- Kelly O
- Brian Foss: "The Funhouse WILL be reopening at some point."
Brian Foss remains one of the most well-liked and highly respected figures in Seattle’s music scene. When his punk/metal/fringe-music club the Funhouse closed in 2012, a lot of people mourned. But Foss has kept busy and has spent little time dwelling on the past. The Stranger asked him a few questions about his post-Funhouse activities and what impact Ryan Worsley's Funhouse documentary Razing the Bar has had on his life.
After the Funhouse closed, you began booking shows at the Highline, Victory Lounge, 2 Bit Saloon, and Tim’s Tavern. How does this compare to running a club/bar? Do you have any other projects on which you’re currently working? Any long-range plans you can talk about?
Foss: It's not ideal. Before the Funhouse closed in late 2012 my funhouse business partner (Bobby Kuckelburg, he is also the owner of the Victory Lounge on Eastlake) and I attempted to take over the spectator in lower Queen Anne. The details are unimportant, but due to some stuff outside of our control, it didn't work out. We then went through a process where we attempted to buy Bogart’s out on Airport Way in 2013. We got so far as to get pre-approved for an SBA loan to buy the property, but various parts of the process slowed everything down where we wound up losing the property to another buyer.
We've continued to work towards getting the Funhouse reopened. Initially when the Funhouse closed, I really thought there would be little time between our club closing and getting reopened in a new location, so I quit booking shows for a while, thinking I'd just wait until we got the new room opened. As this has taken longer and longer and I passed on some bands I was excited to work with, I finally decided to start booking again just to keep myself active while I worked on getting my club reopened. While folks at the Highline and the 2 Bit etc. are all wonderful and a joy to work with, it's nothing like actually running your own place. When I book at other clubs, I feel like I'm their guest. I want my own house again.
Do you have any other projects on which you’re currently working?
Just my DJing at KEXP. I love being there; too bad there's not more need of a punk DJ on local radio. :) I am excited about DJing on Christmas day on KEXP. This will be the third year in a row I've done xmas day; I'll be on air noon to 6 pm. I collect weird, non-traditional Christmas songs so I avoid overplayed stuff like “Jingle Bells” or “Silent Night.” I also do a couple of comic book blogs about the heroes The Master Of Kung Fu and Deadman.
Any long-range plans you can talk about?
The Funhouse WILL be reopening at some point, in some location. Something will come together.
Has Razing the Bar had any positive effect on your life, tangible or intangible?
A few people have come up to me and said they saw me in the movie, which is weird. Everything about that movie was weird—nicely weird. As someone who feels he has a nice face for radio, I find watching myself in a film a bit bizarre. Having someone make a documentary about your club, something myself (and a lot of other people) put a lot of work into, is amazing. Obviously, it's humbling to have something like that happen to you, and the director Ryan [Worsley] is a super-rad lady, but overall while I think warmly about the movie, I really try to not think about it at all. What’s important to me is tomorrow—what’s gonna happen next in my life is my focus.
I have been telling people in the local music scene that you should buy Chop Suey and keep the edgy aesthetics that it’s had for years. Is this a ludicrous, impossible scenario?
It’s too expensive to just buy out the lease. Plus, the rent is too damn high for the business model I'm used to. I am bummed to hear that Chop Suey may be going away—I hope not. It's a cool club, and Jodi [Ecklund] has made that place fun again. As someone who used to spend a good amount of time there when it was the Breakroom, I like that room and its history.
I'm gonna be bringing some of my screwy xmas tunes to DJ the Dancer and Prancer holiday party Chop Suey is having on 12/19, so I am glad that if it does go away in January, I'll have at least one more night spinning there before the change.