The name of the EP alone -- Party Hits Volume II -- hints at the excellent sense of humor the Zany Guys possess to this day. Though it is no secret there isn't a volume one, I am not sure many people actually remember just how funny the Zany Guys truly were. Clever is probably a better word, really, and the mood of this recording is both fun and ferocious, just like drummer Andhi Spath's iconic artwork adorning the cover. There was always an element to the band where you would just shake your head and say, "Damn, these guys rocked. What happened to them?" But that is another tale . . . a cautionary tale of excess, booze, and too much toast.
(I'm kidding, of course. There has been booze and toast. I seriously doubt, though, there has been much excess.)
See also: The 10 Most Influential Punk Records of Arizona
The popularity and longstanding adoration of the Zany Guys has been a constant in the Phoenix punk rock scene for the past 30 years, even though they were a band for only a short time. Initially, at least according to Mark Wooten, who happens to be a great bass player and tall drink of water, "We were embraced almost immediately. The reaction from the crowd at our first show (in 1982 at the relatively short-lived venue DecaDance) was so overwhelmingly positive and we knew we were on to something special. Not to say that we didn't have any detractors. At that time, there was an influx of young third-generation punks, and I think our not-so-serious approach was not understood by some."
I'm sure it is odd for younger punks and music fans alike checking this out to consider the idea of there being third-generation punks in 1982, but the scene in Phoenix has deep roots. Wooten had been a member of Soylent Greene prior to forming the Zany Guys with guitar player Brian Kenney when they lived together in the "Nova House" (named for excellent Phoenix rockabilly band the Nova Boys, and both the house and the band are more than deserving of their own blog post) in his late teens.
"That first show we did at DecaDance was probably the best reception we got. I think we surprised a lot of people, like, 'Hey, this isn't punk rock . . . What are they doing?' Somebody threw a beer at us -- like, a full beer -- and I reached out and I grabbed it and then drank it down. It was like it had been scripted or something and we went right into another song," tells Carter Dukarm, the Zany Guys lead singer who at 15 was youngest member of the band.
Wooten remembers, "I moved into the Nova Boys house the day I graduated from high school. Brian Kenney was already living there, and I would hear him playing guitar in his room. I had a couple years of bass playing under my belt so I asked him if he wanted to start a band. We jammed with a few drummers, including a kid so young his mom waited in the car during his tryout. Things weren't really jelling with anyone we played with. One evening during a house party we met and played with Andhi Spath [drums] and Carter Dukarm [vocals]. There was a very natural chemistry almost immediately. Brian and I talked it over and we asked them to join our group. Carter and Andhi went home to mull it over and showed up the next day for our first practice."
Dukarm remembers wondering if he and Spath "should just blow it off, but we ended up going over there and starting the Zany Guys. I was young, probably 15 or 16 years old and needed rides everywhere."
Spath and Dukarm were close friends who hung out together a lot, so they brought a pre-existing relationship to the band to match the budding connection between roommates Kenney and Wooten. It was Dukarm and Spath's friend Al Penzone, from the Nova Boys, who brought them to the party where they met Kenney and Wooten, so if anyone is to blame for the existence of the Zany Guys, it is probably Penzone.