I know, I say it all the time. "This band came out of nowhere with this great single..." Well, hey, it happens. And I love it when it does. I forget how I came across The Suspicions exactly, I think it was a message board advertising their just-released single sometime last year that I bit on. (See, self-promotion does work!) A few days later, I had a charmingly DIY looking single on my hands. Stripey-shirt cover pic, orange sticker with the band name on it pasted on the cover, self-released, nothing fancy. I figured it would be standard two-chord trash, but I'm glad I was wrong. The songs were real songs, with harmonies and hooks, two lo-fi and endearingly poppy gems that wormed their way into my daily routine for weeks. I spent a month going back and forth as to which song I liked better, and basically told everyone I knew to pick it up. I liked it so much, it ended up on my year-end top ten list. I realized I didn't know much about them, aside from the fact Rip Off was planning on doing their LP, but I was charmed enough to find out. I tracked Karen and Bryan down through their website (where you can buy the single and/or Suspicions shirts no less!), and they were helpful and bored enough to put up with answering a bunch of my stupid questions. I'm glad I got to know them better, and I hope you do too.
TB: Who are the Suspicions, and why are you the Suspicions?
Bryan: Karen on the guitar and lead vocals, Bryan on the bass and back-up vocals, and Nick on the drums and also back-up vocals. Why? Ummm, cuz we wanted to make awesome pop music that makes people go crazy and go ahhh at the same time. Why not, ya know? It's all for fun, we don't take it seriously at all, if we're not having fun, then we don't do it. Especially when we crashed our rental car into a pole in Boston, we don't do that anymore.
Karen: The name actually came from the old Terry Stafford song, my amp was picking up the radio and there it was!
TB: Might we recognize you from anywhere else?
Bryan: Karen and I were in a band in San Francisco called the Knock-Ups, and I was also in Shake City that came from the ashes of the Gimmicks. Nick's been in about 99 Boom-Boom bands, most notably the Woah-men, the Amazing Spidermen, and some band with 4 F's in their name???
TB: The smash debut single came out on your own Nerve Wracking Records. Why go it alone? Did self-releasing it work out well?
Bryan: Well, we sent our demo that I recorded at our third practice to a few people and it didn't really get much of a response, so we were just like, "Fuck it! We've got some money saved up, let's put out a single ourselves!" It was really, really easy. I can't stress how easy it was, especially compared to other bands we've been in or other friends' experiences. I recorded it, then Karen did the art and the press shit, and for some reason, distributors bought it. They're still buying it, as a matter of fact, but not for long, it's almost gone. Seriously, everyone should put out a single themselves, nothing but good can come from it!
TB: Where's the best place to find striped shirts?
Bryan: There's a crazy store in Seattle called "Sammy's Stripey Striped Shirts, Shorts, and Shish Ka-Bobs". It's a great store, the ka-bobs make no sense though.
Karen: I just open my drawer, and there they are. They're probably breeding in there.
TB: Being from Seattle, has label kingpin Danny Ferducci ever tried sweet-talking you into joining the Boom Boom stable?
Bryan: That little bastard wanted us to do a single. He actually wanted a song from our demo and it was after we had already put out our single. It was a song we didn't even play anymore and he wanted us to record "One More Time" for the B-side, a Joe Jackson song we do live every now and then. He had outrageous demands like he wanted to snap on the record and do skit introductions. We ended up sayin' "nah", but told him he could re-record our song if he wanted for one of his bands. So far, no dice.
Karen: We're no Ladd/Blackwell, after all.
TB: Do the Tractor Sex Fatality guys scare you at all?
Bryan: We've never really met 'em, but one of them was also in the Gimmicks before me, so they don't scare us, but shit yeah, that name is fuckin' creepy!
Karen: The only band I'm scared of is the Feelers. They're cool guys, but I got my nose broken when we played with them! They rocked it in half!
TB: So, is the new LP finished yet? Where did you record at?
