Sunday, December 14, 2008

Rock 'N' Roll History

A Cruel Hoax at their height

On our Friday Random Top Ten 'Lebin! post, we received the following comment from certain "Mad Priest" in Newcastle on Bad Teeth or somewhere like that: Who are "A Cruel Hoax" Never heard of them! Well, Mr. "Mad Priest", if that's your REAL name, I just happened to discover this little tidbit in Who's Who In Extremely Obscure Rock Bands Of The Past:
A Cruel Hoax were a post-punk psychedelic band from the South Bay, playing from 1985 through 1990. Rising from the ashes of those Scandinavian favorites The Wonders Of Science, A Cruel Hoax set toes a tappin' and ears a bleedin' with snappy little numbers such as I'm Right!; Watch Out, Franco!; God In The Doorway!; and Vesco!. They also pioneered the use of exclamation points in song titles. Loved by hundreds, they won the title of "Loudest Band In San Jose" in 1986, a title they wore proudly.

Made up of members Mickey "The Religious One" Dresbach, Travis "The Drunk One" Hunt, Steven "Guitar Hermit" Swayzee, and a host of drummers: Lexie "Tatooed Maniac On Survivor" Vanden Burgh, Michael "Why Do The Girls Like Mickey So Much?" Lugin, and Norman "Plays In Three Different Bands At The Same Time" Baja (deceased), they were favorites of the other bands in the area and members of both the San Jose and Oakland symphonies, but considered "a bit strange" by normal people. They served as house band for WORKS, an art gallery in San Jose known for providing space for performance artists and those of an avant garde bent. They were founding members of the First Strike Musician's Collective and helped book bands at The Laundry Works, a down-town San Jose club which was sold out from under everyone and turned into a piano bar. First Strike was formed when other South Bay bands became interested in the compilation album San Jose Is Ground Zero: We're Number 1!, which featured A Cruel Hoax, The Social Club, The Kingpins, and The Frontier Wives.

Purveyors of all things Date Farm, they defined the Date Farm style and refined the Date Farm sound. Unfortunately, they were unable to get anyone else on the Date Farm bandwagon, leaving the Date Farmers of Indio, California, to fend for themselves.

Recorded works of A Cruel Hoax are: A Cruel Hoax: Now! (1985); San Jose Is Ground Zero: We're Number 1!; and A Cruel Hoax Now (1988). Mickey and Travis thought that every recording should be named A Cruel Hoax Now!, as every recording was a record of the band at that moment. It was this clever marketing strategy, along with Mickey and Travis lying their butts off in every interview, and the bizarre press releases which they sent to local papers that kept them poor, yet authentic; well, mostly poor and obscure.

The band came to an end when Mickey "The Religious One" decided to leave the band and return to night school in preparation to enter seminary and, upon ordination, enter the high-paying world of the missionary priest. The remaining members became Blue Hindu and worked their way into further obscurity with their free-form improvisations. The demise of A Cruel Hoax was a great loss to both Rock and Roll.

A Cruel Hoax during their demise

This post had a little visit from the Alter Guild


Fran said...

I, um- I am aware of this band. I may even have a cut on my iPod. I'm not sayin' but I'm just sayin'.

I knows me some music, that's one thing I'm saying.

Frank Remkiewicz aka “Tree” said...

Well, I thought I knew music but my hat is off to you! I had not heard of them (though I plead after my "time")! Your musicology seems to know no bounds!

Matthew Hubbard said...

Though A Cruel Hoax! made an obvious and abrupt departure from the style of The Wonders of Science, and the only difference between the two bands is that Yours Truly departed and Steven "Guitar Hermit" Swayzee was brought in, I have always enjoyed their music and had a good time whenever I attended a live gig of the new version of my old band.

Brother David said...

Padre, did A Cruel Hoax record a track about the USA, somewhere in the USA, the Statesonians or Statesonian stuff?

Padre Mickey said...

No, David. The songs recorded and released by A Cruel Hoax are:
I'm Right!
Watch Out, Franco!
'Round The World
Terroristas de Fortunada
By The Wayside
God In The Doorway
The Man In The Hat
I'm Only Dreaming
Gator Song
I Walked Away
Desolation Row
(Yes, I am aware that Terroristas de Fortunada is fake español)

Anonymous said...

Any chance that “Watch Out Franco!” will ever be released on YouTube or SoundCloud or whatever? I’m a huge fan!!!

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