“I feel in general my solo work feels more true to who I am as an individual.” 7 Questions with Claire George

When I go to a music festival I always do my best to discover new music.  It’s one thing to go and hear your favorite bands but, unless you knew every act on a lineup, more than likely you’ll have gaps in your schedule.  What I’ll do is chat up some of the crowd or some of the local photographers and ask who’s a performer I should check out today?  It was Capitol Hill Block Party (CHBP) 2018.  Of the people I spoke to, many suggested I check out Claire George.  Prior to that CHBP performance, I had not heard of Claire, but after seeing her set I was mesmerized.  Her set was a mixture of great vocals interplayed with synths, fascinating lyrics, and danceable beats.  I was instantly a fan.  Recently, I reached out to Claire and had an opportunity to do a short interview.  Here’s my short interview with Claire George:

1.) The first time I saw you perform was at Capitol Hill Block Party 2018 as a solo artist, but through research it looks like you were the lead singer of an indie rock band called HEARTWATCH. Hearing your work as a solo artist and the music presented by HEARTWATCH, I’d say the two present very different music styles. Was it a challenge to transition to a solo artist, or was your solo work always something you had in mind and were hoping to get out?

It was definitely a challenge to create my solo work as I had never made music on my own, but I definitely feel it better represents my musical tastes and my life more. Learning how to produce electronic music on my own presented a lot of challenges for me but also felt the most rewarding because I put so much more of myself into making it. I felt pretty worried about the reception of the solo work after the band’s material, and there were definitely some fans who want me to make something less dark, but I feel in general my solo work feels more true to who I am as an individual.

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Capitol Hill Block Party 2018

2.) Your latest release, “Alone, Together” and it’s quasi remix “Alone, Together (Forever)” are fabulous both in composition and message. “Alone, Together” was described on your site as the different seasons in the lifecycle of a failed relationship. I personally love how the song ends with a sense of hopefulness. On the flipside, “Alone, Together (Forever)” carries some of those same feelings, but is more reminiscent of Robyn’s “Dancing on my Own” in that it’s very danceable but with a very relatable message. Would you mind speaking to the creation of both songs?

I wrote the first version as a piano ballad by myself, but when my friend Josh from Yumi Zouma saw me perform it live he asked if he could help me produce it out. When we got into the session the song took on a whole new light and I loved it so much that I wanted to share both versions with the world. I like that the version that I wrote solo feels pretty isolated and intimate and the version with Josh feels much more collaborative and dancey, something you want to listen to with another person.

3.) Regarding your 2018 EP, Bodies of Water, one song in particular that pulled my attention was Orbits where you have these poetic lyrics of what sounds like recognizing potential but you also mixed in references to the Voyager space program (which launched a literal Gold Record into space). When it comes to song writing do you approach each song with intention in that “with this song I hope to convey (blank)” or do you let each song flow into what they eventually become in that there’s no real plan, it comes together on the page? How would you describe your approach?

I create both ways, sometimes with a general intention, sometimes with a phrase or idea in mind, and sometimes with a whole concept in place. Orbits came out with an intention for sure, and I knew I wanted to connect the romantic idea of the Golden Record into the song. A lot of my music comes from just sitting down and letting things spill out of me though. Sometimes when I try too hard to have a plan or intention behind it, it can feel forced, so I try to let things flow however they want once I sit down to write.

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Barboza, October 2019

Something I like to do to create a through-line for all the folks I interview is I ask the prior interview subject to provide 3 blind questions for the next interviewee with no knowledge as to who I would interview next. These next 3 questions were provided by my last interview subject Icelandic Singer Songwriter Asgeir. Asgeir asks: (Claire: Love this!)
4.) When you were young – What did you want to become when you grew up?
Mariah Carey, but my own version haha! I was obsessed with her. I wanted to be a pop star when I was little, but that got buried for a long time and the desire to be an artist only came bubbling back up for me after college.

5.) What was the best advice someone gave you?
Start now, you will never again be younger than you are today.

6.) How do you think popular music will sound in 50 years?
I think we will be even more integrated with technology and perhaps there will be machines assisting in creation of music but I don’t like to think that they will take over the process completely. Perhaps we will have machines that can tune into our emotions and feelings and adjust/create music that suits us. I think there will be even further development in electronic music but will get the hang of making things sound more natural. We will probably have even busier more distracting lives so the songs may be even shorter and to the point than they are today!

7.) As my final question, I follow you on Instagram, and earlier this year you shared your first “Clairetoon”. Were these “Clairetoons” something you’ve always done, or something new you wanted try and share? Can we expect more “Clairetoons” throughout the year?

