For our 13th installment, we join Keith Goldman as he interviews Dave Shaddix, usually one of the first to comment on these very interviews. As with Soren, Dave uses a few words that our more sensitive readers may find offensive. Once again, you’ve been warned. Take it away, Keith!
Instead I bring you an everyman from Anytown, U.S.A, who might be known better for his quick wit and devil-may-care attitude than for his growing library of great models. Dave Shaddix isn’t exactly a noob, but he also hasn’t been around long enough to be as jaded and rigid in his way of thinking than many of us gray-beards.
I sat down with Dave 2 miles from the US/Mexico border in Dave’s home state of Arizona. We talked about the Gadsden Purchase, Sabbath with Ozzie vs. Sabbath with Dio and what really happens to all those tourists who go missing every year in the Grand Canyon. We also talked about LEGO.
Keith Goldman: Like many builders out there, you’ve got a long term project going on. How long has your Papa Roach stage been in production and what are the challenges of a long term build from a relative newcomer’s perspective? Is your cousin and Papa Roach front-man Jacoby Shaddix involved in the process?
Dave Shaddix: I’ll first define ‘relative newcomer’ so that we’re all on the same page as far as timelines are concerned. I started building again about nine years ago with my oldest son; yeah it’s the DUPLO brick that brought me out of my dark age. As he grew, I started buying and building more age appropriate sets with him which eventually led me to the internet where I quietly trolled sites like Brickshelf and MOCpages from around 2006 to 2008 when I started posting on MOCpages. Arizona’s first LEGO retail store opened in the summer of 2008 and our LUG formed up immediately after. In short, 2008 is the year I became an actively-engaged AFOL who was fully out of the closet. Now that we have my own private definition of ‘newcomer’ out of the way, let’s move onto the question.
I started planning the Papa Roach project in October of 2009. It was pretty vague at the time and I was heavily leaning towards minfigure scale. I realized that the project needed to be all about the motion and mood of a live concert early on and I decided on a scale that is about 2x miniland. I began putting bricks together around October when I started building the band members.
The more I worked on the project, the more I learned and the more I had to build. Project creep started taking its money-draining grip on me and before I knew it I was looking at a structure that is more than 150 studs in width and almost 70 bricks tall and making whirlwind trips to Los Angeles to talk to the band and get detailed photos of them, their equipment, and the crowd. Given the scale of this project, you can guess that money plays a huge role and has slowed me down considerably. I guess the biggest obstacle that I will need to overcome is how to decide when enough is enough.
As far as the guys being involved in the project, they’re busy men and I try to leave them alone to do their jobs. That being said, Jacoby, Jerry, Tobin and Tony are some of the coolest guys you’ll meet and have answered every call and question I have asked. Whether you like their music or not, they are a kick-ass band and incredibly down to earth. I am lucky to have what little of an inside track as I do. I was given full access to the stage during sound checks to photograph the equipment; I mean I actually got to sit at the drums. When they were touring with Motley Crue, I was actually given a ‘Crue Skag’ for my birthday. Skags aside they are pretty excited about the project and want to see it finished as much as I do.
KG: I think it is fair to say that everywhere except LEGOLand (who just refuses to get on board) the all powerful minifig, and minifig-scale rules both the product line and the hobby in general. As the outspoken leader of the anti-minifig movement, would you care to outline your patently ridiculous stance?
DS: Anti-minifig, Keith? How could you do this to me? Twist my words… I thought we were friends! Saying I am anti-minifig is like saying that someone who is pro-life is anti-choice. I love those little dudes as much as the next guy! And I really like seeing the new diversity LEGO seems to be finding with its torso types and new flesh colors. I’ve done more than my fair share of vignettes like my armed robbery and ‘LifePod 23” and minifig only posts, ‘Blackstronauts’, “Boy Band” and even a concept for your ‘Fear the Black Planet’ contest. There is really a lot more fun to be had with the minifigure, and I am not going to count myself out of that action.
My gripe with the community is how much they seem to embrace minifig scale and none other. And even then, I think they have the scale all wrong. LEGO is a great medium and it often seems a shame to me that the majority of builders out there limit themselves to the worship of a little plastic doll. I would love to see more miniland scale MOCs and more sculpture produced on a regular basis.
