offoffoff music



Site links
  • Contact us

    Get our newsletter:
    Search the site:

    Music section
  • Music main page
  • Audio index

    Current music


    New York bands

    The Anderson Council
    The Ankles
    Richard Barone
    Black 47
    Blake Mattingly
    Bossa Nova Beatniks
    Church of Betty
    Dave's True Story
    Dirty Mary
    Fake Brain
    Pete Galub and The Annuals
    The Irreversible Slacks
    The Lascivious Biddies
    Lava Baby
    Margot Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys
    Lost Tribe
    Mo' Guajiro
    Nova Social
    Pope Syndicate
    The Raymond Scott Orchestrette
    Amy Rigby
    The Right Bastards
    The Rooks
    Sit N Spin
    Songs from a Random House
    Amy Speace
    Speedball Baby
    The Tender Idols
    The VooDUDES
    Yes Virginia

    Out-of-town bands

    Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash
    Black Eyed Snakes
    Richard Bona
    Don Byron and Existential Dred
    Larry Coryell's Eleventh House Reunion Band
    Electric Eel Shock
    Rachelle Ferrell
    The Four Corners
    Marco Leinhard
    Robert Miles
    The Minus 5 vs. The Young Fresh Fellows
    The Monks
    Frank Morey
    NRBQ / The Shaggs
    Curtis Salgado
    The Strawbs

    Concert reviews

    CenterStage concerts
    Gypsy Caravan
    Spazzstock 2001


    Play that 'thunky music, white boys

    Zipthunk is a rock band with an overdeveloped sense of fun, drama, guitar crunch and post-adolescent angst.


    Zipthunk is finished. The way the band members figure it, the WB network just relegated their best song, "Felicity" (hear it on RealAudio or MP3), to permanent obscurity by canceling the show that inspired it.

    Steve Larner (guitar, vocals)
    Fred Berman (drums, vocals)
    Jeff Gurner (bass, vocals).

    Related links: Official site
    Any Other Day   RA  MP3
    Daddy Dad   RA  MP3
    Felicity   RA  MP3
    Sodom   RA  MP3
    © Zipthunk. Used by permission.
    "That is, until it becomes retro," notes drummer Fred Berman, and the band is on track again.

    Zipthunk plays seriously silly songs with playfully ironic lyrics, crunchy guitars and vocals that fall somewhere between They Might Be Giants and Daffy Duck. The band's sense of storytelling and character is probably no accident — all three members came out of theater training, two at Hofstra and one at NYU. They have equal affection for Stephen Sondheim and Rush.

    So how does a band get named Zipthunk?

    Well, that's a long story without a clear answer — but they have fun telling it. It goes back to a slightly magical summer day when they were playing for tips on the N and R platform at 14th and Broadway.

    "There was this really hot day and one guy gave us a joint," Berman recalled fondly. "And one guy gave us this melon. We had no way to cut it open and we were sitting there trying to figure out how to open it when this lady comes up to us with a knife and cuts it for us."

    "Someone asked us what our name was, and I said, 'Zipthunk,' " he adds, although that does little to explain the origin of the word.

    "Its sort of a private joke that we had in college," he offers. "It's an onomatopeia."

    "No it isn't," says guitarist Steve Larner, helpfully.

    So the mysteriously monikered band gradually came together about four years ago with a different drummer (the band has a song about his less-than-amicable departure) and with Berman on guitar. "And [Steve] said, 'Fred, why dont you play drums? '"

    "No," adds Gurner, "it was more like, 'Fred, you suck on guitar.' "

    For all their self-deprecation, the trio is a polished unit with material that could probably rule the airwaves if it weren't a little too smart and didn't contain approximately one gratuitous F- or S-word per song. Besides "Felicity" — a funny song about a girl who identifies a little too closely with her favorite TV character, and a radio-ready hit if you took out one little "fuck you" near the end — there's "Any Other Day" (RealAudio, MP3), a perky rocker that pokes fun at the band's own Pixies fixation, and "Daddy Dad" (RealAudio, MP3) about a young party animal who thinks he's on top of the world because he has a few dollars and an ID that says he's old enough to drink.

    Here's what I got.
    I got my pot.
    And I've got my hands
    On some stripper in Atlanta.

    Just look at me.
    Im twenty (pause) three.
    Is this really me
    With this stripper in Atlanta?

    The wordplay and the picture that the song paints of its wide-eyed young character's confused excitement about sitting in a bar with a drink and a naked girl are clever enough, but the little pause between "twenty" and "three" is an ingenious touch — he's clearly making an effort to remember what it says on his driver's license.

    What many of these songs seem to have in common is early-20s angst — the intoxicating but slightly confused few years of quasi-freedom between the time the teenager leaves the house and the time he actually has to be a grownup. Some guys will spend these magical years doing beer bongs in the frat-house basement and cruising for chicks in bikinis on spring break, and others will spend it wondering how to be a boyfriend instead of a best friend and how young is too young for therapy.

    Like the band itself, the song "Sodom" perfectly walks this line between cock rock and loser rock. Even as it celebrates all the debauchery you'd expect to find in a place called Sodom, it gives you the sense that the singer is probably missing out on the sinful ecstasies that everyone else seems to be enjoying. "I did not bed her," he admits, "but I did amuse her."

    So having not learned their lesson as starving actors and starving musicians, what new heights of futility could be on the horizon for Zipthunk?

    "We all got degrees in acting, and we were having so much success at that that we decided to do something harder," jokes Gurner with a sense of mock triumph. "We're going to get into poetry and painting next."

    APRIL 10, 2002

    Reader comments on Zipthunk!:

  • Zipthunk Rox!   from Andy B, Apr 12, 2002
  • FREDDY BOY!!!   from Lonnie Appleby, Nov 16, 2006
  • Where Have They Gone?   from Josh W., Feb 11, 2007
  • where are you zipthunk?   from Kathleen, Feb 8, 2009
  • Re: where are you zipthunk?   from Fred, Dec 6, 2009
  • ZIPTHUNK! Live   from Fred, Jan 8, 2010

  • Post a comment on "Zipthunk!"