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Sling it on

Lino Fernandez is armed with smart pop music.

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First of all, let me just say how happy I am to be back. That whole “abducted by pirates” thing was torturous. The entire Weekly Volcano staff — yours truly included — was locked in the office supply closet by the peg-legged intruders for the better part of three days last week. Meanwhile, pirates in town for Tall Ships Tacoma 2008 produced the Weekly Volcano. Not only was it the first time in years my name hasn’t appeared in print (a huge blow to my inflated ego), but being forced to spend that much time in close proximity to Bobble Tiki nearly pushed me over the edge. If Pappi Swarner hadn’t figured out how to make wine out of printer cartridges I may have never emerged from that wretched closet jail alive.

But the important thing is we’re back — the whole Weekly Volcano team. And this week’s Rock Rhetoric is a doozie.

For those looking for a sign of my maturation, this week may provide one. I’m not sure.

I have a well-earned reputation for being tangential. I tend to wander, and maybe, just maybe, write about a few things that don’t pertain to music. I tend to write about what’s on my mind, and with enough regularity to call it habit, what’s on my mind doesn’t have much to do with music.

For better or worse, it’s kind of become my thing.

After careful self reflection, however, I came to the conclusion that sometimes I’m led down the path of bulls*** by covering bands I don’t know enough about. When I choose a column subject that I don’t know much about, the probability that I’ll fill this space with Elway references and herbal jazz cigarette one-liners goes up substantially. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, or a scientist of any sort, or even a smart person to see that.

So, this week, when temptation drew me in the direction of covering Bandolier’s show coming up this Saturday, July 12 at Bob’s Java Jive, there was a hesitation. Though I’m familiar with the force behind the band, Lino Fernandez from the Degrees, Murder Party, and most recently Sons of Ivan, in reality I knew next to nothing about this band known as Bandolier. The limited information floating around the world wide Interweb didn’t do much to fill in the gaps. Going into this week’s column, I was clueless, which made covering Bandolier a little risky.

The fact I realized I didn’t know much about Bandolier, and this made me think twice about covering them, is a sign of maturity, isn’t it?

In the end, though, I said f*** it. Didn’t see that coming, did you? Whether I bulls*** too much isn’t important. What is important is Bandolier’s show at Bob’s Java Jive — based solely of Fernandez’s past work and the one lonely beautiful pop song posted on Bandolier’s MySpace page ( — is far and away one of the most interesting gigs happening in town this week.

Plus, dedicating Rock Rhetoric to the newish pop band gives us all a chance to familiarize ourselves with Bandolier. It’s a win, win.

“Bandolier started out as a recording- and song-writing project for the songs that didn’t fit with any of the bands I was in. I used to go by Son of Ferdinand, but changed my moniker to Bandolier after Sons of Ivan formed. I recorded a bunch of songs and ended up giving out CD-Rs of the songs as gifts during the holidays,” says Fernandez. “After Murder Party broke up last March, I started to put out feelers to make Bandolier into a band.

“We’re inspired by smart pop music.”

In case you’re wondering, like I was, who “we” is — seeing as Fernandez has taken Bandolier from a one man act to a full-on three piece pop band — drummer Paul Fontana has been recruited to man the skins, and singer slash keyboardist Nadia Abdelrhman will add a feminine touch and take over lyrical duties.

While Abdelrhman will be onstage with Fernandez at the Java Jive this Saturday, the full debut of the three piece won’t happen until early August at the Blue Moon in Seattle. You can thank Fontana’s tickets to the Sub Pop 20th Anniversary show this weekend for that one. If it wasn’t for the Vaselines, Tacoma might be seeing the debut of Bandolier the three piece this Saturday. For now we’ll just have to settle for 66.6 percent and wait for late August when the band has another Bob’s Java Jive show scheduled.

“I’d say this band is different than my other projects because it’s just the three of us. Take for instance Sons of Ivan, with three guitars going, it’s pretty easy to layer sounds and create a pummeling wall of noise. In Bandolier, the simple instrumentation can be really challenging at times because lyrics, melody and chords are the core of the songs, which I think is true of most good pop music,” says Fernandez. “It’s an interesting chemistry because Paul and Nadia have never been in a band before. They’re down for pretty much anything and their energy is contagious. Nadia’s going to write most of the lyrics for our songs, I’m in charge of most of the music chord progressions and arrangements and Paul sits back behind his drum kit and propels the songs forward. The lyrics are definitely important to this band, which Nadia is perfect for.

“This will be a debut for two thirds of Bandolier. Nadia’s never played Tacoma before, and I don’t think she has ever been there,” he continues. “The Java Jive is perfect because we’re a no frills band. At the Jive, all you have to do is plug in and play.

And all you have to do is show up this Saturday and listen. While neither of us may know much about Bandolier at the moment, something tells me that’s going to change. Quickly. Pop music of the highest quality rarely stays a secret, after all. Something tells me Bandolier is going to deliver.

[Bob’s Java Jive, Bandolier, Deborah Page, Bumtech, The Story of Light and Dark, Darrren Selector, Saturday, July 12, 8 p.m., $5, 2102 S. Tacoma Way, Tacoma, 253.475.9843]


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