These Shellfish move around more than a clam on a jet ski.
Bassist Colleen Coffey lives in Ventura, singer guitarist Peter Harb lives in Carpinteria and drummer Sid Hajdu lives in Agoura. They practice several times each week in Ventura and play whenever they can. Next time will be the endless, mindless, senseless and pretty fun Battle of the Bands on Wednesday night at the Metro Bay Club in Ventura. Already two months old, the Battle may go on until the Cubs win the pennant again, maybe longer.
Suppose your band put out a tape, then the band broke up, leaving you 500 reminders of the bad ol' days. The Shellfish used to be the Withdrawals, but lost a member and became a trio that would still love to sell you a tape.
The members have some memorable local music connections for those who can remember beyond last Thursday. Coffey and Hajdu were in the terminally nervous Toast a few years ago. Coffey's brother, Bill, was the head Mudhead before relocating to Boise (just after the final Mudheads tape came out). Harb has been in a zillion bands in Carpinteria.
Shellfish plays edgy pop rock that rocks as Harb sings lead and Coffey harmonizes. It's not exactly Raging Harb & the Shellfish, but the soulful ballads are definitely in the minority with this band. At the band's practice site, the members discussed their music and all those Withdrawals tapes.
Q: Why Shellfish?
Hajdu: A fresh start.
Harb: We have a song called "Shellfish," which is actually about being selfish. If you say "Shellfish" really fast three times, it becomes "selfish." We've only played three gigs so far as the Shellfish.
Q: Isn't it hard to hide anyone when you're only a trio?
Harb: Sure it is. The Withdrawals just weren't doing what I wanted to do musically, but I still wanted to do something with Colleen and Sid because they're musicians I really enjoy playing with. It's not that I don't want to play with another guitarist, it's just that I haven't found the right one yet. Also, it really works as a three-piece, and you can really hear what's going on.
Hajdu: Ultimately, being a three-piece will make us better musicians. And later, if we want to add another guitarist, we can.
Coffey: I'd hear Sid play something and I'd ask him, "When did you start doing that?" And he'd tell me he always did.
Q: Do you do Withdrawals songs?
Hajdu: Yeah, we do three of them off the tape.
Coffey: We've got 500 of them, so we've been using these white labels that fit right over them.
Q: Is the local scene happening?
Coffey: It died.
Hajdu: It could be better. It's been better. It's been worse.
Coffey: Peter and I just got back from Boise to visit my brother, and there were a lot of places to play and a lot of college kids. Here, you have to bring your own fans. Most of the places here are over-21 bars, and we have a lot of fans that are under 21. There's not a lot of money to be made, either.
Harb: But one night at the Ventura Theatre when we were still the Withdrawals, this girl got down on her knees and asked me to marry her.
Q: Did it work, marriage, I mean?
Harb: Well, she definitely got a phone call later.
Q: Can a band get signed from Ventura?
Coffey: Only if you move somewhere else.
Q: Is Shellfish the only band in the world that does a Mudheads song?
Coffey: Yeah, that we know of. When we were in Boise, Peter was playing "Right Where You Are," and my brother, Bill, was sitting there and after a few chords, he said: "Hey, that's my song. Do you remember the second verse? I forgot the words."
Q: What do you think Shellfish music sounds like?
Harb: Early '80s scrunge with pop sensibilities.
Q: What's the creative process for writing a Shellfish song?
Harb: Well, if I'm feeling something like really crappy or amazingly good, then it just kind of happens. You just do it. If it just comes out in 20 or 30 minutes, then it's honest, otherwise--blah! I write about parents, girls and dealing with growing up. By the time I take it to the band, it's pretty much written and we know what we're doing and where we're going. I like Bob Mould and the Plimsouls.
Q: Has Bob Mould ever smiled?
Harb: I don't think so.
Q: Colleen, how did you end up playing the bass?
Coffey: In my first band, my friend Jenny Murphy was going to sing and play guitar, and this other girl was going to be the drummer. The bass was the only thing left. So I told my brother, and he got an old acoustic guitar, and took off a couple of strings and taught me how to play.
Q: Weren't you in a Battle of the Bands before?
Coffey: Yeah, it was with Toast at Nordhoff High School. There was Mosaic, and some rock-poser band from T.O. and at the end, the judges ended up fighting. I couldn't take it, and we split before it was over, but we won and we got the 300 bucks.
Q: Is Shellfish going to start playing more?
Harb: I hope so. I hate waiting to play.
Coffey: I have to split time between school and the band. The biggest obstacle to band progress is my school. I'm working on a B.A. in American History from UCSB.
Q: Are you going to re-enlist?
Coffey: I want to go to UCLA.
* WHAT: Shellfish, Water's Edge, Slam Alice, Guardian
* WHERE: Metro Bay Club, 317 E. Main St., Ventura
* WHEN: Wednesday night, 9-ish.
* WHY: Battle of the Bands.
* INFO: 652-0100