The Embarrassment of Riches. Obtuse. Agitated. Art Punk. Neurotic. Gnarly. Gangly. Awkward. Nervous. Punk/Art/Pop. Fractured. It's amazing how many dumb adjectives can be written about a band when people futilely attempt to describe something they can't fully grasp. The Embarrassment formed in Wichita, Kansas in 1978 and along with a handful of other Midwestern bands, started to write and perform music which sounded nothing like what had come before them.
Bespectacled buddies, Brent "Woody" Giessmann (drums), Bill Goffrier (guitar, backing vocals) and John Nichols (vocals, organ) all grew up together in the same apartment complex in Wichita. They played in sandboxes together (working out their sub-conscious Brian Wilson fixations) and began writing songs while still in grade school. Growing up, they formed a series of trios and when Woody met bassist Ron Klaus in college, the lineup was complete.
1980 - Sex Drive/Patio Set (Big Time - 7")
1981 - Fresh Sounds From Mid America Volume 1 (Fresh Sounds - cassette compilation)
1981 - Embarrassment E.P. (Cynykyl)
1981 - Battle of The Garages Volume 1 (Bomp - compilation)
1981 - Sub Pop 5 (Sub Pop - cassette compilation)
1982 - Sub Pop 7 (Sub Pop - cassette compilation)
1983 - Death Travels West (Fresh Sounds - mini LP)
1984 - The Embarrassment Retrospective (Fresh Sounds - cassette)
1987 - The Embarrassment LP (Time To Develop)
1988 - Human Music (Homestead - compilation)
1989 - Time For A Change (Bar/None - compilation)
1990 - God Help Us (Bar/None)
1995 - Hey Day 1979-83 (Bar/None)
Releasing their debut vinyl in 1980, The Embarrassment were looked upon by a number of open-minded listeners as a breath of fresh air amongst the putrid smog of the Foreigner/Journey/Styx axis which was then dominating American music. Writing songs with subjects like English scientists, pretentious artists, sexual confusion and the pure giddiness of being young and WITH CAR and backing it with music that was on one hand jagged and aggressive and on the other, soaringly melodic and beautiful, the band became one of the leading progenitors of the American indie rock scene.
At the time, English New Wave was sweeping through the country and a number of the band's detractors viewed them as being "too American" sounding. Of course, the leading "alternative" acts of the day were Spandau Ballet, Haircut 100, A Flock of Seagulls and their ilk, so who's to judge anyway? The Embarrassment were a big guitar band when it wasn't hip to be a big guitar band. Even so, they did gain that infamous 'cult' following and were able to headline their own tours, as well as doing performances with Iggy Pop, William S. Burroughs and John Cale amongst others.
Towards the end of 1983, the band decided that it was best for each member to pursue their own interests (musical and otherwise) and the group stopped functioning as a full-time project. The separation was not brought about by the typical personal or musical differences, after all these guys were pals. It was more a matter of wanting to explore other parts of what life had to offer.
After that, The Embarrassment assumed a near legendary status. This without having ever had the opportunity to record an entire full-length album in the studio. A number of New Year's performances in Kansas kept the fire burning for both the members of the group as well as their audience. The Embos never really broke up or reformed - they never stopped writing songs together. So finally, in 1990 The Embarrassment came back with their first new studio recording in seven years, God Help Us on Bar/None Records.
God Help Us
So finally, The Embarrassment are back with their first new studio recording in seven years. It is the first Embarrassment recording conceived as a whole, full-length release. Produced by The Embarrassment and Lou Giordano, (who has worked with Mission of Burma, Bob Mould, Christmas, The Zulus, Moving Targets and many others), God Help Us is the answer to your prayers.
Hey Day 1979-83
The Embarrassment, the original Kansas punk rockers, are back just as their legend looms larger than ever. Hey Day 1979 - 1983 , a two-CD set on Bar/None Records, brings the best of the Embarrassment together for the first time. Disc One subtitled "The Standards" includes the original "Sex Drive" and familiar radio songs like "Elizabeth Montgomery's Face". Disc Two, "The Scarcities", has live cuts of Michael Jackson and Led Zep songs, as well as rare unreleased originals.
Embo members Brent Giessmann and Bill Goffrier have been visible lately in the Boston area, with Brent drumming for the Laurie Geltman band and Bill set to play Billy Shears in the Boston Rock Opera version of Sgt. Pepper, sure to be a hit this November.
The rumors have started that this release will bring the band out of retirement for a reunion show in New York to celebrate the release. No dates have been announced, but look out for shows in Boston, home to half of the members, or even back in Kansas where Embo shows have been a major event!