With their latest album, “Sunset on Dateland” coming in at 134 on the college charts and a successful tour with the Muffs behind them, you would think that a band as great as Seattle’s Visqueen would have no problem lining up another band to tour with. Vocalist/guitarist Rachel Flotard — who also acts as the band’s booking agent — is on the phone most days, delicately but deliberately suggesting that Visqueen would make a fantastic addition to almost any tour. And while this method may seem unorthodox, those cold calls have previously resulted in opening dates for bands as varied as Cheap Trick and X. Their tour with the Muffs came after the manager of the Los Angeles club Spaceland, suggested them. In the case of Cheap Trick, Flotard simply e-mailed the band’s manager who said, “Okay.”
Yes, kids, it’s that easy — if your band is awesome.
The first time I encountered Flotard and company, they were the opening band for Canadian power poppers The New Pornographers. When Visqueen took the stage, they single-handedly pumped up the room full quiet, quasi-hipster Seattle-lites, who couldn’t resist bouncing around to the catchy, energetic music.
Visqueen is a band that would fit well with almost any headliner. Hard driving guitar and bass back up pop hooks resulting in a sound that may remind you more of the Pretenders than bassist Kim Warnick’s prior band, the legendary Fastbacks. Lyrically, though the songs tend to deal with relationships, they get at the topic in unusual ways. The song “A Viewing” is about the death of a love — perhaps it’s a person or maybe it could even be the ability to love. Flotard writes: “Languidly beside me keeping granite hands / On polished granite shoulders / it’s your funeral from 1 to 3.”
When the band tours, it’s just the three of them in a van, with loyal friend Avel Sosa along for the ride — playing the neutral party should any family disputes come up. Drummer Ben Hooker has been known to fix the brakes on the van, while Warnick and Flotard handle all the merchandise sales at their shows personally. Warnick willingly chats up any fan who’s interested in talking — even if they just want to reminisce about the Fastbacks. “Kim will talk to anybody,” Flotard says.
Flotard never stops being surprised and grateful by the positive response from fans and club owners. “If you're nice to people,” she says, “they’re nice to you.” This year people across the country signed up to be part of Visqueen’s street team, getting the band’s name out there and making sure “Sunset on Dateland” gets plenty of college radio play.
It’s no crime for Visqueen to be thinking big. Flotard counts The Beastie Boys among her dream tourmates. And maybe the Foo Fighters. Or even Weezer. Heck, why not Coolio? “We’re going to grab the rap fans, too,” she says, recalling a time at the Knitting Factory in L.A. when he was playing the big room and she made a play for his fans. Weirder things have happened.
“We’ve never paid each other,” Flotard says. Right now, the members of Visqueen put their earnings back into the band — paying for rehearsal space and the van. Flotard says she’s determined to keep making records. At least until they earn $20 apiece, anyway.
“We’re more of a good time than a big rock show,” Flotard says, “We’re really just dorks.”
For more information on Visqueen, visit: http://www.visqueenonline.com