Dear Adam Neubauer, Joel Bell, and Jamie Tolosa — I miss you guys. Technically we never met. But our connection goes deeper than the short, meaningless fan exchange in which the pathetic admirer clamors desperately for attention from a band for a paltry couple of seconds (thankfully, I have never participated in such a ghastly act) and asks queries like “Do you like stuff?” or even worse “How has the tour been?”‚ and blurts out statements like “You guys rock!” (or if a person was real smooth “You guys rocked hard!”).
No, we weren’t meant for that type of meeting, Jamie, Joel, and Adam (I realize there were other members previously in the band, but these three ARE Ghoti Hook). I remember my first encounter with you three. It was Sonshine 2000 and I didn’t know a band was allowed to even be that silly or funny. I mean, actually funny, and not the crud that passes for comedy among some bands and goes like this:
The band members are all wearing vintage, mesh, big hats, and each has smartly changed from using a key chain to a key ring. Very little black is worn, mostly cowboy type plaid shirts. On stage left you will notice a black-haired girl in a skirt taping this.
Drummer: “Dudes, dudes, that song was soooo metal, huh-huh… Dudes what do you think of my new drumming gloves?” Lead singer: “Yeah dude, we are so metal. Dude, those drumming gloves are fly! Did you hear me say fly?!? Man we are so ghetto!” Bassist: “Huh-huh… we are off the hook!” Drummer: “We from Compton” Lead singer: “Compton, dudes…”
(All the while the lead guitarist is finding all this banal banter immeasurable funny, and mumbles something or other in the mic before overdramatically starting the next song entitled something like “Looking At The Stars In Your Eyes On This Lonely Night Is Beautiful”).
Smart and funny… that’s what you three were together. I could tell you three were good, if not great friends. I realize fully well that good friends don’t always produce high quality music, and in fact, friction in bands causes great music (i.e. The Pixies, Spaceman 3). But with you three, there was a certain air of familiarity that made me feel at ease and want to have fun at your show. Thanks for making me laugh.
If nothing else, you released laughter within me, which is healthy and good, but you released great music as well. This led to continually increasing critical success, from intelligent reviewers, with each release. Now, if you had to classify me in the two groups of Ghoti Hook fans, I am NOT the kind that would be yelling “Spice Drops” at one of your shows (and I would like to add that anybody engaging in such ignorant behavior should have his constitution shocked with no fewer than 1000 volts).
No, I am a post-Banana Man honky, and to pour alcohol on a festering sore, I do think Banana Man could have been your breakout album had it not been recorded so poorly. But as you and I both know, that breakout never came. You guys were destined to play at churches to youth groups numbering less than 50 with Sidewalk Slam. I know that, maybe, if you had it to do over again, you would steer fully clear of any Christian affiliation, but we gotta live with our decisions.
You guys lived with yours, gracefully and proudly. Never playing with less emotion, at least not when I saw you, and those shows were tiny. I did particularly love the last time I saw you three together. For one, you were playing with the Blamed, a totally boss choice for a touring mate, and more importantly, I knew it was our last meeting together. That night I bought The Blamed’s Give Us Barabbas instead of your EP (since I already owned three of your albums). It wasn’t until recently, when I saw your EP for an embarrassingly cheap price on Tooth and Nail’s site that I decided to do some purchasing.
Joel, your vocals never sounded more sculpted than on this EP. The vocal sound is a cross between an over-confident 80s metal god, the more subdued throwback rock of B.R.M.C, and perhaps some ballsy vocals akin to the Queens of the Stone Age. Not to say they were perfect, but much improved from the early years. The catchy and emotionally charged chorus on “Darling” makes that song. Everything leads up to and away from it: “Let’s go anywhere/Anywhere away from here/Let’s not wait for I’m so sorry/” indeed.
“Let It Ride” drags and pulls me through the mud. It’s dirrty. Very cock rock. The heavy start/stop guitar riffs interplay with your most empathic vocals on the EP. The guitar solo could be classified as overindulgent on “Let It Ride,” but it makes for good air guitar fodder. “Ghost in the Graveyard” contrasts perfectly with the “dice in the mirror/four on the floor” “Let It Ride.” In fact you guys don’t even sound like Ghoti Hook on this one with the feminine Becky Cotter singing the very angelic verses.
The tempo picks up later on “Ghost in the Graveyard” and the rock begins (Adam, your drums make this song great; I always thought you were an under-appreciated drummer). “You Bring Me Down” picks up where “Let it Ride” left off with more guitar and more rock. That group of boys singing BGVs works great, and even you get in on the some hot solo action this time Jamie. But my favorite is probably “Robert Paulson.” Everyone comes together on this one, and you guys show off your sense of what makes a good pop song without losing the rock.
Thanks, Ghoti Hook. It sure was a lot of fun.
Your friend, Jeffrey Ellinger
Written by Jeffrey Ellinger.