by Cortney Harding & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & T & lt;/span & he first indication I had that the Blakes were a little different from all of the other eyeliner-clad indie wusses I usually interview came pretty early in our conversation. "The other two dudes in the band are buying beer at the 7-11," says drummer Bob Husak when I reached him in North Seattle a few days ago. In a day and age when most bands are sipping ros & eacute; with hipster promoters, a band that buys their own PBR is a welcome change.
Cheap beer isn't the only way the Blakes keep it real. Aside from self-releasing two full-lengths and one EP, the band takes the DIY lifestyle to the extreme. To wit: "We all share one cell phone," says bassist and vocalist Snow Keim, before being interrupted by protestations by Bob, who seems to have purchased a mobile within the last week. They do, however, continue to share a vehicle. Laments guitarist Garnet Keim, "I haven't had my own car in 10 years."
The Blakes' story begins in 1999, when the brothers Keim left Vancouver, B.C., and migrated south to Seattle. After meeting Husak at a Tully's Coffee shop, the pair started slinging espresso by day and jamming with Husak at night. Then they headed even farther south, to try their hand at rock stardom in the City of Angels. To put it mildly, they didn't do very well.
"We all lived in a hotel room for two years," says Snow. "The three of us, plus a girl, in one room. We had to write songs in the bathroom to get some privacy." Frustrated with this state of affairs, the trio finally decided to throw caution to the wind and start touring. "We got in our old wood-panel van and just started driving," says Garnet. "We were rehearsing at truck stops between shows to stay tight. Bob had to set up his drums 30 feet away from us because of the noise, and we had truckers coming over and buying copies of our records between songs."
Playing for truckers wasn't the only way the band stayed grounded during the tour. "We weren't really getting paid for our shows, so we'd go to grocery stores and ask for the leftover deli items at the end of the day. Sometimes they wouldn't give them to us, and we'd sneak around back and dumpster-dive," says Garnet. Adds Snow, "Our van has no heat, and we toured the East Coast in the winter, driving wrapped in sleeping bags."
All the stories of the DIY life led me to believe that the Blakes sounded like a modern version of the Dead Kennedys, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. The Blakes sound like a dirtier version of the Strokes, or what the Libertines could have sounded like had Pete Dougherty not gone completely off the rails. The few tracks on their MySpace page are a good indication of their sound: dirty, sexy and swaggering, with songs like the ones Mick used to write. The band is just now starting to distribute their second record, Let it Loose. "I just pressed a thousand copies," says Snow. "They're all in my living room -- I have to climb over them to get to the kitchen."
With all this kitchen climbing and dumpster diving, why do the Blakes stick with it? "We're growing and getting better all the time," says Bob. "We're finally getting some good radio airplay and some label interest. This was our dream for a long time, and we never really thought about giving up on it."
The Blakes with the Agency, La Cha Cha, Starting Over and York at the Met on Saturday, Dec. 9, at 6 pm. Tickets: $10. Visit ticketswest.com or call 325-SEAT.