This is something new I’ve wanted to try out and share, and yes! I will definitely be sharing more throughout the year 🙂

(I want to thank Claire George for taking the time to answer my questions.  Check out Claire’s latest single, Alone Together, and the song’s remix, Alone Together (Forever), on all streaming platforms.  Also check out Claire’s debut EP, Bodies of Water, also on all streaming platforms.)

Do Anything Cool Lately #2

Escape Pod Log 13.

It’s been 13 days since catastrophe hit the space metropolis, Seattle.

It’s hard to believe that what started as a minor leak in the giant protective glass dome escalated to a full evacuation of the massive interstellar city.  After 13 days of floating in open space, I’ve slowly become accustomed to this new lifestyle.  It’s isolated, but not alone.  It feels overwhelming and sudden, but as long as the power continues to remain active within the pod, it’s easy to remain hopeful that we can return to the city and continue life where we left off.  Lines of communication have remained unfettered by the disaster.  The abundance of water and rations in the pod were never an issue.  Corporate run supply lines have been developed, creating an active delivery network to individual pods no matter how far they drift from the prime disaster site, and if supplies were needed immediately, each pod is equipped with an “exploration suit”.  The suits allow for evacuees to leave their pod and explore for a little over an hour.  

While we float in space it’s hard not to turn to the arts as a way to cope.  Cope with the hours spent floating.  Digital interaction can keep us connected, but I find myself listening to music files I haven’t heard in years.  Five “albums” I’ve felt drawn to in this time of contemplation are:

1.) Father John Misty – Off-Key in Hamburg – 2020
The only officially released live album of Father John Misty released as a charity album on Bandcamp to help artists in need in this hectic time.  
Check this out: I Went to the Store One Day

2.) Grandaddy – Sumday – 2003
I first heard this album while walking around Everyday Music.  It’s a great indie album that probably flew under a lot of radars. 
Check this out: Now It’s On

3.) David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars – 1972
Lyrically this whole album is fascinating.  The opening track, “Five Years” should be more than enough to hook you into hearing this whole album all the way through.
Check this out: Suffragette City

4.) The Ataris – Hang Your Head in Hope – 2011
If I had a pop punk band guilty pleasure, that I would go to a concert and scream sing all their songs, it would be The Ataris.  This album is unique in that, it’s just the lead singer, an acoustic guitar, and each song was recorded in a single take.
Check this out: All Souls’ Day

5.) Jakob Dylan and friends – Echo in the Canyon soundtrack – 2019
A collection of covers that will make you remember (if you had forgotten), how great the creative spirit was in Echo Canyon in the 60’s.
Check this out: Never My Love

I hope anyone who reads this log entry stays safe and takes time to rediscover music.

(To anyone who doesn’t get it, we’ve been in self quarantine due to Coronavirus for 13 days.  Here are 5 albums I’ve been falling in love with while we’ve had time to step away from society for a little bit.  I always liked old Sci-Fi stories so I pictured a great space city just getting blind sided by a major catastrophe, and everyone being forced to change their plans in order to cope, which is essentially what happened here. Stay safe everyone!)

 

“Soup is overrated” 7 Questions with Ásgeir

The third album “Bury the Moon” by Icelandic singer-songwriter Ásgeir is an album I would describe as an folky atmospheric dream pop album with lyrics that feel deep and meaningful.  On the day the album was released, Ásgeir detailed the experience of leaving Reykjavik to go write at a friend’s summerhouse with just a guitar and piano, in an effort to bring his music back to it’s roots and make it more honest.  He also detailed writing the lyrics with his dad which added a more personal uniqueness to each song.  I really enjoyed the album, and was happy to have the opportunity to interview Ásgeir.  Here’s my short interview with Ásgeir:

1.) I enjoyed your new album “Bury the Moon”. In particular I enjoyed Pictures, Eventide, Youth, Lazy Giants, and Rattled Snow. There were a lot of themes of memories. Were there any main themes and or motivators behind the album as a whole, or were the songs more of a collection of ideas? 

There is no one thing or theme that ties the whole album together. I would rather say that it’s a collection of songs that I’ve made through the years but the lyrics were all written in a similar time period and maybe that has something to do with why they sound unified.

My idea and motivation behind making this album was to try and see if I could have fun again recording and writing. I felt like at times in the past I’ve been struggling with pressure and stress and not been able to enjoy the process as much as I should have. That’s why I wanted this album to be all about the songs and not the recording process as much. These songs were just simply recorded and I didn’t let my head get in the way of what I felt when I was in the studio.

