SEATTLE -- Kennewick funk-metal band Sui-Generis will represent the east side of the state in the ninth-annual Sound Off! battle of the underage bands competition starting next month.
The Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum in Seattle are sponsoring the event, where 12 bands will compete for a spot to perform at Bumbershoot.
"We had 130 bands apply this year," said Danielle Bias, manager at Experience Music Project. "It's for musicians 21 and under, and really it started as an effort to support the local underage music scene, not just in Seattle, but all of the Northwest."
Jimmy Garner, Sui-Generis singer and rhythm guitarist, said the band is happy to be able to play on an actual stage.
"This will be our first legitimate venue," said Garner, 19. "We're kind of just stoked that we get to go over there. Nobody will book us because we're not indie and we're not really hard-core. We're halfway because we're between a melodic and harder sound."
While Garner had jammed with guitarist Rugan Antonson, 18, drummer Nathan Lantry, 18, and bassist Seth Finger, 18, for about five years, they didn't officially become a band until last year.
"Tri-Tech (Skills Center) hooked us up with a free deal to record at Rainmaker Studios," he said. "(EMP) required four tracks to be submitted and that's all we had. They had a panel that reviewed it and they called me on Dec. 19."
The band's name is a Latin expression meaning "of its own genius."
"It stands for individuality and is kind of what we promote, being an individual, having your own views and living a lifestyle, giving what you are and not letting outside things entirely influence you to become something to fit in," Garner said.
The band will be competing in the first of three semifinal rounds. On Feb. 13, they go up against Apache Chief of Tacoma; Candysound from Burlington; and Sea Fever of Seattle.
On Feb. 20, fans can watch A Cozy Kitchen from Bellingham; Hooves and Beak of Seattle; Pan Pan from Bellingham; and The Cat from Hue of Camano Island, battle it out.
Finally, Great Waves from Sammamish; SEACATS of Kelso; Subtle Like a T-Rex from Port Coquitlam, British Columbia; and Us on Roofs of Seattle will finish up the semifinal performances.
A wild card band from the semifinalists also will be chosen to compete with the three finalists March 6.
"One of the main focuses of the competition is original content, so we definitely look for bands that have a unique and original sound," Bias said.
Last year, jazz hip-hop group Dyno Jamz won.
"The eight-piece band were really an outstanding band and a good example of what we look for," she said. "They also won the audience award, so people really enjoyed their performance in general."
The final round is at 8 p.m. March 6 at Sky Church in Seattle. Tickets go on sale Jan. 18 for Experience Music Project members and Jan. 21 for the general public.
"Generally, the concerts sell out, so we encourage people to get advance tickets," Bias said. "All of the concerts are all ages events."
Tickets are available at the Experience Music Project box office, 325 Fifth Ave. N., Seattle. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students and EMP members.
For more information, go to www.empsfm.org.
◗ Bethany Woo: 582-1465; email@example.com