Auto Inspiration

Thaddeus Turner finds musical ideas anywhere, starting with his new band's name.

First things first: Thaddeus Turner does not drive a Cadillac. He used to, which is how he arrived at the name of his latest project, Thaddillac. "It was a black '92 DeVille sedan," he says of his former ride, which earned him the nickname, "with peanut-butter guts and a hole in the head" (translation: a brown interior and sunroof). But cars aren't what fuels Turner anyway—music does. Growing up in Mount Baker, Turner was born with music in his DNA. His father was a church pianist and his mother sang in the choir. He got his first guitar at age 9, but it wasn't until junior high that he really got interested in playing. Taking inspiration from a pair of important musicians in his life—his bass-playing older brother Gerald and Jamar Jenkins, legendary in the late-'60s/early-'70s Central District soul scene—Turner locked himself away in his bedroom and learned every Prince and Morris Day song he could get his teenage fingers on. Honing his chops in a variety of bands, Turner built a reputation as a formidable local musician. After he joined Maktub in the late '90s, that funky, soulful five-piece became a mainstay of the Seattle music scene. Yet even after a record deal and national exposure, the band has gradually faded after a decade's popularity—particularly since frontman Reggie Watts moved to Brooklyn to perform more comedy. Also, Turner has grown tired of how much of Maktub's work has become administrative. "I don't think people realize how much not playing music is involved in playing in a band," he says. "There was a lot more business stuff—signing CDs, contacting labels, booking agents, et cetera." After so many years of collaborating in a band, Turner wanted his next endeavor to have a more personal stamp. Thus Thaddillac, a laid-back soul and R&B project for which he wrote the songs on 2009's Fleetfoot Broham. What inspires him? Turner says ideas often strike him anywhere, even behind the wheel, he explains: "One day I was just watching the windshield wipers going back and forth, and then I turned on the blinker. I took that idea and turned it into something." At Artopia, Thaddillac will be performing as a seven-piece, with Turner singing and playing guitar. You'll hear songs from his debut LP and a hoped-for 2012 album. One of the latter is "Sarah Brown," about a heroin-addicted stripper looking for a sugar daddy. Another new tune references conspiracy theories about a looming global cataclysm, which Turner isn't sure is pure hooey. "Some of the signs are leading me towards it," he says. "I mean, this is some pretty crazy weather we're having in Washington state." Thaddillac appears second on the Artopia stage, preceded at 7:30 p.m. by the Sons of Warren Oates, featuring members of Ballard country-rock favorites the Maldives. Closing the night will be Charles Leo Gebhardt IV, a lo-fi garage rocker whose new record, Begin Again, is one of the best local releases of the summer. And Turner expects you to dance to his set. "I want people to get up off their asses and boogie," he says. "We played Fremont Fair, and there were a couple of kids who boogied their butts off the whole time." Just don't tell them about the impending apocalypse.

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