Here is a little profile piece I wrote about a local staple of the Los Angeles underground music scene. Written for a school project last spring.
Nubs- The Unsung Hero
By Mindee Jorgensen
You will never see Nubs up on the stage. He has stage fright and hates being in front of people. Yet almost every night he is out and about, hiding backstage at a show somewhere in Los Angeles. He might be carrying a guitar amp, or putting together a drum set. Sometimes he is setting up PA or testing sound levels. It’s just what he does, and he has been doing it a long time.
“I’m a geek and [music] is what I got into. I have a really bad phobia of being watched, and I don’t want to go on stage, but I have to do something. I may as well put my brain to use,” Nubs said. “I got into helping bands so that they could actually start on time and play as long as their supposed to. It’s practical.”
Nubs, whose real name is Neil Gutmacher, has been helping bands set up since 1986. He started by helping his friend’s band Fire Hose move gear, and ended up being their stage hand for 7 years. Since then he has helped numerous bands and ran sound at many shows.
Yet there is more to Nubs than meets the eye. This stocky man who is always seen in a band tee shirt, shorts, and a baseball cap has two college degrees, a BS in Physics and a BS in Math. By day he does quality assurance, testing midi keyboards for bugs. He has only gone on the road with a band once because he is always busy working, unable to leave town. And it wasn’t music that brought him to California, it was his degrees.
“My first job was for Hughes Aircraft. I built transformers for radar systems and classified projects” he said.
Some of the projects he worked on were the F14, F18, and Star Wars. One classified project he worked on would go up to an enemy spy satellite and shoot it with an electrical bolt, frying the circuitry and knocking out the satellite.
The MX missile was another major project he was a part of. The MX missile had 8 nuclear war heads on it, and could destroy 8 separate towns. He worked on the transformer for the guidance system.
Working on classified projects and nuclear war heads didn’t seem unusual to Nubs. “I didn’t think anything special of what I was working on. It was just a job, my first after college,” he says.
He did find a way to bring his work the punk scene though. He used to save spare parts that were going to get thrown away and hide them at shows and after parties to see if anyone would find them.
Nubs remains modest despite all he does in life and for the music scene, saying “I’m nobody special. I’m not a band. They deserve recognition, not me. They are trying to get somewhere, I’m not.”