Q&A with The Ice Cream Man
Some of you may now be familiar with the Ice Cream, after we ran several videos of his this week. It's been enjoyable, I'll tell you. Well, we did say we were going to track down the man himself and grill him, Guantanamo style. Well, we did get hold of him, but instead opted for more straight-down-the-line questions, which he duly answered, in great depth, below.
The premise of Ice Cream Man's Road Trip was quite simple: he'd head around the United States of America this Summer just passed, taking in whatever music festivals he could, (Bonnaroo, ATP NY, Pitchfork etc.) giving away free ice cream (charitable!) as well as being a kind and gentlemanly fellow about it all.
That's exactly what he did. He also thought it'd be a good idea to film it, and why not? Over the course of the summer and his road trip he took in 15 music festivals, distributed 200,000 or so free ice creams and messed around with 60 of the hottest bands on the way, each condensed into an episode, playing live, talking or jus' hanging out.
Anyway, here's what he had to say for himself:
DiS: Why did you decide to do this, have you done anything like this before?
Ice Cream Man: Ice Cream Man is half business and half adventure. I've always been a fan of both and wanted to create the best job in the world. You can do anything with an ice cream truck. It's completely self contained, mobile, and you can pack 2500 ice creams in there. Everyone loves free ice cream and before we started, the term Ice Cream Man had no face, logo, company...anything. I viewed it as a goldmine but didn't know what to do with it. After thinking about it for over 5 years I finally just decided to buy an ice cream truck outside of Ashland, Oregon. During our first summer, in 2004, I fixed up Bessie (our original truck) then started selling ice cream around town. My friend Matt Petersen made our logo, I talked a guy into selling us icecreamman.com for less than he paid for it, and I made a movie. At the end of the summer I had extra inventory so I decided to throw a free ice cream social for Ashland as a thank you for supporting me all summer. We gave away over 500 ice creams that day, news crews showed up and it was a huge success. That was the moment I decided that our mission would be to give away free ice cream. Soon after that I came up with the goal of giving away half a million ice creams and set aside 7 years of my live to make it happen
DiS: How much did it cost to get running?
ICM: It was very cheap to get Ice Cream Man off the ground. The truck was $1200. By the time I got it painted and fixed up it was probably close to $5000. I was the only one 'working' the first season and I parked the truck in back of my house and stored all the ice cream in freezers in the backyard. I think that's what draws a lot of people to have ice cream trucks and pushcarts, it's cheap to get started and everyday you're selling, you're bringing in money. Over time it's gotten more expensive and I've had to move back into my ma's house, sell my car and max out my credit cards but this year is the first that we haven't lost money, thanks to Babelgum helping with our Road Trippin' with Ice Cream Man video series and PacSun for being our main sponsor.
DiS: Do you have a deep love for ice cream?
ICM: Not particularly. I've always been a fan of sugary treats and ice cream was part of that. I've always liked ice cream trucks. Where I grew up in Long Beach, California, the ice cream truck would only come by a handful of times during the summer and I remember hearing the tune and running to grab change out of my parents room then running downstairs to stop the truck. I used to by Pink Panther popsicles and Bubble Play which was a pink baseball mitt with a big bubble gum in the middle...mmmmm.
DiS: What's your favourite ice cream?
ICM: My favorite scooped ice creams are Rocky Road, Chunky Monkey (Ben 'n' Jerry's) and It's a Goodie (Double Rainbow - vanilla with fudge chunks and peanut butter). For the pre packaged 'novelty' treats we carry on the truck, I'm a fan of all the different flavours of fruit bars out there, Cherry Garcia shorty cups, cones, ice cream donuts, and UFO's (Unidentified Frozen Objects - they're like It's-It's, two oatmeal cookies with vanilla ice cream in between and enrobed in chocolate). Living out of an ice cream truck for half the year I try not to eat too much ice cream because I don't ever want to get sick of it.
DiS: What was the most popular ice cream?
ICM: Generally the cones. Like the Drumstick or Big Dipper. They have chocolate and peanuts on top and there's usually a chocolate surprise at the bottom of the cone when you take your last bite. The hotter it gets, the more popular the non-dairy popsicles are and that's why I like to carry a lot of fruit bars on board. Ice Cream Sandwiches are also very popular. When Ben 'n' Jerry's donates ice cream the Chocolate Mint Cookie cups are always the first to go. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pops (with bubble gum eyes) are always a hit too.
DiS: Which festival was the greatest?
ICM: This was a good year for festivals in the US. Bonnaroo and All Tomorrow's Parties are the best thing going over here. Bonnaroo is the premier festival in this country, mainly 'cos it's a camping/self contained festival and there's music 'til four in the morning every night. Imagine Bruce Springsteen playing for three hours till past minute THEN having NIN, Ben Harper, MGMT and Yeasayer on AFTER that.....amazing. I'm sure everyone in the UK knows how great ATP is by now. The New York version is more similar to Camber Sands than Butlins because the hotel where it's thrown has quite a bit of history and everything is a bit old and funky. I love that you show up on Friday, get your room, then don't have to leave til Monday morning. There's always great bands (My Bloody Valentine last year - Sufjan, Panda Bear, Flaming Lips, Animal Collective, Suicide, Boredoms, Shellac this year). My other favorite festivals are Sasquatch Festival at the Gorge in Washington, Pitchfork Fest in Chicago, Pool Parties in Brooklyn, South by SouthWest (not really a 'fest' but we love Austin) and Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits are always a blast too.
DiS: Which bands did you enjoy hanging out with?
ICM: This summer we got to hang out with Akron/Family a bit which was cool. Seth and I played some late night ping pong at ATP and I won 2 of 3 games. Akron/Family set the record for longest jam session by playing for 25 minutes while we were in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. We see the guys in No Age all the time and try to have fruit pops for them cuz they're vegan. It's always nice to run into Wayne Coyne and the Flaming Lips crew. I've seen them play more than any other band and they always put on a great show. Somehow we got Raphael Saadiq to play a song for Road Trippin' and we've seen he and his band in San Francisco, Seattle, and Austin.
DiS: Any plans to do more stuff like this in the future? Branch out into other areas?
ICM: We've always wanted to tour internationally to give away ice cream. Most likely, we'll pitch a European tour and try to hit a lot of the festivals there, especially in the UK. We've given away a tiny bit of cream at two ATP's last year and would love to head back for those. We also want to hit up End of the Road Festival, Primavera, Green Man, Bestival, and of course, Glastonbury (which I've heard so much about but haven't been yet). Do you think people in UK would like free ice cream?
Watch Part I of Road Trippin' With The Ice Cream Man here.
Part II here.
Part III here.
And the final part, Part IV, here.