Even if you haven’t stepped into a club to see Egg Yolk Jubilee, there is a good chance you’ve seen them marching down the streets of New Orleans. After all, they’re probably the only marching band truly lewd, crude, and humorous enough for the task of soundtracking Krewe du Vieux. They also lug their big horns around for beloved miniature float parade ‘tit Rex, where they are more than tiny terrors. Additionally, trumpeter and singer Eric Belletto plays a key role in arranging horn parts for the 9th Ward Marching Band, which some of the yolks have been a part of since the marching band first added horns in the ‘90s.
After Mardi Gras season, the band is usually causing a ruckus in clubs with an amplified mixture of everything from heavy metal to traditional jazz. The band’s newest album Defining Gravity documents this end of Egg Yolk’s sonic spectrum. Distorted guitar melodies crunch against a full band, including a multi-piece horn section, on tracks like “Fluff” and “Clams and Noodles.” The group’s original songs are always from the heart but seldom serious in subject matter. The new album, out December 12, sports song titles like “Sex Robot,” “Asymetrical Booty,” and “Harb Arbez,” the latter of which is a cryptic message for listeners to decode. This is a signature blend of serious musicianship and humor that the group has perfected over a quarter century of debauchery, which includes a stint backing New Orleans R&B legend and self-proclaimed “Emperor of the Universe” Ernie K-Doe in the early 2000s. Members of the horn section have also helped punk icons Jello Biafra of Dead Kennedys and Gibby Haynes of Butthole Surfers perform separate sets of local R&B hits, including some of K-Doe’s signature numbers.
While the members of Egg Yolk Jubilee keep smiles on their faces and sing silly songs together, they are no strangers to hardship and loss. In 2016, longtime horn player Michael Joseph passed away after stepping away from the band in 2012 to deal with health issues. In February 2020, the band suffered another crippling loss when founding guitarist and singer Geoff Douville passed away from cancer. Defining Gravity, recorded during Douville’s last few years, now serves as a final testament to him. The band continues to carry Douville and Joseph’s legacies on through music as they reconfigure their lineup and resume performing across the city. On a bright, warm Saturday afternoon, I met up with Belletto, multi-instrumentalist Paul Grass, and bassist-turned-guitarist Mike Hogan at BJ’s Lounge, where the band engages in the world’s shortest second line every Mardi Gras season. They opened up about carrying on after loss, keeping things humorous for so long, and their early days of antagonizing the metalheads at Dixie Taverne.
Mike, you’re not an original member. How did you get looped into this mess?
Mike Hogan: I joined 17 years ago. I was in the family since the beginning. I mastered all the records and played with Eric Belletto in various little things. I knew the guys and we’d have little mastering parties at my house… I offered to audition for the bass and that was my audition—saying I was interested. [laughs] Then we started slamming all these tunes that I had to learn, not having played any form of trad jazz.
Are you playing guitar now?
MH: 17 years as bassist and then three gigs as guitarist. It’s been interesting. I need to practice a lot more. It’s been an easy way to keep it in the family. I already had all the tunes in my head. I can’t ask Geoff about some of the weird chord formations that he makes so I have to do that on my own. Paul’s brother Glenn stepped in on bass. We kept it in the family. No newbies who don’t get half of the humor or why we’re screaming at each other.
Didn’t Glenn also play something on the album?
MH: Yeah. He’s also a keyboard player. He plays electric piano and organ on “And Away We Geaux.” Quintron also plays organ and Miss P’s on it. All the family members. Megan Brunious, who plays trumpet with us during the Mardi Gras season, sings on a bit too. Anybody else? My ex-wife as the sex robot. She thinks it’s funny.
With Geoff’s passing, the album had potential to feel really somber. But nope, it’s still Egg Yolk Jubilee. There’s “Sex Robot.”
MH: Song about boobs! [crash] Song about underwear! [crash] Song about asymmetrical booty! [crash]
Paul Grass: “Harb Arbez” with a secret meaning. Do you understand arbez?
MH: I just put on bandcamp: “You figure it out.”
Eric Belletto: Brah.
