The only thing more difficult than having a conversation about Pour Soi is having a conversation with Pour Soi. Everything about the band (pronounced "poor swah") seems to clash, from their musical backgrounds and personalities to their day jobs and personal schedules.
Consider Pour Soi's roots: singer/guitarist Jay-T Hottinger and bassist Caleb Frey, who have a straight-ahead rock background as former members of Six State Bender; plus Jay-T's brother and drummer Travis, who is best known for his technical metalwork with After Eyes Are Gone -- "and wanting to hit every drum he has as fast and hard as he can," says lead singer/guitarist Joe Kelleher, who was the reluctant frontman of the ever-esoteric Chinese Sky Candy.
Now look at what they do for a living: Jay-T is a poker dealer who works nights: Travis manages a Hastings in Walla Walla and drives 180 miles for practices and shows; Caleb is a tattoo artist who works under permanent pressure; and Kelleher is a high school English teacher.
By the time they all get in the same room, at least one of them is at least a little irritable. "I think the mind states we're in when we're making music has a lot to do with our sound," Kelleher said. "It's unnerving, and there's lot of tension, and it's antagonistic. It's a combination of me being hands-off and all of us being in a bad mood when we're writing material."
With a new studio set in the works, Pour Soi seems to be hitting its stride after two years with its songwriting and live performance. The gigs are getting bigger and better promoted. The songs are getting more bizarre without being impossible to follow. Pour Soi's music is frenetic and a bit abrasive -- definitely not poppy -- but it's also full of can't-miss hooks.
Because of the odd time signatures and the sheer volume, plus the band's lineage, one might expect to find them on bills with Belt of Vapor or Cyrus Fell Down.
Instead, it was Pour Soi that got the call to open for No-Fi Soul Rebellion and the Makers -- two of the catchiest acts in the region -- at the Zombie Room.
At recent live shows, Pour Soi has been unveiling material from its forthcoming concept piece, a collection of movie spoilers disguised as a surge of progressive punk-rock. Frontman and guitarist Joe Kelleher says Pour Soi is working to release 12 new tracks in the spring, the titles of which are in the form of movie spoilers ("The Gimp is Keyser Soze," for instance).
The band is having no problem writing the music, Kelleher says. The challenge now is writing lyrics to match the punch lines and song titles.
The latest one he finished, "The Whale Escapes" he says, walks a fine line between irony, comedy, romance and mammals.
Kelleher says his biggest headache is his work in progress: "A Pregnant Woman's Head Is In It."
Kelleher asks, "What do you do with that?"
Pour Soi with John K & Darlin' and Space Age Fur at Mootsy's on Friday, Nov. 14, at 9 pm. $5. Call 838-1570.