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April 16, 1993 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-04-16

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Hangin' with the Friars


by Melissa 0Rse Bernardo
They have performed at the White House, at the Rose
Bowl and will soon be releasing their own recording. Their
wig, charm and unique'style of singing has made them one of
the most renowned a cappella groups in the country. They
are, of course, the Friars. I got up close and personal with
Jeremy, Roy, Jason, Bob, Ayal, Aaron, Dan, Matt and Paul.
MRB: Do you guys consider yourselves singersfirst, then
comedians, or vice-versa?
Bob: (pretending to be offended) Are you saying our
singing is funny?
Ayal: We find a balance.
Bob: Singing is the main criteria.
Jeremy: We don't say "hey, do a stand up routine" at the
audition ... The humor comes out of our approach to the
Jason: The humor comes out of the "light-hearted spon-
(Here begins the five-minute digression on the correct
way to pronounce "spontaneity.")
MRB: So what does it take to be a Friar?
Aaron: You have to be brave, and willing to do just about
everything. (PAUSE) In performance.
Roy: I think it takes a self-assurance that goes beyond
(Roy is intermpted by a Deep Thought from Ayal: "The
Friars go to the Mug like a fish needs a bicycle." That's deep
Roy: (exasperated) I think it takes a lot of patience.
MRB: Is your music or style influenced by anyone in
Jeremy: We've been branching off into a lot of different
genres, but we tend to do more recent things.
(This next question I stole from my esteemed colleague
Alison Levy.)
MRB: If you were a Crayola crayon, what color would
you be and why?
Jason: Blue.
Roy: Oh how boring!
Jason: A teal blue, like the color of the ocean ... I have
fond memories of the ocean.
Rest of the Friars: WHATEVER.
MRB: What about you Dan?
Dan: Puce.
Bob: No, it's got to be a Crayola crayon color.
Dan: It is.
Jason: Well, if you get the 64 color box ...
MRB: So exactly what color is puce?
Roy: A nasty barf green.
(Actually Roy, it's a brownish-purple. But let the record
shtow that Dan's favorite color is some nasty shade of green.)
MRB: If the Friars had a theme song, what would it be?

Ayal: (assuredly) "Mysterious Ways."
Rest of the Friars: (groan) No, no. Ignore that.
(The Friars bicker among themselves trying to agree on
the appropriate answer.)
Paul: (asserting himself) I would say "A-Wim-Wa-Wep"
("The Lion Sleeps Tonight"), because for most of us it was
the first song we each sang as a Friar.
Ayal: (jokingly) How about "Shame and Scandal"?
(Others groan in disbelief. Jeremy breaks in with a
Lawngiland accent: "I'll give you a topic; talk among your-
selves. The Progressive Era was neither progressive nor an
era. Discuss.")
MRB: Is there any reason you guys make so many
"Saturday Night Live" references?
Jeremy: Because we have no social lives.
Roy: I think it's because we all grew up with it.
Jeremy: Maybe it matches our sense of humor.
Bob: What, after 12:30 we're not funny anymore?
Paul: No, it's because we have no lives.
(The Friars? Eight of the most coveted men on campus
have no lives? There is no justice.)
Paul: (SHAMELESS PLUG) We're coming out with a
new album, tentatively titled "Ndked in the Gulf," to be
released in Fall '93.
Ayal: You might want to mention that the U sent us out to
the Rose Bowl.
(Other Friars bicker amongst themselves: "It was the
Alumni Association." "No, wasn't it Campaign for Michi-
gan?""No, I don't think so."
Bob: Well, whoever sentus, we wentto the Rose Bowl for
Ayal: And we sincerely hope that James Duderstadt will
come to our concert.
MRB: Care to reveal what you'll be singing this Friday?
Dan: (ominously) Friar Songs.
Bob: A lot of old stuff, a lot of new stuff, a lot of stuff in
the middle.
Jeremy: We're not repeating anything from like a year
Ayal: U2, Billy Joel, Village People, Garth Brooks, the
MRB: Anything else you want to tell me?
Jeremy: We have a concert this Friday.
MRB: Really? I knew I was here for a reason.
These are the personalities behind those amazing voices.
Now that you know their deepest thoughts and fears, see
them in concert.
will be performed at Rackham Auditorium tonight at 8
p.m. Tickets are $5, available at the Union Ticket office. If
it is sold out, standing-room-only tickets will be sold Call


Big Head Todd and the Monsters ask the musical question, what is the color of the soul?