PG: It’s Zebra spelled backwards.
EB: We have backward masking.
MH: We do! I hope Randy Jackson doesn’t try to sue me.
Geoff does play on the whole album. When did you record it?
MH: Over a couple years before he got sick… [We recorded] over a period of six years, not consistently. There were fits and starts. We did one or two things over. I think we did “Asymmetrical [Booty]” over because it needed to be a little faster or maybe even slower. It’s weird when you listen to the first things we did because you just want to do them over again. This one was a bit more budget constrained than previous ones. We had a little Treme money stashed for when we did the Fried record. That gave us a little bit more playing around and not having to sweat it out so much. This one, we really had to watch our money, especially since the pandemic was going to shut us down for two years and nothing would be coming in. We got everything canned before that happened which gave me a lot of time to tweak and mix and fix. Geoff’s “Sex Robot” vocals were recorded maybe three weeks before he had his big relapse and had to have a permanent tracheostomy. That was his singing farewell: “Sex Robot.” That’s very Egg Yolk.
That’s one hell of a farewell.
EB: What’s the last line?
EB and MH [singing in unison]: Sex robots are coming for you with tasty meat pies!
EB: The sex robot kills his owner and turns him into meat pies.
MH: Feeds it to his friends.
PG: His enemies!
EB: As per some Shakespeare story, according to Geoff.
This band has been together for 25 years. That’s an incredible feat if you sit down and think about it. Did you think this band was going to last that long when you started it?
PG: No. It wasn’t even supposed to be a band that was supposed to happen. We were just getting together to drink beers and play since we knew each other from high school. We had this ballroom, the Jefferson Orleans North. Glenn Barberot, the tuba player—
MH: He’s on the album but he just retired—
PG: He had this ballroom and he said come over and jam. They had an open bar. Yeah, of course we can do that! [laughs]
EB: Twist my arm!
PG: We kept inviting people over and Rob Cambre was one of them. He’d come by and jam with us. Then he was going to have a birthday party at the Dixie Taverne and was like, “We’ve got to play! We’re playing the birthday party!” “Alright, if you say so Rob.” It went over really well. With Led Zeppelin, it comes up a lot that they played “Train Kept A-Rollin” the first time they got together and after they finished they were just like [deep laughter]. That was the same thing for us when we played “Please Don’t Talk About Me [When I’m Gone],” which we still play. After we played that song the first time, it was like, “Damn! That’s pretty good!” That was a big part of the process, just that one go at that one song. “Alright, let’s learn another one!”
EB: That was before me and Mike Joseph.
PG: No! Y’all came in!
EB: Was it Egg Yolk Jubilee or the Panéed Syncopators?
PG: [A friend] wanted us to play a wedding party and was insistent that we had to change the name of the band because Panéed Syncopators was too silly. [everyone laughs]
Egg Yolk Jubilee: the serious band!
PG: The Jefferson Orleans North/Barberot family was why we stayed together for so long. Every Thursday and sometimes Monday so we were doing two nights. We weren’t married or anything so it was like, “Let’s go to the J.O. and play!” It became a lot of fun, obviously. We’ve got five records!
A lot of your early gigs were at Dixie Taverne, which hosted a lot of seminal punk and metal gigs.
EB: Everyone in the club was wearing black leather and spikes. We were wearing plaid shorts and t-shirts.
PG: That was another reason we started. I remember there was this great band called Flesh Parade. The first time I saw that band at Dixie Taverne, I was stunned. I was not prepared for that at all and everyone was going crazy. If you put a normal person in here, they’d be running for the doors as soon as that band started to crank it up. How can you annoy these people who love the Flesh Parade? That was another inspiration: to try and annoy the metalheads a little bit. Just to see if we could do it.
EB: We tried but they liked us. [laughs]
PG: Because we played Ozzy Osbourne.
What was the response like when you would play Dixie Taverne and those kinds of places early on?
EB: It was surprisingly good.
PG: When you throw in “Flying High Again” by Ozzy Osbourne, a swinging version before Pat Boone.
