The Lightweight Champs
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The Lightweight Champs

Tacoma, WA | Established. Jan 01, 2016 | SELF

Tacoma, WA | SELF
Established on Jan, 2016
Band Alternative Indie




"The Lightweight Champs and Turbo Snooze Make Music Fun Again"

It’s rare I meet a Carl I don’t like: from Carl Weathers to Karl Marx to Carl Fredricksen, “K/Carl” is a name that breeds a wonderful kind of human. Karl Behrens, frontman of Turbo Snooze, is no exception.

The headliner on September 12th at The Sunset Tavern, the band came onstage, sound checked, and seemed to be starting when, suddenly, Behrens announced he had to go to the bathroom and left the stage. When he came back, he had donned his girlfriend’s robe (a lovely black number with pink hearts on it) and a large, cloth, pastel pink and white headband. Guitarist Greg Rearden, while he came to the venue wearing them already, was sporting some pretty comfy looking pajama pants.

Combined with the day-clothes-wearing drummer Jeff Browne and bassist Sean Larson, who just joined the band approximately a week ago, Turbo Snooze took the stage perhaps not well prepared, but definitely super enthused.

Behrens is an amazing frontman. While the mix made his vocals more or less disappear, he made up for it with his laid-back-yet-ridiculous aura, like when, after his robe opened a little during the first song, he blushed and abashedly said, “sorry, I think I had a nip slip on that one!”

Even with Larson having rehearsed at least one of the songs only one time, this group of guys obviously has the technical skills and power personalities to make any live show exciting.

In contrast, the opening band, Linda From Work, was better prepared but lacked the stage presence for that to matter. Frontwoman Hillary Tusick wore a opaque, lacy, white top, black leggings, and high-heeled booties. She looked great, but her look didn’t jive well with her emo-punk singing. Her clothes said, “hey, I’m really nice,” and her music said, “I’m so angsty.” It was jarring, and it didn’t work.

While their music wasn’t bad, Linda From Work didn’t seem to have the technical prowess of Turbo Snooze or The Lightweight Champs (the second act), and their performance seemed more like they were in the middle of a rehearsal — between almost every song, Tusick would quietly ask drummer Sam Nowak and bassist Gabe Medina if they were ready for the next tune — than performing for a crowd.

This band would be awesome for a house show, but they need more practice and time to find their groove as a whole. There’s potential for them to be just as fun as Turbo Snooze, though. They could easily fill out the “from work” vibe: Tusick is the edgy girl getting through her day; Nowak, easily the best performer and player in the group, is the fun guy you want to hang out with, but he always has plans; and Medina, who looks like he’s 17 but whose Facebook says he’s 22, is the quiet guy in the back who secretly has an awesome personality. It could work, but it doesn’t quite yet.

While I have zero complaints about Turbo Snooze, the stand out act of the night, by far, was The Lightweight Champs. They looked the part of a cool pop/rock band from Tacoma — vocalist and guitarist Ryan Garrette had on some dope red-pink glasses and surprisingly cool khaki floods, bassist and vocalist Justin Stiles wore a Hawaiian shirt, and drummer Angie Watson wore a black t-shirt that said “LUNGS.”

Both Garrette and Stiles had awesome, relaxed demeanors that made it impossible to take your eyes off of them. When they had snafus — like Stiles’ bass strap breaking — they kept going like it was no big deal. Stiles took care to introduce the songs, and his dry wit shined: “this is a song about our favorite kind of girl. We call her the red flag girl.” Although, my favorite moment was when Stiles said they were going to keep the sad songs going and then proceeded to sing a song about a fish lamenting that it could not climb out of the toilet bowl with its fins. Incredible.

This trio has it down, from their songwriting to their performing. Music doesn’t have to be serious, and The Lightweight Champs bring the right combination of skill and humor, and that’s all there is to it.

As Stiles said, “muthafuckin’ namaste.” - Dan's Tunes

"Premiere: The Lightweight Champs's "Delaware""

The Lightweight Champs, a power-pop trio out of Tacoma, released their debut album, Contenders, in September of last year. Now, the group is back with “Delaware,” a track about the possibilities on the road ahead.

Written and sung by Ryan Garrette, “Delaware” is a testament to the tight bond between The Lightweight Champs. Usual frontman Justin Stiles takes a backseat for the first time in the band’s recording history and sings harmonies with drummer Angie Watson while Garrette belts it out in true LWC form. Garrette’s vocals add a new-but-consistently-LWC element to the groups’ repertoire, and, as “Delaware” takes you through an aural tour of the U.S., you can’t help but image Garrette, Stiles, and Watson happily bopping along in their tour van, a la the “That ’70s Show” theme song.

Garrette wrote the tune while working in Boise, ID for a few weeks and daydreaming about tour life. The track starts with a verse about “traversing the Atlantic with our baggage far behind” and “head[ing]” somewhere a little less controlled,” before breaking into a wonderfully bouncy guitar solo. When the second section hits and Stiles’s and Watson’s voices come in, it feels like a party, and everyone’s invited.

