When a group moves from Kansas City to Los Angeles and doesn’t become a major-label staple, hometown fans often assume that the disillusioned dreamers have pawned their gear and donned In-N-Out Burger uniforms. But the Startown scene isn’t a platinum-or-bust proposition. Los Angeles, like any city, has its share of strictly local acts that fill area clubs without denting the national charts. Moaning Lisa, which returns home for a Hurricane gig on December 29, has become one of those Sunset Strip house bands, wowing the plastic people with its humongous hooks.
Before Moaning Lisa left Kansas City more than a year ago, the band shared a lot of bills with a lot of killjoys. When Moaning Lisa devoured the spotlight during its solos, audiences treated it like a court jester at a funeral. Now that the band regularly opens for Buckcherry and Monster Magnet, over-the-top antics go with the territory. So does an ostentatiously debauched lifestyle.
“One time after a show, ten girls coerced us to come back to the house,” bassist John Chambers says. “It was the first time in my life that I had more girls and drugs than I knew what to do with! Another time, we had this drunken posse of hot older ladies and their daughters clawing at our legs like horny cats in heat.”
But life in Los Angeles hasn’t been all letter-to-Penthouse scenarios. While lounging on a club’s patio, the group saw a gunman fire into a crowd, injuring former Kiss guitarist Bruce Kulick.
“You can’t throw a dead cat in this town without hitting a semi-famous guitar player,” Chambers quips.
Or, apparently, shoot into a crowd without doing the same.
These days, Moaning Lisa is enjoying its own semi-fame, increasing the odds that someone will chuck a cat carcass in its direction. But the group will take that risk in exchange for the pleasant perks.
“Everyone in L.A. is looking for a good time, and Moaning Lisa brings it,” Chambers says with Hollywood confidence. “They know it’s gonna be a party.”