Ted Mallison has been part of the Akron art scene for the last two decades, establishing himself as a singer in the band Houseguest during the heady days of the aughts and, more recently, as a visual artist. He designed our cover for the August issue, and he also has feelings and emotions about Akron’s architecture. I caught up with Ted at Nervous Dog to grab a cup of joe while chatting about Houseguest’s upcoming reunion show at Earthquaker Day, how the city’s art has evolved over the years and more.
Dave Daly: Houseguest stopped playing regularly and recording together in 2009. You’ve had several reunion shows between now and then. How does it feel getting together every few years compared to when you all played regularly?
Ted Mallison: It doesn’t really feel any different. Time goes by so fast now it doesn’t even seem weird. Plus, I mean, I see all these people all the time anyway. We all still live here, except for one of us lives in Los Angeles and he’s not coming back for this show.
DD: Does your music still feel relevant to your life?
TM: No, not at all. We decided we weren’t going to play anything off the last record and, actually, since we’re only going to have one guitar player (for the upcoming show) we’re not playing much off of the second to last record either and that’s good because I don’t relate to anything I was writing at the time lyric wise. We identify with the older stuff we wrote when we were in college more than the stuff we wrote later when we started taking the band seriously.
DD: As someone who’s bore witness to it, how has Akron’s music scene evolved and changed over the last 20 years?
I have no idea because I’m 38 now and I don’t know what’s going on. I mean I have no clue. I am so out of touch with everything. The last time I paid attention to what was going on in Akron music was 2009. I helped run the record label we had (the now defunct Audio Eagle) and went to see bands all the time and kept abreast of what was going on. There was also Myspace, which was cool. Everything’s just Facebook now and I don’t find it’s easy to keep apprised of what’s going on with Facebook. I’m just old.
I think the music scene comes and goes. The time that we were playing was really nice because we had a venue downtown that we were kind of personally connected to. The Lime Spider was right downtown around the exact years we were together.
DD: You’re also a visual artistand designing August’s Devil Strip cover. What draws you to making art, whether it’s music or otherwise?
TM: I’m not sure. Because I need to do it? I need to do something, to get ideas out somehow. I mostly draw comics and that’s what I always wanted to do so the drawing is a means to an end in that way. I have only recently started to draw just to draw for its own sake. Like, draw a picture that doesn’t have a narrative accompanying it.
DD: How does one ‘Chow Up?’
TM: I don’t know what that means and I don’t know where it came from.
DD: I was thinking chow down, but chow up instead? I noticed it on the Houseguest Facebook page as a common refrain in posts.
TM: It was something we used to say. We used to write these fan fictions on the Myspace page and they were our adventures as a band and we just had all these catchphrases that we would say that made no sense and I think that’s probably where that came from. I lost all those when Myspace changed their format. They got rid of all of our data, not that I would probably actually want to read those again. I remember staying up late, writing them and giggling.
DD: As a fan of some of the architecture around these parts, are there any buildings and structures in Akron that have inspired your art?
The album covers got some buildings on them. I was trying to draw a conglomeration of Akron buildings. I like Akron’s architecture a lot. I like Akron’s, like, 60’s reinforced concrete architecture. There’s something about it. I like the way it looks. It’s kind of harsh.
DD: What’s next for you and your art?
Trying to be more of just an artist, to develop something that goes beyond trying to draw comics all the time because it can be frustrating to try and write a story and have characters look the same from page to page. It becomes a lot of work. For the past 20 years that’s all I’ve done is draw comics and it’s kind of restrictive. Musically, my current band is attempting to record stuff.
DD: Is Tommy Wiseau invited to the show? I noticed he was invited to a 2013 reunion show and just happened to have watched The Disaster Artist the other night.
TM: That’s really good. I was really surprised by how good it was. I don’t know if it’s just because I enjoy 90 minutes of James Franco doing that impression or if it was actually a good movie, but I enjoyed it. Yeah sure, he’s always invited. It’s a standing invitation.
Check Ted and his band Houseguest’s highly anticipated reunion show at Earthquaker Day on Saturday, August 4. They play at 3:15 pm. Mallison’s current band, We Be Brakes ‘N’ Shit, will play at the Matinee on August 18 at 10 pm.
350 W. Bowery Street, Akron, OH 44307
Saturday, August 4, 11a – 9p
For more information visit earthquakerdevices.com
For more information, check out Houseguest on Myspace
Oh wait…you’ll have to look them up on Facebook
Dave Daly will definitely be at Earthquaker Day, consuming everything available and getting down to the music.