It was tough to get a hold of Bill Manspeaker. On the day of our scheduled interview, the founder and lead singer of Green Jelly -- and Kenmore native -- accidentally locked his cell phone in the band's costume trailer. It may seem strange that a rock band would devote so much space to costumes, but if you're familiar with Green Jelly's GWAR-esque mix of gross-out theatrics and sloppy punk wailing, this particular wardrobe malfunction makes complete sense.
It has been a long time since the band had a bona fide hit on their hands -- the gloriously campy "Three Little Pigs" -- but judging by the response to its first tour since 1994, Green Jelly (originally called Green Jello until Kraft Foods threatened to sue) hasn't lost a bit of its appeal. Perhaps it's because they're the most unpretentious band in the world -- its slogan is "Green Jelly sucks!" Or maybe it's all the poo jokes.
Manspeaker brings his finely tuned juvenilia to the Town Ballroom (681 Main St.) at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Be there, or be a grown-up.
>What inspired you to start touring again?
My son just turned 13, and I asked him what he wanted to do for summer vacation, and he said, "I want to go on tour with Green Jelly." I wanted to show him that no matter what, if you try at something, you can do it.
>Now that the band is older, does it take itself more seriously?
Not in any sort of way.
>What do you miss most about Buffalo?
Commander Tom. Commander Tom was my ultimate influence.
>Could you expand on that?
In the '70s, Commander Tom had this contest -- who can pick up the most garbage? So me and my cousin picked up 10 bags of garbage by Love Canal. We called Commander Tom, and he said, "Bring down your garbage to the studio, I'll put you on the show!" We go inside, and I look behind the panel where Dustmop and Manny live, and they're puppets, lying on the ground! And then Commander Tom comes out and sticks his hands up them! My life was changed.
>How did the band get its name?
In 12th grade, they were serving green Jell-O for lunch. Me and my friend rented a PA; we pulled into the cafeteria at Kenmore West, and we just started playing. I'm screaming in the mic, my friend's playing the bass, and they're throwing green Jell-O at us. The principal said we were a disgrace and suspended us.
>How do you feel about our fine publication?
I'm honored to be in the Gusto. My whole family lives in Buffalo -- all 800 cousins, uncles, aunts, they all read the Gusto. On Friday, they'll all be like, "Billy's in the paper!" I could sell a million records, and they'll think, "Oh, that's good." One article in the Gusto, and I'm the hero of the family.
-- Joe Sweeney, Special to The News