Imaginary Scoop Shake Some Action!

Shake Some Action! blogging new record in real time

This is a pretty interesting idea that I am doing my best to follow.

The powerpop band Shake Some Action! was becoming a bi-coastal band when bassist Gary Miller moved to North Carolina (and left his essential-reading Seattle Powerpop Blog to die a slow, unfortunate death). Miller and the band's frontman, James Hall, were working on the band's third record together on both coasts and blogging about it as the went along. It was with Hall here in Seattle and Miller in NC.

They were posting videos and mp3s and such to their blog when they would have something to share, including the finished song. I was a little saddened when I tried getting caught up (after falling behind miserably on the project) and saw this note from Hall from last week:

It’s fair to say that the last song, Fire and Ice, triggered some fundamental changes in this project.

Firstly, Gary and I came to the realization our musical ideas weren’t as compatible as they once were, so SSA has reverted to a solo project again, as it was for the first record.

Secondly, it occurred to me that my contributions so far had a recurring theme of elements – Touch the Sky, Fire and Ice – that I wanted to explore further as some sort of theme throughout the record. What came to mind was exploring the idea of people’s apparent indifference to climate change – that maybe by the time everyone’s satisfied it’s actually happening it’ll be too late to do anything about it.

Maybe human civilization has come and gone many times before and on some deeper level we know that if climate change wipes us out, human life will always re-emerge through evolution. Or maybe we’re all just narcissists . . . .

How do I take those ideas and make power-pop songs out of them?

Watch this space . . . . .

I like both Miller and Hall an awful lot, so it's unforunate the partnership doesn't look to be continuing but I do appreciate the almost-complete transparency that's being put into this project.

You can follow along and watch the third Shake Some Action! record being made in real time at their blog: They have three finished songs available now: "Fire and Ice," "I Get Tongue Tied" and "Touch the Sky".

Here's a clip of James Hall playing the guitar and vocal tracks from "Fire and Ice":

Damien Jurado Fleet Foxes Grand Archives Hey Marseilles Imaginary Scoop Natalie Portman's Shaved Head Shake Some Action! Stuporhero Team Gina The Doll Test The Dutchess and the Duke The Saturday Knights Throw Me the Statue

imaginary dana's top Northwest picks for 2008

I’m a chronic procrastinator, so here it is, January 5th, and I’m finally ready to make sense of the musical chaos and wonderment that was 2008 and compile a list of favorites.

Don’t even try to make me rank these releases in order, or I’ll never, ever finish my list. Let’s just say these were some of the very best local bands in my iTunes list this year, presented alphabetically.

  • All Girl Summer Fun BandLooking Into It {live show review}
  • Black Nite CrashArray {info}
  • Damien JuradoCaught In The Trees {album review}
  • Doll TestMosque Alarm Clock
  • Dutchess and the DukeShe’s the Dutchess, He’s the Duke {live show review}
  • Fleet FoxesFleet Foxes {album review}
  • Grand ArchivesGrand Archives {album review}
  • Hey MarseillesTo Travels and Trunks {live show review}
  • Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head Glistening Pleasure {info}
  • The Saturday KnightsMingle {album review}
  • Shake Some Action – Sunny Days Ahead {album review}
  • StuporheroWeightless {info}
  • Team GinaProducts of the 80s {album review}
  • TelekinesisTalouse-Latrec EP
  • Throw Me The StatueMoonbeams {album review}

Phew — so glad I got that off my chest. Bring on the new music in the new year!


Army of Me Charlotte Sometimes Death Cab for Cutie Imaginary Scoop Pretty Girls Make Graves Radiohead Scary Kids Scaring Kids Shake Some Action! Stars of Track and Field We Are Scientists

Top 10 band names from song names

If there's any one question most bands tend to dislike it's how they got their band name. A band will most likely answer with, "Well, this one night we were drunk…" or something similarly dissatisfying and anti-climatic, which is I avoid the question during interviews.

While listening to emo pioneer Cap'n Jazz's completely encompassing Analphabetapolothology, it occurred to me that two groups of budding musicians lifted their names from track titles: We are Scientists and Scary Kids Scaring Kids.

