Visqueen was formed in Seattle by a couple of Washingtonians and a former Jersey girl. Ben Hooker (drums) and Kim Warnick (bass, vocals) are the locals, while Rachel Flotard (guitar, vocals) is (or was) the out-of-towner. Prior to Visqueen, Hooker and Flotard were in Seattle-by-way-of-Bremerton's Hafacat, while Warnick was a founding member of the legendary Fastbacks. Hooker and Flotard were Fastbacks fans and Warnick was a Hafacat fan. This bit of trivia turned significant in 2001 when Hafacat called it quits. Hooker and Flotard wanted to keep the music going, but lacked a bass player to make things complete. Warnick volunteered her services and Visqueen was born. The next year, she retired from the Fastbacks to make Visqueen her sole gig and the Fastbacks threw in the towel after 23 years (and almost as many drummers). In interviews, Warnick has claimed that she found it liberating to let someone else (i.e., Flotard) do the singing so she could concentrate on her bass playing for a change. Flotard also writes all the songs, whereas Kurt Bloch penned all of the Fastbacks' material.
With a collection of tight and punchy compositions in their arsenal, Visqueen began to gig around the Northwest, leading to supporting slots with national acts like Guided by Voices, Buffalo Daughter, Cheap Trick, the New Pornographers, the Donnas, and Imperial Teen. In 2002, they played their first East Coast date, a CMJ showcase in New York. They issued their inaugural release, the sweet yet crunchy single "Vaxxine," in 2002 on their own BlueDisguise Records. Their full-length debut, King Me, which was produced (twice) by Barrett Jones (the Foo Fighters), was released by the same label in 2003. (The band scrapped the first, more polished version of the album, as it lacked the energy and spontaneity they were seeking.) The fast-paced, well-produced, ten-track CD quickly established Visqueen as a punk-pop force to be reckoned with, inspiring comparisons to everyone from Blondie and the Muffs to a femme-fronted Buzzcocks or Ramones. That spring, they supported the release with a showcase in Austin at the South by Southwest music conference. The transformation was complete: Visqueen had made the move from local favorites to national contenders. The band headed back into the studio in 2004 to record their second album, Sunset on Dateland, which hit stores later that year. After that, thing slowed down while Flotard cared for her father following a cancer diagnosis. She had time for writing and did some work with Neko Case before reconvening Visqueen in 2009 and releasing Message to Garcia on her own Local 638 Records, named in tribute to her late father's New York Steamfitters union. ~ Kathleen C. Fennessy