Girl Trouble are one of those long-running Northwest institutions like Dead Moon or the Walkabouts that are easy to take for granted -- not just because they've been around (seemingly) forever, but because they've stuck to their musical guns through thick and thin...and grunge and electronica and every other musical style to hit the scene since. Formed in Tacoma in 1983 -- although they didn't actually play their first gig until 1984 -- they're still growing strong in the 2000s and feature the same inimitable personnel: 6'5" Kurt P. Kendall ("the tall one") on vocals and saxophone, Bon Von Wheelie ("the grouchy one") on drums, shades-sporting Kahuna ("the volatile one") on guitar, and Dale Phillips ("the other one") on bass. The latter three were all born in T-Town, whereas K.P.'s family moved there from Spokane when he was three. Fiercely independent -- they've never recorded for a major label -- Girl Trouble, spearheaded by Von Wheelie (born Henderson), are also behind the fanzine/label Wig Out, which was initially intended to promote the band and its activities, but broadened its scope over the years. In addition, the wool-capped drummer -- who put the "girl" in Girl Trouble (and has been compared to Moe Tucker for her steady, no-frills approach) -- is responsible for designing the band's record covers and selecting the prizes given away at shows, whereas Kahuna (brother Bill Henderson) handles T-shirt and logo design. There's nothing smooth or slick about Girl Trouble, but fans of the Ramones, the Cramps (whose Lux Interior K.P.'s vocals most closely resemble), and every possible permutation of the Billy Childish aesthetic (the Milkshakes, Thee Headcoats, etc.) are sure to find their fun-filled lo-fi garage stomp well nigh irresistible. There's certainly a lot of material to choose from (some now sadly out of print): over a dozen singles (including splits with the Kings of Rock, the A-Bones, Pop Defect, and the Mono Men), several long-playing recordings, and appearances on countless compilations, including 1988's landmark Sub Pop 200. Girl Trouble made their vinyl debut in 1987 with two singles for Olympia, WA's K Records: "Riverbed" and "Old Time Religion." Seattle's Sub-Pop released their fine full-length debut, Hit It or Quit It, the following year. 1989 saw the release of "When Opposites Attract" on Wig Out and "Batman" -- the theme from the TV show -- on K, featuring producer/musician Steve Fisk on keyboards (and on B-side, "The Truth"). Another self-released Fisk-produced single followed in 1990, "Cleopatra & the Slaves" (with Captain Beefheart's "Who Do You Think You're Fooling?" on the flip). Next came sophomore full-length, Thrillsphere (featuring "When Opposites Attract" and "Cleopatra & the Slaves"), on Seattle's Popllama, a tightened-up version of their signature sound. 1990 also witnessed the release of a covers EP, Stomp and Shout and Work It on Out!!!!, on Burbank, CA's Dionysus. On this 12" platter, Girl Trouble paid tribute to their Northwest garage rock roots with covers of songs written (or popularized) by Mr. Lucky & the Gamblers, Tiny Tony & the Statics, Don & the Goodtimes, Jimmy Hanna & the Dynamics, and twin Tacoma legends the Wailers and the Sonics. Recorded live at Olympia's Tropicana on January 19, 1985, the multi-talented Fisk cemented his status as Girl Trouble's unofficial "fifth member" by contributing keys to "Out of Our Tree" and "Little Sally Tease." Just as Girl Trouble have never hid their love for the Sonics, 1992 saw tribute to another one of their biggest influences and inspirations: the one and only Elvis Presley. The Girl Trouble Plays Elvis Movie Themes double-7" ("Viva Las Vegas" plus three others) appeared on Sympathy for the Record Industry that year and was followed by a single on Seattle's eMpTy. "Work That Crowd" was another tribute (of sorts), this time to Granny Go Go, the world's oldest go-go dancer at 82. Granny herself provided guest vocals on the A-side (B-side, "Granny's Pad," was an instrumental). eMpTy released Girl Trouble's next -- and arguably best -- long-player, New American Shame, and mini-CD, Girl Trouble Live, in 1993. The latter was recorded live at Chicago's Empty Bottle and timed to coincide with the band's European tour with Portland trio Crackerbash and released only on that continent. They also made it up to Canada that year, hitting Montreal and Toronto, and hooking up with fellow groove-meisters like Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet. Altogether, Girl Trouble has hit the East Coast three times, the first with Beat Happening, and the West Coast six or seven times, including dates with the Woggles, Phono-Comb, and Satan's Pilgrims. At this point, the Girl Trouble story slows down a bit after the flurry of activity between 1987 and 1993, hence their own description as the "slowest working band in showbiz." Their next release (not counting split singles, compilation tracks, and such) was "The Track" on Estrus, followed by a full-length, Tuesdays, Thursdays & Sundays, on Wig Out/Estrus in 1998 (featuring "The Track" plus B-side, "Scorpio 9"). They also undertook their last full tour that year, hitting the most cities yet and playing with the Makers, Swinging Neckbreakers, and others. Since then, they have continued to record and to perform and show no signs of stopping. In 2000, they recorded an album's worth of new material, but the master tapes were misplaced. Fortunately, they were recovered in late 2001, and the band intends to release the finished product in 2002. Unlike so many of their contemporaries, Girl Trouble have never been swayed by the latest fads or fashions. They just do what they do, and they do it well. They've also never underestimated the importance of quality showmanship. A good time -- as well as a nifty prize of some kind -- is guaranteed every time they play. That isn't likely to change anytime soon, even if they no longer maintain the same hectic pace. Kahuna is also a member of Sonics tribute band, New Original Sonic Sound, the other members of which include Mark Arm, Steve Turner, and Dan Peters from Mudhoney and Scott McCaughey from the Young Fresh Fellows. ~ Kathleen C. FennessyPortions of Content Provided by Rovi Corporation.
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