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Wiscon, Pushing and Pulling at Seattle's Musical Boundaries

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Wiscon's enigmatic keyboardist Paul Morgan. Wiscon plays the Highline on Capital Hill Jan 12th. Doors @ 9:30pm
Wiscon's enigmatic keyboardist Paul Morgan. Wiscon plays the Highline on Capital Hill Jan 12th. Doors @ 9:30pm.

Local indy band Wiscon is part of Seattle’s newest wave of bands injecting the music scene with vitality. While watching them live at the Funhouse, I wrote string after string of ever changing descriptors. Every song showed a different aspect to the band. I scribbled words, oftentimes more than once, in an attempt to quantify their sound. Here is a brief list of those words: modern, pop, punk, industro, synth, and – many, many times – catchy. My best, or at least closest, phrase was “ultra-catchy synth pop punk.” Yet, it doesn’t do Wiscon’s diverse and eclectic sound real justice. At times, I heard an unrepentant, straight-forward punk driven sound coming through loud and clear. At other moments I found myself swept away on a kitschy, but undeniably catchy, riff. It was this interesting musical diversity that led me to hunt them down for an interview.

The band, named for a rather large (and fairly horrifying) vat of processed cheese dip sold at only the worst of establishments, is bassist Aaron Morgan, keyboards and backing vocals Paul Morgan, drummer Alex “Ruprecht the Disheveled Cornbeef Cowboy” and vocalist Taryn Ren’e Dorsey (also drummer and backing vocals for local band NighTraiN), and was a long time in the making. Like many bands of its ilk, Wiscon started as friends (Aaron, Paul, Alex)  jamming away for fun. From that point the band saw a lot of change, slowly coalescing into form. The defining moments for the band came when they ditched the guitar and added frontwoman Taryn to the lineup. Sick of the dominance of guitar driven bands and “noodley solos” , the band moved to keyboards for inspiration. It’s a move that paid off. As they simply stated to me when sitting down for the interview, “we’ve been thrilled with the sound ever since.”

Wiscon @ the Highline on Capital Hill Jan 12th. Doors @ 9:30pm P- (206) 328-7837
Wiscon @ the Highline on Capital Hill Jan 12th. Doors @ 9:30pm P- (206) 328-7837

Getting a straight answer from the members of Wiscon is like expecting a member of the 1% to happily pay their fair share of taxes. It just isn’t going to happen. This fun-loving group, all in their thirties (some more than others) are as enjoyable to be around as they are to see on the stage. Some of the more obscure and random answers I received to my line of questioning were  “through the power of magical Lucky Charms” or “…by the sacrificing of goats” but through it all I could see the glimmer in their eyes, the good chemistry between them. When explaining the content of their songs the band cites the Sci-Fi and Horror genres as major influences. That, interwoven with real life experience, makes up the core of their songs’ wide subject matter. When asked about personal influence, the range was as amazing as it was interesting: director John Carpenter, actress/model/singer/goddess Grace Jones, musicians – The Exploited, Klaus Nomi and Tom Waits, punk icon GG Allin and extreme performance artist Ron Athey.

This “bacon and beer crew” were quick to throw out props to those who have given them a hand: local music store Georgetown Music, Zeeks Pizza (for treating them like rock gods) and the taco cart. No, I don’t know what taco cart. But that’s part of the magic of Wiscon. You never really get the whole joke. And that’s their appeal. To get a taste of their sound, check them out here.

Wicon’s next show is Thursday, Jan 12th at the Highline in Capital Hill. Doors open at 9:30pm. If you’re smart you’ll find yourself there.