Toward the end of the third-to-last song, the sound kicked in and the crowd applauded. Carissa's Weird are shoegazers (even the drummer looks down as he plays), but at the mid-song applause, singer/ guitarist Matt gave a start; the bands' monitors had sounded great. Guitarist Jen told me later they had no idea that the audience was being treated to Weird unplugged.
Jen and Matt work consecutive shifts at Bimbo's Bitchin' Burrito Kitchen, so the only way to catch them both for an interview is a late meeting at the Cha-Cha. The bar is too loud, though, and Jen has a soft voice, so we sneak into the storage room to set up my tape recorder. We seat ourselves on the dusty cardboard boxes, illuminated by the green glow of the glass-front beer cooler. Occasionally the ice machine will have a seizure, and we'll stop mid-sentence to make sure the recorder is getting every word.
What's more important, the lyrics or the music?
JEN: Music. I think we like our vocals low.
MATT: Sometimes lyrics can be totally personal. And sometimes it's stuff you don't want everybody to hear loud and clear. It's like having your diary posted in the newspaper.
What's the stupidest lyric ever written?
MATT: By us? 'Cause I can think of a bunch. Definitely anything in a clichéd way using the word "alone."
JEN: Yeah, we had friends of ours who've gotten our four-track stuff and then [said] "Alone, you guys are so alone. What's your problem?" Also, I just hate people who rhyme a word with the same word, like that Skid Row song? Where he rhymes "kiss" with "kiss"?
What's the dumbest thing you've ever done while drunk?
MATT: Well, I've never really done anything smart when I'm drunk.
JEN: I have no good ones.
MATT: You end up... every time she goes to a party, she brings her own bottle of whiskey and ends up with silly hats on her head all night long....
JEN: No, no, no, no, no.
MATT: ...and the photographs tell the story the next day.
Actual silly hats? Or metaphorical silly hats?
MATT: No, like one of those red hats with the little fez on top....
JEN: I don't know what you're talking about, Matt.
MATT: On Halloween I ended up with a jester cap. I woke up after a party at 5 a.m. -- I don't know how I got there -- on a bus stop, just sleeping there. And I had lipstick smeared all over my face, and my knees were all bruised up and bloody, and... so I guess I probably did a lot of stupid things that night.
What song do want played at your funeral?
MATT: "Uptown Girl," by Billy Joel. It'd have to be a pick-me-up song. If I had to write my will right now, that would be it.
JEN: One time, I remember we were living in this house, and Matt was writing the lyrics to "Uptown Girl" on the wall....
MATT: It was a house full of poets, in Michigan -- they were going to write all their poetry on the wall to show off how good they were.
JEN: And they're reading, "Uptown girl, she's been living in her uptown world," and they're like, "Wow, that's really good!"
MATT: Until they finally figured it out.
What were you guys doing living in Michigan?
MATT: We have no idea. We met each other when we were, like, 15, in Tucson, and she played guitar and so did I, and so we just started writing songs and playing little coffee shops. And then I acquired a Firebird from my grandmother and we met some other sketchy guy and he was like, "Let's go to Michigan!" So by the time we got there we were like, "We don't have any money! Or jobs! And we're little kids!" So we ended up in a little poetry commune.
JEN: Yeah, I don't think they liked us too much.
MATT: No, they hated us.
JEN: They stole all our food.
How'd you get to Seattle?
MATT: Well, we went back to Tucson and lived there for quite a while, and then bought a van. We went to South Carolina, played a bunch of shows, and then we were like, "let's move to Seattle." But we couldn't figure out where to get off on the freeway, so we just kept going. Then the van broke down and so we lived in Olympia for a year. And finally moved up here because Olympia was boring the hell out of me.
What's the worst album you've ever loved?
MATT: I love any of the last three Red Hot Chili Peppers albums.
MATT: That's my favorite.
JEN: That is not your favorite. Don't listen to him.
MATT: Maybe Blood Sugar Sex Magik.
JEN: Blood Sugar Sex Magik is way better.
MATT: I figured how to, in a folky kind of way, play all the songs off Californication.
JEN: Maybe Skinny Puppy?
So you have sort of a metal-y past.
MATT: When I first met her, she was wearing that, what are they called....
JEN: Don't talk about that!
MATT: ...Pigface? And they have that T-shirt that said, "Hips, Tits, Lips, Power," in really big letters -- that was their famous song. First time I met her she was wearing that shirt and she loved that song. Loved Pigface.
What was the most naive ideal you held in your teens?
JEN: I was gonna be a rock star.
MATT: I held a lot of naive ideals about Perry Farrell. I remember my parents would ask me, "Do you think you're gonna like this music for the rest of your life?" And I was dead set on the fact that I will never not like Jane's Addiction. Now I don't.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
MATT: Other than Perry Farrell?
JEN: I really wanted to be Perry Farrell, too.
MATT: Back in Tucson we all wanted to be Perry Farrell.
What is your most remarkable skill outside of music?
MATT: Oh shit. Washing dishes.
JEN: I bet you we're probably the best two dishwashers in the world.
MATT: I think so. We can wash dishes like nobody's business. I've worked here for almost two years and been offered all sorts of different positions... but I stay in the dish pit.
Carissa's Weird: Love at first sight?
JEN: I think this band, speaking about me and Matt playing music together was always, like... we clicked as soon as we met. And we never get sick of it.
What's the best thing you can imagine happening to your band: (a) in the next year, (b) the next month, and (c) the next week?
JEN: We could get signed.
MATT: Yeah. I think the answer for all three of those time periods is just to have an album put out.