Sound mind

Calvin Johnson isn't a musician. He just plays one onstage.

That's partly the reason why hundreds of kids who feel helpless in their own towns have descended upon Olympia for the small-scale rock festivals held in the past summers. K Records held the first, the International Pop Underground Convention, in 1991. Yoyo a Go Go has been held three times since, bringing dozens of bands from Olympia and all over to wider attention. Ladyfest 2000 is in the works now, a similar festival that, obviously, focuses on women. The equality stance can only go so far, however, and you can't help but feel a bit starstruck when you're hobnobbing with the folks whose records you've worn out. At Yoyo A Go Go last summer, one of my friends was nearly mowed down by Corin Tucker (of Sleater-Kinney and Heavens to Betsy fame) as she and Fugazi vocalist and straight-edge icon Ian MacKaye ran toward each other to hug.

Underground Rock has become especially passive as of late, with bands waiting for someone to put out their records and book their tours, contrary to the do-it-yourself spirit that has helped it thrive. But to Johnson, it's not a problem. "It comes in cycles," he says. "The last one [Yoyo A Go Go] seemed like sort of a spectator sport." The answer to passivity, of course, is to get out and do things for yourself. "I think that when people get inspired by each other's work, [the barrier between fan and musician] is broken." And it could happen anywhere. "We go on tour and kids say, 'Nothing ever happens here,'" he continues. "Why don't you make something happen?"

"I'm just a fan, really," Calvin Johnson says. "I got into music like everyone else. I listened to records I liked and thought I could make some myself."
"I'm just a fan, really," Calvin Johnson says. "I got into music like everyone else. I listened to records I liked and thought I could make some myself."

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