WORTH SEEING: BORN AGAIN FLOOZIES: Floozies serious about music

March 26, 2007

WORTH SEEING

BORN AGAIN FLOOZIES Floozies serious about music For a band that's garnering international buzz, the Born Again Floozies are hard to find.

The local sextet has only a handful of live shows scheduled, the next one May 20 at the Broad Ripple Art Fair. "We don't play that often," said Joe Welch, the band's co-founder, guitarist, singer, songwriter, kickdrum player and spokesman. "When we do, we make sure it's a good show and that it's worthwhile."

All the Floozies have day jobs, and Welch and his wife, lead tap dancer and prosecuting attorney Elizabeth Milliken, have an infant at home. For quality-of-life purposes, the Floozies decided to book only a few shows a month.

"In September we turned down 16 shows," said Welch, a computer guru by day. "My wife and I decided this could very easily take over our lives. We could play three nights a week. ... We decided very early on that's not what we wanted to do."

For its growing legion of fans, however, the Floozies are worth the wait.

With its combination of guitar, tap dancing, tuba, trombone, kick drum and various percussion instruments, the Floozies are not, to say the least, a typical sort of band. They could be dismissed as a novelty act, if it weren't for solid musicianship and songwriting led by veteran local musician Welch.

Together, the band produces heavenly harmonies on songs like "As I Lay Dying," as well as infectious melodies on more light-hearted tunes like "Gimme Back My Mullet."

The Floozies were born 2-1/2 years ago, when Welch was playing guitar for Milliken, then his girlfriend. She went to the attic and returned with her old tap shoes to provide percussion, and a sound was born.

Initially, the band consisted of just Milliken and Welch. Since then, it's added a second tap dancer (Amy Gilmore), a tuba player (Ben Vokits), a trombonist (Charlie Krone), and a vocalist/percussionist (Nancy Moore).

"My vision was to someday have a whole Floozie orchestra of odds and ends, and it's getting to that," Welch said.

Band members are in their 20s and 30s-with an average age, he said, of 29.285714285714285714.

Despite the humorous bent to songs that pay sly tribute to bad haircuts and people who use SUVs to compensate for anatomical shortcomings, the Floozies are serious about making music. Welch, who's been playing in bands since the third grade, lists local bands like Johnny Socko and the Aurelians on his resume.

When the Floozies went to record their first CD-the five-song "Novelties, Addenda and Ephemera"-they traveled to Chicago and enlisted producer Steve Albini, who's worked with the likes of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, Nirvana and The Pixies.

A second, full-length CD made with Albini, "7 Deadly Sinners," is waiting in the wings. The Floozies had planned to release it in January, but "Novelties" is still generating buzz, so the band elected to wait until June to release the follow-up, said Welch. They recently wrapped up recording for a third CD, "Street Music," which should be ready for release in late fall or early winter.

"Novelties" has been boosted by the inclusion of the song "I Used to Play the Euphonium" on a sampler CD included in the December/January issue of indie-rock magazine Paste, which has a circulation of 150,000. Welch said he sent a Floozies CD to Paste on a lark, because he's an avid reader of the magazine, and was surprised to receive a call about it shortly thereafter.

Since then, the Floozies have played at a festival hosted by the magazine and a show in Detroit filmed for a PBS special, and have been featured on British radio station BBC Radio Six and in Americana UK magazine. Recently the Floozies began mounting a college radio campaign, which is showing early signs of success.

The attention has surprised even Welch, who admits the band's sound isn't exactly mainstream. Band members are excited about the buzz they've created, even if it wasn't their initial goal.

"Really, it's just getting together people that get along well and have fun together," Welch said of the band's philosophy. "Music is just sort of the result and not the goal. The goal is to have fun, have a rewarding experience and have something to show for the hard work and the dedication."
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