Scott Sterling the L.A. music critic and Scott Sterling the L.A. club booker lead parallel lives. The former has made a name for himself as editor of both Sweater and Urb magazines; the latter is founder of the Fold, a live indie-rock club that originated at the Silverlake Lounge and now sprawls across numerous Eastside venues.
Improbably, these two 30-something music fiends had never met, but for years endured a perpetual case of mistaken identity: wrong-number booty calls and all manner of erroneous info printed about them (in The Village Voice, no less!).
At long last, the two finally came face to face on a recent Thursday afternoon at the Silverlake Lounge, during a sound check by Tommy Stinson. And as the two Scotts would discover, a shared name is only the start of their uncanny history.
SCOTT STERLING THE WRITER:You’re taller and a few shades lighter than me.
SCOTT STERLING THE BOOKER: I usually just tell people that I’m the white one.
SSTW: I like it. The first time I heard about you was in 2000, in The Village Voice. It was a story about your nights at the Fold. But right in the middle of it, the writer put in all of this stuff about me.
SSTB: That was so bizarre. He morphed us into one person.
SSTW: Yeah! It said that you’d been the editor of Sweater magazine, which had been my gig. Wasn’t that around the time you went through your public drama?
SSTB: Yeah, there was a music writer here in L.A. that just had it in for me. He’d write all kinds of scathing things about me. It was all fun and games before he called my son a bastard in print. That’s when I went off on him. In the end, he had a boss and I didn’t. He got fired.
SSTW: Damn. So where are you from?
SSTW: No, I’m from Detroit.
SSTB: Okay, I’m from Southfield [a suburb of Detroit], if you’re getting technical.
SSTW: Wait a minute. I went to high school in Southfield. This is getting weird.
SSTB: After high school, I went to college in Ann Arbor.
SSTW: Now you’re lying. I went to Michigan, too.
SSTB: Funny! This is all much stranger than I expected it to be. But yeah, Ann Arbor was great .?.?. I worked as a bartender at the Blind Pig, but I never had any aspirations of being a promoter.
SSTW: This is classic. How did you start promoting shows?
SSTB: I’d moved out here in 1997 [to work in film], and was living across the street from the Silverlake Lounge. Some friends and I threw a party there just for fun. That party turned into me doing one night a week there, which turned into two nights, and then three and then four. Me becoming a promoter just sort of happened. It was the best of times and the worst of times. The shows were great, but I was losing money by the truckload. I would overdo it, though, printing up really nice silk-screen posters for every gig, things like that.
SSTW: Who were the bands?
SSTB: Back then it was the Centimeters, early bands of Rob Crow [currently of Pinback] and Acetone, who were a total inspiration. I’d never heard a live band that nice before. But it was my personal priority to book Elliott Smith [back in ’97]. They were his first big sellout shows here in L.A., and he never forgot us. He would come in and do little sneaky shows out of the blue. It was a really special relationship.
SSTW: Is it true that you started promoting shows partly to get back at an ex-girlfriend?
SSTB: No, that’s not true at all! I dated a girl that had lots of friends in bands that I would end up booking. That’s where that story came from.
SSTW: With your track record of picking bands [Smith, Devendra Banhart, et al.], who are some new acts to check?
SSTB: Benji Hughes is great, somewhere between Leonard Cohen, Burt Bacharach and Ween. I really like Alexandra Johnstone from the band Monster. She’s reminiscent of Cat Power, only a lot better if you ask me.
SSTW: Cool. Thanks. This will make for a great story to tell at parties.
SSTB: It was my pleasure. Can I buy you a beer?