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Nothing to Fear

Funny punk personas lurk behind Fangboy's monster masks.

April 20, 2001|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

While Fear may be nature's way of scaring us, Fangboy and the Ghouls is the result of viewing too many classic horror flicks. Both those bands and more will play at the Ventura Theatre on Saturday night for those who like their rock loud, fast and funny.

Fear, the one-time "most notorious band in America," was also John Belushi's favorite. Belushi won't be coming back, but Fear just won't go away.

Fronted by Lee Ving, Fear plays funny punk songs so fast even Superman probably couldn't decipher the lyrics. But if it's attitude that counts, Fear has that aplenty.

It's survived a couple of decades with punk rock anthems such as "Let's Have a War," "I Don't Care About You" and "New York's All Right if You Like Saxophones."

Meanwhile, the monsters of rock in Fangboy--Jason Amelio (The Wolfman) on guitars and vocals, Chris Savoy (The Monster) on bass and vocals and Talon Klipp (The Count) on drums and vocals--are ready to play with Fear.

"I'm really looking forward to that one," Amelio said. "Fear was one of the first bands that showed people you could have a sense of humor in punk rock. I've always respected them for that, and I think this will be entertaining, to say the least."

The guys in Fangboy released a CD a few years ago and are threatening a special treat for the fans who fork over the cash for this show.

"We've been trying to build up our fan base--our Fang Club--so anyone who buys tickets to the Fear show from us will get a 15-track CD of live stuff that we're only going to give away this one time," Amelio said. "In fact, we're erasing the masters immediately after this is done. That's what bands like the Misfits did--they gave so much back to their fans. . . . That's the way all bands should be."

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Fangboy and the Ghouls will be easy to spot--they'll be the ones dressed for Halloween six months early. But Marilyn Manson this ain't.

"It's a little bit different for all of us," Amelio said. "I grew up watching those kinds of movies, and I think everyone did, and the fascination kind of sticks with you. . . . We have fun with it. Then there's the Marilyn Mansons who take it a little serious. Hey, this is rock. It's supposed to be fun."

Fangboy and the Ghouls are all about having fun--how serious can they be in those get-ups? And yet they are serious. Although their outfits and all that makeup haven't made them exactly babe magnets, they aren't just showing up for the beer, either.

"It is fun," Amelio said. "I don't know anyone who gets to go out with their face painted up and just act goofy. . . . We do take the stage part seriously. And I think even if you don't like the exact kind of music we play, you'll get into the feeling and the fact that we're there to have a good time and not get up there and scare people."

Not counting a few breaks, Fangboy has survived for six years, a veritable eternity for a band. There haven't been any personnel changes and they've managed to avoid those dreaded and often fatal "creative differences."

Their longevity is readily explainable to The Wolfman:

"No success," Amelio said. "Success breaks bands apart. We found early on that we really enjoyed playing together and we get along, even though we have our fights and all that. But this is a business, too, and you don't give up the first time you run into adversity. Or the second time. Or the third time. We've run into plenty of that. It's a general like for each other."

The big-stage Ventura Theatre adventure should provide the largest audience yet for the band, which has played the smaller venues and dive bars around the area, particularly over the last six months.

"I think we've played everywhere but the Bombay and the Ban-Dar," Amelio said. "The Red Cove's been real good to us. Bubba's Lounge has been real good to us, and Nicholby's too."

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So what can be expected from these musical monsters? Loud and fast is one interpretation; The Wolfman has another.

"It's happy music for unhappy people," Amelio said. "It's just good old-fashioned rock. We have 47 originals. Wait a minute--we wrote one the other day--make it 48. Covers? I think we can do 25 or 30 of those--Misfits, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Bauhaus, Iggy Pop . . . "

And like most musicians, these guys are living in the future, with plans and all. They definitely have the songs, just not the bankroll.

"We desperately want to record again--we just don't want to pay for it this time," Amelio said. "The first one we recorded in 24 hours--mixed down, everything. So our big master plan is to give ourselves enough time to do what we really want instead of what we have time to do. I think our new stuff is a lot stronger than the old stuff. Instead of spending two hours per song, I'd like to spend two days."

What are the band's viewing recommendations if everyone survives Fear? Amelio remains stuck in 1941 with Lon Chaney and Claude Rains.

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