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Another Rainy Saturday’s kickoff party, starring Tea Cozies

{Tea Cozies plays Another Rainy Saturday’s kickoff party next Saturday, January 22 at Columbia City Theater with Viper Creek Club, Concours d’Elegance and Katie Kate, 9pm, $8, 21+.}

“Tea cozies are such an unnecessary thing, they’re like stockings you put on your teapot” jokes Jessi Reed, one of the two frontwomen for the fantastic Seattle indie pop/rock band that took their name from those unnecessary teapot stockings.

Few bands are as fun as Tea Cozies. They have very catchy pop sounds with a sly sense of humor and overt hooks. The Stranger called the band “a pillow fight gone right” and that seems accurate. Their songs are catchy and addictive and often very funny. The often cite Brit pop as their main influence and a quick search on YouTube will yield several different live Elastica covers. I met the two frontwomen of Tea Cozies, Jessi Reed and Brady Harvey for an interview last week to discuss the band and it’s history and its quite obvious that they are as funny off stage as their are on and on record. (For example, on asking about working with producer Erik Blood, Reed said “he sounds like he’s an evil genius because of his name, but he’s actually very sweet.”)

The band formed several years ago, when Reed and Harvey were high school friends and met original drummer Kelly Viergutz in their hometown of Fort Collins, Colorado. Reed moved to Seattle first and Harvey and Viergutz followed shortly after. In Colorado, Reed explains, “We used by called Kesque, which is from the Talking Heads song ‘Psycho Killer’. It is French for ‘what is this?’ We originally spelled it the French way, which was impossible for anyone who wasn’t French to know what we were saying. I don’t know if we were trying to be pretentious or what.” She added “We changed the name to the Americanized spelling and then when we moved to Seattle we thought ‘this name sucks’”.

The name that they decided didn’t suck came about, according to Reed, when “I think we were trying to think of something that paid tribute to our influences, which were British bands. It wasn’t a very interesting story. I think we were sitting at someone’s computer and someone said ‘cozy’ someone else said ‘tea cozy’ and we all laughed.”

When I wrote the review of their first LP, Hot Probs, for Three Imaginary Girls almost two years ago, I noted, “On the band’s bio, they list artists like Talking Heads, Can, Pixies and Stereolab as influences and their one-sheet bio features a quote comparing them to The Breeders and PJ Harvey. All fine artists and ones I’d want to be compared to, sure, but really, Tea Cozies have a lot more fun. And so do their listeners.” What I didn’t write enough about at the time was the musicianship the band has. Both Reed and Harvey are excellent guitarists and songwriters with a top-notch rhythm section to complement them. Bassist Jeff Anderson, a converted guitarist, completed the quartet with the three ladies from Colorado and drummer Garrett Croxon, who played in previous bands like Fleet Foxes and The Little Penguins, joined later, replacing Viergutz.

The most recent item involving the band that may have gotten the band the most attention yet is when they were featured in filmmaker Lynn Shelton’s web series “$5 Cover: Seattle”. In one episode, Reed and Harvey enter a guitar shop where a chauvinistic sales clerk assumed that their manager at the time, Troy Nelson (now in the acclaimed band The Young Evils and is a DJ on KEXP), was the one looking for equipment, not the women in actually in the band.

On meeting Shelton at a show at the Comet, Reed said “I was sitting on the ground putting my pedals away and this lady sat next to me and started talking to me about this documentary thing and gave me her card and left. I remember that everyone was asking me about what was she like and and if she seemed serious and was for real. I said that she sat on the ground next to me and that’s a good sign. A lot of people are too fancy to sit on the dirty floor.”

Of that experience, Harvey said “Talking to her, she’s so genuine and hilarious and she believed in [the project] so much that we believed in it too. Everyone who worked on it was just super cool and laid back. It didn’t feel like it was very corporate. It was very home-grown and it was all local people working on it.” She said they loved the experience because “The bands we met, we hadn’t heard before because our genres don’t usually mingle, like Champagne Champagne or The Maldives or THEESatisfaction. It was cool because we did become friends and start going to each others shows.”

Meeting Nelson turned out to be a lucky break for Tea Cozies, and not just because he became their manager shortly thereafter. Reed explains bringing their debut, self-titled EP into a record store for consignment with an endearing sense of naivete in hindsight, “We didn’t know what we were doing so we just thought we’d bring this CD right into the record store and sell it. We went in to Easy Street and gave it to the guy working there and he was nonchalant about it but said he’d listen to it and see if they could sell it. That night they played it on KEXP and we were like ‘what? How did that happen?’ We didn’t give it to them. We were freaking out. The guy on the radio said that someone came in and gave it to him. We were like ‘what a liar, we didn’t give it to him!’ and then we realized it was the guy from the record store, DJ Troy.”

Tea Cozies have several new songs that have yet to be released but plan to record them and release them in some form this year. “We’re trying to figure it out but something will definitely happen this year with those new songs,” Jessi Reed says. If the single they released on January 1 (“Dead Man’s Sister”) is any indication, it’ll represent another big step forward after the excellent Hot Probs. Brady Harvey concurs and loves the new songs and says “Our new songs are pretty fierce. They’re really good and will be good to have in a bundle at some juncture.”

{Photo by David Craig.}


Chris Burlingame is the editor of Another Rainy Saturday.