Monday, June 22, 2009

Bad fake bands #1: The Hoagiez

Every January, I head up north to run SF Sketchfest along with longtime friend and collaborator Janet Varney. It's a long, boring climb up the 5 to San Francisco, so we often come up with weird games to play to pass the time (when we're not singing along to the likes of Sun Kil Moon, Ryan Adams, King Creosote and countless more). One such game was trying to come up with the worst ficticious band name we could. Once agreed, we then went through and made up their discography, naming each album and trading off track names. In the spirit of that game, I offer up occasional fake band bios--the first being the actual band we agreed upon as the worst the first time we played the game. The details long since forgotten (save for the name and a few choice track names), I'm flushing it out myself here. So, without further adieu...

Chazz Winchell: Vox, Lead guitar
Johan Elgenberri: Rhythm Guitar, Backing vocals
Rudy Knudsen: Bass, Backing vocals (1998-1995)
Steve "Bubo" Knudsen: Drums, other percussion (1988-1994)
Polk Ramirez: Keyboards, Moog (1988-89)
Peter Fratelli: Bass (1995-1999)
Glynn Palmer: Drums (1995-1999)

The Hoagiez formed in 1988, when the members met at an Al-Anon meeting in Winnemucca, Nevada. They soon discovered they all had two things in common--the love of music, and of overstuffed submarine sandwiches. They began rehearsing on weekends at Winchell's house, now vacant due to a nasty divorce from first wife Gretchen. Winchell and Elgenberri (a recent Swedish transplant, sent to the states as a sales rep for Katjes candies) worked particularly well together, and wrote the majority of the Hoagiez material. Brothers Rudy and Steve (who earned the nickname "Bubo" after a childhood obsession with the Clash of the Titans robotic owl of the same name) made a strong rhythm and percussion section, with Bubo known for his bird-like precision. Ramirez, a whiz on the keys but an asshole off of them, brought a lot of tension to the group, and was fired after the Hoagiez first gig at the Winnemucca Convention Center (playing for a Dental convention, Ramirez flipped off the DDSs, drunkenly shouting "Anesthetize this, mutha fuckas!") The foursome, encouraged by the overall positive/apathetic response to their music, headed into the studio to record their first record, simply titled The Hoagiez. Lead single "Prance Like That" caught the ear of local DJ Toots O'Herlihy, who began rotating it on his highly rated morning drivetime show, "Toots and the Bandit." The demo found its way into the hands of Ghostpicnic Records founder Dan Rudolph, who quickly signed the band to a four record contract and put the band on a sixteen week U.S. tour, opening for fellow Ghostpicnic artists The Snowy River Men. With their fan base growing, The Hoagiez felt the pressure to record their sophomore effort, entitled Extra Toppings. A bit of a concept record, there wasn't a clear single--"Pickles" got the most play, but it really failed to make much of an impact. Sales were middling, but their live shows continued to draw large crowds, still rabid to hear "Prance Like That." 

In the winter of 1994, tragedy struck the band when Bubo was killed in a freak remote control car accident. Already two weeks into recording their third album for Ghostpicnic, the session took a massive creative turn, with the songwriting sparse and introspective. A tribute to their late drummer, Bubo's Petals entered the marketplace with a resounding thud in the spring of 95, and The Hoagiez soon found themselves dropped from their longtime label. Gigs started to come few and far between, and Rudy Knudsen decided to call it quits and took a job as a carnival barker. Winchell and Elgenberri were determined to keep the band together, so they hired new bassist Peter Fratelli and drummer Glynn Palmer, who had both spent some time playing together in Winnemucca bluegrass band The Mighty Mighty Fine Ramblers. This injected some much needed new life into the band, and over the next three months they put together The Hoagiez final record, Dr. Temecula and the Billion-Mile Candy-Cane Staircase. A psychedelic departure and cautionary-tale narrative record, it clocked in at nearly 75 minutes with only five tracks. Self-released by the band, it sold fairly well considering its lack of label backing. The Hoagiez continued to tour for a few more years, but as the crowds dwindled, the band decided to call it quits officially in August of 1999. They played their final gig at a downtown Winnemucca bar and restaurant called "The Days of Winnemucca and Roses," to a sold-out crowd of longtime fans. 

*The Hoagiez (1989)
1. Hey Hey (Ima Hoagie)
2. Hospital Schmospital
3. Kitten Bookmark
4. Prance Like That
5. (There's Not Enough) Limes in the World
6. Tigershark
7. Hobo Club
8. I don't have time for no Farmer's Market
9. Theme For a Hoagie

*Extra Toppings (1992)
1. Pile 'em on
2. Pickles
3. Onions
4. Lo-Fat Mayo
5. Cilantro (Oh no no)
6. Greenest of the Peppers
7. Black Olives
8. Toast it Up (I Will Wait)

*Bubo's Petals (1995)
1. I Miss His Snare
2. Silent Rimshots
3. How Much Time Do We Really Have? (I Mean, Really?)
4. Pool Party
5. Prance Like That (Somberly)
6. Life is a Potluck
7. I Don't Get Pottery
8. The Nap Eternal
9. Eagles Fly, Penguins Won't
10. Roll Credits (The Credits of Our Lives)

*Dr. Temecula and the Billion-Mile Candy-Cane Staircase (1997)
1. Temecula's Fantastic Salmon Machine
2. Hoofalloo's Hullaballooed Horsey Sauce
3. The Elves Won't Mind if Milo Takes his Share of Ranger Rick Magazines, as Long as He Puts Them Back After Reading Them, Arranged Chronologically And Stored Properly In Mylar Sheets With Cardboard Backings (Remix)
4. Rumble
5. Sunshine (The Staircase is Destroyed)

**Author's note: Originally, we had decided on Hoagies with an "s" and not a "z," but I recently discovered that there is an actual band called The Hoagies, who seem much funnier than anything I can come up with (and have a drummer with an eyepatch. I mean...c'mon!).

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