Remember how, a little while ago, I told you that Hollis Knight Coats, the mastermind behind the Ypsi band Manhole, left for Portland? Well, he didn’t leave alone. The following exit interview is with Stephen Jollie, the man who aided him in his escape.
MARK: What’s your name?
STEPHEN: Stephen Jolley. Close friends often refer to me as, ‘The Jols’. Sometimes people call just call me, ‘Jols’ not realizing that calling me that is very annoying and rude.
MARK: Who’s your daddy?
STEPHEN: My daddy is Mark Jolley. He is an extremely successful accountant who spends his free time flying planes, sailing and vacationing. Fairly soon he will be spending all of free time on just his hobbies (piloting and vacationing/traveling as well as other things he hasn’t yet pinpointed as one of his goals). He achieved his goals by making a lot of money, reading and not being afraid of trying new things. It’s actually a pretty good plan because he’s 51 years old and soon he will be doing whatever he wants for the rest of his life which will probably be another 50 years. If he gets heart-disease or lung cancer or something he’ll probably just be able to buy some poor person’s organs.
MARK: I was going to ask if, “he’s rich, like me,” but I think you’ve answered that. (I’m not, “fly to Mexico and buy a black market liver” rich. I’m more, “walk to Beezy’s and buy a cup of cheesy bacon soup” rich.) Before we move on, I have one more question about your dad… Has he taken any time, to show you what you need to live?
STEPHEN: He has gone to great lengths to be an excellent father and teach me what I need to know not only what I need to live but also what it takes to be a good person, how to be successful and how to make dreams come true. All of my failures are in no way a reflection of his parenting. He is an incredible person.
MARK: So, Hollis introduced you as the guy who does “the guitar solo” in Manhole? Is there really only one guitar solo in Manhole? And is that a full time gig? Or do you do other stuff, when you’re not playing the guitar solo, and waiting for your inheritance?
STEPHEN: It’s kind of a joke. I think when Manhole played shows there were enough other guitar players in the group to the point where I never got to stand out except when I was doing guitar solos. I never sang in the group because I’m an awful vocalist. Even though guitar solos often seem ridiculous to me, I was grateful Hollis gave me solo spots on about half of the tunes. As Hollis once said, ‘Guitar Solos are what reminds people that they are listening to music’.
MARK: Did you grow up in Michigan?
STEPHEN: My residence has been in Michigan up until about a month ago. I was born in Trenton, moved to Brighton when I was 12 and then to Ypsi when I was 18. The past 8 years I have been bouncing back and forth mostly between Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor.
MARK: What originally brought you to Ypsi?
STEPHEN: Eastern Michigan University. I stayed because the seediness never bothered me and I liked the people there. It’s funny, I’m a skinny white kid that looks like Harry Potter and about eight years younger-looking than I actually am but I would walk around Ypsi late at night and NEVER get fucked with. It was novel to have crackheads and thugs walking around and not feel intimidated by them. It was empowering and sort of made me feel like a demi-god…. kind of like Harry Potter.
MARK: And you moved to Portland with Hollis?
STEPHEN: Yeah I moved with Hollis. He said he was going to move sometime around January and I jumped on board right away. I have a lot of musician friends here who are extremely talented and great people. Those friends who already moved from Michigan to Oregon and for years tried to convince me to as well. Once Hollis said he was going to move it honestly didn’t even seem like an option not to. Even though I grew up in Michigan, I have more close friends who live here in Portland than any other town or city. It’s a total chain reaction and people are what’s most important to me in life… not so much trees, birds, food, sport teams, amount of bars/restaurants and stuff like that. It totally baffles me that people move to places based on what the area looks like. I just don’t get it. You want to see something pretty just look up at the sky every once in a while.
MARK: Are you’re involved in the quest of Hollis’s to find an young African American woman who looks like Logan to play in the newly reconstituted Manhole?
