Shack Up With Seaweed
Seattle looms outside like a monument to gray. West Coast weather hits hard, and I fight it with my stereo sometimes. Seaweed takes a stand and sends sonic relief through me. A delicate harmonic pop punk power cure for whatever blue Seattle may send through you. Their music says so much, but I talked to Aaron Stauffer to find out more.
My first surprise was when the Joy Division song came shooting through the speakers. It didn’t seem like an obvious choice, but it was done in such fine Seaweed style. What inspired you to choose “Warsaw”?
Aaron Stauffer : Alan, who has been in our band since 1996, and never has left the band since joining, demanded that we do the song; he likes it a lot… people have seemed to respond very strongly, both positively and negatively. It turns out that Poison 13 (an old time Texas punk band) already did it, but ours and theirs are very different. A lot of kids out there, new indie-er than thou nerds, think they have full ownership of Joy Division or something — give us a break, we just played their song; Nirvana were the ones ripping them off (see “Come As You Are”).
About the drummer conundrum: I heard that Quicksand got back together, so is Alan drumming for them or for Seaweed or both?
Alan practically runs Seaweed, he’s a hardcore member, and we’ve never done a thing without him since he joined; he’s our only member change in nearly 10 years, we won’t ever have another drummer or any other member change in Seaweed’s life time.
Did Seaweed drop Hollywood Records, or did Hollywood drop Seaweed?
We left. The president at the time, who is [this] jackass named Bob Phifer, got fired. We went into the office the next day and said, “we’re leaving as well,” and that they had no leader and no brains and no spine. So they gave us the little money that they owed us, and we cruised.
Why was Merge Records chosen, and does it feel like it was a good choice?
Because Laura and Mac are good pals of ours. We’ve known, trusted, and respected them for like, 9 years, and they asked us. So we said yes, and it’s all been very cool.
How were you received at your recent show in Seattle? Do you still have a large fan base in Washington? Do you enjoy playing in Washington?
Yeah! Our best shows are always in Seattle or in Vancouver. It’s always fun to play in Washington, because we see so many of our friends… people we’ve seen at shows for years. The Seattle shows have a real spirit, and people always dance and have a good time.
Do you feel your audience has changed in the past few years?
We do better at bars by far than at all ages shows. Our fans grew with us, we used to do only all ages shows for years. We did our first bar show in Seattle that we had done since 1991, in the spring of 1996, with Pond. It was a great time. One of my favorite Seaweed shows. It was filled with all these kids I would have never realized were 21. I’m 27. Seaweed started when I was 17.
When did you start the Gardener project? Where does Gardener stand in relation to Seaweed? Is it a side project, or something you might be taking more seriously?
I started with Gardener in winter 1996. It’s never been a project, just a band. A band that I take as seriously as Seaweed, for sure. Gardener practices a lot more, considering I live 14 hours to 3 days from all the members of Seaweed, and I can walk to where Gardener is currently playing. Also almost every member of Seaweed (4 out of 5) played a song or two on the Gardener album, the song “Outside Looking In” was a Seaweed song, and “Steadfast Shrine” on the Seaweed record is a Gardener song. Alan played on about half of the record. Gardener is kind of a collective, and it’s about 14 strong today. We played last week at the noise pop fest in San Francisco as a 4 piece, but I think we will be a 5 piece when we tour in spring (flute, guitar, trumpet, drums, bass, cello, hand drums).
What exactly is shack rock?
Shack rock is a new movement. It’s beyond low-fi, punk, do it yourself, and [cough, cough…] emo. Take what you have, whatever musical thing you can do, be it a flute, trombone, clarinet, and especially your voice, and play music that means a lot to you. About what you believe in, and live that way. It means even if you just live in a shack with no power, you can play hardcore music. Because to me, punk is no longer vital, and I need the intensity in my life. Most of my old friends I’ve known from the punk world are living in shack. If they live in a shack or in the city, they live shack… cheap, DIY, wild and free.
Possibly I haven’t been paying any attention at all, but I don’t remember seeing any press or promotional outpourings regarding Seaweed since summer of ’95 ,with the Warped tour and the Spanaway album. What has been happening in the past 4 years?
Well, we toured a lot in ’95, and a good bit in ’96. We just wanted to take time to make a really good album that was totally inspired. It took three years, but we don’t care. We don’t care much about the rock world anymore, just Seaweed world. We are going to Brazil and touring, and then touring the west coast, and that’s all our plans for now.
About the new album… I’m finding that Actions and Indications is a much stronger album than Spanaway . I’m enjoying it much more. Are you happy with it?
Yes. We love it.
What music are you listening to these days? What is inspiring you?
The Spinanes new album, and Chico Buarque from Brazil.
Straight from Seaweed world. Keep swimming. Over and out.