SLUG June Feature Band: Bad Yodelers

Reviews Music

To some of you SLUG readers, hearing about Bad Yodelers’ two-album record deal with the European label Semaphore Records might seem like just another overnight success story. Well, these guys have been working hard for seven years to make this happen. They’ve gone through eight different singers and have had several other personnel changes throughout the years. The current Bad Yodelers are by far the most professional sounding lineup yet.

Formed in 1983, Bad Yodelers, with Brian Szugye singing, played a one-off show in the basement of Jon Schuman’s house—he was in Massacre Guys at the time. Another band that played that night would later be known as Victims Willing. With a new lineup featuring Jeff Yellowsweater on vocals, the Yodelers recorded their first three-song demo. One being a hilarious version of the Dr. Seuss classic “One Fish Two Fish.” It was that demo that secured them the opening band slot for the Discharge concert at the Indian Center. However, by the time they actually played the show, the band had yet another vocalist. By 1984 Kevin Golding (now their road manager) was doing the singing. An 11 song cassette was recorded and released, and the band played a lot more. They started getting a steady following along the Wasatch Front and played in Idaho as well as Las Vegas. Because of the way the cassette was received by the general public, they had plans to release a 7” single. However, Kevin left after a great performance playing with 45 Grave, and the plans for a single were put on hold. With the arrival of Yodeler vocalist number five—Karl Alvarez—the group started to pull away from their punk roots and were writing in a much heavier style. During the Karl Alvarez era, the band recorded nine songs and played extensively until Karl moved to California to play bass for Descendents, who are now known as All. Once again  Bad Yodelers were without a singer,so they recruited long-time friend Dow Patten to sing. Dow lasted only a couple of shows before moving to San Francisco.

It’s 1987, this time around Lara Jones assumed the vocalist position (she now sings with Commonplace). Lara performed only two shows with them before musical differences forced the departure of  Bad Yodelers’ seventh singer. It wasn’t until  Bad Yodelers permanently borrowed The Stench frontman Terrance DH that things really started to click for them. They recorded their first serious album “I Wonder…” on Running Records. Almost immediately, Semaphore Records in Europe was interested in distribution rights for the release of “I Wonder…”

Now with yet another lineup change—adding new bass player Rob, who also plays with Brainstorm—they have been asked by Semaphore to tour Europe this fall. The idea of  Bad Yodelers on tour seems odd because these guys, at least for the past few years, seldom even play in Salt Lake. In the month of September they have a European tour planned.

Semaphore has already asked them to record their LP in Europe and surprisingly they turned down the offer. Instead, the band  opted to record here in Salt Lake so that they have total control of their sound and will once again produce the effort themselves. They will begin recording this summer, and, if all goes well, we will see the next Bad Yodelers’ album by the end of the year. Because of some very poor distribution in the United States,  Bad Yodelers will be looking for a new distributor that can help them become as popular here in the U.S. as they have become in Europe. Bad Yodelers are one of the better things to come out of Salt Lake and are putting us on the musical map.

Check out more SLUG band features here:
Feature Band: Truce