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Originally published October 10, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified October 10, 2008 at 4:57 PM

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Night Watch

Seattle band A Gun That Shoots Knives takes fun seriously

Nightwatch: A Gun That Shoots Knives, an entertaining, funny, pop-indie used-to-be-novelty Seattle band, plays an album-release show Saturday, Oct. 11, at Neumo's.

Special to The Seattle Times

On the Internet

A Gun That Shoots Knives: www.myspace.com/agunthatshootsknives

The band is called A Gun That Shoots Knives. The cover of "Future of Love," the album they release with a party at Chop Suey on Saturday, depicts the four band members as intergalactic barbarian superheroes, and was painted by an Olympia couple who illustrate sci-fi book jackets. The singer's name is Yurri Stubby Abbot. But the really funny thing is that nobody's written a song about sushi before.

"Freakin' sushi, man!" says drummer Kelly Svobodny Sorbel. "I'm really glad we have that song." (It's called "Sushi.")

"I'm really glad we have a song about dinosaurs," says bassist Jimmy LaRue.

That one's titled "Dinosaurs Were Real."

"Everybody's got this idea of dinosaurs in their heads, but they don't think about dinosaurs in reality; they think about dinosaur toys and video games and movies," Abbot explains as the band — minus bassist Jeff Greenwood plus producer/member Scot Michael — scarfs pizza in the living room of Sorbel's rented Greenwood home. "To actually think about the reality is insane! That these freakin' monsters were right here."

Other highlights of "Future of Love" include "The Land of Chocolate Donuts," "Old People" and "Stay in School," a would-be PSA peppered with enough expletives to render it NC-17.

"That's one main point of our band — you can write a song about anything," Abbot continues. "You listen to what's on the radio and its like, 'I love you baby.' That couldn't be more played out. There's a universe of things that you can write songs about."

Let's just say that A Gun That Shoots Knives has a keenly developed sense of humor. It banks on the juxtaposition of forehead-smackingly obvious subject matter with hook-laden pop-rock songwriting, madcap genre-hopping arrangements and occasional salty language.

It also banks on spectacle: AGTSK originally came together as a costumed Halloween band four years ago and, when it comes to performances, the costumes have never come off. At a Sunset Tavern show in January, the band dressed up as "Superman II" — three supervillains and the Man of Steel — and performed the "Kneel before Zod!" sequence midset. Any fan of Ween, GWAR, Phish, Zappa or "South Park" (or, considering the songs "Carbonite" and "Enter the Balrog," "Star Wars" or Tolkien) will find a lot to like.

"We are not a novelty band at all," Abbot says.

"Lately we're an avant-garde band," LaRue counters.

"It's almost like new new wave."

"Post-new?"

"We're trying to write good songs that people will enjoy listening to," Abbot says. "[Novelty bands] will just tell the joke, and they're not thinking about the song as much."

"That's what we're trying to share with people," LaRue says. "That you don't have to take yourself seriously to be good at what you do."

That these four guys — five, with the inclusion of Michael — can come together over such an absurdist approach to music is impressive. That the music is so cohesive, passionate and entertaining is astounding. It must be engaged with a certain Zen understanding that it's all meant to be taken very lightly. Big-picturing the costumes and inanity and profanity adds up to a surprising truth: AGTSK is a message band.

The message? Fun wins.

"We take having fun very seriously," LaRue says.

"We seriously wanna have fun," Sorbel says.

"We've gotten that comment from a lot of other bands, like, man you guys have so much fun, I wish my band had that much fun," Abbot says. "It's like, what the hell are you doing? You're in a band and not having fun? Anybody can do this."

A Gun That Shoots Knives plays its album-release gig at 9 p.m. Saturday at Chop Suey, with the Trucks and headliner Awesome; $8. Other must-see shows this week:

Tonight

The Sixth Annual Seattle Laptop Battle will be just like the scene in "Rocky III" where Rocky loses to Clubber Lang while Mick is dying in the dressing room — except with breakbeats instead of boxing, less slow-motion sweat splatter and no death (9 tonight at Nectar; $10).

• The Bard of Ballard Tim Seely plays the Tractor with Sleeping Bulls, a band he shamelessly shills: "The lead guy's voice is amazing, and the music is super lush and sexy — perfect for the cold dreary nights that will start happening in exactly two days," he wrote in an e-mail recently (9:30 tonight at the Tractor; $8).

Thursday

This is the level of cool-kid exclusivity the Saturday Knights have reached: Their show at Neumo's is VIP-invite only. Achieving VIP status isn't so hard, though — a simple e-mail will do. 8 p.m. Thursday at Neumo's; for tix, e-mail with the subject "RSVP to the Saturday Knights" to promo@neumos.com; more information, 206-709-9467 or www.neumos.com.

Jonathan Zwickel: zwickelicious@gmail.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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