Years before, in 1987, several Gosh Guys-to-be wrote and recorded "Fred Finkle," widely considered the first original Gosh Guys song. This tune was extended to an unbearable length and included on the Gosh Guys' first album, Chewy Frau, which bore the picture of Frau Lockett, the Gosh Guys' German teacher. Lemonjuice, Gargantua, Pylon, Particle Man, and Teflon Nonstick helped out on this album, but unfortunately Balthazar was not involved in this effort. Chewy Frau was an infantile assortment of cover songs (King Missile, They Might Be Giants), improvised songs, and strange noises. Praise for Chewy Frau was limited.
With nearly the same line-up, out popped Wooden Grapes, revealing a more inspired group of youngsters who prove that you don't need to be drunk or stoned to act like total idiots. The number of neural firings per second increased with the addition of Mr. Logic and Correct to the band. Around this time, the band set up a phone service called "The Gosh Guys THRILL^LINE," an idea directly stolen from They Might Be Giants and their "Dial A Song" service. However, the groovy thing about the THRILL^LINE was that every day, without fail, there would be a new song to hear.
The Gosh Guys' next effort, Used Q-Tips, was considered their first success. Including a whole slew of original songs, this album demonstrated the Gosh Guys' ability to make catchier, more musical songs instead of previously throwing random notes together. Guest vocalist Ericgeneric, creator of the epic comic book series Hamsterman, lended his warbly vocal talents to choice songs. Notable songs are "Flaming Jell-o" which concerns a certain English teacher who was caught speeding, "Madonna Buys a Giraffe" which marks the beginning of using computer generated music, "The Sojourn of a Really Cute Bird" which was the Gosh Guys' move into conceptual work, and the classic ode to necrophilia "Dolores."
Shortly before the recording of Used Q-Tips, the Gosh Guys broke new ground in multi-media performance art with "Flinging CoCo's at Bennigans with the Lead Singer of Cocteau Twins," a video compilation featuring songs from the first two albums. This truly meaningless and wasteful work included shots of exploding pancakes, yogurt, sausages, and hot dogs. Another video compilation was made for songs from Used Q-Tips, entitled "Denting Woks With Plastic Mice"; here, videos took on lives of their own with zany patchworks of images - Peter Greenaway meets Peter Jackson beats Peter Rabbit.
One of the aims of the Gosh Guys is to parody every type of music there is, and The Heart Is Where The Blood Is is a shining example of their ability to mangle various musical genres. Their fourth album threw heavy metal, country, and rap onto the bonfire and added kerosene and Molly McButter to add insult to injury. With the addition of drummer Donut, this album was at times their most conventional sounding album, but their bizarre lyrics always shone through, making things a bloody awful mess.
Almost as bearable as their albums, their live performances were nothing to shake your dandruff at. One of their earliest attempts at performing live fizzled, when they were thrown out of the Freedom Hall swimming pool for attempting to provide pep at a swim meet. Keeping with the tradition, the band played two more German festivals, winning 2nd place at one in Memphis and winning 1st place at one at East Tennessee State University. After the latter performance, the Gosh Guys were banned from the ETSU German festival because of certain dubious actions that will remain unnamed. Ah, the infamy!
In the Fall of 1991, the future of the Gosh Guys was uncertain. Key member Dead Dog was now at Clemson University, Fred Five sank into a pot of homestyle gravy, and worst of all, Slender Fungus quit the cross-country team. The release of The Catastrophes of Sound Boxed Set seemed like a logical stopping place, but the Gosh Guys went on. (triumphant music plays in the background) The band performed amongst friends at a fine concert in Fred Five's basement, with audience participation providing a cheery atmosphere. However, joy turned into the macabre when the drummer mysteriously disappeared after the concert. Fred Five, always one of the wild ones, detached himself from the band and was rumored to be living on a commune in rural Tennessee for a short while.
For their next performance, Slender Fungus recruited old-timers Balthazar, Mr. Logic, and Gargantua, and a vacationing Dead Dog took vocal duties; this legendary performance was at the Down Home in Johnson City, where musical inability didn't stop the group from making an incredibly retarded ruckus like nobody's heard. The evening's highlight was a live take on "Madonna Buys a Giraffe" which featured a deafening wall of noise that rendered the audience brain-dead temporarily.
Now, everything was up in the air for the Gosh Guys. Two key members, Dead Dog and Slender Fungus, were to be separated by 1000 miles, as their high school days were over. The Gosh Guys spirit was barely kept alive with their next release, a bootleg recording called Something Gritty In My Pudding that was subsequently made an official release, despite its sub-par quality. This album was a mish-mash of rare tracks, live tracks, and very bad tracks. Still, one could detect the seed of ingenuity that become the Gosh Guys' finest moment.
The sixth Gosh Guys album, Teaching The Evil Robot How To Love, pulled the spilling intestines back into the Gosh Guys torso and sewed up the wound with fishing line. Somehow, this album made the most sense while making no sense at all - things worked, while sounding like a melodical train wreck. Perhaps working second shift at a Fingerhut warehouse was what behooved Dead Dog and Slender Fungus to create such insanity and inanity. The tracks here are fully realized, sculptured musical numbers that completely lack good taste. Much of the Gosh Guys spectrum can be found here, from super-disgusting songs to crafty pop numbers to ear-bleedin' noise weirdouts.
The success of Thurtene exceeded everyone's expectations, garnering a very positive review in Alternative Press and selling out a first pressing (with a green cover), prompting the manufacturing of a second batch (this time, with a red cover). Copies were distributed to places all over the world, and even in the deep recesses of the South, Thurtene was found in certain record stores.
The musical tastes of the Gosh Guys led them to contribute several other covers to compilation cassettes of other mailing lists. From the deceased Sonic Youth mailing list SONIC-LIFE-L came Death of a Sonic Life, a tape that put the "Why?" in D.I.Y. The Gosh Guys contribution, "Pacific Coast Highway," showed the band's new direction, along the lines of the cut-up madness of "What The Fuck Is Grimace?" from ...Evil Robot. They also landed themselves on a tribute to the Fall, with the band interpreting "Paintwork," interspersed with Robert Tilton samples.
Although the release of Dance, Boy, Dance! 1987-1994 appeared to be no more than a re-hashing of material for a quick buck, closer inspection confirms that notion. But heck, this album is a comprehensive collection of essential songs from the early to mid Gosh Guys periods, without making you wade through the muck without galoshes. Several new tracks appear here for the first time, including new "high-tech" re-workings of memorable Gosh Guys tunes. Even the hands-down worst Gosh Guys live show (the "Good Luck Good Bye Cliff" performance, December 1993) is documented with the tune "Dipster Dumpster".
The Gosh Guys are certainly still around, but where are they now? Dead Dog is currently investigating in-store restaurants in various department stores, rating them for food quality, atmosphere, value, etc. Who makes the best grilled cheese? Does K-Mart or Woolworth's have a higher average customer age? Why do more color-blind people eat at McCrory's? Ask Dead Dog, my friend. Slender Fungus collects contraceptives; he owns a prototype of the Today Sponge that is rumored to be worth over $200. If you have IUDs in very good to mint condition, Slender Fungus wants to hear from you.
Bye, and thanks for reading this convoluted history
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