Tuesday, November 6, 2007


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the first time we were supposed to play with seattle's own whalebones was here in vancouver at pat's pub maybe a year and a half ago. they were turned back at the border and weren't allowed to come back for a full year. bummer.
a year passes and they finally make it up to play a show opening for wolf parade and frog eyes at the commodore ballroom. apparently the backstage area was so jammed with people that the commodore got pissed and banned them all from playing there again. bummer (i guess).
whalebones stole the show anyway.
so, eventually we head out on another american tour with a planned first stop in seattle playing with -you guessed it- whalebones. then we go and flip our van three days before said tour and have to miss our first show. thwarted again.
we finally got to play two shows with them, one in seattle and one in anacortes.
it was like unrequitted love...requitted! know what i mean?
anyway, whalebones are the best.
do you like rocking out? do you like awesome guitar and vocals with pretty harmonies? really like, AWESOME guitar? good. me too. WHALEBONES.
i always wonder about seattle. ever watch frasier? that movie singles? ever go to starbucks?
ever heard of nirvana?
what's up with that place?

justin deary is the main brain behind whalebones and my main man in seattle, i asked him a few questions recently via email.

how long have you lived in seattle? were you there for the "grunge years"?

I moved to Seattle on July 4th 1992. I was fifteen years old. A few months before I moved here I heard Nirvana on the radio. It was like a personal revolution or awakening. I had only really been playing guitar for a few months and was super excited. I was bummed to be leaving all my friends by moving here, but I was stoked to come to this place that seemed to have something awesome happening--a rad live music scene. It was new and exciting to me. I made a good buddy at football practice- Rocky Votolato, like me a recent transplant, but he was from texas. We went to see Nirvana together about a week into 10th grade. We got general admission tickets and we totally moshed. it was AWESOME! Two weeks later we saw Pearl Jam and it was rad too. We were 15 years old and way into guitars and rock music so it was pretty cool to see two bands that we really liked. When you realize music is really your thing, it becomes part of your identity.

as an outsider playing and seeing shows in seattle, the crowds have always seemed, let's say "restrained". i've often wondered if this is due to fallout from the early nineties, do you think this is true? do i have a mistaken impression?

People in Seattle aren't free enough. Everyone thinks everyone else is looking at them or something. There's a weird cool factor here. But there is also a strange timidity regarding physical expression. Like, there's a fine line between being a dude having a good time, dancing, grooving, or being the dude who gets more attention than the band and knocks over your girlfriend's beer. Wouldn't you rather be safe! I haven't toured in every part of the country so it's hard for me to say with true authority. Some cities suck one night and are rad the next. I've only ever had the most ultimate time in Vancouver and Victoria for example, but I think I'm just lucky to know the people I know. What city just rules all the time? I wanna go there. Regarding the effect of the early 90s- I think that in the same way "grunge" nudged out big hair metal, indie/punk/hardcore nudged out grunge and those new kids had the attitude required the shed the old ways. Not necessarily a good thing, but there regardless. Of course Duffy, you know I'm generalizing. Also, sometimes when watching a band, I just try to observe how it all fits together, song structures, details, mechanics. Especially if it's my first time seeing a band. I might come off critical I guess.

what's the music scene like in seattle these days? what are your favorite local bands?

The scene here has always been pretty fragmented. But I guess that's everywhere. Seattle is a geographically challenging city. There are many cool areas but they are all pretty far spread out. Since the weather isn't exactly welcoming for many months in a row, people tend to stay close to home and as a result have perhaps a more closed off attitude toward other people, particularly strangers. That said, I think seattle is a pretty welcoming place to start out as a band. If you're half decent and you've got someone willing to put the time into it you can get shows going. Nick Dewitt just composed a rad piece of classical fantasy music. He used a Mellotron a lot. I can't believe he did it. It's amazing. Right now he is recruiting people to perform it. His musical brain is GIANT!

do you have a favorite place to eat? hangout?

Lately the little lady and I have taken to going out to dinner at nice restaurants. Expensive French restaurants are our specialty. C'est Bon!

you and i are roughly the same age and therefore both starting high school in the early nineties, what was really doing it for you music-wise back then? can you/do you still listen to any of it?

I was way into the Doors, Hendrix, Zeppelin, Creedence. The usual 60's highschool stuff. If you're a guitar player it's likely that there was a time when Hendrix ruled your world. I mean he still does. When I moved to seattle I got into grunge stuff. I can't do Alice in Chains. I liked them back then but now it's like a weird principle that I have. Some shit will never be okay. Badmotorfinger is a rippin record though. I don't listen to Pearl Jam but I'm pretty sure I respect them as a band and I think they've done a good job maintaining integrity. I still listen to all the 60's bands. The Doors we're a kick ass band. I wish there was more instrumental stuff of them.

what's doing it for you these days?

Doug Sahm is grooving me tough. I'm into working on vocal harmonies. I'm getting so I can play the piano pretty well. That's exciting. Also, I've been exercising and it makes me feel really great. I like running around the neighborhood. I like jumping rope. We went to Joshua Tree and it blew me away. That experience is keeping me stoked.

do you believe in ghosts?

I believe in ghosts. I have one story. We were recording in our basement a few months ago and were waiting for Amy to get home from work. At one point we had all been in the same room for a while listening to a song. When the song was done we heard someone walking around upstairs for a few minutes and we thought Amy had gotten home. I went upstairs and no one was there. About a half an our later Amy got home. We all sort of shrugged it off but we all heard it and there was no mistaking. Someone, something, had been up there. But I don't think that spirit hangs around here on a regular basis.

ooh, spooky. i love that shit.
check whalebones out at http://myspace.com/whalebones


Tyler Bartlett said...

I've been checking out your blog for a bit on and off, and I think its really well put together. It kind of reminds me of old punk bands and their fan clubs and merch that you could get on mail order... like the stranglers! but its a blog, and doesnt have that "I went out and bought it feel". After reading this entry in particular I started thinking about the death of the fan club... my buddy mike is a member of the pearl jam fan club, and apparently he gets some real jazzy merch-- if you like pearl jam. what I'm getting at is I wish there was a Ladyhawk fanclub or zine that i could get on mailorder... or like, a zine where indie rock bands emailed each other and then published whatever came out of it... the whalebones entry is such a cool interview.

this is long. whatever. if you guys want to put together a zine, I got lotsa time on my hands....


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