Then I realized there are many bands who have taken this route to naming, including many from the Northwest:

  • Radiohead took the space out of a Talking Heads' track.
  • Army of Me was originally a Bjork song.
  • Charlotte Sometimes was a song by the Cure before she was a singer touring with the Warped Tour.
  • Death Cab for Cutie was a song by the Bonzo Dog Band that played on a Beatles' movie.
  • Pretty Girls Make Graves was inspired by the Smiths.
  • Shake Some Action! is a Flamin' Groovies tune.
  • Stars of Track and Field was originally a song by Belle and Sebastian.
  • And Eric's Trip (reuniting this weekend for SP20 for the first time in a decade!) was originally a Sonic Youth track. 

Some of these bands seemed to be inspired beyond just the band name and show influences to their naming bands, while other don't.  What do you think — do most of these bands show influences of the song from whence their names came?

What other bands can you think up to join this list?  

Chris Walla Common Market Death Cab for Cutie Dyme Def Fleet Foxes Grand Archives Head Like A Kite Imaginary Scoop Little Party and the Bad Business M. Bison Man Plus Mark Pickerel Natalie Portman's Shaved Head Old Haunts Panda & Angel Sera Cahoone Shake Some Action! Shim Star Anna Tea for Julie Team Gina The New Bloods The Nextdoor Neighbors The Pharmacy The Saturday Knights The Turn Ons Thee Emergency Throw Me the Statue Young Sportsmen

Best of 2008: it's half-yearly check-in time

As of today, we’re officially in the second half of 2008. Welcome! To gear you up for another fabulous six months of local Northwest releases, we here at imaginary headquarters have brainstormed an imaginary mix for all of you, containing some of our favorite songs by Northwest artists released this year to date thus far.

No promises that each of these will make our Best of 2008 Reader’s Poll final list, but at least this way you have the next six months to follow-up and listen to these releases before you have to decide. In alphabetical order, we have…

The top imaginary 33 Northwest songs of 2008 {so far}:

  1. Sera Cahoone “The Colder the Air” (from the release Only As The Day is Long)
  2. Common Market “Watership Down” (from the release Black Patch War)
  3. Death Cab for Cutie “Cath” (from the release Narrow Stairs)
  4. Dyme Def3Badbrothaaas” (from the release 3Badbrothaaas Mixtape)
  5. Fleet Foxes “White Winter Hymnal” (from the release Fleet Foxes)
  6. Head Like a Kite “Big FM Radio Hit” (from the release There Is Loud Laughter Everywhere)
  7. The Helio Sequence “Keep Your Eyes Ahead” (from the release Keep Your Eyes Ahead)
  8. Grand Archives “Index Moon” (from the release The Grand Archives)
  9. Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground “Simon Courage Flees the Coop” (from the release Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground)
  10. Little Party and the Bad Business “A Free Box for Everyone” (from the release Jock Therapy)
  11. M. Bison “Party All The Time” (from an unreleased EP)
  12. Man Plus “Not For All the Cocaine in the World” (from the release The Hungarian Suicide Songbook)
  13. Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head “Me + Yr Daughter” (from the release Glistening Pleasure)
  14. The Nextdoor Neighbors “Town Full of Mannequins” (from an unreleased EP)
  15. The New Bloods “Oh, Deadly Nightshade” (from the release The Secret Life)
  16. The Old Haunts “Volatile” (from the release Poisonous Times)
  17. Panda & Angel “Sirens” (from an unreleased EP)
  18. The Pharmacy “Little Toys On The Shelf” (from the release Choose Yr Own Adventure)
  19. Mark Pickerel “She Calls” (from the release Cody’s Dream)
  20. Pleasureboaters “Elliptical Realism” (from the release !Gross!)
  21. Shim “Satisfied” (from the release Feel Like a King)
  22. Star Anna “If Wishes Were Horses” (from the release Crooked Path)
  23. The Saturday Knights “Dog Park” (from the release Mingle)
  24. Shake Some Action! “Half Past Three” (from the release Sunny Days Ahead)
  25. Tea for Julie “Pollyanna” (from the release The Sense in Tying Knots)
  26. Team Gina “Wife-Swapping” (from the release Product of the Eighties)
  27. Tennis Pro “Shelley Gets High” (from the release Are You There God? It’s Me, Tennis Pro.)
  28. Thee Emergency “Call 911” (from the release Solid)
  29. Throw Me The Statue “Yucatan Gold” (from the release Moonbeams)
  30. The Turn-Ons “Here She Is” (from the release Curse)
  31. Shane Tutmarc and the Travelling Mercies “Honey I Chose You” (from the release Hey Lazarus)
  32. Chris Walla “Two-Fifty” (from the release Field Manual)
  33. The Young Sportsmen “Girl Pants” (from the release If You Want It)

