The Never Ending Hunt for Bands: Gnarly Charlie Bags Underride

By Charlie Steffens aka Gnarly Charlie, Writer/Photographer
Wednesday, January 5, 2011 @ 4:37 PM

"Don't Bore Us. Get to the Chorus"

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Underride is the anti-Seattle, antithesis to Blade Runner-weather and crunchy flannel-shirted, kayak-paddling, salmon-fishing, mountain biking, moan and groan outdated grunge music. This might depict the very hard-rocking, steadily emerging band from Seattle that wants to put more out there than just an image.

Underride is Rev (vocals), Princess (guitar), Suzuki Sixx (guitar), El Barto (bass), and Double A (drums). The band had already found notoriety several years ago as a group of guys who liked to party, making music to encourage people do likewise. They've toured primarily, though extensively, in the Northwest, opening for acts such as Static X, 30 Seconds to Mars, Saliva, and Duff McKagan's Loaded. They play a killer cover of Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" and are soon to release their follow up to 2008's "One of Us."

So there we all were, next door to the Central Saloon in Pioneer Square, in a restaurant that serves the best gyros in the world. It was pouring outside in typical Seattle fashion. Just a few minutes before, they had played a set that blew the doors off the place, despite the limitations in the small venue. Even a rat, who had apparently been hanging out under the stage listening to the set, walked across the club floor and out the front door when the next band took the stage. Music critic.

During the gig, I could envision these guys, who rocked the joint with a sleazy guitar-driven sound of a Buckcherry/Velvet Revolver bastard child, in a much bigger place, playing full volume and running around the stage.

“We're trying to save rock and roll. It feels like it's kind of drifting away. It's going a little bit dark, and underground. Or it's been underground and it's time to bring it back up." says Rev, the band's singer, whose swagger, brashness, and filthy mouth defies his nice- boy looks. "There's a lot of people who want to go to a club and have a good time. We're getting ready to launch a new record and hopefully bring our brand of rock and roll to the masses. It's what we're looking to do, because I think there's a lot of people who want to go to a club and have a good time. They don't want to do the thing where ‘my parents got divorced and I feel bad.’ All that shit is over. That makes us the most hated band in Seattle," he continues, "look at it--it's fuckin' raining. It's depressing. It's doom and gloom here. and we show up with lights."

El Barto, who has been Underride's bassist for about six years, interjects: "I used to go see this band when I first moved to Seattle and thought it was the coolest thing. They did Sammy Hagar's pyro rig and it was awesome. I was like, ‘That's the band I wanna play in.'’” El Barto helps write the songs' lyrics with Rev, and along with drummer Double A, make up a most devastatingly brutal rhythm section for Underride, giving guitarists Princess and Suzuki a sonic platform to soar.

Rev recalls the time he saw Bart playing in another band before joining Underride. "He had a Bullet Boys shirt on. Wear a Bullet Boys shirt in Seattle? It's always been easy to figure out something that worked together, as far as putting songs together and shit.”

I didn't get to find out the story behind everyone's stage name in the band. Princess? Apparently, the guy did not come from royalty. Turns out it's a nickname from back in the olden days; Princess came from an old band called Love on the Rocks. “The nickname was basically because of the amount of makeup that I wore onstage. I used to wear a lot of makeup onstage. Anyway, it stuck and I embraced it and it's who I am now. Everyone wants to know if it's a gay thing." Princess asks me, "Are you homophobic?" I respond "yes," and he continues. "I came from a project where I was the songwriter, I was the lead singer, I was the guitar player. I was everything. Joining Underride, I wasn't used to group songwriting. A month or two of songwriting, Bart and I got on the same wavelength and gelled. And songs just started to come together like nothing."

"Princess is the riffmaster," adds Rev, about the talented guitarist with the ferocious moniker. “This lineup is pretty fresh. We brought in Princess, probably over two years ago. We just brought in Suzuki Sixx about six months ago. And Double A's been with us for a pretty long time. And Bart and I, we go back about six years, I think. So we've been slugging it out for years and we've just been looking for the right mix of guys. It's really hard to find. You know, everybody can play guitar and everybody's a gunslinger and this and that, but a lot of it's chemistry. It sounds cliché to say, but it really is. So, like right now we feel like we have the right mix. Everybody gets along. We all respect each other, to a certain degree. It's like when you have a recipe and you’re cooking up hot wings or you’re brewing beer. So we're bringing all the--what we think--are the key elements or the critical ingredients in the rock and roll recipe. That's what we're cookin' right here. Tryin' to cook that up in a big, nasty fucking stew.”

Double A may be the madman of the group, though by appearance, you might not think so. The drummer who cites Lars Ulrich and jazz great Dave Weckl as his strongest musical influences, is all pro onstage, but likes to let the hell out after the shows.

"You can't let him drink too many rum and Cokes because then he spits on you. We got to keep him on a tight leash. He's truly the animal drummer guy. He's got this bootleg or black market alcoholic chocolate that he always brings." says Rev. "I actually have some in my coat.” Double A confesses."Some people carry around little tooters and baggies--I've got alcoholic chocolate. I don't drink til afterwards and then it gets ugly."

Suzuki Sixx, at age 23, is the youngest and newest member of the group. Though he was vicious presence onstage a few minutes before, the guitarist had few words to add: "I kinda just do what feels good. I don't like drama and I want to be around for a while so I do what needs to be done.”

"His main function in the band is, actually, mopping up all the ugly chicks," Double A reveals.

No boring 7-minute opuses, no wrist-slashing dirges or apocalyptic themes, no weepy ballads--that's Underride. Rev concludes, "It's the new mentality where everything's instantaneous. You can't have the long songs like Rush did back in the day, or Yes. Attention spans are instant. We like those three minute, cool songs that are packed up in a tight little package. We like that. We just want people to come to the rock show and have fun. That's all. Come to the show and have a good fuckin' time and hopefully you'll get laid. And you won't get a disease."

Check out Underride's official website: http://www.underride.net.

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