Jimmy the Pickpocket Talks with CultureMob about The Bad Things

by Tom Mohrman | 09/11/12 |

The Bad Things have a show coming up on October 1st with the amazing band Firewater at the Crocodile. Don’t miss this show. These two bands couldn’t complement each other more, and the combined entertainment will prove a rare, and likely magical night. Tickets are $15 in advance, and available here.

I met with Jimmy “the Pickpocket” Berg, lead singer and accordion player for The Bad Things in Georgetown. I met him on his home turf to find out about how they are finding their way in the wake of two disasters. The Bad Things are post-apocalyptic depression era music. What they do crushes your heart and gives you a new one made out of whiskey. They’re high in the running for the most fun live show in Seattle any night they play. Though this past year has been fraught with tragedy, they are powering through with the help of the community.

We met in a little diner adjacent to the 9lb Hammer in Georgetown, The Square Knot. We discussed the fire that consumed the band’s practice space back in May, and the subsequent loss of dear friends Drew Keriakedes and Joe Albanese, who were among the victims in the Cafe Racer shootings in June. (Donations for the victims here.)

To put it mildly, it made for a difficult summer. With the help of their Indiegogo campaign, and generous donations from foundations and private donors the band has recovered some of their gear. There’s still time to donate to the indigogo fundraiser, and there are some fun giveaways associated. Take a look.

Tom Mohrman: What happened with the practice space?

Jimmy the Pickpocket: It was a space that we’d had for around nine years. It was in an old factory here in Georgetown. It was a raw, kind of gnarly space, but it was great. We had underground parties there, a few bands practiced there besides us, but it was our little home. The electrical in there was super sketchy. Everything about it was fairly sketchy, but it was a great raw space. We had years of memorabilia in there, two pianos, a bunch of leslie speakers and old organs, we had tons of great stuff.

TM: So it was as much a performance space as it was a practice space?

JTP: Yeah. Every summer we would have fundraisers. Usually when they would do the Georgetown Carnival we would do the after party there. So yeah it was our little clubhouse really. And we don’t know what happened, but overnight at some point a fire started. I got the call in the morning and drove down there. The chunk of the building that was our space was just gone.

TM: What was the next step?

JTP: Well we were just stunned. There’s nothing you can do. So when I put an announcement on Facebook about it there was this huge outpouring of support, and everyone was going to do fundraising… of course three weeks later Drew and Joe were killed, and so everything got canceled and we felt like idiots for even trying to ask for money after that. Now we’re doing an indiegogo and we’re getting some response from that, and the Grammy Foundation through MusiCares contacted me both about contacting Drew and Joe’s family to help cover funeral costs, and to help us with our fire. We’ve put in the paperwork with MusiCares, and they’ve really stepped up.

TM: Is there any part of this that feels like a fresh start, or clean slate?

JTP: A little. We’ve been offered a space in this new arts collective on Dearborn. They’re basically going to build us this beautiful space. And we’re getting all this new equipment, I mean a lot of our equipment was kind of shitty anyway. Our drummer’s drum kit was a major loss, and he’d had it his whole life. That’s going to be hard to replace, but he’s got a new kit now, and people have donated. Everyone really rallied. The community here has been really great. The amount of emails and letters and comments of support has been just amazing.

The biggest thing to happen recently for me was a girl sent us a card that she’d made, this beautiful card with a metal key on it. She lives somewhere in the middle of Washington and sent us twenty dollars and this note that just said, equipment can be replaced, but you can’t, and keep playing music.

You know, being a musician you don’t make a lot of money, you don’t get a lot of praise. You wonder what the fuck you’re doing it for a lot of the times. And then that happened, and us meaning a lot to people was reason enough to go on.

And then with what happened with Drew and Joe. We played the last show they ever played with them, and had an amazing night, and came here afterwards, and all night we just talked about how great they were, and how we loved our community. The whole night was just love love love, and it was a great fucking night, everyone played great. And then when they were gone it was- that again was reason enough to keep doing this. You never know, you know? We had no idea how important that night with them would be, later, but we knew it was special.

For more in-depth about this past summer’s events, read this beautiful piece Jimmy wrote about Drew and Joe on The Bad Things’ website. For more of our Bad Things coverage, read my review of this show at the Comet. See everyone at the Croc October 1st!