Boxed In

I have a lot for you this week, but my priorities are straight, so first things first: Their blackly comic albums are still a hoot, but the Frogs' once naughty live shtick is wearing thin these days. However, their fans remain hilarious. At their show at Graceland last Thursday, the band invited people from the audience on stage to sing with them, karaoke-like. During "Hot Cock Annie" a cheeky guy jumped up and sang his ass off. Before the ham left the stage he asked showgoers if they wanted to see some more--as in, more of his, ahem, person. He shoved down his britches and began a-slappin' his fanny, but HEE HAW--the jackass had toilet paper stuck to his pooper! That's gross, but what's grosser is that I can't stop wondering if he crapped at home before he went to the show, in which case the TP had been fermenting in his crack for hours before he waved it around on stage, OR, was he of such bad rearing that he rudely bombed out the Graceland men's room during the show?

A few weeks back I mentioned that former Pond guitarist Charlie Campbell put out a delightful CD called Goldcard consisting of old and new songs, including collaborations with his former bandmates and Sam and Janet from Quasi. I also mentioned that he'd be making in-store appearances at all three Sonic Boom locations on May 31, when he'd spend several hours sitting in a wooden box. Campbell only agreed to let Chris Slusarenko put out the record if he didn't have to perform, because he can't bring himself to play anymore. Explains Campbell: "I never liked practicing. I hated performing. It's just not in my makeup to enjoy standing on a stage. I used to like songwriting but now I can hear most things pretty clearly in my head and I don't want to go through all the work of filling out all the verses and finding an ending and recording it. That just seems like drudgery."

What about the box? "I guess the question would be, 'Are you a reclusive freak?'" he continues. "No. I don't ordinarily mind meeting people. But an in-store pushes me forward as someone deserving adulation or as an entertainment commodity. I hate the idea. I can't have people looking at me. It's the same reason I always hated playing shows. I did an in-store in the box in Portland, and there were only a few instances where I was probably more embarrassed to be in a box than I would have been had I not been in a box."

On Goldcard, Campbell uses a playing style he calls "the gimmick," a sound distinctive to Pond. "It's simply a way of resonating guitar strings using a slide on the picking hand instead of on the fretting hand." Some critics have mistakenly assumed the sound to be processed electronically. "Goldcard will not make an impression upon popular culture. Those few people that do hear the CD will have it pretty much to themselves. There's value in that, I think."

Is there anything that could motivate him to get out of the box and play a tune? "I don't mean to sound overly precious or coy or to let people down," he answers apologetically, "but, no, never, that's what the box is for: to protect me from that. I made a deal with Chris that I didn't have to do anything like that. I really can't."

And congratulations! Hell's Belles have been invited to play at Maxim magazine's "Hottest 100" party in L.A.

kathleen@thestranger.com

kathleen@thestranger.com