More of Keith’s interview with Dave after the jump:
KG: As a builder, I jumped the shark with the Omicron Weekend… and many say that you did the same with your Gillgan’s Island radio. How do you top your greatest model, do you even worry about such a thing? Throughout these interviews I’ve have yet to read anyone copping to being disappointed when a model doesn’t do well in terms of hits or review. As a builder who’s had his fair share of bombs, do you care Dave? Do you?
DS: Gosh Keith… My fair share of bombs? Fuck you. How do you like that? How about I drop an ‘f-bomb’ too? Is that a good enough answer? No? Well allow me to address the question then… Asshole.
I am always wondering why a model doesn’t get the attention I think it deserves, especially when I put a lot of effort into them. I’m not a stats whore. Hell, I’m too cheap to buy myself a Pro account on Flickr, but I do look for comments and such. Not that I dwell on the feedback or stats, but they’re important — we all seek recognition from our peers. So yeah, I often wonder what’s up. That being said, I would have to define the bomb as: the measurement of expected feedback vs. my perceived level of coolness or accuracy of a model. Sadly, far too many of my MOCs seem to fall into that category. The cooler the model, the bigger the bomb seems to be.
I mean, there is a lot to be said about validation. Getting blogged is fun but it doesn’t always seem to generate the comments or views that I might expect. Most recently “March Out of the Darkness” was blogged here, but it got very little notice on my photostream. I even posted it on Eurobricks and got only two or three responses to it. Even MOCpages drew only a few sympathetic comments. That lack of response often gives me serious pause; I take long hard looks at my creations when things bomb like that. Then I decide that the rest of the world is obviously smoking crack, and keep building the way I want.
As far as topping my greatest model, I don’t even know what my greatest model would be. I do try to kick the crap out of my last model when I start work on a new project though; I think I typically tend to only mildly contuse it though. Though I feel a little embarrassed when I look back at my earliest work that I thought was shit-hot at the time, I realize that one day I may look back on my current projects with that same embarrassment. At least, I hope I do…
KG: Talk about AZLUG, Dave. Why would you choose a name that could so easily be perverted to ASSLUG, and how does AZLUG differ from other LUGs? What is the best and worst part about being the “new guy” in a LUG?
DS: Our LUG is actually CactusBrick, which is based out of the Phoenix/East Valley and is currently the sole member of AZLUG which would ultimately act as a parent LUG. The logic being, as new groups emerge, we would have one place to exchange information, plan events, and even have local representatives. AZLUG has no power or control over the lugs; it’s more of a LUGLUG. Sort of like how the Federal Government should be.
There is a second LEGO Brand Retail Store opening in the Valley sometime this year or next. We are anticipating another group of AFOLs coming out of the woodwork (this happened in 2008 when the first one opened; our LUG formed immediately), and it would be nice to have the framework for a new LUG set in place, even go so far as to coordinate meetings for alternate weekends so that both could be attended if one so chose to.
Hopefully the known AFOL community will grow in the Phoenix area in the next couple of years. I think there are people out there who just aren’t involved with the internet community (good for them) but are tremendous builders. I have a sinking suspicion that most of them are train heads though.
KG: I recently deleted my account on MOCpages because of things like persistent viruses, invasive often pseudo-pornographic advertisements, impossibly long load-times, unchecked youth and the slow erosion of both my photos and text. As a former inside-man at MOCpages and someone who shares my former loyalty and affection for the site, give me a way to fix it, and why it should be fixed.
DS: WOW… I suppose we’re all either expecting an honest answer here or a fluffy one about how great MOCpages is. I wish the answers could be one and the same (I’m going honest if you didn’t catch on). I think you and I see eye to eye on a lot of the issues about MOCpages, so maybe this would be a good platform to clear the air.
Before I start casting stones, I need to say that Sean does a wonderful service to the community. My opinion of what MOCpages has become has nothing to do with Sean, it’s about the community and how it has evolved, or rather devolved. I know that the issues with MOCpages can be fixed with enough money and programmers and that Sean is only one dude who is running that show pretty much by himself (and two chat moderators). If I had a skill that Sean could put to use on MOCpages, I would be more than happy to throw down and try to make things better. I’d also note that there are exceptions to every rule. I am lumping an entire community into a few paragraphs, so the squeaky wheels will get the oil.
