Interview & Show Preview: Pony Time @ the Black Lodge, Friday 2/22

Pony Time is a firm part of Seattle’s music scene. The duo, Luke Beetham (guitarist/singer) and Stacy Peck (drummer), averaged two shows per month last year. That’s way more shows than most bands here, and still Pony Time has not oversaturated fans and clubs. They’ve managed to do this by putting on energetic, fun and danceable shows full of fast, fuzzy and frenzied music. On February 19th Pony Time releases the formidably tasty Go Find Your Own, a twelve-track follow-up to their self-titled debut EP and cassette Can Drink 100 Coolers.

Pony Time – photo by Emily Denton

I meet Beetham and Peck at Barca Lounge on Capitol Hill (initial location, Vermillion is having a clothing sale. Not good for an interview). The two – each very charismatic – met three years ago in Seattle. Peck, an Iowa transplant, shared a friend with local Beetham. They ended up meeting when their friend needed help moving a large stereo, “a big old ‘50s thing,” says Beetham. Peck recalls, “We were the strong friends, and Luke had a van. It was very heavy, but she still uses it. It’s not just the thing stuff sits on, which is I feel those usually become.” Those stereos are very pretty, I mention. Peck replies, “I feel like those are the first computers. Like you press the button and get the answer on a big sheet of paper. You really don’t need that.”

But wait, we backtrack a little later. Beetham mentions meeting Peck on Halloween “at the Crescent. We went somewhere else that night – the old Cha Cha – and I remember saying to our friend that you (Peck) didn’t like me.” Peck replies: “I think that’s the first impression I give everyone – that I don’t like them. It’s just my demeanor. “ I worry about this as well, for myself – you never know. Maybe it’s just my face.

Beetham and Peck became friends and roommates, joining musically “not because we had similar ideas about anything. It was mostly because we lived in the same house together and I played drums.” I like this rational approach.

An obvious question for drummer Peck is how she got into drumming. For some reason I feel a little silly asking this since she just seems so natural a drummer. Peck: “I started out playing the guitar, and then I moved to bass, and then I moved to drums.” Why did Peck choose Seattle? She explains that after doing some traveling through the U.S., she wanted to move. “I liked it here the best and felt most comfortable here. I knew one person I’d hung out with in Idaho for a day. He said I could live in a room in his house. I spent all the money I had getting out here. He helped me out with rent and hooked me up with a job. He was awesome.” Since Beetham is native to the area, I wonder what it is he’s seen change. “I remember coming to Capitol Hill for the first time when my sister was living here, and being starry-eyed. I remember going to Dick’s for the first time. A lot of the buildings go away – low-rent places go away. It’s not the freak show that it was. I think that was its appeal. Not that I was a part of that scene, but I recognized it,” Beetham remembers. “Fall Out Records was the dopest place. You’d read record reviews and buy zines. You had to be strategic about what you were buying, because you only had so much money.”

The sound Pony Time creates relies on rhythm. I mean it really relies on rhythm. How did it end up, so wonderfully, this way? Beetham: When we started we were going to be a three- piece, and I had songs already written for guitar and bass. I tried it out on guitar and it didn’t seem to have the same thing, so I started playing bass until we could find a guitar player. We just didn’t really look that hard. Right now I use a baritone guitar, because it can also sound like a bass.” I ask Beetham what it is that’s so great about bass – because it is great. “It’s low and rumbly. In disco that’s what carries the groove. It’s all about drums and bass in disco. Dance music – it’s all about bass. The things that are catchy can be more repetitive in bass. If it’s repetitive, that’s fine.” Beetham and Peck co-write the songs – Beetham mostly the melody and lyrics, Peck the drum parts.

Here’s what they reveal when I ask what their first, independent music purchases were:

Beetham: First tape I ever bought was Glass Tiger, Thin Red Line. “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone).”

I remember the video for that.

Beetham: I wanted to look like that guy so bad – with the big hair with foils in it.

Peck: First tape I bought with my own money was Metallica Black Album. But that was just super popular. I was into Nirvana, and everything got alternative. I’m really glad that was happening when I was that age – the Breeders, Sonic Youth. Also I’m from Iowa, and it was really difficult to find cool music. It was very mainstream. When I was really young I was into Michael Jackson.

Peck came up with the name Pony Time (no connection to the Chubby Checker song) for another band Beetham was in. She decided he couldn’t use it – it was too good. They’ve made several videos with local musician and director Emily Denton, and have positive things to say about Seattle music – Beetham: “It rules. It seems really diverse right now.”

How do they balance the band’s success with their work lives? Peck thinks “it’s probably more difficult for Luke than it is for me because he has his own business. I have my work and other things set up so I can do this band. It’s fun for me and it’s what I like doing the most.” And what about Pony Time style? Are they big clothes shoppers? Beetham: “I used to be more than I am now, when I thought I had more money than I actually did.” Peck says “Luke tries to look nice for shows. I’ve usually just come over from work. I want to be comfortable. If I did try to dress up – whatever that means – I would look like a ladies’ basketball coach. I feel like that’s the height of a lady trying to look nice and it looks really uncomfortable. I think it would look posed and cheesy if we tried to look any different than we do.”

Some bands have certain songs they will never do for a live audience. Pony Time doesn’t mind performing any of their songs, but are naturally gravitating towards playing newer songs. Beetham: “I think we could play anything, if someone really wanted to hear it. We don’t play a lot of stuff just because we don’t like it anymore or it just doesn’t sound that good live. We’ve got enough new songs. We’ve been playing out so much, that people would constantly hear the same songs. We’ve got to give people some newer stuff, so we’re not acting like we’re in our own cover band.”

Luke Beetham’s first instrument he “really learned to play” was the banjo. When I comment that it’s a difficult instrument he replies, “It can be, like the bluegrass stuff can be really hard. The kind that I play can be deceptively simple. It looks harder than it is.” Regarding becoming the band’s vocalist: “When I first started doing music I didn’t really have any special interest in singing. I just thought I’d like to concentrate on playing but I guess in a two-piece band somebody’s gotta sing.”

From a prior conversation I remember that Peck has a cat, Peggy, who apparently hates Beetham. In fairness, Peck says, ”She doesn’t really like anyone that much. I think it was that kind of thing where Luke really wanted her to like him so she was like, no, I’m not going to give you what you want. I think it was a lot to do with the house we lived in together when the cat was there. I think it was a little bit cat haunted. It was the cat that was putting her in a mood, and then she was taking it out on Luke.”

Beetham: With the hissing and growling.

Peck: She likes when people don’t pay attention to her.

I tell Beetham, who loves cats, that he’d be a good foster parent for cats. He considers: “I probably would be. I cat sat this little guy named Raven for six weeks and it broke my heart to give him up. It’s kind of like a girlfriend, the one that got away. The measure by which all others will be judged. He was the runt of the litter – like a perma-kitten – bottle-fed from day two or something. I watched Peggy for a week. She hid in the corner.”

Peck: It’s just her face.

Beetham: For her it must have been like that scene in Marathon Man.
interview by Dagmar

Pony Time headlines the Black Lodge on Friday, February 22nd with ONONOS, Haunted Horses & Chastity Belt. 9:00 PM

Listen to Pony Time’s “What If You Caught Me.”


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