Locals Only: : Dead Flowers Bloom

Get Sweaty kills old name on the eve of its debut CD release

Sep 13, 2006 at 2:06 pm
Bill Allezthauser

Get Sweaty

First, words on sound. Singer Sara Yaste says, "Punkadelic Psych Rock. We invented our own genre."

She's petite with elfin features, but her presence is slightly tough. Oddly cool, but approachable. Due to a recent foot injury, she walks with a black cane, hobbling around with a perma-grin.

"We sit around and slam it out," shredding, sliding guitarist Tim Willig shrugs. With thick, black-rimmed glasses, he's as quick and eccentric as a closet genius. "We're trying to blow as many minds as possible and make brain confetti."

"It comes outta the air," says drummer Andrew Sampson, aka "The Mad Scientist."

"Humid," bassist Ian Thomas adds. Dingy from his landscape workday, he's loose, buzzing and says he misses having a pencil-thin mustache.

"Moist. A testament to how life is sometimes a hard fucker in the eight valleys," Yaste adds.

The place: Casablanca Vintage Store, Northside. The shop is closed, but underground it's band practice time. To get there, open a trap door in the sidewalk and nearly kill yourself crawling down steep, stone steps. Willig, the store's cobbler, leads us into the dungeon-like basement, where we're welcomed by beer, mold, cigarettes, cords on floors and belching, all part of the scene for ...

Um, I thought I'd be writing about a band called Dead Flowers. But during the interview, Thomas announces, "Right here and now, we're called Get Sweaty." (Get Sweaty is the band's debut CD recorded at Ultrasuede Studios, produced by The Hiders' Bill Alletzhauser.)

No one protests the name change. Suddenly, I'm living inside a bizarre, revised paragraph of this band's Web bio.

"We're rewriting history," Yaste says, waving a smoke around.

Back in the day, Sampson and Thomas met on the Metro. Willig and Thomas knew each other in preschool. As teenagers, all three played on an indoor soccer team, Rigor Mortis, which involved "fishnet and everything," Thomas says, describing their bizarre anti-uniforms, a strange dress behavior that's carried into the present. Outfitted by Casablanca, Get Sweaty is a true thrift store band — all used clothes, used equipment.

"Fuck consumerism," Yaste says.

Though beginning with viola, Thomas became addicted to local Punk bands such as The Chemo Kids and Archie and the Pukes. Showing up at random band practices, he discovered in 2004 that playing bass helped relieve his wrist arthritis.

Willig talks eagerly about his experience in a Twisted Sister cover band, Sick and Twisted. He laughs, calling it "a passion." In 2002, he played banjo with Bourbon Legends, a Punk Rock/Country band.

Sampson got his first drum set at 16: "Basically, it was two years of sucking, and then things took off." Joining local band Powerline Failure, he says, "We'd play parties, like Eden Park barbecues, without people knowing we were coming."

Sampson, Thomas and Willig jammed together until Sampson says he scored a job with NASA. Willig and Thomas spent the summer of 2005 madly writing songs. "As soon as Andrew came back from being an astronaut, we had practice again," Thomas says.

Meanwhile, Yaste played bass with My Pet Goat until someone stole their equipment. Soon after, she joined the band (then Dead Flowers) on keys, with Kim Schwartz as the original vocalist.

Soon after, Schwartz literally left for the tracks, setting off on a train-hopping adventure, and by winter Yaste had become the new lead vocalist. Along with bass and keys, she plays guitar, clarinet ... whatever's there.

"If you're a musician, you pick up what's in front of you," she says. "And with time you can play it."

Get Sweaty tunes up, giving me a private show in the cellar. Although soft-spoken, Yaste's singing voice is another animal — it echoes, sounding hard-edged, compelling, determined and full. Even at her most powerful, she smirks, no straining. She wears a sundress.

But look up. Her hair is short, boyish. And look down. Her shoes are worn-out, filthy Chuck Taylors.

No wussy, girly sound here. All Punk Rock dirt, sweat and balls.

GET SWEATY (myspace.com/getsweaty) releases their debut CD Saturday at The Comet with The High and Low.