I love people who think big, and Jeff Theimer is wired that way.
He gets amped when talking about the New Noise Music Foundation, which he co-founded in 2009, and I can’t help but smile when I hear him talk so animatedly about his dreams of producing concerts that feature bands both young and experienced, collaborating with other arts organizations around town, and building cultural activities in Santa Barbara like the successful soiree he throws each fall: the New Noise Santa Barbara Music Conference and Festival, now on the verge of celebrating its sixth year.
Jeff, who is from Oklahoma but spent most of his youth in Santa Barbara, played in hometown bands before becoming the marketing director of 92.9 KJEE and publicity manager at KROQ in Los Angeles. But he found his raison d’etre as the head honcho of New Noise, one of the best things that’s ever happened to Santa Barbara’s cultural scene.
He calmed down just enough to answer the Proust Questionnaire.
What is it you like most about your job?
“Music is an evil temptress.” My buddy who I was in a band with told me that 15 years ago when I started working in radio, and it’s true to a certain extent depending on what you want in life. Evil in the sense that it’s not an easy “business” to make a living and you need to have tough skin plus passion to survive. Tempting because it can be one of the most funand rewarding “industries” to work in. Producing events is the same way. I guess I have never really considered what I do a career. I just do it cause I love it — just like most bands do.
At the end of the day, I like having an idea and then seeing it morph into whatever it becomes and realized. Working with creative and industrious people doing community projects is never not fun.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
I don’t know if I subscribe to the concept of “perfect happiness.” That said, I am elated when I get to travel with my wife Stephanie, meet new people, and have experiences beyond my normal day to day life. Nothing beats being able to see the world and connect with other people and cultures.
What is your greatest fear?
That I forgot to rent the generator.
Who do you most admire?
This is a tough one. I admire a lot of people and do my best to emulate certain aspects of said peeps into my life and personality. I’ll leave family out of this one and say: Joe Strummer of the Clash. He wrote meaningful political anthems, was always true to himself, and always respected others and stood up for what he believed in. He spoke “truth to power” as they say. That is something I really respected about him and his music. He’s an icon who I think it’s healthy to admire and look up too. Just enough punk but a whole lotta love and inspiration.
What us your greatest extravagance?
Food: McConnell’s Dutch Chocolate. Damn good stuff.
Drink: Old Fashioned (recently discovered that one my favorites in town is the new Jimmy’s (The Pickle Room). Bartender there makes a mean one.
Life: Staying in a nice hotel. Where I rest my head at night means a lot to me. I’m willing to pay a little extra if I am able if it means being somewhere I’m comfortable and generally excited to be in.
What is your current state of mind?
Just got back from camping on the Gaviota Coast, so a little fuzzy and blessed. I think BOTH of those are a Facebook update statuses, so I apologize in advance.
What is the quality you most like in people?
Passion. Passion is something you can’t fake and can be applied to all aspects of a person’s life (usually for the better).
What is the quality you most dislike in people?
I don’t dig disrespectful peeps or those who feel entitled to something. I’m from Oklahoma and some of my family members used to call this behavior “bein’ ugly.” I guess that’s something that bums me out. I’m definitely a “people person” and have a high tolerance for “bummerness.” Just expect to get called out if the bum out continues — or worse: starts to spread.
What do you most value in friends?
Loyalty. Loyalty goes way beyond just taking sides in an argument. Loyalty means listening, calling you out on your s%*t, and then being there when things go South. A true friend doesn’t bail on you when it’s not convenient or you blow it.
What is your most marked characteristic?
I like to ramble and overanalyze. Talking stuff over helps me get focused and keeps my eyes on the prize.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Rad(ical), Viva, and Punished.
Which talent would you most like to have?
The ability to be that dude at the campfire who knows every song you wanted to hear (and ALL the lyrics). There is something about being around a campfire with someone who can bust out a classic song (and not butcher it) that just makes me envious. I have a couple of good friends with this talent and I am extremely grateful. Their confidence and talent exudes radness.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Be more like the Dude (from Big Lebowski) and less worried about things one cannot control.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I hope it hasn’t happened yet. But I guess creating the New Noise Music Foundation (newnoisesb.org) with a few friends and it still being around six years later is my highlight thus far. We literally just did it to try it and I guess I’m a persistent little bugger. I am pretty sure it’s best years are still ahead of it. That makes me excited and hopeful for the future.
Where would you most like to live?
Clearly I think Santa Barbara is one of (if not the best) places in the world to live. If there was another place I want to try out at some point, it’s probably the South of France. My wife’s dad and family live there and it reminds me of an alternate universe California — with French people and great cheese and baguettes and wine. For an Oklahoma boy at heart, it’s strange how right at home I feel there.
What is your most treasured possession?
I’d probably say my most treasured “possession” is my family ring. It’s our family cattle brand in Oklahoma. My uncle, pops, and grandpa all have or had them and the plan is to pass them down to our kids. We’re making one for my little cousin right now actually. It serves as a constant reminder of the importance and awesomeness that is family. I’ve very fortunate to have a great one and I never want to take that for granted. The funniest part is I’m definitely “all hat and no cattle.” #sblife #beachsarebetter
Who makes you laugh the most?
My uncle, Dick Theimer. He has the WORST sense of humor, but I cannot stop laughing anytime he tells a joke. I think it’s his delivery combined with nonsensical madness that I really dig. I’m laughing now just thinking about it.
What is your motto? “All I know is that I don’t know.”
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Probably Will Rogers. He’s someone who I definitely grew up admiring/aspiring to be like. I’ve always been fascinated with politics, wit and people’s nature. I think Will Rogers captured that just about as good as any human ever can or will. He also did it in an extremely unique and refreshing way… especially for his time. He’s also an Okie who traveled, made people laugh and was generally liked by a wide variety of people- even those who were the butt of his joke. That’s a talent. I ain’t saying I’m anything like him, but in my own way, it’s something I can identify and strive for.
On what occasion do you lie?
“I’m not a crook” (makes hand gestures).