Shacking up

Page 2 of 3

Stauffer's two bands aren't all that different, though. After all, Stauffer writes a majority of the songs for both Seaweed and Gardener, and there definitely is some crossover. New Dawning Time's "End Up That Way" was originally slated to be included on Actions and Indications, and "Steadfast Shrine" ended up being recorded by Seaweed, though Stauffer had initially intended it for Gardener . Most of the songs Seaweed recorded started out sounding more like the songs on New Dawning Time. Gardener is just the first opportunity Stauffer has had to record his songs the way he wants to.

Of course, without a little bit of luck, Stauffer wouldn't have been around to see New Dawning Time's release. In late January, just a few weeks before this interview, Stauffer took a kayak out into the Pacific Ocean and almost didn't bring it back. He had just wanted to go fishing, and it was a perfect day for it, the ocean unseasonably calm for January. So he paddled about a mile out into the ocean and cast his line. Stauffer had just reeled in his first catch of the day when he was suddenly engulfed by thick fog, limiting his visibility to about 10 feet in every direction. And that's when the trouble really started.

Stauffer began paddling, heading east back toward the shore. Or, at least, that's where he thought he was going. He actually was paddling south, farther into the fog. After about an hour, he finally straightened himself out, but when he came out of the fog, he realized he was headed for a cluster of jagged rocks.

After more than an hour of trying to get onshore, he was already tired, so he decided to attempt to land anyway. Unfortunately, the water suddenly turned choppy, and a wave knocked him off the kayak.

"At that point, I was starting to get a little freaked," Stauffer admits. "I was like, 'It's foggy, I've been thrown, the swell's increasing--if I don't land soon, it might get too big to land.'"

He finally found a place to land, but then he was faced with another problem: The only way out was up; he had to scale an 80-foot cliff made of shale. Although he had made such a climb before, he was in a mild state of shock and--because he didn't know where he was--loaded down with the fish he had caught and some water. Stauffer made it up the cliff--only to arrive in a field full of angry bulls.

"My first thought--after I kissed the grass--was, 'I hope there's not a fucking bull,'" he remembers. "Wouldn't it be pathetic to save yourself all this way and just get bludgeoned by a bull?" He laughs.

Stauffer sees the humor in the story now, the what-could-possibly-happen-next quality that he still marvels at, even though he's probably told the story hundreds of times in the few weeks since it happened. At the time, Stauffer was frightened for his life. Now, it's just another story to tell his grandkids.

"It was an adventure, and I was pretty wigged, but I've had other times when I really thought I was gonna die," he says. "This time, I thought that it would be a possibility, but I was never hopeless by any means. I actually had just listened to Lonesome Dove on tape, and I used that as inspiration. They're always in these hopeless situations, and Gus McRae would just get tough and deal with it. So I channeled Gus McRae. I was just thinking, 'What would the boys do right about now?'"

It's a question Stauffer has been asking himself for the past several years, as the music Seaweed plays has been co-opted by the mainstream and turned into something he doesn't really understand anymore. He's not sure of the right answer, and he doesn't really care. That's why he left Tacoma for Mendocino County, and it's a bigger part of the reason he formed a new band. He's not a punk anymore, and he doesn't want to be. He's a Gardener.

"To me, punk is kind of over," Stauffer says. "Not that it's over, but punk is fucking that jackass from the Offspring on the cover of Spin. That's not what I'm about at all. I have to come up with a new fucking thing. Punk's been taken away from me. Living in a shack is the new reality, and I think it's very timely. I think the future is a good time to be in a shack."

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Zac Crain
Contact: Zac Crain

Latest Stories