My wife once asked me, “Why the fascination with Kinski?”

“Imagine,” I asked her, “you really like, say U2. Except you get to see them at a bar from ten feet away.”

My interest in Kinski began a few years back, when I was finishing up my book. I had been attempting to get an interview with Sub Pop’s Jon Poneman, but he ignored my repeated emails and calls. So, during a Seattle trip, I ventured to the company headquarters in hopes I might get to talk to him in-person. Unfortunately, the building was locked, so I waited for someone to enter and I snuck in behind her. I headed up to the Sub Pop office and told the receptionist who I am and that I was hoping I could chat with Jon. She said the standard, “He’s in a meeting with Dwight and Andy and is not available.” Then she gave me a CD and ushered me off in a “kid, here’s a CD, now leave me alone” way.

I opened up the CD and noticed it was a recording of the 2008 Sub Pop 20 Festival. I had been to the second day of that festival for the Green River reunion, but had no idea about the overall quality and variety of the bands over that weekend. I listened to the entire CD when I got home…and one track that stood out was “The Wives of Artie Shaw” by Kinski. First, the title was great. Second, it was an instrumental. Third, it was an instrumental that flat out rocked in a “we’ll hammer you over the head kind of way.” Fourth, well, they were just so incredibly tight.

I didn’t get to see Kinski live until April of 2015, during a fun-filled long weekend in Seattle. Then I found out they were coming to my hometown of Philly in October. Unfortunately, while I can always find people to see shows in Seattle, and usually know the people performing, I have trouble getting a crowd together at home. I feared I might have to go alone, when my wife suggested asking the husband of one of her friends. I thought, ‘Hmmm, Steve might want to go. He does like Soundgarden. He had mentioned seeing them on their 1994 Superunknown tour.’ So I asked him and he said yes. Turned out to be a good choice.

We listened to a Kinski mix I put together on the way down…he had never heard them before…and he liked them instantly. We headed over to a bar in Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood called Johnny Brenda’s. (It’s just so cool when I get to see a favorite Seattle band play Philly.) Kinski would take the stage at 10, as the middle act…sandwiched between openers Kohoutek and headliners Bardo Pond. The latter band had led Philadelphia’s psych/noise movement in the late ’90s and it turns out Steve had heard of them and had friends at Brenda’s who were fans.

Kinski, whole band, camera

(Kinski. From left, Chris Martin, guitar; Barrett Wilke, drums; Lucy Atkinson, bass; Matthew Reid-Schwartz, guitar.)

I chatted for a few minutes pre-Kinski with Steve and his friends. Steve had told them I was a Kinski fan and had seen them in Seattle. Not being familiar, they asked me about them. “They’re sick good,” I said, and proceeded to give them my backstory about how I became a fan. Daniel, one of Steve’s friends, said, “I love discovering bands late, like after they’ve put out six albums. Then you can go back and have something to listen to for weeks before you get tired of them.”

10 pm arrived and Kinski stormed the stage, opening with “The Narcotic Comforts of the Status Quo,” (how can you not love a band that has songs titles like that?) a track from a split EP they did with fellow Seattle band Sandrider. “Narcotic” starts off with this sort of major key guitar drone, accompanied by a warm bass line (Lucy plays this piece with a bow) and Matthew on flute. Then, “Bam!” Kinski lurches into a killer riff…or several killer riffs. (Did I mention this band is loud? I told Steve to bring earplugs. Fortunately, he did…and he thanked me for it…he had told me how he suffered partial hearing loss at recent AC/DC and Neil Young shows. Earplugs are a good thing…bring them and don’t lose your hearing.)

Kinski, violin and flute

(No, this isn’t Jethro Tull.)

Following that, Kinski focused on material from their current record, 7 (or 8) (an album so titled because the band can’t decide whether it is in fact their seventh or eighth record), but they did delve into some older material, most notably the extended piece “The Party Which You Know Will Be Heavy,” and the killer Groundhogs-ish riff based, “Crybaby Blowout” (I have to give myself props here, as I told Steve they would probably play that one…he recognized it from the sampler we heard on the trip down.) “Crybaby’s” riff…, I think that could go on for 20 minutes. Take a gander yourself.

Focusing heavily on the new record, which alternates between killer riffs and extended pieces, the band treated us to “Powder,” “Drink Up and Be Somebody,” and my favorite song title off this album, “I Fell Like a Fucking Flower,” so named after Lucy destroyed Chris’ girlfriend in an arm wrestling match…prompting Chris’ girlfriend to utter that phrase. Kinski finished with “Detroit Trickle Down,” the opening track from 7 (or 8), which absolutely killed the audience. They played for an hour, which is perfect for an old man like me. Of course, I still wanted more.