Like I said earlier, MOCpages is where I first came onto the scene in early 2008; it was a great place with a cool culture. I have been more and more disenchanted with the Pages over the past year or so to the point where I took most of my MOCs off and jumped ship …though I didn’t go as far as you did and delete my account.
I have always seen MOCpages as a child/teen friendly site, mostly because of the high volume of kiddos who are registered users and active members. I love that the kids have a place to show off their work and be proud of what they have built and who they are. Unfortunately there is no filter or barrier between the adults and the kids; they interact without hesitation or shame. This is a powder keg just waiting for that spark. Keith, you asked Peter Reid in an earlier interview about pedophiles at conventions, I think there is a far more real danger of them existing and lurking online and interacting with children on sites like MOCpages with no parental controls or user restrictions.
Back to the kiddos on MOCpages: They run amuck, make neat little clubhouses using the group feature and hide behind anonymity of a cool username like eleetComandur69 while they lash out at each other and everyone for any reason or no reason. I think it boils down to a much larger cultural issues of entitlement and the internet age. Seriously, go outside and get some sun …play some fucking sports and learn how to smack talk in a creative and meaningful way! Go mouth off to someone bigger than you in real life and get the living shit beat out of you, see how that feels and learn your place. Stop lashing out from the safety of your keyboard, you can’t just jump on that smack talk band wagon without a little bit of life experience under your belt. Besides, MOCpages is about LEGO creations, less talking – more building.
The AFOLs who still dwell on MOCpages don’t always seem to care (and I am not just talking about ONE of you) that kids have full access to what they write and build. I liken it to showing an R rated movie on Nickelodeon or something of that nature. Personal accountability would be the first move to make MOCpages a better place, accountability by both AFOLs and YFOLs. It really is up to the AFOLs to lead by example however, but how much can really be expected from mankinder? …and we’re all mankinder here.
I know that Sean pays for MOCpages by letting ads run on the top and right margin of the site. I don’t think he controls what ads show up, but most of them aren’t family friendly …though I was a fan of the pseudo pornographic ones. I remember complaining about an ad that sold cigarettes; I also remember never seeing that ad again after I complained. In fact earlier this year, I had to reformat and reinstall windows due to a virus from an ad on MOCpages. Not Sean’s fault, just another thing that helped to push me away from the community. As for load times, I still have a tab open from August of 2009 that is still trying to load… any day now.
As a father, I could no longer allow my kids access to a potentially dangerous situation. I don’t hover over them at all times, but I am going to make damn sure they make informed choices and learn from the mistakes they make. As an AFOL interacting with other people’s kids, I chose to largely withdraw from that mine field. I nearly deleted my account earlier this year, but gave pause and thought it through. Instead I changed my settings so that I received no more emails and I only post creations. I no longer leave feedback on anything for any reason, I don’t participate in the groups, or the conversations, nor do I add my creations to groups. I’m not going to win popularity contests for it, but I don’t care, it’s better to keep that lit firecracker at arm’s length and watch the fallout from a safe distance.
That’s all I want to discuss about the squeaky wheel. I prefer to think of MOCpages as a new and wonderful place that gently lifted me out of my dark age into a new era. A place where Chris and I planned the first MOColympics and where I killed Rory in a bloody death at the fast hands of Chuck Norris in MOCTAG. I think of MOCpages as a place of profound disappointment when I learned that not one, but BOTH Shannons were actually dudes! …but somehow it was still cool, even if one is really hairy and one is really bald (really really bald). I’d like to see MOCpages heal its wounds. I miss what MOCpages was but I know better than anyone that no matter how hard you try, you just can’t take the pee out of the pool. So the question is what’s next for MOCpages? I say it’s time to gas the nest.
KG: The LEGO 16+ group over on Flickr is sort of the bastard child of J-LUG, Stajinaria, and various chat-rooms, specializing in free-speech, one-liners and all around jackassery. For the more casual LEGO nerd or the newcomer, who should come check out the mayhem, who should stay away, and make a case for 16+ being a community worthy of having an Ambassador?
DS: OK… Stay out of LEGO 16+ if you are under 18 or faint hearted. It’s a bad, dark place filled with (and I’ll quote myself here) “high-functioning social misfits, smug Europeans, over eaters, communists, alcoholics, and three Republicans who are drawn here for the sole intent of bitching aimlessly about nothing important. It may feel right and fun for all those involved (though awkward and frustrating at times), it would be painful and possibly embarrassing for a ‘normal person’ to watch.”
