Interview with Chris McClurken of All-Star Porn Jam

On Saturday, December 4th, Seattle’s oldest bar – The Central Saloon – will once again host the annual All-Star Porn Jam. It is a night of camaraderie, a reuniting of friends, old and new, for the best party of the year! It is a night of debauchery: beautiful women, flowing beer and, of course, rock ‘n roll! Most importantly though, is that all money made at the All-Star Porn Jam is donated to charity. Last year, nearly $2700 was donated to PAWS and Northwest Harvest. I spoke with Chris ‘Dr. Pondscum’ McClurken who has been running the show ever since the second annual ASPJ nearly a decade ago.

Flyer designed by Chris McClurken

One Louder Magazine: Hi Chris, what is the All-Star Porn Jam?

Chris McClurken: The ASPJ is a benefit event featuring as many rock and rollers as we can pack into a bar playing covers from their favorite bands. We turn over 100% of the door to charity which in the past few years has been a pretty sizable sum. I guess the short version of “what is it” is that it’s half benefit, half holiday rock and roll party and half logistical nightmare. This year we are trying to force 40+ songs with 50+ different musicians into a 10 lb sack that only lasts four hours. Try that on for size!

OLM: What’s your role with the ASPJ?

CMC: I’ve been coordinating the show since version two in 2002. We’re in our ninth year and things are going better than ever. I’ve been as surprised as anyone with the success of the show, but it just keeps getting better every year.

OLM: How and when did you come up with the idea for the ASPJ?

CMC: Debbie Rock called up a rock band I was in back in 2001 and asked if we and Windowpane would consider doing an impromptu show at the Lakepointe [Bar & Grille, Kenmore, WA] before Christmas. She suggested that instead of our usual shtick we just play some covers and whatnot. That first show was indeed pretty impromptu, but it went over pretty well. We realized right off the bat that the more people involved the better.

OLM: How did you decide on the name “All-Star Porn Jam”?

CMC: Marky Mark the Monkey Lad from Windowpane was present while we were discussing the first show. He said, “Yeah…we’ll have a JAM…a PORN JAM!!!” and that was pretty much it. I think we stuck with it because of the excellent opportunities for poster images!

OLM: What were the early years like?

CMC: That first year was pretty rough and quick. I remember Ben Litz’ Mindshaker opened the show which was one of the first times I got to meet him. He’s been a regular ever since. For the first five years the show operated out of the Lakepointe which is a MUCH smaller venue than The Central. Needless to say, it got pretty out of control, a lot of damage to livers, relationships, etc. I guess as long as everyone feels like they are doing it for charity that it gives them carte blanche to fuck up a little.

OLM: Besides you, have there been any other musicians who have been a part of every single ASPJ?

CMC: I’d say Ben, but he bailed out one year with the chicken pox…talk about lack of dedication. I’m not sure about EVERY show, but we have a short list of MVPs that come back year after year. You know who you are!

OLM: What are some of the more memorable performances you’ve witnessed over the years (good and bad)?

CMC: If you refer to the Porn Jam Pledge of Allegiance from 2009 you’ll see that one of the key points is “I will avoid alcohol/painkiller combinations directly before performing” which I personally think is just a good idea in general. Not everyone shares my view, though, which made for some interesting “bass” playing one year. I also loved the year that one group of fellas never rehearsed together and all learned different live/studio versions of Motörhead’s “Ace of Spades”. Man, that was a train wreck. I also have to mention Hodgy’s extremely ambitious rendition of Dio’s “Hear ‘n Aid” benefit tune. That was pretty epic with upwards of 10 guest guitar solos in one song.

Standing room only at The Central - ASPJ 2009. Photo by Wolf Prints

OLM: Is there anyone you’ve wanted to be a part of ASPJ, but hasn’t played it yet? Who is it and why haven’t they pulled the trigger?

CMC: I’d be stoked if Avril Lavigne would show up one year, but that bitch never writes back!

OLM: Have any “special guests” attended or played at ASPJ?

CMC: The one that sticks out in my mind happened a couple of years ago. I got to play with Johnny Jam from New American Shame for a couple of songs. I LOVE that guy!

OLM: What’s the most difficult aspect of setting-up the ASPJ?

CMC: In any other year I’d tell you that it’s hardest to nail down the players, get them to commit to a certain song and then fill their lineups. I can’t complain about that anymore, because this year I had 100% filled within a week after my initial letter about the show. It’s apparently getting more competitive to get slots.

OLM: Where would you like to see ASPJ go? How do you see it evolving?

CMC: I’d clearly like to see the show get more exposure and keep growing, but quite frankly we’re right at the upper end of capacity for The Central. I haven’t been smart enough to even think about possibilities past that. It seems so crazy that a one-off show that we jokingly called the PORN JAM would still be around 10 years later and be so much larger than what it was initially.

OLM: Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, Chris…last question! How can people get more information about the All-Star Porn Jam?

CMC: Check out our show lineup and visit us on facebook. Also anyone is welcome to contact me directly if they are interested in playing next year or helping out. Hit me on facebook! Also make sure you all come down to the show this year and see what the buzz is all about. It’s been one of the rock and roll highlights of the year for me for the last nine years, let’s see if it’s one of yours!

OLM: The desert island question: if you could take the collected works of five artists, who would the five be?

CMC:
Pre- ’76 Rolling Stones
Led Zeppelin
Thin Lizzy
The Ramones
Avril Lavigne

OLM: Have you ever covered any of their songs for ASPJ?

CMC: Strangely enough, no!

OLM: Who is your guilty listening pleasure?

CMC: Avril Lavigne. Isn’t she EVERYONE’S guilty listening pleasure?

OLM: Have you ever covered any of her songs for ASPJ?

CMC: Sadly enough, no! But that may be coming soon…

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