As Yet Untitled

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Disheveled - The Emergency

“People keep saying you sound like this, you sound like that, or whatever,” says Dita Vox. “Or they ask us what we sound like. We avoid answering questions like that. I say: ‘We sound like The Emergency.’

And that’s a hell of a thing. In existence for just a little only a year, The Emergency have emerged as one of Seattle’s best bands, and one of the nation’s greatest live shows. Fronted by Dita Vox and propelled by bassist Nick Detroit, guitarist Sonic Smith, and drummer Tom T. Drummer, The Emergency are here to change the music scene and make you shake your ass.

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At 2:11 PM, Blogger Tyson said...

“Tom was in my last band,” says Smith. “We were in a band that played in a garage and nowhere else. But then we played a show with Nick’s old band, whose name shall also go unmentioned. We ended up talking about Led Zeppelin and MC5 for a couple of hours after the show, and we went ‘what are we doing in crappy bands? Let’s start a good band.’ That was in November of 2004.”

Dita Vox interjects. “No, it was earlier than that. You had already been hit by a car by then.”

“Ok. Our band got together, and then I got hit by a car,” says Smith. “We were all stoked about starting this band. We have a great singer, a great drummer, a great guitar player, and then BAM I got hit by a car, and we got derailed for six months.”

“It actually helped out a little bit, because it made us start from ground zero,” says Detroit.

“My right wrist was broken,” says Smith. “That’s where the early songs come from, because I’d pick up the guitar and go, ‘what can I play?’”

What Smith and company figured out is that they can play very loud, very good songs that rip through your speakers and tear off your ears. Their demo was recorded in two days at a friend’s studio two months before The Emergency played their first show.

“That’s the thing that everybody, well, not everybody, but a few people who are listening are listening to,” says Smith. “It’s really upsetting for us, because we go play a show, and then we listen to the demo, and we’re way beyond it. Our CD hasn’t impressed anybody, you know what I’m saying? People listen to our CD because it’s there. Our live show is far more impressive to people.”

But at the time, they were still months away from blowing away audiences. Dita and Nick lived in Auburn, Tom and Sonic were in Ballard. They had to pay $10 dollars an hour to practice at Hush.

“We didn’t know any bands in the city,” says Vox. “No one had a decent house. The studio we recorded at closed down. We had to pay for it.”

“Ten dollars an hour, we had to haul our own equipment in, including our PA system, which was very bulky,” says Smith. “That took a half an hour, that’s five dollars. Rehearse for two hours, then another half an hour hauling everything out. Three times a week.”

“We stopped practicing because we were all very very broke,” says Vox.

“And then we started playing three times a week, so there was no reason to pay to practice,” says Smith. “We’d practice at the clubs when no one would show.”

The Emergency’s first show, however, held at Bob Street Records in Ballard, was inordinately well attended. Bob Street is, so says The Rolling Stone, the world’s best record store, making the The Emergency a perfect fit.

“We put up 1200 flyers for that show,” says Smith. “There was fifty people in Bob Street Records. For our first show. No one had ever heard of us yet, and we had all those people packed into the aisles, bobbing their heads. Since then our policy was to put up a ludicrous amount of posters for a show.”

That was in May. Since that show, The Emergency has played 57 times in and around Seattle, which is amazing for two reasons: 1) they made that number in eight months, and 2) The Emergency aren’t really equipped to be a touring band.

“We don’t have a lot of things you need to tour,” says Vox. “We don’t have a bass head, we don’t have a guitar amp.”

“We only just bought our guitars,” says Smith.

“We’re in a really weird place given how critically successful we’ve been, because we don’t have anything,” says Vox. “We’re still only a band that’s been together for a year.”

“I’ve been in bands that took a year to get their shit together,” says Smith. “A year of practicing, writing songs, getting gear, finding a place to practice. Finally I’m in a band where BAM BAM BAM, ok, we’re playing our first show. Huh? We just got together a month ago.”

“I’ve got a full-on master plan,” says Detroit. “Right now we’re on the playing a lot of shows part of the plan.”

So what’s the next step?

“Recording an album,” says Detroit. “Then touring.”

Then record deal?

“Record deals come before, because we need them to pay for our record,” says Detroit. “It’s going to cost, not a lot, but enough. It’s pretty budget, but still.”

It might be a little easier to sell that record with Jim Diamond (White Stripes) behind the boards. After hearing the band’s demo, he called up the Emergency and offered to produce their first LP.

“He says it’s going to sound the best if he records it,” says Drummer. “No one else is going to make it sound better and I believe him.”

In preparation, the band has already written enough material to fill their first forty minute full-length, and half of the second.

“Our first album is going to be fast fast fast,” says Smith. “Ten songs. Fast fast fast. The songs basically come from the records we’re listening to. We’ll hear an AC/DC record and go ‘that’s a great idea’, and go downstairs and write a song.”

“Everything’s ripped off,” says Detroit. “You can’t write anything original anymore; it’s just how creatively can you rip off all these bands that you listen to. How can you take a band like Slaughter The Dogs and mix them with a band like The Mooney Suzuki? We’re not ripping off riffs, we’re just taking dynamics.”

