Actionesse: Post horn core

by Brent Cole

After The Gypsters returned from a tour in 2014, the band decided it was time to call it a day and move onto different projects. The band’s sound had progressed and changed enough that it felt like a different project, they hated their name and, according to bassist Paddy Moran, “Some members wanted to do other things with their lives,” adding, “we weren’t those people anymore.”

It was around this time that Paddy, who’d drummed in The Gypsters, suffered a “weird” collar bone injury that made him unable to play drums anymore. A bassist by trade, he picked it up and connected again with Ian Reed and Joel Kenworthy from The Gypsters.

As summer turned to fall they connected with Jimmy Colvin, a local drummer who they quickly clicked with. By January of 2015, the band was back playing live, making their debut at the Alt Library (their Railroad location). Those days Actionesse was a five piece, though, guitarist/keyboardist Phil Kaltenbach moved to Illinois in October of 2017.

But, as is often the case for Bellingham bands, it came time to move to the big city and over the course of the next year, one by one the members of Actionesse made the move to Seattle.

With the move long in their rear view mirror, Actionesse has been putting their time in the Seattle music scene. “It’s been really good – the biggest thing that presented itself,” said Paddy of the move, “was a need to put in your dues. In Seattle, because there are so many places to play, there’s kind of an unspoken tier system you kind of have to climb.” He added, “Certain places will accept bands who’ve played no shows in Seattle. Other places won’t talk to you unless you’ve played in town for a year. We have consistently tried to reach the next rung, though, It’s not like a success or popularity thing, it’s more for fun.”

Actionesse returned to a five-piece this past August with the addition of Olivia Guinn on baritone sax, who Joel had met through different marching bands in Seattle. “She really loved their music and is all about what we’re doing,” Paddy said enthusiastically. “The band is so precious, we’re really overjoyed to bring a new person on. She is totally down for the ride and always has good ideas. Olivia is coming in as a new person but it’s a simultaneous thing – fitting in well but helping us grow.”

Olivia came on just as the band thought they were done writing, having completed the second to last song on a new album which is scheduled to be released this spring. The band ended up revisiting the songs, rewriting them to add Olivia’s parts while also reworking the songs from their last EP, rerecording with new drums, some new vocals as well as Olivia’s parts.

Along with releasing a new album, the band will be touring for two weeks, hitting major cities in Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Idaho with a special home show. This will be the band’s third major tour, hitting the road each of the last two years.

Paddy believes hitting the road is not only a good time but important for a band. “I think playing in front of a lot different audiences, you figure out about being consistently good and tight. Take that home and practice a lot to get a consistent sound and consistent level of performance. It’s what people expect at some level.”

With a new album and tour on the way, Paddy reflects, simply, the importance of music for the band. “If we didn’t have any music, I’d go insane,” he said with a laugh.

Catch Actionesse at The Firefly on February 16. For more about the band, see or follow them on social media.