Mary Fleener -- bass, vocals
Tom Gardner -- guitar, vocals
Rebecca Olachea -- drums
Paul Therrio -- guitar, vocals
Three distinct songwriters -- all of whom sing lead -- two separate-but-equal lead guitarists, and a drummer that's the answer to all those "Charlie Watts-type wanted" ads that've blanketed the musicians' classifieds in every city in the world for the last 30-odd years.
That's the Wig Titans, whose first long-playing effort, End Of The World, was hailed by ex-Beat Farmers guitarist-turned-San Diego Union-Tribune music columnist Buddy Blue as "the most impressive debut album I've heard from a local band in a decade or so."
Hearkening back to those halcyon daze when real men and real women looked into each other's eyes and played real instruments together in real time, the Wig Titans recorded the 11 original songs that make up End Of The World within a seven-day span during February and March, 2002.
They spent another two days mixing the disc with El Cajon, CA-based Earthling Studios owner/engineer/album co-producer Mike Kamoo at a total cost -- including mastering, pressing, and artwork -- of less than $3,800. The Wig Titans financed their album the old-fashioned way -- with the money they made from playing weddings, parties, anything ... especially the Leucandian cocktail lounge in their hometown of Encinitas, where they've been tightening the clientele's wigs on a monthly basis for the past year-plus.
Although the band's first gig came at the Hawaiian Gardens Casino in the Spring of 2001, Fleener, Gardner, and Therrio have known each other for years, having grown up together in the South Bay suburbs of Los Angeles. This unholy trio -- anchored by the husband-and-wife team of Therrio and Fleener -- played music together from time to time, but it wasn't until the latter rescued Olachea from the San Diego bar-band circuit for a weekend jam session with Gardner that the Wig Titans line-up was complete.
After a couple of evenings spent running though the less-thumbed chapters in the Other Great American Songbook (Professor Longhair's "Hadacol Bounce," Dave Alvin's "Out In California," Otis Blackwell's "Daddy Rollin? Stone," Slim Harpo's "Don't Start Cryin' Now," Alvin Robinson's "Down Home Girl," Dinah Washington's "The Dentist," Tony Allen's "Nite Owl," Freddy King's "Hideaway," Gil Scott-Heron's "Angel Dust," all of which -- and more -- have been known to find their way into a typical Wig Titans' set), the band's triptych of tunesmiths started rummaging through their tape drawers, pulling out some of the favorite things they'd written over the years: Fleener & Therrio's jittery "NYC," Gardner's riffaholic "We Gotta Move."
More importantly, the newly christened Wig Titans began writing fresh songs at a frenzied pace. Fleener welds deadpan vocals and droll humor to her rockin' true-life tales of the Art scene ("Round, Round, Round"), chicken-pickin' dietary advice ("Red Meat And Whiskey"), country-swingin' ("Shame On Me"), and the apocalyptic exotica of the title track.
Gardner's white-soul singing and minor-key pop sensibilities pervade his plaintive "Father's Day," rollicking "What Ever Happened," bittersweet "What About Us," and the slashing slice-of-suburban life-and-life-only, "Mr. Gardner's Neighborhood."
Issued on the band's own 4Q2 Records, End Of The World is currently available at finer retail record stores as well as via the band's Website: www.wigtitans.com. Some people might call it a party record, but only if you go to some really strange parties. Time to meet 'n' greet your hosts:
Mary Fleener is a nationally and internationally renowned illustrator, gallery, and "underground" comics artist, whose credits stretch from Hoodoo (an illustrated collection of Zora Neale Hurston's African-American folk tales) and Fleener (issued under Matt "The Simpsons" Groening's Zongo imprint) to Twisted Sisters, Weirdo, Wimmen's, Slutburger, and -- most recently -- Nipples 'N' Tum Tum.
Long before she began setting pen to paper, she was plucking bass and ducking bottles while hammering out endless renditions of "Tequila" in lesbian bars -- an experience documented in the autobiographical collection Life Of The Party (Fantagraphics) -- playing every weekend for three years.
Tom Gardner was a Stooges/Big Star-obsessed teenaged guitarist when he became an original staffer of the semi-legendary rock 'n' roll fanzine Back Door Man, which managed 15 now-seriously collectable issues in less than four years.
Working with soon-to-be noted rock scribes Gregg Turner (of future Angry Samoans fame) and Don Waller (formerly of the Imperial Dogs; more on them later), he also founded Back Door Man Records, which released four singles by the Pop! (eventually signed to Arista), the Zippers (later on Rhino), and a posthumous Imperial Dogs.
Rebecca Olachea, the baddest Basque traps-basher this side of the separatist movement, previously played in a variety of local San Diego punk and metal bands, including the impossibly archetypically-named Sovereign Void. And, yes, as the proud subject of the album's Therrio-composed "Drag King," she's a bona fide member of the King's Club of San Diego, where her crowning glory comes from impersonating such alt-rock luminaries as Trent Reznor, Marilyn Manson, and Fred Durst.
Paul Therrio was the guitarist and co-songwriter for abovementioned proto-punk outfit the Imperial Dogs, whose Unchained Maladies: Live! 1974-75 was issued -- 14 years after the band imploded -- on Melbourne, Australia-based Dog Meat Records in 1989. This was mostly because the band's "This Ain't The Summer Of Love" was re-recorded, albeit in a substantially different version, by the Blue Oyster Cult on their platinum-selling Agents Of Fortune album for Columbia Records in 1976. Prior to that, he was a teenage alto sax prodigy of sorts, playing big-band charts for Elks lodge members alongside an equally youthful guitarist named Lee Ritenour, who -- like Therrio -- has gone on to better gigs.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Tuning w/Gene
2. Round, Round, Round
3. What About Us
4. Red Meat and Whiskey
5. Father's Day
6. Drag King
7. Shame On Me
8. Mr Gardner's Neighborhood
9. End of the World
10. What Ever Happened
12. We Gotta Move