“I had my teeth knocked out seven times”: Your favourite bands remember their best (and worst) part-time jobs

From sleeping in call centres to crying in soft plays to arguing with old women in Ben & Jerry’s, these are some of the more memorable and surreal part-time jobs of IDLES, High Vis, Militarie Gun and more…

“I had my teeth knocked out seven times”: Your favourite bands remember their best (and worst) part-time jobs
Giles Bidder
Gareth Bull, Jenn Five, Andrew Lipovsky, Damien Morley

It's never been harder for independent musicians, with goalposts moving and costs spiralling on a seemingly daily basis, and payments from streaming services failing to provide any kind of livelihood. With support fees often paying less than the petrol to get to the gig, and certain venues demanding a percentage of sales, it's no surprise most of your favourite bands are scrambling to find jobs to help them pursue their dreams.

Podcast 101 Part Time Jobs traces the worklife history of bands like Scowl, IDLES, Militarie Gun and Mannequin Pussy, digging into how the formative experiences of testing LEGO and crashing trucks influenced the artists we love today.

Here are some of the most memorable stories from the podcast...

Kat Moss, Scowl

Kat had the best first job ever known to humankind: building LEGO all day...

“I worked at this place called The Brick Hutt, which is in Santa Rosa, California. It’s a LEGO store [and] I spent all day building LEGO models just to make sure that all these sets weren’t missing pieces. It was awesome. The hardest part was how sore my fingers were at the end of the day. I really value LEGOs from afar, but I haven’t got a set since I was a kid, probably. I think maybe when I have more time and I’m home I’ll invest in one or two just for fun. I want to build a Millennium Falcon, really badly.

“The worst job I had was as a courtesy clerk at a grocery store called Nugget Market. A courtesy clerk is pretty much at the bottom of the totem pole in the grocery store – all you do is bag groceries, collect shopping carts and clean up spills. It’s stuck with me since then.”

Graham Sayle, High Vis

Despite the tough exterior, Graham is a sweetheart school teacher...

“I’ve always grafted, I’ve always worked. For 11 years, I’ve been a technician who teaches in a school. One of the kids in a lesson was looking at me all sheepish when we were announced for Reading & Leeds [last year]. I’ve successfully kept my secret punk part-time lifestyle separate to work, but now it’s infiltrated and I don’t what the fuck to do about it!

“I’ve always liked concrete as a material for whatever reason, and I started making furniture. I started putting stuff on Instagram and slowly grew a thing. People would say, 'I like this thing you made,' so I’ll make them one. And if you like it you can buy it! I wouldn’t be able to live in London if I wasn’t doing that on the side.”

Jem Siow, Speed

Jem might rage onstage with Speed, but he’s also fluent in classical flute...

“I’ve been teaching music for the last 14 years – I teach classical flute. I’ve been doing that since 2011 and I had a degree in that from the music school [in Sydney]. Luckily for me, I love music, and I picked up this instrument and it was a vehicle for me just to express myself. It wasn’t necessary that I was super, super passionate about flute or woodwind, it was just the tool I was given, so it was a vehicle for me to express myself and feel passion in a different way.

“Going to university to study flute was like Whiplash, it fucking burnt me so bad. I was feeling so much performance anxiety, practicing five times a day, every day. I was such an outsider. After I graduated university, it was a vehicle to led me to find teaching. I love being a mentor to kids. I’m super lucky that I found that and it was also a job that fit with my life when I was touring, I was doing it on my own time and my own schedule.

“Between classical music and hardcore, what I really love in music is the realness of it, the connection. You don’t have to play flawlessly to connect with people.”

Marisa Dabice, Mannequin Pussy

Missy was only ever half-baked while working at Ben & Jerry’s…

“When I went to university I really thought I’d work in politics, doing a respectable job. But I learnt the truth of the big lies. The myth of America was deconstructed in front of my eyes.

“I’ve had so many different part-time jobs. My first job at 16 was working at Ben & Jerry’s, and then I also got a second job – this was when I was at high school – at a pizza shop. Two things happened at both of those places that were an absolute awakening for me. One thing I learned was that I have far too much of an attitude problem to work in customer service when you have to deal with a total dingbat, just a total fucking moron, I just have no patience for rudeness. Growing up in Connecticut there was this contingency of people who just had such extreme wealth and really looked down on people – especially in service.

“I was 16, working in Ben & Jerry’s and a crypt-keeper comes in wearing Chanel from head to toe. This ancient woman comes in and there’s no hello, she just goes, 'I’ll have the egg cream soda please.' I was like, 'Oh, I’m sorry we don’t have the egg cream soda, I can make you a milkshake?' It was so dramatic, she whips off her sunglasses and goes, 'Yes you do!' She started screaming at me about how she’s had one here before and I will make her one and she doesn’t know why I’m being difficult. Immediately teenage me is like, ‘Fuck this bitch.'

“Very quickly I abandoned the rules of decorum of how you’re supposed to be when you’re working somewhere to meet her attitude – if you’re gonna give me attitude, I will give it to you right back. It took me a while to realise that actually, in the face of that sort of attitude, the best thing you can do is remain calm.”

Ian Shelton, Militarie Gun

Truck driving across the States without GPS sounds daunting, but at least Ian had all the tunes…

“My years of truck driving were the best thing that ever happened to me. I had a very cool co-worker who plays in a band called Sun Spots, used to be in a band called Criminal Code, and he showed me so much incredible music. He showed me things like J Church and at the same time he showed me PiL, Harry Pussy and The Jesus Lizard. My whole life was listening to music in work trucks.