Bryan: Fuck yeah it's finished! It took us like three attempts to record it, mostly 'cuz I kept buying all these mics and stupid reverb boxes and shit. We ended up recording it exactly like we recorded the single, except this time we recorded it in the basement of Boom-Boom Castle instead of our practice space. Which really worked out, cuz our practice flooded with toilet water and the only thing on the floor of the Boom-Boom Castle are old "Lad" magazines and cigarette butts.
TB: How does it feel to possibly be the last of the Rip Off bands?
Bryan: From what Greg says, there's gonna be lots more, so hopefully we won't be the last. If so, it'll be an honor.
Karen: I really don't think we'll be the last.
TB: How did Lowery find you and how did the courting process go? Did he send lots of limos and champagne, as he has done with bands in the past?
Bryan: It was a total surprise. We had sent him our demo and our 7 inch and never heard a peep back from him. We had actually gotten turned down by EVERYONE after our 7 inch came out, so we were just like, "Hmm. Ok, let's put out another 7 inch ourselves!" And seriously, the day after we said that, we got an e-mail from Lowery that was like, "Hey this is Greg from Rip Off, give me a call if you're interested in doing a release." And we just thought he meant a single, but I called him and he wanted to do an album! We were stoked!
TB: Do you guys consider yourself more power-pop or garage-rock?
Bryan: We really, really like both a lot, probably power pop more right now, 'cuz we've all been listening to garage rock for so many years now. We're not really a garage rock band, 'cuz none of our songs are blues progresssions, but it's true that we have a lo-fi garage-rock thing. We try to write pop songs, with a catchy chorus and a bridge and lots of parts and tambourine and hand-claps, so we think we're more like lo-fi power pop, but we don't really care what people classify us as, as long as we like what we're doing.
Karen: I think we play pop songs in more of a garage style. More than one label told us that we were "too lo-fi" for power pop, but whatever. I like songs to be short and fairly simple and direct. I think a lot of production strips the sincerity away from music.
TB: You guys recently played the Budget Rock Showcase in SF? How was that, and give us a little run down of what happened...your experiences there, in general...
Bryan: It was really, really great! My parents were there! And Layla (from Top Ten, who also played and were awesome) and lots of other good friends. A lot of our friends from Seattle were playing too, so we all caravaned down and stayed at a hotel together. That was the best part, playing was just the icing on the cake. We were all pretty drunkerino by the time we played, but apparrently everyone had fun. The Fums seriously killed it that night, they were the best!
TB: I heard Mitch Cardwell was deejaying. Did he play some gay tunes, or was it a good set? Wait...do you guys know Mitch? If not, please disregard.
Bryan: Ya know, that's really funny cuz the DJ kept playing great music, and we didn't know who it was, so thanks! He played awesome music, much better than the usual shit sound guys like to play. Tell Mitch he should come on tour with us and DJ every night.
Karen: The only deejaying I heard was Jeff Glave...playing his own records! Okay, maybe just once!
TB: Any plans for records outside of the upcoming LP? When is it due?
Bryan: The album should be out in February, if we can ever finish the artwork. We always do everything ourselves, but for some reason the art is always the hardest, harder than writing songs! It looks good though, Karen's doing it, we took the pictures ourselves and she's laying it out, it's gonna be sweet!
Karen: Eh, it's not THAT hard, we've just been moving apartments and trying to catch a photo of the rare and elusive traveling Nick Larson can be a feat in and of itself! And I may or may not be indecisive about the sleeves. There's some rumors of some comp tracks we might do after this, but nothing concrete yet.
TB: Whats it going to be called, anyway? Are you nervous about it coming out?
Bryan: It's going to be called "The Suspicions", and it has 10 songs. I was really, really stressed before, because I was recording it and that turned out to be way harder than recording anyone else's band, but now that it's done, we're just excited to get it out and get it in stores and on the road with us. We're not worried, cuz if no one likes it, oh well.
