In the technology-poor, post-apocalyptic wasteland of tomorrow, bicycles will be the new Humvees. Smoke signals and semaphore will supplant e-mail as crossbows become the ultimate sidearm.
The Senate will be the most hardcore band of the future.
Three strapping lads from Seattle, the Senate’s “face melting acoustic riffage” draws heavily from the trio’s previous musical experience, which includes tours of duty in everything from metal to jazz bands. Graft that pedigree onto an atypical configuration— two guitars, an upright bass and no drums— and you can start to understand what makes the Senate unique.
Oliver Franklin plays the guitar, in addition to shouldering his share of the vocal responsibilities.
“I was always an electric player,” explained Franklin.
“I played in a death metal band. I was used to playing loud, abrasive music and, for me, trying to do acoustic music instead was a unique set of challenges.”
Andrew Pulkrabek, the bass player, agrees.
“Having acoustic instruments introduces certain limitations to the music you play that electric instruments don’t normally,” Pulkrabek added.
“It’s always been a challenge to negotiate that, and not having a drummer at the same time, and still keep a rocking groove going.”
The band is rounded out by guitarist and vocalist Nick Drummond.
“I didn’t really have an electric guitar,” explained Drummond.
“Oliver came and heard me one day and said he wanted to play with me.”
“I’ll try anything,” said Franklin.
“Any opportunity to try something different musically, I’ll take.”
From that initial gestation, the pair recruited Pulkrabek, an old school chum and musical do-si-do partner. They’ve been up and running for about the last year and a half, steadily expanding their gig sphere to beyond the borders of Seattle’s University District.
Franklin’s dreams for the band’s future revolve a lot around touring.
“Furthest afield we’ve played is Yakima and Portland,” he said.
“If we could be on the road and make more records and see some return on that and survive— that would be fantastic.”
The Senate’s found one of its most receptive audiences here in Bellingham, leading to a spate of shows in the next few weeks.
“There’s an actual community of musicians here,” said Pulkrabek.
“There is no ‘Seattle Musicians Community.’ There’s a Seattle folk elite, a Seattle indie elite, punk, bad metal…”
Drummond agrees.
“Seattle’s very fragmented in its musical tastes, cultures and subcultures,” Drummond said.
“Bellingham just seems more open and accepting. For us, we don’t really fit in a very defined box, as far as our sound, and that’s been okay up here, whereas in Seattle, it’s something we kind of struggled with.”
One of the Senate’s upcoming shows is right here on campus, in the Viking Union’s Underground Coffeehouse. The Underground Coffeehouse plays host to a bevy of free, all-ages shows through the year. It also plays host to Open Mic Nights on Tuesdays, starting October 3.
The Underground Coffeehouse is located on the third floor of the Viking Union and is open Monday through Thursday, 9 am to 10 pm; Friday, 9 am to 12:30 am; and Saturday and Sunday, 5 pm to 10 pm. You can get a full lineup of upcoming events on the AS calendar, http://as.wwu.edu/events.
For more information on the Senate, or to pick up their independent release These Cold Winds, head on over to http://senatemusic.net.