Tonight the Seattle Rock Orchestra and a plethora of local musicians from bands like Exohxo, Hey Marseilles, With Friends Like These, and more will play the Arcade Fire's debut full-length record Funeral in it's entirety. As a 70+ piece orchestra. With brass and woodwinds and strings and everything.
Holy shit, it's going to be epic.
Exohxo open the show, and in this week's Underage I spoke with the band's singer/guitarist Jasen Samford about rehearsing with the orchestra and hearing it all come together for the first time*. (Read that here.) I also got in touch with Scott Teske, the conductor of the Seattle Rock Orchestra, who took time from all the arranging and rehearsing to answer a few questions about the SRO and this ambitious project:
How long has the Seattle Rock Orchestra been around?
The SRO began as idea in the summer of 2008. I thought about it for months before it came to fruition. Then in November my friend and former sea.mine band-mate Ian Bell came to me with his new band's album, the Black Swedes' "Tempest," on which he had a string quartet perform. For our first show I adapted the quartet parts for string orchestra and that was the start of it. From there it just took off, with each show getting more and more ambitious. Since we started performing at the Fremont Abbey I feel we have really hit our stride. It's the first venue we've played in that has the space and acoustics to fully realize what I set out to do last year.
Why did you (and the Rock Orchestra) decide to cover Funeral? What is it about that record that is intriguing?
I chose Funeral because it is one of my favorite records. Definitely one of those "desert island" albums that I couldn't live without. I wanted to put on a show that everyone could could get excited about—myself, the performers and audience.
How many performers will be involved?
For this show there are 58 in the orchestra, plus another 13 with the guest vocalists and Exohxo. So 71 total. This will mark the first time we have had a true symphony orchestra, both in terms of size and instrumentation. All the families of instruments will be represented: strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion. I am excited because this is the first time we have used bassoon, trombone or tuba.
If this goes well, do you think you'll do anything like this again, with other records? (I can think of a dozen more I'd LOVE to hear get this treatment....)
I absolutely intend to continue this trend. For our next show we will be covering the songs of David Bowie, mostly off of Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust, plus a few other tunes on other records. I also really enjoy collaborating with local artists, so you will continue to see us share the stage with Seattle bands. I am really excited to perform with Exohxo; Danny and Jasen have been amazing to work with, both as the songwriters of Exohxo and the backbone of the Arcade Fire tribute band!
Finally, I heard the show is sold out. Do you think there might be a few tickets released at the door?
Yes, I believe all presale tickets are sold out, and there *maybe*, and yes that's maybe with a big asterik, a handful tickets at the door. For those that are searching for tickets, they can signup on a waitlist for tickets on the Fremont Abbey's blog at fremontabbey.org.
So it sounds like David Bowie is next. That should be good. What other bands/records/songs would you love to heard the Seattle Rock Orchestra play?
(*I was also very drunk when I wrote the column because not only did I say Exohxo's new record is self-titled when it's actually called Other Ghosts, but I also said the band was an eight piece, when there are really only seven members. In my defense, I was just really, really excited about tonight's show and could hardly sit still in my chair, let alone keep my facts straight.)