If Rachel Flotard were a fruit she wouldn’t be a jicama, especially if her tastebuds have any say in the matter. The animated singer for Visqueen jokingly almost gagged after her first bite of the bland, nearly tasteless root fruit and bland and tasteless are definitely not words to use when describing the vivacious Visqueener and her band’s latest record Message to Garcia.
Flotard wrote the album while she was caring for her father who died of cancer and although death loomed over the creation of what turned out to be one of the best local releases of the year, Message to Garcia isn’t a downer of a record. Garcia’s message is as far removed from depression and sadness as the fiery red color of Flotard’s hair is from the pasty white hue of a jicama. It’s an inspiring and uplifting album that packs a mighty musical punch in the form of 11 songs that are as fun and spirited as they are emotional and heartfelt.
Flotard will end her 2009 in Seattle at the WaMu Theatre Tuesday night when Visqueen opens the sold-out Deck The Hall Ball, the annual holiday concert hosted by 107.7 The End (KNDD). Visqueen is the only local band on the six-act bill that features a crop of buzzed groups (Vampire Weekend, Phoenix, Metric, 30 Seconds to Mars) and one big-name headliner in U.K. trio Muse. Previous Decks have seen the likes of Death Cab For Cutie, Modest Mouse and other notable locals grace its holiday stage so playing the commercial radio event could be a pivotal point in the band’s 10-year career.
The concert will be Visqueen’s last of many high-profile local shows this year. The band debuted almost all of Message To Garcia live at Bumbershoot one day before the record was released, played a benefit show for The Service Board at the Crocodile last month and packed The Tractor Tavern opening for Shonen Knife in October. While the exposure from Deck will likely help raise the profile of Visqueen, the band will have to wait until next year to see whether it will find a national audience. This is not due to the concert happening so close to the new year. Ten hours after Visqueen finishes its set Tuesday Flotard will be boarding a plane making its way to Asia. She’s spending two weeks abroad where she will spend time helping install a floor at an elementary school in Laos.
I caught up with Flotard last week and we discussed her band, Message to Garcia, her upcoming tip to Laos and shared our first encounters with jicama. Here’s a snippet of the conversation we had over a lunch that included granola, yogurt and, you guessed it, some jicama.