EB: We were kind of in that movement of switcheroos: the switching of jazz to rock and rock to jazz. The rock songs by a jazz guy and vice versa.
PG: We were doing swing versions of metal songs and Pink Floyd songs.
For those who weren’t around New Orleans in the mid-90s, can you talk about what the music scene was like and how that led to Egg Yolk being the band it was?
EB: It was awesome. A lot of people out in the clubs.
PG: Every night of the week. Is it like that now? I don’t get out anymore. You had the Mermaid Lounge, the Warehouse Cafe which turned into Monaco Bob’s—
EB: The RC Bridge Lounge. We used to play at Lucky’s with Grassy Knoll.
PG: Uptown, same thing. This area [in the Bywater] started happening. The 40s [Morning 40 Federation] started playing at the Hi-Ho when it was literally a living room with no high ceilings. It had low ceilings and it was their living room. The 40s started playing over there and we started playing over there. There was Frenchmen Street: The Dragon’s Den, Checkpoint Charlie’s.
EB: There’s a lot in between those brain cells now.
PG: The Matador was another place we played a lot.
MH: There was no d.b.a. but there was Café Brasil.
EB: The Dream Palace. The Tin Roof. They used to bill us as trad jazz because we play kind of trad jazz music but not quite. We were the punk rock Dixieland band. They were going “That’s not how you do that song!”
PG: The guy who owned that place was a stickler for tradition.
EB: We played Snug Harbor once.
MH: That wasn’t in the ‘90s. That was after the hurricane.
EB: We get there and the guy is like, “Man, the phone has been ringing all day!” People being like, “Is Egg Yolk Jubilee really playing at Snug Harbor?” “Yes, they are. Click!” [laughs]
You had mentioned how the punks and metalheads reacted. How did the trad jazz people react to this band?
MH: In the beginning, well—because they won awards.
EB: The same year we got the Offbeat award and the Big Easy award. They were for best new band or emerging talent. People liked us. They were glad to hear it.
PG: We played at the Big Easy Awards. We killed that night. We played “[Dozena] Huevos.” Everyone was stunned.
EB: Ronnie Lamarque was like, “You guys are good.” Emeril was like, “Wow! I really liked it!” Paul was like, “Emeril, cook me food!” [laughs] He was quoting Space Ghost Coast to Coast. Emeril looks at Paul like he’s gonna kill him. [growls]
PG: The ‘90s. It was like anything goes. There was the Mermaid/Warehouse scene and then there was the Frenchmen scene. They kind of intermingled. Ben Ellman was playing with Klezmers [The New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars] and Galactic and then he started playing with Lump. It was a beautiful crosstown thing happening.
EB: During the ‘80s, a lot of punk bands evolved into jazz and these other things. The Nipples of Isis was pretty weird. You never heard a trumpet in a rock band then. It was like this unheard of thing. There was Weedeater.
Weedeater as in the stoner metal band from out of town?
PG: No! They had to change their name. They got a cease and desist. They were great. They were a space metal band that played with a drum track. Me and Geoff were their projectionists. We would go on these tours with them and show this 16 millimeter projection. They stole this film from the NASA library.
EB: Shush! There’s no statute of limitations on that. [laughs]
PG: When Lump broke up, I went to the Mermaid Lounge. Eric was playing in Lump with Mike [Joseph] towards the very end because Ben was going on tour with Galactic. Mike was an original member who played bass.
EB: Mike played bass but he did trumpet tracks on the CDs so to do that stuff live they asked me to do the trumpet parts.
PG: Ben was going more towards Galactic and then eventually Lump just called it quits. I was severely bummed out because they were like my favorite band. I met some of them at Mermaid Lounge and was like, “Barberot has got the Jefferson Orleans North if you want to come by on Thursdays. They’ve got a bar. It’s free.” [laughs] They showed up. And A.P. Gonzales came also and we started goofing around. That’s pretty much how it started. We were doing stuff before they came in with my brother, Glenn Barberot, and Dave Leslie, who was the harmonica player who stayed on for a little while when Egg Yolk started going. We had another band called the Cold Nose Patrol and we played people’s backyards and weird gigs. Then my brother Glenn had a lot of kids and he had to play in a cover band so he couldn’t do that anymore. We just missed each other. They knew my brother Glenn because he was the drum major of the high school band that we all went to. In the end, when he became the bass player, it was like: This works out well.
