REVERB: Visqueen: Defying All Labels

Rachel Flotard vows to deliver her band’s message, with an assist from her late father.

There's no shortage of ups and downs in Rachel Flotard's life. "One day I'm on Letterman backing up Neko [Case], and, like, the next day I'm at Safeway with coupons, trying to figure out what I can afford," says Visqueen's friendly lead singer. It's scenarios like that which make Flotard such a believable vocalist. Unlike certain rock frontwomen (or men) who seem as if they're playing to an image, with Flotard, what you see on and offstage aren't that far apart.Flotard's latest accomplishment is two-fold: Last month Visqueen not only released its stellar new album, Message to Garcia, to raves from around the country, but did so on its own label, Local 638 Records. Flotard started the label a few months ago, after tiring of trying to determine how to put out the new album. "I basically got frustrated and then decided that I might as well start my own label," she says over coffee at Zeitgeist Coffee in Pioneer Square. "It's like, why do I even need to sign with somebody else? So I began doing some research and looking into what it would take to start my own label, figured out the distribution aspect, and now we're up and running."Flotard named the label after her father's old steamfitters' union, Local 638, feeling it would be a good homage to her dad, who passed away last year. When she was younger, her father shared an essay with her, "A Message to Garcia," written in 1899 about a soldier given the daunting task of delivering a note to General García during the Spanish-American War. Asking no questions and getting no instruction on where to go, the soldier ventures out blindly and gets the job done. Flotard relates that experience to her days of schlepping across the country to get her music to the masses. She would call her father from the road, sometimes upset at the reality of how shitty touring can be, and her father would simply ask, "Are you delivering the message?"Listening to her latest album, it's overwhelmingly obvious she is. The 11 songs on Message to Garcia are perhaps the best the band (which also includes drummer Ben Hooker, guitarist Tom Cummings, and bassist Cristina Bautista) has ever written, showing growth from Flotard in particular. With studio help from members of the Fastbacks and the Long Winters and backing vocals by Neko Case, each song hits with the thump of a potential single. Although Visqueen isn't touring much behind this album until after the turn of the year, Flotard is taking copies with her to Cambodia and Laos later this year. The Visqueen message will soon be spread all over the world. Signed, sealed, and

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