Rock-and-Roll Survival Guide
Barging in on Three Musicians in Their Practice Spaces
Photos by Timothy Rysdyke
Practice Space: The Institute
Curtis Hall is the drummer of Grand Archives and Trash Fire, practices in a giant room in a Belltown complex, and can only be accurately described as the Champagne of Dudes.
Who shares this space?
Grand Archives, Unnatural Helpers, and John Atkins play in here. S plays in here. Remember that band the Trucks? They played in here for about a year. Crypts were in here for about two months; Thomas [Wright]'s new band Space-needles was here for a while, but they moved to Sodo. The Fleet Foxes used to practice down the hall for a while, but they moved.
Look at all this Sprite in your fridge!
Oh, that's not very rock 'n' roll.
But so many Budweiser cans, too! Are you guys allowed to smoke cigarettes here?
We can and do.
Is that Grand Archives' weed scarf?
No, that's the Unnatural Helpers'. But Thomas has a guitar with a Rasta strap.
Is there a bong in here?
Where's your stuff?
That's my drum kit over there. I got an endorsement a couple years ago, and they built it for me. I saw a guitar at Guitar Center with that sparkle finish and I sent them a picture and asked the guy if he'd do it for me for drums, and he did.
Are there rats?
I fucking hope not. I've never seen one.
Practice Space: Chartwell
Neighborhood: Columbia City
Sam Anderson's practice space/recording studio occupies most of the second floor of his Columbia City home, where he works on producing Hey Marseilles' next record.
Why is this place called Chartwell?
It's after Winston Churchill's home. This house is obviously not as nice. It's a joke since this place is big and brick, too. In the '90s it was a youth center for homeless/runaway youth. It was foreclosed on and went up for sale ridiculously cheap, so my brother and I go in on the mortgage. There was a bullet hole in the window and in the wall when we moved in.
So everyone in your band lives here? Like the Monkees?
Just three out of six of us live here, actually. And some of my sisters.
What's up with that papier-mâché cat?
Oh, that is our spirit animal. A friend of ours made it for my bandmate Philip, and he wanted to keep it here. I like to bring it to some of our shows. It's been present for all of our recording sessions.
What other cat stuff do you have around here?
Actually, I do collect cat mugs.
How do you feel about having your practice space/studio in your house?
When we have a party or something, people always end up in here, jamming on the most ridiculous shit for hours. But mostly it makes us approach recording in a different way—it's more cost-effective. There is no time pressure. You don't have to book time in your own house. Home recording is better suited to how we work.
Practice Space: CryBaby Studios
Neighborhood: Capitol Hill
Chase Croft was sitting in one of the many CryBaby practice spaces when we randomly knocked on the door. He's in Blood Hot Beat and the Co.Insidence.
Has it ever flooded on you down here?
Last year I got hit. One of the times it wasn't that bad, but I had to pull out the carpets, and then it happened again two weeks later on this side, and when I passed the CryBaby manager she just looked at me with fiery eyes. So I sat at the top of the steps and got amazing pictures of musicians with no shoes on, or little kids' boots on, splashing through the hallways and carrying big amplifiers at like 11:00 a.m. when they'd normally still be asleep. That was last year. We had to get a dehumidifier in here.
I see "Have you sucked a Dog Dick" graffitied in multiple locations around your space. What does it mean?
It's such an inside joke. I mean, it's a dog dick afternoon. I don't know. It's such an inside joke I don't even wanna get into it.
What does your music sound like? What are your shows like?
Blood Hot Beat is crazy rock 'n' roll antics, and usually we get kicked out of the club. But usually we play places where we are friends with the owners, and they just charge us for the glasses we broke or whatever. Or the last show we played at the High Dive, we got charged for a ladder because the singer was spinning a ladder around onstage, and I guess he knocked me with it during the guitar solo, and everyone was like, "Hey—are you okay? You just got hit in the head with a ladder!" but I was like, "What are you talking about?" It was like a 16-foot ladder, not extended, but I guess he was spinning it around, and I caught the butt end of it. Um, I guess I'd call it like Hendrix meets Radiohead meets Afrobeat, I guess? Naturally, I'm a blues musician, but you speed it up and it sounds like funk, you know?
What do you play in your bands?
I sing and I play guitar. We've got a lead singer for Blood Hot Beat, but I do backups and screams and laughs and stuff. The other band, the Co.Insidence, I'm the singer and guitar player and keyboard player. It's pretty messy in here. The Co.Insidence keeps it clean, and then the Bloods... it's just a disgusting mess. Like that wall over there, if you wanna get a picture of that, it's ALL MUCUS. It's from the old drummer from Vendetta Red, if you know those guys.
Oh, my god. That's his mucus wall?
Yeah, I've spray-painted "pig" over it and tried to tell him that it says "big," but no—it says "pig" because I was so mad after cleaning up down here.
Do you think he'd be mad if we gave him credit for this mucus wall?
Nah, he doesn't care.
So when he's drumming, he just has to hawk a loogie?
Yeah, it's been going on for a while now. This other drummer [gesturing at the other set of drums] was part of Occupy Seattle. He's a really well-known busker downtown who goes by Beatstock. If you've been downtown in the last six years, you've seen this guy. At the beginning of BHB, I renamed him. He was going by Beanstock, and I renamed him Beatstock, and he's kept it. You know, like a stockpile full of beats, or a warehouse stocked full of beats. He's a pretty awesome guy; he's been trying to move up from busking, but he makes a pretty decent wage downtown—getting paid $30–$40 an hour, it's better than playing shows has been these days, unless you're playing jazz. I used to play jazz. You can make $500 a show playing a little sit-down dinner, and you can play a big rock show at Neumos or something and make nothing.
Blood Hot Beat play March 22 at the Sunset Tavern.