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Saturday, September 22, 2007

All You Can Eat

As I finalize Ghost Notes and Songs from Memory over the next few months, I’m going to blog regularly on the Refreshments.

Okay, All You Can Eat.

Before our first gig, we chose our band name, All You Can Eat. There were others in contention. Someone wanted to call the band Traveling Surrogate Fathers. Roger was particularly fond of Pop Enema. My wife recalls Vitamedavegimen being a serious possibility. In the typical corniness of this era of the band, we wanted anything that defied anyone who tried to take our band seriously. You could talk all you wanted about songwriting or musical talent or whatever, but our brand of rock ‘n’ roll would be at least half silliness, on some days a good deal more than half.

There was only one problem; there already was a band called All You Can Eat.

I discovered this little oversight at East Side Records on University Avenue, after a month or two of gigging as All You Can Eat. Lo and behold, right there facing out behind the counter, an album by All You Can Eat. They were four guys from San Diego, and they looked not unlike us. I never heard the record—I wish I’d bought it—but I remember getting the distinct impression they were a bit more punk than the Tempe version of All You Can Eat. Anyway, I reported my findings to the band, and we collectively cursed and went back to the drawing board.

We, of course, weren’t horribly disappointed to lose All You Can Eat, but it meant we had to go back into the emotional and political tug-of-war that is a band hunting for its name. It’s not so much that you want a name that’s perfect, but you don’t want a name that anyone in the band simply can’t live with—and you really don’t want a name you can’t live with.

One day a practice, during this nameless period, Roger said something into the mic, “[blah, blah, blah] and the Refreshments.”

I stopped him. “Did you just say ‘the Refreshments’?”

There are a few problems with calling your band the Refreshments, not the least of which is that it’s so close to the Replacements, which were heroes of mine while growing up in the Midwest. We were a pop rock band that didn’t take itself too seriously, and we drank a little, and we celebrated drink a little in our music, all things synonymous with the Replacements; it probably would’ve been smarter to go with something else. Still, the Refreshments resonated with me. “Fresh” was the thing that stood out in my mind, and that there was something fun and harmless about it, like a sixties pop band. Fresh, fun, harmless, what’s not to love?

When it became clear that nobody could think of anything better and we had a gig coming up, we went with the Refreshments. I think Blush was the last hold-out--and I bet he’d still say today that he was never crazy about the name--but even he eventually caved. From then on, we were the Refreshments, for better or worse.

Art

5 comments:

Detective Fork said...

Art,

Did you know that there's another band called The Refreshments? They're from Sweden, have a kind of '50s sound, and they seem to have existed at the same time as our Refreshments (and are still around). I remember looking for live and rare Refreshments tracks back in the day on Napster, coming across songs like "Miss You Miss Belinda" by The Refreshments, and thinking it was some Real Refreshments rarity I never heard of. Looking at the Web sites for the Swedish Refreshments is like peering into an alternate universe - or BizarroWorld.

http://www.refreshments.nu/

http://www.myspace.com/refreshmentsnu

Joe said...

I always thought it was cool that the Refreshments sounded so much like the Replacements. I'm a huge Mats fan and the name Refreshments struck me as exactly the kind tweak that was both new and kinda familiar at the same time...Westerberg would've approved...

PS: Have you ever checked out Alex Robinson's graphic novel TRICKED? It's a nice addition to the sub-sub-genre of rock graphic novels.

Art Edwards said...

Fork,

Knew about the Refreshments across the pond. Never heard 'em, though.

Joe,

I will check out *Tricked.*

Art

Bryan said...

I love that story. Being a younger guy...I hear the Replacements and it reminds me of the Refreshments.

Bryan said...

I love this story Art. I'm not old enough to really know about the Replacements, and when I do hear their name, it reminds me of the Refreshements. You guys are a huge influence on how I sing, play and perform. "Fresh" is always in.