DAVE HOLMES MIGHT seem quiet and reserved, but he's so full of bullshit that his eyes are brown. In late-'80s/early-'90s Seattle, the Fall-Outs, the band Holmes plays guitar and sings in, steadily built an audience with their hollow-bodied, sweet-but-sweaty garage rock/pop nuggets. Tougher than the Posies and trained on the Sonics, they could've been the Young Fresh Fellows, they should've been the Fastbacks, they would've been Mudhoneyin fact, for a while at least, they kinda were Mudhoney, if Mudhoney had been the Monkees.
When I began e-mailing back and forth with Holmes regarding his band's upcoming show, our virtual note passing was riddled with half-truths and malarkey. For instance: "The first concert I went to was the Who and Clash, and the Jam. I think the Who/Clash show was at the Monkey Pub, if memory serves correctly."
The Who and the Clashat the Monkey Pub? Try again. "Sorry, I was just kidding. It was actually at the Kingdome. Did you really believe it? I guess it just seemed like the Monkey Pub because [local garage/punk booker] Brian Foss booked the show. OK, that's not true, either. Sorry. But it was at the Kingdome. That's true. I think."
Fineif we were going to play like that, I might as well go for broke and ask him about the Mattress Game, a strange custom that used to take place at the Fall-Outs' headquarters and has become a minor legend in Seattle's garage-rock scene. Again, Holmes hedges, only to finally cave in: "Actually, we called it 'The Dice.' Somehow a game evolved where we would roll two dice and the person with the lowest number had to get rolled up in a mattress and try to work his way out while the other people jumped on it and taunted him. We had a roommate that would just lie in it and smile. That really creeped us out."
THE FALL-OUTS' genesis is, thankfully, a lot more straightforward, as is Holmes' recollection of it. Holmes first met bassist Shannon McConnell, who also plays in the Pulses, in middle school before playing punk and '60s covers in high school. "Then Shannon put flyers in the Who section and a couple other sections at Cellophane Square saying we were looking for a 'Keith Moon-style drummer,'" says Holmes. Soon Dino Lecioni joined the group. "We practiced and told him 'You'd be good for, like, a ska band or something.' But we didn't have anyone else, so we kept practicing," says Holmes. "Soon, he got just what we were after. We started writing songs, and the next thing you know, armed with just a few dice and a mattress, we created the hottest game in the country!"
They must've been doing something during all that time, because it's not like they were releasing much music. Aside from a trio of early-'90s albums on Super-Electro and Estrus and an appearance on on Sub Pop's 2001 Kinks tribute, Give the People What We Want, they've kept rather mum for a band that's closing in on 15 years in the biz. Still, there's something to be said for a band that stays its course and never requires a makeover but also never makes it into the world of headlining the Showbox and enjoying free nachos in the green room, either.
"If we'd known about the free nachos, I think we might have done things a little differently," deadpans Holmes. "I think we knew that we weren't the kind of band that seemed to be getting signed. Not that we would've been against that, but it didn't really seem like a possibility, so we didn't try too hard. I know it sounds stupid, but making songs and records that we like is the main thing. Actually, not a lot of people gave a shit about us."
Which might not necessarily be the case if the Fall-Outs played a little more than every fifth month of any year that ended in an even number. But Holmes is bullshitting again, anywaynot only is Texas garage-rock kingpin Tim Kerr a big fan, so is the majority of this city's garage underground. Then there's the matter of that guy from Mudhoney. After quite a few e-mails, I finally got Holmes to submit to the truth.
"Shannon was the first bass player. He quit, and Steve, who we hardly knew, said, 'I'll play bass' because he liked the band. This was the early '90s. A couple years later, he quit because Mudhoney was taking up too much of his time. Then we got our friend Javad; then Shannon came back. Our first album had Steve. Our second album was stuff we recorded with Shannon before Steve was in the band. Our third album was with Shannon after he came back. Kinda confusing."
Confusing, yesthat's the man's MO. But with a new album in the works and a pledge to play out more often, maybefinallywe'll all get set straight.
The Fall-Outs play the Sunset Tavern with Mr. Airplane Man and the Charming Snakes, 7 p.m. Thurs., Oct. 9. $6.