OK, suppose you're in a band and you're over with the relatives for the holidays and someone asks the name of your band. Following your mumbled answer, the ripping sound you hear is mommy and daddy taking you out of the will. The Hymen Blasters' first gig a year ago at the Beach Shack in Santa Barbara went over a little better. Not much.
"Hey, we brought 180 people in to the club on a Monday night," said vocalist Dave LaVine during a recent interview. "We snuck over to the City College at night and papered the place. We made a big mural out of our flyers. At the time we had an 800 number, and man, the school dialed it quick.
"Then a deejay on KTYD refused to announce our gigs because she said our name was offensive. I know if we changed our name, we could play everywhere. Eventually, we'll get in there and people will have to accept us because we're in this thing for the long haul."
Also known as the H. B. Band during rare moments of subtlety, this motley crew will be assaulting the senses of the rock 'n' roll public twice this weekend. They'll be at the Midnight Hour Friday and Sunday. Friday's gig will also feature Thought Festival and Ventura's only signed band, Sikotik Sinfoney. Sunday's gig will probably feature bands all day, among them Loadedzilla. In between, the H. B.'s will be at Buster's on Goleta Saturday night.
So, what's in a name? Well, trouble and stubbornness for starters. The band members who don't seem to care include LaVine, Joey Rogers on bass, Aaron Abelt on drums, Richard Goodin on guitar and Cat Bartik-Sweeney on sax and flute.
Bartik-Sweeney, being the lone female in the group and the one who gets surly having to drive to Ventura to practice each day after a day's work as a secretary in Burbank, must get asked this question a lot: Is the band's name offensive?
"Non," says she. "But I'll tell you one thing, people remember the name. The guys are like my brothers. There's no egos in this band and no one's stuck on themselves. Sometimes, they play too loud. That's about it."
People remember the band too. They're pretty hard to forget, what with most of the guys looking like finalists in the Ho Chi Minh goatee look-alike contest playing up a storm while Bartik-Sweeney wails on the sax.
"We play kind of a punk rock, jazz fusion, funk with horns," said LaVine, ready to rock with his baseball cap on backward.
And when the band kicks in with one of their ragers, all sorts of energized, single males milling through a maelstrom of testosterone begin to dance like Lurch after too much caffeine.
"We like our fans right up on us, with us playing in their faces," said Bartik-Sweeney.
The band started in 1989 in L. A. after the three Venturans in the band headed south to do the rock star thing.
"I lived in Hollywood for a couple of years and was in a lot of bands," Goodin said. "It didn't really work out because I wasn't playing what I wanted to play." Then he hooked up with LaVine and Abelt.
"We all went to Buena High School together."
The band has been playing off and on since. They have a six-song demo tape and a few songs in a movie not to be confused with "Citizen Kane," titled "Beach Beverly Hills."
"We only have about 15 tunes because we've had so many breakups," said LaVine. "We broke up for a year, joined other bands, reformed, then went through our bass player thing over a period of months."
Joey Rogers is the latest bass player. He's as tough as Bartik-Sweeney. He drives all the way from North Hollywood to practice and play.
"They gave me a tape to learn all the material on a Friday and my audition was on Saturday," said Rogers. "Naturally I learned everything in the wrong key, but I got the job. Then they gave me a swift kick, a T-shirt, and let me pay all the parking meters."
So meanwhile, the H. B. Band is trying to interest the right people in their demo tape and playing the usual places with the occasional gig in L.A. LaVine doesn't seem all that optimistic over the local scene.
"There's not really a scene up here," he said, "just a bunch of club owners trying to outbid everyone else for the good bands."
Are the club owners bidding over the H. B. Band? Maybe if they change their name to the Happily Blissed.