As long as there are garages, there will always be rock 'n' roll. Real garages, I mean, not those shared, open parking structures that are found at apartments and condominiums. Real garages are full of real stuff--tools, lawn mowers, bicycles, surfboards, all the stuff you'll never use but can't throw away, and of course, bands--lots of bands. That's where rock 'n' roll comes from.
Garage bands are bands that have no money, so they're still trying hard. No one's ever heard of them but Mom, and she's being polite. These bands have no hits, no Grammies, no agents swarming, and often, no fans, and probably not even a bar tab when they play. From the garage they came, and still they come.
From a garage in Port Hueneme comes Garage-a-saurus Wrecks, four single-minded individuals whose greatest concern is whether to use hyphens in their name. Now that's dedication and a pretty funny name, too, not to mention some pretty good country-flavored pop rock featuring some powerful vocals by Jenny Murphy. Mike Fishell, a guitar player in another band (the Convertibles) is the drummer; Julianne Fishell is the bass player and also married to Mike, and Tim Anderson is lead guitarist.
Although a case could be made that it's no fun if you can't complain, this is not true for garage bands. Too many decibels leads to too many neighbors on the phone, which leads to those embarrassing conversations with the cops who don't always buy the fact that it's only rock 'n' roll. Garage-a-saurus Wrecks practices in the Fishells' garage, but there's actually a practice room built inside the garage, thus it's quiet. Also, the house next door is empty--a rock 'n' roll heaven, for sure.
"We got together around the time that Siouxsie from Siouxsie & the Banshees put out her solo album--the 'Creatures' album," said Mike Fishell. "Or maybe it was in 1989 when all four of us went to see the Rolling Stones at the Coliseum. We had a motel room and a big bag of Keystone Beer."
Fishell, a pretty good drummer for a guitar player, is also a good enough guitar player to give lessons.
"Tim and I were taking guitar lessons from Mike," said Murphy. "The lessons were back-to-back and we ended up jamming over at Mike's house. The drummer from his other band left his drums in the garage and Mike started playing drums. One night, he got his wife really drunk and she ended up playing bass. I think before that, we all met at Charlie's."
There's more to it than buying a guitar and the clothes, getting the haircut, then waiting for your Grammy. There's that ubiquitous "p" word--practice. "We practice a couple of times a week," said Fishell. "Lately, we've been playing about twice a week, which is a lot. It would be nice if there were more places to play because there are some great bands in Ventura County."
Mike Fishell and Murphy are the songwriters. Murphy is the lead singer, Mike Fishell provides the back-up and harmony vocals. But with a name like Garage-a-saurus Wrecks, most would expect few songs slower than Warp 10. Actually, the band plays basic 3-minute country pop rock songs. "We all share a common musical vision," said Fishell. "We're just this jangly rock 'n' roll band with a country edge."
One of the band's best songs is called "Rock Not Pop," which may be more wishful thinking than reality. But if we're talking reality, Garage-a-saurus Tex would be a name more descriptive of their sound. "Also, people can't spell our name," said Murphy. "People might think we're thrashers when actually we're responsible musicians, except, maybe, when we get free beer at Hussing's."
Free beer, a record deal, hits, Grammies, half of Bon Jovi's women, all of Milli Vanilli's money are all fairly typical rock 'n' roll dreams. Garage-a-saurus Wrecks is still on the lower rungs of the rock 'n' roll stairway to heaven--hey--they're still in the garage. "We want to to make a tape," said Fishell. "Actually, we are making a tape, and it'll be recorded in the garage. We've got about 15 songs--enough for a tape. Someday, we'd like to open for the Stones because we all dig Keith Richards, or even the Mudheads--just not Billy Joel."
You can take the band out of the garage, certainly all the way to Charlie's, 362 California St., (648-6688) in Ventura where Garage-a-saurus Wrecks will perform at 9:30 Tuesday night. Opening is another interesting band that knows about every surf instrumental ever written--Big Wednesday. For $2, you can't go wrong.