On the Beck.com bulletin boards, if you post more than 100 messages you’ll be labeled a Sissyneck. Post fewer than that, and the word Jack-Ass will appear under your user name. “I couldn’t think of anything better to use than song titles,” explains Truck, the unassuming twenty-year-old who maintains Beck’s Web site. “I was in a rush.”
Truck may not have put much thought into the category names, but somehow they seem just right. In the past five years, what began as Truck’s after-school hobby has blossomed into one of the most comprehensive, stylish artist sites around. The image that Truck chose for the site’s current front page, for instance, gives uninitiated visitors an immediate sense of the artist. “You get a picture of him in a French leisure suit, flipping you off, with, like, laser-line glasses on,” Truck says with a laugh. “I mean, that’s gotta tell you something.”
Click around the site a bit, and it becomes clear that Truck also understands Beck’s devoted fans. Whether they’re itching to know more about the hurdling dog on the cover of Odelay! (it’s a sheepdog of Tibetan descent), wondering which song Beck closed his January 26th show in Dallas with (“Devil’s Haircut”) or just looking for the latest news tidbits (Beck was injured recently in a freak onstage accident, for example), Truck has made damn sure that Beck.com is, um, where it’s at.
Five years ago, Truck (who’s known to his mom and dad as Evan Torrence) was holding down an average high school existence in Santa Barbara, California – helping out at the architectural firm where his dad worked and hanging with his indie-rock friends. Then the premiere of Beck’s “Loser” video on MTV’s 120 Minutes left a big impression, and he decided to start a Beck fan site. “I started out doing a fan site just to learn how to do a Web site,” he says. “I think there were only three Beck sites out there at the time, so I just tried to make mine better than the other two.” His Web hobby didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. “[My parents] would see me screwing around on the computer, but they really wouldn’t know what I was doing,” he says. “And then, when I was fifteen, I got reviewed in Entertainment Weekly. They saw it and they were like, ‘Weird! Whoa! That’s what he’s doing.'” Before long, a local software company called MetaCreations hired Truck as a paid intern, eventually giving him a job after he graduated. (“I was just thankful to get out of high school, pretty much,” he admits.)
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Beck first saw the site when his tour manager showed it to him. “My initial reaction was puzzlement, amazement, laughter,” he says. “I’d never seen so much information on myself. I learned more about myself than I knew. I did see some other sites at the time – some of them were nice, but they weren’t as substantial as his.”
The two met when Beck flew Truck to a show as a token of his appreciation. “And finally,” Truck says, “his management was like, ‘Hey, you’re basically doing Beck’s official site, so . . .'” He kept his day job, but during the Mutations era, Truck’s fan site turned into a paying gig.
Last August, the music portal ArtistDirect lured Truck to Los Angeles to take a position as a Webmaster. Tom Petty, Stone Temple Pilots and Marilyn Manson have since received the Truck treatment, and a DJ Shadow site is in the works. Though he’s not necessarily a fan of all these artists, Truck captures the distinct vibe of each by throwing in telling details: A treasure chest full of weed pops open in Tom Petty’s surreal lounge, and jarring dental-surgery photos welcome visitors to the Manson chat room. “I think a site should be looked at as its own record,” Truck says. “As in, it has its own appeal, it’s got its own artwork, it’s got its own content.”
Truck’s criteria for what makes a good Web site are fairly straightforward: It should have an exciting design aesthetic, be easy to navigate, keep visitors coming back and get its point across reasonably quickly. “You never want to have to spend more than five minutes searching for something,” he says.
Artist input into the sites varies greatly. “Beck has always been busy,” Truck says. “Luckily he can trust my judgment. He likes all the stuff I do.”
Beck likes the site so much, in fact, he predicts it will be his primary link to fans in years to come. His favorite Beck.com stunt was when Truck posted weekly five-minute videos of Beck and his band in the studio during the making of Midnite Vultures. “I’m almost positive that the site will be the main place where I disseminate my music,” he says. Just don’t hold your breath for a twenty-four-hour live Beck feed: “There’s certain things you just gotta keep to yourself. I’m not going to set up a camera in my living room so you can watch me watching CNN.”
This story is from the June 8th, 2000 issue of Rolling Stone.