Egg Yolk Jubilee at Jazz Fest, 2017 (Photo by Joshua Brasted)
Egg Yolk spent a decent amount of time backing Ernie K-Doe. How did that come about?
PG: Another great band from the ‘90s, the Rubber Maids, were hanging out at the Mother-in-Law Lounge. Xiomara was a huge fan. She and her husband Brad Brewster were hanging out there all the time. They were like, “We should do a show where we get a bunch of these punk rock bands in here. You can show it to them and teach them how to do it.” They asked us.
EB: Quintron was involved in that. I found a paper for the Ninth Ward Music Organization or something. It was Xiomara and Quintron trying to promote.
PG: It was an amazing night. Just fantastic. Ernie loved us. He loved the horns and everything. He loved all the bands and would play with all of us. He would bring us out during Jazz Fest weekend. I think we backed him up a couple of times at Rock‘n’Bowl and Tipitina’s.
EB: Ernie was in his whole “Emperor of the Universe” mode with the cape and sequins and the head dress, of course.
PG: And Antoinette [K-Doe]!
EB: Looking super sharp.
What were your impressions of K-Doe at that time?
PG: I was awestruck.
EB: You don’t see too many pictures where Paul doesn’t have a large grin. [laughs]
PG: At the time, I was really starting to get into New Orleans R&B so it was perfect timing.
You do ”A Mellow Good Time, Part 2,” one of the songs Allen Toussaint wrote for Lee Dorsey, on the new album.
MH: We do it pretty straight. I cut back a large amount of the rapping just because it was very busy. I put a few of the little vocals in the important places and let the band do the rest. On the Lee Dorsey version, he’s going “Hey! Everybody party!” for the whole song so it was just a little bit too busy.
EB: Not to criticize Lee Dorsey and Allen Toussaint.
MH: The most important ones had to stay in there.
You guys alway have a fantastic selection of covers. The Sun Ra one on Fried is fantastic.
EB: It was the first song that me and Mike played with you guys that first day. It was like, “What do we play?” “I’ve got the fake book.” The cover was torn off. Back then, it was hard to find fake books. It was like: Oh, a fake book! We put it on the table and there it was: “A Call For All Demons” on page one. Let’s play this! We’ve been playing it since.
So Sun Ra goes to the core of the beginning of Egg Yolk?
PG: It’s a great filler song. It’s a total jam band song. You can get as weird as possible.
EB: It’s the jammiest, loosest song but it was the one song that was pretty regularly played on WWOZ for the real jazz show. I’m still humbled when I think about “On our last set was Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Coltrane, and Egg Yolk Jubilee.”
MH: It is 14 minutes long so it is a very popular song for a smoke break or bathroom break.
PG: It was [WWOZ DJ] David Kunian’s theme song for a couple of years.
EB: I swear that, after that, I would listen to that show. They’d say, “Coming up is ‘A Call For All Demons.’” I’d think they were playing us again but it was some young kids. I don’t want to say I’m starting a trend but I think a lot of other bands started doing that song because they would hear us screw it up so bad.
PG: A British invasion kind of thing. [laughs] A Metairie invasion.
MH: It was a one-take thing with Cambre and Quintron. It was like 25 minutes long so I made a 14-minute version with the Drum Buddy just going for it.
EB: I think the beat that we use is not even anything even remotely similar to the original.
PG: One of our YouTube videos is us jumping out of a Trojan chicken that Eric made. We did the whole gig but I put it together with the “Demons” that we played that day. That’s how it sounded originally.
EB: It was funny. We were all in this giant furniture box that me and Tommy put together. It must’ve been 10 or 12 feet tall with the chicken head. We’re all in this big thing and you can see 14 feet coming out. I had a box knife and had to cut a hole in the front. We got in and it was like, “I can’t see where we’re going!” I cut a little hole and see the flap open up. You can’t hear it on the video but we were all going bok-bwok bok-bwok wok-wok inside the box. People were like what the hell. There’s a lot of that on the video, people going what the fuck.
