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Garnet Keim of The Blakes

Good Vibrations From Seattle

With snowflakes falling in the mountains surrounding Seattle as it experiences the coldest June in its record books, The Blakes will welcome a bit of California sun when they leave their home base for a mini tour through the Golden State. The tour, a warm up for a summer vacation through Europe with the Brian Jonestown Massacre, stops at Bottom of the Hill on June 22nd. Garnet Keim (guitar/vocals), who forms the garage-rock outfit with his brother Snow Keim (bass/vocals) and drummer Bob Husak, spoke with SF Station during a phone interview.

SFS: You aspired to be Brian Wilson when you were a child. Do you have a sandbox in your living room yet?

Garnet Keim (GK): No, but Iím only a mile from the beach, so I guess that works out for me now. Iím pretty lucky in that way.

SFS: The band is also aspiring to follow the Beach Boysí footsteps with a new record every six to eight months. How is that going?

GK: My uncle was a musician in Alaska and we kind of grew up around him. His motto was to write a song every day and in a year you might have 10 good ones. We have been doing that for years now and we never really stop. At first itís hard ó you work for it and try to get the songs ó but later it just comes out of you and you are kind of a slave to your own work.

SFS: Do you write songs as a band or separately?

GK: Most of the time, it starts with acoustic guitar and Iíll demo it at my home studio where Iíll make the beat and all of the parts. Iíll bring it to the band and if the band likes it we will make the song. Snow does the same thing, as well.

For the most part, our music comes from a song that is based on acoustic guitar. If you can just play it with acoustic, you know you have a strong song and you donít need a lot of embellishment to make it something. That is kind of the idea behind our record. It is kind of stripped down and we intentionally didnít add a lot of extra production to it. We just wanted to keep it focused on sounding live.

SFS: You are also known to play live at truck stops where you sometimes practice when you are on the road.

GK: Yeah, that has happened quite a bit. When we first got the band together, none of us were really proficient musicians, so when we had a day or afternoon off we would pull into a truck stop. We would plug one amp into an A/C converted from the cigarette lighter and we would set Bob up on his drums 30 feet away so we could still hear the singing. Truckers would always show up and sometimes they would buy our CDs.

SFS: Your band doesnít fit with what I would consider the Seattle sound, if there is such a thing. Do you agree?

GK: The Seattle sound now seems to be driven by Sub Popís release of the Band of Horses, which I think is just the product of the aftermath of hardcore. We had a pretty strong screamo/hardcore thing up in the Northwest ó and into California, too ó and I think after that people wanted to go as far as they could away from that and make real basic songs.

Itís good for us, but we were never like that. We just wanted to make fun records with good songs. We have songs that are in that vein, but itís never been something I really ever wanted to do. I guess I like to yell a bit and drink a couple of shots of whiskey. Itís not really conducive to writing folk-style stuff.

SFS: It seems like your canít get away from constant comparisons in the press to The Strokes.

GK: I think initially a lot of people in the press needed something to compare us to. Itís natural; I think you are always compared to something really obvious and The Strokes were everywhere. Iím starting to see people move away from it a little more. We were compared the Kinks and we got our first comparison to the Troggs, which was cool. I love the Troggs.

SFS: How is your relationship with your brother? Do you have any horror stories that we hear from other bands with siblings?

GK: The funny thing about us is that we live together too. We literally are together all the time and we have been together for our entire life. It gets kind of strained sometimes, but we are brothers. If you happen to get in a fight and beat the shit out of each, if it was somebody else they might leave the band. But if you are brothers, you get over it the next day and realize that maybe you had too much to drink or something. I think there is a lot more room for error when you have a brother.

The Blakes perform at Bottom of the Hill on June 22nd. Tickets are $10. Doors are at 8:30pm and the show starts at 9pm.