Herd Appeal

Thunder Buffalo's love affair with Seattle.

Aaron Schroeder fell in love with Seattle at first sight. It was the city that needed a second look.

Schroeder came to town three years ago while managing a tour for a band from his hometown of Austin. Instantly smitten by what he describes as Seattle's "energy," he called his bosses at the cinema drafthouse where he was waiting tables and told them he wouldn't be coming back to work. Schroeder had fallen head-over-heels. There was just one problem: Seattle didn't feel the same way about the eccentric Texan as he did about Seattle.

"It was weird at first because I wasn't finding anybody I could relate to," he says while sitting on a leopard-print couch at his downtown practice space. "And the first record was kind of slipped in there. Kind of like my pissy mood toward Seattle, like, 'What the fuck's your problem, people?' "

A year into his stay, Schroeder found an outlet for his anger when the Triple Door booked him to play what the venue thought would be a selection of his acoustic material. Instead, he blasted into his first one-man show as Thunder Buffalo—raunchy, eardrum–bursting psychedelic garage rock. Fifteen minutes into the set, Schroeder was asked to turn down the volume. Five minutes later, the plug was pulled. "It was really fucking loud," he says with a grin. "But the people I talked to afterward all enjoyed it, unless they were just bullshitting me."

Six months after being silenced, Schroeder released Thunder Buffalo's eponymous debut on local indie label Sarathan Records, an album he recorded, mixed, and produced himself. Then he toured the country, added two members to the band, and found a tight-knit group of friends. The dark cloud that had hovered overhead since his arrival started to lift, and the city he'd fallen so hard for, he says, began to love him back.

In return, Schroeder dropped some of the angst. The new album he's finishing, he insists, will be sunnier than the first. He's even working on a love note of sorts, using Thunder Buffalo's latest record to score an old '70s porno on VHS he found at a buddy's house. "I'm gonna make digital downloads of it," he says. "It should be pretty sweet."

Schroeder also plans to return to Austin next month for a few Thunder Buffalo shows at South by Southwest. But the trip, he says, will be short; Seattle is home now.

bmcgrath@seattleweekly.com

 
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