Compound Words

Interview with the Compound’s Joey Mayes

Illustration by Bryan Gomm

For the last five years, the best venue in Provo has actually been a house, tucked away by the post office and a couple of abandoned buildings. Rock n’ Roll impresario Joey Mayes, who lives in The Compound and handles its booking, has provided a home for local favorites such as 90s Television, Big Trub and The Broken Spells, and national acts like Brimstone Howl, The Vivian Girls and Titus Andronicus. Recently, The V caught up with Mayes and talked with him about his formative years in Memphis; bands to pay attention to and being in Utah, but not being of Utah. Enjoy!

How many bands have you been in?

No idea.

Who are your favorite local acts right now?

90s Television, The Howitzers, whatever Jesse Tucker is doing, Big Trub, and I really like my own band, Glowing Heads.

How did being raised in Memphis influence your musical tastes?

I grew up on soul music, classic R&B, and 50s-60s pop, and music is always present in some way with everything that goes on in [Memphis]. There was always an underlying vibe to the city, which seemed to be expressed in music or racism – sometimes subtle and sometimes not.

I guess I picked up on how both work, so I watched and paid attention to how things were said and done and by whom. In high school I had friends in local hardcore punk bands and would go see them play. I was drawn to a lot of the ethos surrounding punk rock and hardcore in Memphis in the early-mid 90s, which at that time was very heavily oriented to vegan straightedge. There was a lot of social, political, and environmental activism going.

I always found that people were always trying to approach music/art, etc. in as many ways as possible. Copying or ripping off got no attention. Clichés aren’t acceptable. Variety is an idea that doesn’t come close to what can be found in  Memphis if you aren’t lazy. After moving away from Memphis in 2000 to come here for school, I was immediately struck by how homogeneous music and musicians here were, and it made me miss what I felt everywhere I went when I was
home. So I started re-tracing my steps with Memphis music and went as far back as I could go. I’ve re-discovered my love for Memphis music over and over and over again because there’s always some loser kid in his room about to do something you’ve never heard before. That’s the thing that keeps me going.

Has hosting regular shows in your house been a problem, vis-à-vis neighbors or police?

Sometimes, but only if it gets loud outside. A few of the officers have stayed and hung around before. They know we aren’t out for trouble.

I know that other journalists have asked you this question, but what motivated the Compound’s genesis?

Boredom. I hate most music I hear here, so I decided to start roping bands into playing here I liked. It seemed that the promoters were only interested in bringing bands that would make money. Bad idea. It is a huge disservice to any kid looking for something new and exciting to do in this very droll place.
In what way has the Compound been beneficial to the Utah music scene?

Probably the same thing the Death Star [in Provo] is doing. It opens up other  venues for art.
In what way has the Compound been shaped by Utah’s cultural environment, if any?

I don’t know. We’re in Utah, but not of it.
What are some of the challenges that come with a place that doubles as venue and home?

Kicking assholes out of my house when I want to go to bed.
What are some of your favorite shows in the Compound’s history?

Well, I started getting really excited about how things might go here when The Unnatural Helpers played here with The Fallouts a few years ago. Compoundfest was a blast. Bryan Gomm says Thee Oh Sees show was the best show he’s ever seen. I think my personal favorite is a tie between King Louie and His Missing Monuments and The Moonhearts. There are seriously too many to try to remember/list.

You’ve gotten some higher-profile national acts to play shows at the Compound? How did you book them, or did they specifically request to come play there?

Some requested to play here and some I’ve had to contact. At this point I don’t really have to contact bands. Booking agents or bands will hear about the place and hit me up.

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