Vaporland, the Prequel

Posted: June 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

After two completely full days and nights, Sunday felt like a nice break. I had a relaxing morning, and got to know the chef (Albert) a little bit at the B&B where I stayed (I found a really cool and reasonably priced one on Capitol Hill called the 11th Avenue Inn.) Turns out Albert and his wife decided to move to Seattle just ’cause…they found a tiny apartment in the neighborhood and they both work part time. Basically the plan was to give up a bunch of stuff they didn’t need in exchange for a more low-key lifestyle. I love it when people make a conscious decision to break free from the preordained American rat race.

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[A couple of shots of Capitol Hill.]

For lunch, I met fellow writers Dave O’Leary (author of two fine semi-autobiographical novels: Horse Bite and The Music Book. You can find them both on Amazon) and Clint Brownlee. Dave also occasionally plays bass in a band called Sightseer. We met at Elysian brewpub down on 1st Avenue and were soon joined by yet another writer and historian: Jeff Stevens. We chatted about the usual musical stuff and then the conversation ventured into Seattle’s obscenely horrible transportation problem. Like many younger cities, Seattle grew too quickly and the lack of importance placed on public transportation has contributed to brutal highway congestion. I notice it gets worse each time I come here.

Apparently, Seattle’s solution was to build a tunnel…which of course makes little sense. To make matters worse, the boring machine got stuck against a lead pipe (I think…correct me if I’m wrong, Jeff) and still remains in the ground until officials can figure out what to do with it.

On a fun note, we talked about Clint’s appearance in the Mudhoney video, “I Like it Small.” You can definitely make out his distinctive beard and Dodgers cap. See

Later, I headed over to Fremont to meet Jack Endino and his girlfriend for dinner (for Thai…something different! Forgive my wiseassery, Jack.) We talked about the usual music stuff…although Jack did mention something about an upcoming U-Men release. I, um, yeah…can’t wait for that one.

After dinner and leaving my car keys in the rental car (yay, hopefully not early onset dementia!) I headed back to the Hill for an early retirement (no pun intended…fuck, I got an AARP card in the mail. I’m officially old.)

Saturday would finish on a high note, with a trip up to Kingston to watch Before Cars play…the previous night I hung out with them at the Malfunkshun show. I headed up to Edmonds (Rob Morgan’s hometown [yay]) to catch the ferry over (it’s fun taking the ferry…try it sometime), and met the BC people at a bar called the Filling Station.

Before Cars is Chad Channing on guitar/bass, Paul Burback, also on guitar, Justine Jeanotte on violin and keyboards, and Andy Miller on percussion. What is their music like? Hmmm…I think Chad describes Before Cars as “alternative folk.” I would say they’re folky, but they also draw from the ’70s singer-songwriter genre as well. Justine’s presence also adds to the band’s musical palette as well as the overall talent level. I think their music fits the West Coast vibe well.

The previous evening, during the trip up to the Malfunkshun show, Paul made me laugh hysterically when he mentioned one of his friend’s throwaway lines: “Well, you know what they say…” Apparently, his friend, after chatting with a convenience store clerk or whomever, would say, “Well, you know what they say…” and then head out the door, leaving the cashier hanging. For some reason, I found that hysterically funny…and now of course I will have to borrow that line, with the added benefit of annoying my wife and daughter. (I can picture an updated Monty Python skit based around this scenario, with the clerk frantically googling the term on his phone to find out what they actually do say.)

After some food and beers, BC friend Derek Burns played, with Chad on drums and Paul on bass. I took some photos and enjoyed what I hoped would be a long evening. Once again, however, there was a problem…you guess it–cats were involved. Paul and Justine had offered to have me stay over so I didn’t have to worry about the ferry schedule. They of course have cats, so…I would have to catch the 11:05 back to Edmonds.

Derek, Chad, and Paul 1

After Derek’s set, Before Cars did a sound check and then relaxed before taking the stage. I think it was about 10:20, when someone said, “You know, Steve has to leave in half an hour.” So the band was like, “Ok, I guess we’ll play then.” (Gotta love that West Coast thing.)

Before Cars offered up mostly new material, throwing in “Catch You When You Fall” from 2013’s excellent How We Run. ( I found their set perfectly matched my mood…it was relaxing and allowed me to savor the moment. Again, it’s a pretty cool thing to experience one of your favorite bands from a few feet away.

Before Cars 5

[Before Cars. From left, Chad, Andy, Justine, Paul.]

At about 11, I said my good-byes and took off for the last boat back to Edmonds. I was asleep by midnight…an early bedtime for this trip.

