Photos: Three nights at The Blue Moon

I caught some of The Voodoo Fix on Thursday, High Class Wreckage, Antique Scream and Thunderbird Motel on Friday and Gozer, The Seattle Supersonics, The Hot Kicks and Bad Love Sessions Saturday – all at the Blue Moon.

No, I did not lose a bet. I love the Blue Moon and have seen a whole bunch of my favorite bands there including What What Now, The Whore Moans, Thee Emergency, The Ironclads, The Moondoggies, Gabe Mintz, A Gun That Shoots Knives… I could go on and on and will, once my Blue Moon venue spotlight is finished. For now, let’s get back to this past weekend.

The Voodoo Fix from L.A. played Thursday – I caught a few songs as I was winding down my night.


Friday’s show was great fun – Matt Brown was there and eloquently recapped the night:

“The combination of the Blue Moon, alcohol and Thunderbird Motel is a fairly safe bet for one wishing to while away a Friday evening with some straight-ahead no-frills rockin’ – I’m sure I’ve seen Thunderbird Motel at other venues, but for some reason I think of them as a sort of Blue Moon house band, perfectly suited to the infamously debauched environment.


The problem with seeing so many bands on a nightly basis, in the guise of a civilian local rock fan – unencumbered by camera and notebook and any semblance of sobriety – is that recollections tend to blend together over time and one might forget what a lethal Bleach-era scream Aaron from High Class Wreckage has, or perhaps preconceptions formed after seeing too many crappy central Arizona-based rockers lead an unwary listener to be blindsided by the recently transplanted Antique Scream’s thunderous psychedelic raunchiness.


Fortunately, I enjoy being bludgeoned by a few consecutive pleasant surprises. It was simple melodic hard rock across the board, but with enough of a leering snarl and earnest stage presence to keep it all fun.”

High Class Wreckage

Antique Scream

Thunderbird Motel


And then Saturday! Saturday’s Blue Moon show started with the incomparable Gozer and included much brilliance from guitarist Ben Harwood. Matt Brown added vocals to a delightful song called “Traffic Jam”.

The Seattle Supersonics played “Basketball Jones” which made me unreasonably happy.

I find the resurgence of 80s era fashion unfortunate. I’ll admit to being distracted by Australian band The Hot Kicks’ look, and was a little surprised at how great they sounded. Their drummer Kim was amazing.

Bad Love Sessions headlined Saturday night and provided the perfect end to a long string of shows.

More Blue Moon photos are in their set, venue spotlight forthcoming, and be sure to join us at the Blue Moon August 14th for Backbeat Seattle’s first showcase featuring The Redwood Plan, What What Now and Thee Satisfaction.


Interview: New Faces

As of now 2/3rds of New Faces, bassist Kyle Hove and drummer Conor Sisk, live in their hometown of Port Townsend. Come August 2009 this will change as they relocate to Seattle and join lead vocalist/guitarist Nico Janssen in their continued presence as one of Seattle’s very best bands. They’ve got everything to recommend them: Janssen’s dark and deep vocals, Hove’s billowing bass and Sisk’s smoking drums. I’ve seen more of their shows in the smallest space of time than any other band and am waiting impatiently for their follow-up to Two Years.

Dagmar: How did the three of you meet and start the band?

Kyle Hove: We knew each other for about four years before we started the band. Who wants to tell the story?

Conor Sisk: The first time I met Nico he was on my soccer team. After that he was a sophomore in high school and Kyle and me were freshman. Kyle and Nico had been talking about forming a band.

Nico Janssen: At that point we found ourselves at a high school football game and through chance occurrence started talking about music, bands we liked. To make a long story short Kyle and I decided we wanted to form a band and we went around high school looking for a drummer. I’m a sophomore at this point and they’re freshmen and Conor turned out to be the drummer. We rehearsed and that was it. It was very spontaneous. I remember some of our friends in high school were quite skeptical.

KH: Well we were a prog rock band. That’s why they were skeptical.

NJ: We didn’t start out writing songs like we write songs now. Our early influences were 90s alternative rock bands.

CS: Chili Peppers.

NJ: Nirvana.

CS: I was into Flaming Lips and Eels.

KH: Lynrd Skynrd.

