∆ Josh Starkel + Kyle Veazey, better known as Duke Evers, are a killer guitar + drum duo based out of Seattle, and they will be kicking off Capitol Hill Block Party on Friday, July 25th at Barboza at 7:30pm. The two pull off a shockingly gigantic stage presence, and their passion for the music that they create seeps through every audio wave they send traveling out into the universe. They are hands down one performance at CHBP that you don’t want to miss. [Buy tickets to see them at Block Party here]
In preparation for the wonderful madness that is Capitol Hill Block Party, Duke Evers provided a delicious playlist of music they’ve been jamming. I also met up with Josh + Kyle at The Comet Tavern for a beer to talk about Craigslist, Skee ball, and their music, of course.
So how long have you guys been together? …Well, not together, but you know what I mean?
J: Well, let’s see here. This is always the question, isn’t it? Kyle and I have been playing music together for about 2 years. But we’ve known each other a little bit longer than that. Kyle put out an ad on Craigslist for a roommate, so we moved in together randomly. We were both in bands at the time. I only responded to the ad because of what he wrote on the ad. It was like, “Hey, we’ve got musicians and servers; we’re up late and we party.” They didn’t even have a picture of the room, but it was the only one that I responded to. I grew up on the East side of Washington in Spokane, so I didn’t really know Seattle that well. I ended up talking to Kyle about 50 times over the phone on the way because I had no idea where the fuck I was. He was trying to explain to me and I was thinking, man this guy probably hates me. I’ll never forget, I walked right in and Kyle had Led Zeppelin blasting - that’s my favorite band. They have been the band that I have listened to and tried to learn the most. So I came in, and Kyle was playing Led Zeppelin and he was like, “Want a beer?” and I said, “You want to go buy a case of beer?!” And he said, “yeah!”
And then I just never left.
J: We lived together for months and knew the other played music, but we never jammed or anything like that. Kyle had this little kid drum set, like you buy at Walmart or something, and he was like, “Hey man, is it cool if i keep this in your room since you have a big room?” I said, “Yeah, I can handle a drum set in there.” Then one day, I was trying to put my own band together because I quit my old band, and I was hanging with this one guy and he wasn’t very much fun. I was like, “yeah, let’s play this riff!” and this guy was doing his own thing. Then Kyle pokes his head into the room…
K: So I open the door and I say, “Hey man, I hear you jamming and that riff is badass! I’m going to hop on the drums, is that cool?” So, then we started jamming. The other guy - we forgot he was even there! He was just playing shit, doing his own thing - we just kept jamming.
J: It was like musical love. It was like musical time stopped. Right then and there, we were like, “Fuck everything else.”
We had a bass player playing with us for a while, and the second we came up with a song, we told him, “We have to be a band immediately!” But then he got really scared… Kyle and I knew it was going to be hard to find someone else who wanted to do this as much as we wanted to do this.
So do you guys need a bass player? Because I thought you guys kicked ass without one!
J: We’re not opposed to having a bass player - we love bass lines! We’re a sucker for a tasty bass line. I love them! But at the same time, once we realized we could do it by ourselves and that people loved it, then we stopped worrying about what we can’t do without a bass line. We started focusing on what we CAN do without bass, and then we started kicking ass!
Eventually we would like to have - maybe not even a bass player - maybe a keyboard player or someone with a computer and a keyboard and try to mix some cool shit. We’re not opposed to any of that - we just haven’t found anybody who likes it as much as we do. As a two piece, we strive to be as loud as possible. And we just don’t really give a fuck, to be honest.
And you guys have such an amazing stage presence.
J: Yeah, we couldn’t really imagine doing anything else. Honestly, we do the same thing in practice [It’s true! They do!]. We just have so much fun, I couldn’t imagine not doing that.
So you probably get asked this all the time, but what is “Duke Evers?”
J: Yes, we do get asked that all the time - I was actually answering this question earlier today. Duke Evers is from the movie Rocky. He’s Apollo Creed’s trainer, and he ends up being Rocky’s coach eventually.
K: We wanted Duke Evers in our corner!
