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.