The Cellar Rats. Superficial Love. Fizzy Bangers. Motorpsycho. Snailface. Twang Gang. Dead In Spain. Gringo Gone Wild. King Boom Boom. These are some of the bands with funny names taken randomly from the Sunday Calendar, so it must be the truth.
Rock 'n' roll is to funny names as Dad is to "Turn that junk down." Pop-rocking Santa Barbarians' Circus Frequency hold their own in the funny name category.
"We were just kicking around some weird names," said lead singer Kirstin Candy during a recent interview at the Brewhouse Grill, waiting for the stragglers from the Elvis Costello show to come in and dance like crazy people. "I came up with the 'Frequency' part, and we were looking for something fun, and our drummer Jeff Rodgers came up with the 'Circus' part.
"When you go to a circus, you experience all sorts of emotions from fear to excitement all in a totally insulated environment. Is it fantasy or reality? A circus is different extremes."
Being in a band is often an exercise in extremes, usually extreme poverty. With Toad the Wet Sprocket as the only signed band in the 805 area code, almost everyone else has the dreaded day job, or a bunch of day jobs.
All five band members in Circus Frequency have or nearly have their degrees from UCSB in the social sciences, so, not surprisingly, Candy is a waitress at the Brewhouse when she's not singing. Just another smart and poor Santa Barbara band. "I'm just trying to support myself and still be able to do this band thing. I've got three jobs. I also work for American Airlines at the airport."
As the place began to fill up, the dreaded Brewhouse beer began to flow down people's necks. The band began about half an hour late (pretty close to on time by rock standards) and people began to dance. Circus Frequency doesn't do any slow ones, and Candy has no "off" switch anyway.
She certainly won't be dancing alone when Circus Frequency opens up for Spencer the Gardener at the Beach Shack Friday night. Wherever Spencer shows up, the dance floor is packed. The bill guarantees plenty of pure pop for dancing fools.
"Our music is alternative pop and rock, part pop, part rock," said Candy. "I guess we're in between punk and alternative. We've got a natural approach to music. We have about 25 original songs--no covers. In fact, people never ask us to do covers."
Candy has a big booming voice and harmonizes well with lead guitarist Dan Bucko.
"I write the melodies and the lyrics, and sometimes Dan does too," said Candy. "Everybody basically makes up their own parts. It's a collaborative effort. We just got a new bass player, Mark Christman, but the band has been around for a year and a half."
The band, naturally, has a tape they would love to sell you. "Promised Land" contains six songs, six expensive songs. "We spent $3,000 recording that one," said Candy. "It's sold pretty well--we've sold over half of them and it only came out in January."
When the Circus comes to town--well, actually it doesn't. It usually stays in its own town, or leaves town, like to L.A. It's odd, but few Santa Barbara bands play Ventura and few Ventura bands play Santa Barbara.
Spencer the Gardener is the only band that does well in both towns. Circus Frequency plays all the usual spots in S.B., or heads for L.A.
"One time we played Trancas in Malibu and we were waiting to go on," said Candy. "Before us was this guy with a piccolo playing the theme to 'Gilligan's Island.' Then this Disneyland Tomorrowland cheese band was next, who didn't click. Then came this band from Ventura named the Dycondras who all wore these weird costumes and generally blew everybody's mind.
"We usually stay in Santa Barbara and play once a week or so."
Joseppi's Wedding Band, THE happening S.B. Tuesday night party for years, is history. Well, for a while, anyway. "We may start doing the Ketch pretty soon," said Spencer (the Gardener) Barnitz, who sings for the Wedding Band, and thus, knows about stuff like that. "It was getting so wild, the crowd was about to tear Joseppi's apart."
* WHERE AND WHEN
Circus Frequency opening for Spencer the Gardener at the Beach Shack, 500 Anacapa St., Santa Barbara, Friday 9 p.m., 4 bucks.