Cover Me Badd, Orange County's most outrageous live karaoke band, are not easily shocked. But on a recent Thursday, one of their endless parade of guest vocalists left the trio flabbergasted.
An orange-tinted woman made her way to the stage for her turn at the mic. With blond hair as real as her skin tone and an outfit way too skimpy to conceal her huge boobs, she proceeded to sing "Kiss" by Prince. Just when it appeared this was just another misguided attempt for a 40-year-old to recapture a key moment of her "better days," she yanked up her top and carelessly shared her tatas with everyone.
Even the seasoned club rats in Cover Me Badd looked taken aback, especially when she did it a second time.
And yet it's par for the rocky course when the band commandeer La Cave Restaurant. Cover Me Badd's devilish debauchery and raunchy rock & roll karaoke antics are much more disgustingly delightful and hilariously hedonistic than the typical campy, so-bad-it's-good karaoke experience.
From riling up the crowd with vulgar anecdotes to heckling the Bon Jovi-wannabe singer of the moment, the three thirtysomething males work with ease to incite the inebriated crowd with the types of things that make you laugh and cringe in that uncomfortable, Borat sort of way. Whether it was the drummer explaining how many times he had masturbated that day or impressing upon a girl that she really needed to change her outfit, these guys have actually reversed the age-old practice of the audience taunting the entertainer.
"I think we have our own pony," says Rod "Cover" Scheuerman, Cover Me Badd's guitarist/operations manager. "Yes, there are a lot of karaoke bands out there, but ours has a take-no-prisoners approach."
"It's a variety show of sorts," adds bassist/keyboardist Nate "Badd" Kazas. "Some music, some wisecracks, some retards, and a flash of a boob here and there."
"If you can't handle pure unadulterated sex, the exit is that way," says drummer Ben "Me" Klein.
Cover Me Badd's hipster crowd appears like a Trendzilla column come to life, as though everyone had hit an Urban Outfitters red-tag sale beforehand. "We'll have a lot of black people, a lot of Asian people, a lot of gay people, a lot of hipsters, a lot of bros—and we all have this weird sort of convergence," says Klein. "Different people of different backgrounds and different ethnicities all come together and act like morons."
"Cover Me Badd brings out the good, the bad and the ugly," adds Scheuerman. "Fifteen percent of the time, you get the good; 70 percent of the time, you get the bad; and 15 percent of the time, you get the ugly. The booze really helps."
The band have been together in their current karaoke incarnation for nearly two years. As members of the now-defunct Orange County band Dallis, the guys were accustomed to performing their own music. However, after the fall of Dallis and a trip to Las Vegas, everything changed. Scheuerman experienced his first live-karaoke band at Mandalay Bay.
"It was cool—all Vegas-style; the musicians knew probably 75 songs," Scheuerman says. "But it was real cookie-cutter. There was no spark, no originality." Deciding he could do better, Scheuerman worked to get Klein and Kazas on board.
"Rod came to me and said, 'I want to do rock & roll karaoke,'" said Klein. "And I said, 'That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Nobody is going to want to do it.'"
But La Cave saw the potential and booked the new group for a weekly gig. Now all that remained to be found was a name. The guys toyed with names like Cover Boy, but after some divine intervention, they had their answer.
"Jesus inspired Cover Me Badd," says Kazas. "We prayed about it."
Now, Cover Me Badd have a repertoire of more than 150 fan-favorite sing-alongs, with new ones being added monthly, with Scheuerman creating PowerPoint files for lyric sheets that can be displayed on a traditional karaoke monitor.
In addition to their Thursday-night residence at La Cave, Cover Me Badd bring the opportunity to rock like AC/DC to venues like Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa, as well as yacht parties in Newport Harbor, holiday parties for such companies as Obey Clothing and RVCA, and the occasional wedding.
"We don't play great music; we play crappy karaoke anthems—that's the point," says Klein. "We're a joke on purpose. In a way, we are subverting the archetypes of rock stardom. We get onstage and do these very over-the-top introductions, gestures and dances, and anybody can get onstage with us and sing."
At the typical Cover Me Badd performance, audience members will find the usual karaoke standards of song lists floating throughout the crowd and blank-paper slips for song titles and personal names. Once you're onstage, expect to be made fun of, hit on, ignored, rushed—or a crazy mix of all four.
"I can say some pretty horrible things sometimes, but it is all in good fun," says Klein. "Even though Ican be an asshole, I'm a benevolent asshole. The etiquette for everyone else is that you cheer everybody on."
The regular Cover Me Badd crowd appears to exploit the outlet provided and enjoys the deviation from Orange County's typical social standards. Everyone sings along, dances around, sips from an alcohol-filled 8 Ball glass, and giggles with friends about what song theyshould sing.
With Cover Me Badd, what you see is what you get. The guys never practice, except for their time onstage. They are about being performers and entertainers, not artists or musicians. "We're fan-friendly," says Kazas.
"We're not interested in being cool," says Klein. "I love being hipsters' guilty pleasure."
In defiance of the evolution of today's popular-music scene, Cover Me Badd altruistically forgo creating their own music to play straightforward versions of songs from nearly every genre. From oldies to Top 40 hits, Cover Me Badd promise a one-of-a-kind live-karaoke experience with a veiled, philanthropic agenda.
"There has been an MTV-ization and American Idol-ization of music, where you can't just do a band anymore," says Klein. "There is always this specter lurking in everyone's brain—that spoils creativity—of we're going to be successful."
For Klein, Cover Me Badd are very much a protest of music as it stands today. "The singer is typically the face of a band," he says. "The fact that we give that to anybody to come and do whatever they want onstage, it explodes the myth of rock-star elitism. It's part of the joke of the band that we are these oversexed, macho a-holes who bag on everybody."
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In reality, these guys are educated professionals. With a master's in English, Klein is an English professor at Cerritos and Fullerton colleges. Kazas graduated with his M.A. in trombone from USC, and he works as a shaper for an Orange County surfboard company. Scheuerman worked as a production assistant for the now-obsolete Orange County Network and now works for Guitar Center.
"Badd is the talent of the band, I'm the good looks, and then Ben's the mouth," says Scheuerman. "It's a party onstage, so people really get into it."
One of the guys' favorite mantras is that Cover Me Badd is the wrong band for all the right reasons. "We're not special. We're idiots," Klein says. "Come on and get onstage and be an idiot, too."
COVER ME BADD PERFORM AT LA CAVE RESTAURANT, 1695 IRVINE AVE., COSTA MESA, (949) 646-7944; WWW.LACAVERESTAURANT.COM. EVERY THURS., 10 P.M. FREE. 21+.