Funky Monsters make waves

by Brett Forrest
'This is the question the brothers
and sisters fear /What is the color of the
soul?" The music of Big Head Todd
And The Monsters (BHTM) craves
meaning and imparts feeling.
There is no priming or posturing
with this band. BHTM's music is gritty,
funky, whole. The three musicians who
comprise BHTM hail from Boulder,
Colorado - the new Seattle - and
employ nothing but the necessary. Gui-
tarist Todd Park Mohr, bassist Rob
Squires and percussionist Brian Nevin
form a trio that does not rely on a swank
locale or a fashionable style of music;
rather, they create something soulful
enough to reinvent.
The three musicians signed their
first major record deal with Giant
Records Feb.28 of last year.'Their first
album on the Giant label, "Sister
Sweetly," was released this February to
rave reviews. It entered Billboard's Top
200 after the first week of release and is
climbing quickly.
"Sister Sweetly" is an accomplish-
ment within itself, as is BHTM's career.
They started playing together in a high
school oldies bandinwhich Mohrplayed
saxophone. The band split up when
Squires and Nevin traveled to Boulder
to attend UC Boulder and Mohr en-
rolled in Colorado State. Mohr trans-
ferred a year later and the three were so
enthusiastic about the band that after
Squires earned a degree in business,
Nevin and Mohr dropped out of school.
"It just kind of evolved into this
thing where we were playing three or
four times a week," Squires said. "Try-
ing to go to school at the same time or
work at the same time was getting to be
too much. The whole thing has been a
natural process for us. We've just al-
ways done it because we enjoy doing
So BHTM toiled in small clubs and
bars before and after "Another
Mayberry," their first album, gave them

something on which to hang their hat.
They compiled a loyal following from
playing clubs in Boulder, Chicago, Min-
neapolis and San Francisco and grew
more comfortable with the stage.
"Having put that time in now, I'm
glad we did it that way as opposed tojust
getting signed off of a first demo tape,"
Squires admitted. "I think we'd be a lot
less comfortable if this was our very
first tour, our first album and we were
out playing in front of people for the
first time."
In experiencing Big
Head Todd live, it soon
becomes evident these
guys are not fresh from
the farm. They play
tight, hard and deep. It
is clear that live music
is crucial to who they
"Midnight Radio," the group's sec-
ond effort, released in 1990 on their
own Big Records label, includes 13 live
tracks. The album received a feature in
Rolling Stone and was an improvement
on "Another Mayberry," released in
1989. Once signed by Giant, though,
the band was ready to create something
more digestible for the masses.
"Going into signing a major label
deal, we knew that especially this first
album was very important for us to get
on the radio," Squires said. "A lot of
people told us in the past that the pro-
duction on the first two albums wasn't
goodenough andpolished enough to be
playable on the big stations. We knew
that definitely Giant would want an
album that was radio-friendly."
That is what "Sister Sweetly" be-
"Sister Sweetly" represents a com-
jposite of high quality music. The pow-
+erful "Circle" trades a melody for an
anthem of exploding energy. "Soul For
Every Cowboy" is a touching ballad
that makes the listener contemplate the
order of things. "Bittersweet" is acarry-
over from "Midnight Radio" and pre-
sents a ballad that will probably be the
go tread. Take a Wok on the
Wid skde Wtb M9k Wok!
Qu&YHu Cbnsa Food. Luc Maok,.

headliner of the BHTM push. The title
track is a funky story of contemporary
relationships that could also break t
Throughout "Sister Sweetly,"
Mohr'sbluesy, inspired guitar and philo-
sophical lyrics power themuse.Nevin's
percussion ensemble drives the under-
tones along with Squires' standard and
standup bass. The icing on the listening
experience, though, is the effect of
Mohr'svocals-hisraspy, potent voice
must be heard.
In experiencing Big Head Todd live,
it soon becomes evident these guys are
not fresh from the farm. They play tight,
hard and deep. It is clear that live music
is crucial to who they are. "Sister
Sweetly" contains little that cannot be,
reproduced on stage and the band is true
to the recording.
"Sister Sweetly" is the band's first
real attempt at an album and BHTM
received an education in recording
through working with producer David
Z (Prince, Fine Young Cannibals).
"Definitely our experience lies in
playing live shows," Squires said. "As
far as making albums, our first one we
did in the studio in about three days just
because we didn't have any money.
"Hopefully the more albums you
do, the more comfortable you get with
the studio and the more you learn what
you're doing, basically, in the studio.
It's a whole different ballgame in there
than it is playing live."
Spoken like a true beginner - one
who is just starting out on the road to
popularity. If the quality of "Sister
Sweetly" is any indication of how
BHTM will be grabbed by the public,
bet on them being wrenched quickly
and violently. Big Head Todd will be
performing with Blues Traveler and
Widespread Panic, among others, dur-
ing the upcoming summer months and
will likely only add exponentially to
their miniature horde of followers.
Squires, while trying to discern the
color of the soul, seems to want to share
the essence of his band with those able
to absorb it.
'Wejustwantpeople togetasmuch
enjoyment from (our music) as we get'
It's not really a goal of ours to achieve
some certain stardom," he said. "We"
alwaysjustapproach it as the three of us
going out and playing music. We enjoy
it and hopefully others who get turned;
onto it, enjoy itand getsomething out of
it as well."


Ask a Friar what color puce is, and you get an answer: a nasty barf green.






The Office of Minority Affairs
is looking for energetic, reliable, and highly
motivated students for its:
1993 King/Chavez/Parks Career
Exploration Sumner Institutes Program
Mid-June through Mid-August
Program Description: Students hired will supervise high
school students from southeast Michigan who reside on
campus for one week visits, during which time these 10th and
11th graders will attend workshops, presentations, mini-
lectures, field trips, etc. The emphasis is on the student
exploration of his or her career interest.
Compensation: Hourly rate ($5.80 - $6.80) and University
room and board for duration of the program.
Selection Process: Completed application and personal
statement of interest. Individual interview process, full



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