By Jeremy Essig
By Jason Robinson
By Hans Morgenstern
By Joseph Hess
By Peter Gilstrap
By Julia Burch
By Jeremy Essig
By Nathan Smith
The duo is preparing to embark on its sixth overall tour and second to the East Coast. The process has become smoother with each successive trip — these shows were booked just two months ago. "The tour was easy to book only because we have come in contact with so many wonderful musicians and artists who show an exuberant amount of enthusiasm for what they do and what others are trying to do," says Hess. The band's inner workings in a grassroots network across the country have afforded them a solid string of shows, even scoring a Providence, Rhode Island, date with Black Pus — a project of Lightning Bolt's Brian Chippendale.
"We really believe in the pay-it-forward mindset. We're always happy to help out bands because people are so kind and generous to us while we're on the road," mirrors Suen. "It's amazing because we've made so many great friends out of otherwise complete strangers simply because of blind messages to bands and proactive music supporters on the Internet."
Spelling Bee will be kicking off its tour with a show at DIY venue Pig Slop Studios on Friday, July 29. In keeping with the band's school of rock, the show is composed of bands and friends from all across the country: Ugh, God from Philadelphia; Fat History Month from Boston; and High In One Eye from New Orleans.
"We toured with both of these bands [Ugh, God and FHM] last summer, so we wanted an opportunity to perform with them again. It will be a warm-hearted reunion of weirdos," says Hess.
"Summertime can be pretty magical because bands are out and about all over the country constantly. It always makes us remember that it's a really freakin' small world," Suen says.
Even as they perform in DIY communities across the country, Hess and Suen do not take their home for granted. By using local media resources and booking at underground venues like Apop Records and Floating Laboratories, the two have brought countless acts through the gateway city. However, as some spaces, like Cranky Yellow are getting cracked down on by the city, Hess and Suen see the bigger picture. "While venues are obviously an important part of keeping the DIY scene alive, people who care are really the ones that have to be around to make it thrive," says Suen. "I think that as long as there are people in this city who are passionate about bringing in great music in from out of town, there will always be something worthwhile happening," says Suen.
Hess, who headed booking at Cranky Yellow before it closed its doors, says, "When you are helpful and enthusiastic, help comes more easily in one form or another. It's about giving more than you take."