Wednesday, April 14, 2010


(Interview originally conducted Summer 2005, additional questions provided by Ms. Evelyn)

Longmont Potion Castle is truly one of the greatest unknown comedic geniuses of our time. His specialty is the art of prank calling. I guarantee you haven't heard prank calls like his. Everyone I've ever played his CDs for becomes obsessed, and quoting of his absurd stream-of-conscious banter to his numerous telephone victims is inevitable. I was pleasantly surprised that this mysterious man agreed to an interview with me. Read on to learn more about him, and for those of you fans already, hopefully these answer most of the questions you've always wanted to ask. Special thanks to Mr. LPC for the detailed responses.

01. How far back do these calls date? When and why did you begin recording them?

LPC: About 1987. Initially, John Trubee was an inspiration – I sort of took what he was doing and made my own version of it. I liked the surreal nature of it.

02. What inspired you to record your calls?

LPC: I just started doing it and people flipped when they heard it – they really encouraged me to keep doing it. Since my parents’ answering machine had 2-way record (although it beeped), I kept doing it. I decided early on to make full-length albums of these phone calls.

03. Are there any other prank callers that you particularly admire?

LPC: I like “Arnie Vs. Binnie” (the one where that hillbilly calls the other guy 10,000 times), the “Cambodian Refugee calls,” the Fightsters, and John Bean. They’re the ones that make me laugh the most.

04. How do you keep from laughing when saying absurd things to people?
Did you practice this? How long did it take you to develop control?

LPC: I don’t know. I know I laugh when I listen back to it, so that’s a good question. When I started doing this, I was a bored teenager and anti-social. I literally sat there and talked to random people on the phone all day. I was comfortable doing it, as crazy as that sounds.

05. Has anyone ever tracked you down after you've called them or have you
ever had the police show at your house?

LPC: When I started LPC, I was also starting high school (Columbine, by the way). I was new to the area and didn’t know anybody there. During lunch it was rough, I had no car and usually had no money. To pass the time, I started making collect calls to the principal’s office from the pay phone in the hall. I would usually tell the operator my name was Dick Smack. The principal would always be completely bewildered – “Dick Smack?...Who in the world is this…?” and I would laugh. Finally, he hung up the phone and looked out into the hall, and busted me. He interrogated me for over an hour, saying “Who sent you? Who do you work for?” My first week of high school and here I was, already suspended for 1 week. Oddly, my parents thought this was funny. Odder still is that no one else has tracked me down since.

06. How did you avoid having your calls traced?

LPC: Back then you couldn’t really be traced. You could get a tap put on your phone, but it took a lot of effort. Then Caller ID came out, but I had a job by then (as an operator!) so I knew how to avoid it. Now, there are all kinds of things people can do, so you just kind of have to move on so it doesn’t get to that point.

07. Where did you make the phone calls from? Did you change location often?
Did you make them from public places?

LPC: I was always at home.

08. Were you inebriated during any of these phone calls?

LPC: Not in the old days. I just sort of weirdly treated it like a job. Later on I usually smoked some herb. On the new CD (LPC 5), I was actually drunk on some of it. 1 or 2 things I don’t even remember doing. In my opinion, some things get easier as you get older, but prank calls don’t necessarily get any easier.

09. How did you balance keeping people on the line with pushing the envelope?

LPC: I guess I would just get on a roll. Usually the people were the ones who enlivened it. I mean, rural Coloradoans having to take a stand against helium, lambs and squids just gets intense sometimes.

10. How much of a recorded phone call is improvised?

LPC: Pretty much all of it. Things do always tend to revolve around the same themes, like meat shops and weird invented meat, probably because I’m a vegetarian. But it seems like it makes for a better album if you have it be as random as possible.

11. What sort of equipment did you use?

LPC: At my parents’ house they had an old-time answering machine with the mandatory “beep” every 10 seconds. Since then, I’ve tried a few phone recorders. I can pretty much say the Duofone TAD-114 (an old Radio Shack cassette answering machine) sounds the best. It doesn’t sound perfect, which in a way would ruin it, but it is very clear. The problem is finding one that still works.

12. Logistically, how did you manage to keep up the conversation while
simultaneously recording and manipulating the sound quality of your
recorded voice? Did this take practice?

LPC: I started using effects later on. Sometimes I would add a mic, effects and an amp into the mix so I would sound all processed on the other end. Usually it involved using pitch shifting while doing what I’ve always done. Some of that turned out really funny. Having a tight recording studio like I’ve got helps, too. But mainly it sounds the way it does because there’s 10 times the amount of calls that don’t get used. You just keep the material that seems to go anywhere.

13. Did you usually make these calls alone or were other people around?

LPC: I was usually by myself. But like on the Evergreen Motel stuff, where the guy just was ready to battle at length, those calls were all made when people were around encouraging me to do it. Sometimes they would also get on the phone. It was funny.

14. Did your friends ever ask you to prank particular people for them?
Would you?

LPC: A few times. The funniest of those was this guy’s girlfriend’s dad, who would get mad and start talking all slow for emphasis. But the rest of the time I was just calling random numbers.

15. Have you ever played these calls for your parents or family? What do
they think?

LPC: I’m pretty sure they like the one about “Gomez.” But I think they kind of block out as much of it as they can. Some of the best material was recorded as my mom walked by with groceries or something, saying, “Would you get off of the phone?” Those were the times when it was the hardest not to laugh.

