Thirty years of involvement in any facet of life is compelling, but three decades of rocking ’n’ rolling in its purest form is a downright rarity. Athens, Ga.’s Woggles have been broadcasting their throwback sound since the summer of 1987, honing their Southern soul-filled brand of garage-tinged rock ’n’ roll since the Bangles, Madonna and Bon Jovi were perennial chart toppers.
What started as a gang of Wuxtry Records employees and DJs at University of Georgia radio station 90.5 WUOG was more than just some cool folks with left-of-the-dial tendencies. From the fuzzed-up, Farfisa-packed gems of the original lineup to the present-day quartet, one thing has remained constant: world championship quality rock with not one iota of bullshit.
To celebrate three decades of rumbling and fumbling, the band is set to release Tally Ho! on Little Steven Van Zandt’s Wicked Cool imprint. Together, tambourine-wielding singing-and-swinging frontman deluxe (and SiriusXM radio host) Professor Manfred Jones, guitar god Jeff “Flesh Hammer” Walls, low-end theoretician Patrick “Buzz Hagstrom” O’Connor and trap slapper Dan “Eletxro” Hall are as killer a foursome as you can muster.
“Tally Ho! is, of course, a song on the record, but it also gives this connotation of ever onward—on with the chase, on with the hunt,” says Jones. “After 30 years of doing this, this is very much the attitude behind the record.” Four, “living, breathing, walking, talking cartoon characters,” to quote the Mighty Manfred, have managed to be one of the tightest touring bands around, all while residing on opposite sides of the country. Jones calls L.A. home, and the rest of the boys remain Southeasterners (Walls and O’Connor in the great Peach State and Hall in Alabama).
When asked what’s been the secret sauce to the longevity and economy of the group, Jones nails it: “If the sauce was distilled into a liquid form it would certainly be reminiscent of vinegar-based BBQ sauce.”
It’s fitting that the new LP’s artwork, by Athens’ own Big Jim Stacy, features the Woggles as cartoon characters in the style of Atlanta legend Jack Davis: the boys decked out in their best fox-hunting reds, chomping at the bit to get to rocking, as evident by Flesh Hammer’s axe strapped just over his left shoulder and Jones’ mouth agape, complete with finger point and Buzz Hagstrom’s spot of tea.
Tally Ho! is very much a homecoming of sorts, tracked at Sugar bassist David Barbe’s Chase Park Transduction Studios in town with Jim Diamond (Ghetto Recorders, Dirtbombs) in the producer throne for this collection of 13 new offerings.
“We wanted to try something different, and of course, Jim’s auditory resumé speaks for itself,” says Jones. “Jim did a lot of great stuff; it was like every wave of his hands over knobs had the engineers clamoring to find out exactly what he was doing, especially those guitar sounds.”