SEAWEED's fourth album, Actions and Indications (Merge), is very good. It makes me feel like Sub Pop releases used to before the advent of the g-word--as if the flame of real rock was secretly burning somewhere piney. Seaweed's riffs, harmonies, chords, and breaks come at you all at once. The power that shifts and surges underneath what seem at first to be gentle melodies makes Actions and Indications a handy cure for pop/punk-induced malaise. Everett True once called Seaweed singer/guitarist Aaron Stauffer an "oceanic thrash kid," and Stauffer couldn't agree more. He spoke to The Stranger from near a beach in Northern California where he works guiding kayak tours.

THE STRANGER: Okay, the tape machine's running.

AARON: Oh, I gotta get one of those. I'm gonna interview this guy Chuck Sherbourne. He invented the boat I use.

You give kayak rides?

It's not really a kayak. Sherbourne studied Noah's Ark for, like, 20 years. The Bible gives the specifications, and he built all these little versions of it. He thinks the instructions might be an encoded message about polarity change.

Polarity change?!

Yeah, because these arc shapes--when you put them down they automatically spin in one direction, then stop and turn the other way. Scientists know that the North and South Poles switch their electrical charges every so often--some people think such a change might have caused the Great Flood. He used these shapes to build his boat, the Odyssey Ski. It can ride through 30-foot swells.

And it's based on the specs for Noah's Ark?

It's influenced by it. Noah's Ark is to the Odyssey Ski as Bad Brains is to Seaweed.

Perfect segue. And a nice choice of an object of worship. Bad Brains is so inspiring, even today.

Bad Brains, the Misfits, and the Clash are my big three. Then Black Flag right after them.

There's a good new Clash book out, A Riot of Our Own. Did you know they toured America with Bo Diddley? The Clash was very disappointed at how American punks reacted to his set. No respect.

Not a lot has changed. I still find that tough, the lack of critical thinking in the punk audience. Seems to me that when I was a fuckin' kid in eighth grade, we could listen to something--it's not even the whole spoon-fed corporate reality. It's indie-punk--the more indie the more close-minded....

Once you've labeled yourself, you're sheltered from ever having to listen to anything outside your little designated area. That's what identities are based on, what genre tags are all about.

That's why I'm a shack rocker.

Shack rock? What's that about?

Shack is the ultimate in DIY. You live in a shack. Your band doesn't need electricity. You can use electricity if you want, but if there's no electricity, you're still going to be able to play. There's more potential for an emotional epiphany. It's not hippie, though we might play with acoustic instruments. If you lived here, you'd see, it's not hippie, it's not punk--we're shack.

How does one go into a shack with an acoustic guitar and avoid being a hippie?

Attitude. And how you play, too. I'm not noodling, I'm riffing. And there's a history with the shack. People in shacks are blowing up shit--like the Unabomber.

Is he the Godfather of Shack?

He's not, because it's not about blowing up stuff. That, right there, is a major factor of shack--that it's anti-combustion. Think about it: how punk rock are you if you're getting the electricity for your Marshall stack from the Grand Coulee Dam? We're moving in a positive direction in that way.

You're rockin' off the grid.

Yeah. That's why I say that in "Antilyrical": "Take me off the grid/You make me feel like a kid."

Does this mean you're not going to play those huge summer festivals the "modern rock" radio stations have?

We don't anymore. The new Seaweed golden rule is No Bullshit. We don't deal with people we don't respect. We don't kiss ass. We don't care.

Yeah! Fuck trying to become famous! It comes through on Actions and Indications.

I wouldn't have ever gotten there if we weren't on a major label. Then everyone thought we got dropped, even though we left, and everyone thought we broke up because we hadn't put out an album in three years. We were just like, "We don't have to do shit. Fuck all these people."

You could be happy playing in a shack. And in case of a flood you got the ark, so you're all set for Y2K.

An ark, when you think about it, is just a shack that floats....