By Lauren Wise
By New Times
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By Derek Askey
He started a bubblegum band. He named it Bob.
"We did a few originals, but we mostly covered the basic bubblegum stuff," DeJongh says with pride. He rattles off song titles like "Chewy Chewy," "Sugar, Sugar," "Mony Mony," "Hanky Panky" and other less poetic classics of the genre.
"Our biggest gig was a KOOL-FM party," DeJongh says. "We went over like gods there."
The general public wasn't quite as impressed. Bob broke up. DeJongh then got out of the music business for a while and, with the help of a friend, became a stockbroker at a local securities firm. ("I'd always wanted to do that kind of thing, and now I had the time.") DeJongh's dabblings on the market ended when he got a call from former Fleetwood Mac bassist Bob Welch, who was living in Phoenix at the time. Welch was trying to resurrect his solo career and was looking to build a backing band.
"He called out of the clear blue," DeJongh says. "He auditioned 21 bass players, and he winds up picking me. It was amazing. This guy's my idol. I remember I used to look at his French Kiss record cover and think, 'You're such a god.' And then he calls me out of the blue. I was just ecstatic."
DeJongh quit his stock-market gig and went on tour with Welch for about a year. DeJongh proudly notes that he's got a song credit on a Welch retrospective released three years ago by Rhino.
Welch eventually moved to Nashville to try writing country-music songs. He still lives there. "We talk all the time," DeJongh says. "He gives me a lot of advice. And a lot of contacts."
DeJongh, indeed, is an expert on the cultivation, care and feeding of contacts. Through Welch, the Einsteins, according to DeJongh, have the ear of an executive at Island Records, which produced Welch's French Kiss back in 1978. DeJongh says he's also made friends with local millionaire Geordie Hormel, the eccentric heir to the Spam empire and, claims DeJongh, Hormel is an enthusiastic Glenn DeJongh fan. So much so, Hormel's personally written letters of recommendation to a number of labels, including Geffen, which apparently caught the attention of the label's executives. DeJongh says they promised to listen to his tape.
Actually, the folks at Geffen were familiar with DeJongh already. Two years ago, DeJongh and his previous band, Box of Cherries, drove to L.A. and picketed outside the gates of Geffen, Warner and Capitol.
"We had signs that read 'Starving Band Will Work for Record Deal,'" DeJongh says, his Jersey accent going strong. "It was so cool. We parked outside the front door, speakers on our van blaring our music, and I'm standing on top of the van playing air guitar." DeJongh says Geffen's president asked for one of the picket signs as a memento.
Such flair for self-promotion is considerable, to be sure, but one of DeJongh's PR brainstorms came back to bite him in the butt. It happened with the aforementioned Box of Cherries. DeJongh figured an adventurous band photo was needed to help attract attention. So he went out and got some half-naked models to pose ass-first, in exceedingly suggestive fashion, in front of each band member for a group shot.
The photo succeeded in attracting attention. All of it the wrong kind.
"We got such a bad rap because of that picture with the butts," DeJongh says, noting that the photo got international press. "Rockbeat magazine said, 'We'll never be writing anything on the Phoenix band Box of Cherries because of their cheap, trendy, sexist picture,' blah, blah, blah. I don't even know how they got the picture."
DeJongh's photo met with similar disapproval among record-industry types.
"I found there are so many women in charge of things in L.A. And they were really offended," DeJongh says. He adds that local clubs were also starting to pass on the band because of the photo.
DeJongh pauses and shrugs. "I kind of thought it was a good picture, myself."
With much of the music industry actively avoiding Box of Cherries, DeJongh had to think of something fast.
"I said, 'Fuck it. We'll just change the name of the band and get haircuts.'"
And with that, the Einsteins were born. DeJongh also reinvented his band's sound, going from petrified, soft-metal dance-rock to punk-pop, the most popular sound of the moment. "I heard Green Day and said, 'Cool,' and so I wrote all new songs in one week," DeJongh says.
Coming up with material for the newly named Einsteins was especially easy for DeJongh, because the Spiffs were doing Green Day-like songs 15 years ago. The Einsteins even resurrect a few Spiffs songs in their set, including "Here Comes Trouble," "Wink Tonight" and the sensitive "Kill You."
DeJongh doesn't seem to mind that he's recycling his older material. He is touchy about his age--"Let's just say I'm 28, okay?" he says, ignoring that such a time line would make him about 12 when the Spiffs first played out. But he claims he's not bitter about being unable to get gigs at certain clubs in town ("It's impossible to get into Long Wong's"), while the Green Days of the world make millions with the kind of act he gave up on 15 years ago.