Press | Yipes!! They can 'play anywhere' after humble beginnings on circuit (November 19, 1980)

Tacoma Washington News Tribune November 19, 1980

Yipes!! They can 'play anywhere' after humble beginnings on circuit

by Mark Mehler

Pat McCurdy, lead singer-songwriter of Yipes!!, remembers the band's origins in the Wisconsin bar-band circuit. After all, it wasn't that long ago.

"Picture walking into a room about this size," he says, gesturing around the small conference room of Millenium Records headquarters in New York. "A tiny room, with a tiny stage. The owner of this particular club had two big dogs, and before we could play, we had to clean the dog stuff off the floor. The crowd consisted of a few deerhunters with rifles, a couple of native Indians asleep with their heads on the bar, and some motorcycle gang members - if you can play there, you can play anywhere."

Yipes!! was funded by McCurdy, bassist Pete Strand, and rhythm guitarist Michael Hoffman. MeCurdy and Strand were students at the University of Wisconsin in Madison - McCurdy in TV and film, Strand in journalism. The two had been close friends most of their lives. Hoffman, also a long-time friend, was then in the carpet- cleaning business in Milwaukee. The three re- cruited lead guitarist Andy Bartle of Kenosha, Wis., and drummer Teddy Freese, a Waukegan factory worker, and Yipes!! came into being in
late 1977.

The first two years were more or less as McCurdy described. The five members lived in a two-room hovel in Madison, traveling from club to club in a beat-up '69 Plymouth. Says Pete Strand, "It was pretty rough there for a while. Madison doesn't really have a 'home club' for a band to play and make a name for itself. There wasn't any new-wave music scene to speak of. People like their rock loud and fast. You drive 15 miles to a gig in that old car and you feel like you're driving 300. We'd make $100 a night, which isn't much for a band of five..."

After they won a Milwaukee "Battle of the Bands" competition, however, things began looking up. The prize was some free studio time, and the Yipes!! demo tape of original material caught the attention of Jimmy Ienner of Millenium - the former producer of the Raspberries - who has an ear for slick, accessible pop music.

Their debut LP, Yipes!! received some radio play, but, according to McCurdy, was too quirky for mass radio appeal. "It was loose. We had a lot of in-jokes, a cheerleader song, a cold war conservatism spoof, a spoof on California living, a song dedicated to Woody Allen..." Yipes!! second and latest LP, A Bit Irrational, is tighter and more romantic pop.