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Get on your Skates

Finding Your family-friendly fun muscle

Skates are a Seattle-based pop-punk band featuring former members of The Redwood Plan.

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There are some bands that telegraph what they're all about before you even listen to their music. As a person who's professionally written about music for almost six years, it's become a sort of game to figure out what the band's all about before even hearing their stuff. By far, metal and emo bands are the easiest to spot from name alone. This leaves the mystery of certain bands' names as the constant thrill that keeps the hunt interesting, for me. What if I told you I was writing about a band called Skates? What if I told you they sometimes like to throw an exclamation point (Skates!) in there?

Skates is a band formed almost on a whim, formed from the ashes of the recently defunct Redwood Plan. Frontwoman Lesli Wood made a move basically akin to Queen vowing to not use synthesizers on their album, or like Joe Jackson nonchalantly making the decision to not include any guitars on an album, except to the most extreme degree: Wood ended one band and formed another in one month, based on just one name alone.

"The Redwood Plan disbanded last summer because my guitarist's wife got a job in Portland, Maine," says Wood. "While we were all mourning the loss of the band that I had for six years, I decided that I was gonna start something new. I booked a whole tour and booked us a debut show for a band called ‘Skates.' I hadn't put together a lineup for the band, I hadn't written any songs, but I thought that it was gonna work out fine. So, immediately after The Redwood Plan show, in July, I put a call out to some friends. The band actually features two other members of The Redwood Plan."

As it is, Skates feature Betty ST and Larry Brady, of The Redwood Plan, as well as newcomer Stormi King. For those that missed The Redwood Plan's epic run, the transition between bands will go unnoticed. However, the differences are small but significant. Where The Redwood Plan was a jittery fury of dance-punk, Skates finds its comfort zone with surfy pop-punk, almost in the same vein as fellow Seattleites Tacocat. Gone are the squirrelly synthesizers and panicked vibes, now replaced with Skates' analog surf-pop.

"I wouldn't have gone in this direction with The Redwood Plan, because there were different tools for that band," says Wood. "Skates is a little bit of a relief for me, because the music isn't quite as intense as The Redwood Plan. And no offense, because I would've been in that band forever. ... Skates is about being carefree, and having fun, and no fucks given. ... We play pop music. We plug in and everybody has a good time. It can be kind of difficult to get Seattle audiences to dance or smile or acknowledge that the band is playing. We've had a really great response of people looking like they're actually enjoying what's happen. It's a real surprise."

The Redwood Plan, as I wrote about before, was dedicated to getting all of the South Sound's sorry asses out onto the dance floor and shaking all of the insecurities out of them. From what I've heard of Skates (or Skates! if you're nasty) there's more of a mood of creating totally lovable, '90s-indebted surfy pop-punk. If you don't get up and dance, it's not because your legs can't do the work - maybe you've been absent from fun so long that you don't know how to access it. Skates are here to loosen those fun muscles.

SKATES, w/ Hot Cops, Deep Creep, Wimps, 9 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 24, 4th Ave Tavern, 210 Fourth Ave., Olympia, $5, 360.786.1444

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