10Qs with Kate Sullivan-Jones of The English Muffins

Kate Sullivan-Jones plays bass in the pop-punk trio The English Muffins, and used to play bass in The Outfits and High Spirits. She cohosts a podcast about fast food called Fast Food Date.

Kate Sullivan JonesWhere were you born?
I was born in Berkeley, California, but my parents moved to Cape Cod when I was a baby and I grew up there.

What brought you to Portland?
My eventual husband and I wanted to move in together, and we knew people who moved to Portland or were planning to. He lived farther north and I lived in Massachusetts, and it was the coolest place in between us.

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
I have two! I work weekdays as a pharmacy tech at Apothecary By Design, and Saturdays as a cashier/camera explainer at Pinecone+Chickadee.

What was your most memorable gig?
Probably going on tour with High Spirits, since I had never gone on tour before and I thought it would be totally not my thing, but it ended up being one of the most fun weeks of my life. Maybe a tour doesn’t count as a gig, though. The Outfits played a show with Shellshag, Haru Bangs, and Mouth Washington once, which was awesome because I love all of those bands and there were donuts. I guess that’s technically the most memorable show since Noah put a donut on my mic and I can vividly remember being distracted by how good it smelled.

What was your worst gig?
Once we couldn’t play a show because a member of our band got injured while loading in, and then while loading out I accidentally took part of the other band’s drum hardware.

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
This is really hard to answer, because I feel like the music that has been most influential music in my life doesn’t really affect how I play at all. Like I think The Mae Shi’s album Terrorbird changed my brain, but I don’t really make music that sounds anything like that. Probably singing along to oldies and top 40 hits on the radio has had more of a direct effect.

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
I need thick picks! I like these red ones with holes in them that are like little grippy strawberries. Also, living without a practice space has been pretty rough.

Photo by Don Marietta

Any advice for a musician starting out?
It does not matter how old you are! I was 28 when I started playing bass. Before that, my musical experience was mostly limited to church choir growing up and singing in my car. The Outfits were figuring out what we were gonna do right after we decided to be a band, and we already had a guitar player and a drummer, so I bought the cheapest bass at Buckdancer’s and played our songs until I wasn’t a total embarrassment. I also think the best way to motivate yourself to play better is to join a band that has a show coming up. When I joined High Spirits, I knew we had a show in a couple months and that I couldn’t let them down, so I worked really hard to become a better bass player.

What was the origin behind your band name?
Natalie found an old picture she drew of a cartoon band called The English Muffins, and posted it on Facebook asking if anyone wanted to make it a reality. It was a really cool drawing, so I asked if I could join.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
My musical guilty pleasure is a five-way tie between some real cheesy Blue Öyster Cult songs.

What was the first album/recording you owned?
I think the first tape I bought with my own money was TLC’s CrazySexyCool, which I still love.

What are you listening to at the moment?
I’ve been super into Jason Derulo’s newest album lately.

What was the best concert/musical performance you’ve attended?
I think seeing Mission of Burma at Space was the best. I love that band, and my husband played in both the opening bands (The RattleSnakes and Huak) and the whole night was a total blast.

Mission of Burma
Kate at Mission of Burma at SPACE in 2009, photo by Stephen Quirk