STEPHEN: Hah! I have been keeping my eyes peeled. Not really though. I LOVE Logan and he is irreplaceable. He is one of best of people I have ever met. He is a crazy guy who to some people might seem almost out of control but to me he is actually an inspiration. He might understand life more than anyone I know. He has a very warm heart and deeply cares about his friends, is unselfish and might be the happiest person I have ever met!!! To me that pretty much covers everything that is good about being human. He is one of the best looking people I’ve come across.
MARK: What are the first five things to come to mind when you think about Ypsilanti?
STEPHEN: Patrick Elkins, hard drugs, shitty jobs, Ugly Mug (my favorite business in Ypsilanti) and stereotypical hipsters.
MARK: Tell me about these hipsters.
STEPHEN: I have to be really careful answering this one. First off I’ll say that at first I thought I wasn’t a hipster or a hippie but it turns out I’m both. I would say I’m about 30% hipster, 30% hippie, 30% nerd and 10% goth. I’ll break down the positives and negative stereotypes of a ypsi hipster starting with the negative—> a Ypsilanti hipster often is someone who likes to dress silly, wear cheap sunglasses, act sure of themselves while at the same time mocking non-hipsters as if only hipsters are in-the-know as to the best way to live life. Hipster artists/musicians like to poke fun at non-hipster artists/musicians’ work to make up for their lack of motivation and technical abilities. Hipsters that read this will want to defend themselves on the comment section of your blog but they won’t because they definitely won’t want to identify themselves as a hipsters. The good things—> Ypsilanti hipsters seem to be open minded to new ideas. Unlike hippies, hipsters seem to appreciate the past while looking to the future. Because of this, stereotypical hipsters seem to be more creative and funnier than other types of stereotypes like goth, hippie, mod and so on. Hipsters are flat out funnier than the rest and having a sense of humor is totally clutch for reaching level-4 happiness.
MARK: And what are you doing in Portland when you’re not playing with New Manhole? Are there other projects? Are you looking for a job?
STEPHEN: Hollis and I have actually been somewhat lazy about the whole Manhole thing. Part of it may be due to not being able to imagine what the band will be like without some of the other members who didn’t feel like moving with us. Maybe we miss them a bit too much to take the jump and start finding new members but I think we will get to it at some point. Hollis and I have been spending time working on the first real Manhole record which still has yet to be released but I promise will be a spectacular piece of art. Something truly unique and amazing. I won’t say anything more about it!
Another reason I moved to Portland was to reunite with my band, Inkblot which has actually been together for about 4 years now on and off. This is really exciting to me. Everyone in the band is a dear, dear friend of mine and being able to play with them again is a wonderful feeling.
I have been looking for a job. I have actually found two jobs, quit one and will probably start the other which is ‘Pizza Delivery Guy’ pretty soon. I honestly have been terribly depressed about not being able to find work I like while at the same time being broke. I have asked for work and shown my face at many music shops and studios with no luck. I had an awesome job in Ann Arbor working at The State Theater but never found music related work there either so I don’t really think not being able to find good work here is strictly a ‘Portland Thing’.
I also spent a bit of time trying to make this really dumb music video with my friends go viral. I co-wrote the song with Brian Tucker who in my opinion is the best singer in all of Ypsi/Arbor period. By the way I think he plays in one band now but if any group is looking for a good singer hit him up. That lazy fucker has time to be doing more music than he is right now. I was hoping to make that video go viral by sending e-mails to people I knew and telling them to watch it and spread it around. I’m going to continue this process by using your blog as a forum to try to spread my bullshit art. Here is it:
Benjamin Rosenau directed it. He also directed Our Brother the Native’s video, ‘rhythm hymns‘, which is actually great art as opposed to what we came up with, which is totally disposable pop garbage that will surely be out of date in a few months. I really believe Benjamin will have directed movies people have heard of some day. I don’t know how three talented people managed to make such a bullshit song and video. Having said that all of you reading should check out that video. My production chops are getting crazy out of control good…. especially considering how little equipment I have. It makes me wonder why are these bullshit people working at studios in Portland, with their stupid asymmetrical haircuts won’t give me any work. There are so many hacks here and it seems like they don’t want to give smart and talented people work. It’s possible I might need to start getting tattoos and an even more asymmetrical ‘hip’ hair-cut to land a good job. Portland might be the land of giving people cools jobs who don’t deserve cool jobs.
