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May 22, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Seaweed, the pride of Tacoma, resurfaces | Concert preview

Seaweed

Seaweed, from left: Clint Werner, Aaron Stauffer, Jesse Fox, Owen Atkins, Wade Neal. Photo by J.H. Wortley.

Tacoma’s lone entry in the next-Nirvana sweepstakes, Seaweed were never the center of attention — but were always nearby, like Waldo if he traded his stripes for flannel.

From 1989 to ‘99, the quintet, headlining Vera Thursday, recorded five LPs — three for Seattle’s Sub Pop, one for North Carolina’s Merge, and one for the Disney-owned Hollywood Records.

They appeared on the soundtrack to the slacker classic “Clerks,” in the grunge documentary “Hype!” and even had a video, “Kid Candy,” below, critiqued by Beavis and Butt-head.

Touring 23 times, they logged over a thousand shows — from small club gigs with peers Superchunk and Quicksand to big-ticket fests with Green Day and Candlebox.

Those golden days are gone — but in meeting bassist Owen Atkins and guitarist Wade Neal for after-work pints in T-Town’s no-frills Hilltop district, it’s clear Seaweed remain local heroes.

During the interview, numerous friends and acquaintances stop by the table to say hello — and the bearded barkeep asks if they’d be into donating a signed 8×10 photo for the bar’s rock’n’roll wall of fame.

“Of course!” Neal and Atkins exclaim in unison.

The band built its name on this can-do attitude — and a brash, tuneful sound that synthesized metal, punk, emo and alternative rock.

“We were in the elevator at Sub Pop headquarters once,” Neal remembers, laughing, “and this guy was like ‘oh yeah, Seaweed… Fugazi Osbourne.’”

Adds Atkins: “We were maybe a little too pop for the serious punks… too metal for the indie rockers. Some people didn’t get it or like it… but those who did were a mutant, diverse group.”

Following a trifecta of well-received indie outings, Seaweed’s one-and-done big-label debut “Spanaway” arrived in 1995. Citing underwhelming sales, Disney dropped the band — but they got the last word with 1998’s hard-nosed return-to-form “Actions and Indications.”

Although singer Aaron Stauffer, guitarist Clint Werner and drummer Jesse Fox have since left Tacoma, Seaweed continues to exist in fits and starts. 2011’s “Service Deck”/“The Weight” seven-inch is its latest release; its last Seattle show was in ‘09.

“We’re a group of men who play music together on occasion,” says Neal, an intellectual property attorney by day. “You can call us a band, if you wish.”

“When you say ‘men,’ that sounds like adults — which we’re definitely not,” jokes Atkins, who works as a fundraiser for clean-energy solutions. “Well, we actually are… but these shows are like time travel back to when we were kids.

“We found kinship in creating music that we loved… and the minute we get together, we immediately transport back to how we were then.”

6 p.m. Thursday at The Vera Project, 305 Warren Ave. N., Seattle; $20 (206-956-8372 or theveraproject.org)

Comments | More in Rock/Pop | Topics: Sub Pop, Tacoma, The Vera Project

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