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Bizarre trailblazers

Tacoma’s Spectacular Optical are making noises like no one else in town, but not just to be different

SO FRESH AND SO CLEAN: Spectacular Optical like to huddle in the shower when they’re not experimenting with pop.

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There’s being different — just because you are. Then there’s being different for the sake of being different — which, to me at least, seems like a far less admirable thing. In many ways, it’s almost playing it safe.

Tacoma’s Spectacular Optical — new on the scene, and with Tacoma School of the Arts ties (like so many of T-town’s emerging music makers) — are definitely different. But they’re not doing so just to be cute, or draw attention to themselves.

They’re different because it fits them. In a town like Tacoma, strikingly barren when it comes to the experimental pop music that’s become a staple in indie-chic hotspots like Portland, a band like Spectacular Optical is a breath of fresh — if not slightly bizarre — air.

“We don’t want to play music to be different,” says Spectacular Optical keyboardist and singer Rocky Marks. “We want to play different music because that’s the music we like.”

Though the easiest way to classify this band would be “experimental pop” — that description is almost too simple and too complicated at the same time. Yes, the music Spectacular Optical makes defies convention, and is — by definition — experimental — but that doesn’t mean you can’t listen to it without a Master’s Degree.

Simply stated, by Marks and Spectacular Optical guitarist Cole Meyers — both of whom have histories in Tacoma’s music scene — the band’s goal is to take all of the super weird, yet catchy, elements of pop music, and meld those elements into one, strange, unorthodox, yet intriguingly catchy sound.

So far, although it’s early and the band has only existed for a few months, it seems to be working. Spectacular Optical has been appearing on bills all over town as of late, and on Saturday they’ll plug in at Bob’s Java Jive for a show with Eel Eater, French Dad, Best Supporting Actress and Fuck You Safari.

It’s all part of the band’s plan to win over Tacoma, one set of ears at a time — even if it would be easier to just pack up and move to Portland. Though, at times, the band’s Tacoma plan has been slow to develop — Meyers and Marks do see progress.

“We’ve been trying to get around,” says Marks, of the band’s efforts to play as many shows as possible and create a space for experimental pop in Tacoma. “It does feel like people are starting to be receptive.”

“In certain senses we fit and don’t fit,” adds Meyers. “The Tacoma scene has its little niches. We want to carve our own niche.”

It seems they’re doing so, one strangle little whittle out of the Grit City status quo at a time.

Formed in the sparse parking lots of Tacoma, relinquished by the city to the hobos and highwaymen, this volatile trio of teenaged troubadours are out in pursuit, a conquest of the ears! Spectacular Optical ride the frigid Washingtonian nights in pursuit of musical divinity, but find themselves lost and stranded in the basement with nary but a decrepit Epiphone and their wits about them.

That’s the band’s MySpace bio, in case you didn’t realize — and it may just sum up Spectacular Optical better than I ever could (or it might just be a fine display of verbiage that I was too weak to deny).

Bottom line: it seems the band is here to stay.

See for yourself Saturday at Bob’s Java Jive.

[Bob’s Java Jive, Spectacular Optical with Eel Eater, French Dad, Best Supporting Actress, Fuck You Safari, Saturday, Dec. 12, 8 p.m., $5, 2102 S. Tacoma Way, Tacoma, 253.475.9843]

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