Through @ 2: Rod Stewart, Chicken Soup, Classic Rockin', and the One Song That Makes Cute Lepers Turn the Radio Off

The situation I'm at Belltown's Barracuda Taqueria on a recent Sunday night drinking a beer and getting to know Steve E. Nix and Duffy of Cute Lepers. Fellow Lepers Brian Yeager and Kicks are also present, but they're working--Yeager is Barracuda's manager and Kicks is one of its cooks. (The final two Lepers, Prisilla Ray and Josh Blisters, couldn't make it). Kicks brings me a beautiful bowl of chicken avocado tortilla soup he's just whipped up, confirming that he can cook.

How They Got Here Nix and Duffy, who've been married for five years, live in South Park, where Nix records bands in their basement studio. (He recently produced the new First Time record). Lately, though, Nix has been focusing more on his own recordings--Saturday's show at the Comet will be Lepers' fans first taste of the band's third record, Adventure Time. Nix says diehards can expect some new twists--several songs feature piano, organ, and horns--but that the record is still firmly rooted in the band's old-school punk sensibilities.

"I'm trying to keep on progressing," he says. "Ideally, the songs will be moving more in a cool, raw, rock-and-roll-with-the-piano-going kind of vibe. But it seems like they keep retaining a lot of punk-rock qualities."

Shop Talk The Lepers spend much of their lives on tour, and this year won't be an exception. Good thing they've got a cure for the traveling blues and consequent boredom--a Nix-invented game called Classic Rockin'. Here's how it's played.

"Everybody starts with five bands on their roster," says Nix. "You turn on the classic-rock station and when your band comes on you get a point, and you get to pick another band. Like, 'Oh, they played Foreigner. All right, I'll take Jethro Tull.'"

Whoever has the longest list of bands by the time the Lepers reach a predetermined destination--Nix says games have gone on for as long as three days--wins. But Classic Rockin' doesn't get interesting, says Nix, until you factor in its special rules.

"If 'Stairway to Heaven' comes on and you have Led Zeppelin, you lose a point and a turn," he says. "If you get three in a row, that's a Rockfecta and you get double points. If they play 'Hocus Pocus' by Focus, that song with the yodeling, the game automatically ends."

The Lepers say they hope to make money by patenting Classic Rockin' as a board game. They also envision a reality show where Sammy Hagar, Peter Frampton, and Dee Snider play the game while traveling the country.

BTW Nix DJs at the Lava Lounge every other Saturday--"Stones, Lou Reed, and punk. That's it," he says--sourcing from his more than 2,500 records. Duffy has nearly as much vinyl, but the couple insists they don't combine their collections.

"They're fucking separate," Nix says.

"We actually just combined our Rod Stewart records last week," Duffy says. (That collection numbers about nine records.)

"Only Rod Stewart though," says Nix. "It's not right to keep those separate."

Cute Lepers will play the Comet Tavern this Saturday, Feb. 19, along with Thee Emergency, Broken Nobles, and The Knast. The show starts at 9 p.m. and tickets are $8.

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