2.) As a bilingual artist, does it change the creative process, when creating music that is going to be translated to both Icelandic and English? Is this something you have to keep in mind constantly when creating your work, or do you feel some themes are broad enough that they translate well no matter the language?

I never think about that when I’m writing a song. I always start by writing the song (melody and chords) first and then the lyrics come after that. They are usually written in Icelandic first and then translated into English. It’s just a step by step process. Never thinking about the obstacles ahead, only what is being worked on in the moment. Sometimes we struggle with the translations and it’s not always easy to find the right words and rhythm but it usually works out in the end. But obviously the lyrics change a little bit from Icelandic to English but that can also give the songs more depth in my mind.

3.) I read in an interview that when you’re home in Iceland, you enjoy going to the countryside where things move slower and the air is fresher. When you’re on tour do you seek these seemingly tranquil places out also, or do you try to take in as much of a new city as possible before heading to the next stop?

There is never really time to do much outside of the schedule when you’re on tour, and when you have a day off it’s usually spent at a hotel in some city.

I’m usually not that eager to go out and explore in my off time, I just like to rest
and take it easy.  But when and if I go out I try to get to know the city a little by tasting something from the food culture or just walking the streets to sense the vibe from the cities.

Something I like to do to create a through-line for all the folks I interview is I ask the prior interview subject to provide 3 blind questions for the next interviewee with no knowledge as to who I would interview next. These next 3 questions were provided by my last interview subject Hip Hop trio, New Track City. New Track City asks:
4.) If you had the ability to communicate one message to a newborn baby and they could understand you, what would that message be?
Soup is overrated

5.) What’s one decision you made that you think shaped the person you are today?
There have probably been many that have shaped me but one was to give up on a career in sports and put all my focus into my music. I think also to move out of my parents home when I was 16, from the countryside into the city, it was challenging and something that made me who I am today.

6.) What cartoon, movie or TV show character do you think describes you the best?
Bilbo Baggins, Just want a quiet and simple life when I’m done with my adventures.

7.) For my last question, I’m born and raised in Seattle. I heard your cover of Heart Shaped Box and was very impressed. What do you feel is the quintessential Nirvana album and why?
For me In Utero was their best album. I loved all the songs and the sound on that record and I know that for them that was the sound they were always after. It had the rawness of their first album but songs that were more like something that could’ve been on Nevermind.

 

I have to thank Ásgeir for taking the time to answer my questions. Check out his website for news about upcoming shows, and check out his latest album Bury the Moon on all streaming platforms.

Do Anything Cool Lately? #1

(In between show reviews and interviews, every two weeks “Do Anything Cool Lately?” will be a compilation of short thoughts and musings I’ve had while attending a number of shows in the Seattle area.)

On DEFY Kings of Crash…
(Above Image) Don’t get me wrong, I love that Randy Myers is the new DEFY Pro Wrestling Heavyweight Champion, but I feel like we missed out on a real “Hero’s Journey” style storyline for Randy.  My only knock against DEFY since I’ve been a fan of the company has been how erratic some of the company’s main storylines can be. Randy made a passionate speech where he pledged to get the title and within a month and a half he got the title. To really build his story, I would have thought he would have lost this first attempt, Schaff go on an epic title run, with Randy coming back more focused and dedicated at getting another shot, and then at a big summer show Randy try again and gain the title after re climbing that mountain. Randy winning the title clean was probably one of DEFY’s biggest title picture twists since the company’s inception.

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(clockwise from above left) Entendres, Early Warnings, The Bitter, Corbin Louis

On how expensive it is to go to concerts regularly…
In February, I went to 4 concerts between the 13th and the 27th:
– Seattle University’s Battle of the Bands
– Marshall Law Band at Chop Suey
– The Early Warnings Album Release Show at Barboza
– Atomic Rust at Cha Cha Lounge
The combined ticket price for all four shows was $21.

On Early Warnings’ and The Bitter’s debut EPs…
I recommend checking out the debut EPs from local Seattle bands, The Early Warnings, and The Bitter. I would describe The Early Warnings as a mix of classic rock, country rock, and a little bit of dream pop. Their debut EP “Breakfast Club”, exemplifies the qualities that made me a fan of their live show, well balanced musicianship that support the very strong vocal style of lead singer, Danica Winkley.  On the flipside, The Bitter is Seattle’s next big afro punk band.  Folks who’ve seen their live show, would compare their music style to Rage Against the Machine. Their debut EP “Venom and Rage” feels like a frank and angry post punk critique of government and society at large mixed with stories of growing up in pre gentrified Seattle.
I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw more of these two bands in the years to come.

