Posies Won’t Be Pegged – 1996

The Pittsburgh Post – Gazette, 28 June 1996

Long before Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam were household names, The Posies were touted as Seattle’s most promising new band.

Their melodic, upbeat records sparkled with optimism, and their hyperkinetic concerts drew frenzied fans. In 1989, The Posies swept the now-defunct Northwest Area Music Awards. The only thing wrong with the group was that people wouldn’t stop talking about them.

Seven years later, people are still talking about The Posies – influential people baffled that the group hasn’t achieved the commercial success predicted years ago.

“Even though we’ve never had a hit record, in the music industry and among fans, there’s a lot of good will toward The Posies,” singer-guitarist Ken Stringfellow said by phone from San Francisco. “We’re not selling enough records to be in heavy rotation on radio, but we have all these friends at stations around the country who want to help.”

Maybe, finally, things will change with “Amazing Disgrace,” the progressive-pop band’s third album for DGC/Geffen Records. The sweetly intertwined vocals of Stringfellow and singer-guitarist Jon Auer are the highlight of such beautifully crafted songs as “Please Return It,” “Precious Moments” and “Throwaway.”

The Posies – Stringfellow, Auer, bassist Joe Bass and drummer Brian Young – are eager to help DGC/Geffen promote the new album. Stringfellow and Auer agreed to perform at the Music Journalism Awards and Conference last month in Los Angeles, an appearance that garnered them some much-needed attention.

The Posies are managed by Kelly Curtis Entertainment, an offshoot of the company that manages Pearl Jam.

Stringfellow noted that while Pearl Jam has kept a low profile this year and has not toured, record labels have taken advantage of the group’s image to market less-talented bands.

“These bands don’t need a personality or an image or anything, so they’re very cheap to market,” he said. “Pearl Jam provides the image because they’re so ubiquitous and so huge and sell so many records. All the labels have to do is get a band that kind of sounds like them and looks like them and they don’t have to invest any money in creating an image.

“I can only imagine what the guys in Pearl Jam think. Silverchair, Stone Temple Pilots, Dishwalla, Seven Mary Three – all these bands sound so much like Pearl Jam. The guy in Dishwalla even stands like Eddie (Vedder) and wears his hair like Eddie and has these baggy, cutoff shorts. It must be really weird.”

Stringfellow said it’s a lot more difficult for a label to promote a group that can’t be modeled after a Pearl Jam, Nirvana or Hootie & the Blowfish.

“With a band like us that’s different, you have to show us off and get us photographed and do videos,” he said. “It’s more of an investment than a faceless, imageless band that sounds like Pearl Jam.”

The Posies are more raucous in concert than their finely crafted albums suggest. Though “Amazing Disgrace” is harder-edged, Stringfellow said the band wasn’t consciously trying to make it sound like a live album.

“When you’re playing as hard as we play live and hitting those guitars as hard as we do, they go out of tune. The audience maybe doesn’t notice it because we’re flying around and it looks great. But that wouldn’t make a good record. I like records to have more detail than that.”