September 23, 2017

Getting Stoked with Spose

“My life is in my hands // damn I need some bigger hands” - Spose, from ‘All You Need Is You’

This line is a prime example of why Spose (aka the King of Maine, Speezus) gets me stoked. Not only can he write a layered verse, stacked-full of metaphors that few would catch, but he’s also brimming with positivity and hustle. He’s like if Gary Vaynerchuk went rap instead of wine. 

Straight from the Speezus Twitter bio: “Using proper English in rap songs since 2002.” 

I knew he was gonna hit it big after hearing “God Damn” - and that wasn’t even his major hit. Most people know him from the “I’m Awesome” jam that blew up in 2009. And I’m talking before the remastered versions. The raw cuts that proved his grit. (That scratch solo at the end of ‘God Damn’ though…)

I was hooked. Grassroots always gets me hustled up.

I remember sitting outside of a bar, waiting for a ride home (before Uber), and my buddy Tom Adams slipping a burned copy of Preposterously Dank into his civic’s stereo. We weren’t a fan of the Nissan Altima, but felt as equally broke.

Since then, I’ve listened as his style evolved and grew. His label too. 

Spose gets me inspired. Not just because of how great his lyrical genius is, but rather because of his backstory. It gets me believing in myself. Gets me motivated to make moves and help others do the same. Even his latest album, Good Luck With Your Life, delivers the persona I need to keep digging. Just look at the title.

That kind of positivity is invigorating. It’s like a contact high. I’m pumped that he’s pumped that he’s made it from the bottom to the top of his rap game. In fcking Maine, no less.

That mindset is contagious. It chips like paint and sticks to people’s ears like little brain seeds.

I met him after a show in Poughkeepsie, NY back in like 2010 or 2011. Tom and I drove all the way up from Jersey (a 2.5-hour trip, 1 way) to catch him. Back then, he wasn’t big yet, P-Dank was an album, and he still sold his own merch. He told me that he started rapping because he loved the English language and didn’t want to serve lobster rolls for the rest of his life. (Fck you, TJ, you quitter.) I remember him giving us a shout out on stage because we knew all the words to “God Damn” - which, seemingly enough, no one else in the small crowd knew. He even thanked Tom for finding a lost video from his earlier days.

Now, 7 - almost 8 - years later, I still listen to his work while I write. I’m no rapper, but I certainly share the same love and phonetic command of the English language. And his positive mindset keeps me motivated to stay moving. So much so that I had to blog about it. 

So for that, Spose, I thank you. I know this is only the beginning for you. Don’t stop.

September 12, 2017

Q & A with Joseph Grantham, author and editor

Joseph Grantham lives somewhere in America. He runs Disorder Press with his sister and his book of poems, Tom Sawyer, is forthcoming from CCM. You can follow him on Twitter @misterjgrantham and Instagram @josephcgrantham. Swing by Disorder on Twitter @disorderpress and Instagram @disorderpress, too. 


GB: Joe, thank you for taking the time for this. My first question is usually: Can you share a little bit about yourself? Got any background info worthy of telling the readers? Or any works you'd like to self-plug?

JG: I was born in Kansas City but I grew up in a boring suburb called Dublin in the San Francisco East Bay. My mom sells propane, but not the way that Hank Hill does. My dad is a high school teacher. He teaches world religions and social justice. He writes stories and poems too. My parents are both readers, and they read good stuff. I had a safe, middle-class childhood. One time my sister smushed a strawberry Pop-Tart into my hair and rubbed it around. I went to high school where my dad teaches, and luckily everyone liked "Mr. G". Students would come up to me and say, "Does your dad smoke weed? I bet he does." I think to high school students "smoking weed" is a sign of humanity in an adult. I went to Bennington College, because I found out that that's where Bret Easton Ellis went and I loved The Rules of Attraction when I was in high school. I guess I still love that book. I did some comedy there, wrote a couple plays, painted a little bit, but mostly I just wanted to write the fuck out of some stories. Mary Gaitskill has a story in Bad Behavior about a Joey who went to Bennington. Maybe it's about me. I started smoking cigarettes there because I was stressed and wanted a slow suicide. Now I only smoke every once in a while, just to make sure I get some cancer.

GB: On top of being a writer, you work for a bookstore, right? Does that inspire your writing at all? How about your work with Disorder Press?