Day 3: Saturday, April 11

I’m doing this post in two parts, because too much stuff happened on Saturday.

Things got rolling early, after a grand total of maybe six hours of sleep over the previous two nights. I met up with Leighton Beezer and his friends at the notorious 5-Point Café, located near the Space Needle. I liked the place right away, given some of the stickers on the wall (see below for an example.) Leighton is one of those people I have to meet up with every time I come to town…in addition to Rob Morgan and Jack Endino. As an aside, we had gotten our dates mixed up and Leighton called me at home the previous Saturday wondering where I was. My wife answered and said it was for me. I asked who it could possibly be given I never use the land line. “It’s Leighton Beezer,” she said, “from the Thrown Ups.”


Meanwhile, back at the 5-Point… Leighton introduced me, or actually re-introduced me to Five. He plays bass, I think, in one of Leighton’s improvisational musical collectives. In fact, I did see him play a few years back in Belltown, and yeah, they were great…45 minutes of improvised deafening noise, but crafted (is that the right word?) beautifully. Five and I chatted and I immediately entered him into my phone contact list for a couple of reasons. One, he’s a cool guy and two, I now have a person named Five in my contact list. Oh, before I forget, while members of our party were still filtering in, the waitress asked if more people were coming because otherwise she might have to move us to another table. I counted up and said, “We have Five…literally.” After a typically awesome experience with Leighton and friends, I was excited to get Cat Day rolling.


[Ladies and gentlemen, Five.]

See, I’m highly allergic to cats…like they literally make me sick. Dogs, no problem, but I can’t be in someone’s house who has cats for more than a few minutes. And, apparently, everyone in Seattle owns cats…and I did not know this. It only took 13 trips here to figure that one out.

So post-Leighton, I made my pilgrimage to Rob Morgan’s house…Rob is one of Seattle’s original punk rockers. He’s an artist, a musician, and well…he’s Rob. That’s all I can say, and I love him. Since Rob has cats (of course), we headed out and drove around Ballard, while we listened to his friend and former Squirrel Kevin Crosby’s new record, Money What Money? Rob’s on it, as well as Baby Cheevers (Google him or read my book…Cheevers is a legend.) Rob and Kevin described the record (at least I think they described it this way) as a parody of Frank Zappa doing a parody of Sergeant Pepper’s, sprinkled with some obscure Squirrels references. The record is, well it’s great, and fucked up, and ridiculously creative. At one point during the recording, Kevin said the producer would not approve of him using a duck squeak. So he found another producer.

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[From left: Rob Morgan, Kevin Crosby, Senior Dorkinger holding Kevin’s CD.]

Afterward, I headed back to Capitol Hill to re-interview Vaporland. I say re-interview, because I talked to those folks a few months back by phone from Philly. We began that chat at midnight (9 pm Pacific), and I think we talked for about an hour. Great interview…lots of funny and insightful banter. And then after I was done, I couldn’t find the mp3 file. I’ve done hundreds of interviews, and I’ve never lost a recording. But this time I did. It sucked. Fortunately, the Vaporland folks were more than cool about it…as Seattle people tend to be, and we informally talked about doing it again live, the next time I headed to Seattle. And so we did.

If you aren’t familiar with Seattle bands, they’re basically all the same people playing in various incarnations. So it goes with Vaporland, with a twist. Take Love Battery guitarists Ron Rudzitis (aka Ron Nine) and Kevin Whitworth; combine with ex-TAD bassist Kurt Danielson, add the Fluid’s Garrett Shavlik on drums, and singer Katie Scarberry…and you end up with…

Vaporland 2

[Vaporland. From left: Kevin, Ron, Katie, Kurt, Garrett. Unfortunately, I forgot the pup’s name.]

Vaporland begins with Love Battery’s base of heavy, melodic psych-influenced rock, and adds British blues of the late ’60s along with Kurt’s post-punk influences. Katie’s singing and percussion brings yet another element to this band. So this is not Love Battery re-boot. Listen to their eponymous debut record, issued on Van Conner’s (Screaming Trees) Strange Earth label. (

Oh yeah, Ron has cats, so we did the interview in his garage. He brought out some chairs and a portable heater and Katie served us some coffee and then things got rolling. I would say it went better than the original phone chat…lots of great stories, insight into song writing and influences, and of course that Seattle humor. Please, though, don’t tell me everything happens for a reason. That expression can make me violent.

After that, I drove up to Edmonds to catch the ferry to Kingston to see my friends in Before Cars. (Stay tuned for Cat Day, Part 2 coming up tomorrow…or some other day.)