Admin assistant by day, rock star by night

Stephanie Lonzak
Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - 10:38am
University Communications intern

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Curse of the Black Tongue includes WWU administrative assistant Alexis Tahiri, far right. Image courtesy of Alexis Tahiri
Curse of the Black Tongue includes WWU administrative assistant Alexis Tahiri, far right. Image courtesy of Alexis Tahiri

Alexis Tahiri, an administrative assistant in Western’s journalism department, deals with department management issues on a daily basis, but some nights he can be seen in a completely different setting, playing guitar and singing on stages around Bellingham with the band Curse of the Black Tongue.

Anyone who deals with the journalism department will recognize Tahiri’s name. He often sends out the emails with override codes and also manages and maintains waitlists, student records, quarterly registration and yearly course schedules. He orders text books and equipment for faculty and staff, updates and manages the department website and performs a variety of other tasks that need doing.

Tahiri is a 2009 Western alumnus who majored in journalism and minored in music. In the band, he is one of the vocalists and the guitar player of the trio, which also includes alumnus John Pineda on bass and lead vocals and drummer Austin Richey.

Tahiri doesn’t like to classify the band’s genre; he says it’s a compilation of psychobilly – a mixture of punk rock and rockabilly – Latin music, doo-wop, jazz and some surf rock.

“We want our music to be unique, we want it to be exciting and we don’t want all of our songs to sound the same,” he says.

Tahiri and Pineda were roommates during their freshman year in Eden’s North when they discovered they both had similar music tastes. They jammed together a few times before Pineda went to Japan to study abroad. While he was there, he was part of a club where students would get together and form bands and when he got back, Pineda was adamant about starting this band. They searched for a drummer and found Richey.

Tahiri says it was difficult for them to come up with the name. Since they all enjoy horror movies, they decided on a name they thought reflected that theme as well as their band.

Curse of the Black Tongue played their first show on Halloween in 2008. Since then they’ve been going strong, says Tahiri. Tahiri and Pineda both contribute to the song-writing process, and once they have the skeleton of the song all three members get together and figure out the arrangements.

Curse of the Black Tongue usually plays at venues around Bellingham and Seattle such as the Shakedown, Cabin Tavern and Tubbs Tavern downtown.

The band released its first full-length CD on Aug. 4 at Tubbs Tavern. Tahiri says they produced the entire CD themselves, excluding the printing of the discs and the mastering. Richey was enrolled in a recording class, so they had access to studios and Richey’s knowledge.

“The album release has been long awaited by a lot of people,” Tahiri says.

Tahiri also plays trumpet in the band on the CD but hasn’t played it live due to being tied up with guitar playing and singing. Sometimes he performs at jazz events and he lets people know about that, but he isn’t sure how many people would like the music from Curse of the Black Tongue, so he doesn’t advertise it while he’s working.

“I try to keep my Curse of the Black Tongue persona and my work separate,” he says.

Tahiri remembers he used to get nervous when playing in front of a crowd but says he’s grown out of that. When he’s on stage he keeps it in the back of his mind that they are there to entertain people and he puts on a little bit of a different persona.

“We just try to have as much fun as we can on stage, and that will come through the music. People will see us having fun and they will have fun as well,” he says.

For more information on Curse of the Black Tongue and to know when and where they will be playing next, visit them on Facebook.


Curse of the Black Tongue includes WWU administrative assistant Alexis Tahiri, far right. Image courtesy of Alexis Tahiri