JG: Yeah, I work at a bookstore in Manhattan. I've worked there for about a year, and I'm leaving in a few weeks to go live in West Virginia for a month. Not sure where I'm gonna go after that. Definitely not New York City. Working at a bookstore can be good, because you're surrounded by books. I can look out for small press books that I care about, and try get them in the hands of people who might never pick up a small press book. But it can also be torture, because you can't really read any of the books while you're there. You have to be at a cash register, or shelving books. Always gotta be moving! Move move move! Keep busy! I always thought I was gonna get fired. But that's probably just my anxiety kicking in, thinking everyone's out to get me. I did write a lot of poems on bookmarks there, some of them were even okay. I like to complain about my job, but really it's not the job, I'd probably complain about any job. Working with my sister on Disorder Press is fun. Editing and acquiring manuscripts, figuring out the design, mailing books, working with writers who become our friends, our family. That's hard to beat. Hell, we put out Bud Smith and Rae Buleri's book and right now I'm living with those guys. Basically, if we publish you, we get to come live with you. That's our rule.

GB: What's your process like? Where do you produce the time needed to create? Are there any obstacles or roadblocks?

JG: My process is, I write when I want to write. And I usually want to write when I'm cracked out on coffee. So, chances are, if I've had a lot of coffee, I'm gonna start writing stuff down. Whether it's on my phone, a piece of paper, or a computer. Sometimes I use a typewriter, which is dangerous because people will make fun of you. You'll get your ass kicked. But it's helped me out because it slows me down. When I'm writing on my computer, it's too tempting to highlight everything and delete it. And also, I don't have a printer, so it's one way of printing shit out for readings, etc. In terms of obstacles, nah. I can always find time to write if I want to write. People like to make a big deal about that. But if I can find time to go to the toilet, I can find time to write a lil poem or story.

GB: What authors/artists have had the most profound influences your work?

JG: Leonard Michaels' stories were huge for me. My favorite short story writer may be Joy Williams. Roberto Bolano is a guy who I'll never write like, but I like to think we'd get along. I loved Cormac McCarthy in high school, another guy I'll never write like. Dennis Cooper is a god to me. But honestly, I owe everything to all the small press books that exploded in my face. Shoutout to Two Dollar Radio, Tyrant, Lazy Fascist, CCM, and on and on and on. They helped me out a lot. I was obsessed with Randy Newman for a while. I even did a horrible painting of him. It still exists somewhere in northern California. Lately I've been going to sleep to the music of William Tyler. His songs don't have words, but they're like stories nonetheless. It's a good soundtrack to a life. Ted Hawkins' music is in my blood, I grew up on it. And, I love the band Wilco, which is why some people think I am a 'dad'. But I'm not, I have no kids. Not yet. But really, Jeff Tweedy's voice is my favorite voice. And I think he's a good poet. Snooze.

GB: Who and what is on your MUST-READ list?

JG: Recently, I'd say, you have to read the George Miles Cycle books by Dennis Cooper. Read Person/a by Elizabeth Ellen. Read anything by Scott McClanahan and Juliet Escoria. Read anything by Jarett Kobek. Flowers of Anti-Martyrdom by Dorian Geisler. Splash State by Todd Colby. Short Letter, Long Farewell by Peter Handke. I like books.

GB: What does "success" mean to you? What keeps you going?

JG: Success means not feeling depressed everyday. Not wanting to hurt myself. My family and friends keep me going. Whoa.

GB: Is there any advice you have for someone looking to start a new press or publishing outlet? Do you have any tips for the writers out there, perhaps thinking about going that route?

JG: I would never start a small press. I wouldn't have it in me. But luckily, my sister and her friend did. When her friend had to step aside, I jumped on board and helped steer. Now we're sibling owned and operated. It's fun and I think we've built an aesthetic of some sort that'll change and change and evolve. But yeah, I became a part of the press after the hardest part was done. In terms of advice, not really. If you really like books and want to pay a lot of your own money to put more books out into the world, then start a press! I guess I must like doing it because I don't want to stop doing it yet.

GB: What's next for Joseph Grantham? Got any future projects we can look out for?

JG: I have a book of poems called Tom Sawyer due out from CCM (Civil Coping Mechanisms) Fall 2018. I've been recording a dumb podcast with Bud Smith. It's just something we do when we're bored. I'll keep publishing great books with my sister. Woo hoo.