With 2 previous critically-acclaimed albums, King Me and Sunset on Dateland, already under their belt, 3 is the charm for Visqueen’s brand new album, A Message To Garcia. Fronted by the dynamic, whip-smart and hilarious Rachel Flotard, the power-pop trio makes an art of great songwriting that boasts more hooks than a fisherman’s tackle box.
In a city like Seattle, where the number of local bands equals the annual number of raindrops, Visqueen is almost as iconic as the Space Needle. But it’s been a few years between albums. Why? Rachel’s musical schedule was hugely curtailed while she cared for her terminally ill dad, a life-long steamfitter who died from prostate cancer in April after a long and valiant battle. A Message to Garcia is a devoted daughter’s tribute to the late George Flotard, and he would be very proud indeed.
Readers with a soft spot for the Pacific Northwest’s musical gene pool, may already recognize Rachel as one of Neko Case’s back-up singers. She provided vocals on Neko’s albums, Middle Cyclone and Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. Rachel’s riveting charisma flew off the screen on a recent Neko Case Letterman appearance, a year and eight days after her dad’s passing. On Message Neko backs up Rachel, and can be heard on 5 of the album’s 11 stellar tracks. “Every song is a single,” says John Richards of KEXP, “One of the best records of the year.”
No stranger to hard work, Rachel started a label, Local 638 Records, another nod to her dad, to put out Message. I had a few questions for Ms. Flotard, and she was gracious enough to answer in her own unique way.
CD: What took you so long to get this album out? I’ve been hearing bits of it for, I think, it’s been 3 years!
RF: I know. Sorry about that. For the last several years I was living with the coolest prostate cancer patient on the west coast, my dad. I juggled music and his care until I couldn’t do both anymore. Timing wasn’t right to put out an album, even though I wanted to pretend it was. Hence the bits you heard, and trying to keep my band-hat on while my nurse’s uniform was getting too tight.
Now that I’ve had time to breathe after losing him, it all makes total sense. Visqueen is, and has always been, independent. It takes focus for me to make it move. Today I have the strength and motivation of 10 dads.
CD: How did you decide to start your own label rather than signing to an established one this time out?
RF: Releasing the new album on my own schedule and terms instead of waiting for the miracle label situation (which doesn’t exist, by the way) to reveal itself, was essential. I’m happy I made the decision to take this on. It fits the way I work. It can be as big or as small as I want it to be, because “established” doesn’t mean “wiser route,” “proven theory” or even “resourceful thinking.” The music business can sometimes feel like an industry packed with Chicken Littles who need safe bets and low cherries. Lucky for me, my cherries don’t touch the ground.
CD: How did you first meet up with Neko?
RF: She’s been stalking me pretty hard for a long time. I think she wants a piece of my caboose in the worst way. You’ll have to ask her the real story because I’m still trying to figure it out. It involves Minnie Mouse gloves and deep fried tomatoes, I’m sure.
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