What it's like to go from devoted fan to being part of the team

J.G.
By J.G. Pasterjak
Jul 4, 2023 | GRM, Column, Skinny Puppy, Anniversary | Posted in Columns | Never miss an article

Photography Credit: Donovan Dwyer

My anniversary is coming up soon. No, not getting married, that’s … uh, sometime. I really need to check with my wife to see when that is, and hopefully when I ask her, it’s far enough from the actual date that she forgets that I asked when it actually rolls around.

But, no, it’s my anniversary of getting brought on board at this wacky place.

Yep, by around the time you read this, I will have surpassed 33 years at this job, meaning I’ve spent more than 62% of my life here. It’s the only real job I ever had and, truthfully, the only job I ever wanted.

And that’s kind of an angle of my life I don’t explore much in public, because the whole thing seems kind of absurd. I mean, it’s one thing to be a fan of something that shapes your worldview such that you eventually follow along a similar path. But it’s entirely another thing for that path to lead to the exact same thing that shaped that view to begin with.

I started with being a fan of GRM, then called Auto-X, and reading the mostly black-and-white magazine in the back of the driver’s ed car in high school and letting it define my worldview on how cars were enjoyed and interacted with. And it went to being one of the guys who helps steer the very same ship that took me on that journey.

It’s … frankly, it’s kind of imponderable, and I’m never sure how to write about it when this time of year comes around.

So I called a friend who shares a similar predicament.

Matthew Setzer grew up in Montana, but his passion for performance eventually took him to California, where he earned an MFA in experimental sound from CalArts.

A primary catalyst for his love of avant-garde music came when barely out of middle school: Matthew’s brother shared some music from industrial pioneers Skinny Puppy.

Their sound guided him through his own journey of study and practice, resulting is his current status as a multi-instrumental musician, sound designer, instrument builder and performing artist.

You can currently catch him on tour as the live guitar player for … wait for it … Skinny Puppy.

So, you can probably see why we get along.

Yeah, it’s like going to one of those fantasy camps for baseball or whatever, but it’s real,” Setzer tells me of his now near decade with the band as their live guitar player on what will be the final tour of their 40-year history.

When I played my first show ever, those first few minutes between when I went on stage to when I started playing seemed to last forever … or, it went fast but so many thoughts rushed through my head. It was just weird to think that I’d have been at this show anyway, but I happened to be here with a guitar and not because I bought a ticket.”

And, yeah, I totally get that.

I’m never sure how to square the fact that the life I live is also the life that I kind of help curate for tens of thousands of readers and fans. It just seems paradoxically circular and absurd that people let me do this, and at any moment the curtain will open and reveal the aliens who have been using me to stage an elaborate, half-century joke for their version of a reality show.

That said, though, the feeling isn’t exactly impostor syndrome. I’ll defer to Setzer again because he summed it up nicely and I tend to agree: “You’re right, it’s not imposter syndrome, because ultimately I do feel like I’ve earned this opportunity through hard work, and I feel like my performance brings something to the table, but it’s definitely imposter syndrome adjacent. There’s a certain level of absurdity to how lucky we are to be doing *this* exact thing.”

Copy and paste that for me.

Still, squaring that absurdity and how we turned from influencee to influencer can be tricky. As much as anything, it’s a huge sense of responsibility, knowing that I need to continue to produce content at the level that got me so interested in the first place.

Matthew sums that up nicely: “How do you square the absurdity of us ending up here? I dunno, I don’t think you do. You just embrace it and appreciate it and let that appreciation fuel your performance and never take it for granted.”

Yeah. Nailed it.

So, happy anniversary to me, but thank YOU so much for letting me do this for so long. Not a day goes by when I don’t ponder the profound cosmic absurdity of my position here, but I’d also still be a part of this world, even if I was buying a ticket. I deeply appreciate my opportunity, and I deeply appreciate you.

And catch Matthew Setzer on the Skinny Puppy Final Tour through mid-May. Wear a GRM shirt to the show, and he might throw you a guitar pick.

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Comments
JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
4/20/23 1:43 p.m.

Thanks for indulging my stupid crap all these years gang. Can't think of anything else I'd rather be doing, and I deeply appreciate all the decades of constructive enabling.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/20/23 3:00 p.m.

It’s been a wild 30-plus years. 

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
4/20/23 4:15 p.m.

Someone was going to be hired, fortunately for you, the Suddards and your coworkers, and for us, the GRM readers and community, it was you. 
 

Keep up the great work!

IKR
IKR New Reader
4/20/23 6:37 p.m.

Love your articlesyes

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
4/20/23 10:14 p.m.
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) said:

Someone was going to be hired, fortunately for you, the Suddards and your coworkers, and for us, the GRM readers and community, it was you. 
 

Keep up the great work!

Eric Orr

Thanks Eric.

Not gonna lie, it's really cool getting to do this. I mean, it's a job, so it has its rough spots like any other, but ultimately I get paid to hang out with cool people like you who just love this community, and that's pretty awesome.

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
4/20/23 10:15 p.m.
IKR said:

Love your articlesyes

Thanks man. It's an honor to be able to share all if this with everyone.

ConiglioRampante
ConiglioRampante None
4/21/23 10:13 a.m.

My first post and it's exactly why I've been a decades-long fan, "newsstand/bookstore" subscriber and major lurker:  where else will I find a mashup of both motorsport enthusiast and Skinny Puppy content?  This makes me want to dust off my 12" single of Tin Omen, convert it to digital and blast off into the Texas Hill Country.  And likely (read: promptly) get arrested and not care because it will have been a good day.

Thank you to the team for all you have done and continue to do.  

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
4/21/23 10:22 a.m.
ConiglioRampante said:

My first post and it's exactly why I've been a decades-long fan, "newsstand/bookstore" subscriber and major lurker:  where else will I find a mashup of both motorsport enthusiast and Skinny Puppy content?  This makes me want to dust off my 12" single of Tin Omen, convert it to digital and blast off into the Texas Hill Country.  And likely (read: promptly) get arrested and not care because it will have been a good day.

Thank you to the team for all you have done and continue to do.  

It's always fun to see where our worlds intersect with others. And I also love that our fandoms are specific and dedicated enough that it provides a genuine bond. Like, if I see someone wearing an SP shirt or a GRM shirt in an airport, I know I can walk up to that person and have an authentic moment of connection over that aspect of our lives, and it isn't going to be (too) weird. You can't really do that with someone who happens to be wearing an Adidas shirt or a Chicago White Sox hat. 

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