORED WITH ALL THE ON CAMPUS ACTIVITIES, AND DISCOVERED THAT FOR NO MONEY YOU COULD RESERVE THE BASEMENT OF THE CHAPEL AND A SMALL PA. SO MY FRIENDS AND I STARTED THROWING CONCERTS IN THE CHAPEL BASEMENT. THEN I BECAME THE CONCERT COORDINATOR, COFFEEHOUSE COORDINATOR, AND SPECIAL EVENTS COORDINATOR.
WHEN I MOVED TO LA IN FEB OF 1996, MY DREAM WAS TO WORK AT A RECORD LABEL DOING SALES AND MARKETING. BUT I COULDN’T FIND THOSE JOBS. THE OPPORTUNITIES THAT KEPT COMING MY WAY WERE CLUB GIGS. I WORKED AT THE MARTINI LOUNGE, THE GARAGE, THE COCONUT TEASZER, AND SMALL’S. AND I STARTED CO-PRODUCING A LITTLE MUSIC FESTIVAL CALLED POPTOPIA.
WALKED UP TO MITCHELL FRANK THE NIGHT THAT WEEN PLAYED IN JAN OF 1999, AND TOLD HIM THAT HE NEEDED TO HIRE ME. I STARTED AS A DOOR GIRL IN FEB OF THAT YEAR. THE FIRST SHOW I EVER WORKED THE DOOR BY MYSELF WAS DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE. I QUIT MY DAY JOB IN SEPT OF 2000, AND MITCHELL BROUGHT ME IN THE OFFICE TO TEMP WHILE HIS ASSISTANT WENT ON VACATION. THAT GUY NEVER GOT HIS JOB BACK, AND I HAVE BEEN BOOKING THE CLUB EVER SINCE.
IWhat types of previous skill sets or experiences made you qualified for this job? ALL IT TAKES IS PASSION, DRIVE, AND FOLLOW THROUGH. AND GOOD ORGANIZATIONAL SKILLS.
What makes your club special or unique? SPACELAND HAS ALWAYS BEEN MY FAVORITE CLUB IN LA, EVEN BEFORE I STARTED WORKING THERE. THE SOUND IS GOOD, THE SIGHTLINES ARE GOOD, THERE’S CORNERS WHERE YOU CAN HIDE OUT AND WATCH THE SHOW WITHOUT GETTING BUMPED IN TO, AND THERE’S THE BACK BAR FOR AN ESCAPE FROM THE MUSIC. I THINK IT FEELS COMFORTABLE AND HOMEY.
THE BOOKING HAS BEEN CONSISTENT FOR AS LONG AS THE CLUB HAS BEEN KNOW AS SPACELAND. MITCHELL FRANK, LIZ GARO (THE ECHO) AND MYSELF HAVE BEEN THE ONLY TALENT BUYERS FOR THE ROOM, AND WE ALL REALLY LOVE MUSIC. I BELIEVE THAT ON ANY GIVEN NIGHT YOU CAN STUMBLE IN AND SEE SOMETHING GREAT, EVEN IF YOU ARE UNFAMILIAR WITH THE BANDS.
As you figure out what bands to book, where are you trying to steer the club? SPACELAND HAS ALWAYS BEEN KNOWN AS A PLACE WHERE BANDS PLAY FIRST. AND NOW, MORE AND MORE, ITS BECOMING A PLACE WHERE ESTABLISHED ACTS GO TO DO UNDERPLAYS. I JUST WANT TO CONTINUE TO BOOK GREAT BANDS.
What's the biggest mistake bands make when they approach you trying to get booked? GOING BEHIND MY BACK AND TALKING TO A BAND OR AGENT DIRECTLY WHEN THEY ARE TRYING TO GET A SUPPORT SLOT ON A BIGGER SHOW AFTER I ALREADY TOLD THEM NO. OR TRYING TO TALK TO ME ABOUT BOOKING WHILE I AM AT THE CLUB. WHEN I AM AT SPACELAND I AM CONCENTRATING ON THE SHOW THAT IS HAPPENING AT THAT MOMENT, AND DON’T WANT A HARD SELL FOR FUTURE BOOKING.
What's the best thing bands can do to get booked at their favorite clubs? HANG OUT THERE ON A REGULAR BASIS
Who has been your mentor as far as showing you the ropes about booking? MITCHELL FRANK
If you weren't working where you are, what other rock club would you love to book for? THE BOWERY BALLROOM IN NYC
What is the best show that you ever put together - or your favorite? SONIC YOUTH AT SUNSET JUNCTION 2002. I KNOW THAT WASN’T AT SPACELAND, BUT IT IS MY PROUDEST BOOKING MOMENT. THAT WAS THE FIRST REALLY BIG BAND I BOOKED BY MYSELF, WITH NO HELP FROM ANYONE ELSE, AND I WORKED REALLY HARD TO MAKE THAT SHOW HAPPEN.
What is your favorite LA rock moment outside of the club you book for. WATCHING STEVE JONES, SLASH, AND CHRIS ROBINSON ON THE SIDEWALK TOGETHER PRACTICING THE FACES SONG “OH LA LA”, WHEN THEY WERE GETTING READY TO JOIN JET ONSTAGE IN DEC OF 2006.
WATCHING RIVERS CUOMO HANDING OUT FLYERS TO PEOPLE AS THEY CAME IN THE CLUB, THE WEEK BEFORE THEIR REUNION SHOW IN JUNE OF 2000.
What's your second favorite place to see live music in LA, next to your own club? THE GREEK – AS LONG AS I HAVE A PIT PASS
What band would you die to have play at your club? THE PIXIES, AC/DC, NEIL DIAMOND, PRINCE
top photo by Sarah Ardalani, photo of Juliette Lewis by Sonny "Red" I. LaVista for LAist
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