J: We started actually as ‘The Duke Evers Band,’ but I want to go on the record and say it is not ‘The Duke Evers Band,’ it is just Duke Evers. When we first started, no one could remember our band name and we realized, it’s because of ‘The Band!’ So we took that out, and it has been such a challenge to reverse that. People weren’t catching on, and then all of the sudden people were catching on. But yeah, it’s just Duke Evers. We sat for weeks looking through books, and magazines, and movies - everything we could get our hands on to find a band name - and for some reason we ended up on Duke Evers.
I like it! It sounds so legendary.
J: Yeah, it does! And people are so interested in that - they’re like, “So who’s Duke?” And we say, “well, it’s neither of us.” People ask, “So where does it come from?” And we say Rocky. People are down with it.
Is this your first time at Capitol Hill Block Party?
J: This will be our first year playing it. I work at restaurant in Capitol Hill right where the main stage is, so I have definitely experienced it, and every time that I do, I am so pissed that I am not playing it. The funny thing this year is the first day I’ll play Block Party and the next day I have to work it. It’ll be a mad house. It gets really busy, but only between the headliners, but it’s pretty cool because then we get to watch the show. I can’t complain.
We’re really excited to play it though. It’s different than a regular show because it’s not just a night set in a venue for three or four bands. It’s a multiple block radius of bands that are so talented - there is so much talent in one spot. It’s very humbling.
So will you guys get to watch other bands on Friday since you are playing that day?
J: Yeah, after us our friend Alicia Amiri - who also plays in a band called Nightmare Fortress - is playing at Barboza. She used to book at The Crocodile, and she is actually the one who kind of got the ball rolling for us as far as playing at The Crocodile and getting our name out there - we love you Alicia! So we’re definitely going to watch that. We’re probably going to watch a lot of shows at the venue that we are playing at, Barboza, because after that Crypts are playing and our buddy Andy King will be playing drums for them - he’ll be playing drums for Alicia too. Then we can’t wait to see Spoon.
Did you guys submit to become apart of CHBP or did they contact you?
K: It was a bit of both. We submitted and then Andy, the drummer for Alicia and Crypts kind of slid our EP into the right hands and said,”You should listen to these guys!” We played with his old band XVIII Eyes before, and had a great time, so he’s always tried to hook us up any way he can. He kept pushing our name and low and behold, we got an email!
J: And this was when we were in Italy to play a festival there about a month ago, so we were really excited. Everyone said it’s pretty hard to get into Block Party - and we’ve done our rounds - we work hard and we play all over, so we feel like we kind of deserve this shot. We’re exited and we feel very privileged! We’ll also be doing an interview during the festival with Seattle’s music variety show Hangin Tuff hosted by DJ Bobbi Rich and Austin Jacobsen from Country Lips, so we’re very excited about that too.
It’s really cool how the Seattle music scene is so tight.
J: Yeah, we sort of knew a couple of people from Country Lips, and a show got booked for our buddy’s birthday and we played together. It was two totally unsuspecting bands, but the energy was just so there! It’s funny too because we are polar opposite. They are an eight piece country band and we are a two piece indie rock band. But somehow in the molecular, awesome music universe, we’re awesome together, and I love that.
What are your goals as a band? What are you guys hoping to do in the future?
J: Hopefully in the next few years we will be touring and making a little money so we don’t have to have jobs on the side. Really though, our only goal is to make a great repertoire of music that people will like. We just like having fun. We love playing live, and that’s what we do. We have goals, we practice hard, and we like what we do, but like most musicians, we’d like to be able to make a living out of it. For now, we’ll keep working jobs so we can fund our passion and hopefully one day we’ll just be able to play music.
Anything else you want to throw out to the internet world?
J: Well first of all, we want to thank you and the Seasick for the interview.
If you want to be a successful band, you have to practice A LOT. Even when you don’t fucking want to.
p.s. We did not play skee ball even though Josh was eyeing it. This is an official challenge to Duke Evers for a battle of skee ball in the future.
Now for the Duke Evers Playlist:
1. Them Crooked Vultures ∆ Dead End Friends
2. Deep Sea Diver ∆ Ships
3. Led Zeppelin ∆ The Crunge