I joined local rockers The Heels in their cozy practice space on Capital Hill for a chat early Saturday. They open for X this Friday at Showbox.
The Heels are:
Paula, guitar and vox
Shelly, guitar and vox
Mikhel, bass and backups
Heidi, drums and backups
Paula: It’s story time!
Amelia: I’m actually a little bit out of the loop with The Heels right now and would like to know what’s going on. I know you’ve got an exciting show next weekend.
Paula: We’re playing with X on April 10th and we are super-excited about it. We wanted to play with them since last year and when we heard that they were coming around again we said hey we want to play with them!
A: And that’s all it took?
Mikhel: Personal tryouts – I had a personal tryout.
Shelly: Was that on a couch?
Paula: No – we joke. We have known the band peripherally and my band before played with them years ago and we are friends with their manager and we know some people that were able to help us when we asked and so they said yes.
A: That’s excellent
Paula: I know!
A: I think The Showbox will be a great venue for you – have you played there before?
Paula: I have not.
Heidi: I have not.
A: Has everyone here been in bands before? I actually don’t know a lot about the history of The Heels. I’m interested to find out how you came together as a band. Mikhel, I know you’re a more recent addition.
A: We don’t need to get into the history of that, but it’s a great dynamic now and I’d like to hear a little about how you all came to be The Heels.
Heidi: Kirsten, the old bass player and I were in a band called The Hot Rollers together. When we quit that we both knew we had to get into something else. So Kirsten was like, hey, this chick just moved up from California and she’s a guitarist and singer and we should see if she wants to play with us. And then Shelly…
Shelly: I was nine months pregnant and I came baby in belly.
Paula: So it’s been three years… Three years in May.
A: And then when did you come into the picture?
Mikhel: A little over a year ago.
A: One of my favorite songs is “Pink Eye”. True story?
Heidi (laughing): No!
Shelly: That would be a good true story.
A: I wonder if you all write together. What’s your process for coming up with what we hear in the audience?
Heidi: For awhile there, it was Shelly coming up with choruses and then I’d write the rest of the lyrics and build the song around the structure of the words. But then more recently we’ve been coming up with the riffs and then I’d put the words to it.
Mikhel: It’s pretty collaborative. There’s no sole songwriter that says, ok, here’s today’s song.
A: The shows I have been to I’ve noticed you have really fun fans. Loyal fans. Hopefully some of them will read this. What would you like to say to them?
Mikhel: Stop stalking us. (all laugh)
Heidi: I like Maker’s Mark!
A: We’ve all been to shows where there’re few audience members. I would think that with a band like The Heels, there’s so much energy… is it harder to play when there’s not much of an audience?
Shelly: We’ve got a 30 minute set.
Paula: I think we play for ourselves regardless of the amount of people that are there. You just play your show. I always think that even if there’s one person standing there, I want them to walk away thinking, Fuck! That was awesome!
Heidi: I can’t remember which show it was, but someone came up to us and said they liked watching us because it genuinely looked like we were having fun.
A: Paula, there was a show I was at where you called all of us in the audience sluts, and that was really great. Is your onstage persona an intentional thing or is it driven by alcohol or…?
Paula: I don’t know what’s going to come out of my mouth onstage.
Shelly: It’s the Red Bull!
Paula: It’s true. There’s a certain feeling I have onstage that I am way different than in my regular day-to-day and it could be a combination of alcohol and having a guitar is huge too – it’s powerful. And I’ve got a microphone and I can say what I want! So yeah! We are all whores!
A: Ok – so you’re sticking with that.
A: Fantastic. How do you view the current Seattle music scene and your place in it?
Heidi: We are clearly underappreciated.
A: I’m going to agree with that.
Paula: There is a lot of variety now in the Seattle scene. A lot of music to choose from and I think anytime you get people coming to your show to see you, you’re lucky because there’s so many different offerings in the city at one given time. The Crocodile’s open, The Comet… there’s so may different venues where you can see music. The fact that they came to your show and are choosing to see your music is really something.
A: Thanks for your time! Anything any of you would like to add?
Shelly: Come to the show!