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August 16, 2012
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Twenty years of Squidboy

By Chad Taylor

Squidboy plays the Vaudeville Mews on Aug. 17 at 9:30 p.m. $5.

They’re a band with a sound that passed out of the mainstream consciousness 15 years ago. They don’t play live often enough to get the “local institution” moniker, and they aren’t popular enough to warrant playing any more shows than they do. That suits the members of Squidboy just fine.

“I’m not going to make what I think is a compromise just to get over,” said guitarist Tim Beachy.

Regardless of where you live, local music is a tough row to hoe. Ask any musician, regardless of age or musical style, and he or she will tell you stories about shows played for nothing in front of nobody. Every band understands the frustrations and hardships that come with making music. Band in-fighting, external politics and the natural wear-and-tear of long hours and long miles spent in close quarters with the same four people are all things that conspire against band longevity.

So for a band to have endured for as long as Squidboy has without experiencing sustained commercial success speaks to the passion these guys have for their sound and for the friendships that bonded them together in the first place.

Squidboy — comprised of Beachy, lead vocalist Eric Kennedy, drummer Craig Jensen and bassist “Roly” Koenen — celebrates its 20th year of existence with a show at the Vaudeville Mews on Friday, Aug. 17. Talking to Squidboy’s members about how the past two decades have unfolded is an interesting autopsy.

Squidboy started out just as the grunge scene was exploding from the Pacific Northwest. The band’s rock/punk amalgam seemed to fit with the Melvins-descended sound of bands like Nirvana and Mudhoney, and it appeared for a time that success was inevitable.

“I remember sending out tapes,” recalled Beachy. “And the first phone call we ever got was from Geffen Records. There were a couple of calls like that from Geffen that seemed promising but never really went anywhere.”

While the Seattle sound would carry on through more polished bands like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, the grunge scene ostensibly died when Kurt Cobain did in 1994. Effectively, this made Squidboy something of an anachronism before they had even compiled their current lineup. But for a band weaned on influences for which success was an afterthought, that was no big deal.

“When we signed with Allied, grunge was pretty much dead by that point already,” said Kennedy. “I don’t think we ever had ambitions like ‘we’re going to headline Lollapalooza’ or anything, but we hoped to build up a core group of fans that would come out and see us.”

“There was frustration (over not making it big),” added Beachy. “But I remember arguing with an ex-band member… and my thing was, ‘look at all our favorite bands. Most of these guys aren’t full-time musicians.’ That’s the bands we (emulated). It was always sort of underground.”

While other local bands have achieved greater and wider-reaching success, Squidboy has quietly released three albums in its history, with enough solid material to fill out a fourth in the near future. Life and families have encroached steadily further into the group’s playing time as the years have gone by, but Squidboy has carried on, fueled — as all good bands are — more by camaraderie than dreams of success.

“I think we’re all at a point where we play enough that we still enjoy it,” said Kennedy. “It’s never become something that we have to do.”

“There have been peaks and valleys,” added Jensen. “But I’ve never gotten to that point where I’ve said, ‘I’m done.’ We’re just all kind of buds.”

“And that’s the biggest part of it,” said Beachy in conclusion. “There’s not three guys that I’d rather hang out with than these three guys.” CV

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