It's turning out to be a helluva Halloween for The Gomers, one of Madison's favorite bands and the wizards who conjure Rockstar Gomeroke every week at the High Noon Saloon. Besides gigs at a pair of costume parties celebrating the season, the group was just recognized by horrormeister Rob Zombie in its undead guise.
The fun started on Saturday, when a four-piece version of the band brought their show to Freakfest on State Street. They were the first performers of the night on the Isthmus stage, where they played nearly a two-hour block of music for costumed revelers joining them on stage. "Gomeroke at Peace Park went smashingly, without anything like windows getting smashed," says Andy Wallman, a singer and tambourine man for the band. "The location was kind of quiet, with the entrance to Peace Park actually barricaded."
This wasn't the only change amidst the Halloween revelry downtown. "As lads who frequented it in the early 80's, it's a totally different party now," says Wallman. "A higher drinking age, more freaked out business community, civic leaders hyper-concerned about Madison's party hearty image...it all adds up to a nice, safe, clean, tidy, extremely well-lit, $700,000, controlled, corporate, less-fun party. Plus there were no quarter barrels in shopping carts, or people tripping their brains out on purple sunshine."
Times change, he says.
Though the people parading up and down State Street didn't have direct access to the band, some found their way up Gilman Street to join in the show. Wallman notes some of the memorable performances.
"Playing 'Rock and Roll All Night' with what appeared to be three actual members of KISS was probably the highlight," he says. A version of "War Pigs" by Count Dracula was pretty smooth, Wallman also notes. "The 'Papa Was a Rolling Stone' guy looked like he was going to take a nap or pass out, and then he surprised us all by nailing. That was cool."
Some of the costumes of note at Freakfest included a group of prize-winning Tetris blocks, a Jesus hoisting a "WWID" sign, a guy Wallman describes as "Super Hippie Packer Man the defender of hippie Packers fans," and an abundance of characters he notes as "Single Older Men With Grey Hair Leering at Young, Scantily-Clad Women."
There's much more to Halloween for The Gomers, though, than merely their own living selves.
Take The Zombeatles, for example, who are almost too horrifying to even consider. Reanimating the corpse of some old gang of Scousers, The Gomers brought this undead band to life a couple of years back, emerging from their slumber with a show at the High Noon in late October 2004, and returning a year later with a groan of "Paul is Undead!"
Last year, the group shot a music video for their smash hit "A Hard Day's Night of the Living Dead," a black-and-white chronicle of the domestic elements of Zombeatlemania.
The Gomers, ahem, The Zombeatles shot the scenes in a park near the home of band-member Biff Blumfumgagnge back in the summer of 2006 in preparation for their impending resurrection.
"It was all very, very over-rehearsed and not at all spontaneous or pulled out of our ass. The jamming scene was shot in Biff's house in a creepy room under construction," explains Wallman. "The best was the little girl who screamed. That girl can really, really scream. She's got a future." The footage was later edited by Mark Hervey -- a New York-based TV and film editor whose recent work includes A&E's King of Cars, Dog the Bounty Hunter and upcoming Parking Wars -- who was an early guitarist for the band and remains an Original Gomer Emeritus.
The Zombie Invasion picked up some steam on Sunday, when The Gomers were informed that this video would be featured on the front page of YouTube in the inaugural collection of clips created by a celebrity guest editor. That would be Rob Zombie, the monster metal musician and recently-minted horror film director who is kicking off this online video holiday series with a dozen of his hand-picked favorites.
"This trick or treat bag of clips will include twelve horrorific-themed videos in a wide variety of categories," notes the announcement sent to the Madison band by the Google-owned company's music manager Michelle Flannery, along with several parody trailers of Zombie's Halloween relaunch and a video explaining his choices. "YouTube was searching for the perfect person to wish the video sharing community a Happy Halloween and Rob Zombie's favorites fit that bill year round."
One of the Zombeatles dug into its grey matter and shared a few thoughts with The Daily Page about the group's origins, intentions, and the nod from Mr. Robert Cummings.
The Daily Page: How did The Zombeatles get their start?
The ZomBeatles got their start after being bitten by some skiffle zombies in the early 1960's.
How often do the Zombeatles come out and play?
Zombeatles are pretty unpredictable. But you can count on them coming out to rock the undead about as often as the Bush administration tries to start a war. So like, every year.
What songs do The Zombeatles play in addition to "A Hard Day's Night of the Living Dead?"
"I Want to Eat Your Hand," "Lady Medulla Oblongata," "All You Need is Brains," "The Long and Winding Brain," "Happiness is a Warm Shotgun," and "Bad Day Sunshine." You know, like that.
Why The Zombeatles, and not some other undead invaders from Britain?
Because Hermits, Raiders, Zeppelins and Stones do not get laid half as much as brain-eating soldiers of the undead.
Do the Zombeatles need brains?
Abso-fucking-lutely. Brains are a constant must, 24/7. Morning, noon, night, brains, brains, brains. This is not debatable. I will eat your brain just for asking. You've been warned. Brains.
Are the Zombeatles going to get a day named for them in Madison?
The Zombeatles would be flattered if indeed the Powers that Be bstowed such an honor upon us. If they don't however, we'll eat their brains. And if they do, we will also eat their brains, so they might as well just do it.
How does the approval of Rob Zombie help the Zombeatles?
Ya know, if this exposure gives us a more consistent stream of culinary grey matter, you'll see more of the horrific Zombeatles. Seriously, things are awfully tough for brain eaters these days. Government cutbacks, budget reallocations, dreadlocks, People for the Ethical Treatment of Brains That May Be Eaten, prescription drug residue in brain matter, yada, yada -- lots of pressure out there to keep zombies down, you know what I'm sayin'?
But hey, it doesn't take a Hawking to see if the brain train keeps rollin', zombies keep eatin'. That's a no brainer.
Waking from their sleep every year 'round this time, The Zombeatles are returning to stage on Wednesday for another Halloween fete at the High Noon. Wallman points out that there will be no shortage of five buck DVDs featuring the Zombeatles video available for purchase at the show. "We hope to only lose $350 on the duplication of these things," he says, "as opposed to the usual $1000 that most bands lose when trying to make and sell their own stuff."
Now that it has the Rob Zombie stamp of approval, they might even be able to unload a few more.