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Silly Rabbit Uses Technology For The ‘Whole Music Experience’

Fri., Oct. 10, 1997, midnight

You’ll find Silly Rabbit at the intersection of technology and live music.

It is here that this Seattle band wraps funk and rock with sequencers and synthesizers, sends traditional guitars and bass crashing over the stage alongside dubbed drum beats and video-laced light shows.

But the band’s attempts to meld high-tech gadgetry with the human element have not always met with voices raised in praise.

Indeed, in the lo-fi capital of the universe, Silly Rabbit has, at times, found itself chastised for its electronic components.

“We used to get comments like, ‘They’re a good band but they rely too much on technology,” says singer Anthony Russell.

“Now, a lot of bands all of a sudden are starting to buy synthesizers and drum machines. They’re the same people who used to bash us for doing this stuff.”

As Russell sees it, musicians have often divided into two camps: There are the live bands who rely on straight-up guitars and drums and find the use of synthesizers and drum machines distasteful, if not downright blasphemous to the soul of music; and there are the tech musicians, folks like Prodigy and The Orb who have tired of the same old instruments and rely instead on a computer-created palette of rhythms and melodies.

Of late, however, the dividing line between the two has bled into distortion. Artists like U2 and David Bowie slathered their recent albums with doses of electronica. Many others are following suit.

Russell says Silly Rabbit has been doing just that since its beginning five years ago.

“What we’ve always tried to do is merge the two worlds,” he says from the Seattle club Colourbox where he books bands. “By taking the two opposing forces and taking the best elements of both - good solid ripping guitars and the danceable grooves of techno music - you can create soundscapes that are … well … I love it.”

Silly Rabbit began as Russell’s project with a rotating cast of band members. It was more of a funk thing than anything else and it wasn’t always as focused as it could have been, he admits. But a few years later the lineup began to solidify and so did the band’s sound and live performance.

In their hands, hip hop, funk and rock submerge and surface through ethereal expanses and labyrinthine rhythms - all in dance-throbbing fashion.

“It’s not as rappy as Beck, it’s not as hardcore techno as Prodigy and it’s not as mellow as Sky Cries Mary,” Russell says. “But I think if you drew a circle and put all those people around the perimeter, we would somehow fall inside the circle.”

Now Silly Rabbit is working on their second album, one that will be more mellow-groove oriented with an expanded trip hop element, Russell says. The group hopes to release it early next year.

In addition to Russell, Silly Rabbit counts five people among their ranks: Brian Northrop on keyboards, Zach Barnhardt on drums, Keith Montgomery on bass, Danny Green on guitar and Russell’s brother Joseph on lights and video.

Joseph Russell uses claymation and animation video clips, old film projections along with slides and lights to paint a scene behind the band for each song.

“Our band is very much about the whole experience,” Russell says. “We truly do try to put on a show.”

Catch Silly Rabbit tonight at Outback Jack’s where they headline. Seattle’s power pop trio, Salmon Davis, along with Pitchin’ Tents open the show which starts at 9:30 p.m. Cover is $4.

The under-agers can catch Salmon Davis when they perform at the Valley Mall Sam Goody Store at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Crux of the matter

Moral Crux, one of Washington’s pre-eminent punk bands, hasn’t exactly had a new full-length album out for a while.

More than two years actually.

It’s easy to understand why.

Bassist Justin Warren estimates that in the past two years, Moral Crux songs have appeared on 15 compilations and 10 7-inch records.

“So it’s been hard to save up a body of music and call it our new CD,” Warren says.

But the foursome from the Ephrata-Moses Lake-Wenatchee netherlands plan to remedy that. With new drummer Roger Henshaw on board, they have been recording at BopTech Studios here in Spokane and saving new songs for a forthcoming album.

The band is talking to Berkeley, Calif., indie Lookout Records about putting out their next LP - hopefully around the first of the year.

Until then, you can catch some of their latest work on a split 7-inch with Boris the Sprinkler and on a V.M.L. Records compilation called “Joey Vindictive Presents: That Was Now, This is Then; A Punk Rock Retro Spectacular.” For that comp, the guys covered The Clash tune “1977.” Also look for more from Moral Crux when they contribute to a compilation of Velvet Underground covers.

In the meantime, the guys are about to take their ‘70s punk sound out on a month-long West Coast tour with stops in California, Arizona and Mexico.

Catch them before they hit the road when they play at Ichabod’s North tonight.

A trio from Costa Mesa, Calif., known as (4) will toss some nicely revved-up morsels into the mix. (4) just released their first CD, “Unusual Warmth,” on Cargo Records.

Show starts at 9:30 p.m. Cover is $4.

Please read this stuff, too

Drop by and wish the folks at Capone’s Sports Pub in Coeur d’Alene a happy six-year anniversary. These guys have been offering up good eats and brews consistently for more than half a decade. Not an easy feat.

They also have live entertainment. This Saturday you’ll find the nine-piece band Cafe Blue cranking out the blues. Shows starts at 9 p.m. Cover is $3.

Congratulations also goes out to Flourish, Paul Brasch and Wylie Gustafson and The Wild West Show. These talents from our neck of the woods have been selected to perform at the annual North By Northwest music industry love-fest in Portland.

The three-day event runs Thursday through Oct. 18 and features more than 300 music acts from around our country and several others.

If you’re in the neighborhood, catch Brasch at the Key Largo and Wylie and The Wild West Show at Sandovals.

Flourish plays at The Oak Street Downstairs. All perform next Thursday evening.

Halloween help

Attention all club owners: We here at Nightwatch would like to know about any Halloween shindigs you’re planning for the holiday. Bands? Costumes? Free candy? Budget-priced pitchers? Please jot down a note with the times, dates, prices, contests and tricks required for any such Halloween events. Then send it on over to the address below.

Readers, stay tuned for all the Halloween news you can use.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

MEMO: Send nightclub news to Winda Benedetti at The Spokesman-Review, 999 W. Riverside, Spokane, WA 99201 or fax it to (509) 459-5098. She can be reached by phone at (509) 459-5089 or by e-mail at Deadline for Friday publication is the previous Friday.

Send nightclub news to Winda Benedetti at The Spokesman-Review, 999 W. Riverside, Spokane, WA 99201 or fax it to (509) 459-5098. She can be reached by phone at (509) 459-5089 or by e-mail at Deadline for Friday publication is the previous Friday.

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