Russell Pollard learned a lot sitting behind the drum kit for alternative acts such as Alaska and Sebadoh.
Lessons, he says, about things not to do, like be mean to the crowd or get so drunk that you can’t play. He adds, “Another thing I picked up from being in the background is to have empathy for your bandmates. If you’re always the front guy who’s never known any different, you just don’t have that perspective.”
He applies the information to his work as guitarist and vocalist for Everest, the eclectic outfit he formed four years ago.
But Pollard — who’s doing a Thursday night residency at San Francisco’s Hotel Utah in February — picked up pointers another way, as well, via his day job as a record buyer at the sprawling Amoeba Records store in Los Angeles.
The gig had its downsides. “There were a lot of scratched Celine Dion CDs that came through, and the people got really angry when you said ‘We don’t need this. We have 100 of ’em in the warehouse!’” he says. “But every once in a while, you’d get that golden-ticket buy where you’re like, ‘Holy crap! I can’t believe I’m holding this!’ And your stomach gets all butterflied and your heart starts beating faster.”
Once, Pollard actually got his mitts on a Robert Johnson test-pressing 78. Rare Dylan and Bowie vinyl, too.
“There were records that I’d never heard of, like Gentle Giant,” he says. “I took their records home, and they ended up blowing my mind. But that was one of the incentives. If you’re on the front lines at Amoeba, taking all the stuff in, you kind of get your pick.”
That may explain the diversity of Everest’s sophomore album, “On Approach,” and why Neil Young manager Elliot Roberts instantly inked them to Young’s Vapor imprint after just one listen to their 2008 debut, “Ghost Notes.”
From the opening “Let Go” to a closing “Catalyst,” the set serpentines through sounds including prog, traditional folk, Celtic guitar rock and even David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti-style eeriness.
“When you put a bunch of record collectors in a room together, that’s what happens,” Pollard says. “You have the freedom and the ability to go from something dubby to something that sounds like U2 or Neu! or Gene Clark. And I hope that’s always the case with us.”
When Young began inviting Everest on world tours, however, Pollard quit his beloved Amoeba. “It was tough, because they were like family to me,” he says. “But I still go in there once or twice a week just to see them. And to shop!”
IF YOU GO
Where: The Hotel Utah, 500 Fourth St., San Francisco
When: 9 p.m. today and Feb. 24
Tickets: $8 to $10
Contact: (415) 546-6300, www.thehotelutahsaloon.com, www.ticketweb.com