To paraphrase imaginary ChrisB, we feel like this list is pretty unfuckwithable. But that doesn’t mean that we didn’t inadvertently overlook something great. If you have additions for our list, please chime in with your comments below.


Record Review Satellite 451 Shake Some Action!

Sunny Days Ahead

After dropping a demanding-to-be-heard debut, kicking up a racket at Bumbershoot 2007, and getting some major indie radio play, this is the second studio full-length from Shake Some Action! And the band requires that exclamation mark, I assure you.

The title of the album, though, could end with a question mark. Though I honestly believe that band leader James Hall is "kicking at the darkness to get to the light" (thanks, Bruce Cockburn), there is a dichotomy here between how things should be in life, in a relationship, and the beautiful messes and ugly truths they actually are.

My wife and I were riding on a bus to a cafe on a day off, and we'd just had an argument about something stupid (a life detail, not the Frank and Nancy collaboration), and I gave in to duty and put on my headphones to soak in some power-pop joy. When we got to where we were going I bought her a rather expensive little espresso bar dessert ($6.50) because I tried to make amends with something I knew she loved. I knew it would give some sweetness to the situation, but had no idea how moist, rich, and sumptuous that piece of cheesecake would be. I wanted to order three more instantly. That's what listening to this record a couple times through is like — my mood had brightened on the first play, with all the wonderful playing from James Hall (lead vocals, guitar), Chris Campbell (drums, vocals), David Bos (guitar, vocals), and Gary Miller (bass, vocals, and guitar). But by the fourth I was into it deep and sweet.

The thirteen tracks on this lucky number poke through, each one a rousing glow or a bit of heat stroke, all very natural and part of the daily environment of sudden joy and imminent vexation. This is a sugary jouissance, pure power-pop enjoyment, but with a strangely adult bite. The album title Sunny Days Ahead is an offhand remark Cheryl Waters made after the band's radio station in-studio, but I can't believe the KEXP DJ was merely referring to the weather outside. The album is not about ignorant bliss, but the artful skills of a poet, player, and performer willing to warn ("you're a big fake / look out for stormy weather," the tense and grinding album opener exhorts) as well as warm you up.

"I got my skin baked / the sun shining down on me / sew seeds of hate and one day you'll pay the penalty," the story continues, and you know this isn't any sort of happy face nostalgia trip. After "Get It Together" introduces the record with a firmly focused pile-driver of suitable tension, second track "Looking For Someone" has that best-of-post-punk-pop-and roll-droll-Brit-garage-rhythm-meets-sweeping-chorus so beloved by fans of more melodic XTC-Jam-Echo & the Bunnymen treasures. The guitars match the story of swarming life changes perfectly. Throughout, they combine their skills with Hall to layer delicious little riffs in everywhere, but it's not the kind of hard rock posing certain other "garage rock" Seattle bands do; these are organic echoes of Dave Davies and Mick Jones. Guys who could rock hard but never look like they're posing, just putting more pleasure into each song.

