The Frogs:
proudly "happy fun"
January 1995

They call their music "Happy Fun."

For some bands, a cheery label is the kiss of death. For The Frogs, it's a proud banner.

"It's cool, even my mom kinda likes us," said guitarist/singer Brian Hare.

"We just want to have fun," he said. "People always take themselves too seriously. So we mostly do 'happy fun' dance music."

The band hopes to give its audience happy feet and some big, goofy grins during an all-ages show Sunday at the Chameleon Club in Lancaster, Pa.

The group, which formed about three years ago when the four original bandmates were attending a Buffalo, N.Y., college, made a serious blunder in 1992 when deciding where to get their musical ball rolling.

Hare, who grew up on the Jersey side of Philadelphia, suggested the city as a good scene for happening sounds and a quick record deal.

"When I left it was all Hooters and Tommy Conwell," he remembered. "So we decided to transfer to Philadelphia. It was the biggest mistake of our lives. The music scene in Philly is dead."

Luckily, they found a lively city to the west.

"In Lancaster, people are open to new music," Hare said. "Philly is all cover bands now. If people haven't heard it on the radio they don't want to hear it. Original bands can't get arrested there."

The Frogs played a gig at the Chameleon and caught the ear of club owner Rich Ruoff, who agreed to give the band some more stage time. After about seven shows there, the band is building its own local crowd.

Hare and pianist/vocalist Jeff Thomas write most of the original tunes, which are the bulk of the playlist.

"You'll never hear a Frogs' song about social injustice," Hare said. "You'll hear about how fun it is to hang out on a sunny day. And we do some unrequited love stuff.

"We try to use cliches, but not in a bad way. ... They're not stupid cliches, they're funny cliches -- things that make you laugh when you hear them. We have a song about men who never stop to ask for directions. And one about going through your drawers and finding all your Motley Crue posters, Madonna pictures, a Rubik's Cube, all that stuff from high school."

The band works a lot with vocal harmonies, he said, using two vocal lines in most songs, three (with bassist Bill Gallagher) in a few. And they like knowing the audience can understand the words.

"There was a time when they'd dance but they couldn't understand the words," Hare said. "It's more fun when they're coming from the same place we are. ... They're dancing ... but they're laughing, too."

The band's covers come from a varied songbook, with tunes done first by the Beatles, the Monkees, the Ramones, Madonna and Prince.

"We try to pick stuff that bar bands don't do very much," Hare said. "We look for stuff that make you say, 'I can't believe they're playing that.' ... We're sorta like those '70s albums from K-tel."

interview by
Tom Knapp

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