Friday, April 24, 2015

U is for... Ugly Kid Joe

Childhood friends Whitfield Crane and Klaus Eichstadt took an interest in music while growing up in Palo Alto, CA. In 1989 Eichstadt joined Crane's band in Isla Vista, CA. after the two recorded a demo with another Palo Alto native, record producer Eric Valentine. After several band member changes the As Ugly as They Wanna Be line-up was formed consisting of Crane, Eichstadt, Mark Davis, Roger Lahr, and Cordell Crockett.

The band got its name Ugly Kid Joe as a parody of L.A. glam band Pretty Boy Floyd, initially for a one night show in Santa Barbara with guests Pretty Boy Floyd. Pretty Boy Floyd would pull out of the show and have the gig cancelled, but the band decided to keep the name.

The band became popular in the early 1990s, mixing satirical humor and heavy metal. Its logo was a cartoon embodiment of an "ugly kid" wearing a backwards baseball hat and giving the finger. Heavily influenced by Black Sabbath, Ugly Kid Joe covered several of the veteran band's songs, including "Sweet Leaf" and "N.I.B." The group toured the United States several times, making its second tour in support of Scatterbrain, and later opening for former Black Sabbath lead vocalist Ozzy Osbourne.

The band released the E.P. As Ugly As They Wanna Be in October 1991, garnering success in 1992 with the single "Everything About You", which peaked at No. 3 in the UK Singles Chart and made it into the Billboard Top 10. Later in the year, the song would be used in the movie Wayne's World. As Ugly As They Wanna Be went on to sell over 1,000,000 copies in the U.S. alone, becoming the highest selling debut E.P. of all time.

The next few years saw them touring and opening with other big name bands such as Ozzy Osbourne, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Van Halen, and Goldfinger.

Their album, Menace to Sobriety, received much praise from the press and fans, and UK rock magazine Kerrang! ranked it as a contender for album of the year. Despite success overseas and a successful European tour, the album was given little encouragement from Mercury Records and subsequently failed in the United States.

Ugly Kid Joe disbanded in 1997. Drummer Shannon Larkin has been a member of Godsmack since 2002, while lead vocalist Whitfield Crane took the then vacant vocalist spot for New York rock band Life of Agony whose former singer Keith Caputo had left the group in 1997. After his quick departure from Life of Agony, Crane collaborated with some Soulfly members on a new projects called Medication (1999–2003) and Godsmack members on Another Animal (2006–2009).

In 2010, the band reunited. A new EP, Stairway to Hell, was released digitally on June 5, 2012, while physical version surfaced a month later, July 9. In order to promote the recording, Ugly Kid Joe played a series of festivals that summer, including Sweden Rock in Sweden, Download in England, Gods of Metal in Milan, Italy, and Belgrade Calling in Serbia. They were the main support act for Guns N' Roses in Tel Aviv, Israel on July 3, 2012, and also for Alice Cooper on his "Raise The Dead" tour in October 2012.

Ugly Kid Joe started a joint co-headlining European tour with Skid Row in October 2013 kicking off the tour in Southampton, UK.

In February 2015, Ugly Kid Joe successfully used in a crowdfunding effort to pay for the recording of their next album, to be titled Uglier Than They Used Ta Be.

And now for today's earworm:

What does tomorrow bring?

Will it be The Verve?  Village People?  violent Femmes?

or maybe "Venus"?  "Voodoo Child"?  "Vanilla Sky"?

Tune in to find out! 

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