The Wheelies: Rough Riders

Patrick Doherty talks BFFs and BMX.

In University Place, a small town situated on the Puget Sound waterfront near Tacoma, it's not uncommon to see teenage boys riding bicycles so tiny their knees almost touch the handlebars. That's because in U.P., BMX biking, more than football or skateboarding, is a young man's hobby of choice. Patrick Doherty, who is from there, happened to be better at it than most. At 19 he started receiving sponsorships to ride competitively, his photos appeared in BMX magazines like Dig and Ride, and he was able to make a modest living off of the sport. (It should be said that I also grew up in University Place, and for a time Doherty and I lived across the street from each other. My mom drove us to junior high together, and we brought him soup and lemonade when he was sick. On prom night he got his crutch stuck in the droptop of my date's red Mustang convertible and shattered the back window.)

In 2009, when Doherty started a band with three friends he'd met at the Tacoma School of the Arts—Thomas Crow, Rusty Trusky, and Joseph Yohann—it was only natural to call it the Wheelies. The band's impetuous brand of guitar rock—jumping party anthems fronted by Doherty's languid vocals, which occasionally lag and then unexpectedly pitch upward into a scream—has become a hallmark of Tacoma's music scene. They're currently recording a full-length follow-up to their first two EPs, Don't Be Shy and Pizza Party. Doherty took time to answer a few questions (via e-mail, where his name appears as Wheelies Neverdie) to acquaint our readers with the Wheelies before their Reverb performance.

SW: What are some similarities between BMX riding and playing in the Wheelies?

Doherty: Hanging out with your best friends, creating your own path, and just having fun with it.

Describe the Wheelies' sound in three words.

Best Friends Forever.

How does the landscape and culture of Tacoma influence the Wheelies' music?

The drinks are cheap, the bars are dim, and our music history is deep. We all grew up here, and still see it as a place to run wild and free in.

Would you rather receive as a gift a new bike wheel or a wheel of cheese? Why?

It would be pretty fun to throw a party with a big block of cheese . . .

If you could have any celebrity come onstage and do wheelies on a bike while the Wheelies played, who would it be and why?

Dana Carvey as Garth from Wayne's World; we all look up to Garth.

What elements make a great Wheelies show?

Hanging out behind the club and some old guy comes and starts talking about how he played in a band back in the '80s and how wild it was, then asking if we have a dollar.

Complete this sentence: The Wheelies would make great background music for _______ .

Remembering what you did last night.

What wild animal do the Wheelies most relate to?

Mankind.

Who is the sexiest member of the Wheelies?

Rusty [the drummer]. He has the longest hair and a cat named Booty.

music@seattleweekly.com

 
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