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Hex County: Will Play for Booze

Posted by October 6th, 2003 No Comments » Interview – Hex County
Q & A with Chris Clark, Nate Merceth & Jeff Isaacs
By Matt Ashworth, Supreme Overlord

When it comes to taking the word of great local bands, we’re kinda like Dean Witter – they talk, we listen.

So when all three bands playing our September Chop Suey showcase responded to the question “who else around town is worth checking out?” with the words “Hex County,” we went ahead and checked the Seattle four piece’s great self-released double EP, which they’ve lovingly dubbed “The Deuce.”

Our opinion? People in cool bands have good taste in music. Hex County plays middle Americana rock music rooted in equal parts Husker Du and Waco Brothers. You won’t find another band playing the local circuit right now that sounds exactly like them, and from everything we’ve heard, their recorded output pales in comparison to their awesome live show.

We were so curious to find out if the rumors were true, we went ahead and booked them for our October 21st Rendezvous night. Their buddies House on a Hill will join them.

Before solidifying the date, we sat down to make sure they checked out. Here’s the results: Now where, exactly, is Hex County? Isn’t that over by Wahkiakum?
Chris: It’s a real place in New England. Apparently the local farmers have a tradition of painting enormous “hexes” on their barns to ward off demons and evil spirits.

NM: No shit? Are you guys evil?
Nate: As much as we try, we just really can’t pull off that tough evil shit. Chris does pledge his soul to Antoine Lavey, so I’ve heard.
Chris: The man’s got some good ideas, yessir!

NM: More people should know about your band. What should we tell them?
Chris : We put a lot of energy into making our songs as good as they can be, and then we rip them to pieces when we play live. I think I read a thing on the Replacements where Paul Westerberg said “we wanted to make sure people remembered our shows, even if they didn’t like them.” That seems like an admirable goal.

NM: Who told you to reference the Replacements in this interview? Are you working with a publicist?
Chris: Not the last time we checked.
Jeff: His drinking ability is a beacon to us all.

NM: There seems to be an honest to goodness “underground” going on in town, in that there’s a level of local bands that are getting recognition and another level of bands deserving of some. Would you agree?
Chris: Sure, but I wouldn’t want to belittle anybody either. Most of the bands in our town’s media spotlight deserve to be there. I wish I could say the same for the national scene.

NM: Chris, would you please stop being such a pussy? If you’re gonna be a great rock band you gotta realize when you’re better than other rock bands. Now please name five Seattle bands you’re better than.
Chris: I am what I am. Seriously though, it”s just not our place to slag on anyone else. I mean, there’s a lot of bands and a lot of types of music that I just don’t get, but it”s not my place to condemn others for enjoying it.
Devon: I’ll condemn Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit. I have no problem doing that.
Nate: Amen. Learn how to spell and lose that seventh string, ladies.

NM: What other local bands should we be aware of?
Chris : The Hex Records bands! No, seriously, there are a lot of great local groups that haven’t released anything, like House on a Hill and Mayor West. It looks like Broadcast Oblivion finally has a record, which is great news. Plus everyone in the band loves Fernando down in Portland, but he doesn’t play up here much anymore.

Hex County (2003) bNM: OK, nice segue, so why don’t you tell us about the Hex County label? Any advice for us as we start our label?
Devon: As the honcho of Hex Records and its roster of misfits, the best advice I can give you is…. mmmm….uhh… sorry, I got nothing. It’s a totally unfulfilling experience.

NM: You use the word “halcyon” in song. Remind me to give you ten cents when you play the monthly showcase at The Rendezvous October 21st.
Chris: I knew that word would bring a big payday soon!

NM: How’d you get your (excellent) double EP together? Any plans for a full-length?
Chris : Lunatic Kids was originally a demo for clubs, but our friends liked it so we made some more. Making a kind of “mirror-image” EP seemed like a good idea, until we found out that Wire had already done it. By then it was too late. As for the whole “deuce” concept, that evolved from a series of tasteless jokes. Devon originally wanted to package it in one of those huge double cases you get Pink Floyd albums and symphonies in, but we talked him out of it. It was basically “how ridiculous can you get? A double EP.” So we just ran with it. We’re writing songs for a full album now. At this point we’re a cheap date for any label that wants us.

NM: Wanna be on our label? We’re decent at booking and promotions it seems, but we don’t know shit about distribution yet.
Jeff: We would love to work with you guys. There’s really not as many smaller indie’s around as say, five or ten years ago. It’s a harder gig to break into.
Nate: Hitch us to your gravy-train, Matt!

NM: Tell us about your favorite show you’ve played here in town. How about the worst?
Chris: We’ve had some great nights at 2nd Avenue Pizza and on Vashon Island where the energy was flowing really well. Playing with I Can Lick Any SOB In The House was great, of course, because we got to watch them blow everybody away. Getting on a bill with Pure Joy at the Sunset was definitely cool as well. The absolute worst was Industrial Coffee in Georgetown, where we played for two people. The opening band had the gall to give us copies of their CD before walking out on our first song.

NM: Interesting reply. Please describe your favorite shirt.
Devon: Jeff’s tuxedo shirt. No question.
Jeff: I concur.

NM: What’s your favorite thing about
Chris: Nada is the only site where I actually look at the pop-up ads. Plus you guys seem willing to write about anything. Us, for example!

NM: Hey now, that’s not true. We don’t write about politics, for example. Politics are stupid.
Nate: These days it is. Bush? Arnold? I mean, good-god, man.

NM: Who are your musical influences?
Chris: I came to country ass-backwards. I was 14 and into Touch & Go and Dischord records when I started going to see Uncle Tupelo. Their song “Whiskey Bottle” is about my hometown, Columbia, Missouri. That was a real eye-opener: that punk could be more than just one kind of music, punk could reflect where you came from. Since moving here, I have to give major props to Don Slack at KEXP. He’s introduced me to Alejandro, Steve Earle, Kasey Chambers, the man has changed my life.
Jeff: 80s metal. What else was there?

NM: How about non-musical influences?
Chris: Drugs and alcohol. I’ve never written a song sober. I guess it probably shows.

NM: After hearing about Nada’s trademark bottle of Old Crow, you said on our message board you’d play for a half-drank bottle of Cisco. Is this true?
Chris: Hmmm. Depends on who drank the first half.
Nate: I did.

NM: What else should we ask you about?
Chris : Is that Old Crow still on the table?

NM: Not if me or anyone close to me gets to said table before you, Biotch.
Chris: Touche, my friend, touche.

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