Karen: Sometimes I worry that it's short, but all my favorite records are short. No filler! And if you want to hear more, you can play it again!
TB: MRR compared you to the Televison Personalities with a female singer. Please comment on that.
Bryan: I'm sure they're nice fellows, but I can't say I've heard them before...
Karen: Hey, I'm always impressed when someone makes a comparison based on the music and not just the "lady singing" factor, so that's cool with me. It is lo-fi and jangly!
TB: I just noticed your MySpace band page. Has that helped at all do you think, or is it just a way to kill time?
Bryan: Actually it has helped us! We met the Electric Shadows from NYC, who are fuckin' great and really great guys to boot. We met them on it and we met Travis from the Fevers on it, who said he saw our single in Japan. What??? It's a strange cyber-world, but it's good for meeting other bands. Supposedly people meet chicks and dudes on it, but that seems a little sad. Do people even say "cyber" anymore?
TB: Seattle seems to be pretty fertile for bands at the moment. Any we might not have heard of yet that we should look out for?
Bryan: The Jinks! And Fleetwood Cat. And don't forget Code Brown. And the Invisible Eyes! Have you heard of them? Ian "Bananas" "Barnanas" "Starnanas" Barnett plays bass! He's the king!
TB: Many of us not living on the West Coast have not had a chance to see the Suspicions in a live setting. Let us know what were missing, with a descriptive passage detailing the Suspicions live experience.
Bryan: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Then you wake up and go, "Was that a dream or did I just see the SUSPICIONS?!?!?!"
Karen: Haha! Yes, it's just like a dream, but with a beer cozy on the drumset and a framed picture of Rick Springfield.
Pick one. Quickly!
Early Donnas or Brentwoods?
B: Donny Denim.
K: It's a draw!
Hamburgers or hot dogs?
B: BBQ Pork sammich. Or pizza!
A-Frames or Intelligence?
K: Lars is quite accomplished at both the guitar and the drums, but his real talent lies behind the barbecue grill!
Nikki Corvette or Joan Jett?
B: Pat Benatar!
K: Joan Jett, because she plays the guitar.
Soup or salad?
K: Salad is generally a more reliable choice.
Mummies or Supercharger?
Nerves or Plimsouls or Beat?
K: Nerves is the best of both worlds.
Answer and explain:
Favorite Pizza topping?
K: Simple. Classic. Pepperoni.
K: Travis, 'cause he was also in the Total Babes!
Favorite John Waters movie?
B: 'Female Trouble'!
K: 'Desperate Living' is not only my favorite John Waters movie, it's my favorite movie PERIOD.
Favorite Boom Boom records talent?
K: Due to my double X-chromosome, I can't possibly answer anything other than IAN BARNETT.
Favorite non-punk album?
B: We barely listen to punk, so uhhh...
K: Right now, anything by Smokey & the Miracles.
Favorite Happy Days character BESIDES Fonzie?
B: Ralph-Malph or whatever his name was.
K: Little bratty Joanie, before she started singing bad Eighties duets with Chachi.
Favorite thing someone has said about your band OR favorite heckle used on your band?
B: A friend once told us that he was listening to a mix-tape in his friend's car and a song came on, and he thought it was some old girl-group, and his friend was like, "No, this is the Suspicions!"
K: That is a good one. It's not quite a heckle, but we once got a review that referred to my "gender-neutral vocals" and I won't let anyone forget it! I'm like the female Wayne Newton, who knew?!
End of interview. Well done.
So, I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did, and you should watch out for the upcoming LP, and get on that single if you haven't already! You'll be as charmed as me, I'm sure. And sweet people that The Suspicions are, they gave us an exclusive, an MP3 "teaser" of one of the tracks off of the upcoming self-titled on Rip Off, available here only for Terminal Boredom subscribers! Enjoy! (Right click and "Save as..." to listen to "Much Too Late" by The Suspicions)
Interview by Rich Kroneiss
Pics provided by the band
Check them out on-line at www.thesuspicions.com
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