Could it be


Whatever’s Clever is a label, but it’s also some other things. It kind of started in 2016 but started for real for real in 2019.

logo by benedict kupstas :)

logo by benedict kupstas :)


Back in the summer of 2008 I found myself on a west coast tour with a cosmic americana band called Sewing Machines that was bopping up and down gigging between California and Oregon. We were either playing a too heavy, too loud set, sort of a early Replacements covering the Flying Burrito Brothers complete with pedal steel kinda thing or we were playing acoustic as more of a string band, strapping on a mandolin and a banjo and quite literally busking on sidewalks and bluegrass covering Green Day so that we could buy gas and food in spare change. It was a ramshackle, booked via Myspace, doing anything we could to make it work kind of thing. We had played a particularly good house show in Portland one night, a loud one - I remember there being a lot of good bands on the bill, I remember meeting a crust punk who told me his big white dog had saved him from having a seizure and falling out of a train car one night, I remember being amazed that we were given one hundred dollars cash at the end of the night. We had a long drive ahead of us that following morning, and high both on the confidence the show had given me and the study pills my bandmate had given me (my first time with that sort of thing) we started driving from Portland to San Francisco. A long one, and we had to get there before sundown to play a barbecue in my brother's garage in the mission. I started checking off the hours, one, two, five, six, I felt great, the landscape was zipping by. Gas stations were zipping by, too, and partly because we were all crammed in a prius with a roof rack and partly because of my chemically inflated confidence I kept driving. I'll hit the next one, I'll hit the next one, I don't want to stop. Well naturally we ran out of gas just a couple miles short of a that next one I was going to hit. The car, seemingly confused by it's own failure to keep driving, blinked angry and red-colored messages at us. We had no choice but to pull over. We didn't have AAA, we didn't know what to do, it felt like maybe we weren't going to make the show. Defeated. After about a half an hour a highway patrol trooper pulls up behind us. He sidles up to the driver's side window and asks us what seems to be the problem. Well, sir, the least freaked among us answered, we seem to have run out of gas. The cop, with a terrifying pause, asks us if we had somewhere to be that night. Well, sir, we have a gig to play in San Francisco. Oh, he says, you boys are in a band. Yes sir. Well, what kind of band is it? Country music, sir. I do not know in this moment whether to piss myself laughing or to bolt running for my life into the arroyo off the highway. It seems, however, that the cop is a fan of country music, he smiles with one side of his mouth, and motions for the pedal steel player to come with him. They get in the patrol car, sirens blasting, and head off screamingly toward the next gas station to fill up a jerry can. We appear to be saved, and so I call my brother's friend and tell him we had a bit of car trouble, but we'll be on the way shortly, just a little late. He says it's no problem. He says "whatever's clever."