MARK: Did you listen to the interview I did with Hollis? What did you think of it?
STEPHEN: I watched/listened to Hollis’s interview. It caused a bit of stir on this blog because Hollis said something like, ‘Ypsi is a place where good ideas go to die’. I actually think he was tired or something and was just talking without thinking too much but in a lot of ways I agree with that statement. I would change it to this though, ‘Ypsi is a place where good ideas go to die for some people who deserve there ideas to be heard or seen’. Of course this really only applies on a person to person basis. For myself and Hollis I think this is true. I believe Ypsi is simply just too small of a place for us to flourish with our music and other art things we do. People are making great art there but it seems that Ypsi is not a great place for exposure. If you are an aspiring Musician that lives in Ypsi and are wondering why you aren’t becoming successful with your art, I would suggest that you either keep living in Ypsi and start touring or move to a bigger city. If you stick around a small town playing to the same people I would think you will have a tough time growing a fan-base and maybe even artistically after a while.
Here is an example–> my favorite local group of Ypsi/Arbor became The Rainbow Family Vomit Band within the last month I was in the area. Ypsi can’t support them forever though! They need more than just the fans of a small town with the same circle of friends seeing the band over and over. Bands and artists that hail from Ypsi simply deserve more than that sometimes. They need to be exposed to people all over the world to all sorts of different people!!! Not just people who dress and act like them. It took me forever to get the courage to do it but if you are an artist and believe in yourself and want more stuff coming your way in terms of fans, money and other good stuff, you just got to get out there and try other things like moving other places and seeing if people will love you more in other places!
I don’t know if things will be better for me here in Portland in terms of music but if it doesn’t get better in a couple years I’ll probably move somewhere else and I’ll repeat that process until I die if I have to.
MARK: Does your dad drop you and Hollis crates of food from his airplane?
STEPHEN: He doesn’t, but that would be nice. Hollis and I are way too skinny and it isn’t because we don’t like food.
MARK: Would you agree with Hollis that, statistically speaking, there are more “immoral” and “mean” people in Ypsilanti, per capita, than there are in any other town on five continents?
STEPHEN: No, I don’t agree with that, but personal experience presents interactions with different types of people. When I spent time in Ypsi I spent it with friends or inside a quiet offices so I mostly saw good sides of people. Hollis worked at a liquor store so he dealt with a lot of idiots and alcohol addicted people so he had a totally different perspective on Ypsi people. I felt there were more immoral people in Ann Arbor because many of the U of M students were brats who have had everything handed to them by there parents. Many of those people acted like they were elite and their lives were shaped by circumstances that were not in there control or of their own doing. Something about that seems more evil than stabbing someone in the back of the head for a baggy of ice/crack and just don’t know why. Ann Arbor also is home of many what I call ’21st century hippies’ who secretly live off checks and money orders from their wealthy mommies and daddies while at the same time pretend to be ‘green’ while supporting whack jam-bands (who don’t have real jobs and also secretly live off of mommy and daddy but pretend to be rockstars) who litter the streets with thousands of flyers for there shows. Then those quasi-hippies follow the same bands around the country in shitty vehicles and still continue to preach to people about being ‘green’. If that isn’t immoral I don’t know what is. I bet there is a lot of dark shit going on in Ypsi that I just haven’t gotten to witness it. I stayed away of the shady side of it and just have trouble relating to it because I never really came across much of that side of Ypsi. To me Ypsi is just trees, Ugly Mug and cool people.