"Hurry Up" is in the 'B' section of British (or Brit-inspired) beat bands, from the Beatles to Badfinger and onward, but just beneath is a mad cackle from Robyn Hitchcock, in the mad grasp for momentary happiness. "Walking Away" is about the senses working overtime, with lines like "The room is so dark here, then I see you walking away," which would have fit perfectly on Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend album. It's a bitter fear of relational entropy mixed with sonic butterscotch hooks, crunchy peanut butter riffs, and smooth white chocolate vocals. It piles on the abundant and imminent loss as crippling as a ice cream sundae brain freeze.

Hall is one of those idiosyncratic pop rock voices; the paradox of a stylist who can create a private Wall of Sound, songs that sound huge for small stereos and will bless the faithful but tend to be too pure for the mainstream (he should at the very least have the success of Brendan Benson). But it's by using the authentic kick ass juice of a tight, can-do rock band that these sharp slices of stinging life don't lay on the plate as bedsit studio genre fiddling. Sunny Days Ahead seems so wholesome on the surface, until you run into the fear of abandonment and failure in a lyric like "you're so free / you don't need to talk to me." That sort of vibe might cut out the casual listener. Then again, when "Your Valentine" is played so perfectly, with its high chiming notes of guitar and melancholy in its smooth melody, you realize that Shake Some Action! are delivering what people have always wanted from artists like Tom Petty on the big scale and Shane Tutmarc on the smaller. "You Don't Care" is relentless in its examination of a self-destructive need for control, greedy desires met on every level, great tumbles of Bowie-style imagery about a hung-up, hungover existence. "All you need is what you love" meant here as a criticism, is the most wicked burn I've heard in a rock song since the glory days of the The's Matt Johnson.

The crunching blues-pop on the finale "Who Do You Love?" features guest licks from Young Sportsman's Ryan Maxwell, and gives the set a Baker's Dozen feel of thematic luxury most albums can't afford to create. I do wish there were one stupid feel-good track here somewhere (maybe a cover of "Something Stupid" itself?), even done ironically, just to lighten the load. And the only thing I fear about this record is that taken altogether it might be too much of a good thing; maybe this should have been three separately released EPs or a series of colored seven inch vinyl records. But then they all would have had to be rounded up again someway, right? And why not do it clean the first time?

Imaginary Scoop Satellite 451 Shake Some Action!

Hear an exclusive new track from Seattle band Shake Some Action!

Shake Some Action! Sunny Days AheadLocal power-pop band Shake Some Action! have been busy working on a follow-up to their self-titled debut ({review} for some time now. The record will be called Sunny Days Ahead, and will be released on June 17th on frontman James Hall's Satellite 451 label.

Speaking of James, he was kind enough to give TIG exclusive access to a new Shake Some Action! song, months before the record officially releases. Huzzah for James!

The song is called "Looking for Someone" and I'm quite fond of it. I'd love to know what you think, so please, click on through for a listen.

Listen now: "Looking For Someone"  

According to Hall, the title comes from something Cheryl Waters said during the band's in-studio at KEXP last year. (See the video below. To skip ahead to Cheryl's words, go to 3:54 into the clip. But the whole video is worth watching, as the song "Someone Else's Friend," frankly, kicks jangly guitar ass. And the video just might have been filmed by me. I'm just sayin'.)

Shake Some Action will have a CD release show for Sunny Days Ahead on June 13th at the Sunset in Ballard. Stay tuned to TIG for more info on that one.

Blitzen Trapper Blue Scholars BOAT Grand Archives Grand Hallway Imaginary Scoop Menomena Minus the Bear Modest Mouse Ms. Led Night Canopy Patience Please Shake Some Action! Siberian Team Gina The Cave Singers The Cops The Femurs The Shaky Hands Throw Me the Statue Tullycraft

TIG Best Northwest Releases of 2007: Editors' picks

We gathered our imaginary staff to determine our collective Northwest favorites for 2007. It was hard work. Imaginary battles were fought, alliances formed, and finally, winners emerged.

You should have seen the way that imaginary Liz can arm wrestle, and how Erik Gonzalez can duke it out for his favorite bands. It was fierce and fun, and we think our final list was well worth the effort.

Here they are: the TIG official editor picks for best Northwest releases of 2007. Enjoy!