“And feeling,” adds Vox.

“But nothing that they can hold us to,” says Detroit.

“We just obsessively listen to music,” says Smith.

Recent favorites on The Emergency’s playlist: Captain Beefheart, The Dirt-Bombs, Sweatmaster (“They’re from Denmark. They’re a three-piece, and no one knows about them,” says Detroit.) But the band doesn’t just listen to records; all four of them are ardent supporters of live music. Unfortunately, they’ve been rather nonplussed with Seattle’s scene as of late.

“When I was a kid, I used to go to the Rock Candy, and I saw so many shows, so many good shows,” says Detroit. “It’s been completely downhill. Where’d all the good bands go? Where’s all the attitude? Seattle has no attitude anymore. ‘My band kicks ass, I don’t care what anybody says.’ Where is that? I’ve seen so many bands that have so many fans, and all they do is stand there and bob their heads. Just because they’re playing them on the radio or they got a write-up in the Stranger, that doesn’t make them good. That doesn’t mean you’re worth my $5. I don’t want to go to a show and have the band play their record. Give me a show, man. Bring it.”

Well, you guys get played on the radio and get write-ups in the Stranger. What makes you worth my five dollars?

“We do not fuck around when it comes to our live show,” says Detroit. “There is energy at all points.”

“We played with Ice Age Cobra at the Stanwood,” says Smith. “There’s this beam at the Stanwood Hotel, it’s like a structural beam for the Stanwood, and it’s probably just barely working since the Stanwood is falling down. Jordan [lead singer and guitarist for Ice Age Cobra] is playing and they’re at a song where there’s a big break when the guitar doesn’t play at all, so he hands off his guitar to my friend Mike. Mike holds the guitar, Jordan climbs up this beam, wraps his leg around it, locks his legs, has Mike hand him back his guitar and move his mic stand over to him, and hangs from the ceiling and plays the rest of the song, hanging upside down from the fucking ceiling. Absolutely crazy. The only thing we could do to top Jordan that evening-we were racking our brains-the only thing we could do was there’s a point in the show where I play the guitar behind my head, so right before that I took all my clothes off and started to play my solo and do my guitar behind my head, and then Nick took all his clothes off.”

“We played 75 percent of the show buck-ass naked,” says Detroit.

“And as soon as you take your clothes off, everybody busts out a camera,” says Smith. “The weirdest thing though is that as soon as you’re naked, you can’t make a mistake. It’s so bizarre.

“The rest of the show was absolutely flawless,” says Detroit. “You can’t get naked and then mess up.”

Words to live by, those. But The Emergency’s gameplan isn’t quite so scandalous. In fact, it’s quite serious.

“When we started The Emergency,” adds Vox, “One of our goals was that we want other bands to come up and say, ‘Wait a minute. We can be cool too, and put on an awesome show.’”

“But you can’t come out as one singular band, going ‘We’re in a band, and we’re awesome’,” adds Detroit. “You gotta get a nice group of local bands, bands like Jimmie Flame and the Sexy Boys, Ice Age Cobra, Jodie Watts. Jodie Watts has been playing for 10 years. They put on a fantastic live show, and we went and played a show with them in Kenmore, and there was eight people there. Why aren’t more people coming to these shows? Why are fans going to see the wussiest, crappiest stuff I’ve ever heard in my life here in Seattle. They’re like, ‘These guys are so awesome.’ And I can’t hear it. How can The Postal Service be the most popular band in a local record store, and fucking Jodie Watts is playing tonight and there are eight people there. Explain that to me.”

Detroit pauses and takes a swig of beer.

“I talk with people that play in bands all over the United States,” continues Detroit. “They come to Seattle, and everybody’s view of Seattle is this weak, soft music scene. Not a bad music scene, because the bands are doing good. There are bands doing awesome. The point though is that the scene is weak and soft. We went down to California and played for 20 people in Sacramento, and everyone in the whole fucking crowd was shaking their ass and having a great time. We played a show at the High-Dive and there were 200 people there, and only 20 people shaking their ass. Where is this embarrassment coming from? Why is everyone so embarrassed to come to shows? I’ve seen band members who get up on stage, and it looks like the lead singer, or someone had to pay them to be there. It’s like ‘God, I have to play bass up here on this stage in front of all these people.’ Why are you even here, man? Go fucking work at McDonalds, you’ll be just as unhappy.”

The band laughs.

“A band like us, it was so hard to get put on a good bill,” adds Vox. “And there was no good bill. We’d play the Central, and we’d play with some butt-rock band, and some punk band that sucks balls, and us. And we’re awesome, but the crowd was already like, ‘those other bands sucked, so we’re going to leave.’ People have fun with us, but they could be having fun the entire night. We’ve had so many people come on after us and say into the microphone to the whole crowd, ‘Uh, we really don’t play after that band, but we will.’ And that’s the wrong attitude, dude. You should be saying ‘I’m glad that band just played, because now we’re going to play our best show ever.’”

This is The Emergency. They are here to help.

“The Emergency wants to bring Seattle to a whole new level of awesomeness,” says Vox. “That’s the goal.”


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