NJ: We started listening to the same stuff after a couple months. We got really turned on to 2000s indie rock, a lot of music coming out of Britain. I would say from 10 or 20 influential records from that era we got influenced to write the record that turned out to be the Two Years LP.

CS: I remember me and Kyle going to an Arcade Fire/Wolf Parade show – that was pretty influential.

KH: That was a huge transitional point for listening to and playing music.

NJ: Getting Is This It by the Strokes and getting The New Fellas by the Cribs . . .

New Faces, from left-right: Nico Janssen, Kyle Hove and Conor Sisk
Photo by Chona Kasinger

D: Do you spend time together outside of the band?

KH: We’re not in the same city anymore.

CS: When we were in high school we hung out a lot.

NJ: We spent a ridiculous amount of time together. We would hang out and watch movies at each other’s houses back in the early days. We all went to the same high school and lived in the same town. It’s a very small town with a tight knit community and a very small high school. When I moved to Seattle the dynamic of the band changed – we didn’t see each other as much. We still see each other most weekends.

D: Kyle and Nico are graduating – what’s your plan now? Are you moving to Seattle?

KH: Yes, in August.

D: Are you moving in with Nico?

CS: I think he’s moving out and we’re moving in. I think it would be healthier at first if we weren’t all living together.

D: Do you take on particular roles on tour?

KH: You can’t predict what’s going to happen on tour.

NJ: I would say Conor drives a lot. I plan the monotonous details.

CS: Kyle is the iPod DJ.

NJ: I make the itineraries. But you can never script a tour. Last time we brought along a sound engineer and a guy to do merch and to help us drive.

KH: A tour manager.

NJ: Yeah basically a tour manager.

D: One of my favorite things I have seen on your myspace was the photo of you guys after a hooker tried to get into your van.

CS: It wasn’t even really her fault. What she saw was a black van that pulled up next to her and stopped in the middle of the road. We were actually looking at house addresses. So we would drive and stop.

NJ: Loitering. I think she was maybe halfway justified.

D: Why did you change the band’s name from Captain Incognito to New Faces?

KH: Too many syllables.

CS: It sounded a little immature.

D: When researching you I kept seeing things about new faces as it relates to modeling. What would you model for?

CS: White Castle.

KH: Gloves.

NJ: A news magazine.

D: You could be the face of Newsweek. What do you think of your Wikipedia page? Was it kind of creepy?

KH: I stumbled across it one day – it’s cool [but] you’ll start reading stuff on the internet about yourself that’s not true.

D: What was your first show like? Was it scary?

CS: Yes.

KH: We were a terrible band for our first five shows.

CS: The first show that we played with the Blakes – that was good. It was amateur but they were into it.

NJ: The first shows are always tough. At the time I think we thought we were really good. Which is not true.

D: What are some the favorite shows that you’ve done so far?

CS: House parties are great. I think we enjoy shows that are a little more personal.

NJ: We’ve had the opportunity to play some Seattle festivals and those have been pretty fun.

KH: Last year’s Block Party.

NJ: This year we’re playing at the Vera Project stage – it should be really fun. When we play something like that we always just hang out. Apart from that we really do like spontaneous shows that sometimes aren’t in legitimate venues.

D: You’re working on your next CD?

NJ: We’ve done a couple of recording sessions. It’s likely we’ll be putting out some new music sometime this year.

D: What kind of misconceptions are out there about the band?

NJ: We tend to get stigmatized as a young and inexperienced group of teenagers. That’s kind of annoying.

CS: I was on YouTube and [those comments] are the lowest of the low.

KH: I wrote those comments.

CS: One was just, these guys are stupid, they’re just mainstream pop . . .

D: It’s kind of sad people make these comments, and they’re anonymous.

NJ: The funny thing is that they secretly like you at the same time.

D: The first EP – where can I find it?

NJ: The first EP is out of print. We made them ourselves, in our living room. We burned the CDs and made the paper sleeve. Maybe we’ll bring the idea back.

D: You all started in music at a very young age, like in projects called Gypsy Joy Ride and the Antagonists.

KH: How did you find that?

NJ: [That’s] Some good internet research. There was this teacher from New York that came to Port Townsend. He formed these bands. We were all in three different bands. Kyle’s band was punk, Conor was in the main band because he was the best drummer. A couple years later we ended up forming our own band.

