meatmarket04(all photos by Alice Baxley)

Meat Market is so fucking cool. They’re so cool that I wish they were all my older brothers (I’m pretty sure they’re all younger than me but this is my dream so let me live). I want them to give me their old comic books and ruffle my hair and explain Mach’s Principle to me, and take me out for tacos and give me words of encouragement and protect me from all the bad things in life. The Oakland-based band of brainiacs (they actually met in Physics club, like for real) has been quietly making not so quietly awesome garage magic for a few years now, and released their first self-titled album last year on Under The Gun Records. Their latest offering, a two song EP on Suicide Squeeze records, is about to make it so everyone wants Ian Tatum, Alex Shen, Jeffrey Cheung, and Jake Freitas to be part of their imaginary families (these are very Jolie-Pitt type broods) and I will have to lock them up in my basement (I’ll let them out to tour, don’t worry).

I dragged Meat Market out into the parking lot of the Cha Cha the last time they were in town and did a very poor job of proving that I would be a delightful little sister. Here’s the interview:


Heyyy Meat Market.

All: Hellooo.


Let’s start with a boring generic question. However,  I want you guys to make up the answer. I don’t want a real answer. How did you guys meet?

Alex: Physics class.

Jeffrey: We all met in third grade and then went to high school together, and then we were in the physics CLUB and I had trouble figuring out this equation.

Alex: I thought Jeff was autistic or something, or he had some kind of deficiency. So I tried helping him out. I took him under my wing.

Jeffrey: Shen was my tutor. Pre-algebra, and geometry. Teaching me all the shapes.

Alex: Yeah.


So that’s how you two met. When did these white people come along?

Jake: They lured us in.

Ian: The truth is that I met them at the end of our time in college.

Jeff: No, no, we were working on a farm together. That’s what happened.


You guys were migrant workers?

Ian: Very similar to that.

Alex: Yes, modern UC Santa Cruz migrant workers. We were growing…kale.


Kale is so hip right now.

Jake: Fuck Kale.

Alex: No sorry, it was during the Israeli club dinner. Wait Jake, what is that called again?

Jake: Hillel?

Alex: Yeah, they were hosting a free meal. And I saw it as a good opportunity to meet people and get some good home-made food. Basically what it all comes down to is that we connected on a spiritual level from the get-go that your average person does not.



Alex: When I saw Ian in a general’s coat, I knew we could make magic. When I saw Jake, he had long ass hair with a Doors shirt on, and I knew magic could happen as well.


That’s beautiful. Tell me what the first Meat Market show was like.

Jeff: The first one Shen and I played as Bang Boys, before Meat Market. We wore dresses, and nobody was there. And that sucked. The first Meat Market show we played was with Ian, just two guitarists and drums but then the first show we played with Jake was with Natural Child.

Alex: At Meta Vinyl in Santa Cruz.

Jake. It was terrible. We sucked.

Alex : We brought the shittiest PA with no stands, and we sounded like shit. And then Natural Child came on, brought a broomstick, put the microphone onto the broomstick, and killed it.


So your first show, you sucked and Natural Child was awesome.  What was your most memorable show to date?

Alex: That house patty in LA in July was pretty tight. Our memory spans are getting short.

Ian: It was exciting because everyone came on stage. And I don’t know if they knew who we were or not, but they were all up there dancing. It was hard for us to play, just physically, and that was exciting.

Alex: Yeah! And Ty Segall was there, and he said he liked our band. I was like ohhhh.


Okay new topic. Let’s say you guys are each a character from Game Of Thrones. Who would be who?

Alex: Ask Jake.

Jeff: Because he’s read them and watched the shows.

Jake: Fuck. Who are we? Ian is Robb Stark. King of the North.

Ian: Oh wow.



Alex What???

Jake: No spoilers! She meant Ned Stark.


Sorry. I have to go now bye.

Jake: Shen is…you shouldn’t have asked me this, because I take it way too seriously.

Alex: I could be that worm dude. He seems cool.


Which worm dude?

Alex: The ruler of Khaleesi’s army?

Jake: Oh the eunuch!


You would be a eunuch?

Jake: Alex is Lord Baelish. Littlefinger.

Alex: I’m George RR Martin, because I’m a mastermind, bitch!

