Last winter, local pro skier and off-season whale researcher and musician Adam Ü had an opportunity to put together a band for a show at the Mt. Baker Ski Area. He assembled a highly compatible crew of Mt. Baker locals as fast as he could; the Season Passholes were born.
He took some time between traveling the globe for whale research and gracing the covers of ski magazines to talk about Mt. Baker’s new homegrown band.
Mount Baker Experience: How did the band start?
Adam Ü: I had just come back to town and ran into Mike Trowbridge (operations manager at Mt. Baker Ski Area) in line at Chair 5. He asked if I could put together an ’80s cover band for the RetroActive Day (a moguls competition and retro costume contest) scheduled five weeks away. In the 30 seconds before I loaded the chair I told him I’d make some phone calls but no guarantees.
Chris Loeser and I had already been jamming together so he was a natural choice on bass. If we were to have any chance of putting together an ’80s band we needed keys. I knew Grady (McCombs) played keys but we had only played together a few times and that was many years ago, but I asked him if he’d be interested. He suggested Heather Hanes for a singer while Chris suggested we get Vaughn Gifford on drums. It took about a week to get everyone together for our first musical “date.”
At that point we had a month to come up with an hour of music. It’s always challenging to get people on the same page musically, especially when our ages range from mid-20s to 40 and we have different musical backgrounds. But it was pretty clear from the start that we were all pretty musically compatible.
That first day Heather mentioned she liked Led Zeppelin so I started playing “Immigrant Song” and everyone fell into place pretty quick. The rest of us started introducing songs we liked and we jammed them out. One of our decisions early on was that we weren’t going to make our versions perfect note-for-note replications. That gave us a little bit of creative liberty. Or slop – whatever you want to call it.
Unfortunately RetroActive Day got rained out. We were able to move our show to Chair 9 Woodstone Pizza and Bar that evening and it ended up being a great time. Mt. Baker Ski Area management hoped we could play on the rescheduled date but some of us had commitments on the new date so we couldn’t. Hopefully we’ll be able to make it up this season.
I do remember waking up and writing “Season Passholes” down before I forgot it. I was thinking of the legendary Chamonix band “Gary and the Crevassholes” at the time.
Is there a story behind the name?
We were thinking of things that would be sort of winter sports-specific. There were a few options that I can’t remember right now. I do remember waking up and writing “Season Passholes” down before I forgot it. I was thinking of the legendary Chamonix band “Gary and the Crevassholes” at the time. Every band knows that when it comes to names there’s a fine line between clever and stupid. You can decide where we ended up.
What makes a good Season Passholes song?
The idea was to keep with an ’80s theme but considering our time crunch, we figured it would be better to play songs we already sort of knew versus trying to learn a bunch of new songs from scratch. So our first set ended up with songs from the ’60s to the ’90s.
The most important thing for most of us is to like the song and want to play it. It’s great having Heather as a singer because she’s got a range that allows us to consider songs the rest of us would never have a chance at singing. I’ve also always wanted to be in a band with a keyboard player.
We play plenty of cliché songs like Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” but those tend to get a great reaction from the crowd so we’ll probably keep them in the rotation. We’ve also got some deep cuts that we just want to play because they’re fun. The whole idea of this band is for fun, so if the crowd’s singing and dancing then I guess we’re doing something right.
What’s next for the Passholes?
We’re going to keep learning cover songs but we’ve all expressed interest in writing our own music as well. We’ve had a few spontaneous “Space Jams” in our shows that have come out of nowhere and continue for 10 minutes and Heather and I both have original songs that might work well as Passholes songs. Covers or originals, the idea is to keep having fun playing music.
Are you playing any shows in Glacier or on the mountain this year?
We’ve been approached by a bunch of people that want us to play various gigs. We’ll definitely play if it’s the right occasion or a worthy cause but we’re not looking to go on tour or play every other Thursday or something like that. We’d all rather play a party for our friends.