Second Hand Suits: Bellingham’s own fuzzy garage revivalists
article by Nikko Van Wyck
photo by Jonathan Williams
Bellingham constantly has an influx of new arrivals among old friends leaving for new ventures, and with the inevitable ebb and flow of students comes a corresponding ebb and flow of performing bands in town. The Second Hand Suits, close friends who came together south of Seattle, have seemingly found a way to step outside of the normal tides of our city, and with it have crafted a two-piece group that has revived the sounds of Bellingham’s earlier garage and punk years.
The project consists of Nick “Brother Stripes” Evans and Anthony “Brother Hounds” Navarro, both of whom are originally from Renton where they met working at a pizza shop. Quickly becoming friend, they eventually relocated to Bellingham for the “blossoming opportunities of jobs, beer and crashing college parties.” When they first relocated, they started a punk band, which led to the slimming down and birthing of The Second Hand Suits.
The brainchild of Anthony, he proposed starting a “fuzzy, primal two piece” with Nick, whose prompt response was “hell yeah.” According to Nick, the group has a wide range of influences, drawing inspiration from bands like The Hives, The White Stripes and The Sonics, and “on top of that, with Anthony being pretty much the only drummer I’ve ever played with has helped make us as tight as we are. We know each other’s playing style like a science and that adds a lot of confidence.”
What sets The Second Hand Suits apart, aside from having just two members, is that they’re a two-piece that consists of not guitars and drums, but bass and drums. Layered with thick distortion, they use up-tempo beats and searing, driving bass lines to create a highly energetic and engaging performance.
“It’s all about the performance for us. That’s the fun of playing live,” Nick said. He continued, “The most rewarding part of playing to me is a room full of people dancing and having fun. The fact that it’s just the two of us does help because we really do feed off each other’s energy, but more than helping I’d say being a two piece requires us to put on more of a show.”
Writing isn’t a problem either, according to them “practicing and writing are definitely easier…we also like to utilize every moment we have in the practice space so it’s pretty productive. It is a huge help that we don’t have to coordinate five peoples schedules.” Though this doesn’t come without it’s own set of limitations. According to Nick, the band had to adjust, “we don’t really have the option to add interesting sub melodies or a supporting rhythm” but, “we’re all about keeping it simple.” The formula works, and it’s turning heads around town.
With their inescapable drive, the tunes that this two-piece are cranking out are definitely reminiscent of the days of the 3b and the pre-remodel Cabin Tavern. Raw, talented, and unafraid of taking risks, Anthony and Nick have found a way to harbor an energy that only close friends who consume equal amounts of beer, rock n’ roll and pizza could.
Following up with all of their chemistry and hard work, it’s great to see them on the verge of releasing their first full-length album, Persona, due out digitally on Halloween.
According to Anthony, they’ve “wanted to release something you would’ve seen off Estrus back in the day. Coming out of Bellingham, it felt appropriate.”
Check out the band at The Swillery on Oct. 29. For more information, see their Facebook page at facebook.com/TheSecondHandSuits.
Published in the October 2016 issue of What’s Up! Magazine