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Seattle, Washington, United States | INDIE

Seattle, Washington, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Pop


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"Message To Garcia - Review"

Visqueen frontwoman Rachel Flotard pays loving tribute to her father (who passed away from cancer last year) with a magnificent album of big-hearted power pop that’s packed with catchy hooks and sing-a-long choruses. With Neko Case providing some heavenly harmonies and additional cameos from John Roderick of the Long Winters and steel guitarist Jon Rauhouse among other notables, the album brings plenty of star power, but it’s Flotard’s powerful vocals and sharp song craft that shine brightest. Power pop is rarely this poignant, or done as well as it is here. A lot of fine albums have come from the Northwest this year, but Message to Garcia is one of the very best. 9/16/2009 -Don Yates

"Message To Garcia - Review"

"Big-hearted woman from Seattle makes big-hearted tribute record to dad full of big-hearted power chords and open-throated vocals, catchy hooks and riffs, and poignant lyrics that put the following to shame: Neko Case, Belinda Carlisle, Heart… The Runaways. Impossible not to hear without major obstructions forming in the throat. Everything is major key." Everett True - Everett True - Plan B/UK

"Message To Garcia - Review"

"If its possible to top their excellent debut, Visqueen has done just that. The long awaited third album from one of Seattle's best bands shows a ton of growth with even catchier songs and really tight songwriting. Every song is a single. One of the best records of the year."
 John Richards, the Morning Show, KEXP - John Richards, Morning Show KEXP

"Message To Garcia - Review"

9/14 LIMEWIRE Album review: Visqueen – ‘Message To Garcia’ (Local 638)
Start a pop-punk band that actually rocks, and if you’re good enough, you may hear some Replacements comparisons. Add some killer hooks and startlingly astute pop songcraft to the mix, and all of a sudden you’re the reincarnation of Cheap Trick. And if your band also happens to be fronted by a woman, now you’re Heart, Pat Benatar, and The Runaways all in one. This is precisely the kind of critical praise that has been swirling around Message to Garcia, the latest full-length from Seattle’s Visqueen. Frontwoman Rachel Flotard doesn’t just have clear-as-a-bell, loud-as-all-hell pipes; she also has a knack for chugging guitar riffs and a sterling list of collaborators, including vocal contributions from her pal Neko Case and steel guitar from the amazing Jon Rauhouse. Conceived as a “rock and roll epitaph� for Flotard’s late father, Message to Garcia’s 11 songs roll by fast and sweet, but with sharp edges most definitely intact. The organ on “Fight For Love� is an inspired choice, as is the interplay between Flotard’s Go-Go’s/Kim Wilde guitar riff and Rauhouse’s pedal-steel flourishes on “Beautiful Amnesia.� Along with the piano-centric ballad/elegy “So Long,� this trio of songs form the album’s white-hot molten core (or, in the case of “So Long� itself, the creamy center). This is, without a doubt, a contender for the year’s best rock album. -

"Message To Garcia/Press"

"...the new release I am most excited about, Visqueen's Message To Garcia." Brooklyn Vegan - Brooklyn Vegan

"CNN - Calls MTG "Top 3 Rock Record Of Year""

Copy n' Paste - CNN/

"Rachel in Daily Candy" - DAILY CANDY - SEATTLE

"Current TV Music Blog"

As usual, a YouTube clip with overly compressed, streaming audio doesn’t do justice to a band as powerful as Visqueen. So take my word, you want to hear this live or on the album with some good speakers (made of wood, not plastic, jackass).

Quite frankly, I’m a little shocked you’re not already shouting along, pumping your fist, kicking over your desk, and setting fire to your coworker’s office in rhythm with Visqueen’s Message to Garcia. It’s fucking badass. Visqueen is basically a super-group made up of some of Seattle’s most ruthlessly talented musicians, and yes, I am well aware of the gravity of that statement.

It’s like someone blackjacked a drunk leprechaun from behind, put a knee on his chest, a knife to his throat, and a clinched fist around his tiny, lil’ magic balls, and said “listen here you little drunk fucker, I want to hear a band with a tiny but indomitable chick on bass, a drummer that sounds like five, a guitarist that can shred like Eddie Van Halen, but has the good sense and soul to know not to, and a hot lead chick with lungs that makes two out of the three tenors sound like they’re phoning it in,” and then, much like the Muhgal Emperor who blinded the craftsmen who built the Taj Mahal, he curbed the little pikey bastard so it could never be replicated.

