On the corner of Jackson Street in downtown Seattle is a little underground spot, Martyr Sauce. It’s a spot that probably not a lot of people have heard of, but on Friday night, this little known spot was a kickass place to be. It was the scene of the CD release of The Gemini.
The Gemini is the brain child of bassist Jeff Rouse. Jeff, who is a well-established bassist with Duff McKagan’s Loaded, and Seattle local band Bruiser Brody, also plays the role of the lead guitarist and vocalist for the Guessing Game. In talking to Rouse, he said “…the idea for the EP came from a tumultuous time in my life, and I was looking for an outlet. I started writing these songs right at the beginning of December of 2017. And as I finished the first song, I know it was something different that wasn’t going to work in The Guessing Game. So I had this first song I had started, and pretty soon I had these five songs that worked well together, but I knew wouldn’t work well with anything else I was doing. So, I just really wanted to follow that thought through. The juxtaposition of sadness and relief created colors and sounds that I had struggled to find in other bands.” The Gemini is a post punk, darkly colored, pop record that truly defines a moment in Rouse’s life.
In a nutshell, what was created is a complete masterpiece, with a who’s who list of musicians on the album contributing their talents. Artists like Keith Ash and Shawn Zellar joining the likes of Don Gunn, who contributed to the percussion and drums along with Barrett Martin playing on a track. Guitarists Ryan Waters, Gary Westlake, and Chris Walla all make an appearance on guitar tracks on the album, which features backing vocals provided by Kathy Moore and Jen Ayers. On this night Rouse, was accompanied by Ash on bass guitar, Waters on rhythm guitar, Shawn Zellar providing the amazing drum beat , and backing vocals being provided by Moore and Ayers.
Friday night was all about having an intimate time in an underground spot, making music with good friends and lovers of music. With a sold out group of just over 80 people in the space, it was at near capacity. During the first 90 minutes after the doors opened, it was just guests milling about having drinks, and socializing. As soon as the music started… the room fell silent to listen and feel the power of the music. The opening song of the night was the lead single “Fire!”. With a blend of sounds that cover multiple genres, from 80’s pop, pop rock, to heavy rock, this song nudges you at the beginning to let you know that it’s there. And when you haven’t answered… it kicks you in the chest with the chorus. Rouses’ haunting baritone vocals brings a feel of Depeche Mode mixed with the feel of The Cure. But, the chorus has a total AFI feel and momentum. Between each song, Rouse would explain how that song came about, and what it meant to him to have his friends able to perform on the album with him; right down to the Prince inspired opening guitar lick on the song “You Can Leave”.
This was a very intimate, and nearly musically spiritual night. This was not a normal show by any stretch of the imagination. This was a night that was all about serving the music. And on this night… the music was served.