#20 Grand Hallway Yes Is the Answer (Self-released)
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#19 Aqueduct Or Give Me Death (Barsuk)
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#18 Night Canopy Of Honey and Country (Go Midnight)
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#17 Team Gina Gina Gina Revolution (Self-released)
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#16 Arthur & Yu In Camera (Hardly Art)
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#15 Minus the Bear Planet of Ice (Suicide Squeeze)
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#14 The Cops Free Electricity (The Control Group)
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#13 Ms Led Shake Yourself Awake (Fish the Cat)
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#12 The Femurs Modern Mexico (HomeSpun)
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#11 Patience Please Fleeting Frequencies (Happy Happy Birthday To Me)
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#10 Grand Archives Grand Archives (Self-released / Sub Pop)
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#9 Shake Some Action! Shake Some Action (Satellite 451)
{review} * {band profile} * {buy}

#8 Math & Physics Club Baby I’m Yours (Matinee)
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#7 Throw Me The Statue Moonbeams (Baskerville Hill)
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#6 Blue Scholars Bayani (MassLine Media, Rawkus)
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#5 Siberian With Me (Sonic Boom Recordings)
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#4 BOAT Let’s Drag Our Feet (Magic Marker)
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#3 Menomena Friend and Foe (Barsuk)
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#2 Tullycraft Every Scene Needs a Center (Magic Marker)
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#1 Cave Singers Invitation Songs (Matador)
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Honorable mentions:

Blitzen Trapper Wild Mountain Nation (Lidkercow Ltd.)

Modest Mouse We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (Epic)

Schoolyard Heroes Abominations (Stolen Transmission)

The Shaky Hands The Shaky Hands (Holocene Music)

The Shins Wincing the Night Away (Sub Pop)


Amy Winehouse Arthur & Yu Beirut BOAT Cloud Cult Grand Archives Imaginary Scoop Interpol John Vanderslice Jon Rauhouse Math and Physics Club Nicole Atkins Night Canopy Okkervil River Ragazza Scotland Yard Gospel Choir Shake Some Action! Shorthand for Epic Siberian Sleeping in the Aviary The Broken West The Cave Singers The Fratellis The Pipettes The Saturday Knights The Shaky Hands The Twilight Sad Throw Me the Statue Tullycraft

Best of 2007: imaginary Dana's picks

I have so many favorites for 2007 that narrowing the lists was tricky. Plus I’m preggo as a house and have NO memory at this point, so I’m sure I’ve inadvertently omitted some really great releases and songs. Forgive me and my wacked out hormones.

But that said, here are some Top of 2007 lists from me, to you. Feel free to leave comments both nasty and supportive. I likely deserve both for some of my erratic tastes.

The official results of the TIG Best NW Releases of 2007 Readers’ Poll are coming VERY soon… stay tuned! In the meantime, some of my personal picks for a wonderful year in music past:

Favorite Releases of 2007:

  1. Amy Winehouse Back to Black
  2. Okkervil River The Stage Names
  3. Tullycraft Every Scene Needs a Center
  4. Beirut The Flying Cup Club
  5. The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir
  6. Shake Some Action Shake Some Action
  7. Math & Physics Club Baby I’m Yours
  8. John Vanderslice Emerald City
  9. The Cave Singers Invitation Songs
  10. The Fratellis Costello Music

Favorite Northwest Releases of 2007:

  1. Grand Archives Grand Archives
  2. Tullycraft Every Scene Needs a Center
  3. Shake Some Action Shake Some Action
  4. Cave Singers Invitation Songs
  5. Math & Physics Club Baby I’m Yours
  6. Siberian With Me
  7. Throw the Me Statue Moonbeams
  8. Arthur & Yu In Camera
  9. Night Canopy Of Honey and Country
  10. BOAT Let’s Drag Our Feet


Favorite Songs of 2007:

