Darjeeling Three Takes the Road Most Traveled

This Seattle trio doesn’t want to reinvent the indie-pop wheel; it just wants to make it less squeaky.

When Darjeeling Three drink coffee, they like to get close to the source. This explains why, when they commiserate at Stumptown Roasters near the Seattle University campus, they do so by the burlap sacks in the basement, where the beans are roasted."Fresh and pure—that's how we live our lives," says lead singer and guitarist Cody Lincecum, who shares a Squire Park rental home with his bandmates. "Amplifiers aren't our enemy, but there's just something about strumming an acoustic tune and singing from the heart."Lincecum plays a vintage Les Paul, as does bandmate Kyle Hart, the nephew of former KIRO-TV anchor Monica Hart. On drums is Randall "Sticks" Tosh, widely considered to be the finest percussionist to emerge from Bellingham's burgeoning "bro-funk" scene. The border-hugging college town is where the three attended Western Washington U., and discovered that the "key to rounding third base," as Hart puts it, was learning how to emulate the rootsy, mellow sounds of acts like Fleet Foxes, Pedro the Lion, and the Moondoggies.Darjeeling Three reserves its biggest reverence for America, a band Hart claims "was actually better than Crosby, Stills & Nash." The band also admires another critical whipping boy: the Eagles, who were accused of co-opting the poppiest components of '70s country and making billions off it.Says Hart, "They took what others did and improved it. That's what we're trying to do with the bands we love now. They've got a winning formula, and we want to win too. We'll just polish it a little and watch the royalties roll in."They've been well-received since moving to Seattle several months ago. A few weeks back, when Darjeeling Three gigged at Beta Theta Pi on UW's Greek Row, the reception among screaming coeds was tantamount to that of the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. Women—and some men—pawed at Lincecum's American Apparel tee, and Tosh totally got laid in the chapter room after the show."Some people play music because they feel like they need to," says the drummer. "I play for the pussy. Most people hate being lumped into a certain musical category or compared to a popular artist. We fucking love it, and we make sure our fans get exactly what they want."Get a few mojitos into Lincecum, and he'll serve up a slice of what he dubs his "forbidden mind fruit"—that deep down, his passion is ska music. "But ska doesn't sell," reasons Lincecum. "So that's not a path Darjeeling Three is heading down."Instead the trio will be embarking on a national tour in support of their soon-to-be-released debut LP, Three Way, an album chockablock with acoustic romantic confessionals and intricate harmonies. There's not a single track that isn't about relationships, and that's by design, says Lincecum."We write music that we know our fan base can relate to," he says. "If we were to write about Kyle's parents' divorce, who's going to get that? Only half of American marriages end in divorce. We're not satisfied with reaching half of our people. We want to make music for them all, on every track."The trio is especially excited that their first single, "Lather & Lace," is going to be featured in an upcoming episode of One Tree Hill, and feels that another track, "Here Kitty," would be "perfect for 90210," says Lincecum, who recently broke bread with the latter CW show's musical director, Liz Phair."Death Cab and Band of Horses made good money getting songs picked up by the CW," says Lincecum. "If you can make that kind of cheddar and get flown down to meet the chicks in the cast in the process, where's the harm?"In Bellingham, the band embraced the genre—bro-funk—into which they were swiftly pigeonholed. "Bro-funk to me just means sweet sounds," says Tosh. "We take it as a compliment, and now that we see it's brought us success, we try not to stray from its boundaries."The band will make its non-house-party debut this weekend in South Park at Ortega's Palace, a speakeasy operating out of a portion of the recently shuttered County Line which recently hosted a surprise acoustic set from Stephin Merritt of Magnetic Fields."I walked up to him after the show, and knowing what I've read about his prickly personality, really didn't expect to vibe with him," says Lincecum. "But he was totally down to earth. We drank chartreuse together for hours. Maybe he thought I was cute or something, but I just thought he was cool. Plus he put '69' in one of his album titles, which is totally on our level."Lincecum claims the key bit of advice Merritt gave them was to "whore it up early so you can do what you want later on." Hence, after the South Park show, the band doesn't plan on spending much time in Seattle. "Candlebox was from here, but they rarely played here. They took a lot of shit, but they were fucking huge," says Tosh. "Why would we play the Crocodile or Neumos when we can go straight to playing label showcases at the Whisky in L.A.? Makes no sense.""Don't get me wrong, we'll always rep Seattle, Bellingham, and Washington state," adds Lincecum. "Our roots will always be here. But we make music for three reasons: money, chicks, and fame. Whatever keeps us on the charts is what'll keep us going. But for now, we're just looking forward to our first in-studio at KEXP."mseely@seattleweekly.com

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