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Photo by James BunoanThere is nothing more hated or ridiculed in Western Civilization than the hairstyle known as the mullet. Short on top, long in the back, the mullet has for decades been the leading symbol of American trash, outstripping such similar icons as monster trucks, metal music and even Bud Light in a can.
Yet there is a band in Newport Beach that embraces the mullet. Called the Shout and known for the poppy punk music they play in local taverns, the six-year-old group has already written two mullet-themed songs. One of them—"A Very Mullet Christmas"—will be on KROQ's Christmas CD due out at the end of November.
To understand the motivation behind the Shout's fascination with the mullet—a virtual pact with the devil—I visited band members Randy Redmon, Keith Harrison and Rick Scrimger at Fusion, a Costa Mesa sushi bar.
They were waiting for me at 7:30 outside, sitting in a rented black 1984 Cadillac limo. After struggling with both rear-door handles, the band emerged, each member wearing a mullet wig and a red Angels baseball cap. After shaking hands, we retired inside for platters of sushi and tall bottles of Asahi.
"Recovering mulleteers" themselves, the Shout felt the urge to write a song about mullets after spying "a guy with a Mulletus Maximus" at a local restaurant, Redmon explained. "He was just hammered."
Their first mullet song, called "The Mullet Song," appeared on their self-produced CD, Identity Crisis. It also got some play on KROQ in January. By this summer, they wanted to follow it up with a holiday rendition.
"But starting a Christmas song in June ain't easy," said Redmon.
"We had to put ourselves in the trailer park, where the Christmas lights never come down," said Harrison. "Trailer parks don't have chimneys. Santa doesn't come to visit. Is that why trailer-park kids grow up the way they do? Drink the cheap beer they do? Because they grew up thinking Santa was the UPS Man?"
"In order to write a mullet song, you have to be a recovering mulleteer," said Redmon, in between eating soy beans. He then explained a fascinating phenomenon in which people who sport mullets don't know they even have mullets. In fact, the very name "mullet" is recent. Most mullet historians date the distinctive hairstyle back to at least Paul McCartney circa 1972, but the hair wasn't derided as a "mullet" per se until the past decade.
Mostly quiet, drummer Scrimger finally jumped in.
"You have to have felt the mullet on your neck," he said. "You know, this is really getting uncomfortable," he added, brushing the fake mullet hair from his neck. "It feels like a dead animal on my neck."
"How dare you say that?" Redmon suddenly yelled.
"Look! He's writing that down," said Scrimger, as I frantically tried to take notes.
"Damn! I forgot he was here," said Redmon. "Look, I was just offended. I don't know why."
Downing a bit more Asahi—perhaps mulling times long past when his own mullet rested on his neck—Redmon cooled off.
"You know, when we had mullets, you could still get laid if you had a mullet," said Harrison, eliciting hearty agreement from his fellow band members. "But guys with mullets today, no way. My theory is that the last time they got laid was in the 1980s when they had a mullet, so they're afraid to change."
Then the sushi arrived. As he stirred wasabi into his soy sauce and prepared to dig into some Shout Rolls—a house specialty named after the band and consisting of your standard spicy tuna cut roll topped with eel—Redmon touched on the risk his band is taking by aligning themselves so closely with such a hated hairstyle.
"Look, we don't want to be known as a mullet band," he said. "Then again, the mullet wigs we're wearing are top sellers at the wig shop. Forty-two were sold in one day for Halloween last year."
Not everything the Shout does these days is mullet-related. They're also set to record the theme song for the imminent return of Poorman's Bikini Beach, the most recent television venture for ex-KROQ jock Poorman, a.k.a. Jim Trenton. Originally airing three years ago on mostly Asian-programming Channel 62, the show produced 100 episodes, of which only 60 actually aired.
Filmed mostly out of his own house and the beach out front using teenaged bikini girls, Poorman has totally revamped the format, making it, as the band described, "more professional." It's scheduled to start again on Friday at 10 p.m. on Pat Boone's KDOC Channel 56, which years ago ejected Poorman for showing up to an earlier TV show wearing only a baseball cap over his crotch.
"Knock on wood—we'll get syndicated, and then we get the big money," said Harrison.
"You do that 'knock on wood' thing again, and I'm firing you," said Redmon.
Inevitably, the conversation steered back to mullets.
"I'm all about [mullet] awareness," said Redmon. "I don't mind being at the forefront of mullet awareness. We're not putting them down. We want to bring them out. After all, we made it out of the trailer park."
THE SHOUT PERFORMS AT THE HARP INN, 130 E. 17TH ST., COSTA MESA, (949) 646-8855. FRI.-SAT., 9 P.M. CALL FOR COVER. 21+; FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE BAND, CALL THE SHOUTLINE AT (949) 723-1938 OR VISIT WWW.THESHOUTMUSIC.COM.