The band members of Vaudeville Etiquette, trying to act like another self-serious Seattle hipster band. (And failing wonderfully.)
Vaudeville Etiquette: Equal parts Mississippi backwoods, boot stomp and kazoo solos
Ballard band to play Conor Byrne Nov. 1, release album in near future
By Christy Wolyniak
Mississippi backwoods music strung together with pop, rock, and harmonious vocals does not even begin to describe the Seattle-based band, Vaudeville Etiquette. Perhaps a giant zeppelin going through a sunset would make for a sufficient metaphor.
To say the least, their music is anything but expected.
The five-person band (three of whom consider themselves Ballardites) will be releasing a single and playing at Columbia City Theater on Thursday, Oct. 17, and will play at the Conor Byrne on Nov. 1. They just finished their first full-length album a couple weeks ago, set to be released sometime by February.
Songwriting has always been a hobby for lead singers Bradley Laina and Tayler Lynn, who studied audio engineering together at Shoreline Community College before moving to Hollywood with Lynn’s sister.
"We went to this bar, Crane’s Hollywood Tavern, and were sitting next to the booker that night talking to him (about his lineup) and we said, ‘Oh we’re in a band,” Lynn explained to the BNT, daintily perched atop an amp stand, of how VE first got together.
On the name, Lynn said, “We always shared a connection to that era: 1910 to Roaring 20s. It was kind of everything that Vaudeville was, and it described what we were as well. We liked to keep things moving, fun, different, and constantly changing. (The name) spoke to us the way it sounded cool and looked cool –- it adhered to us in every way,” Lynn said.
After two years of playing in Hollywood, the musicians returned home to Seattle, bolstering their band by three more members: Sander Vinberg on bass, Matt Teske on pedal steel guitar and mandolin, and Bryce Gourley on drums. (Also, to add a bit more folky spice, Lynn plays kazoo and accordion.)
“We remembered the appetite for music that (Seattle had) and (how) people appreciated it ... and we started taking it more seriously,” Lynn said.
Now, Vaudeville Etiquette practices in a glass studio on Aurora, conveniently owned by Gourley’s parents. Small rooms and low lights set the stage for VE’s creative space, which is not complete without a mini fridge stocked with Hopworks Brewery’s Organic Hub Lager and Ale.
VE embodies a unique sound, a pleasant blend of guitar and vocals and an upright bass on some songs such as “Abiline” –- but it's the pedal steel guitar is what amps up the country. VE calls Teske their “Swiss Army Knife.”
Laina described the band at one moment as, “Fluid improvisational, momentary chaos. When playing a structured song, there are moments where I don’t have to say anything, it’s almost like telepathy: we can feel what’s going to happen next and we do it unison. To me that’s what a band is -- it’s not five people playing, it’s one thing and we’re all a part of it.”
Although a handful of the band members enjoy technical banter and are learned in music theory, Laina said it sometimes comes across like: ‘“Make it sound like a giant zeppelin going through a sunset, then just jumped off a building, and then go 'Bing.'"
For how the band operates, Laina coined the term “band-dating.” Not in the literal sense, but one might feel as if they are witnessing the script of a long-term relationship by how the band members communicate and work with one another.
“We knew instantly it was going to work. (We are a) relationship kind of band, even when you play with other players, (it’s about) how do you flow together? It’s like another conversation, can you talk with them, can you vibe with them?” Laina said.
And vibe they do. Light picks on a guitar followed by sweeping melodies might just transport a listener straight out of the Seattle gray and smack into a hot Mississippi summer. From the dark, slow-paced “Six Feet Deep” to the swanky, near-gospel-tune of “Devil’s Daughter,” the music exudes an old-country flavor mixed with a slew of other influences such as Phish, Fleetwood Mac, and The Band.
“They kind of dip into so many different sounds, from a cowboy tune to almost cross-sound-traffic-Hendrix kind of tune, and they do it at a drop of a hat,” said Sander, who joined VE last summer after meeting Teske at a barbecue.
On attending a show, one will never be fully prepared for what all might transgress; just know kazoo solos and “boot stomping” are probable. VE tends to tweak their songs, as the evolution of the music progresses.
Though they have dreams of going on bigger tours, specifically along the west coast, it seems the musicians' first true love lies right here in Seattle.
“I hope our live shows are always better than our album. On the other side of that, people want to hear music here. They know they can see good shows and audiences are sophisticated here, which keeps you on your toes. Teske always talks about playing to the one hipster in the crowd. The level is set so high here, that when you hit that mark people let you know. It’s a high you continue to chase,” Lynn said.
Visit http://www.vaudevilleetiquette.com/ for more information.
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