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(Clockwise from top) Divine Comedy Club, Grace Stuewe, Goodwill Gold

On Seattle University’s Battle of the Bands 2020…
Of the bands that performed at Seattle University’s Battle of the Bands 2020, I believe Goodwill Gold, Grace Stuewe, and Divine Comedy Club are ready to make a play at the Seattle music scene. Obviously, stay in school and get your degrees, but I wouldn’t mind seeing these bands perform more around the Seattle music community. Divine Comedy Club felt like psychedelic rock from the 60’s and 70’s mixed with modern dream pop (the drummer really stood out to me). Grace Stuewe played a lyric driven style of indie pop mixing guitars and synths. She was the only one with physical CDs on sale at merch (I bought one).  Goodwill Gold ultimately won the competition with a rock style that bordered on punk, in line with a number of bands currently playing around the current Seattle music scene.

“Lose sight of the shore, it’s never too late to go after what you want no matter the circumstance…” 7 Questions with Hip Hop Group, New Track City

In 2017, when I started going to live shows on a weekly basis, one of the first things I decided to do was post a picture or video on my Instagram from every set I attended.  After a month or two of doing this, a handful of bands started to reach out and ask if I had any interest in checking out their music.  New Track City was one of the first bands I remember reaching out.  Not only was I impressed by the work that brothers Bem and Chi Stone had already released, but I was impressed by how authentic they were.  Interacting with them on social media, listening to their music, and seeing them perform live, you get a sense that they’re being themselves and are willing to put in the work to be successful.  With producer Dru rounding out the trio and news of an upcoming album, I’m excited to see where this evolving hip hop group will go in 2020.  I had the opportunity to interview New Track City recently.  Here’s my short interview with New Track City:

1.) Each of your albums have a fairly distinct feel from one another. My introduction to New Track City was the “The Damn Gina Tape”, but the album I find myself listening to randomly on the regular at my day job is “Lose Sight of the Shore”. The album has the great flow from Bem and Chi Stone, but Dru’s production really makes that project shine. How did you approach the creation of “Lose Sight of the Shore” different from your other work? Was it business as usual or did you have a concept for what you wanted the album to be when it was completed?

Man, “Lose Sight of the Shore” came out in August, 2017 and we remember being like yo… This is our first album with all original production, everything from the ground up is gonna be all us. We wanted the sounds to be colorful with live instrumentation showing everyone who our influences are, a throwback album with new school inflections with the overall message of motivation. Lose sight of the shore, it’s never too late to go after what you want no matter the circumstance and we feel like we accomplished that.

2.) I’ve always enjoyed the group’s Instagram page. It’s a mixture of cultural pride, and a celebration of modern hip hop. Every now and again you’ll say “this artist is one of your favorites”, but I always wanted to know, who do you feel are the top three best hip-hop artists of all time and why?

Wow, well it would be different for all of us and it changes but we all agree on Jay Z, Kanye West, Outkast or A Tribe Called Quest depending on the day. Reason being, Jay Z is every rappers blueprint to greatness musically and in life. He says bars that make sense years after you first heard them. Kanye West because he shaped the sound of music time and time again and opened the door for folks like us to even pursue music plus, he’s witty as hell! Outkast because they may be the most unique Hip Hop Act of all time from style, to how they rap, to their overall sound. Tribe’s PRODUCTION IS EVERYTHING, so we had to throw them in there.

3.) Kind of going off the last question, I heard in past interviews you mentioned what music styles inspired your style. There are styles that definitely permeate in your work, definitely jazz (Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, etc.), but what kind of blew my mind was that you gave shout outs to ABBA, and also mentioned trying to rap over Butterfly by Crazy Town. Do you feel that it’s important that emerging hip hop artists today should explore styles outside of hip hop, and who are your favorite go-to non-hip-hop artists?

It’s definitely important for Hip Hop acts to explore outside of the genre because although Hip Hop is running things, it incorporates everything! To us, it only makes sense to reach outside the genre because that’s how you develop your own sound and keep the culture fresh. We have a huge list of artists we listen to outside of Hip Hop. Amy Winehouse, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Joss Stone, James Brown, Davido just to name a few.

