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August 8th, 2012 CHRIS STAMM | Music Stories
 

Rock of Love

Pataha Hiss hooks up over pop-punk hooks.

music_pitaha_3840PATAHA HISS - IMAGE: Pataha Hiss
[POP GARAGE] Within minutes of meeting Chelsea McIntire and Lizzie Flick, who make up two-thirds of local garage-pop upstart Pataha Hiss, I am struck by something that is rarer than you might think: These people genuinely enjoy being in a band together. 

I am tempted to chalk the bonhomie up to the blessed summer sun beating down from a picture-perfect blue sky, but no, McIntire and Flick make it pretty clear that Pataha Hiss, which also includes drummer Dustin Schwindt, simply get off on each other’s company and dig making music together. 

“That’s the nicest thing about this band,” McIntire says. “There is no drama. Lizzie and I aren’t fighting over something stupid.”

Flick avers: “I can bro down with Dustin and lady down with Chelsea.”

An hour spent with the two women offers glimpses onto what said bro downs and lady downs look like, as the conversation detours into enthusiastic geekery touching on everything from Cher to KISS to Gram Parsons to Joan Jett. The two seem less intent on pushing Pataha Hiss than enjoying a digressive continuance of what appears to be an ongoing riff on shared passions.

The band’s current lineup is only a year old, but the rosy portrait of wedded bliss should not be mistaken for a snapshot of a honeymoon period. McIntire and Schwindt have been partners (in the romantic sense) for five years, while Flick and McIntire used to play together in the Foxgloves, a power-pop outfit that called it quits a couple years ago. There’s a shared history at work here, then—a familiarity that emerges as mutual appreciation and easy collaboration.

“There’s not one lead singer, there’s not one songwriter,” Chelsea says. “Everybody joins in.”

That spirit of sharing is in abundant evidence on the band’s new 7-inch, Dirrty Love, a four-song romp of Rhodes-driven bubblegum pop-punk swirling with cooing backup vocals and group-sung choruses. For eight ridiculously catchy minutes, Pataha Hiss manages to sound like a sweet, tight-knit greaser gang bound by a belief in teen lust and love.

Although McIntire and Flick had done time in Foxgloves together, Pataha Hiss did not begin as an offshoot of that collaboration. Flick’s immediate post-Foxgloves projects included a stint with soul group Madison Concrete and a full-time pursuit of a music degree, while McIntire teamed with boyfriend Schwindt to flush her previous band out of her system.

“I was tired of the super-poppy thing the Foxgloves were doing,” she says, “and that’s probably why [the first Pataha Hiss] record Dustin and I did sounded more like classic rock.”

Written and recorded in the winter of 2010 at Scwhindt’s parents’ farm in Yacolt, Wash., Pataha Hiss’ self-titled debut only barely hints at the sugary garage-pop of the band’s present-day incarnation. “When we started playing music for the first record, it was just for fun. We were out in the middle of nowhere with a bottle of whiskey,” McIntire explains.

The Flick-less album documents a duo searching for a sound. It allowed McIntire to achieve her modest aim. “It was the straight-ahead rock record I was looking to make after the Foxgloves called it quits,” she says.

After Flick joined the duo for what was supposed to be a one-off set at last year’s Slabtown-hosted Nuggets Night, the three friends began experimenting as a trio, and Flick officially joined the band in September. Now, after a year of writing and playing out, the platonic ideal of Pataha Hiss has emerged in recorded form, and if nothing else, Dirrty Love defines what the band is and where it might go.  

But for the time being, the band’s goal is still a modest one. “Everybody in Portland has a band,” McIntyre says, “and you walk into their house and they’ve just got stacks of records sitting there that they haven’t peddled. They haven’t done anything. We don’t want 500 records sitting there.”

A house full of Dirrty Love seems unlikely. 


SEE IT: Pataha Hiss plays The Know, 2026 NE Alberta St., on Saturday, Aug. 11, with Hey Lover! and Piss Test. 9 pm. Cover. 21+. 

 
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