Yipes! Can These Musicians Rock! (November 10, 1978)

Milwaukee Sentinel November 10, 1978

Yipes! Can These Musicians Rock!

by Marty Racine

YOU'VE SEEN HIM. In cartoons there always seems to be the character with his hair standing on end, yelling "Yipes!" as he awaits some outlandish fate.

"Well, the name is unique," agreed bassist Pete Strand, who, with his band Yipes! will appear Friday in a 3:30 p.m. performance at Marquette University's Brooks Memorial Union. Yipes! may be an unusual name, but the band also considered Jeepers Creepers when the musicians got together a year ago this month.

Either way, the concept is the same. "We don't take ourselves too seriously," said Strand. "If the audience is jumping around, dancing and having a good time, we might get a little silly on stage, making faces at each other. We're not afraid to look asinine, but it only means we're enjoying ourselves."

Serious or not, Yipes! (Strand; Pat McCurdy, vocals; Mike Hoffman and Andy Bartel, guitars and Teddy Freese, drums) plays a clean, precise set of rock and roll, loud and -- depending on the audience -- energetic.

THE TERM "ROCK" these days is applied to practically everyone from Melissa Manchester to the Dictators. Somewhere in that vast arena of definitions a lot of bands are working hard to coalesce their images and carve out a personal style.

"We've been called everything from New Wave to Punk to Sixties' Revival," Strand lamented. "We recently played at Max's Kansas City in New York and an independent producer saw us and liked what we did. But he told us we'd have to 'straighten out our image' if we're going to go anywhere. Thing is, he didn't have any suggestions."

How does Strand and the band interpret that?

"An image is a hard thing to define inside a band. We can't see how we look onstage, so it's just about impossible to be objective."

Beyond the trappings of image, Strand says musically "we just figure we're a good pop band, meaning a lot of melody, simple, but interesting."

THERE ARE TWO DIRECTIONS in which to cultivate that pop-rock appeal -- bars and concerts. Bar bands are often expected (read: forced) to recycle other people's songs. In a concert situation bands must display original material.

That's what record company scouts are looking for, though when you get as big as a Linda Ronstadt you can do anybody's song under heaven.

Strand says Yipes! currently owns 20 originals and "we plan to add 10 more soon. Pat, who writes most of our songs, has a ton of back material that we'd like to get into.

"We have about three hours worth of material and at Marquette I suppose we'll do two or three covers and the rest original. We've got to stay alive, you know, and so often you have to do something people know."

Yipes! is based in Madison. Strand comes from Brookfield, where he and long time buddies McCurdy and Hoffman formed their first band in 1971. Their premiere gig netted a whopping $12.

STRAND BEGAN PLAYING BASS literally by accident.

"I had been playing guitar and one day I broke two strings, the treble strings. So I just continued playing with the other four." The bass strings on a six string guitar are tuned exactly as a bass guitar.

For three years in the early Seventies, Strand and Hoffman played in an outfit called Rory Slick and the Roadsters. After personnel changes they became known, simply, as Slick.

When the two decided last year to build a new band they added Bartel and Freese: "We auditioned about a half dozen drummers before we knew we had the right on in Teddy."

Freese comes from the Rockford, Ill., area and Bartel, who once played with Sheboygan's Rings, is from Kenosha.

STRAND SEES THE BAND staying together a least another two to three years.

"Individually we're not the best musicians around," he admitted, "but we all play together real well. We don't have any egos or maestros up there on stage. So we're going to keep going as we are, playing four days a week and rehearsing in between.

"If we get a break, great. At the end of the year, we'll take stock of what we're doing musically and where we want to base ourselves."

While Yipes! live in Madison, available gigs in the Capital City are scarce. The band plays Milwaukee (regularly, but infrequently at The Palms, formerly the Electric Ballroom), but their best city is Minneapolis, where recently they recorded one song for a compendium album with a local Twin Cities label.

Why not move to Minneapolis? "Well, the Milwaukee and Madison scenes have dried up in the past two years," offered Strand. "But while Minneapolis has a healthy rock club scene there are so many bands up there.

"Besides, there's a mystique regarding clubs. The locals judge how good you are by the distance you come to play there. We're not going to move now, but we're considering moving back to Milwaukee. The scene has to turn around and we'd like to be a part of it."
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