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Swingin' Into Town : Cherry Poppin' Daddies will blast off with its own style of rock and punk backed by a happening horn section.

NIGHT LIFE

July 20, 1995|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

As Californians continue to flood Oregon, the Eugene-based Cherry Poppin' Daddies plan to reverse the trend, at least temporarily, when it headlines a gig at Nicholby's on Friday night in Ventura.

The band's bio, which weighs more than several British rock stars, contains all sorts of weird analogies to describe the group's music, such as punk swing or Iggy Pop does Sammy Davis Jr. The happening horn section furnishes the swing references, the rest of the band provides the rock, and front man Steve Perry (nope, not the guy from Journey) sings all his own weird songs--such as "Teenage Brain Surgeon."

The Daddies play mostly swing music but there's enough other stuff going on to bypass any retro tag.

With no day jobs but two trusty vans and two albums, the Daddies have already taken some serious road trips--to New York once, Chicago four times, the Bay Area once a month or so and Southern California about a dozen times so far. The Nicholby's gig will mark their Poinsettia City debut, but the Daddies will also be up the coast at Toes Tavern in Santa Barbara on July 27.

Besides Perry, the band is made up of Dan Schmid (bass), Jason Moss (guitar), Sean Oldham (drums), Chris Azorr (keyboards), Rex Trimm (alto sax), Adrian Baxter (tenor sax) and Dana Heitman (trumpet).

Between recording sessions for the third album, Perry, a man with a decidedly different pantheon of heroes than the average rock star, discussed what's what during a phone interview.

Why the name?

Around 1989, we were sitting around trying to think of what the band should be, drinking or whatever, when a friend muttered, "Hey, Cherry Poppin' Daddies." It had a certain ring to it, a certain kind of Kismet thing, sort of rock, sort of swing. We thought it was sort of a swingin' type of name, but we came out of punk rock, so we really didn't expect much.

****

You have two albums and a third on the way?

Yeah, "Rapid City Muscle Car" from last year has been doing OK, but the first one, "Ferociously Stoned," did really well. It was more of a party and happy-sounding record, while "Rapid City" was more of an idea record.

****

Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Jerry Lewis--these guys are your idols?

To me, it's sort of their swinging, brassy attitude. There's different versions of America, and I think their attitude is somehow heroic. It's almost like Kabuki. Jerry Lewis is a perfect example--he can play a complete [jerk] or a total loser. You can't even tell if there's anything inside of that guy; it's total yang.

****

Describe your music.

That'll be really hard. We've heard the punk rock swinging sort of thing, which is probably pretty close. We basically play all different styles of music, and we play them well. We write a bunch of songs and we play them.

****

Since you play so many different styles, wouldn't record label scouts say you're unfocused?

That's exactly right. Unfocused, I still don't know what that means. I've got to put on my special glasses to understand that one. That has nothing to do with me, which is kind of comforting. It's sort of like to have what it takes, means you have to surrender. They seem to want one of the Seven Cliches of Rock, but this is unnatural for an artist. With our own label, Space Age Bachelor Pad, we get to express ourselves. We're poor, but happy, and we want to keep on doing our own thing.

****

How did the band get going?

We were just kind of sitting around thinking what to do next after our psychedelic band, then after that, sort of a Procol Harum band where everyone just stared at us. It was no fun, so we decided to make a more upbeat kind of thing. It just all came together in a big lump around '88 or '89.

****

Who writes?

I do basically. I sit around all day diddling with my guitar. Then the horn guys say, "This can be done; that can't be done; that sucks."

****

Has the music changed since the beginning?

The newer new stuff has changed a lot. At first, we played really high energy soul with Zappa-like horns and a funky guitar, then we went through our swinging phase, and now it's more rock.

****

What do you think when people call you a party band?

Well, that kinda gets under my skin, especially in the Northwest where it's sort of a giant-sized stigma. It means you're some sort of insensitive non-thinking dude as if partying, in itself, is a bad thing.

****

When you play, do people take notes or dance?

They jump around. We save our jump around songs for when we play live. If people just stand there and look at us, we don't know if we're getting through, and we've gotta know. That's why we push the jump around button when we play.

Details

* WHAT: Cherry Poppin' Daddies, Baby Snufkin.

* WHEN: Nicholby's Upstairs, 404 E. Main St., Ventura.

* WHERE: 9 p.m. Friday.

* HOW MUCH: $6.

* CALL: 653-2320.

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