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Thursday, November 21, 1996 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Sound Check

Talkin' About Willis: Band Plays Rootsy Pop Music

Seattle Times Staff Reporter

Who are Willis?

Tim Seely, 19, acoustic guitar, mandolin, lead vocals. Student at the University of Washington.

Diarmuid Cullen, 19, drums, percussion, Irish tin whistle. Studying jazz at Cornish.

Max Perry, 18, fretless bass, backup vocals. Student at the UW.

John Low, 19, piano, organ, accordion. Student at the UW.How they got together: "We've been together for about two years. We met in high school (Blanchet). We got fed up with a lot of the music we were hearing and we kind of wanted to do our own thing. We started out parodying music . . . from there, we came up with our own sound. Diarmuid is the only trained musician in the group. The rest of us taught ourselves how to play. That leads to our original sound. We're bound by the rhythm section Diarmuid lays down."How they describe their music: Rootsy pop sound. Seely explains: "We go along the lines of the basic pop sensibilities of music. Diarmuid's got a unique drumming style; that adds a new twist. The focus is on the power of the song, and songwriting. We don't like to go off and do jamming. We stick with a pop song format."What they're all about on stage: "High energy performance, really tight." The band wears suits on stage. "Bands have kind of lost the entertainment aspect of performing. It shows audiences that we're serious with what we're doing. Dressing up kind of gets us into the mindset that we're about to perform."Some of the songs they play: "Reason For A Rake": "Being open to change because you can't fight it."

"January 36th": "Trying to find excitement in life . . . getting sick of the same old same old."

"Broccoli McGee": A relationship gone bad. "It's about a girl who dogs this guy; he gets revenge in the end. Most of the other songs revolve around the same kind of idea: dysfunctional love."

"Bunny Maker": "It's a story about a guy who meets a beautiful girl and he's amazed her main goal is to assemble stuffed bunny rabbits. A story about how things aren't always how they seem."

Where did the band name come from? The name of a character from the 1980s TV sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes."Their musical goals: "We'd like to have a long career doing what we're doing . . . we're always open to a big record deal. This is what we want to do, so it's not just a job to pass the time."Future shows: 10 p.m. Sunday, Owl 'n Thistle; 9:30 p.m. Nov. 29, Sit & Spin.Are you in a local band? To be considered for Sound Check, send a cover letter about your band and upcoming gigs, the name and daytime phone number of your contact person, a tape and photo to Sound Check, Seattle Times, PO Box 70, Seattle WA 98111.

Copyright (c) 1996 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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