Jake: Jeffrey is…fuck. Jeffrey doesn’t watch the show or know anything about it.

Alex: Jeffrey is Khaleesi.

Jake: And I’m…umm…who is the knight that is totally in love with Khaleesi? He’s kind of pathetic.


Jorah Mormont.

Jake: Yeah I’m him. Kinda pathetic (laughs).

Alex: Yasi, you should just make the whole interview up.



I don’t even have to because this is gold. Let’s talk inspirations! What’s inspiring you right now? What do you look at and think to yourself, fuck man, that is so fucking inspiring?


Jeffrey: Mulitas.

Ian: Jeffrey is inspired by food. I really like this band called Dogbreath right now. They’re from Phoenix.

Alex: Over the summer we saw a children’s rock camp play with Ty Segall at the Parkside. The kids were no joke like eleven to thirteen years old, and were playing like Zeppelin and classic rock songs, and singing way better than us. They were just untouched by the profession and everything that comes along when you get older.


Like bitterness and despair?

Alex: Yeah. They were just killing it, they were just enjoying it. I think when you see anybody of any age in their element, in their zone, with their eyes rolled back in their head, with their hearts on their sleeves, doing their thing, that’s what gets me.

Jake: For me it’s Maid In Manhattan.


I just watched that!

Ian: Rom coms for sure.

Jeffrey: It was very moving.


I enjoyed it. If Meat Market was a romantic comedy, which romantic comedy would you be?

Ian: Ideally I would say one of the early John Cusack movies, although those aren’t necessarily romantic comedies.


Yes, they absolutely are.

Ian: Well, they’re romantic comedies with an emphasis on the comedy. They’re somewhat slapstick. Like The Sure Thing, or Better Off Dead.

Jake: I concur.

Ian: I would say that’s more of a goal we have that we haven’t yet reached.


So Meat Market’s goal as a band is to become the musical equivalent of Better Off Dead.

Jake: Yes exactly.

Ian: Which, in a way, that’s setting the bar very high.

Jeff: Is that movie good?

Jake: Jeff has not seen it.


Moving along here in a wonderful way, this interview is progressing exactly as I had hoped. Okay, what band did you enjoy most playing with?

Jake: Pangea

Ian: Pangea

Alex: Pangea

Jeff: Pangea

Jake: No honestly, I love that band. It’s embarrassing.

Alex: I listen to them a lot. Oh and Antwon. He’s amazing.

Jeff: Pangea and Fidlar. That was awesome.

Alex: My dream band that we played with the past year was probably Fleshies. They have always represented Oakland, and I want to put that in. That Fleshies show at Sugarland ruled.

Ian: This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco.


This ain’t no fooling around.

Ian: Exactly.


If you guys were djing inside Cha Cha right now, what would you play?

Jeff: Sugar Ray. “Every Morning”, “Someday”, “Fly”….

Jake: I would probably play…come back to me.

Alex: I would play a loop of the first 8 seconds of “Where Eagles Dare” by The Misfits. Because I heard that on KALX the other day while the DJ was talking and it was just crazy cool. I would just play that.

Ian: If I were djing tonight, I would put on…the like twelve minute long version of “Secret” by OMD, and then I would also put on “Neon Lights” by Kraftwerk.


So two very long songs.

Alex: Diversity within this band for sure.


And Jake?

Jake: I would play exclusively Lesley Gore.


It’s your party and you’ll cry if you want to.

Jake: Yeah!



Okay almost done. Ian, sit down. It’s almost over.

Ian: Sitting.


What is the best thing about Cultist?

Jake: Yasi

Alex: Yasi

Ian: Yasi

Jeff: Yasi

Alex: Levity is the soul of wit!


It’s dark so you can’t see that I am blushing and also crying. So what’s up next for Meat Market?

Ian: We just released a 7inch with Suicide Squeeze, and I believe we have a full length coming out after that.

Alex: I don’t even think we’ve unleashed our full power yet. We’re digging deeper. We’re finding more inspiration. We’re living through new experiences. And hopefully people will connect.


You can find Meat Market on Facebook, Twitter, and tied up on my couch watching High Fidelity with me.





Yasi Salek

About Yasi Salek

likes parentheses.