  1. Amy Winehouse “Love Is A Losing Game” and “Back to Black”
  2. Nicole Atkins “The Way It Is”
  3. Scotland Yard Gospel Choir “I Never Thought I’d Feel This Way for a Boy”
  4. Tullycraft “The Punks Are Writing Love Songs”
  5. Interpol “Heinrich Maneuver”
  6. Grand Archives “Southern Glass Home”
  7. Cloud Cult “Chemicals Collide”
  8. The Broken West “Down in the Valley”
  9. LCD Soundsystem “Someone Great”
  10. Sleeping in the Aviary “Another Girl”
  11. Lily Allen “LDN”
  12. Los Campesinos “You! Me! Dancing!”
  13. Throw Me the Statue “Lolita”
  14. Shake Some Action “Damaged”
  15. The Saturday Knights “45”
  16. Cave Singers “Seeds of Night”
  17. Siberian “Paper Birds”
  18. The Shaky Hands “Why and How Come”
  19. The Blakes “Don’t Bother Me”
  20. Night Canopy “Boom It’s Spring”
  21. The Pipettes “We Are the Pipettes”
  22. The Fratellis “Chelsea Dagger”
  23. John Vanderslice “The Parade”
  24. The Twilight Sad “That Summer, At Home I Had Become the Invisible Boy”
  25. Jon Rauhouse (and Rachel Flotard) “Harbor Lights”


Apostle of Hustle Awesome Blitzen Trapper Blonde Redhead Carolyn Mark Emma Pollack Feist Ghost Stories Grand Archives Grand Hallway Imaginary Scoop Jens Lekman Menomena Modest Mouse New Pornographers Radiohead Shake Some Action! Shellac Spoon The Arcade Fire The Cave Singers The Shins Tullycraft Welcome

Best of 2007: Sero(tone)in's picks

Every December I go through over 80 albums and try to codify them some way. Though it may take until after Christmas before my final top list (and mix cd) is ready, my favorite albums of the year are always fairly obvious to me by now. These are the ones that meant the most to me.

Top NW Albums

1) Grand Archives – s/t
2) Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
3) Menomena – Friend & Foe
4) Tullycraft – Every Scene Needs A Center
5) Shake Some Action – s/t
6) Blitzen Trapper – Wild Mountain Nation
7) The Cave Singers – Invitation Songs
8) Welcome – Sirs
9) Modest Mouse – We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank
10) Awesome – Beehive Sessions
11) Carolyn Mark – Nothing Is Free
12) Grand Hallway – Yes Is The Answer
13) The New Pornographers – Challengers
14) Ghost Stories – Quixoticism
15) The Shins – Wincing the Night Away

Overall Top 10 Albums of 2007

1) Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
2) Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
3) Emma Pollock – Watch The Fireworks
4) Jens Lekman – Night Falls Over Kortedala
5) Feist – The Reminder
6) Menomena – Friend & Foe
7) Blonde Redhead – 23
8) Shellac – Excellent Italian Greyhound
9) Apostle Of Hustle – National Anthem Of Nowhere
10) Radiohead – In Rainbows

Das Llamas Fleet Foxes Imaginary Scoop Mono In VCF Natalie Portman's Shaved Head Saturna Seaweed Shake Some Action! Sneaky Thieves

Bumber-preview: KEXP interviews

My feature over on the KEXP Blog for Audioasis this week is an enormous interview feature from eight local bands: Mono in VCF, Seaweed, Das Llamas, Shake Some Action, Fleet Foxes, Sneaky Thieves, Natalie Portman's Shaved Head, and Saturna.They were all great sports for my questions, and you can read their quite hilarious answers over at the KEXP blog page. Key highlight is Kerry of Das Llama's answer to his ultimate MainStage line-up.

However, why not hear what us non-bands have to say? If you'd like to share, here are the questions I asked the bands:

1] Which band or feature are you excited to catch at Bumbershoot?

2] What is your favorite memory of Bumbershoots past?

3] Bumbershoot marks the end of summer–What is something you're disappointed about not having a chance to do this past summer?

4] Fergie, Sean Paul, or Panic! at the Disco?

5] If you were in charge of the MainStage, who would you pick, dead or alive, to headline?

C'mon, my interest in piqued! Why not get into the spirit of Bumbershoot by indulging me with your answers… 😀