The Bisquits

Live at Uncle Pleasant's, August 13

By Berkeley Harrington, Ir.

Sometimes it happens like this: You're standing over by the sound booth, not really paying attention to the noise rolling off the stage, seriously considering either having another cocktail, or just leaving the club, when suddenly the noise starts to make some kinda sense somehow and you can even make out the lyrics and they have a weird effect, 'cuz they're kinda funny, but the guitars and drums roll on in perfect synch and you don't really want to laugh, you just want to jump up and down or something.

There is a strange sound coming out of Nashville and it's not country. It's not grunge, death-rock, laid-back sissy-pop, or exploitative industrial music, either. The fact is, I don't know what to call it.

I guess, if I had to coin a phrase, I'd call it 'casm Rock, as in Sarcasm Rock. It's not really a new sound, in fact; many of the socalled "alternative bands" of the '80s, bands like the Replacements, Camper Van Beethoven and even the harder-edged Suicidal Tendencies used every-day situations combined with Carlinesque witticisms and a healthy dose of sarcasm to more or less define what "alternative" was all about.

Born of punk and new wave, "alternative" quickly swallowed its parents in the frenzy of the music explosion of the '90s. This "music revolution" was based partly on the world's music-listening audience tiring of the same old love-song/blues rip-offs that marked the first three decades of Rock and Roll, as well as the musicians themselves trying to outdo 30 years of what is now lumped together under the banner of "classic rock." The young musicians of the '80s had to grow up with parents that had gotten stoned at Woodstock and still listened to Jethro Tull, so like any other healthy youngsters, these musicians rejected their parents' music and, in fact, spent much of their energy making fun of it.

Anyway, this has little or nothing to do with The Biscuits. They do some of these kinda songs, some of which have amusing and/or sarcastic lyrics; in fact, they are positively wacky, but so what? Tommy Womack is the rock-and-roll refugee of the group, what with the long scraggly hair pulled back into one of those Miami Vice/Drug-Dealer/Steven Segal kinda thingys and the swaggering, cock-of-the-walk kinda stride that lets you know he's played on just about every stage betwixt here and San Francisco. Tommy plays guitar, sings and points at Will and says "He's like the visionary guy, you know?"

Womack, who began his musical career in 1985 with Govemment Cheese, has seen some stuff too, I'm sure. In fact, Eggman Publishing has agreed to do his book chronicling the adventures of Government Cheese on the road (due out this Christmas).

Will Kimbrough led Will and The Bushmen a year or so ago and very much looks the part of a visionary. Kind of a cross between Elton John and John Lennon, he still has enough spirit to doff his shirt on behalf of real rock and roll meltdown/histrionics. Cool. Mostly singing the lead and throwing in enough licks to keep Tommy on his toes, Will possesses a voice that discounts his calm, friendly demeanor. The first thing he asked was if I had talked to Tommy yet.

"He's the talker," he said.

." . . Could we have a bunch of Old Milwaukee Lite delivered to the stage please? Not regular Old Milwaukee, Old Milwaukee Lite, because we're watching, uh, the thirties spare tire, ya know? This is all our second or third band, so it's not like we can just drink all night long and forget about it. . . ."

Indeed, Womack can lay it out. In the first minutes of our meeting he informed me that the band had just signed with John Prine's label, Oh Boy Records of Nashville, and were proud to be the first artists on the label besides Prine himself.

"I moved to Nashville after the Cheese broke up," explained Womack. "Then, I ran into this old friend of mine from Bowling Green (Bisquits bass player Mike Grimes) and he said, 'Hey, c'mon over to this basement in East Nashville and jam with these guys I know'. So I did. At that time, Mike, Will and Tommy (Meyer) were playing a kind of back up thing for Colin Wade Monk, a local solo/ cult star in Nashville. A week later we played our first gig. Originally, we didn't plan on playing out, that's where the name comes from, "Bisquits" as in we quit the biz, but, it didn't turn out that way."

Names are a problem for this group; they still have to find one for the album due this October. "We'd be happy to have some suggestions," said Womack. "We've come up with about a million, but not one all four of us can agree on."

Tunes like "Anal All Day," "Yoko Died" and "Small-Town Big-Hair" might indicate just where this band is coming from. Maybe not. In my experience, second-generation bands like this one can go two ways: either the talent was successfully transferred and they are cool, or somebody important gets left behind in the shuffle and they blow donuts. Fortunately, The Bisquits made the trick work and assimilated talent from two good bands, 'cuz they definitely don't blow donuts.