Night Beats: Widowmakers

The Seattle trio has a plan for the guys who stole their gear.

THE SITUATION On a recent Tuesday night, I'm out at the Redwood with Danny Lee, James Traeger, and Tarek Wegner of the psychedelic blues band Night Beats. They've recently returned from a three-week tour of Europe opening for their friends the Black Angels.

"We got treated like princes," says Traeger. "[The venues in France] cooked us duck, chicken, vegetables, wine, bread."

"Our first show back here, we played at Chop Suey," says Wegner, "and it was like, all right, two drink tickets per band member, after we had been getting three-course meals served to us, and unlimited alcohol."

"It keeps you in check," says Traeger.

HOW THEY GOT HERE Since their return, all three members have been homeless couch-surfers. "We make enough touring to come home homeless, but not in debt," says Traeger, the only one in the band with a steady job right now. He works at Pike Place's I Love New York Deli, where he makes sandwiches—"the best you'll ever taste. I don't say that because of them, I say that 'cause of me. Everyone else who works there is a convict."

SHOP TALK The night before, Night Beats played the Funhouse to celebrate the cassette release of their self-titled full-length, a richly melodramatic collection of songs featuring caterwauling guitars and scratchy, twisting vocals (it was released on vinyl and CD back in June). Lee's got a big silver button pinned to his jacket that says Burger Records, the California label that put out the tape. "I love tapes," he says. "I think it's more exposure for other circles to hear your music. There's a whole tape subculture."

"It's something about our generation," agrees Wegner. "The first records we got were on tape, not CD. It's like when they tell us 'Your mp3s hit on iTunes today!', I'm like, big fucking deal. That's like future shit. You can't take that back to your parents' house and show them."

BTW: A couple days earlier, the band's van got broken into, the windows smashed and three guitars stolen—including Wegner's only bass, which he made by hand. They've got a message for the culprits.

"I'm going to peel their skin off and we're going to make matching leather jackets out of it," says Wegner.

"We're going to wear them on the next album cover," says Traeger.

ethompson@seattleweekly.com

 
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