But really… you don’t have this album yet? You’ve at least heard of Visqueen, right? Jesus fucking Christ, you’re killing me, kid. Well how about this, you know Neko Case, right? Well, ask Neko about Rachel from Visqueen. Oh, you don’t really know Neko, like know-know her? Well Rachel does. They sing together all the time. In fact, Neko sings backup on this album. Yeah, backup.

There are still a couple of months left in the year, but I’m more than willing to say this is easily one of the best rock albums of 2009. It’s blistering. At first it feels like straight up, balls to the wall rock, but then you realize it’s loaded with horns, strings, and pedal steal, among some other jaw dropping subtleties. What’s that? You never had your jaw dropped by subtleties, and you think it’s an oxymoron? Well, fuck you. You haven’t heard this shit yet.

And in case you’re wondering, it’s not just me. The album made Duff McKagen cry. KEXP, Seattle Weekly, Brooklyn Vegan, Limewire, The Seattle Times, The Stranger and tons more get it. Now you go get it. - CURRENT TV/Peter Grumbine


There's no shortage of ups and downs in Rachel Flotard's life. "One day I'm on Letterman backing up Neko [Case], and, like, the next day I'm at Safeway with coupons, trying to figure out what I can afford," says Visqueen's friendly lead singer. It's scenarios like that which make Flotard such a believable vocalist. Unlike certain rock frontwomen (or men) who seem as if they're playing to an image, with Flotard, what you see on and offstage aren't that far apart.

Flotard's latest accomplishment is two-fold: Last month Visqueen not only released its stellar new album, Message to Garcia, to raves from around the country, but did so on its own label, Local 638 Records. Flotard started the label a few months ago, after tiring of trying to determine how to put out the new album. "I basically got frustrated and then decided that I might as well start my own label," she says over coffee at Zeitgeist Coffee in Pioneer Square. "It's like, why do I even need to sign with somebody else? So I began doing some research and looking into what it would take to start my own label, figured out the distribution aspect, and now we're up and running."

Flotard named the label after her father's old steamfitters' union, Local 638, feeling it would be a good homage to her dad, who passed away last year. When she was younger, her father shared an essay with her, "A Message to Garcia," written in 1899 about a soldier given the daunting task of delivering a note to General García during the Spanish-American War. Asking no questions and getting no instruction on where to go, the soldier ventures out blindly and gets the job done. Flotard relates that experience to her days of schlepping across the country to get her music to the masses. She would call her father from the road, sometimes upset at the reality of how shitty touring can be, and her father would simply ask, "Are you delivering the message?"

Listening to her latest album, it's overwhelmingly obvious she is. The 11 songs on Message to Garcia are perhaps the best the band (which also includes drummer Ben Hooker, guitarist Tom Cummings, and bassist Cristina Bautista) has ever written, showing growth from Flotard in particular. With studio help from members of the Fastbacks and the Long Winters and backing vocals by Neko Case, each song hits with the thump of a potential single. Although Visqueen isn't touring much behind this album until after the turn of the year, Flotard is taking copies with her to Cambodia and Laos later this year. The Visqueen message will soon be spread all over the world. Signed, sealed, and delivered. - Seattle Weekly

"Flotard has New album : Seattle Post Intelligencer"

There's been a lot of talk about what makes certain men a 'man's man.' There are magazines, ideologies and many movies devoted to those of this designation: Playboy, Maxim, Esquire, Rambo, Bob Vila, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ultimate Fighting.

But what makes a woman a woman? And is there such a thing as a 'woman's woman?'

Pop culture complicates these questions. Take music for example. The women who seem to have the largest impact in terms of sales tend to be those that perpetuate sexual stereotypes. The sad truth is that sex is power, but it's also the lowest form of power.

"If you're not taking your top off, you're doing your own [crap]," says Rachel Flotard, a Seattle singer-songwriter whose musical experience gives her the credence to talk about women in the music industry. That said, her work with Visqueen and Neko Case certainly flies in the face of the traditional sex-is-power-equals-profits conclusion that seems to be the preferred standard for women in pop culture.

