Not Pixies! No Gaga! Just Posse

Learning the fine art of compromise.

The Situation I'm at Bimbo's Cantina on Capitol Hill sharing a pitcher of Rainier with the guitar-rock trio Posse: singer/guitarists Sacha Maxim and Paul Wittmann-Todd and drummer Jon Salzman. Posse hasn't had a bassist since theirs left for law school a year ago, and they're not looking for a replacement. "I thought [Sleater-Kinney] were, like, conversing with each other with guitars," Maxim says of the bass-less band. "That influenced me a lot."

How They Got Here A couple of years ago, Maxim and Wittmann-Todd met at a show at the Wildrose, bonded over Yo La Tengo, traded phone numbers, and started playing together, although they both admit they were wary of each other at first. "I just thought Sacha was a really tough lesbian," says Wittmann-Todd. "She had, like, a Skrillex haircut."

"It was like Flock of Seagulls!" Maxim corrects.

Salzman, an old friend of Maxim's, was living in Philadelphia at the time; he was a guitarist and trombonist who'd never played the drums, but after hearing a demo of Maxim and Wittmann-Todd, he moved back to Seattle to join their band. "Sacha bought me a $50 drum set," he says.

"Hey, hey, hey," Maxim interjects. "It was $80!"

Shop Talk Posse's chugging pop-rock songs and Maxim and Wittmann-Todd's traded vocals, as heard on their self-titled record released earlier this year, have garnered them a lot of comparison to some of their '90s alt-rock favorites.

"What's annoying about it is . . . If I were to hear someone refer to another band being like the Pixies, I would automatically be like, 'Well, fuck them, I'm not gonna listen to them,' " says Maxim. " 'Cause nobody's better than the Pixies."

"You want to have more freedom than that," says Wittmann-Todd. They each just recorded a separate Smog/Bill Callahan cover—"Jon texted me and he was like, 'I'm recording a Smog cover,' " says Wittmann-Todd. "And I was like, 'Really? I'm gonna do one too!' "

"They're all about one-upping each other," says Maxim.

BTW: The band's been playing out a lot lately, including one family event—Maxim's mom recently hired them to play a party celebrating Maxim's sister's graduation and her dad's 60th birthday. As a surprise, they covered the Beatles' "Birthday" for her dad, and, for her sister, Lady Gaga's "Americano." "Man, the face that Jon made when we were practicing the Lady Gaga cover," says Maxim, pulling the corners of her mouth down into a sad face. "It was priceless."

"Never again, Sacha," says Salzman.

"Yeah, I have certain principles for rock and roll that I'm not going to violate," says Wittmann-Todd.

"Oh, fuck off," says Maxim.

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