PG: We had yellow swimming caps.
EB: We were yolks… we all kind of pooped out the back end of the giant chicken. Eventually in the video, we are all playing around the chicken and the people are dancing around inside the chicken. [laughs]
MH: This was a Sunday afternoon at the Fly. A family event. People with their children and then here comes this Trojan chicken.
PG: At least nobody got naked.
EB: We did that one time but it wasn’t really fully naked. We used to play at the Mermaid and, in summer, it was just hot. They must’ve had one little window unit in that dang place! [laughs] We were sweating our butts off like, “Why did I wear jeans to this?” I was like, “That’s it. I’m taking my pants off.” Somehow I either convinced everyone to do it or everyone followed suit. We played a song or two in our underwear. It’s funny, sitting at the end of the bar in my drawers like, “This is like a dream that I had. No, this is real.” [laughs]
Speaking of underwear, you guys have a long history with Krewe du Vieux. How far do y’all go back with them?
EB: Good segue.
PG: The first time we did it was probably ‘97.
EB: Pretty much the length of the band.
MH: We’ve been with the Krewe of Underwear for like 12 years now, counting the year that was the non-Mardi Gras. Before that, we played as the king’s band for a couple years. I guess we did Frankie Ford before we got with that krewe.
EB: We still do “Sea Cruise.” We’ve played it like 17 times over the course of the parade. [hums melody for “Sea Cruise”]
Those are two very different personalities to maintain as a band. You’ll go into the clubs and crank up the amps and then you’ll go out and march along with ‘tit Rex or Krewe du Vieux.
EB: We have a seperate set.
PG: After Christmas, the electric amps are put in storage and the bass drum comes out.
EB: It’s Mardi Gras time! Time to walk!
I chose to meet up at BJ’s because one of the last things I did before the pandemic was see you do the world’s shortest second line.
MH: For a couple of years, we merged. We did that second line and then tried to march into Vaughan’s and switch over to electric as fast as possible. It was fun. It was just a little stressful just trying to figure out how to work it out. Vaughan’s is not easy to move around in when there’s a lot of people in there. We did that a couple years in a row and that went over really well. People packed in. It’s so hard to tell at Vaughan’s because it’s small. If everybody’s bouncing, you’re doing it right.
PG: Didn’t somebody fall into us and knock Geoff over?
MH: Some girl walked over the monitor and didn’t even think about it. She took out half of Quintron’s rig too.
EB: Quintron’s running up like, “Oh my god!!!” The lap steel on top of the Rhodes went ching and then bang! That sounds pretty cool, do it again! [laughs]
MH: I had already moved out. Quintron needed to use the same bass amp so I had turned to the side. I see the top of the Flying V and maybe one foot sticking out into the air and the chick still has no idea what has happened. Everyone is trying to pick Quintron’s stuff up and keep the song going while trying to pick Geoff up.
PG: There used to be a lot of conceptualism. We used to do a lot of weird stuff but we don’t do that much weird stuff anymore. We did “The Rite of Spring” one time, not the Quintron thing [at the Music Box in 2017]. We had Chris Sak the virgin dance to death. [laughs]
PG: [David] Lindberg1updated from the print version, which used “Lymberg” came out as George Bush [on New Years Eve going into 2001].
EB: We rented a gorilla suit, which ended up getting trashed by the way. The fingers were broken off the hand parts by the time we turned it in. He had a George Bush mask on underneath the gorilla. We started out with “Also sprach Zarathustra.” [sings famous movement] He is the monkey with his bone up in the air. He rips off the mask to reveal George Bush underneath and we go into “21st Century Schizoid Man.” [laughs] [imitates guitar riff] We didn’t do the fast jazzy part. We just did the slow parts.
You guys always have a great taste in covers. Do you ever get tired of people talking about the covers and not the originals?
MH: They talk about the originals more.
EB: The covers that we pick are not so popular. We might as well do an original.
