Philip Dickey named his band Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin by accident, and he said it’s one of the best and worst ideas he’s ever had.
On one hand, the name is a mouthful and it has engendered its share of detractors.Yet it’s also memorable and even earned them a weeklong trip to Moscow, Russia earlier this year, where they met with some of the real Boris Yeltsin’s friends, played before a huge crowd and came away with a stash of vodka.
“It was the weirdest week of my life,” Dickey said. “Everything was super surreal. We played (Yeltsin’s) favorite song on national TV. We did a press conference, which we never did before. We played at this elementary school and watched these little Russian kids go cross-country skiing at recess. It was a crazy week.”
The shy-guy indie popsters from Springfield, Mo., are back from their “diplomatic mission” and are hitting the West Coast for a tour. They stop by the Tractor Tavern tonight with Army Navy and Hibou.
SSLYBY has some strong Seattle connections. Chris Walla, the omnipresent producer and Death Cab for Cutie guitarist, produced the band’s 2011 album “Let It Sway,” and the band has toured with Lonely Forest (from Anacortes) and Telekinesis.
“It was the best,” Dickey said of working with Walla. “He was the best. That’s all I can say. He knows how to make a winner, make classic sounding albums.”
It’s that classic sound that SSLYBY strives to perfect. Even on this year’s back-to-basics “Fly By Wire,” recorded in guitarist Will Knauer’s home studio, the band channels the kind of thoughtful pop that The Beatles might have made in its earlier years — if those years started in the 21st century.
But if SSLYBY doesn’t get the kind of international fame that The Beatles enjoyed, Dickey said that’s okay with the band.
“I think we’ve kind of given up on the idea of being hugely popular,” he said. “Instead we’re kind of focused on the idea of being obscure, but like in a good way where you can still got on tour. We definitely enjoy flying under the radar.”
Dickey and his band better watch out. If they keep creating such carefully considered, lush introspections like “Young Presidents” from “Fly By Wire,” they won’t be able to keep a hold of their relative anonymity for long.
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Army Navy, Hibou
8 p.m., Wednesday at the Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. NW; $10 (206-789-3599 or tractortavern.com)
-Owen R. Smith, on Twitter @inanedetails