Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Llama Barn Is Empty

[Yet another full disclosure: S.L. Kreighton, publisher of The Typing Monkey, may or may not have worked as a cleaner alongside Das Llamas' drummer, Thomas Burke, when Mr. Burke possibley worked as a security operative on the property of prominent Seattle family.]

Sigh. Seattle quartet Das Llamas has disbanded. Just after the release of their second LP, Class Wars: K-12. Here's some details from the press release:

"Frontman Kerry Zettel will continue work with his band See Me River, whose new album, Time Machine, is due to drop on August 26 via Aviation Records & Don’t Stop Believin’ Records. [Zettel co-owns Aviation, which also released Das Llamas' recordings. -- ed.]

Das Llamas evolved out of singer/bassist/keyboardist Zettel’s collaboration with guitarist/keyboardist Shawn Kock, beginning in 1999. The duo teamed up with Pretty Girls Make Graves’ Nick DeWitt and Nathan Johnson to form Beehive Vault, and from that band’s quickly-produced ashes arose stabmasterarson.

Named for Chris Rock’s character in CB4, this incarnation of Zettel and Kock’s project saw the release of two EPs and, at the departure of their original drummer and the addition of Thomas Burke behind the kit, would eventually become Das Llamas. Aaron Everett joined the trio in early 2007 and the band recorded its first album."


Now bands break up all the time, and life goes on. But the fact that some of our readers won't have the opportunity to see Das Llamas live -- where the band's true power blossomed -- is the real loss.

Aside from Burke's visceral drumming and Everett banging away on his guitar as if he were unaware there were other musicians in the room (it worked, really), the multi-tasking of the band's two founders made Das Llamas the best kind of working band: as fun to see as they were to hear.

Zettel played bass or keyboards while he sang, and when he was too busy playing the keys, Kock would stomp on a scroll of triggers to keep bass tones moving while he played his guitar. Any audience member who was tired from dancing -- or sadly, too uptight to dance -- could at least stand back, enjoy a beverage and watch these men work.

A Das Llamas performance wasn't silly athleticism for the sake of showmanship, it was energetic playing in the service of songs that made four players sound like six. They will be missed.