(Cartoon courtesy of Jordan Neves)
I love the group; it’s totally dysfunctional and filled with people who I mostly disagree with. The primary goal of the group seems to be to stir the pot and engage in conversation for the sake of conversation. I think a secret goal of the group is to piss me off, but that’s cool. I can hang! Like MOCpages, there is a lot of drama here too, but it’s a much more refined form of it, more suitable for adult consumption. I guess it’s a place where all mankinder can come and be comfortable with who they are and what they think. We’re all douchebags there, and it’s OK. What happens in 16+ stays in 16+.
Do we need an Ambassador? My vision of a LA representing 16+ is The Comedian, straight talking, hard hitting, and always considers violence as the first option. That being said, no I don’t think we need one. Though I think it would be a lot of fun to watch us try!
KG: If you are able to complete your Papa Roach project, what will you do with it? Will you tear it down, sell it, trade it to a Papa Roach groupie for…?
DS: Well, I have the last name, so I think I could get what I wanted from a Papa Roach groupie on that alone… Maybe I should ask some of those random fat chicks who I don’t know on Facebook who keep sending friend requests due to ‘mutual friends’. …not that all the groupies are fat chicks, some are pretty hot, its just the fat ones that seem to stalk me. *sigh*
As for the fate of this project, I don’t honestly know. I originally started it to give to the band, but it grew too large. It’s far too expensive an endeavor to just give away. I would sell it if I had the right offer, but I will more than likely show it at a couple of conventions and then reintegrate it into my collection. Although I have A LOT of new brick that I bought just for this project, so that integration will likely redefine the structure and layout of my collection. So be it.
KG: What would you like to see our evil overlords do with the retail stores in the years to come? What do you like about the stores and what chaps your ass?
DS: Having really only experience with one LEGO Store, I think I have a limited perspective. Our store has just barely been open for two years now. I can say that I have seen a big change in the store when the management changed late last year. We thought that the store was just fine (we didn’t know what to expect) until corporate put new management in place. Kevin, the current manager has really turned the store around and set a high standard. We’re all pretty happy with how it’s run today.
I think that the Pick-a-Brick wall often has selection issues, but I have come to understand that is an issue which is out of the complete control of the individual store, so we take what we get. They are really good about trying to get us what we ask for though. I really do have to take my hat off to these guys!
KG: Is building going to be enough for Dave Shaddix, or are you hoping to carve out your own piece of the action? What’s next for Diamond Dave?
DS: Building is not enough for this cat. I don’t know what piece of the action I am going to bite into, nor do I care. I’m all about the ride; it’s not about where you go, but how bloody you are when you get there. I’d like to work on getting a convention in Phoenix in the next five or so years. I would love it if that convention did not have the word ‘BRICK’ in it. I was thinking that ‘Southwest Studs’ would be an awesome name for a convention, but I do fear that we might attract the wrong crowd. The best case scenario is a bunch of good looking, horny, rich cougars; I don’t want to think about the worst.
5 Boilerplate Questions
KG: If you had to pick only one of your models to go in the great FOL time-capsule, which would it be?
DS: The Radio. The logic is that maybe in the future, someone can make it work using an actual coconut. I’d like to think that maybe it can help to rescue some space castaway on some far off planet.
KG: If you could design an official set, what would it be?
DS: I would like to see a miniland theme introduced into the LEGO product line, so I would think about designing a nonspecific miniland set. Maybe something cool like a ‘Bill & Ted Action Set’ or something.
KG: If time, money and proximity were not an issue, give me 2 builders besides me that you’d like to collaborate with on a project?
DS: I’d like to get together with Iain Heath — he does a lot of great work in miniland scale (or larger) creations and has a talent for capturing motion. I think it would be a blast to flex my sci-fi muscles and work alongside the talented Whopper Junior… though I’m hardly worthy.
KG: Name a famous person living or dead who would have made great LEGO nerd.
DS: I’m thinking that Benjamin Franklin would have been an amazing LEGO nerd.
KG: And finally, good sir, who controls the action?
DS: That whore Nancy Pelosi controls it.