MH: It’s a tribute more than a cover. We like it so we’ll play it.
EB: So we’ll fuck it up.
MH: We love Zappa so we’ll play it until Gail [Zappa] is right on the cusp of sending us a cease and desist for that.
EB: I don’t think it was Gail that made us stop playing that one. It was the fact that it was a damn hard song. [laughs]
What Zappa song?
MH: “Easy Meat.”
But it’s not easy.
PG: Craig Caliva did the guitar solo and he did it à la Frank Zappa. That can get people to lose attention a little bit. [laughs]
EB: “Time to go get a drink!” [laughs]
MH: We didn’t play it live too much but it was fun. You would get one or two people in front going [screaming] “Yeah!”
EB: The weird guy who comes up from the back going, “Yeah brah! Zappa, man!”
PG: Not a lot of girls doing that.
EB: Especially when Geoff dedicates it: “This one is for all the ladies.” [singing] “This girl is easy meat.”
PG: We’re not the most suave guys.
MH: To bring it around, that’s why we had a couple of our famous female performers singing on “OO in the Middle” so that people know our female friends don’t have any problem with a song about boobs. Everybody’s got ‘em!
EB: It’s the only original song that I’ve heard people request. Usually, people request “Brazil.” I think that’s the most popular one that people recognize. People request it and it’s a good, fun dancy song. But I’ve had several ladies come up and say, “Are y’all gonna play the boob song? I brought my friends and they want to hear the boob song.” I’ve never really had people request a song like that and it’s pretty much been all ladies doing the requesting.
MH: Good song for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Miss Pussycat sings on that song and Quintron plays organ on it. You guys have a really long relationship with them. How did that develop?
EB: The marching band.
PG: I lived right down the street from them on Burgundy by where the Pussycat Caverns was by Paul Webb’s place… I was right there when Quintron moved in. Him and Eric Pierson, who did Imagine “the” Band, they started doing the 9th Ward Marching Band for the first year. It was all drums. Eric [Pierson] was like, “I’ve got these guys.” We were like, “We’ve got the Egg Yolk Jubilee.” “Let’s do it!” “I’ve got Eric, Glenn, and Mike coming in.” I think it was their second year.
EB: The first year they did it, they all arrived individually and walked onto the parade route individually. They lined up and marched the two or three blocks to the Circle Bar. It was a guerrilla marching band.
They hijacked a parade?
EB: No, this was in the lull between the daytime parades on the St. Charles route when you could walk across the parade route. People were walking around everywhere and they just kind of walked onto the parade route with their instruments. They couldn’t really do much to stop them.
PG: Sneakin’ up the street!
EB: We joined the second year they did it. It was more organized which actually wound up being our demise. It kind of bit us in the ass. We lined up like let’s go and the cop was like no way! [laughs] We marched off. [imitates marching band playing] We go up to the side street and the cops [are] like no brah, no way. “OK.” [imitates marching band playing] We marched around the block and tried the next street and the cops [are] like [imitates walkie talkie sound] “There’s a marching band trying to get into the street.” By the time we got to the third try, they had paddy wagons pulling up. It was like, “Well, I guess that’s it. I’ll see you all at Circle Bar.” [laughs]
PG: No, it was Papina’s! That was another great ‘90s bar. [band devolves into debating old bars]
You guys have such a rich history of playing with Mardi Gras parades. How did it feel to go through the last Mardi Gras season at home?
EB: My feet were thanking me.
PG: It was obviously depressing. I had just come off my 50th straight Mardi Gras. Then I didn’t go to Mardi Gras that year and didn’t do anything with the band. I stayed home.
MH: The Krewe du Vieux thing is this big déjà vu because you’re marching and you hit Royal Street. It’s hard to separate the years because there’s all this big [roaring].
PG: It’s a rock show!
MH: Then you get a year and you’re sitting there going [mumbling softly] “I would’ve been marching in Krewe du Vieux right now.”
EB: We’re pretty busy during Mardi Gras. When we do the 9th Ward thing, it’s pretty busy.
MH: That’s why I didn’t join. As a drummer, I didn’t think I had the stamina for a four to seven mile parade… It’s not for the elderly.
