Faustine Hudson: She Bangs!

Seattle's busiest drummer would still rather pick up the tempo than take it easy.

Faustine Hudson's schedule book is a reassigned 2008 agenda with each date painted over with Wite-Out and replaced in pen with the corresponding date in 2011. Each day is absolutely packed with shifts scheduled at one of her half-dozen jobs, band practices with one of the eight bands she currently jams with (both are ever-fluctuating totals), concert obligations, motorcycle-repair appointments, and so on. She has a full- or part-time schedule as a bartender at three different popular downtown bars (Lava Lounge, Hooverville, and the Pyramid Alehouse), fills in as a landscaper and preschool teacher during the day, and picks up shifts at Easy Street Records' West Seattle store, whose softball team she also plays for. After hours, she is a full-time member of the Young Evils and Whalebones, and also plays regularly or sporadically with local outfits Ghosts I've Met, Pearly Gate Music, Shelby Earl, Widower, Eugene Wendell & The Demon Rind, and Jet Sparks. Most notable has been the Young Evils' rapid ascent from demo tape to the brink of breakthrough success; the band recently landed representation from Curtis Management, which also represents Pearl Jam, and was invited to join the bill for PJ's 20th-anniversary festival, which they'll share with the Strokes and Queens of the Stone Age, among others, this weekend in East Troy, Wis. The gig presents a rare scheduling snafu that requires Whalebones to hire a substitute drummer for their Bumbershoot gig on Sunday. As Hudson flips the pages of her scribbled-over week while sitting at the bar of SoDo watering hole Hooverville, you might wonder how there can be enough time in any given day for her to accomplish all the obligations marked by bullet points in that little black book. At some point in conversation with Hudson, however, you'll realize that, like her homemade schedule book, she has built her life to her own specifications, making room for whatever she felt like doing whether there was room on the page or not. "I've never gone small," explains Hudson. "It's always been 'Go big or go home.' I put myself out there." "She's been very good about balancing," confirms Troy Nelson, Hudson's bandmate in (and chief songwriter for) the Young Evils, who also DJs on KEXP on Friday nights. Nelson—who'd been friendly with Hudson for years as "just Faustine" before he knew she played drums—says that while Hudson has grown to be a vital band member, he and co-founder Mackenzie Mercer first approached the situation cautiously, considering the daunting number of groups she was already collaborating with. "[In the beginning] we weren't going for it, because she was involved in too many projects, and we needed someone that was going to be a part of our band," he says. But when Nelson and Mercer heard that Hudson had parted ways with one of her more time-consuming projects (Chain and the Gang), her offer that "if you guys need a drummer, let me know," one night after a shared bill at the High Dive with Whalebones, proved too inviting to pass up. "We had one practice with her," remembers Nelson, "and we were like, 'Fuck. She is the best. We have to get her.' " He says that while he saw Hudson as technically sound, it was her natural feel for the music that made her so appealing. "She's more on the Ringo Starr side of the world, where it's loose but yet precise, and it's very organic. She's not a technician; she plays with feeling. That's about the best way to describe it." Throughout Seattle's indie-rock and folk scenes, Hudson's chops on the kit are also famously complemented by—or possibly even take a backseat to—her ability to conjure good spirits in almost any setting. "Having her energy in town, or even near me, makes me happy," gushes Visqueen frontwoman Rachel Flotard, with whom Hudson maintains close personal and musical ties. "Faustine has her own road, and she's driving a motorcycle down it at, like, a hundred miles an hour," she says, nodding to Hudson's recent purchase of a 1974 Honda CB 125 motorcycle. "I just really like her style." Hudson can trace her jam roots back 20 years, to the nights when her stepfather and his friends would reach the appropriate level of inebriation during their warehouse jam sessions to let Faustine, then 8, sit in on the kit while they played Pink Floyd covers. She would practice at home on a makeshift drum set (with a briefcase kick drum) obsessively, learning in those early days to lay down "the shuffle"—a simple blues beat which has become her gateway to a wide range of styles and enables her to be a quick study. "She can come in to practice, and she can learn a song within five minutes, and have it completely, perfectly down," says Nelson. "It can be a whole, brand-new song. It's kind of amazing." He recalls the time he gave Hudson a demo CD so she could learn their new material. "I had just started playing the chorus, and she just kind of fell into the new songs that we were learning, and she already had, like, a feel for it. And I noticed [her drum parts] were different from what I had on the home demos . . . but they worked even better, and I was so surprised at how good it was—and after practice we found out she didn't even listen to the CD that we gave her. She never does." The Young Evils hope to channel Hudson's efficiency when they head to New York this fall to record the follow-up to their acclaimed debut, Enchanted Chapel, with emerging producer Shane Stoneback (Vampire Weekend, Cults). Says Nelson: "We're going to have limited time; we're going to have to squeeze that in in, like, a two-week period." One has to imagine that a band with Faustine Hudson in it will probably make it work. music@seattleweekly.com

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