Now, Flotard isn't waving a pro-feminist banner. She's certainly aware of how the world works but she's not putting herself up to be the poster-child of a gargantuan cause such as redefining the feminine. She is, however, setting an example of all that a woman can be. And she's doing so with her Fender Supersonic tube amp turned up quite loud. Nevertheless, there's more than fierceness and volume defining Flotard.

"Rachel doesn't have to flip her hair, giggle or act cute," explains Lesli Wood, a spunky, self-assured singer that fronts the dance-punk band the Redwood Plan. "And she's whip-smart."

'Best records of the year' KEXP's John Richards regards Visqueen - which plays Ballard's Tractor Tavern on Saturday - as one of Seattle's best bands adding that their newly released "Message to Garcia," their third full-length "shows a ton of growth with even catchier songs and really tight songwriting. Every song is a single. One of the best records of the year."

All of which speak highly of Flotard as a person and musician. But what about as a woman?

Meeting her for the first time outside of a concert venue, the ginger-haired Flotard forgoes handshakes and prefers hugs. Her manner is light, easy and though her hands occasionally flutter as she tells stories, her gaze is always steady. Yet, before long, it's easy to see the depth lurking beneath her blue eyes. And though she's not quick to talk about it, there's also the sorrow, or "Tears of a Clown" as she describes it.

For most of the time that Visqueen has been a band, Flotard's father George Flotard has been her roommate. Sick with cancer, Rachel was his primary care-giver until he died 17 months ago.

"I count in months" explains Flotard, "because my niece--my sister's daughter--was born almost 3 weeks after dad died. So my sister was pregnant right up until the time dad--(she finishes with a vague gesture)--so it was the full-on circle of life: man goes out, baby comes in."

Almost a year and a half later, Flotard seems prepared and versed in talking about her father, whom she also considers her 'Number One Ace.' Still, she doesn't recount stories by rote; instead, she proceeds mindfully, respectful of herself, her privacy and her father's memory, even the difficult parts.

"(Visqueen's) always been agent-free and management-free. So everything we've done (tours, records, promotions) has been on our own steam. And you have to be pretty motivated and pretty relentless if you want it to move. It takes a lot of work and a lot of e-mailing and contacting and at a certain point, you lose steam. I was physically loosing steam trying to manage my dad and manage the band and make it all go forward."

"We kind of ignored his illness in the sense of how it was really impacting our lives. The second we admitted the fact that it was really horrible, it was almost too much to deal with."

A huge part of being in a band is performing. Since bands can only perform once a month on their own turf, touring becomes essential to growth.

"I knew in my heart I couldn't leave," Flotard explains. "I was kidding myself a lot because?" She trails off then draws a deep breath. "I knew there was no one to stay with my father except my sister."

Paternal influence The influence of Flotard's father is seen all over her work, from the title of the new Visqueen album "Message to Garcia" (named after an essay her father handed her and the only time he physically gave her reading material rather than suggesting it), to the record label that she started "Local 638" (named after her father's Steamfitter's Union, to which he paid dues up until his death).

"Local 638 Union was his identity," she recalls "where he felt the most useful and where he could make money to take care of his daughters. It just meant something in a sense where it was a strong house. And I want to build a strong house. Whether it's just me that lives there. It keeps him in my mind. It keeps him with me."

Consciously or not, Flotard also talks a lot about steam.

"I remember him saying something like doing really well at steam-fitting or being a top steam-fitter would be 'Big in the steam.' In fact, I remember when I was trying to figure out my music licensing name, I was gonna be 'Big in the Steam Music.' Maybe it's an older generational use 'Powered by your own steam' or 'Done on your own steam.' Maybe there is a correlation between steam-fitting and that expression. More or less, it sounds like a little pipe chugging along and getting it done slowly. Steam's not exactly the fastest element; it's not gasoline. Steam just feels tried and true."

His presence is also felt in her songs. Perhaps most vividly in "So Long," a tearful and eloquent pedal-steel farewell wherein Flotard's steam-filled pipes arch and wail "I'm gonna write while you're in bed/ Gonna see things for the first time with my own soft head/ I'm gonna tell them all about you/ What you did for me all of my life."

