AEROGRAMME, KINSKI, NORTH MAGNETIC
Graceland, 381-3094, $8 adv.
9 p.m. Sat., July 27
Seattle's Seldom and Pedro the Lion have a prot駩/mentor relationship that's perversely analogous to Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails. Seldom is the upstart, the usurper, the radical pop reinterpretation, the omnipresent "oh, it's them again" opening act. As soon as Seldom main man Yuuki Matthews catches up on his biblical bum wiping, scarifying fetishes, and (visible) onstage genital stimulation, maybe the kids will stop confusing his band's scruples with those of their recurrent headliners.
"People will pick up our CD at the merch table and ask us, 'Are you guys a Christian band?'" Matthews tells me, from a tour stop in Harrisburg, Pa. "And I have to say, 'No, we're not,' you know? And then they immediately put the CD down and walk away."
I propose the application of a simple live prop to end the "What Would Yuuki Do?" speculation: exotic dancers.
"We think about things like that, you know?" he chirps, not missing a beat. "I don't know how we can subvert their [hang-ups]. I don't necessarily want people who think so narrow-mindedly to listen to my music. Of course, we're gonna go on tour with Pedro again in November, so that'll just further the questions."
Anyway, fuck all that God shit; Matthews, 22, has had bigger, marginally more interesting problems, one of which is channeling Scott Stapp, which we'll now pause briefly to underscore.
"The one-person rule still stands for us: If we touch one person, then you know, we did our work," he says, appropriately adding, "or whatever."
To be fair, that quote is pulled way out of context; he's talking about those lonely, Bumfuck U.S.A. audience-of-10 shows that unknown touring bands must suffer. But that's a story for another paragraph. Seldom's music will touch you, fool. We're talking alternately agitated and classical organ passages going ass to ass with a crackerjack pop rhythm section. We're talking funny, endearing rhymes about jerks and jerkettes ("You apologize all the time/Your conscience should feel like slime"). We're talking "Sexual Identity," a subversive standout from their new LP, Romance (Casa Recordings), that's hardly a whiny emo diatribe about abstinence.
"It's kinda clich頡t this point, but I was on antidepressants, and the sex of it kind of fucked me up," Matthews explains. "Looking back now, I think [the depression] was related to this girl I was going out with. Her relationship with my mom was kind of shitty. That's what the majority of the Romance record is about."
Matthews hasn't kept in touch with his estranged muse, and he regrets not listening when his mother called out the doomed union for what it was. He's in a healthy relationship now (his new squeeze handles merch and accounting on tour), and the next record will likely be "the happiest thing I've ever written." Of course, during this cross-country interview, all parties, including bandmates K.C. Wescott and Casey Foubert, were chin-deep in that most trying aspect of the national indie van tour: mystery meat.
"We're just kinda opening for whoever, local bands," Matthews says, not sounding particularly bummed. "We opened for this band called Hockey Night last night. They were a bunch of 14-year-olds, and they had two singers and it was just, like, punk rock, and they sang about watching commercials on TV."
Funny, because Matthews himself sometimes carries on in a droll dudespeak that belies his obvious intellect. He attended Western Washington University for a year before splitting to kick-start Seldom. His major? "Oh, you know, I just watched TV really. I took, like, this movie appreciation class . . . actually, I liked philosophy a bunch. I got an A in that." You'd never guess it by the fragmented piano man sincerity of Matthews' work, but Weezer's first records are "two of my biggest influences ever"; their wack Green Album and Maladroit are subjected to endless quality control debates in Seldom's van.
After trading digs about new school Billy Joel (if River of Dreams is, uh, new school), I ask Matthews about Seattle's continuing conflict between fashion and rock. He's quick to admit that "we're nothing," and says he enjoys his insulated Capitol Hill existence but wants no part of the scene within the scene.
"I don't wanna say anything that you might print and I'm gonna look like an asshole," he sighs. "I just do not fucking identify with any of the bands that are popular in Seattle right now. Not at all."
"I'm just trying to do my thing and make a good product and not get wrapped up in too much bullshit."