16. Have you ever been in a fight? Have you ever had to put a tennis racket to anyone’s lip?

LPC: You want a piece of this, big and bad? No, really I haven’t…I think the few times I’ve gotten all loose or even rowdy in public I must have lucked out. I guess I just sort of disassociate myself from LPC so I don’t have to try to explain it too much.

17. Your website contains video clips that coincide with a few of your
recorded prank calls. Who videotaped these?

LPC: My friend’s idea was to make a fully produced LPC movie. It did get produced, but not really released. There was high-tech equipment, and there were craft services and per diems involved. There was even this digital phone box where I could add a headset, a mic, and my own customized effects to the phone calls. Then there was the street team, who simultaneously went into the stores I was calling and used a hidden camera. This footage may still be released someday, but the audio portion of the rest of this session has already been used on previous LPC albums.

18. Did you know any of the people you were calling? Did they know this during or after the time of the phone call?

LPC: Usually not. Once in a while it would be someone I knew. Like I think the guy at the Packaging Store suspected me when I would go in there. But shit, that was a long time ago…I’m sure some people guessed they were getting recorded.

19. Has anyone ever recognized your voice in public?

LPC: This one time in ’93, I was at Emo’s in Austin, TX. I was standing in line at the bar behind these 2 random guys who were saying quotes from LPC to each other, like “what is a parochial nimrod,” and “have you taken any medication today” and laughing. I was totally surprised. Then later on that night, I ran into those guys again and said, “Yeah, hi, I overheard you guys before and it was funny.” One of the guys replied, “Oh, that’s just from some weird tape we have.” Then I said, “Yeah, that’s my tape! For real! That’s awesome!” And they totally didn’t believe me. But I mean, back then, there were like 100 cassettes in existence, and there was no distribution. So it was a classic moment. But I haven’t really spoken up about it since then.

20. Each one of your releases has a metal interlude. Were you a metalhead growing up? What were some of your favorite bands? What are some of your favorite bands now?

LPC: Yes, definitely. More towards the speedmetal side like Slayer. Or innovative metal like Celtic Frost. Judas Priest. Overall, I have a crazy music collection, though…like if you took just the box sets I have, there’d be The Fall, Nirvana, Kiss, and Nurse With Wound. I have about 500 CDs, about 500 on vinyl, and about 300 tapes. I still like Bob Mould and J Mascis. I think I dislike more than I like. It’s old school around here, Holmes.

21. There were rumors for a while that you were one of the guys from the band Cephalic Carnage, perhaps because of the death metal musical interludes on your CDs and the fact that you apparently live/lived in Denver. What do you make of that?

LPC: I’m not, so not much. I have heard that they’re quite good though, so I’ll have to find out more about this band. But I make sure and put a speedmetal song on the albums for a few reasons. Because I can, because it’s another element that’s extreme. But also because I’m an unsigned musician, so I just sort of insist that I get some music released, via LPC, to a bigger audience. There used to be weirder atmospheric interludes on the albums. After it turned out that the label was into it, I just streamlined it into strictly thrash metal.

22. Describe your childhood. Were you the class clown?

LPC: Not really, although I did get kicked out of kindergarten. Something to do with a hose. But I couldn’t really communicate with people too well, in society or whatever. Not till my 20’s did I get any better at it.

23. Are you a fan of seafood? Would you ever eat a squid sandwich?

LPC: No. But Indian food, Mexican food…all other kinds of food, though.

24. What's your favorite drink to order from Orange Julius?

LPC: Before or after the ban?

25. Cumulatively, how many times have you called Orange Julius?

LPC: Actually fewer times than some of the others. I mean, when you’re guaranteed 10 expletives in 1 call, it doesn’t take too much time to get something good.

26. Has all of your recorded material been released?

LPC: Yes, just about everything has been released now that LPC 5 has come out. But, like this past week I was listening to old cassettes and found some unreleased stuff, and someone asked if he could have it be the recording on his cell phone. So it doesn’t really seem to stop…

27. Will there be more any volumes to come?

LPC: I doubt it. But I think there’s going to be a CD/DVD box set in 2006.

28. What were some of your favorite fake names to use? I particularly like
“Reginald Mapplethorpe” and “Dirk Funk.”

LPC: Thanks. Those are good, Fennel Cartwright, Rasmussen seemed to resonate with people (laughs).

29. Have you ever considered performing these prank calls live, before an audience?

LPC: No. I declined whenever I was asked, simply because I don’t believe it would work. And especially not now that I’ve heard other people’s attempts at doing it. I’m considering performing the thrash tunes live, though.

30. Have you ever considered collaborating?

LPC: Well, there is a split 7”. There have also been other collaborations that weren’t released. In fact, if you look at the first LPC cassette from 1988, it says it’s a “compilation.” That’s how it was introduced – like an assortment of people on the phone. But it’s really just me.

31. How do you spend your time nowadays?

LPC: Let’s see…with my girlfriend…I have a recording studio so I work with other bands, and I’m always striving to become better in terms of writing and recording music. Plus I continue to release music – whether it’s as LPC, in a band format, or on my own.

32. Are you aware of any Longmont Potion Castle imitators?

LPC: Not really. Just fans, mainly.

33. I found one online here: Please listen to this and give us your opinion of his call. Critique it for us if you will. (Go down to "phone calls" then go to the one called "The Unit." There are a few other ones where he's calling Radio Shack too.)

LPC: It’s pretty good. If I had to critique it, I guess I would say it’s a little too repetitive. But it’s sort of weird, the guy even sounds like me a little bit! Actually, it’s sort of flattering.

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