PG: Unless you’ve got a trumpet. [laughs]
One of the last shows at Tipitina’s was the memorial show for Geoff. How did it feel to go from having such a big, beautiful celebration of Geoff’s life to the world suddenly collapsing?
PG: That was definitely one of the weirdest times of my life for sure. Losing Geoff and then the pandemic. I’m guessing that years from now, we’ll all look back at it like that was insane, especially with losing Geoff. That was just one thing piled on top of another. I haven’t processed it at all. Geoff being gone is still hard for me to accept. I still have the urge to send him a text message.
MH: It was the same for me the other day, especially in the midst of finalizing this record of his.
EB: The other day, I was thinking, “I’m going to have to ask Mike [Joseph] about that.”
MH: We’ve had our share of sadness but you still write a silly song. You make sure that “Sex Robot” is finished up well.
PG: We don’t have the Jefferson Orleans North anymore but we are still getting together Thursday at the Fountainbleau.
Second line for Geoff Douville on Frenchmen Street, February 2019 (photo by James Cullen)
A lot of people have been handling the loss of family and friends over the past couple years. Is there any advice that you have for people going through that type of stuff?
MH: Alcohol still needs to be moderated. You can drown yourself. I also lost my mother and lost my marriage and Geoff and everything all in the midst of all this stuff. You just have to take it one day at a time and not go in any strong direction. You’re very tempted to sleep all day, weeks at a time, or drink your brains out. It’s hard because nobody in the whole world knew how to plan for anything so you don’t know how to plan for really anything: going out to a restaurant, going out to see a movie. The things that get taken away are things that you take for granted your whole life. The things that are second nature.
EB: Losing somebody close, you never really get over it. You carry on.
MH: That’s what Geoff would’ve wanted us to do is to truly carry on.
PG: We’re trying to make it to the point where our kids start taking over the band. It can be like the Paulin Brothers or the Eureka Brass Band.
EB: We’ve got a 32-year-old [in the band].
MH: It’s this type of situation where it’s going to carry on, one way or another.
This new record is a great tribute to Geoff and, of course, Mike too.
MH: Unfortunately, Mike didn’t have a chance to be on it but it’s surely got a lot of him in it still. Starting off the record is “Clams and Noodles.” Working title: “Sweet Cheeks,” which was his nickname. Right off the bat, you get a Mike song.
EB: Much to his chagrin. [imitating Mike] “Don’t call me that bro.”
This is your first vinyl release, which is quite the feat.
EB: Thanks to the Threadheads.
MH: The Threadhead Cultural Foundation. We’re the 2021 grant recipients for them so it’s basically being pressed as we speak. 12/12 is the official release date for everything: streaming, CDs. We’re not focusing on CDs too much except three songs had to be cut [for the vinyl] so we want to make sure that radio and everybody have CDs and vinyl too. Some of our friends really prefer playing vinyl on their shows but the other three songs were great. There was no reason that they got cut other than strictly math. I had to do the math to figure out what fit where and how it was going to add up.
Some of the money from this album is going to MaCCNO. Can you talk a little bit about that decision?
MH: Geoff was quite involved. He would offer up his bar for meetings. He was a co-owner in the Lost Love Lounge for several years. He was quite involved so it seemed like another nice tribute for him.
This album is out nine years to the day after Fried came out.
MH: Yes. It’s that kind of crazy conspiracy theory stuff. We can twist 12/12/12 with Fried and 12/12/21 will be Defining Gravity. They’ll be like: Man, these guys must be illuminati or something because they like those numbers.
EB: I’m very thankful to the Threadheads for jump-starting this record. I don’t think they just jump-started this record. They jump-started Egg Yolk and really got us back in the rehearsal studio and got us back playing gigs. We were dead in the water for a little bit. It was hard to get it started.
Yeah. You have to reimagine what the band is.
EB: We’ve always had all these songs in our back pocket that we could just walk into a gig and have this book of music. We’re trying to put the pages back in the book. We don’t have an hour’s worth of music of stuff that we’ve played over the year that we can just fall back on.