"He was a person that made me feel 100 percent safe," she explains. "As long as my dad was on the planet, nothing bad could happen to me. It doesn't make sense, that feeling of your parents protecting you but I thought it was real. When I would say 'Well, dad's taking care of me,' my sister would say 'You're taking care of him!' Our roles had completely flip-flopped. He weighed less than me when he died. Physically, he wasn't able to take care of me but it was this mental thing where as long as George Flotard was on the case, everything was going to be all right. And it always was."

At this point, Flotard gently repudiates the notion that rock-stars, with their platforms, microphones and legions of fans, are never alone.

"I think that's completely the opposite," she says. "That's what makes musicians, and some people that have that kind of fame kill themselves. That loneliness, even though they're surrounded by people. Look at Kurt Cobain or Janis Joplin or any of those people that you think have a million people around them and that they're well taken care of. They're not."

Flotard emphasizes that she doesn't put herself on par with the aforementioned, but uses them merely to illustrate her point, "Just because you play in front of people doesn't mean you're more loved as a human being, no way. It just means you can make more people smile, which is my job, the best part of my job!"

Offstage, she continues, "There's not much simple conversation you can have with people when they ask 'How you doing?' My answer is 'Great, I'm fine.' But when I went home, it was certainly not fine and not great. But I'm not going to complain about it."

Indeed, Flotard isn't one to complain.

Whereas singing with Neko Case seems a natural fit as both women posses deep, silky, winding voices and a predilection for impassioned, dynamic vocals along the lines of Loretta Lynn or Chrissie Hynde, the artsy, math-rock outfit Minus the Bear , is, on the other hand, more of a surprising though not entirely unbelievable pairing. Not to mention the jazz-based side project Jon Rauhouse Sestet, a six-piece of upright bass, drums, pedal steel, guitar, and piano that performs jazz standards as well as originals.

Her enthusiasm for work, however, reaches an apex with this story: "I got an email from a friend asking me to sing the theme song for the Hudson Valley Broads Regional Arm Wrestling League or BRAWL."

Here Flotard grips the arms of her chair as if anticipating her own effervescence is about to bounce her out of control, "They sent me the song and it's so Beyonc? and hilarious and there's a rap in it! I can imagine it as a Gwen Stefani/Moby kind of thing where I should have gold teeth and I'm gonna do it. I'm like 'Hell yes!' If I get to be the spokesvoice for the New York Chapter of female arm-wrestlers, consider me signed up!"

Leaning forward and softening her voice, she explains the zigzag nature of her career, "I hear harmony in almost everything. I can't help it. It's what I gravitate to. So if there's a song that someone sends me and I hear something in it, I can sing to it. I try to take that approach to different folks so I'm open to listening to just about everything. It's that same thing of putting together a puzzle."

As for her own work, "I'll get a nugget in my head--an idea for a song and a melody; I'll usually write some lyrics down, come into the practice space and [drummer Ben Hooker, guitarist Tom Cummings and bassist Cristina Bautista] help me shape it. In the old days, Ben would just metronome it out of me and give me a beat and then it would form. Nowadays, I usually have an idea of melody and guitar-line then I just puzzle-piece things together. It becomes like Sudoku or some kind of OCD puzzle as I try to make different chord patterns fit until it becomes a song and then you move onto the next one."

To hear Flotard tell it, it's difficult to not get swept up in her enthusiasm. It's also difficult to deny the notion that something or someone may be at work behind the curtains. But when asked if she believes in synchronicity, Flotard quips, "I believe in the Police!"

She laughs at her own joke then settles "I do. More than ever. Just that there's some greater mapping system. How many times have you said a person's name and an hour later they call you or you walk down the street and you see them? It's that kind of happy accidents."

"All I can do is put it forward and do a good job, do my best and see what comes back to me. So far, people have reacted beautifully to the record. It makes me well up! ... My father was such a worker and such a workhorse. He was always 'you gotta get a job, you gotta do this, you gotta keep going.' "

Besides a strong work ethic, the senior Flotard seems to have definitely instilled a clear sense of right and wrong, one that his daughter describes as "You don't hurt people; you fight to help the little guy. You stand up for yourself. You take care of yourself. Or at least you try" - Seattle PI


2002 - 7" vinyl "His Way"
2003 - "King Me" (LP)
2004 - "Sunset On Dateland" (LP)
2009 - "Message To Garcia" (LP)



Message To Garcia is a collection of Visqueen songs that represents a rock and roll epitaph to front woman Rachel Flotard's father. After garnering countless fans, reviews, and playing shows with everyone from Guided By Voices, to Cheap Trick, Visqueen appeared to be on the verge of conquering the world. All of that changed when her father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Their choice to be together for the duration of his illness would change her direction forever.

