Three juniors create soulful sound

Basement band 400 40 emerges from below

Bella Anderson, Staff Reporter
Originally published October 27, 2015

Photo courtesy of Miles Andersen.

Scotty McKinney (left) and Manny Xenos (right) take on a slow song.

Band practice is held at junior Julian Forester’s house. His drum kit is set up in the corner of the typical family’s home basement, stocked with piles of Legos and enough Nerf guns to protect the entire neighborhood. The band, made up of Forester and two other juniors, Scotty McKinney and Manny Xenos, has affectionately nicknamed the toilet “The Orange,” but no one will say why.

“How did we become a thing?” Forester jokingly asks his bandmates.

400 40 is fresh off of their debut show, which was held at the Seattle Drum School on Sept. 26. Friends, family and friends of friends flocked the small venue, packing in so densely that the band could no longer see to the back of the room.

In a world of televised singing competitions and manufactured fame, Forester, McKinney and Xenos are sticking to the old school path of a homegrown garage band. Their music is acoustic and whole, the deep thumping of a bass, ringing piano chords and McKinney’s soul stirring croons producing a sound that is distinct amidst the emerging trend of amateur mixtapes which feature teenagers rapping crude lyrics over a pre-recorded beat.

“I think a lot of our music is really relatable stuff,” Xenos says. “When celebrities do their stuff about relationships it will usually be like ‘I got my girl in the Ferrari, the other’s in the Lambo,’ like, it doesn’t make sense. Our slow jam, it’s a relatable slow jam.”

“I’m finally in tune,” Xenos shouts excitedly, proudly displaying his two basses. Apparently, this is a rare occasion. “Real talk,” Xenos says. “I’ve never gone to a lesson because I play them super wrong.” In fact, 400 40 operates entirely on their own agenda. All three members are self taught musicians, and none can read sheet music. Their songs are arranged with only instruments in hand and are memorized rather than recorded on paper.

“I think you do more of the lyrics, and I help out with the feeling,” Xenos says to McKinney. Some of their own favorite lines include “Someone stole my clock/And the good times are gone,” “A subtle scent of you/Still lies within my pillows” and what has become somewhat of an inside joke for the band, Forester’s only lyrical contribution: “It was late/It was dark/It was cold.”

“We have plans of recording a full album relatively soon,” Xenos says. “We’ll hopefully have a gig set up within two months. To stay posted, follow us on social media. That’s where all our info is.”

As McKinney belts out “Profit,” a sensual song with a slow R&B feel, the veins in his neck quiver and he closes his eyes, getting lost in the lyrics. He admits he hasn’t been in a serious relationship, but his romance-centric lyrics are poignant and strongly relatable. “It’s an experience I want and imagine over and over,” he says. “That’s just my pop [music] kicking in.”

Although 400 40 are still establishing themselves as a band and growing their fan base, their unique sound and approach to making music will undoubtedly distinguish them and continue to propel them in the Seattle music scene.