Chop Suey is celebrating ten years on the ever changing Capitol Hill. In the past decade the ownership and management of the club has changed enough times that listing the line of succession reads like the Book of Numbers. Manager Roy Atizado has been in charge for the past five years, and has worked for three of the four different owners. Devin Floyd has been the talent buyer for the past four months, after taking over for Matt Moroni. Together with general manager Hisato Kawaminami, the three men are as much stewards of a legacy as they are the planners of Chop Suey’s future.
“14th and Madison is becoming a place to go farther up the hill,” said Atizado. With the many new restaurants, a gym, the retail spaces, there are now more reasons to be in the area besides Piecora’s, the bank, and the Chop.
“This area has become pretty resilient,” said Atizado. “It’s good to have new neighbors.”
In ten years, not much has changed on the inside of Chop Suey. A new sound system was installed in ‘09 after the club was purchased by the same ownership as K’s Dream in Japan and they are in the process of upgrading the green room, but other than that it has been pretty much the same since the days the place first became Chop Suey in 2002 and pushed punk The Breakroom aside. Lots of people have come and gone, but Chop Suey has shown itself over the years to be a destination for touring acts, and a place for local bands and DJs to cut their teeth.
To celebrate the aluminum anniversary, there will be special shows throughout the year. This Friday, post-punk UK band The Raincoats will perform. After being brought back together in ‘93 by Kurt Cobain, this will be their first Seattle show. There will be more anniversary shows in April and May as well. “Cinco de Mayo we’ll have a tequila sponsorship,” said Floyd. “That’s going to be fun.” There won’t necessarily be an anniversary show every month, but so far they’re five for five.
A lot of what has made the club a success has been its diversity. Booking national acts is job one as that’s its biggest draw, but it’s never just one specific genre. Floyd is trying to focus on rock, as he sees Seattle as a rock town, but all varieties are welcome. Soul, Hip Hop, Electronica, Dancehall — it’s a hodgepodge, and that’s how they like it.
Recurring dance parties do very well. “We do a lot of dance nights on the weekends,” said Floyd. Atizado added, “The demand is there. These dance nights are full.” Shows like Lick, Talcum, Jai Ho!, Jam Jam, Comeback — these shows are good for the Chop, good for the local performers, and people seem to like to dance.
Atizado concedes that the recession has been a challenge. “Some shows we might have expected more and it didn’t turn out that way, but obviously sticking around this long we’re doing something right.” However, what’s been more of a factor than the economy is the relative new abundance of live music venues in Seattle. “With the inception of all of the new clubs since our birth in ‘02, I would say that’s the biggest change here.”
Additionally Chop Suey’s collaboration with the People’s Republic of Komedy has not only made Chop Suey nationally recognized as a comedy club, but it’s set the venue apart on the hill. “The bookings have been solid,” said Atizado. Some comedy shows are booked separate from PROK, but mostly they handle the comedy. “[PROK] are the experts,” said Atizado.
He likes Chop Suey’s reputation including comedy as well as many genres of music. “We appreciate being well-rounded,” he said.