One of the more renowned Cincinnati bands of the past few decades, Ass Ponys, reunites this weekend for a pair of shows at Woodward Theater (1404 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, woodwardtheater.com). Tickets for the 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday shows are available through cincyticket.com for $25 (or $40 for both nights). If tickets remain, they'll be $28 at the door. The band will be playing songs from throughout its career, with 35-40 rehearsed tunes to choose from each night (the set lists will differ). These are the first Ass Ponys shows in more than a decade.
The group had its fair share of national acclaim during its heyday. The band released a pair of cult-fave Indie albums in the early ’90s before moving to major-label A&M in the mid-’90s, releasing Electric Rock Music (which featured the minor college-radio hit “Little Bastard”) and the fantastic but largely overlooked The Known Universe. Ass Ponys continued after leaving A&M, putting out two more excellent albums, Some Stupid with a Flare Gun and Lohio, before ceasing operations.
CityBeat recently asked AP frontman Chuck Cleaver (now singer/guitarist of Wussy with ex-Pony John Erhardt) a few questions about getting the old band (also featuring bassist Randy Cheek and drummer Dave Morrison) back together.
CityBeat: So how did the idea come up to get back together with the other Ponys? I’d heard that Shake It Records might be doing some re-issuing of Ass Ponys material?
Chuck Cleaver: Over the last few years, we’ve gotten numerous requests to get the Ass Ponys back together to play a “last” show or whatever. Most of ’em were “pizza and beer” offers, so it was “Thanks but no thanks.” Earlier this year I was talking to John Erhardt about the notion and we figured it wouldn’t hurt to shop it around. We got in touch with Dan McCabe initially, because he was the guy that gave us our first show at Sudsy Malone’s way back when. He liked the idea, made us an offer (to play Woodward Theater) and here we are.
And, yes, Shake It will eventually re-release all of the AP catalog that it legally can.
CB: So musically I don’t necessarily hear an Ass Ponys influence on people making music locally and I think that comes down to the band’s uniqueness. But I’ve known a lot of musicians, young and old, who were perhaps influenced in other ways. Do you think the band’s music had a lasting impact in that way?
CC: I’ve never felt like we were very popular locally. I mean, we did have local fans, but we were received much better in other places. We were sort of the turds in the punchbowl or something, never really fit. I mean, I’ve always thought that we were the shit — I wouldn’t have done it otherwise — but at the same time knew that we were, because of the uniqueness, an acquired taste. And that’s fine by me. I’m really suspicious of stuff that everyone seems to like.
I do still hear from younger and older fans who either were in diapers or just didn’t hear about us until after we were gone. As far as lasting impact goes, I guess that remains to be seen. Although folks have gotten in touch to say that our songs have gotten them through some heavy shit and, while I wouldn’t wish heavy shit on anyone, it’s humbling to hear that we helped them out.
CB: Is this truly a one-off thing or do you imagine you guys might get back together again for shows? Can you see a situation where you might even write some new stuff and record again with the Ass Ponys?
CC: For now, yes, it’s a one-off over two nights. I have no idea about anything in the future, much less Ass Ponys. We’ll have to wait and see, I suppose.
CB: What’s going on in Wussy-world right now?
CC: Wussy has our very first non-split 7-inch single coming out in January 2016, plus a new LP/CD in March, with touring throughout the year. The plan is music-industry domination. It’s what we do.
CONTACT MIKE BREEN: [email protected]