Hand Me That Door
THE CHRIS OF CHRIS and Tad is Chris Ballew, that omnipresent court jester in the retinue of Seattle music. The Tad is not that big fat Tad we all know and love, but another, wiry, lean, and very rapidly moving Tad. For a while, they were having a bit of a time finding a name for their band. I suggested "Grandmaster Chris and the Furious Tad." But Chris and Tad seems to just about sum it up.
I first saw Chris and Tad at the Crocodile a couple of years back. They treated it like their living room. There were not many people there, and Chris and Tad impressed me by having a better time than anyone else. I felt it my duty to try to uplift myself to a more equitable plane of pleasure, so I wound up having a really good time.
A few months later, I asked Chris and Tad to play at a wrap party for a film I was involved with. There is a song on Hand Me That Door called "Film Party"; the liner notes say it was "recorded after a wrap party for an independent movie debut." I would like to think that the wrap party in question was mine. It was a great party. We took our shoes off and danced like motherfuckers all around the basement. Then, right in the middle of it all, a woman in the alley behind the Alibi Room had a baby in the back seat of her car. That is what their music can do.
When he plays, Tad hunches over his drum kit, which is small but ornate, like a single-serving tart from a great French bakery, like, say, Le Fournil on Eastlake (just south of the University Bridge--go on a sunny afternoon at 3 p.m. for the best light). Tad has big long legs and hands like plates, and likes to wear a porkpie hat that looks terrific above his dark eyes. When he plays, he looks a bit like a wind-up tin monkey from a Chinese noddy shop. This is no insult.
Chris is a gentleman. He has great, shall we say, comportment? When I asked him to play our little party, he offered to do it for free, which made me swoon like a tender lady who has just been kissed by Rudolph Valentino. At the end of the party, he demurely asked for a few dollars for Tad. "For myself, I need for nothing," he said. "Yet Tad, my companion, is not so lucky as I. A few dollars would so ease the suffering that paying for parking in the downtown retail core brings forth." I paid them happily.
I guess Chris and Tad always play like they are in a basement or something. That is why their music is so good: It is never worried about what you might think. Chris is a great guitarist, but here he likes to play organs. He makes them talk like a five-year-old telling you a nonsense story, and then he turns it right the fuck up. He also plays the guitar like a racket, and it sounds great. If Jon Spencer weren't so surly, he'd know to be very jealous of Chris.
A squirrel can eat as many as 500 acorns a day. Tad is very busy on those drums, boy. He is like an acorn-gathering squirrel transMOGRIFIED into the furious Tad, and it just makes your ass shake, like a wombat had crawled up there and made itself a home. On "Radio Controll" he plays simple drums, but he plays them so well, you will have to be dead before you can keep from shaking and wiggling in your seat.
The first line of the second song is "Drove my apartment right into a tree," which is pretty great, but my favorite song is the third song, "I Made up My Mind." I can imagine making a tape for a teenage girlfriend (I would be a teenager too, mind you. Or maybe not...) that had this song at the end. It would subtly and shyly express my will, because the song's only words are, "I made up my mind/I'm in love with you." Now that would be one subtle tape. She would fall in love with me, and we'd hop into my jalopy and drive to the nearest Chris and Tad show and take our shoes off and dance all night. And even if I am a pedophile, it will be a smashing good time.