"A Message To Garcia" is an essay written in 1899 by Elbert Hubbard inspired by the Spanish American War. The story celebrates the initiative of a soldier who is assigned and accomplishes a daunting mission. He asks no questions, makes no objections, requests no help, but gets the job done. Voracious reader as Rachel's dad was, this is the only time he physically handed her something to read rather than just suggest it. Visqueen toured America in a van for months after their first record, King Me came out, and again with their follow up rocker, Sunset On Dateland. Focused and determined to make a go of the impossible, Rachel would call her Dad from the road each day. He'd ask if she was "delivering it". She knew exactly what he meant. And the only answer was "yes".

On April 7th, Rachel caught her dad's last breath in her hands in the Seattle home they shared since 2002.

Rachel Flotard has spent the last few years splitting her time caring for her father and working with Neko Case, lending her bold, original voice to Neko's recent albums Middle Cyclone and Fox Confessor Brings The Flood. Here, Ms. Case returns backing vocal favors on Message To Garcia, joining a spectacular cast of unusual collaborators from pedal steel wizard Jon Rauhouse, to The Fastbacks and The Long Winters.

The result? A gigantic sing-a-long record with gangs of handclaps, hooks that kill, and the exalted blessing of electric guitars and cello.

Produced by Rachel Flotard with her King Me cohort, Barrett Jones (Nirvana, Foo Fighters), Message To Garcia is the debut album on Flotard's new independent record label, Local 638 Records, inspired by her dad's New York City Steamfitters union.


"Every song is a single. One of the best records of the year." - JOHN RICHARDS, MORNING SHOW, KEXP

"...the new release I am most excited about, Visqueen's Message To Garcia." BROOKLYN VEGAN

"Big-hearted woman from Seattle makes big-hearted tribute record to dad full of big-hearted power chords and open-throated vocals, catchy hooks and riffs, and poignant lyrics. Impossible not to hear without major obstructions forming in the throat." EVERETT TRUE, VILLAGE VOICE, PLAN B MAGAZINE

"This is, without a doubt, a contender for the year�s best rock album." LIMEWIRE

I listened to this CD last week on a drive through the mountains with my band of four grown men. "So Long" is an epic ode to heartbreak and heartache that silenced a car full of over-caffeinated men and perhaps drew a tear or two. Rachel Flotard and her band have written one of the best records that I have heard in a while. Period.

Quite frankly, I�m a little shocked you�re not already shouting along, pumping your fist, kicking over your desk, and setting fire to your coworker�s office in rhythm with Visqueen�s Message to Garcia. It�s fucking badass. Visqueen is basically a super-group made up of some of Seattle�s most ruthlessly talented musicians, and yes, I am well aware of the gravity of that statement. - PETER GRUMBINE/CNN/CURRENT TV

"If Visqueen were a major label baby band, modern-rock radio stations would be all over this record like static cling. King Me is royal fun, a high-speed, sugar 'n'steel picnic from start to finish."

"Truth be told, though, my favorite local bands right now is Visqueen — a female-powered anthem machine that transcends all the categories: gender, genre and region. Do not miss the group's excellent Sunset on Dateland.'"

"Visqueen front woman Flotard is the human incarnation of the Energizer Bunny. Nonstop stories pour out of the New Jersey native."
NPR, All Things Considered

"Visqueen A power-pop trio buoyed by the gleeful union...With sparkling harmonies and towering Les Paul riffs, it's no wonder they've shared bills with everyone from Cheap Trick to the Donnas."

"In 2009 Seattle's Visqueen remain a bright planet in the power-pop universe where Cheap Trick are God and Kurt Cobain is Jesus. At the helm: Rachel Flotard - she of the angelic voice, red locks, and rediculously entertaining stage banter - who'll lead her band through a set of their signature sunny racket and face punching melodocism."

"When Visqueen took the stage before the New Pornpgraphers, they single-handedly pumped up the room full quiet, quasi-hipster Seattle-lites,who couldn't resist bouncing around to the catchy, energetic music. Yes kids, it's t