Where Sails Meet Rails bring rock, brains, heart to Tacoma

Tacoma-based rockers Where Sails Meet Rails have been working hard to get their name in the local rock game. In March the quartet released their first recorded effort together, “The Economics of Love” EP, and have played countless shows to their legions of fans around the region. And they’re not losing steam anytime soon.

The band formed back in 2008 when guitarist Christian Jordan was looking to start a new band. He soon found Matt Staerk, the band’s drummer on Craigslist and they set out to find another guitar player. Enter Jake Westhoff, who’d previously worked with Staerk and came in at the best possible time – after five bad guitarist auditions. Soon Adam Zach – longtime friend of Westhoff’s came on as the bass player, bringing his energy and knowledge of many musical instruments to form what the band is today.

When describing their sound, the band doesn’t make understanding what they do harder than it needs to be. Indie pop rock is what they do and how they affirm their genre.

“We’re trying to be interesting musically, yet also bring something new to the music scene,” Westhoff said.

As they rattled off their favorite bands and major influences, tons of variety is evident and hints at the range in their own sound.

All of the members grew up on punk rock. The Police are a favorite of most. The band  also had admiration for …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead. Zack recently came into Built to Spill’s discography and has been playing it incessantly. Westhoff is also finding inspiration from Sunny Day Real Estate and Jeremy Enigk’s oft-overlooked side project, The Fire Theft. Staerk has an affinity with Incubus and Death Cab for Cutie.

The band is currently working on writing and finding more new songs for their first full-length effort. All members seem antsy to put another CD out into the world, and to give their fans more to listen to.

“We’re trying to figure out the logistics now, but we want to get in as soon as possible. We feel it’s time to start working on something else. We’ve got lots of new material,” Zack said.

“What we’ve decided is that we want to go into a studio and record once we have all the songs,” Westhoff added. “I recently bought some recording equipment and we’ll get someone else in there to mix it. We’ll definitely have help from friends and producers, including James Resch of Death First. We keep pushing ourselves as musicians and songwriters, constantly into different directions.”

The band aims to put together an album of between 10-12 songs, as their tracks tend to run a bit longer. At least one or two songs off the EP will grace the album, a nod to fans of their early work. In terms of an underlying theme to the album, all of Where Sails Meet Rails agreed that it’s about getting older and realizing one’s place as a man in the world, even though all of the members are currently at different stages in this realization.

Both Westhoff and Zack take most of the songwriting credits, and both acknowledge that they write songs (that may or may not see the light of day) everyday. Riffs contributed by Jordan have also been formed into tracks. “The new album is about all of the personal experiences we’ve had since the EP was released,” Zack said.

While all of the musicians in Where Sails Meet Rails have been in previous bands and have played music for a good while, they all agree this band is the best thing they’ve  ever had going, and they all are loving the ride.

“When this band started forming, I hadn’t played bass in a band for a year and a half,” Zach said. “I’d been playing drums with this band and wasn’t making music that meant something. This band changed that for me, I want to make it good.”

“We’re trying to make music we like that we’d listen to casually if it wasn’t our own band. Honestly I do it because I love music,” Westhoff said. “I’m trying to push it forward and it’s why I practice and play and continue.” Jordan added, “I’ve always been in bands, and I have to be in one.”

The band plans on a mini-West Coast tour in February of 2011 that will include stops in San Francisco, Portland, Eugene and Vancouver.

“We’re still booking it, but we’re making it happen and have wanted to for a while,” Westhoff stated.

Though some bands from the Tacoma area are known to talk down the fact that they are from here in order to book shows in other cities, Where Sails Meet Rails will have none of that nonsense, and that’s just one of the many reasons to love them and what they bring to the burgeoning indie scene. Just look at their band name, which is the former turn-of-the-century motto of Tacoma, “Where the sails meet the rails.” “We’re proud to be from Tacoma,” Jordan said.

Where Sails Meet Rails play four shows locally in the coming weeks, including Sept.18 at Doyle’s at 9 p.m. with Colonies, Sept. 23 at Club Motor in Seattle at 8 p.m. with Fall of 1920, Sept. 24 at Doyle’s at 9 p.m. and Oct. 8 at Stonegate at 9 p.m. with Death First. For more information or to hear their songs, check out the band’s website at www.wheresailsmeetrails.com.

Contact the writer at dquinn@tacomaweekly.com.


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