Helpless Circumstance by Cool Ghouls
Cool Ghouls release their new album, At George’s Zoo on March 12 via San Francisco label Empty Cellar Records and Melodic Records in the UK.
High School friends Pat McDonald (Guitar/Vox) and Pat Thomas (Bass/Vox) serves as square one. The Patricks were munching on Eggo-waffle-sandwiches and downing warm Taaka in suburban Benicia years before McDonald would hear George Clinton address his fans as “Cool Ghouls”. The boys played their debut gig as Cool Ghouls at San Francisco’s legendary The Stud in 2011, but there’s no doubt the musical moment cementing the band’s trajectory was much earlier at the 18th birthday party for boy-wonder Ryan Wong (Guitar/Vox) – at the Wong household.
You might remember the Ghouls’ earliest days… McDonald’s hair hung luxuriously past his waist, Thomas dreamt of no longer having to crash on friends’ couches to call SF home and Wong looked forward to turning 21. Cool Ghouls’ Pete Best, Cody Voorhees, thrashed wildly – but briefly – on the drums and Alex Fleshman (Drums), who still claims he’s not really “a drummer”, turned out to be a really good drummer. Thomas would sleep pee on tour. Those were golden days!
Flash forward to today and everything is up in flames. No shows, parties or bars. Cool people are streaming out of SF. It’s been 2 years since the last time Cool Ghouls have even played. The Stud is gone, The Eagle Tavern is for sale and The Hemlock has been demolished for condos. Your boss is an app. Fascism is no-knocking down the door. There’s a pandemic.
Fortunately for us, the ghouls got an album in before it all went to shit, and they made it count. At George’s Zoo includes 15 of the 27 tunes they managed to eke out while simultaneously working through major life moves. It was a 5-month, all out, final sprint down the homestretch (to Ryan’s moving day) with affable engineer Robby Joseph, at his makeshift garage studio in the Outer Sunset (pictured on the cover). Instead of recording the entire album over a few consecutive days – like they’d done with Tim Cohen, Sonny Smith and Kelley Stoltz for the first three LPs – the band took it slow by working through a few songs each weekend after rehearsing them the week before. Robby would cue up the tape, McDonald would throw some steaks on the grill and they’d get to work – much to the neighbor, George’s, chagrin.
Yes, many things have changed since 2011. Who knows what the 20’s will have in store for life on Earth, let alone the Cool Ghouls? We at least know that 2021 has At George’s Zoo for us, a beautiful keepsake from the before times when we used to stand in living rooms together while bands played will set you soaring.
At George’s Zoo
1. It’s Over
2. To You I’m Bound
3. Smoke & Fire
5. Land Song
6. In Michoacan
7. How Free
8. Helpless Circumstance
9. The Way I Made You Cry
10. 26th St. Blues
12. I Was Wrong
13. Feel Like Getting High
14. Look In Your Mirror
15. Living Grateful
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