Calling FlashPants a 1980s dance-party cover band is a bit of an understatement. If you want to get technical, FlashPants are an organization of four separate ’80s dance-party cover bands (composed of four people each), all committed to giving crowds at venues, weddings and other events of all shapes and sizes the same unbelievable live performances that have endeared them to people across the country. But for the group’s leader, Graysen Harnwel, FlashPants are really all about having fun and giving people an escape from reality.
“We refer to ourselves as an interactive comedy show which is performed by professional seasoned musicians,” Harnwel says. “The nature of the show isn’t about the music; it’s about the connection and the fun between the band and the audience. If you want to go listen to a band, there are lots of great musicians in Southern California. But if you’re looking for a more interactive fun experience, that’s what FlashPants are. We’re all in this sandbox called life, and it can be a rough ride where we’re stuck dealing with the sandy turds left by the dog, or we can be goofing around and having it all come together and make sense for the short time when we’re all together.”
Recently, the most-hired band in California took things to the next level when they dominated the season finale of the reboot of The Gong Show on ABC (featuring a bizarre-looking Mike Myers in prosthetics). But for as much of an opportunity as network television would seem for most ’80s cover bands, FlashPants turned it down at first. Not only did they not see it as particularly necessary for their brand, but it also seemed to be a gamble for a group that haven’t had an issue booking gigs.
“When The Gong Show called me, I told them that we weren’t really interested because FlashPants were a very functional working act and I didn’t see why we’d want to be on a show where the unit of measurement is ‘Did you fail or not?'” Harnwel recalls. “They kept calling us until we finally agreed to do it because they said they weren’t going to shame us in any way, and they totally kept their end of the bargain.
“They put every act in a spot where they could shine as brightly as they could, but it was still nerve-wracking because you have 3 million viewers judging you over the course of a few minutes,” Harnwel continues. “That’s a lot of people, and it’s kind of an all-or-nothing kind of thing. What if I’d gone on that show and had a poop stain on my shorts? Instead of being the guy in FlashPants, I’d be the guy with the poop stain.”
This stint on national television is described by Harnwel as both exciting and terrifying, not unlike a roller coaster or skydiving. Of course, the perfect score no doubt made it a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved, but the guys in FlashPants were really just doing what comes naturally to them. The Gong Show allowed them to explain to the world what their fans and employers already know: FlashPants are all about the energy and fun of their shows, no matter what genre of music they’re taking on.
“FlashPants will certainly evolve as the audience’s requests evolve, but right now, we do almost exclusively ’80s dance music because it’s the most ridiculous and fun genre of music,” Harnwel says. “There’s no reason why we wouldn’t switch to ’90s or country or anything like that as long as we can have fun and connect with an audience while continuing to make a full-time living. We’re not particular about the kind of music that we play; we’re just particular about the experience that people seeing us have.”