In the pantheon of Horrible Things That Can Happen to a Band — drug overdoses, plane crashes, getting shot by a crazed fan, marrying Courtney Love — a broken windshield wiper on the tour van probably ranks pretty low. Then again, what if a torrential downpour suddenly strikes during an overnight drive through Montana, the wipers don't flip on, and the blinded driver and his bandmates skid off the road and plummet off a rocky cliff a thousand feet to their grisly death?
With that in mind, I was more than happy to cut 27-year-old singer/multi-instrumentalist Scott Reitherman — leader of the emerging Seattle indie-pop ensemble Throw Me the Statue — a break when he postponed our appointed phone chat, since he was busy fixing said windshield wipers (among other van-upkeep tasks) in order to make it to Chicago for a gig later that evening. After all, I'd hate for them to die horribly before getting a chance to see them play live in support of their phenomenal new album, Creaturesque, the group's second for the esteemed independent label Secretly Canadian.
"Right before we were about to go on tour last time, we got in a pretty bad hit-and-run accident where we got our van totaled," Reitherman tells me when we catch up again a few days later, as TMTS head to Montreal. "It was pretty intense. And the two girls that did it took off. It was kind of a bummer situation. We only had a couple of weeks to get the insurance money to get a new van. But it all worked out, and we've been lucky enough not to have to cancel any shows."
Throw Me the Status
Throw Me the Statue are scheduled to perform on Monday, September 14.
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Ideally, TMTS will graduate to a tour bus and leave all this van nonsense behind. That the band could earn such comparatively luxurious traveling accommodations is a distinct possibility, given the media attention it's getting of late, the accolades Creaturesque has received in the press, and the increasing number of fans turning up to see TMTS outside of Seattle.
Creaturesque, produced by Phil Ek (Fleet Foxes, Modest Mouse, The Shins) absolutely deserves all of the nice things people have been saying about it. Stylistically, it's as hard to pin down as a greased pig on meth. Dreamy opener "Waving at the Shore" teases with some distant shoegaze atmosphere before sliding into playful, sweetly vocaled, horn-dappled twee-pop with rhythms straight from The Cure's "Close to Me." A sinewy post-punk guitar riff slices through the majestic New Romantic pomp and synths of the irresistible "Ancestors." And the razor-sharp "Hi-Fi Goon" offers chunky guitars of the Built to Spill variety that chug along next to keyboard zaps and enigmatic lyrics about running, falling, sinking, and what sounds like a Nickelback reference, although Reitherman's enunciation is so wonderfully blurry I'm not entirely sure (and I forgot to ask).
I did, however, ask him how it feels to be in an honest-to-goodness band now, as opposed to TMTS' early days (you have to go waaaay back to 2004-2005) when it was strictly a solo bedroom-and-basement endeavor. "I was always more interested in doing the group performances," he says. "The first record [2007's Moonbeams] was a reaction to having my band in Seattle, Flag Signs, break up right as we were about to record our first thing. It was gonna come out on the label I was running, and just kinda . . . They were lazy musicians, you know? It just sort of crumbled. So out of frustration and desire to get something done I reverted back to Throw Me the Statue, which was my solo thing before I started doing Flag Signs. That started to pick up momentum, so I got some friends involved in doing Statue live performances, which led to solidifying the lineup."
With sturdy backing from Secretly Canadian and a North American headlining tour extending into the fall, Reitherman has recently been able to turn TMTS into a full-time gig. "It's one of those things where it doesn't pay as well as a real job could, but I love it because I can spend every day thinking about songwriting and the band and just everything that has to do with Throw Me the Statue." Including windshield wipers.