Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Keep Up: The Woggles Can Save Your Soul

The Woggles have been at it a while, but who's got time to "look back" when you keep moving forward?

The Georgia-based gentries of garage-pop and boogieable big-beat jams that sandwich scuzzy Nuggets-nicked janglers into some soul-sweetened British Invasion-type bits, blew right past their 25th anniversary without really noticing...

9/28 - The Woggles play Small's in Hamtramck with Amy Gore & Her Valentines ~ wsg Duende

Younger groups opening up for the rock outfit stop them back stage after shows and remark on how they likely couldn't keep up all that energy, especially at their age...

"And they mean this as a compliment," says singer/spark-plug Mighty Manfred (a.k.a. Professor Mighty Manfred). He chuckles warmly at this, saying: "And their wondering how we do it, how we can keep it up and keep it going. I sometimes tell 'em, 'Yeah, you're right, you probably couldn't keep up with me...'"

A year ago, if any music fan or writer wanted to take note, would have marked their 25th anniversary as a touring/recording/performing rock outfit. But they really didn't make a big to-do over it. They just went into the studio (with their guitarist Flesh Hammer at the boards) and banged out another record (The Big Beat on Wicked Cool Records).

You know how that guitar hook bends your ear, throttles your collar and kinda pulls you close for this exciting moment of romance and danger? But then the drums kick in, slewfooting you onto your ass leaving you no recourse but to get back up and rumble-boogie your way through the dancefloor? It's that kinda music - raw, rigid, celebratory...soulful, slinky, front-and-center freakouts...

"It was when I heard 'I'm A Man' by Bo Diddley," says The Professor, pinpointing a key moment when he saw the light of rock n' roll and knew he'd wind up spending his life making music. "None of the contemporary stuff I was listening to back then, I guess you'd call it 'new-wave' at that time, had the depth and the power, the vibrancy and the immediacy that Bo Diddley demonstrated. It sounded far more new and fresh to me than that more 'contemporary' stuff. That was the groundswell, for me!"

Presence...vibrancy...immediacy... That pretty much sums up the Woggles' signature style of the jam - in and out in under three minutes with plenty of snaky guitars decorously distorted and the big beat relentlessly chopping down a danceable rhythm -

There's music that grooves. And then, there's music that just hits.

When Diddley's "primeval" and "otherworldly" songs sounded new to Manfred's ears, it demonstrated to him the timelessness of music, that it isn't confined to any period of time.

Be that as it may, most blogs or zines will sling words around like "60's" or "garage" or even "revivalist," when writing up this band.

"Revival?" asks Manfred. "Well, if you're talking something like a Church Tent Revival-thing then, yeah. We're saving souls!"

Their constant touring and festival gigs brings them before a wide range of audiences, in terms of age, further communicating rock's reach across generations. Younger crowds, some not used to "cutting loose and letting abandon-take-hold" might not know how to react, initially, Manfred admits. "We're up there speaking-in-tongues, the tongues of rock n' roll - but it's okay! You can come down to the altar, you don't have to stay back in the pew."

No one in the group (including Dan Eletrxo and Buzz Hagstrom) sets out to recreate any period or live within any period except this one, says Manfred. Everything they write comes from their own perspective and own frame of reference. In other words, "it's what we dig..."

"We do count our blessings, though," Manfred says, "for how long we've been able to do this." He's not about to call them "rock stars" in the cliched conception, but acknowledges that there is an endearing fan base out there, around the country, for the Woggles style of magnificent maelstroms.

"We've always had terrific times in Detroit," Manfred says with audible reverie. They played the Gold Dollar and bowled in the Magic Stick with Ko Melina. They've partied at Johnny Hentch's house after shows and even crashed at Willy Wilson's joint when needed...

"Let's rephrase that," Manfred says soon after. "There's not a fan-base, so to say as there is an 'extended-family-base.' There's always a niche, or a nod, or a heart...out there, of long-time fans that we sort of build our relationships with over the years. The families still there. But, of course, we're always looking to include new family members."

"You're showcasing the music," says Manfred, explaining their amped-up stage shows. "It's a soul-driven music. So let's say it's a soul-driven experience and it just seems in order to properly perform it, to write songs in this vein, then there's this passion that's drawn upon. And that's the thing....If you have this love and are possessed to do it, then that's a well you gotta keep digging deep and keep drawing up the water."

The Big Beat came out in March on Lil' Steven's Wicked Cool Records.
Meanwhile, the band set their sights on Small's in Hamtramck.

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