ED THANHOUSER just put the finishing touches on Lost Leader, the debut record from his new band, but he's more excited about the piece of merch he'll have at the record release show: pewter belt buckles with the logo of his band, Ed and the Red Reds. "I'm giddy. I'm pissing myself with excitement," says Thanhouser. "I'm a belt buckle fanatic. My brother tells me it's because I like people looking at my crotch. I don't know if I could totally disagree."
His enthusiasm isn't even momentarily dampened when I point out that no one will be able to see his buckle while he has a guitar strapped to his chest—as he will during Lost Leader's release show, which takes place at a piano repair shop. There, Thanhouser will lead a 14-piece band through songs from Lost Leader on a stage built out of pianos. "I'm not a fantastic musician," claims Thanhouser, who teaches at School of Rock and formerly served on the board for PDX Pop Now! "I play cowboy chords. Everything I do is fairly simple, but I'm super lucky and excited because all the people I play with now are killer musicians."
Credit is also due to Thanhouser's marvelous songwriting on the excellent Lost Leader, which sure-footedly wields country twang and psychedelic flair—as on the boot-stomping opener, "Story of the Sound," which dissolves in a bath of tape echo, done live in the mix on the vintage gear at Type Foundry with engineer Adam Selzer. "Adam and I, it turns out we work really well together. He likes to move really quickly and not get bogged down, [whereas] my impulse would be, 'I need to do that 300 more times until it's perfect.' He'd be like, 'No, I love that mistake. Trust me, you'll thank me later. It's a great mistake.'"
Meanwhile, Thanhouser, who's previously played in the band Winterhaven and currently plays bass in Celilo, is getting comfortable with the idea of leading his own band. "I still don't know," he admits when I ask him why the name Red Reds (it's worth pointing out Thanhouser doesn't have red hair). "Color names were in. My marketing team came up with it," he deadpans.
"No, I don't know. Red meaning the opposite of the blues—meaning pissed off, fiery, passionate."