Something I like to do to create a through-line for all the folks I interview is I ask the prior interview subject to provide 3 blind questions for the next interviewee with no knowledge as to who I would interview next. These next 3 questions were provided by my last interview subject, Whitney Petty and Molly Sides from Thunderpussy. Molly and Whitney ask:
4.) If you had to choose one thing to go away forever, would you choose vegetables or the wind?
Well, since we need wind to create renewable energy, we’d have to say get rid of Vegetables because fruits would still exist so that would take their place.

5.) Would you rather be in the air or in water?
Flying in the Air!!!! On some Superman / Thor stuff, that would be INCREDIBLE!

6.) If you knew the world was ending in 48 hours what would you try to accomplish?
This question is insane! Where do we even start!?!?! We’d tell our family and friends we love them. Leave all our valuables to them. Take a final drive listening to our catalog, take in one last view of nature catching a beautiful sunset reflecting on the life we lived and then yeah. Go meet Nipsey and Kobe in the sky.

7.) For my last question, I heard in a past interview you mentioned movies and television were art forms that inspired some of your work. What are three must see films or television programs each of you recommend checking out?

Not a fair question, too many to name but if we had to. “Kill Bill”, “The Matrix”, ” Bad Boys 2” and “Rush Hour 2” and “Supernatural.” ‘Dragon Ball Z” dang this question! (lol)

I have to thank New Track City (Bem, Chi Stone, and Dru) for taking the time to answer my questions.  Check out their website for news and events, follow them on Instagram, Youtube, and other social media, and keep an eye out for their next album some time in 2020.

A Night with the Howard Jones Acoustic Trio and Rachael Sage at Benaroya Hall (1/28/2020)

Before the Howard Jones Acoustic Trio took the stage, the theater manager got on the mic and said, “Welcome to Benaroya Hall. We would like to remind everyone, please no flash photography during this live performance.  If you need help turning the flash off of your device, please ask the closest Millenial.”  The crowd laughed.  The Howard Jones Trio entered.  Howard gets on the mic and the first thing he says, “Before we begin, serious question, are there really any millennials in the audience tonight?”  Myself and five other people raised our hands.  The crowd laughed, while the band smiled.

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Tuesday night, I had the opportunity to see Rachael Sage and an acoustic performance from the Howard Jones Trio.  Howard Jones is an artist I would hear occasionally when riding in the car with my parents.  I don’t think people realize how many of his songs are still in circulation on radio stations that play 80’s hits, or are used random in television shows (pretty sure I heard a song or two of his in Family Guy).  I was pretty excited to see him perform live, and the prospect of seeing him play a full acoustic set had me intrigued.  I mean c’mon.  The guy performed at Live Aid (in 1985).  Who wouldn’t be at least a little excited?

Rachael Sage
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The night opened with Rachael Sage.  Her music style I would describe as a mix of pop, folk, and a little bit of country.  Rachael’s piano playing and her collaborator’s skillful violin playing blended well with her snaps and smooth vibrant voice.  The whole set was mesmerizing.  Her “stage patter” was fun and really made the show more personal.  Seeing how willing she was to let the audience know about her past relationship proclivities, or how she was a cancer survivor, really added another layer of expressiveness to her performance.  The lyrics of the songs already had feelings and themes of hope and perseverance, but hearing the perspective she was coming from, it was very reflective and if anything more captivating.  You could really feel the emotion in her performance.

The Howard Jones Trio
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Howard Jones is a seasoned performer.  You can tell he and his bandmates have been performing for years.  What I love about these acoustic sets, it allows for the performers to be more casual with the audience.  Hearing his admiration for Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson, his opinions about Ed Sheeran’s performance at Glastonbury, or how it feels to still make new music today, were just fun.  Regarding the music, he performed a handful of songs form his new album, two or three covers, and as a seasoned performer would, he played the hits.  Most of Howard’s hits were originally performed on synthesizers or contained some sort of electronic aspect to them, so seeing the creative interpretations of the songs by his acoustic trio really made the songs feel almost new and fresh.  I’m sure the audience loved the takes as many took the opportunity to sing along with Howard, which at times even took him by surprise.  The other members of the trio, Nick Beggs and Robin Boult, really stood out in their musicianship.  Beggs especially continually drew attention with how rapid he would play his instrument.  I was sure to pick up Howard’s latest album after the show wrapped.

Overall it was a very enjoyable evening.  Speaking from the perspective of one of the six millennials in the audience that night, I recommend checking out The Howard Jones Trio with Rachael Sage.  Millenial or not, I feel like there was something for everyone to enjoy at this show.

“We are still considering L******** C*** if we are denied our trademark again.” 7 Questions with Whitney Petty and Molly Sides of Thunderpussy.

