Photo by Michael MullerIt seems as if the Groovie Ghoulies have been pogo-ing around forever. Since the late '80s, this Sacramento-based husband-and-wife-team-plus-a-drummer outfit have been pounding out spastic, spirited pop, and even after seven full-length releases, more than 20 seven-inches and a penchant for touring ( . . . and touring . . . and touring . . . and touring . . .), they've still got some pounce left in 'em. In fact, they're pretty much all pounce—catch these goofs onstage, and you'll realize that no matter what the return-of-rock-ers tell you, spunk's not dead yet.
"I don't think enough bands put spunk into their show," sighs Kepi—the singer/sometimes bassist/sometimes drummer with the raccoon-eye stripe painted on his face. "There are a lot of good bands, but there are a million [out there], and only a fraction are . . . "
Worth a shit? we ask. Well, Kepi's gentler than that.
"There's just not enough cleverness and energy," he says. "Everything we do is something I would like to see other bands do."
So let the Groovie Ghoulies help you help yourself—your study aid will be their newest album, Go! Stories, released last year on Stardumb Records. It's your idiot's guide to cleverness and energy, full of kooky lyrics, catchy hooks, maybe even a song about a three-foot chupacabra. And you'll need a Good Times! Live set, with amps dressed up like kitsch-camp creatures and a lot of little plastic doodads to toss into the audience.
Do people ever toss anything back? we ask.
"Not really onto the stage," says Kepi, "but sometimes people bring us good things like toys and candy. Christmastime, we got a lot of baked goods. But we don't get flowers like Stevie Nicks or anything."
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(Someone liked the Ghoulies' shtick enough to sneak two of their songs into a video game, however—too bad Kepi doesn't own a PlayStation to test it out for himself. "All I need is Galaga and Ms. Pac-Man," he says. "I'm old school.")
But they should get flowers. They've been around since 1989—did any other bands manage to survive Nirvana unchanged? Well, maybe the Melvins—and the Ghoulies have a set list that could top out in the triple digits, if you wanted to make a marathon of it. They've even had to do the revolving-door-for-drummers thing, tearing through a pile of percussionists—including a member of Screeching Weasel—like so much toilet paper, settling now with a girl named Scampi, who, in order to keep up with the Ghoulies' famously accommodating stage persona, had to learn, like, 100 songs. (To her credit, her head has yet to explode.) But it's nice, in the era of the photocopied set list, to see a band willing to risk a little brain damage for their fans—because, Kepi knows, it's all about the fans.
"People are coming out that have been there for years, and they don't want to hear all of your new masterpieces or whatever," he says, possibly violating every fundamental principle of rock & roll front-man-ism. "So being able to take requests and play them, not only does it mix it up and keep it fresh for you, but it's also pretty fun when people come up to [us] afterward and are like, 'Ahh, dude, you played my song.' I mean, I saw Cheap Trick when they did their last studio album, and they played almost the whole thing. I was like, 'Oh, this is too much. Give me some hits!'"
The Groovie Ghoulies perform with Three Bad Jacks, Manplanet, the Briggs and the Breakdowns at Chain Reaction, 1652 W. Lincoln Ave., Anaheim, (714) 635-6067; www.allages.com. Thurs., Jan. 30, 7:30 p.m. $8. All ages.