Unlikely Hero

Seattle indie trio makes glorious guitar rock, but it can't escape comparisons to another stellar northwestern band

Then there's the dreaded "E" word. Certainly, an emotional heaviness and sonic whoomp are the by-products of the dynamics deployed by the band, but the same description could also apply to, say, The Who. For that matter, the lengthy "Confetti Confessional" initially has a dark, bluesy vibe that gives way to a careening, anarchic rumble -- Pete Townshend-esque, to say the least. Still, "emo" has been, to date, the hellhound on 764-Hero's trail.

"Yeah, definitely. It's kind of funny, the whole emo stuff. It's weird because it's now the fifth wave, like ska. It shows how dimwitted the music industry is -- the stuff that's starting to be on MTV2, just breaking through, is like the all-ages scene from 10 years ago! I mean, people need to call stuff things like emo or whatever.

"This time around, whatever the new emo sound is, I don't think we sound like that. If I'm reading a well-written review and the person has thought about it and they diss a couple of things, I go, 'Yeah, that's cool, I can go with that.' But if it's like, 'This emo, lo-fi band . . .' Okay, you're just reviewing what people have told you. You can tell when people have just read the press kit and listened to the first two songs."

764-Hero: You can call them baseball junkies, but please don't call them emo.
764-Hero: You can call them baseball junkies, but please don't call them emo.

There's another term that looms large in the 764-Hero iconography. We'll call it the "B" word since New Times has a bet with Atkins that an article can be written without actually mentioning the name of a certain northern combo that 764-Hero always gets compared to, one specializing in hookish guitar rock and whose three-word name begins with the letter "B."

"I totally love the band!" pleads Atkins, with a knowing chuckle, of The Group That Cannot Be Named. "We have the same producer and the same geographic, the Pacific Northwest. My girlfriend was saying we should try to keep track and see if there are any reviews that don't mention them! But comparisons are a helpful way to say this band is like this and that and that. I don't mind. It's a necessary device. [long pause, then a laugh] Maybe."

Satisfied that we'd cleared the air a bit, we gladly allowed Atkins to enthuse over the real motivation behind forming a band: "We've been known to catch a baseball game whenever we can on tour. We've been to Wrigley Field, Yankee Stadium."

Could that mean a stop at Bank One Ballpark this trip? Maybe watch Randy Johnson smoke a few batters?

"Or blow up a pigeon!" Atkins says. "Did you see that? I think it was two years ago on tour and we were eating in a sports bar or something. The sound was off on a TV showing a highlight, and Randy Johnson was pitching. A sea gull or a pigeon or something flew right in front of his 100-mile-an-hour pitch and it just exploded! [laughing] I called it a ball, too, because it didn't go over the plate! That was pretty crazy."

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