Whether playing 'American Pop' or 'Alternative Rock' the Heebie Jeebies was one of those legendary local pop bands of the 1990s that managed to survive in the minds and toe taps of those who loved its music.
After reforming for the Karate Bikini CD release show at Off Broadway on July 21st, the buzz was back for the Heebie Jeebies, one of St. Louis' most beloved local bands during its heyday. Sonically, the band carefully fused its passion for British Invasion-era pop and smudged it with tinges of garage rock and that poppy jangle sound which was so prevalent in the early post-wave 1990s.
The Heebie Jeebies made two cassettes, a self-titled gem -- The Heebie Jeebies, a crisp amalgamation of guitars, potent percussion and great lyrics -- and its follow up, Better Than Your Boyfriend, which saw the band deepen its sound.
The band played out a lot back then, mostly at Cicero's with friends and bands its members liked. But no matter where they played they always brought a sense of energy and enthusiasm to their live shows. When the band called it a day St. Louis lost not just a great pop band but part of its musical soul.
Thanks to a new compilation CD, STL' 91: The Best Of The Heebie Jeebies, the band's music breathes again. Twelve of its sixteen pop nuggets are found here. From the crunchy openers "I've Been Down" and "Kristen" to the bar band exuberance of "Told You So", the date night romper, "Table For Two", the melodic "Do What You Do" and "None Will Be The Wisser," this compilation makes it abundantly clear that this was a band evolving.
If there ever was such a things as a 'definitive St. Louis sound' in the early '90s, The Heebie Jeebies embodied it. RFT Music interviewed singer/songwriter Kip Loui about the past, present and future of The Heebie Jeebies.
Rob Levy: Where did the idea of the STL 91 Compilation come from?
Kip Loui: I got the idea after stumbling across the DAT master tape that contained sessions that produced our two cassette releases. I was curious how it would all sound digitized and cleaned up, so to speak. The results were surprisingly good, and I thought it would be fun to maybe print up a 100 copies and have a reunion show.
How did the band feel about the project?
The Heebie Jeebies were all game to get together. Our drummer, Nick Barbieri, had recently moved back to STL from Minneapolis, and it was Nick in particular who lit a fire under us and helped coordinate rehearsals and whatnot. Our first practice was equal parts music and old friends reunion. No tension, no egos.... just a bunch of middle aged guys with families playing power chords and screaming songs from 20 years back. What made you guys decide to do the reunion show?
I suppose the idea of the reunion started with me stumbling across the old master tapes. The Heebie Jeebies were my first all-originals band, and after I heard those songs all cleaned up and blaring out of the CD player, I thought it would be a hoot to take them for a spin again. They've held up pretty well, to my ears. Others have said the same thing. The songs don't sound too dated.
Is the CD available in stores?
Currently, the hard copies of "STL '91: The Best of The Heebie Jeebies" are available at Euclid Records only, but I do plan to drop off a few at Vintage Vinyl here soon. We're also going to offer the CD as a digital download via CD Baby, so anyone interested will be able to purchase the collection through Amazon or I-Tunes, theoretically. We're just working out the kinks right now. I can't imagine there will be a tremendous amount of interest in a semi-obscure early '90s band from St Louis, but stranger things have happened,
Can you talk about that magical time [1991-92] in the STL music scene? It was a pretty good time for local music.
There were actually several "scenes" back then, just as now. Ours was centered around the old Cicero's, which was located roughly in the spot currently occupied by Blueberry Hill's Duck Room.
A lot of local bands came up through that basement bar, and some of the went on to greater glory. There was Uncle Tupelo, of course, and early shows by The Urge.... Three Merry Widows...Small Ball Paul...the Bottle Rockets had their first gig there, I think...and then of course a whole string of bands that never got signed per se but were very active. They were nicknamed The Cicero's Pop Mafia by the RFT, and included in that grouping would have been The Sun-Sawed-In-Half, The Boorays, Corporate Humour, Lydia's Trumpet, The Dagos, The Lettuceheads and The Heebie Jeebies.
Then there were harder rocking outfits like The Tree Weasels, EJ Quit, Five Of These, Mike Martin's band The Atomic Fossils...I'm sure there are tons I'm forgetting. Bob Reuter's band Kamikaze Cowboy didn't come along until the mid '90's, I think, but I'm certain he was active in the early '90's as well.
What is next for you and the band? Are there more shows planned?
I suppose. As for the future, all of the Heebie Jeebies band members (myself, Dave Hilditch, Alex Mutrux, Tim McAvin and Nick Barbieri) have agreed that it would be fun to play out again every now and then. Not so often as to be routine, but often enough that we remember how to play the material!
We're all playing in other bands these days in addition to career and family stuff, so it gets a little tricky with the scheduling.
To keep up to date on the band and any future activities follow Kip Loui on Facebook