THE BLAKES at the Silver Dollar (486 Spadina), Monday (November 26). $8.50. 416-870-8000. Rating: NNNNN
Like many of Seattle's seemingly overnight sensations, the Blakes are not a new group. While many are convinced the snarly garage rock threesome arrived on the scene fully formed with their new self-titled disc, it's actually their third album, which they initially put out themselves last year with different sleeve art and an alternate track listing. It just took some time to find the right label.
"We brought it over to KEXP, a hugely influential radio station in Seattle, and the guys there loved it," explains drummer Bob Husak, who mediates the sibling squabbles of guitarist Garnet Keim and his bassist brother Snow Keim.
"They put it straight into heavy rotation, which is how Matt Sullivan at Light in the Attic heard about us. He started coming to all our shows, buying us tequila shots and telling us that he really wanted to sign us to his label. But we were hearing that some other labels were interested, too."
Evidently, the constant KEXP plugging was heard by label A&R sharpies in Los Angeles. Ironically, the Blakes had unsuccessfully tried to get L.A.'s attention for five years while living at a Days Inn in Glendale and eating a steady diet of ramen noodles heated with a steam iron.
So they weren't as thrilled as you'd think to hear that big-time wheeler-dealers like Columbia chief Rick Rubin and former Capitol president Gary Gersh (who signed Nirvana to Geffen) were suddenly making inquiries.
"There was this brief period when a number of different major labels started flying us to Los Angeles for meetings and stuff, but none of them seemed willing to make any commitment beyond saying they were interested. Gary Gersh was this strange and unpleasant guy whose whole spiel was 'Guys, the record is dead. It's all about hard ticket sales now.' Uh, okay.
"This other dude from Columbia flew over from New York to meet us and was kinda cool. He said that Rick Rubin had our disc on his desk and wanted us to send him some live footage because Rubin didn't have time to actually go to one of our shows. Our manager sent him the worst stuff imaginable, and that was the last we heard from Rick Rubin and his people.
"In the end, we liked the people at Light in the Attic. The kind of music they reissue is the stuff we listen to, so it seemed like a good fit."
Additional Interview Audio Clips
Although The Blakes have essentially finished recording their next album, drummer Bob Husak isn't certain of how it differs from their current release.
Unlikely as it may seem, there is a possibility of seeing The Blakes open one or more shows by Brit prog kings Yes on their next world tour as Husak explains.
Bleu their cover
Before Garnet and Snow Keim moved to Seattle in 1999 to form the Blakes with then-Tully's Coffee employee Bob Husak, the brothers lived in Vancouver and recorded with Phil Collins's son Simon producing.
Unlike the gritty garage stomps the Blakes are known for, songs attributed to Bleu were more of the twee pop variety, which is probably why the Keims haven't been talking about their Bleu days in interviews.
Fortunately, Husak has a good memory for such things.
"I don't know if that stuff will ever see the light of day, but there were two songs from those sessions, one called Talk To Me and another one called Snowing You, that appeared on the Bleu EP with a couple of tracks they recorded while they were still living in Maine," says Husak. "We only pressed about 100 copies and sold them at our early shows, so I imagine it would be pretty hard to find now."