Blood, Sweat and Tears
The Launchpad celebrates 10 years of earth, wind and fire
The city of Albuquerque contains legions of rock ’n’ roll fans who have witnessed the performances of idols and demigods, experienced life-altering moments of personal heartbreak and triumph and, during its 10 years, more or less grew up at the Launchpad.
For most of those involved with local music, Launchpad owner Joe Anderson is a familiar face. For years he's been an ambassador for events in Albuquerque, having fought for our personal pleasure in the realm of the live sonic experience. Anderson has worked at the Launchpad since 1998, which was originally founded by R.B. Greene, Suzie Greene and Eric Kennedy. In 2004 Anderson bought most of the club.
Below, the ever-busy Anderson takes time to answer a handful of our burning questions regarding the city's decennial bar and venue.
Over the years you've been a figurehead in fights against attempted city policy; the noise ordinance several years back, and 2005's attempted ban on all-ages events at venues that serve alcohol. The Launchpad seems to have been targeted and sometimes scapegoated.
Yeah, it seems like every year and a half or so, we get picked on for something, and it's absolutely taxing. If I were to be granted one wish, I would ask that we just be left alone.
I think the impetus here is residential development. The gentrification of entertainment districts is happening all over the country. It's the same story; an area of town becomes popular as a nightlife destination, complete with bars, restaurants and nightclubs. Developers see investment opportunities, buy up properties and build condos and apartments on top of the clubs. Tenants complain about things that are common in entertainment districts, such as noise and late-night activity. Developers can't sell or lease their properties because of these complaints, so they call on the city officials to whom they've made sizable campaign contributions to come in and kick out the "riff-raff."
It's absolute disrespect for small businesses, and it's a violation of rights. The city forces the nightclubs to purchase licenses to operate. The Launchpad is licensed by the city to operate as a nightclub, and then they zone a space next door for residential. It's buffoonery at its best. And it would be un-American of me to simply lay down.
What's your take on the smoking ban?
I don't smoke, so I don't care so much. I've been told that in some markets, there is a temporary dip in business, and then, eventually, business returns exponentially. There are many people who would come out to see live music if smoking is prohibited. We'll see.
What's your method for keeping organized and on top of things?
Uh, Starbucks. Seriously, this machine runs on espresso. If you can't find me at one of the clubs, I'm probably in line at one of the 71 Starbucks locations within the city limits.
Why do Launchpad employees seem so devoted?
It's like the mafia here. You can't "quit."
Who are the Goofoffhuffers, and how did they come to be?
Goofoffhuffers is a secret organization made up of current and former Launchpad cleaning people. You must have logged some service as a cleaner at Launchpad to be part of the group. There is also a secret handshake, which I don't even know, even though I have plunged several clogged toilets here. On certain nights, Goofoffhuffers may be seen on the Launchpad stage performing mostly unrehearsed tunes.
Does the Launchpad have a theme song?
You could probably pick any AC/DC tune. Maybe "Rock ’n’ Roll Ain't Noise Pollution," "For Those About To Rock" or "Have a Drink On Me."
What about a nickname or pseudonym?
We have been called "Lunchbox," "Launchy," "LP," "Lunchpad," "The ’Pad" and, of course, my favorite, "this shithole," as in "We're never playing this shithole again."
The Launchpad 10 Year Anniversary shows take place Friday, May 18, Saturday, May 19, and Sunday, May 20. Visit www.launchpadrocks.com for the three-day lineup of 45 bands, including Voodoo Glow Skulls and The Epoxies. Friday's show is 21+, starts at 5 p.m. and costs $5. Saturday’s and Sunday's shows are both all-ages (just until midnight on Saturday), open at noon and cost $10. The appropriate gift for a 10 th anniversary is tin or aluminum.