As the track progresses and Garrette begs to “pack our bags, lock the door, and go,” it’s hard not to feel that itch for exploration. Whether you’re actually headed out on tour or vacation, need some motivation to pursue your dreams, or just want to go for a ride with the Champs, “Delaware” will get you there. - Dan's Tunes

"Underdog Rock"

In the flourishing, vital times of my early teens, I became obsessed with professional wrestling. Like other kids getting into the performance art-leaning sport, I initially took it as face value. It didn't take long, though, for me to become engaged with it in a different way, judging it more for its storytelling merits and for the creativity and athletic prowess of the wrestlers. I became, in pro wrestling parlance, a "smark" - a portmanteau of "smart mark," denoting my love of the form while separating me from the ranks of the dumb-dumbs that would call Hulk Hogan their favorite wrestler.

During the golden age of my loving pro wrestling, there was a unit of wrestlers who would come to be known as the "Smackdown Six," so-called because of the way that these six competitors managed to elevate an entire show through their embracing of more grounded, technically adept styles. These wrestlers were Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, Edge, Eddie and Chavo Guerrero, and Rey Mysterio, Jr. Whenever my dad, fond of rolling his eyes at the phoniness of the whole enterprise, would deign to watch the program with me, the matches featuring these performers were the only ones he could appreciate. There was no denying their talent, even to the layman, and they worked their asses off to prop up what could be, at times, an embarrassing show to watch with the uninitiated.

Some of these wrestlers, in addition to their clear in-ring skill, were much smaller than the behemoths that pro wrestling usually prefers. They helped to spearhead the Light Heavyweight Championship division, which stood out amongst the pack for their fast-paced, technically accomplished action. Something tells me Tacoma power-pop trio the Lightweight Champs are referencing boxing with their name, but the nimbleness and charm displayed by the competitors in the WWE's Light Heavyweight division are reflected in the music of the Lightweight Champs: underdogs advancing the game would seem to line up with the Lightweight Champs' aims.

Formed in 2016, the Lightweight Champs don't have a surfeit of material at hand for perusal, though their debut EP Semi-Pro points to a fighting spirit that acknowledges mild setbacks with as much importance as small victories. The EP comes out of the gate kicking with a brief pop-punk ode to a failing relationship, "We Don't Work." This is a band that doesn't linger on licking wounds, rather inclined to proudly march forward in the face of difficulties. Their biggest success comes in the form of the second track, "The Arsonist," with its Weezer-esque ease in accessing big hooks and engaging melodies. Befitting the Weezer comparison, this is a band that would have undoubtedly found a dedicated audience in the heady days of the ‘90s. (Possibly fun fact: there's a reference to the famously bloody wrestling company ECW buried in Weezer's song, "El Scorcho.")

Made up of Justin Stiles on bass, Ryan Garrette on guitar, and Angie Watson on drums, the Lightweight Champs are quite adept at creating melodic, stripped-down power-pop that's breezy and refreshingly upbeat. Album closer "Yeah E. Yeah Esq." finds the Lightweight Champs at their most muscular, tapping into a driving beat that stutter-steps in places to keep things unpredictable. While nothing they're doing is really breaking the mold that was set by similar bands in the ‘90s alt-rock scene, they're presenting the platonic ideal of the genre, propping it up with boundless enthusiasm and a carefree sense of fun.

For anyone who frequently finds themselves fighting an uphill battle with a sneaky smile on their face, you might find a kindred spirit in the Lightweight Champs. - Weekly Volcano

"30th Anniversary Benefit Concert"

KGRG is celebrating 30 years of Today’s Rock with a special event! We’re turning it up a notch for the 2019 annual fundraiser; see The Home Team, The Lightweight Champs, and Cashing in Karma perform LIVE at Green River College, the home of all things KGRG! Doors open at 6:30PM. Free parking will be available on site.

Proceeds from this fundraiser will go towards the non-profit, student-run operations of KGRG. Tickets will only be available for cash or card donation at the door. For questions, feel free to message us on Facebook, KGRG FM or email! - KGRG 89.9FM


  • Single "Delaware", released April 2019 by ChinUpBeatDown Records. Written/performed by The Lightweight Champs. Recorded/mixed/produced by Dylan Hanwright, Seattle, WA. Mastered by Black Belt Mastering, Seattle, WA.
  • LP "Contenders". Released June 2018 by ChinUpBeatDown Records.  Written/performed by The Lightweight Champs. Recorded/mixed/produced by Mountainhouse Productions, Tacoma, WA. Mastered by Black Belt Mastering, Seattle, WA.
  • EP "Semi-Pro". Released November 2016. Written/performed by The Lightweight Champs. Recorded/mixed/produced by Mountainhouse Productions, Tacoma, WA. Mastered by Black Belt Mastering, Seattle, WA.



The Lightweight Champs are an indie power-pop trio out of Tacoma, WA who'd be punk if they were just a little more angry. Founded in the end of 2016, the champs have developed into a headlining band in the Tacoma/Seattle WA area. With their brand of straight forward almost punk, you'll find yourself caught by their melodic hooks and sing-along anthems.

The Champs have been played on Seattle's 90.3 KEXP FM, North Seattle’s 107.3 KBFG FM, Auburn's 89.9 KGRG FM, and Tacoma's LASR radio.

Their 2018 first full-length album "Contenders" is available on all platforms.

Band Members