Give it up for the next entry in our “Ticketfly Talent” series, which showcases the many talents of our Flyers. We’ve got loads of musicians, DJs, singers, and artists of all types who are fly by day and rock stars by night. They’re awesome, and we want the world to know.
Today, we catch up with Gene “Bean” Bae, a customer support supervisor and Bay Area punk veteran. He gets down on the bass and guitar, and has amassed quite the record collection. His most recent band, Robbery, just split up. If you need a guitarist, hit him up! Get familiar with Gene as we talk about letting go of vinyl, playing with super soakers, and never returning to So Cal.
Tell us a little about yourself, Bean.
I’m 42. I was born in the L.A. area but went to college at UC Santa Cruz and never moved back to Southern California after that.
I moved to Northern California and it felt like a place I’d always been missing. I felt way more at home here than in Southern California. It’s just a different vibe, I guess.
How long have you lived in Oakland?
I’ve lived in Oakland about 15 years. I’ve seen it change a lot. When the customer support team moved to the Pandora office in downtown Oakland [from Ticketfly’s HQ in San Francisco], that was great for me because I do love it here.
What do you do at Ticketfly?
I’m a customer support supervisor. There are five supervisors on the team and we oversee the customer support agents who assist ticket buyers on the phone and via email. We’re kind of the front line, usually the only Ticketfly people that Ticketfly customers will have direct interaction with.
How’d you get your start in music?
I started playing guitar probably in my teens. I had always been drawn to music. Discovering punk rock in my teens really turned me onto the idea that anyone can play music and be a part of it. Since then, it’s been really important to me. I’m also a record collector. If you come to my house, I have a ton of records. That’s what drew me to a career in the music industry. After college, I started working at a record store. I worked at a record store for a really long time, probably longer than was healthy. When that business started declining, I was looking for a different place to move on to. I got lucky and remembered I had a friend at Ticketfly.
You mentioned being a record collector. What’s your most prized possession?
A lot of the records I bought 15-20 years ago weren’t really that special at the time but have become collector’s pieces as time has gone on. It sorta makes you feel old sometimes. One of the things that I bought when it originally came out was Drive Like Jehu’s first album, which happened to be on clear vinyl.
I’ve gotten less attached to vinyl—I still listen to most of my music on vinyl—but I’ve gotten less attached to the whole collector side of it. I always tell people that one of the great things about starting at Ticketfly was that I started working with people who were really into music again, as opposed to people who are really into things. I love record people, but sometimes it’s like the thing—the record and how rare it is—becomes more important to them than the music that’s actually on it. To me, that’s what’s really important.
I watched Robbery’s “Red Dawn” video. It looked like a great time. How fun was that to shoot?
Shooting a video always involves a lot of sitting around and repetition. But this one was fun … It’s not something that I’ve done before. No band I’ve been in before has done anything like this. It’s kind of silly too with the super soakers and everybody getting soaked.
Where was it filmed?
It was shot in the Oakland Hills. There’s a weird spot there that has kind of like a miniature pyramid. It’s up there and you can see the bay in the background. It’s a really cool spot. It’s one of the things that makes Oakland so great, you can really quickly go off into the woods and find weird places like that.
What was in the suitcase in the video?
That’s kind of up to your own interpretation. Something very important, clearly.
Has working at Ticketfly helped you as an artist?
I try to keep it somewhat separate in that I don’t want to take advantage of my position. But being in a DIY punk band, most of the venues we’ve played at have been smaller than the venues Ticketfly works with. Of course it’s a goal to play shows that the company tickets because that would mean a step up in how many people are coming to see us.
Why do you like working at Ticketfly?
When I was working at a record store, it was great but it was somewhat unsustainable. To move on to a company that was in the music industry in some way but also something I could grow with was really important to me. It’s great to be working around people who love music and going to live shows. I’m pretty close to promoters and venues and it’s nice to be working for a company where their primary interests are in line with mine.
What’s next for you?
The unfortunate thing is that Robbery has recently split up because our singer is both a mother and a business owner and has another band. There wasn’t quite enough time for that. But definitely the thing that I’m interested in is continuing to play music, and especially playing guitar. I was a bass player for a really long time. Robbery is the first band in a long time I’ve played guitar in and I’ve been having a lot of fun with that. I’ve already got a few musical dates lined up, and hopefully we’ll have a new band coming out of that.