Columbus indie-rock pioneers Scrawl have revved up activity lately, highlighted by an appearance at Afghan Whigs’ New York edition of the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival. The trio plays Saturday at singer-guitarist Marcy Mays’ bar Ace of Cups alongside old friends Cobra Verde and the Tim Lee 3.
Best show I ever played: Probably a couple of them. I’d say for sure when we played at the Parking Lot Blowout a couple years ago. That was in the top five of all the shows I’ve ever done. I mean, just from the first note it was like really, really fun. It sounded good. It felt good. Of course that’s recent memory.
Most of the really good shows we had were not in cities where it probably mattered. Like, there were only 10 people there. We always had really good shows in Minneapolis, like at First Avenue or Seventh Street Entry. A lot of it was that so many of the bands that I worshipped back in the day were from Minneapolis, so it was really fun to play there. Usually when we played Minneapolis we would play with bands that were pretty well known there, and some guys from Soul Asylum and The Replacements would show up. It was awesome. It was terrifying.
Worst show I ever played: Our very first show at [New York’s] CBGB was one of the worst. We had 20 minutes, and I broke two strings. However, Rough Trade was there, Twin/Tone was there, and Homestead, which was before Matador, was there. And we ended up getting a record deal with Rough Trade from that show. But it was horrible. It was the longest 20 minutes of my life. We were before like six other bands. We were the first band. We probably went on at 8.
That was a huge show for us. Robert Christgau reviewed it. He had reviewed our record that we put out. So we were super psyched. We took eight people with us in the van to New York, like, “Woo!” And then we played for 20 minutes, maybe made it through four songs. It was rough.
Another horrible show for me was, I think it’s called Victoria. It’s on this island across from Vancouver. You take a ferry from Vancouver. Maybe it’s like playing at Put-In Bay or something. It’s really not a rock thing. And a guy stood like four feet from me the entire show and just made fun of my guitar playing and yelled at his friends about “Come and watch this guitar player,” and “She’s like the worst guitar player I’ve ever seen,” and “Play lead! You need to listen to Hendrix,” and on and on. Like no one would stop him. We probably played for 40 or 45 minutes, but it was relentless. But I think we were booked in the wrong place. It was horrible.
Favorite place to perform: Every now and then when you’re on tour there’s these clubs that everybody loves. Lounge Ax was always one of the best for us. It was in Chicago. It was owned by Sue Miller, who’s married to Jeff Tweedy. It was just a great place. Good sound, good people.
A lot of Midwestern places where we played were really awesome. We played at Maxwell’s in Hoboken a lot, and we always liked playing there. It’s weird how they come and go, they fade in an out, just the various phases that a lot of clubs go through. We always liked playing at Sudsy’s in Cincinnati. And I always liked playing at Ruby’s in Columbus. It’s got a great stage — horrible parking, but it sounds really good on that stage when you’re playing. And Stache’s back in the day was like home.
Best show I ever saw: Seeing Nick Cave at Stache’s, right in front of the stage, was amazing. Seeing X play at the Newport back in the day was amazing. Seeing Yob at Skully’s — I think I missed their show at Ace of Cups. I like a lot of heavy, hard stuff, and they were amazing the last time I saw them. One of my favorite bands of all time played at the High Five, called Circle. They were a band from Finland. They played at 2:30 in the morning on a Tuesday because there were like five opening bands, but they were amazing.
I mean, I’ve gotten to see so many great bands. We toured with The Meat Puppets, so there were nights when the shows would be just off the charts amazing. And then they would have off nights. They were very up and down. Touring with Mike Watt during Engine Room was amazing. Such a great record and super-powerful live shows. So we got to see a ton of them. The best and the worst of The Replacements. They played in Columbus a lot back in the day.
Worst show I ever saw: The last show that I left was the Eels at the Newport. I knew a little bit about their music, but they were dialing it in, and I hate it. Sometimes you can tell right from the beginning of the show that the band just does not care. They’re just putting in time. It felt like they were being kind of mean to the crowd, so I left.
And Guided by Voices. I just don’t put up with it, man. If they’re going to be that drunk, I’ll just leave. To me, that’s just not funny anymore. The last few times I tried to see them, I was like, “I’m done.” But you know, love them. Their music’s amazing. But come on.
But worse than being drunk is definitely when bands are just dialing it in because they’re on tour. I hate that. I don’t know if I’m just extra sensitive to it, but it makes me really mad. And I’ve probably done it. So I’ve probably made people really mad.
Shows I’ve been thrown out of: I actually got kicked out of the Newport. Hauled out. I tried to sneak in to see Soul Asylum, which is so stupid because I think we might have been on the guest list. But I snuck in the back door. And I think they were with Husker Du.
I think I might have gotten kicked out of the Kevin and the Casualties show back in the day, too. They were a local band we had a battle of words with. I think they had a song called “I Hate Marcy Mays.”