Making a record takes a lot out of person. It's actually grueling work; it requires obsessive attention to detail and long, ungodly hours. No one knows this more than revered local rocker-storyteller-recording studio owner John Vanderslice. He the creator of his own music (MK Ultra, a vast solo career) and the recorder of a great many others (Deerhoof, Death Cab for Cutie, Thao) at his Mission-based studio, Tiny Telephone. Perhaps this understanding of the stresses is why Vanderslice is quick to offer incoming bands a warm cup of calm.
Turns out, Vanderslice developed a taste for fragrant loose-leaf teas a while back, and has seen to it that his studio offerings come stocked with said caffeinated beverage. Naturally, I went to the source to discuss this obsession for Maximum Consumption. Enjoy the resulting interview with two lumps of sugar (or however you take it):
San Francisco Bay Guardian: When did you develop an interest in tea?
John Vanderslice: I lived in London for a year, that changed it for me. Bad coffee [plus] good tea [ equals] tea drinker.
SFBG: Where do you purchase your loose leaf teas?
JV: Rainbow Grocery, Five Mountains, and Red Blossom.
SFBG: What are the 11 loose leaf teas offered at Tiny Telephone?
JV: Right now there's 12! They are: Gunpowder, Genmaicha, Keemun, China Black, Green Jasmine, Throat Coat (the real, strong organic blend from Rainbow), Chamomile, Assam Black, English Breakfast, Camellia Blossoms, Emperor Pu-erh, and JV's Herbal Organic.
SFBG: When did you come up your own personal JV's herbal organic tea blend?
JV: I initially wrote it on a piece of masking tape affixed to a mason jar with my mix. I thought it would be kind of funny, but people just asked me what the ingredients were. Then I started to take it seriously, tweaking and improving it. It has Rainbow's Love Tea blend (which is really good), dandelion, peppermint, blackberry bush, red clover blossoms, rose hips, and sage. Some things are there for taste, and others for medicinal reasons.
SFBG: Do you see any connection between the ways you approach creating music/writing songs/recording bands and mixing teas?
JV: I'm a tweaker through and through, I imagine I could have worked on cars or hydroelectric dams. I love the intersection of the technical and the creative.
SFBG:Would you ever be interesting in putting out your own brand?
JV: I can barely function as it is, I think adding more pursuit/business and I might crack. I love giving it away for free.
SFBG: Do you also drink coffee?
JV:I love coffee but I find myself drinking a lot more tea. Usually very strong black in the morning and green in the afternoon.
A video of our interviewee for your viewing pleasure: