Whale Riders: Orca Team Holds Back But Looks Sharp

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Ryan Furbush
The situation I'm spending the evening with the surf-rock trio Orca Team--vocalist/bassist Leif Anders, guitarist Jessica B., and drummer Dwayne Cullen--in the back room of Capitol Hill's Liberty Bar. The South Park episode in which Cartman's hand is Jennifer Lopez is playing distractingly on a large screen. Anders is wearing a dark sweater and a bowtie; his penchant for wearing tuxedos onstage (he owns several after a brief stint working at a tux shop) next to B.'s usual uniform of chic cocktail dresses attracts a lot of attention to the band's smart appearance. "Why play a show without making it a performance?" says Anders.

How They Got Here The current Orca Team lineup is less than a year old. Anders and B. went through three drummers--the first went to Argentina, the second got carpal tunnel syndrome, the third didn't want to tour--before settling with Anders' old high-school friend Cullen. All three of Cullen's predecessors were female. "Now we're a dude band," says B., looking at Anders. "You used to have to wear the skirts, and now I have to wear the pants."

Orca Team is probably the most Northwestern band name I've ever heard. "Ever since I was young I had this attraction to orca whales as being like hunters," says Anders. "They seem very majestic and cutthroat. I like that."

"They are the biggest porpoise in the porpoise family," says B.

"A lot of whales have actually been beaching themselves," says Cullen. "They say it's because they have no porpoise." Insert beery laughter here.

Shop Talk Orca Team's released a string of tapes and 7-inches, but they just finished recording the songs that will be released as their first LP this June. They're planning to call it Restraint, a word frequently used to describe their simple, straightforward pop tunes--an assessment they all agree with. "A lot of '60s music is like that," says B. "People used to say that about Dusty Springfield, like she doesn't ever give it all. You can always feel that she's holding back."

"It creates a different tension," says Anders.

"Anytime I'm like 'Maybe Orca Team should add more,' I just think back to Rush," says Cullen.

BTW: This summer the band will head to the UK for a series of shows before returning to the East Coast to tour the country with themselves and all their equipment packed into a Toyota Corolla, a tight squeeze that they somehow managed on a tour last year.

"I'm bringing two pairs of underwear and two socks," says Cullen.

"I'm not bringing anything this time," agrees Anders. "Just two tuxes."

Orca Team plays the Comet Tavern tomorrow on Wednesday, March 28 with the Coathangers, White Mystery, and Sick Secrets. The show starts at 9 p.m. and there is a $10 cover.

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