KH: We didn’t want Conor back then because he had a goofy haircut. Like a mushroom.

D: That’s cool that you got to start so early. It bugs me when I hear or read somebody dismissing a band b/c of their age.

NJ: We are young. We are a good deal younger than a lot of the bands on the live circuit but we just have to deal with it. It’s good and it’s bad. Sometimes people will give you more credit just because you’re young – you guys are still in high school? Well you’re great! Or people will be like, oh they’re just teenagers.

CS: Say it’s the first time we’re playing [a club]. Everyone will treat us like we’re going to fuck shit up . . . [like] we’re just little kids. Either we play and they still hate us or –

NJ: We play and they’re like, you guys are good.

D: Being in a band is kind of like being married, do you feel like you’ve gotten married at a young age?

CS: We were friends before we were in the band.

KH: You should be friends before you get married.

NJ: It’s totally comparable to a marriage. It’s an interdependent relationship where you’re accountable to each other and working toward a common goal.

KH: We even have shared bank accounts.

NJ: You have financial and career implications and it can be very stressful. I think bands run into a lot of the similar problems that couples do. It’s intense sometimes.

D: What’s some of the strangest foods you’ve eaten?

CS: Crocodile tail.

KH: Octopus is a wild one. Really spicy foods – I can’t handle [that]. I’ve been to Morocco and eaten some of the spiciest foods in my life. In hot places they eat spicy food and drink hot drinks because it actually cools you down. If you drink hot tea it actually cools your body down.

D: What were doing in Morocco?

KH: I was in Spain and it only cost 30 Euros to take a plane to Morocco.

D: Sweet. Do you all like to travel?

NJ: My family has a travel background and I’ve been fortunate to go to a lot of places. I love to travel. I’m actually a dual citizen. I also have German citizenship.


Photos: The Redwood Plan @ the Bend-It Extravaganza

I walked up to Capitol Hill Friday after work and arrived at Cal Anderson Park exactly in time to grab a spot in front of The Redwood Plan and enjoy a ferocious set that perfectly fit the celebration that was gathering momentum all around us. Is there a better way to start a weekend? I don’t think so.


Don’t miss Gabe Mintz Thursday @ Fuel

Hate weeknight shows? You know you’re going to be all groggy at work the next day, so you might as well skip ’em in lieu of much needed sleep. I’m usually right there with you, but Gabe Mintz should not – cannot be missed and what you’ll get back from his performance far outweighs a little sleepiness on… wait a minute! I have Friday off! And you probably do too! Problem solved.

Gabe (w/ Trent Moorman) played an in-studio on Hollow Earth Radio last night that reached right through my headphones and I again felt as if his songs were written and being performed for just me. Thursday’s Fuel show will be Gabe solo, and mention was made of a Can Can show in July w/ Trent that may cause a tear-worthy show conflict for me. I believe Gabe said it’s on July 30 and although I am 100% in love with another band playing that night (I’ve only seen them once!), I can’t think of anything that could keep me away from Gabe’s show. First, though, is Thursday, and I can’t wait.


Interview: Rachel Stolte of Great Northern

Rachel Stolte, guitarist/vocalist, is one half of the Californian duo Great Northern. The other half is guitarist/singer Solon Bixler – onstage they are joined by additional musicians – and the band released the gorgeous Remind Me Where the Light Is, their follow-up to Trading Twilight For Daylight earlier this year. I talked with the striking Stolte after the band’s appearance at the Crocodile and was so charmed by her. She’s a siren onstage with that unbelievably beautiful voice and offstage she’s a warm, equally charismatic and intelligent woman.
Dagmar: I was reading that you used to be an actress?

Rachel Stolte: I was. I went to UCLA for acting. That’s what I thought I wanted to do for a long time. I was simultaneously doing music – actually I did music before acting. I started when I was about fourteen, singing – not really playing instruments. I took piano when I was seven for three years but . . . the way my brain works I don’t really pay attention unless I’m interested so piano I figured out by ear. I loved singing harmonies to Depeche Mode and amazing bands like that. I did a play my senior year in high school and I loved it. It was my ego that got in the way of my pursuing it. I thought, thespians, they’re weird, they touch each other and I was like, I wanna be cool. But I’m so not cool. I started acting and it was really fun. I did it for a long time and I got my degree in it and I studied for five years after college. Music feels more organic and less forced. There’s amazing actors out there who do it so much better than I ever did and I feel singing especially is more my calling at this point. I would love to revisit it. My acting training informs me onstage on how to communicate with an audience.

