The Pleasure are huddled up in the back of bassist Christopher Baumann’s Ford Econoline, drinking beer and waiting for Cat Piss Sewing Machine to finish their bunker-rock set inside the Eating Cake gallery so they can go back in and discuss the running order of the four-band bill. The average age of the crowd inside looks to be in the high teens, and then only because a handful of old coots like me have skewed the mean away from its natural 16. Members of CPSW recently interviewed the Pleasure—Baumann, drummer Gary Jimmerson and guitarist/vocalist/main songwriters Jacob Eide and Jamie Henkensiefken—for a feature in the Big Sky High School student paper, the Sun Journal. This, taken together with the all-ages designation of the “Save the Cake” benefit unfolding in the equatorial humidity within, might explain why I’ve been walking around feeling like someone’s dad making a pathetic attempt to seem down with the kids.
“We weren’t aware that this was a benefit show,” Baumann says, “but Cat Piss Sewing Machine asked us and we said we’d do it. I guess we’re pretty hot shit at Big Sky right now, but then, I guess kids at Big Sky aren’t really exposed to too many rock bands or anything. It’s a weird minor celebrity thing.”
Of course, minor rock celebrity in Missoula comes with its own set of internal checks and self-correcting mechanisms. For one thing, it’s tough to look too famous when you’re seen off the rock-clock bussing dirty tables at your day job. All the same, the Pleasure’s reputed popularity at Big Sky raises some relevant questions about who plays for whom in Missoula—and why. While the peach-fuzz phalanx mills and mingles inside waiting for the main attraction, the question naturally arises: What do the Pleasure see themselves as adding to this scene, and to the Missoula scene as a whole ?
“I can’t say ‘Oh, we add more melody to our music’,” says Baumann, “because there are tons of bands in Missoula that have a lot of melody. And I can’t say ‘Oh, we just play pop songs,’ because there are tons of bands that play pop songs.”
“But even our pop songs, I think, have fairly unique arrangements between the four of us and the parts that Jamie and I add,” Eide breaks in. “We never double our guitars, so there’s always something different happening even though we never really play any solos, either. It’s mostly just filling out the harmonies and trying to find unique ways to arrange pop songs.”
“I don’t see us trying to add anything or persevere in any way in relation to anything else going on in Missoula,” says drummer Jimmerson. “We’re just four people listening to different things who all bring it to the practice space, and it shines through, you know?”
Yes, Gary, but ask almost any local band and they’ll tell you as much: They’re just friends who like to get together and make music. Obviously, that’s where it counts. But it’s doubtful that anyone in a band here or anywhere else goes around unmindful (deluded, perhaps, but not unmindful) of how their music is perceived by a real or hypothetical audience. Or, more to the point, how band members would like to have themselves and their music perceived with respect to the scene and its bands. And everyone has his or her own ideas about what “making it” as a band entails.
“I can see that,” says Jake, “But at the same time I don’t think it’s ever been at the forefront of our minds, what kind of niche we’re going to fill.”
“It doesn’t matter to me at all where we play,” says Jimmerson. “If we have the opportunity to play someplace, we play there. And when I say I’d like to make music my 9 to 5, I don’t necessarily mean my source of income. I mean that when I wake up, I want it to be the reason why I woke up. I want the main focus of my day to be spending more time on it to get better at what I’m doing.”
“What comes next in the song,” Baumann adds, “That’s what we think about.”