When I started going to live concerts frequently in the area, the first non festival show I went to headlined by local performers was Night 1 of Thunderpussy’s 2016 New Year’s Eve Party at Neumos. I had heard part of their set at that year’s Capitol Hill Block Party and was very eager to see a full performance. That New Year’s Eve show not only kicked off my fandom of Thunderpussy, but also kicked off my fandom for local music. Since then I’ve attended 20 plus Thunderpussy shows, have attended their New Year’s Eve show each year for the past 4 years, and have become a proud member of their local fan group. I was very happy to get the chance to interview lead vocalist Molly Sides, and lead guitarist Whitney Petty. Here’s my short interview with members of the band Thunderpussy:

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1.) Let’s start with the name. I’ve been a fan of the band since Capitol Hill Block Party 2016. I heard you folks killing it at the main stage and once I heard the band name I was hooked. Where did the name Thunderpussy come from? Were there any failed or “possible” band names you guys had thought of before deciding on Thunderpussy?

Whitney: Well, we are still considering Lightning Cock if we are denied our trademark again. Also thinking of starting a side band called, “Feelie Dan,” for weddings and bar mitzvahs, that type of thing. I think the only one that ever came close to competing with Thunderpussy was, “Hottie Couteratti,” but Thunderpussy is just too good. It really stuck hard and fast when I first threw it out to Molly as a joke for the first time.

2.) Regarding the outfits, where does the band’s fashion sense come from? The outfits have always been fantastic. Is there a theme for each show or does one band member find an awesome outfit and the bandmates (kind of) coordinate accordingly?

Molly: That’s something I really enjoy doing. I come up with a theme, color scheme and draw up sketches to send to our costume designer, Pakio Galore. We meet often and talk fabrics, designs, alterations and then he goes wild. We spend a lot of time at JoAnn’s! On tour, I bring a bedazzling kit, because I love to source fabrics and outfits and then alter them on the road. Or I’ll being those treasures home and take them to Pakio where he can reuse the fabrics for something more elaborate. Tour is basically an excuse to go vintage shopping 😉

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3.) Having been a fan for a few years, I feel like every time I hear some Thunderpussy News, it’s always something impressive, be it the first time KEXP played your songs on air, Mike McCready mentioning the band during Pearl Jam’s Hall of Fame induction, the “Danger Diva” film, SXSW, etc. What do you feel has been the most “Oh my Gosh!” moment of this journey?

Whitney: Jeez there are so many. Most recently, I would say getting to meet Tanya Tucker at an event in Seattle. Holy shit. I have been a big fan since I was a little girl and she is a fucking legend. Before that it was going in the studio with Chad Smith. What an incredible person and one of the greatest drummers ever.

Something I like to do to create a through-line for all the folks I interview that I ask the prior interview subject to provide 3 blind questions for the next interviewee with no knowledge as to who I would interview next. These next 3 questions were provided by my last interview subject local drummer, Andy King. Andy asks:

4.) What’s your favorite tour food?
Whitney: Popcorn

5.) What seat do you like in the tour van the best?
Whitney: The way back

6.) Do you listen to music or do you like quiet on the drives?
Whitney: Music!!

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7.) For my final question, I’ve attended the Thunderpussy New Year’s Eve show for the past 4 years. The line up this year looks insane and I know it’s going to be another great time. If you were going to pitch the show to someone who had no idea who you or anyone on the line up were, what would you say, what should they expect, and what set this year’s show apart from other years?

Whitney: Well, speaking of costumes, I am especially excited for mine this year 😉

We are experimenting with color, lights, and fog a bit more. I’m very excited for what our lighting designer is working on!! Also, musically, we are playing a LOT of new stuff which is always very exciting for us. We consider these New Years shows to be the one time each year that we can really put together the stage show the way that we want it, all the elements that we can’t afford to take on the road (yet!), so it’s like an incubator for future ideas. We always try to push ourselves on NYE.

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I have to thank Whitney and Molly for taking the time to answer my questions. Check out Thunderpussy’s debut album Thunderpussy and their latest EP Milk It. For more Thunderpussy news follow them on social media and keep an eye out for future Thunderpussy events near you

