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Seattle's Visqueen: 'King Me'

Visqueen is the waterproof plastic sheeting Homeland Security czar Tom Ridge wanted Americans to put over windows to protect against anthrax. Now, it's the name of a band from Seattle that pairs two young musicians — guitarist Rachel Flotard and drummer Ben Hooker — with one of the city's older and best-loved music figures, Kim Warnick. Marcie Sillman of member station KUOW has a profile of the trio.

Sillman says Visqueen front woman Flotard is the human incarnation of the Energizer Bunny. Nonstop stories pour out of the New Jersey native, like the one about driving down a Seattle street, thinking about where she'd find a bass player. One literally pulled up next to her.

It was Kim Warnick, who had spent the last 20 years as the lead singer and bass player for the Fastbacks, a legendary Seattle band with an intensely devoted following.

At the time, Warnick wasn't looking to join a new band, but she was so impressed with Flotard's songs, she says she couldn't turn down the chance to play in the new band.

"It's weird to think I did that," says Warnick. "To actually do something as radical as quit something you've done half your life, it's a pretty big deal. But it wasn't scary. It would be scary if I wasn't sure I really wanted to do it. But I was sure."

Now audiences see the 44-year-old rock veteran backing up Flotard, who was just 8 years old when Warnick co-founded the Fastbacks. Flotard says she loves having Warnick's experience on stage and in the studio.

"Kim really has been my rock encyclopedia," she says.

Dave Rosencrans is a curator at the Experience Music Project and a former staffer at the seminal Seattle grunge label, Subpop Records. Rosencrans admits Warnick's the reason he first paid Visqueen any notice. Now he's a big fan of the trio. Rosencrans says Visqueen reminds him of such bands as the Ramones or the Undertones. But he doesn't want to pigeonhole the group.

"I think the best bands throughout rock at any period are the ones that have songs you can remember," Rosencrans says. "And it doesn't matter if they're dressed up as prog rock or punk rock. It doesn't really matter. The songs they write are insanely catchy, there's hooks galore."

Visqueen's big challenge now is to get its music out beyond the Pacific Northwest. The group has just finished a swing through the Northeast, playing clubs and hawking its CD, King Me. The band hits cities throughout the South and Midwest on the long drive home to Seattle.

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