EVERETT — Jeremy DeBardi struts in striped pants and a long, paint-stained fur coat. He’s been hanging out in this alley behind Tony V’s Garage since he was a teen, smoking cigarettes and waiting to take the stage.
He jogs back to his minivan to get a chain mail coif. He wears costumes at home, too. His 5-year-old kid will eventually figure out that most families aren’t like this.
“Well, for me, the real costume is when I put on casual khaki (expletive),” DeBardi tells The Daily Herald.
The rest of DeBardi’s band, Steel Beans, would be here today for this interview if they weren’t up until 3 a.m. the night before filming a promo for Fisherman’s Village.
Local bands like his spent this week practicing for Everett’s biggest music event of the year. The festival kicks off Thursday.
Some 50 musicians have cycled through Steel Beans. The local supergroup has been transforming over and over again for 15 years now.
In 2020, as a three-piece, Steel Beans was “very Arctic Monkeys, Queens of the Stone Age,” DeBardi told the Herald. Last year, with four people, it was “a 1967 psychedelic purist outfit.”
Now, marching into their fourth Fisherman’s Village, Steel Beans has seven members equipped with vibraphones, trumpets, capes and confetti cannons.
“There’s some straight-up danceable pop-synth songs, and then some really avant-garde, challenging, hard-to-listen-to jazz,” DeBardi said. “Throw it all in one place. Scare everyone away and then win them back.”
Joining him are Steev Turner of The Hoyer Brothers, Seann Groda from Fuzz Mutt, Brandon Marcus Hailey of Cytrus, Igor Rudenko, and Creamsicle’s Derek Stevens and Lacey Quincy.
Last year, the crew took the stage as pink and green nuns.
“From-another-planet-kinda-vibe. I thought it was sexy,” DeBardi said with a shrug. “That’s where the band really bonds, is, like, drawing each other’s Sharpie tattoos on. Because I’m permanently in grade school, but not everybody is. So if I can bring them back to being a kid, it feels good.”
Steel Beans takes the night market stage Saturday just before 6 p.m. They’ve got brand new material and another (secret) stage persona up their sleeve.
DeBardi dumps most of the cash from his lawn care company into the band. The 34-year-old uses words like “addicted” and “obsessed” to describe his relationship with music. But mowing and trimming hedges is “a close second.” He proudly takes pictures of Everett lawns he meticulously manicures.
“Dude, it’s fun,” he said. “I just mow lawns and record music, and I’m living the dream. And that’s my version of success.”
The band’s new music video for “Shadow Dance 9003” was a milestone for the musician/comedian/director. With a modest budget and the help of some fire-breathers, it was a tribute to the Syd Barrett-era of Pink Floyd.
As for Fisherman’s, it’s DeBardi’s chance to celebrate the town that often brings a tear to his eye.
“My heart just bleeds for this (expletive) town. I start talking about North Everett and I’ll just start crying,” he said. “The Everett music scene is naturally a lot more down-to-earth than Seattle or Portland … I avoid saying stuff like that so not to upset anybody, but it’s definitely true.”
DeBardi also filmed some music videos for his favorite local band, Clothing Optional. On Tuesday, the group was practicing new material down the street at Black Lab Gallery.
They started up five years ago, “kind of as a joke,” said Killian McGuire. “I had never played the drums at the time.”
Shortly after picking up the sticks, he saw Dayle Bates singing at a Young Life talent show. It was an a capella rendition of “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” by Death Cab For Cutie.
“It was terrible, dude,” Bates said Tuesday. “It was either that or the Napoleon Dynamite dance, and I couldn’t learn the dance.”
A few years later, Clothing Optional released its self-titled album.
Most of the band went to Cascade High together. That’s where bassist Michael Romo would print out Red Hot Chili Peppers tabs before class. The L.A. band can still make him cry. He’s reading the bassist’s memoir again, this time with his partner and new baby.
Romo describes Clothing Optional’s new material as “heavy” and “fermented.”
Black Lab owner Isabella Valencia lets them practice here when the bar is closed. She cheers between songs.
“Clothing Optional has a special place in my heart,” she said. “I just think they’re very original.”
With new gallery art on the walls, Valencia said she’s stoked for Fisherman’s Village to start. Music is “the soul of the universe,” she said, and it’s time for it to fill the streets again.
A few miles south, another local band, Bad Optics, was getting ready for the big weekend, rocking out in a practice room they rent at a Lynnwood industrial complex. The four-piece punk band played through the set they have prepared for their show Saturday night at Tony V’s Garage. They timed the set to make sure it fit the 45-minute window they have to play and fine-tuned instrumental transitions between songs.
After band practice ended, the group stuck around to hang out and scour the internet looking for a used van to buy for their upcoming west coast tour.
Fisherman’s Village will be the second festival Bad Optics plays this year. In March, the band took a trip to play Treefort Music Fest in Boise, Idaho. This summer, they will make their way down to California, touring to promote their debut album, “Pax Americana.”
Guitarist Max Stephens said he’s excited to share the Tony V’s stage with bands such as Tres Leches, Monsterwatch and Big Business.
“My favorite part of Fisherman’s Village is always friends,” Stephens said, “seeing their bands and hanging out with everyone we know, at the venues we know.”