The Lying Game

From the ashes of The Generiks comes the Liar's Club

Members of the Liar's Club sit and stare plaintively into their drinks. You'd think they were contemplating some recent run of emotional trauma and bad luck, the death of a loved one, the witnessing of a car crash. Or you'd guess, perhaps, that they are stoned. Couldn't they say something? I mean, they have to say something; this is an interview, after all.

Finally bassist Tim Sorensen breaks the awkward silence by proudly recounting an episode from his days as an Apollo High School student. Jennie Garth, it seems, caught a glimpse of his member.

"One time I was going to the bathroom and my zipper was stuck," he says, in a confident, boys-locker-room tone. "And I was tryin' to, like, fix it, and my dick was all hanging out."

Miss Garth, you'll recall, was the mousy blonde on the TV blunder Beverly Hills 90210.

Sorensen continues, picking up much-needed momentum: "One of her friends, as a joke, pushed her in the bathroom and she saw my penis. It was great! So every time I used to watch 90210, I would be like, (his voice now a childlike shrill) "Sheee saaaww my coooooock!'"

Hmmmm.

The Liar's Club guys don't really laugh at the tale told by Sorensen. Clearly, they've heard it before. They just sit there, looking like Mount Rushmore.

"And that is the goddamned absolute truth," adds Sorensen.

With his Sergeant Carter flattop, straight nose and chiseled features, Sorensen could pass for a Marine. Albeit, a chick-pulling marine.

"She was a real cool chick," adds drummer Eric Dahl, breaking another noiseless pause. Dahl looks every bit the misplaced surfer dude -- blond hair, bright eyes, a loafer's carriage. "She was like a surfer chick. Really cool."

More silence ensues. There's some talk of jazz. Some murmurs about how the band wishes to have a record out by year's end. Even the bartender looks bored.

"Sorry we're so boring, man," burbles guitarist/lead singer Cean through a mouthful of rum and Coke. "We're not good at doing interviews."

Cean possesses a clumsy sort of humor, often giving away punch lines too early. During a photo session earlier in the evening, his main concern was his face. He was asking the New Times photographer for a little Photoshop aid. "My mug is gonna need some help, man."

One guy at the table, Liar's Club's 22-year-old guitarist Chris Berry, rarely says a word. All slack and shy, glasses, a few zits; he's almost computer-geekish -- looks 14, tops.

Berry came up playing jazz in a band called The Respectable Prostitutes and also does time in local country/punkabilly cut-ups Harm.

"I've always been into punk rock," Berry says. "Pretty much everything."

You wouldn't guess that Berry's an intern counselor for sex offenders at the state hospital. And he's the only Liar's Club guy who's not a former member of the Generiks, the much-adored, critically ignored Phoenix punk band.

In the past decade, the five-member Generiks made four nationally distributed albums of bratty punk. They did seven full national tours and saw kids rally around them. Now they're on the shelf. The Generiks were, simply, one of the more quietly accomplished bands ever to have taken root in Phoenix.

The three ex-Generiks in Liar's Club grew up mainly in west Phoenix. Talk of the Beverly Hills 90210 babe keeps the conversation, uh, chugging right along.

"She was always the hot girl in school," says Dahl, "and everybody was in love with her."

More talk about buildings and food, Web sites, beer and punk rock.

The four guys in the Liar's Club don't say much for a reason: They claim they don't really have much to say. On first impression, I imagined the band's members wasting days sucking on bongs and watching Scooby Dooreruns, their nights looking bored and standing around kegs at desert parties. Not so.

Turns out drummer Eric Dahl is the only bonger in the bunch. Dahl lives in the old Generiks tour coach, a converted 40-foot, 1972 Bluebird school bus parked in a west Phoenix trailer park. The bus is fully converted with hot water, a shower, electricity, A/C, rooms and beds. Dahl says he got tired of being homeless each time the Generiks came off the road.

He now owns his own Internet company. A company, he says, that is starting to make bank. Soon Dahl will launch a site called Bands4free that will allow users to download music and info on indie bands from across the country. Each band is categorized by its home state. Dahl, it appears, is a computer whiz.

"It'll be like an Internet radio thing," explains Dahl. "You just log on to the Web site and it starts playing songs like a radio station. You tell it the type of music you like and it will give it to you. You can put in "Arizona' and it will play a radio station that will only be Arizona underground bands. Log on to Wisconsin and it's the same thing.

"I know how to do all the programming to stream it all and make a little MP3 player on the site. I think a lot of people now are getting high-speed connections. They just turn it on and get music throughout the day. Whenever a song is playing you can click to get info on the band, there'll be a picture of their album, the name of the song, that type of shit.

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