If you were rocking out to “Dream All Day” and other hits by Washington State exports The Posies in the early 1990s, seeing the band perform in a living room seemed pretty unlikely.
But the band play the home of John and Ginger Smithwick, known as The Raven House for concert purposes, Sunday night. And The Posies’ entire fall tour is playing living rooms and other alternative venues, and that’s the way Jon Auer says he and group co-founder and co-frontman Ken Stringfellow like it.
“Generally it’s someone who’s very into what you do, very happy to host you,” Auer says. “Sometimes it can get a bit old doing the usual club tour grind in the United States. There are many great clubs across this great land. But it’s for variety’s sake too. It’s kind of made things more interesting for us.”
Auer and Stringfellow have both done house tours as solo artists and with other projects. Stringfellow has already played The Raven House on a tour with Holly Munoz. But the band’s latest album, “Solid States,” their first in six years, is the first time the band has indulged the house tour format.
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Everybody gets more out of it, because they’re putting more into it.
Jon Auer, The Posies
Given that the band wants to present the album in its entirety, Auer says the house format — where there are far less likely to be drunks screaming, “Play ‘Dream All Day’!” or worse, “Freebird!” — is the ideal fit.
“Let’s be honest: We are charging more for the tickets, so you might want to get your money’s worth and check out the music,” Auer says. “Everybody gets more out of it, because they’re putting more into it.
“What better audience could you ask for? You’re playing to the people who really care.”
That means something with “Solid States,” a record that draws dual inspiration from the re-release of The Posies’ first album, 1988’s “Failure,” and the deaths of drummer Darius Minwalla in 2015 and bassist Joe Skyward this year.
“I can’t properly relate how devastating that was,” Auer says of the passing of Minwalla, whom he first worked with in one of his solo bands and then brought into The Posies. “You don’t know what to do or how to go on.
“The record became a tribute. It’s funny, people will say, ‘It’s about a boy-girl relationship, it’s kind of cutesy, whatever,’ and they have no idea it’s all about me trying to figure out what to do with my feelings. It’s about someone trying to figure out which direction to go when there’s no road map for what you’re going through.”
It’s not like, ‘Hey, I went to this club I always go to and saw one of my favorite bands,’ it’s, ‘I saw one of my favorite bands in this place you wouldn’t believe.’
Jon Auer, The Posies
For the record, Auer, Stringfellow and drummer Frankie Siragusa created a more full, expansive sound for the band than the more guitar-based profile of the 1980s and ’90s. It is not the sort of album that makes you think that these guys are striking out on a living room tour.
“The Raven House did say bring your earplugs, and I think that’s a good idea, because we are a loud rock ensemble,” Auer says. “I think we’re going to be the first full-throttle rock band in that place.”
And they are doing it all themselves. In their heyday The Posies did have tour buses with drivers and roadies. But Auer says this tour is literally Stringfellow, Siragusa and himself, driving their own vehicle, schlepping their own gear. And he’s not complaining. He says he likes having a lot to do and that the band and the audience get a unique experience.
“I hesitate to use the term novelty, because maybe that implies that it doesn’t have as much value,” Auer says. “But it becomes kind of an unforgettable experience. It’s not like, ‘Hey, I went to this club I always go to and saw one of my favorite bands,’ it’s, ‘I saw one of my favorite bands in this place you wouldn’t believe.’”