"Dock rat" is a pretty unappealing job title. While it's certainly not as bad as "head receiver," "crack inspector," or "erection supervisor," no one likes being called a rat. But local musician Michael Vermillion has so many duties at Seattle Seaplanes, it's just easier to use "dock rat" as an umbrella. Seattle Seaplanes, which provides aerial tours of Seattle and the surrounding area, is located on South Lake Union. There, Vermillion cleans planes, vacuums their interiors, and removes algae with a pressure washer. He has also patched the wings of a 1940s Stinson. "And I'm the gardener," Vermillion chuckles. "People are always saying the rose bushes look nice, and my boss will say, 'Yeah, our gardener takes care of those.'" Vermillion has been working at Seattle Seaplanes since the breakup of his old band, Vendetta Red, last year. In pursuit of a private pilot's license, he stopped by the place to see if there was a way he could work in exchange for flight time (pilots need a certain amount of hours to obtain a license). The owner, Jim Chrysler, was unsure, but invited Vermillion along on a flight to Kenmore for parts. "When we got back to Seattle, Jim said, 'Why don't you come by tomorrow and we'll see if we can get you a job.'" Since then, Vermillion's been working in exchange for flight time, and now that tourist season has slowed, he'll be allowed to fly the planes when they're available. If Vermillion wanted only to be a pilot, this would be a pretty sweet setup. But considering that he's a solo performer, a member of alt-country band Ghosts I've Met, a DJ at Havana, and a bartender at the Hopvine, Seattle Seaplanes offers the ideal setup for an overextended multitasker. "I come in whenever I want and make my own schedule," he says. "But I'm usually there from noon to 5 p.m."
Day Job is a look at how musicians pay the rent.