Ouch My Eye

Chattanooga, Tennessee, June 2006: Gatsby's American Dream pull their van into a gas station off Interstate 75. Their roadie, Kay Kay Dargerson, gets out to fill up the tank. He picks up the nozzle, and a mosquito lands on his sweaty outstretched forearm. It's 103 degrees, and Dargerson is about to have heat stroke. He pumps the gas and studies the mosquito as it sucks his blood. Seeing the mosquito filled with his own blood flying off into the sky mesmerizes him. It's the last thing he sees before the heat overtakes him and he falls to the asphalt.

When Dargerson comes to, Kirk Huffman and Kyle O'Quin from Gatsby's have poured water over his head and are slapping him about the face. They are wearing only their underwear. Groggy, Kay Kay asks, "Why are you in your underwear?" O'Quin (still slapping him) responds, "Kirk was showing me a new song in the trailer; it's too hot in there for clothes." They place a bag of ice on the back of Kay Kay's neck, he's revived, and a new band is born.

Back in Gatsby's van, Huffman stares out the window and snaps out of a daze. They hadn't stopped for gas, and they didn't even have a roadie. There was a mosquito bite on his arm, though.

"We wanted something different to be the centerpiece of the band, so we came up with this fictional character, Kay Kay," says lead vocalist and guitarist Huffman.

For the rest of Gatsby's tour, Huffman and O'Quin brainstormed ideas and came up with seeds of songs. Back home, those seeds sprouted into Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground—a big, weird, happy family that came together to flesh out a symphony of psychedelic pop and rock songs.

When Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground take the stage, they can be up to 17 people strong. Tennis Pro and Nada Surf cellist Phil Peterson conducts the strings. His sister, violinist Victoria, is married to horn player Robert Parker. "Big" Thomas Hunter from Forgive Durden, who toured with Gatsby's, is on guitar. Huffman's wife, Racheal, sings back up, and the Lashes' Nate Mooter plays bass. Captaining the drums is the esteemed Garrett Lunceford, also seen in the Catch and the Divorce (R.I.P.). Seattle clothing store proprietress Anna Lange is the den mother, providing the threads, and running the sound is Nirvana engineer Tom Pfaeffle.

On February 19, the Seattle band will celebrate their self-titled, self-released, full-length debut, a four-sided vinyl affair. Familiar harmonies and progressions weave in and out of the entire record; parts of songs reappear. Lyrics flow in and out. The last song, "All Alone," goes from Tim Burton sing-along stomp into a Revolver guitar dervish, ending with a melody from the album's first song, "Hey Momma," and Huffman simply singing the word "love."

The fourth side is a manic 12-minute remix of the entire record. Sounds are played backward. Kay Kay is having a flashback: He's at a childhood playground where he fell off the merry-go-round and cracked his skull. Here in the memory, the scene is reversed like the sounds on the record. Kay Kay falls back onto the merry-go-round, and the accident never happens.