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I dicked Phil O'Sullivan

Phil O’Sullivan release his new CD, Mystery Romance, at Jazzbones Saturday

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Technically, this week’s article was supposed to be about These Arms are Snakes and their show at Hell’s Kitchen on Saturday, Oct. 20. I had planned to do an interview with someone from the band and probably come up with a few witty sentences about the world of post-hardcore.

But I didn’t.

There are two reasons for this. The first is simple. I don’t like being dicked. That’s what These Arms are Snakes did to me. I’m not saying they’re rotten, because I’ve been known to dick a band from time to time, but if you blow off a scheduled interview with me it’s probably in everyone’s best interest that I find a new subject. Something tells me if I had gone ahead and covered These Arms are Snakes, the result wouldn’t have been something the band snipped from the paper and stuck to the fridge.

The second reason is slightly more complicated.

I met Phil O’Sullivan the same way I met a number of my favorite people in Tacoma — standing in front of Jazzbones, collecting covers, making sure no one puked in the plants, and gratefully declining come-ons from drunken 50-year-old women with pain pill addictions and sloppy eyeliner. Before becoming acquainted with O’Sullivan, I had seen him at Jazzbones on a number of occasions. The night I officially met him he was at the Boneyard fronting the Nouveau Rich, a twangy Pavement-like group that seemed aptly suited for full scale indie rock and closet country numbers. I was impressed. I realized later that I also recognized O’Sullivan from the Glass Family — an equally impressive band that he anchored prior to the Nouveau Rich.

To make a long story short, O’Sullivan and I became friendly — in a completely hetero way unless you care to fantasize to the contrary. I would see him at Jazzbones from time to time, whether he was having dinner with his parents, simply drinking, or on stage singing his songs. I grew to respect him.

Then I quit working the door at Jazzbones. Not long after I moved to Portland, got married, and had a baby. Much has changed.

A few months after my daughter was born, during a painfully sleepless stretch and a particularly poopy spell, O’Sullivan e-mailed me — out of the blue, and completely genuine. I believe he mentioned his solo project, but more than anything he was simply checking up on a friend he hadn’t seen in months.

Much like These Arms are Snakes dicked me this week, back then, I dicked O’Sullivan. I never managed to return his e-mail. It sat in my inbox, and every day I put it off. After a while, I figured it’d been too long. I figured I’d blown it, and the next time I saw O’Sullivan things would almost certainly be awkward.

Phil O’Sullivan will play Jazzbones this Saturday, Oct. 20. He’ll hit the stage around 10:20 p.m., after Damon Castillo and before Intervision. The same day that These Arms Are Snakes stood me up for our interview, O’Sullivan e-mailed me again, this time just to tell me about the show, and the solo EP, Mystery Romance, which he’ll officially release Oct. 23. I may not be a smart man, but I know a good time to make amends when I see one. I bagged These Arms, got in touch with O’Sullivan, and turned this week’s column into one big mushy apology written to one of the best songwriters Tacoma has to offer.

Wherever O’Sullivan wanders, he always brings a little twang and a lot of feedback to the party. It’s how he rolls. Mystery Romance, which is five songs of “love, loss, and lager,” according to the press release, should be no different. I haven’t heard it yet. I’m hoping Phil gets the damn thing in the mail ASAP. Local producer/bassist Zach Varnell and drummer Sean Bendickson aided O’Sullivan with the recording of Mystery Romance, and will be at Jazzbones this Saturday to bring it to life.

“I don’t think I’d say things didn’t work out. The guys playing with me now are some of my best friends, and they are former Nouveau Rich members,” says O’Sullivan in response to a question about why the Nouveau Rich didn’t “work out.”

“After beating the same horse with the same telecaster for long enough, I got really bored. I also got to the point where I realized it was going to be up to me to make the changes that needed to be made. I didn’t have a new song in me. I was in a rut. I just put a stop to it all.

“I spent a lot of time in the side room of my house with a microphone and a guitar, a pen and a pad.

“Some things are easier as a solo musician. I don’t have to draw general consensus on stuff. I was the only guy proofing the art work for the EP. There were no arguments about paper stock or which shade of blue or whether or not to use doves. When you realize you only eat what you kill and there aren’t other people to scapegoat or bitch at, you kind of cut through the nonsense and just get down to business.”

So what does O’Sullivan expect from his first solo EP?

“I expect a Grammy, dude. There. I said it. I want a fucking boat and enough money to fund the Powered Paragliding team I’m working on with Coughlin.”

Start helping O’Sullivan get his Grammy Saturday at Jazzbones. The man deserves it.

[Jazzbones, with Damon Costillo and Intervision, 9 p.m., all ages, $8-$10, 2803 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.396.9169]

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