Ten Things to look forward to from DEFY Pro Wrestling in 2020

DEFY Pro Wrestling celebrates it’s three year anniversary with DEFY: Year 3 at Washington Hall on January 31, 2020.  I’ve been to every DEFY show at Washington Hall since DEFY 1.  The photo at the top is the first photo I ever took at a DEFY show.  (The rest of the photos throughout this post will be images from the first DEFY show.)  The way I got introduced to DEFY, I remember seeing flyers for DEFY 1 all throughout Capitol Hill.  One day, I went Rancho Bravo and saw a guy with a “321 Battle” patch on his battle vest.  We got to talking, I asked him if he knew anything about DEFY, he told me it was legit (they’re bringing Cody Rhodes to Seattle), and I should check them out.  The person turned out to be local wrestler, Batboy who also performed on the first few DEFY cards. Going into 2020, here are ten things I’m looking forward to from DEFY Pro Wrestling:

10. More “big name” out of town stars. In no way is DEFY bad at booking outside talent and I love seeing our out of town regulars (War Beast, Matt Cross, etc.), but seeing Strong Hearts and Jurassic Express booked for the next show, I would love to see this trend of new outside talent continue into 2020.

9. Randy Myers quest for the heavyweight title. We saw Randy open the most recent show declaring he wants the belt. I want to see him continue his gauntlet of challengers. Daniel Makabe was a great first test, but I’m curious to see who’s next?

8. Is Cody Chhun ready for a step up in competition? It’s hard to deny, Cody is a star in DEFY. His showing at last year’s Super 8x GP and matches with Darby Allin and Christopher Daniels proved he’s ready for a step up in competition, but can he get wins over an Artemis Spencer, Hammerstone, or Schaff?

7. A fan booked event. I vaguely remember a year or so back, fans could buy the opportunity to book a future DEFY event as part of a VIP experience. What would a fan booked DEFY event look like in 2020?

6. What will DEFY do with the local lightweight guys? I feel like we see Judas Icarus, Travis Williams, Guillermo Rosas, and a handful of other locals booked against each other in a number of combinations every month. What if there was a DEFY lightweight championship or some sort of secondary title for them to compete for?  I think it would be great if this year’s Super 8x GP was for a secondary belt.

5. In September, Darby Allin cut a promo praising DEFY as the top independent organization in the Pacific Northwest and downplaying every other northwest organization before it. He essentially threw down the gauntlet, and personally I think it would be great to see a company respond. Will a local company invade DEFY to prove who’s the best?

4. Will we see Migs compete in a DEFY ring?

3. More gimmick matches. We get the occasional no holds barred match or War Beast rules match, but Artemis Spencer and Schaff are kind of opening Pandora’s Box with the announcement of a ladder match at DEFY Year 3. I’d love to see more ladder matches at future events, or something just as crazy (cage match, maybe?).

2. Can someone pose a challenge to War Beast? I like War Beast. Every show they’re on, I usually say “Hi! Looking forward to your match.” when I see them at “merch row”, but looking at the current roster, other than the Gunz, I would love to see a tag team pose a serious threat to the War Beast title reign.

1. What will the heavyweight title picture look like? I like Schaff, especially now that he’s turned (everyone can’t be good), but there are a lot of contenders. Everyone from Randy Myers, Artemis Spencer, (since their face off at the last show) Jacob Fatu, Alex Hammerstone, and a number of outside company contenders are all looking for a shot. How long can Schaff hold onto the heavyweight title in 2020?

I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to what DEFY has in store for 2020.

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Bringing in the New Year with Thunderpussy, BEAR AXE, Constant Lovers, and Trash Fire!

For the fourth year in a row, I attended the Thunderpussy New Year’s Eve Party at the Showbox.  The theme of the night was “The Glow of Neon Sax” and attendees were encouraged to wear their neon best for what was sure to be a memorable night.  The lineup was stacked with some of Seattle’s most entertaining performers headlined by the night’s hosts, Thunderpussy.  I’ve always loved these Thunderpussy New Year’s Eve shows.  They’re always high energy and a great way to welcome the New Year.  This year’s show was no exception.

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When I heard Trash Fire was going to open for Thunderpussy, I was excited.  This was my fifth time seeing them perform live.  Normally their sets are punctuated by some fun onstage antics like grabbing drinks and splashing the crowd with alcohol, using props like inflatable cats or a cash shooter, or the lead singer jumping into the audience to bring the show directly to crowd members.  This set had the feel of a classic Trash Fire performance, but a little more toned back.  There wasn’t much drink throwing, but there was still the audience engagement.  Highlights of the set saw the lead singer give the light up LED shoes directly off his feet to someone in the audience, the lead singer run to the bar during a song, order three shots and proceed to drink shots with the bass player and the lead guitarist, and in a particularly unique moment the lead singer laid down on stage his head going into the hands of nearby audience members, stand up quickly only to get some bracelets stuck in his hair, and rather than pull the bracelets out, he continued the performance with these elastic bracelets hanging from his hair.  As always they were fun and spontaneous.  If you get the opportunity, I recommend checking out Trash Fire.

