The Coma Collective

Post-punk/garage band, Red Hex. Photo: Will Collins

When it comes to music, Tacoma is a squirming, embryonic creature; one with a flesh-mop of iridescent tentacles but a still-evolving central nervous system to guide it. The intention of  the musicians who make up The Coma Collective is to provide a guiding intelligence “to galvanize Tacoma’s music scene,” according to co-founder Sam Olsen. “What we’re trying to do with the project is create some kind of unity within the scene, so there actually is one.”

Spaceworks Tacoma is supporting The Coma Collective‘s initiative with a three-month creative residency. The two bands currently manning the ship – Slushy and Red Hex – will energize the local scene by operating a record label, Invisible Records, and producing a new T-town music compilation at the beginning of each month. In addition, plans are in the works for debuting a new ‘zine, filming live performances, booking concert dates, and screen printing bread-and-butter tees and flyers at CC headquarters at 1114 Pacific Avenue.

The shape of things to come? The scene at the Peabody Waldorf Gallery.

The collective’s aim is to establish a viable T-town music presence, especially one accessible to the sub-21 crowd. “If Tacoma wants to grow and become a cultural hub, we must find ways to keep good artists and creative thinkers living here,” says Olsen, a 2009 graduate of Tacoma’s School of the Arts. “The city itself is perfect for aspiring musicians. It’s beautiful and big, and right in between Seattle and Olympia, two cities well-known for being the birth spots of popular bands over the past couple decades. The support from the community is here, too, but all these great aspects aren’t being utilized to the extend that they should be.” The Coma Collective aims to advance local endeavors by starting a record label for Tacoma-based bands, “to inspire young musicians and show them the potential for growth here….and to build a new reputation for Tacoma music.”

Putting it out there - the local lineup at Bobs Java Jive.

An articulate musicologist, Olsen describes the vision behind The Coma Collective as homegrown, less inspired by the Andy Warhol Factory model than the experiments of the U.S.-based Elephant 6 Recording Company. “Personally, I am not a Warhol fan or a big Velvet Underground fan. I find the art that came out of the Factory to be very emotionless and plastic. That’s city slicker stuff, and my soul belongs to the woods,” he says. “The [U.S.-based] Elephant 6 music collective is a better example of what I think will come of the project – but who knows what it will turn into….There will be many artistic mediums at work.”

Musical diversity will be at the fore: “Slushy and Red Hex are the groups involved currently and we all play very different kinds of music. Slushy is good – just really good songwriting with rock instrumentation and a lot of energy. My band, Red Hex, is on the darker end of  the spectrum, I guess….We come from a punk/garage background.” Check out the offerings from these bands and more from The Coma Collective. For more information: The Coma Collective, 1114 Pacific Avenue, through June 30, 2011.

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