The Posies’ Brush With Greatness – 1994

by Dawn Anderson, The Seattle Tinmes, 17 June 1994

“I always get a big laugh, especially when I’m getting ready to tie up my noose again, about how on a regular basis, some band will open up for us and then two weeks later they’ll be giant,” says the Posies’ Ken Stringfellow.

We’ll see if this works for the Dancing French Liberals and This Busy Monster, who share the bill with the Posies tomorrow at the Moore. Now-famous bands who once took second billing to the Posies include Blind Melon, Counting Crows and the Cranberries.

The Posies’ guitarist/vocalists Stringfellow and Jon Auer and drummer Mike Musburger have been resting up for the past couple of months after nearly two years of relentless touring through the U.S., E! urope and Japan. Tomorrow they will be joined by new bassist Joe Howard, a former member of Sky Cries Mary. Howard joined only a couple of weeks ago, but played a few shows with the Posies back in 1992 as a temporary replacement for Rick Roberts. The second Posies bassist, Dave Fox, is now in the band Flop.

The Posies are reportedly “big in Europe” – much bigger than they are in the U.S., where it seems they’re just too gosh-darned adorable to earn more than a moderate following. Though the band’s music is categorized by that catch-all phrase “alternative rock,” some of the melodies and swooning harmonies are so unapologetically pretty that they don’t always compute to today’s audiences. The band always draw adoring crowds in Seattle, though. Stringfellow remembers the last time they returned from a tour of Europe to play a show in their hometown last year.

“There were a lot of totally inebriated frat types. We could be playing one of our `sensitive acoustic numbers’ and they’d still be slamming and jumping, and I thought, `Oh, my God, we must be in Seattle, United States of America, 1993.’ ”

Returning home, he says, is a far worse cultural shock than playing in foreign countries, where their audiences actually pay attention to the music and know more of the lyrics than their English-speaking fans do.

The Posies have released two albums on DGC (a subsidiary of Geffen) and will start work on their third after yet another tour of Europe for the outdoor festival season later this summer. Their last effort, “Frosting on the Beater,” packs a far greater punch than the previous “Dear 23,” due partly to the work of Don Fleming, one of the only living producers who remembers the Beatles weren’t wimpy.

The melodies are still gorgeous, but there’s a dark undercurrent to some of the songs.

Still, the U.S. music industry doesn’t quite know what to do with these guys, the consensus being that they’re just too nice for their own good. Auer heard from a Geffen underling that! the label held a meeting to discuss how to toughen up the band’s image. “First of all, we’re called the Posies, so they’ve lost that battle already,” he says. The name was originally an ironic play on the word “posers,” but nobody got it.

It’s not as if the Posies haven’t had opportunities to grab mass media exposure. They said no thanks to opening spots for 10,000 Maniacs, Duran Duran and Four Non-Blondes because as Auer puts it, “Why try to ingratiate yourself to a huge audience that hates you? I’d rather play half-full clubs.”

Any promoter would be hard-pressed to dig up an “appropriate” band to share a bill with the Posies, unless they could somehow be transported from another decade. Members of the legendary ’70s hard pop band Big Star invited Auer and Stringfellow to join them for some reunion shows recently, and Auer says it was the most fun he’s had all year. But the Posies know what they really need are more videos on MTV. So far they’ve only had one, for the song “Dream All Day.” Ideally, they’d come up with s omething that could be played on Buzz Bin, or even Beavis and Butt-head.

“We’d be total fodder for them; they’d rip us to shreds. It’d be great!”