“I drove 26,000lb trucks delivering ladders and fencing to home depots. I was 18 years old when I had this job, straight-up not a job for an 18-year-old. I didn’t know how to drive stick shift and was put into this truck and was taught stick for 30 minutes and told to go.

“My life for a couple of weeks was absolute and utter terror. It was me crying at intersections stalling the truck, just feeling so incompetent and so stupid. One day I had this delivery in north Seattle and I realised I’m going the wrong way, so this is pre-GPS. I used to text Google asking for directions to the location I had on my paperwork. So I would be looking at my old brick of a phone as I was driving this 26,000lb stick-shift through north Seattle – it was absolute hell I was terrified 24/7. I realised I was going the wrong way so I was like, 'Alright, I’ll turn around.'

“What I was not very aware of at the time was the concept of head clearance. I’m sure it was mentioned in the training but it’s the kind of thing that you’re not thinking about. The other thing is that I really needed to pee at the time, so I had my pants just fully undone. I go and I turn around and I pull into a gas station. And the truck slams to a halt because I hit the clearance – I wedged myself under the gas station awning. I didn’t damage the truck at all, but I definitely fucked up the awning.

“The gas station owner comes out and he is screaming at me. I get out of the truck [and] my pants are undone. At the edge of the parking lot there’s a barista stand and I see the cute barista girl filming me on her cellphone, and I’m doing up my pants as I’ve wedged myself under a goddamn gas station awning and this guy’s screaming at me.

“So I end up letting the air out of my tyres to let myself back up and luckily it worked. The scariest thing is if I'd have done it and brought the awning off, it would have killed someone in that moment.

“The gas station owner writes down on binding paper, ‘I ADMIT THIS WAS MY FAULT’ with a signature line. And I’m like, ‘I’m not signing that – I’m 18’. We waited for the cops to turn up and they’re like, ‘Yeah you’re good to go.’”

Justice Tripp, Angel Du$t / Trapped Under Ice

Justice used to work security on the door of a venue, leaving him with some expensive teeth…

“Security was something I did for a long time. I’d basically get paid small amounts of money to get my ass whooped. I’ve had my nose broken so many times – I think maybe twice in context of doing security. I’ve had my teeth knocked out a lot. I’ve gold teeth in the front and it’s out of necessity because I had them knocked out seven times. At some point you’re like, ‘What’s gonna stop this?’ and gold helps for whatever reason. Replacing your teeth regularly and getting your nose fixed doesn’t really work out well when you’re making $1,000 a night to do security a couple of times a week when you’re home.”

Ned Russin, Glitterer / Title Fight

After Title Fight ended, Ned tried to get a publishing job. But working at a record store is just as cool…

“I studied creative writing in college and I was trying to get a job in publishing. I was applying for just, like, whatever beginner jobs at every major publication house in New York, and some smaller ones, and I didn’t even get a single interview. So I took some advice from a friend of mine, and I was like, ‘Yeah, I like playing music. Why would I just not try to do that again?'

“Towards the end of 2020 I got a job at a record store in Washington D.C., and that’s what I’ve been doing since. It’s a really great place and I work with my friends, and obviously it’s something we’re all passionate about.”

Joe Talbot, IDLES

Working at a call centre, Joe had the pleasure of asking customers turn it off and on again…

“[It was] fucking hilarious. I kept a list of the people that were horrible and I would call them on my hour off. I’d be like, ‘Alright how’s it going? It’s me again, how are ya?’ I was fixing BT broadband, but it was when it just started so I was really bad. I used to turn up and sleep because I hadn’t slept, so I’d sleep at work. My manner was amazing, I was good on the phone, but I was asleep a lot. My manager was pretty sound and he knew I was going to get fired, but they’d just started broadband, which went from 20 calls an hour to five, because broadband was so new no-one knew what the fuck it was. And I didn’t know what it was, but I was there to fix it. Because it was so new and it was five calls an hour, my job was to tell people to unplug their internet and plug it back in. But I’d have to wake up every 15 minutes and plug my phone line back in.

“At university I was very studious for a bit and then my stepdad died, and I discovered I needed to hide from the weight of reality. So I then took to going out and partying and numbing myself for 15 years. I got a 2:1 though, and I discovered music and abuse. University was amazing, I went out every night of the week and I met some really beautiful people.”

Cody Frost

Cody in Cyberdog makes sense, but in a soft play area? That's a different story…

“I struggled in lockdown trying to get a job because my CV is weird. I worked at Cyberdog in Manchester. I used to dress all the mannequins and we used to dress up in onesies and run around Afflecks Palace like madheads. I lost the job there because I was a bit scatty and I didn’t know at this point that I had ADHD. I struggled to sell to customers because I was shy. I did not know how to approach people and do customer service.

“After that I embarked on the worst job experience in my life. I worked at a kids’ soft play area and it absolutely broke my soul. I’d be stood at the desk and people would have to come in and give me their postcodes so that I could sign them in. I’d be stood at the desk with literal tears in my eyes and somebody would be like, ‘Why are you here? You were on The Voice and you were doing really well.' I would literally be like, ‘Yeah I don’t know why I’m here at all.' You’ve never seen me so depressed.

“I ended up managing it but I also lived above it, so I was trapped in this hell. We kept getting broken into because it’s in a rough area. I would have to start work at nine in the morning and finish at 9 o’clock at night, and the kids are gross. They vom everywhere, they shit everywhere, their parents are mean. There was one point where we had to have security in-ears because it was rough.”

Listen to 101 Part Time Jobs now. A special live edition of the podcast with Bob Vylan takes place on April 7 at Bush Hall in London – get your tickets now.

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