In the early-mid 90’s, New York City’s East Village was still the valid haunt of underground artists, musicians and junkies. Avenue A was the Main Street of this misfit community, and two of it’s soggy locals, Eleanor Whitledge and Brad Worrell, both found themselves out of work and bored. Together with pal Pete McClanahan, who was temporarily off the road from his band Warrior Soul, they decided they should throw together a punk rock cover band to showcase some of their favorite, obscure songs from artists like Radio Birdman, Fred Sonic Smith (MC5), Philly’s Naked Twister and anything from Detroit in engineer boots.
They soon found that it was much more fun to write their own songs however, so when they played their debut gig at The Strip, under the name The Mutants, they already had a set full of originals. Realizing the chemistry was too good for a one-off, they changed their name to The Goops after finding a perfectly fitting description under that entry in an old dictionary they’d been perusing for inspiration. They were soon playing high-energy shows all over New York, at CBGB’s, The Pyramid, The Continental and before long recorded their first album for Blackout! The notorious NYC hardcore producer, Don Fury, was a friend of the band and so was chosen to produce the record in his basement studio on Spring Street where bands like Quicksand, Sick of It All, CIV, AF, Gorilla Biscuits, H2O, Helmet, Underdog, Madball, The Lunachicks and Orange 9mm had all laid down tracks.
Through this early period a handful of freaks had revolved through the rhythm section, including Pete, Zippy, Karl Bateman, Knuckles and Swig Mib. It was right after finishing the album that they would settle on their formal and final lineup, with Steven "Stif" Mazur on bass and Jeff "Mr. Heffman" Bennison on drums.
Much touring ensued with bands that included The Devil Dogs, Rancid, Bouncing Souls, Guttermouth, Samiam, Big Drill Car, Sensfield and The Offspring. Their low-budget video for the single, "Booze Cabana" was scooped up by MTV for "Beavis & Butthead" appearing in the "Murder Site" episode along with Hole. Then "Clerks" director, Kevin Smith heard their raucous cover of "Build Me Up Buttercup" and chose it to be the single/video for his film "Mallrats". The track appears in the movie when Shannon Doherty gets it in the elevator.
When they were off the road, the band could always be found, Friday nights, at Squeezebox, the punk/glam/straight/gay, best-party-in-town, hosted by the lovely Mistress Formika. They performed there more than anyone except the house band and maybe Miss Guy and it was in the sweaty-close confines of the noizy party that Reprise A&R man, Steve Lau began courting them for the Warner Brothers record label. With several other majors sniffing their butts, the Goops settled on Reprise after the label’s owner Howie Klein revealed that it was one of the very first shows by The Ramones, at CBGB’s that had inspired him to return to the music business.
While the first record was as much rock as punk, the second one would trade the rock for pop, showcasing their love of bands like Blondie and the Ramones and reflecting the influence of their recent tour-mates like Rancid and Bouncing Souls and new label mates, Green Day.
While some blamed their jump to the major labels as a classic story of "incorporating evil ruining the little indie punk-band", the truth was that everyone at Warners loved the band and worked their asses off for them. In the end, it was their own in-fighting and insecurities that led to The Goops’ demise far too quickly after releasing their second album.
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