With the traditional Apple Cup rivalry heating up again, don't blame members of local Seattle band Massy Ferguson for riding the fence.
It just so happens that the group's allegiance is divided straight down the middle.
The four-piece band with equal Husky and Cougar ties will play an after-Apple-Cup show at 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, at the All-American Sports Bar and Grill, 4333 University Way N.E.. Local groove-rockers The BGP will also be on the bill.
"In all reality, we just thrive on getting people together," guitarist Adam Monda, a Washington State graduate, laughs. "The fact that we are half Huskies and half Cougars, it's a friendly rivalry with us. A lot of people out there are really serious about it, though. Who knows what they'll think of us, they might turn over cars and fully riot."
Massy Ferguson consists of Dave Goedde (drums) and Monda (guitars/vocals), who hail from Washington State University; Ethan Anderson (vocals/bass) is a University of Washington graduate and Jake Dodge (violin/guitar) currently attends the UW.
Monda says that this is the group's first Apple Cup as Massy Ferguson, and jokes that the only reason that the band will survive the show is that the Cougar and Husky football teams may well be battling for last place.
"This year's Apple Cup will have the special significance of not really mattering at all. If you were to turn the Pac-10 standings upside down it may be a little more interesting," Monda said. "It would be nice for the Cougs to win two years in a row, though."
Massy Ferguson is essentially a side project born from two Seattle bands that have enjoyed modest success locally, Vast Capital and Fragile Jack.
Vast Capital, for whom Anderson and Dodge last played, released its debut album "What More Else ..." in March 2004 and quickly received small-time radio attention nationally at stations in places like Punta Gorda, Fla., and locally on 103.7FM, The Mountain. In 2004, the band opened for Eddie Vedder and members of Pearl Jam during a CCFA (Crone's and Colitis Foundation of America) benefit at The Showbox.
Fragile Jack, featuring Goedde and Monda, both 35 years old, started playing as students at Washington State University in the early-mid 90s.
They named their group after a mock-band Monda's older brother had put together in the 80s as a joke. Fragile Jack went on to be named the Seattle Weekly's "Best Local Band" in 1996 and have a song, "Ground Speed" featured in a Polo Jeans Commercial. Acclaimed producer Rick Parashar (Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains) helped produce their third album, "Thirsty Work."
Anderson and Dodge didn't meet until 2004 when the 29-year-old Anderson and Vast Capital went looking for a violin player. Dodge, 25, who also currently works for the University of Washington, fit what the band was looking for and the two of them have played together ever since.
"I liked the band and I liked the guys in the band, so we jammed and that was that," Dodge said.
Massy Ferguson classifies its music as American rock, part Tom Petty but also part Modest Mouse. Their original tunes like "Bent" and "Take Down the Company" have a '70s Americana feel, in the vein of The Band or the Allman Brothers, whereas another original, "High on Life" captures the vibe of the late Elliot Smith.
The songs came about when Monda and Anderson, who both work day jobs at the Wallingford Boys and Girls Club, decided to try writing together and incorporating other musicians. Monda calls the finished product, Massy Ferguson, not just an unlikely combination of two Washington universities, but of two styles as well.
"Me and Dave write a real rootsy rock tunes, where as what Jake and Ethan were playing in Vast Capital was more indie/groove," he says. "In a way, we are a reflection of the two places we went to school."
"We have a wide ranging sound that is really interesting. It really runs the gamut on what we are trying to define as the American rock sound," he added.
Massy Ferguson has recently made their sound even more "wide ranging," adding local keyboard player Tony Mann, who will perform with the group at the All-American Sports Bar and Grill.
No matter the outcome of Saturday's game, Massy Ferguson will embrace their differences in schools and styles to prove that even on the Apple Cup game day the cross-state rivalry should be a friendly one.
Buck Wiley is a local freelance writer and head of Buck Wiley Entertainment. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org