Rachel Stolte & Solon Bixler of Great Northern – photo by Dana Patrick

D: You named the band after the hotel in Twin Peaks?

RS: Yeah. David Lynch’s mind is amazing. I loved the movie Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, that was my introduction and then I went back and watched the show. I had seen Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart and Eraserhead. Then I saw him [Lynch] speak one time at a college and he’s just matter of fact. It’s not like it’s this put on thing, which I think is cool. That’s just his imagination, naturally.

D: Who’s your favorite David Lynch character?

RS: I loved Isabelli Rossellini [in Blue Velvet] because she’s mesmerizing and gorgeous. I think more than a character what I like is the darkness, the humor, the absurdity, the non linear story telling, the subtleties in the peripheral view, the fact that the human mind is capable of imagining things that are incomprehensible to the majority people. We all have crazy thoughts and he has a great way of executing it in a visual form.

[We get to the subject of Stolte’s bandmate and partner, Solon Bixler]

RS: [Solon] is a Greek name that means fairness and wisdom – he’s not Greek, his parents were hippies. It actually really suits him. He’s an amazing person, he’s very fair about things and is less judgmental than anyone I’ve met. He’s super talented – I feel lucky.

D: It’s hard to find people who aren’t judgmental.

RS: I know. I’m observant – like I love human behavior and I’m fascinated with the subconscious and with what people are conveying with their body language and what they say – all that stuff. Solon doesn’t think about that stuff.

D: You two met for the first time at a concert?

RS: It’s funny, we don’t remember how we met. We were in and out of each other’s lives for like seven years. We were friends and we’d meet and we’d gravitate and talk – we always liked the same music. We were like, we should just play music together, we’re always at the same shows. We would joke around. And he would disappear and I would disappear, then we’d meet again. We can’t remember the first time we officially met. We were at an Elliott Smith show and he gave me some tapes and asked if I wanted to come up with some piano stuff. I was like, fuck yeah. A couple months before I had been trying to manifest things in my life that I wanted. I had these little pieces paper: I want music back in my life, I want to fall in love . . . all these things. The next night after I had taken these pieces of paper and put them in a box I ran into him. I went home and I listened to the music. Eight months later he was living with his girlfriend and I was living with my boyfriend we [traded] back and forth 4-track tapes. When we got in the studio together it was crazy chemistry. Scandalous. We fell in love and it’s six years later.

Rachel Stolte at the Crocodile – photo by Dagmar

D: You’re interested in astrology?

RS: I’m obsessed. I’ve been studying it incessantly for eight years.

D: You and Solon have the same sign.

RS: We do, we’re four days apart. And two years. He’s older than me. Capricorns are the seagoat. The whole plight of the Capricorn is not to be driven materially but to dip their tail in the water, which is the spiritual realm and if you can balance both then you will probably have success. They say [a Capricorn] is cold and calculating but if you don’t use your tail to get to the emotionality then you’re empty.

D: The cat noise in Stop. Is that your cat?

RS: Yes – Ricky Penny Pearl.

D: I was hoping that was your cat.

RS: She’s very musical. We’ll wake up in the middle of the night and she’ll be playing piano with her paws and she’s actually really good. She never plays bad notes – she always plays low notes. She hangs out in the room when we record a lot. She meows to the beat.

D: That’s so cute it makes me want to cry. Was it easier to perform onstage as an actress as opposed to a musician?

RS: Yeah.

D: Because you were someone else?

RS: Yeah – it was easier to hide. With this it’s more vulnerable and real and able to connect with people. It took me a long time to feel comfortable doing that. I’m finally feeling that with this album. With the first album I was a different person. I was hiding. I played piano and I barely sang. I started to learn guitar and write these songs that were more belting songs out and it’s so satisfying. It’s like, wow, what have I been waiting for? I feel connected to it more than the piano. It really helps me sing.

Gallery of Great Northern at the Crocodile