Why you need to know Jelly
of the Month Club
by Naughty Mickie
Punkers playing family music?! Well, yes,
and it's actually really good. Long Beach based Jelly of the Month
Club boasts some players you probably know from other bands and
has catchy songs that even people without kids can enjoy.
The lineup includes Todd Forman (Sublime)
on sax, clarinet and organ, Bert Susanka (The Ziggens, Astronaut
Love Triangle) on vocals and guitar, Mr. Crumb aka Chris Caplan on
vocals, piano, organ, ukulele, accordion, spoons and guitar, Mic
Dangerously/Mike de la Torre (Zen Robbi) on vocals, lead guitar
and bass and drummer Scott Wittenberg (Zen Robbi).
I spoke with Forman, Mic Dangerously and
Mr. Crumb about this fun project.
DB: When and why did you create Jelly of
the Month Club?
TF: The inception of it came when I was on
tour with Sublime with Rome in 2010 and I was sharing a tour bus
with Bud Gaugh the drummer and his daughter Chloe. We were
watching ĎPrincess and the Frogí and I was so struck by how
awesome the music was in that particular Disney movie. We were
sitting there basking in the glory after playing for 6,000 people
and relaxing and I was missing my family, a bit jealous that he
had his daughter on the road, and I was trying to make an arch
back to having balance in my life. Iím a family physician but I
was really feeling my oats in 2010 trying on the hat of being a
full time touring musician. I could stand being away from my
family for about a week and then it got completely miserable.
It was not for me. I really wanted to be
with my family and it was important to be with my family, but
obviously music had become more important in my life, so a lot of
this is a negotiation of that dynamic of how do I get music back
and get me back to my family? I toyed around with the idea of what
if we make great music for kids?
** Forman shared his idea with Gaugh and
suggested Susanka, because of his writing and quirky humor, would
be the perfect fit for his plan. Off the road at the end of 2010,
Forman built a home studio and began jamming and recording with
other local Long Beach musicians on Tuesday nights. One of the
people he jammed with was Mic Dangerously who proved a good fit to
add to Jelly.
Susanka is not currently playing live with
the band and Mr. Crumb has been added to the group to fill things
DB: Why did you want to join in on the
family band project?
MD: It started as we just wanted to make a
cool record. I was thrilled to get a call to be a part of a
project with some of my heroes. (Forman) told me about the
concept, he wanted to do fun G-rated music, appropriate for the
whole family, but still do really fun genres like Todd and I both
like swing a lot and itís not something we got to do in other
bands a lot. When we started kicking it around some Benny Goodman
and Louie Prima stuff started coming out and everything clicked.
MC: Iíve always considered myself to
have two sides to my personality, I have the dark musician side,
the tortured artist,... but Iíve always had a silly side. It
brings a lot of joy, writing music, not necessarily for kids but
for the inner child in all of us.
DB: How do you write your lyrics?
TF: Sometimes they start not so
family-friendly and we go from there. (laughs) Itís interesting
when youíre writing for a certain audience. When youíre writing
rock songs youíre not writing for anyone but yourself usually, but
here youíre clearly not writing for yourself youíre writing for a
family audience, not necessarily kids, but kids and adults and you
want everybodyís sensibilities to be satisfied. In general we try
to make it so everybody is feeling good about whatís being heard
and whatís being said and everybodyís going to get a chuckle,
sometimes the adults get a chuckle, sometimes the kids get the
DB: What is the main goal of your band?
TF: We are a band of unique individuals
and one thing we want to convey to kids is to always be
themselves. Itís like a punk rock ethos, I came up with Sublime,
Bert came up with Ziggens and the other guys in the band had a
healthy dose of punk rock in their background. Punk rock to us
isnít so much rebellion against someone else, but just a
celebration of whatís unique in ourselves. You should be proud
about whatís unique in yourself, that you donít have to go with
the flow all the time, that you donít have to go towards the
middle or towards the norm, you can be loud and proud and be
comfortable in your own skin. Thatís what we try to convey in some
of the lyrics in our songs.
MD: What weíre trying to represent is
maybe an alternative to whatís out there right now which is
repetitive computer-generated sounds and maybe a little bit
oversexualized. Weíre just trying to make good, clean fun on real
MC: We are not the Wiggles. Weíre the bad
boys of kid rock. We try to bring that punk mentality it. Bending
the rules in a very wholesome way of trying to be an outcast.
Jelly of the Month Club will be releasing
their second album, "Enjoy the Show," April 1.
To learn more about this cool family band