Whoa, what’s this “formerly of the Fastbacks” business? Does that mean the legendary pop-punk band bassist Kim Warnick played with for nearly 25 years has actually broken up, or that Warnick just left the band?
Both, actually. The redoubtable Fastbacks, longtime power-pop ace up Seattle’s flannel sleeve, played their final show last February, apparently imploding (though amicably enough, it sounds) after Warnick announced her departure the month prior. I can’t believe I didn’t hear about it at the time, and boy do I feel dumb for just finding out now. I also can’t believe the Fastbacks actually could break up. They seemed nearly indestructible. They went through something like 10 drummers in their two and a half decades on the Seattle scene. It seemed that like cockroaches, there would be no wiping them out.
But Warnick had been pulling double duty for some time—fooling around on the side with Ben Hooker and Rachel Flotard, survivors of another, previously-imploded pop combo called Hafacat. Such was the chemistry, Warnick told a Seattle Weekly reporter earlier this year, that she eventually decided to make a choice, and it wasn’t the Fastbacks. And so ended another Seattle era.
The Fastbacks were one of those bands that were around forever, that everybody liked, but that never got as huge as they really deserved. Happily, the fledgling band that Hooker and Flotard asked Warnick to join belongs to that same excellent, lesser-hyped tradition of exceedingly clever, razor-sharp Seattle pop typified by the Fastbacks and their friends and contemporaries in Pure Joy, Flop, and the Young Fresh Fellows. Visqueen, I’m thrilled to report, has inherited a healthy amount of musical DNA from the Fastbacks. And their debut album, King Me, has been cleaning up with the critics in publications from the skate-happy Thrasher to stodgy old Rolling Stone (where it got a glowing review from hack’s hack David Fricke, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers!).
King Me has got the sweet-and-sour bite of the Fastbacks at their finest, swimming in hooks and a cool vocal interplay between Flotard and Warnick that recalls—not surprisingly—the sexy harmonies of Warnick and former Fastbacks bandmate Gargiulo. And, like the Fastbacks, Visqueen has got a way with a clever turn of phrase: “You and me,” Flotard sings on King Me, “we’re mutual like Omaha.”
I’ll miss Warnick’s old band, but the wit and wisdom (not to mention the pop-craft) live on in Visqueen. After almost 25 years with the same band, it must be kind of nice for Warnick to feel like the Fastbacks have replaced themselves on the planet.