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Seattle's Wild Orchid Children are locally-grown and globally-inspired

OFF THEIR DOMES: Wild Orchid Children will be back in Tacoma next week. Photo courtesy of

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Mere weeks after their last Tacoma appearance, Seattle's Wild Orchid Children are set to return to town, where, presumably, they'll dole out mind-melting jams with typically persuasive pizzazz. The six-member band has perfected a recipe for psychedelic rock that's wholly unique - and derives, at least in part, from the sum of the players' previous and ongoing musical side-projects (Gatsby's American Dream, Kay-Kay and His Weathered Underground, Forgive Durden). But Wild Orchid Children lead singer and drummer Kirk Huffman  however hopes the band's musical heritage doesn't lead people to assume they're necessarily head and shoulders above the rest.

"All the best acts in Seattle are pioneering their own thing," Huffman says, "so we're just a brick in the wall, just a different colored brick than the rest, and while we don't feel like we've earned any sort of legacy status locally or elsewhere, that isn't to say that we could imagine this band existing without the heavy, heavy influence this city's music community has had on us."

When listening to Wild Orchid Children's high-potency, hard-rocking tunes, at least one halfway-decent comparison springs to mind: now-defunct Olympia outfit Tight Bros From Way Back When, who similarly assembled a roster out of various other bands' members, and sought to make music so ecstatically visceral that it demanded head-thrashing and air-guitar playing on the part of its listeners. Unlike the Tight Bros, however, WOC have expanded their sonic palette to nearly unthinkable proportions, embracing a kitchen-sink mentality that's won them throngs of admirers and led them to casually share bills with Seattle hip-hop heavies like They Live!/Mash Hall and Champagne Champagne. Such seemingly-incongruous matchups are all part of what Huffman calls Seattle's "broad reciprocating web of musicians." He believes that WOC's bombastic psych helps energize the crowds at hip-hop gigs, and says the band is flattered to regularly be offered the opportunity to do so.

"We feel super gracious that the best up and coming hip-hop scene in the country - yes, Seattle - has been really welcoming to us."

For critics and casual fans alike, Wild Orchid Children provide ear candy that's as hard to categorize as it is easy to groove on. The band's sound has been referred to as everything from blues-rock to psychedelia to punk and, yes, hip-hop, too (Huffman stresses that WOC are more about referencing hip-hop than taking inspiration from it - "Ahead of Us the Secret" gives a nod to a chord progression from a Ghostface Killah cut, for example). The band's sound incorporates traces of almost every musical style under the sun; it's no wonder Huffman calls them "a world music-inspired rock band." 2007's four-song The Elephants EP alone includes hair-metal riffage, massive choral harmonies, spastic drumming, backwoods acoustic tinkering, pan-global percussion, and megaphone-distorted vocals.

A key reason for The Elephants' refreshing eclecticism is there weren't any managers or label execs breathing down the band's neck during the recording process - in fact, the whole thing was banged out over the course of one psilocybin-soaked weekend. Total independence equals zero accountability. For Huffman, there are pros and cons to being a self-operated (and truly DIY) band.

"It's a full-time job for me and can be insanely stressful, but we're earning enough money to keep these projects up and running ourselves while touring, and that's crazy to think about ... at the end of the day it's our shit and we put the stamp of approval on it, so we should be there to back it when we have to shake a hand or two."

But the band's long-awaited full-length, The Wild Orchid Children Are Alexander Supertramp, may mark the twilight of their absolute autonomy. Huffman intimates that the band is close to reaching an arrangement with an unspecified label for global distribution, which would bring the swaggering, psychoactive band one step closer to (musical) world domination. But until the world bows to their amp-straining rawk, there is Tacoma, where WOC will no doubt play a smattering of new material (some of which you can hear now on their MySpace page). Expect epic jams, and lots of improvised insanity. As Huffman says, Wild Orchid Children are really about two things: the live show, and the band "going about, off of our domes."

Wild Orchid Children

With:  From the Sea (CD release), Tallest Tree, and Photon Pharaoh

Thursday, May 13, 9 p.m., $5

Hell's Kitchen, 928 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.759.6003

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