Constant Lovers
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This was my first time seeing Constant Lovers perform and I was pleasantly surprised.  I would describe their set as a dynamic mix of rock and hard rock featuring a lead singer switching between vocals, percussion, and saxophone.  The lead singer’s ability to switch between instruments while also providing vocals was impressive.  If I didn’t see it live, it’s almost hard to believe how well he was able to pull this off.  Constant Lovers more than provided the necessary “Glow of Neon Sax” the night was themed after.

BEAR AXE
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If there was any Seattle band I would put money on breaking out of the Seattle music scene within the next year or two, it would be BEAR AXE.  I’ve seen BEAR AXE perform four times and all four times, I was left in awe of the performance led primarily by lead vocalist Shaina Shepherd.  Her ability to command the stage is one thing, but the power of her vocals will make anyone a fan.  The rest of the band are nothing to sleep on as well.  The lead guitarist’s ability to play off the driving beat of the bass player and drummer really add a very jazz inspired quality to what I would otherwise describe as a soul/ funk/ hard rock amalgamation.  Throughout their set BEAR AXE welcomed several local standouts including Terry Monstrosity and Kathy Moore To join their performance.  If you haven’t already, check out BEAR AXE.

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Personally I’ve seen Thunderpussy perform over twenty plus times.  This past New Year’s Eve show the band accomplished to create something that felt new and fresh.  When you go to a Thunderpussy show, there’s no question that you’re seeing a Thunderpussy show.  There’s going to be hard rock with an emphasis on great musicianship, strong vocals, innate sexiness, and of course high energy.  What made this performance stand out was what felt like a real emphasis on staging.  The use of lighting, and how their wardrobe can play off that lighting, really added another layer to their performance.  It’s because of this lighting and focus on staging, the audience was treated to a performance different from most other Thunderpussy shows.  In terms of the set list, I like that they incorporated a lot of new songs into the mix.  Hearing songs debut for the first time is one thing, but hearing some of their standards played in a sort of montage mid set as well as hearing the songs featured on their latest EP “Milk It” shows a band that’s willing to let their sound evolve.  The set closed with members of the opening bands and several special guests (including Eva Walker from the Black Tones) taking the stage to perform in one massive jam session beginning with a cover of “We Belong” and closing out with a cover of “Jump Into the Fire”.

Overall, I felt very happy bringing in the new year with Thunderpussy.  You would think seeing a band perform on New Year’s Eve four years in a row would get kind of stale, but really it’s become a pretty awesome tradition.  I always try to bring a friend who’s never been to a Thunderpussy show along with, and every time the freind is blown away looking to snag merch and trying to find out when the next show is.  I think that’s why I’ve been a Thunderpussy fan for so long.  They have a captivating quality that leaves the audience wanting to see them perform again.

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Thanks for the great time, Trash Fire, Constant Lovers, BEAR AXE, and of course, Thunderpussy!

 

CakeInTheRain206’s 15 Best Photos of 2019

This blog is an offshoot of my Instagram: Cakeintherain206.  I wanted to practice my writing skills alongside my photography skills.  Instagram is a great platform to practice both writing and photography skills, but long form writing should be done on a blog.  All the photos on my posts, except for some of the promo images provided by the artists were taken by me with my cell phone.  To check out more of my photos and videos, check out my Instagram: Cakeintherain206.  Here are 15 of my favorite shots from the year:

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Greta Van Fleet – 1/10/19 – The Paramount

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Amyl and The Sniffers – 3/18/19 – Barboza

20190608_233255Tacocat – 6/8/19 – The Showbox

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The Comet is Coming – 6/20/19 – Barboza

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Mitski – 7/20/19 – Capitol Hill Block Party 2019

20190719_215419Bear Axe – 7/20/19 – Capitol Hill Block Party 2019

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Fucked and Bound – 8/24/19 – Linda’s Fest 2019

20190830_190825Sol – 8/31/19 – Bumbershoot 2019

20190901_150628Kolars – 8/31/19 – Bumbershoot 2019

20191009_230043Starcrawler – 10/9/19 – The Crocodile

20191013_220945Banners – 10/13/19 – Chop Suey

20191017_223606Grizz – 10/17/19 – The Paramount

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Maiah Manser – 10/30/19 – Barboza

20191106_212544The Paranoyds – 11/6/19 – Barboza

IMG_20191122_200703_288Crushed PBR – 11/22/19 – Lost Lake Cafe