Members: Kirk Huffman and Kyle O'Quin
Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground have, fittingly, a back-story as long and interesting as their name, but here is the abridged version, because it is not just about where you came from, it is more about where you are going. At the epicenter of Kay Kay is the duo of Kirk Huffman and Kyle OQuin, with whom you may already be familiar from their previous band, Gatsbys American Dream. While that band pressed on its final tour in late 2006, Huffman and OQuin began writing new songs that became their first self-release, the 2007 live album/live DVD Kay Kay and his Weathered Underground Live From The Pretty Parlor (which landed them a performance on Last Call with Carson Daly) and their 2008 eponymous first studio LP. The latter earned a place on Alternative Press magazines Top 10 Albums of 2008 list and the young band toured with friends Portugal. The Man, among others. Kay Kay also performed that year at the Bumbershoot and Sasquatch festivals, and headlined the Capitol Hill Block Party in their hometown of Seattle, WA.
Kay Kay became known locally for their potent blend of psychedelic, orchestral pop and their boisterous live show that often included up to 15 members on stage. Their live reviews were glowing: The Strangers Line Out blog (Seattle) declared - Kay Kay and his Weathered Underground deserve every bit of praise and hype and love they have been getting, dropping a punk-rock Vaudeville vibe into their swooning, sweetheart compositions. The band does not seem like Seattle at all, and yet is totally Seattle, making them a treasure for this town and beyond - while Brooklyn Vegan called them - one of Seattles best bands. Their self-titled debut is clearly in love with the lush, baroque pop of the late 1960s and early 1970s: think The Zombies or Colin Blunstones first solo album, The Left Banke, and Harry Nilsson. The band operated as a collective of talent that rotated around the nucleus of Huffman and OQuin, relying heavily on cellist Phil Peterson (who also performs with Nada Surf and who recorded the Kay Kay releases at his home studio, The House of Breaking Glass), and featuring a host of prolific local musicians, many of whom studied at institutions like The Peabody Conservatory, USCs Thornton School of Music, and The New York Conservatory of Music.
Late 2008/early 2009, Huffman and OQuin wrote their sophomore release, Introducing Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground, and began tracking the album in Petersons studio. After the merry birth of Huffmans first child, the band was winding down the recording process when they left to tour with mewithoutyou in the spring. Kay Kay returned home that summer to the tragic loss of their renowned mentor, producer, and engineer, Tom Pfaeffle. It was a loss that sent a shocking and devastating wave of grief through the band and the Seattle music community.
Kay Kay mourned for months, and did not work on Introducing again until very late 2009. While finishing the tracking, Huffman added finished lyrics to some songs that written both after his son was born and after the tragedy. These new tracks took a more existential turn, dealing with panning for happiness in everyday life and just being alive. John Goodmanson (Death Cab For Cutie, Sleater-Kinney, Blonde Redhead) first took over the mixing, followed by Steve Fisk (Soundgarden, Minus The Bear, Beat Happening) in early 2010. The album was finally finished last summer after the band returned home from a national tour with Damien Jurado, where they both opened for him and played as his backing band.
An adventurous collection, Introducing - is a kaleidoscope of sounds, a musical stained glass window assembled with a calculated, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach. The album is filled with tales of bohemian urban discontent, and reigns in the grand, sprawling scope of their self-titled debut to work within a 3-4 minute pop song structure. Passionate record collectors, the record is rooted in Huffman and OQuins nostalgia for musicians past. Drawing the influences of Paul McCartney, Shuggie Otis, The Kinks, Chuck Berry, and Dr. Hook and The Medicine Show and takes their unrelenting psych-pop melodies to soaring heights and subtle nuance. Opener Sweet Strange Dreams sets the tone with its Beach Boys dreamy feel and playful yet languid atmosphere. Diggin floats on an easy 1970s groove and soaring carnival sounds, quickly followed by the plucky swing of Oh Lord, I Hate You California. Other highlights include the ragtime-infused, expansive and climactic Paychecks and Pipe Dreams and the lush, summery Worlds Entire. Sweeping strings and horn accents bow in and out throughout Introducing, while Huffmans versatile vocals range from an airy hush, to an arch croon, to a rich, clear tenor polished to the weathered patina of a dedicated musician.