MH: Right, because it’s a different band. Me and Glenn have to learn it all and get comfortable with it. It’s nice to be comfortable. We don’t want to be like, “Oh my god, how does this one go again? Oh, that’s right.” Luckily, it’s ingrained into my brain for forever, but with Glenn we had to get it going in his. He’s heard it but it’s a lot. You have to work through three hours’ worth of music and remember all of it.
EB: I think we’ve recaptured the sound. We had a thing that we played at the Portside a few weeks ago. A couple weeks before that at rehearsal was the first time hearing it and going “Yeah, that really sounds like Egg Yolk” because it was touch and go, a little wonky [before that]. It’s still not super in the pocket but we’ve got our sound. I think we’ve actually captured it pretty well. Hogan has done a good job of adding his flavor while retaining a good bit of Geoff’s flavor too. He’s got a good balance on that. Glenn is doing a great job. Everybody is stepping up. I’m relieved.
PG: Hopefully with this story we’ll get a younger crowd coming into the show.
MH: It seems like a younger crowd kind of record. The old farts will be like [in an old Yat voice] “Why’s it gotta be distorted?” [laughs]
EB: [imitating Ernie K-Doe] “No fuzz! We ain’t going to the moon! Turn off that fuzz!”
Is that something K-Doe used to say?
EB: Oh yeah. K-Doe whipped us into shape. “Snap it!” We had all those little K-Doe-isms. “There’s no time like the present!”
Speaking of K-Doe, part of the band also backed up another personality, Jello Biafra. How did it feel to be doing “Mother-In-Law” with the guy who wrote “Nazi Punks Fuck Off?”
EB: It felt natural to me.
PG: That was another dream gig.
EB: It’s kind of full circle with the punk rock Dixieland thing.
Some of the band also backed Gibby Haynes when he did a similar set of local R&B hits.
EB: I’d like to thank [Ryan] Scully for naming the horn section.
PG: The Eunich Horns.
EB: “Like unicorns, get it?” You’re saying we don’t have balls, Scully. [laughs] I don’t like it. “No, that’s it. That’s what it’s going to be.”
Weren’t you supposed to record with Gibby?
PG: We were going to go to Austin with Paul Leary. He was going to produce it and everything. We were very excited about that. I’m not sure whatever happened to that.
I think there was a hurricane.
MH: No, he went into rehab.
EB: He was like, “I need to do this band that does traditional jazz songs with a rock, punk beat.” I was like “Yeah, we’ve been doing that for 25 years, Gibby.” [laughs] Oh man, he was pissed! “Dammit!” [laughs]
MH: That’s one of those things. Good lord, we’re friends with Jello.
EB: When my phone died, I lost his number, but I emailed him like, “Dude, I lost your number.” He was like, “Here it is, bam.” He is real down-to-Earth. He’s a cool guy. He also marched in 9th Ward once. He’s definitely a blue collar guy. He actually sent a text to me and Bill [Davis] and I think Fred [LeBlanc] and them, whoever played with him: “Hey. How are y’all doing with COVID? Hope everyone is doing well!”
MH: Eric used to text him every time a Dead Kennedys reference would come up on Jeopardy!
EB: DK is on Jeopardy! [laughs]
MH: “That must be a rerun!”
Again, I love the idea of the guy who wrote these seminal hardcore songs doing stuff like “Go To The Mardi Gras.”
EB: That was my music. That’s still my music. I still listen to my hardcore records. That’s what speaks to me. It’s still in the back of my head when I write Egg Yolk songs.
Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables was one of those records that I heard in high school that changed the game for me.
EB: That was probably the second record I bought. The first one was ironically enough Psychic… Powerless… Another Man’s Sac. Gibby first and then Jello. Here I am playing with the guys who really started to open it up for me.
Is there anything else you want to say?
EB: Can we bribe you to make us look good?
Defining Gravity (cover art by Scott Guion) is out December 12. The band hosts a virtual record release party on the same day, “Live from the PinChurch.” For more information, check out eggyolkjubilee.com. Top photo by James Cullen.