Photo by Kelly O

Ben Verellen’s New “Disneyland-Style” Bar Is Open For Business

The Helms Alee frontman and Verellen amplifier mastermind is venturing into the world of booze with style.

Seattle music fans have probably heard of Ben Verellen either for his sludgy shredding in local rock trio Helms Alee, or for his beastly Verellen brand of boutique custom amps, which he crafts out of his workshop in Fremont. Now he’s adding another title to his resume—bar owner.

Last week he opened Bar House (503 N. 36th St.), located in the space just above his workshop. After an Evan Jones investment office vacated the space, landlords offered it up to Verellen as a potential shop expansion or a physical retail space for his amps. “I thought that might be kind of risky, but then I thought, ‘well, wait a minute, people drink pretty consistently, why not a bar?” Verellen says. “I’m kind of a Disneyland fanatic, so once I had the bar idea, all these other ideas started flowing about the quirked-out silly effects we could put in.”

The Disneyland connection is no joke. During last year’s National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) conference in Anaheim—a music gear trade show—Verellen says he “spent way more time at Disneyland studying how they pull off all their effects on those old rides than at NAMM.” Bar House bears the fruits of that research. Although the bar space is small, 49 people at max occupancy, there are indeed a number of elaborate themed rooms for patrons to explore. Most notable—the forest room, featuring black lights, a fiber optic night sky, fog haze, a fake campfire, cricket sounds, and “some badass fake trees Dana James from Helms Alee made.” Even the bathroom gets the Disneyland treatment, fashioned to look like you’re inside a submarine. “We arched out the ceilings so it’s like you’re in a tube,” Verellen says, “then there’s little sonar pings and bubble sounds and a porthole we put a screen behind that plays underwater scenes.”

But beyond the theme park flourishes, the bar will truly be a Verellen product for those familiar with his amps—featuring “Qbert style stained wood flooring” and “an electrocuted wood bar and table tops” crafted by the same carpenter responsible for Verellen amplifiers’ distinct aesthetic. The walls will also feature Verellen made art. “I started painting a couple years ago because I would watch Bob Ross to chill out at the end of the night,” Verellen says. “So I finally just bought the Bob Ross painting kit after watching probably 300 episodes, and did a whole bunch of landscapes. I just had them laying around, so I figured—fuck it—we’ll just use those for the bar.”

ksears@seattleweekly.com

More in Music

TacocaT got you a new song for Valentine’s Day. Photo by Helen Moga
TacocaT Returns to Dance With Its Seattle Drag Pals in the “Grains of Salt” Video

The Seattle rock quartet’s new album ‘This Mess Is a Place’ comes out May 3 on Sub Pop.

Brandi Carlile needs more mantel space after taking winning three Grammys on Sunday night.
Seattle Cleans Up at the Grammys

Brandi Carlile, the Seattle Symphony, and Chris Cornell combine to take home six awards.

Pickwick’s Galen Disston stars as Drew in 5th Ave’s ‘Rock of Ages.’ Photo by Mark Kitaoka
Pickwick’s Galen Disston Takes the Stage in ‘Rock of Ages’

The local rocker steps outside his comfort zone for 5th Avenue Theatre’s ’80s hair metal jukebox musical.

Caroline Shaw. Photo by Kait Moreno
Caroline Shaw’s Classical Music Fan Fiction

Seattle Symphony premieres the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer’s postmodern take on Beethoven.

Quadrant and Iris performing at Le Bikini nightclub in France. Photo by Thomas Feugas
Seattle’s First Family of Drum and Bass

Leigh and Karen Caplan (Quadrant and Iris) are key producers in Seattle thriving underground electronic music scene.

On Being Trans: J Mase III Creates a Space to Feel Welcome

The Seattle artist hosts a three-day event at Gay City.

All Star Opera. Photo by Rachel Koll
All Star Opera Embarks on a World Tour of Seattle

The hip-hop/soul band’s second annual tour of the city’s venues with local artists raises money for homeless women and children.

Top 10 Albums of 2018

The best music of the year.

Travis Thompson’s Ride From Burien to the “Corner Store” and Beyond

The local hip-hop up-and-comer and Macklemore protege readies to headline The Showbox.

Top 10 Seattle Albums of 2018

The best the local music scene had to offer.

Minus the Bear is Ready to Hibernate

After 17 years of influential innovation, the Seattle rock band prepares to say goodbye.

Brandi Carlile Notches Six Grammy Nominations

Fellow Seattleites Alice in Chains, the late Chris Cornell, and the Seattle Symphony also are up for awards.