The situation I'm spending a recent late night at Jabu's Pub in Queen Anne with Seattle's babeliest band, Sweet Pups--bassist Rachel Barrett, guitarist Erica Brunner, singer and keytarist Prisilla Ray, and the band's sole male, drummer Roman Herb. Originally hailing from Stuttgart, Germany, Herb is a cook at Jabu's; he just finished a long shift making tacos for Taco Tuesday. I ask him if he ever feels aesthetically overshadowed by his lovely bandmates. "No, I'm a confident guy," he says. "Prisilla always tells me what to wear anyway."
How They Got Here Ray and Brunner both work at Rudy's, which is where they met, and originally wanted to start an all-girl band. But after one practice with Herb, they decided to keep him. "I don't just have a guy in my girl band, I have an awesome German guy," says Ray, who'd played with local punk outfit Cute Lepers for years before forming Sweet Pups last summer. For her new project, she thought about playing the keyboard, but wanted something more portable and manageable--so she bought a keytar on eBay from Japan. "They sent it in bubble wrap only, no box, and it was kind of broken. I don't think I knew what I was getting into when I first got it," she says of teaching herself to play it, "but really it's all muscle memory, and once you get it, you get it."Shop Talk Sweet Pups recorded a demo tape, but they accidentally left all the copies in Austin while at SXSW in March. Early next month, they'll hit the studio with Johnny Sangster; they plan to record a five-song EP, which, considering the brevity of their peppy pop-rock tracks, could total about 10 minutes. That's about how long their sets usually last--"We could do 13 minutes if we talked," says Ray. Of the ideal Sweet Pups song, she says, "I want it to be a quick song, I want it to be to-the-point, I want people to wish it was a little longer, because it's that good!" Their longest song clocks in at a little over two and a half minutes.
"I don't know, I've played in a lot of pop-punk bands and riot grrrl bands, where the songs are like a minute and a half," says Brunner, "so to me these songs are like epic ballads!"
BTW Just because Sweet Pups are fierce and female doesn't mean they want to be classified with the R word. "Riot grrrl draws more attention to your gender, and we're trying to break away from that," says Brunner. "We want people to respect us for being good musicians, not just for being girls in a band."
"Although I will say," Barrett interjects, "if you're cute, get up onstage and be cute. I mean, I don't tape my boobs down. I'll wear a thong. I'm proud to be a girl up onstage."
Sweet Pups play the Comet Tavern this Sunday, May 13 at 6 p.m. with Elk Rider, Badlands, Clutch Douglass, Wiscon, Gravy Grime Girls, and Abi Swanson. It's a benefit for Planned Parenthood, and tickets are $8.