While Jesse Lortz and Kimberly Morrison have both done time in some of Seattle's most rough-and-tumble garage punk combos, the two found themselves receiving international acclaim in 2008 for their debut album as the Dutchess & the Duke, in which they turned their attention to acoustic guitars and a cool but honest folk-rock-influenced sounds that recall the work of Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones.
Lortz and Morrison first met in high school, where they shared an enthusiasm for beer, junk food, and punk rock, and in time both became figures on the Pacific Northwest garage punk scene. Lortz was a member of the "deconstructionist R&B band" the Flying Dutchmen, and in 2002 he recruited Morrison to play organ with the group. When the Flying Dutchmen called it quits in 2004, Lortz formed the Fe Fi Fo Fums and started an independent label, Boom Boom Castle Records, while Morrison did time with the Intelligence, the Fallouts, and the Unnatural Helpers.
Lortz and Morrison found themselves playing together again in a short-lived act called the Sultans, and were inspired to start writing material that would take their music in a new direction celebrating pop music's past. Calling themselves the Dutchess & the Duke ("the Dutchess" being a nickname Morrison picked up in the Flying Dutchmen), the pair worked on their harmonies and began recording material at Magical Basement Studios, a modest eight-track facility in Seattle run by Bryan Standridge of the Suspicions. With some help in the studio from Donnie Hilsdat and Karen Mitchell, the Dutchess & the Duke released their first 7" single on Boom Boom Castle, "Reservoir Park" b/w "Mary," in 2007, and several months later the Sub Pop-distributed Hardly Art label signed the duo to a record deal. Their first full-length album, She's the Dutchess, He's the Duke, was released in June 2008 and received enthusiastic reviews; Lortz and Morrison soon took the act on the road, with additional accompaniment from friends Ruben Mendez and Oscar Michel. The band releasedSunset/Sunrise the following year. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi