Have You Seen These Kids?
The reunion of the Breeders, once so completely screwed-up their future was despaired of by humanitarians everywhere, has merited much media notice. But consider the overlooked plight of the Breeders' current tourmates, Poster Children.
Poster Children never descended into the kind of drug-addled creative spinout the Breeders trademarked, but they never enjoyed ubiquity or steady income, either. Even during the Breeders' hiatus, frontwoman Kim Deal could live off royalties from the '91 hit "Cannonball" and The Prodigy's serendipitous use of a Breeders sample.
The Children have, however, quietly endured as a band for 14 years. Once they seemed prime candidates to surf the "alternative" wave. Since, the quartet has contented itself with life in Champaign, Ill., and a stream of steady work. In its own way, their accomplishment--solid survival--is no less remarkable than the Breeders' candle-at-both-ends act.
In fact, maybe the most outrageous thing Poster Children have ever done was act a bit bratty toward their Sire Records benefactors a decade ago. "We went out of our way to be difficult--we were trying to make a point," explains lead singer/guitarist Rick Valentin. He admits it was, perhaps, a childish gesture. "It was almost as bad as going the other direction, which is trying to be totally bland and acceptable."
The self-sabotage looms anomalous in Poster Children history; for the most part, they approached the prospect of fame gingerly, with Midwestern pragmatism.
"We were always like, 'How long is this going to last? We'd better milk this for all it's worth,'" recalls Valentin. "'We'd better get some recording equipment before the sugar daddy leaves.'"
The Kids became as sturdy as they wanted to be. The alt-rock landrush, like all boom economies, took a lot of victims with it. Poster Children thrived on their own modest terms, putting out records on the indie label spinART, sticking by the college town where Valentin and bassist Rose Marshack met in the late '80s, when they were computer-science majors.
"We never really thought of commercial success as the be-all and end-all," Valentin says. "If I sit there and complain that we weren't as big as the Lemonheads, I'd feel stupid."
The band still approaches music as friends having fun together; rock stardom doesn't begin to enter the equation. "Anyone can be in a band," says Valentin, "even a couple of computer geeks. Music's going to be a part of our lives for as long as we live, whether it's called 'Poster Children' or 'Salaryman' [their electro-pop side project] or we're just sitting on our porch playing music together when we're 70." Godfre Leung
Poster Children open for the Breeders on Saturday, July 13, at the Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside St., 225-5555 ext. 8811. 9 pm. $15 advance, $17 at the door. All ages.
Yummy Japanese Girl Pop
Don't look at us like that--they're Puffy AmiYumi, and they're here to be loved.
Tone LocPREVIEWThey play stadiums. They've sold millions of records. They have their own TV show and action figures. They are Puffy AmiYumi--Japan's mega-pop sensations!--and they've come to take America by storm!
OK. So maybe the two halves of this super-cute sugar-pop duo, Ami Onuki and Yumi Yoshimura, are more low-key than that. "We don't expect to be playing Madison Square Garden overnight," says Ami.
"I am happy for the opportunity of playing in front of an American audience," echoes Yumi. "I hope they like our show."
Modest, aren't they? It suits their modest origins in the mid-'90s, when the two gals, strangers at the time, both entered a Sony talent contest. The nameless talent scout who saw their dual potential certainly earned his or her pay, as the pair has sold over 14 million copies of a half-dozen releases. In building their repertoire, Ami and Yumi ("Puffy" would appear to describe the two, in that inimitable, nonsensical fake-English the Japanese speak so fluently) have explored just about every pop style imaginable. A short list of stylistic landmarks might include ELO, Abba, the Who, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Jam, Motown...
"We just try to do something interesting and really fun," explains Ami. So that's it.
Now it's time for the inevitable invasion of America, where it remains to be seen whether kids will spend in the Puffy AmiYumi pop rummage sale. One stumbling block will certainly be that most of their lyrics are in Japanese. "It may be difficult," agrees Ami. "Nonetheless, you will get the vibe of what we are singing about."
But when has anyone gone wrong by being cute, Japanese and palatable? Forget not the cross-cultural superforce that is Hello Kitty. Puffy AmiYumi, who come complete with cartoon alter egos created by celebrated New York pop artist Rodney Alan Greenblat, could certainly tap that vibe.
The girls will take it as it comes. "I would love it if people just enjoy the music," says Ami. "I can't do something that I personally am not interested in. We always try to do some experimental stuff to see what happens. That is the Puffy AmiYumi way." Ben Munat
Puffy AmiYumi plays Thursday, July 11, at the Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie Ave., 233-1994. 8 pm. $12 advance, $14 at the door. All ages.
MUSIC & NIGHTLIFE NEWS, OPINION & GOSSIP
HISS and VINEGAR
Here at WW, the Music Desk receives a steady stream of mail from hopeful musicians. "Dear Hotshot Journalists," begins a recent missive. "You're famous. How can my band become famous?" Well, lads and lassies, there's only one honest answer to that question: You MUST play MusicfestNW. The second running of the annual music festival, sponsored by WW and organized with volunteer help from a host of Portland music-scene worthies, is slated for Sept. 12, 13 and 14. But if you want in on the orgy of fame and fortune for which all bands playing Musicfest are destined, you have to apply to play. Besides the chance of instant Britney-esque renown, why should your band play MusicfestNW? Well:
Musicfest is for charity. Most of the proceeds from the festival benefit First Octave, an effort to fund music education in Portland Public Schools. Why? Because Oregon's meathead politicians are constantly screwing arts education in this state, dooming our children to a tone-deaf future. Another slice of festival profits goes to a musicians' health-care fund run by the Cascade Blues Association. As musicians may be aware, there is no health plan for artists in this blessed country. So it's all for a good cause. Musicfest also cuts participating bands in on the profits. And, finally, it is free to apply to the festival's highly subjective admissions process. Bands and solo acts from all genres on God's Earth (even emo!) are encouraged to apply.
Did we mention the application deadline is July 12? Oh yes, it is. Download an application at www.musicfestnw.com. If you can't download, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll email you one. If you don't dig email, call us at 243-2122. If you can't use a phone, stop by our offices at 822 SW 10th Ave. and pick up an app. If you can't do any of that stuff...well, maybe next year will be your year.
ATTENTION PHIL STANFORD: THE FOLLOWING ITEM CONCERNS A VISITING HAS-BEEN CELEB AND NUDITY
For those who've pondered the kosmic question where do washed-up rappers go?, here's one of many correct answers: The New Copper Penny. On June 14, the eastside nightlife mecca (5932 SE 92nd Ave., 777-1415) was graced with the presence of none other than Tone Loc, he of such unforgettable smash hits as "Funky Cold Medina." Though Tone was impaired by malfunctioning mics, he eventually managed to perform four or five old faves (how many?). The real fun started afterward, however, when all ladies interested in obtaining Tone's autograph were invited backstage. In keeping with NCP's fabled "Every Friday is Mardi Gras Night!" traditions, those who wanted sigs had to get them on their breasts! About 15 lovelies rose to the challenge. Shocking! More shocking: There are apparently worse jobs than that of hip-hop has-been. According to Hiss sources, Tone cleared nearly five grand in fees and expenses for the night.
(The preceding item is offered free of charge to interested gossip columnists everywhere--hope it helps!)
SEASON TO MISC.
Wow, that Pleaseeasaur set at Blackbird last week was really funny! Because it sucked, see! Intentionally bad music is hilarious! Get it?!?...Given The Who's decision to continue its current arena tour despite the fact bassist John Entwhistle died, like, five minutes ago, perhaps that Beatles reunion still has a chance....
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