The Sonics did “Don't Believe in Christmas.” The Fabulous Wailers recorded the equally grumpy “Christmas Spirit,” and the Ventures delivered a whole platter of surfy holiday cheer with their 1965 classic, “The Ventures' Christmas Album.”
Yep, Christmas and garage-rock go together like hipsters and ironic facial hair; and now Girl Trouble and the Dignitaries, two descendants of the aforementioned Tacoma garage greats, have teamed up for a holiday recording of their own. They'll unveil the new split 7-inch single they recorded for Unbreakable Records at their fifth annual Countdown to Christmas Party, which will kick off at 9 p.m. on Dec. 7 at the New Frontier Lounge, 301 E. 25th St., in Tacoma.
“Our side is called 'I Know Why Santa Is Drunk,'” Dignitaries frontman Reylan Fernandez explained. “It's more of a gritty, dystopian look at Christmas,” he added, laughing. “Ours is a little more like stumbly, drunk Santa; not saying he's a bad guy, but he's not a nice guy that night.”
So more of a Billy Bob Thornton Santa, eh? What else would you expect from a band that writes cuts like “Methlehem” and “Lusty Lady”…? (Yes, that Lusty Lady.)
For their side, Girl Trouble penned a song called "Letter to Santa," which singer Kurt Kendall described as being inspired by Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs' quirky “I Couldn't Spell !!*!”
Drummer Bon Von Wheelie “got a copy and played it for me, and she changed the words and extended the verses,” Kendall said. “So ours is quite a bit different from the original, but it still keeps what's almost a standard blues progression.”
Girl Trouble's set will include the new song along with Christmas classics from Elvis (“Blue Christmas,” “Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me”) and a few selections from that Ventures album.
“We usually open with the Ventures’ version of 'Sleigh Bells,'” Kendall said, “which is a bitch for Bill (guitarist Henderson) because, A, it’s really hard to play and, B, have two incredible guitar players playing that song and we only have one. So that one's always a challenge.”
But Kendall suggested that one Countdown to Christmas tradition-in-the-making may have fizzled out.
“The last two Christmas shows we tricked Bon into singing ‘I Want a Beatle for Christmas,’” he said. “I’d get on drums, and she’d sing. But she’s not doing it. The new singer will play that. I don’t think she’s gonna sing this year. I would love for her to ‘cause I love to play drums.”
Cue “Price Is Right” losing horn. Hey, maybe she just needs a little coaxing from her fans.
Bonus coverage: Learn the latest on Girl Trouble's forthcoming album and documentary and the recent reissue of the band's debut “Hit It or Quit” online at http://www.tacomaweekly.com.