Let the good times roll
“I met a guy when I was scuba diving in the Caribbean,” says Evan Humphreys, the bassist and primary vocalist of the Reno band Aversion Therapy. “I find the water there to be plenty comfortable without any wetsuit at all. And he was a dive guide. He dives there all the time, this really skinny Dutch guy. He put on a wetsuit, to get ready to go, and he was telling us where we were going to dive. And then he went and put another wetsuit on over top of the first one. And I was with my brother-in-law, who’s kind of a goofy guy anyway, and is exactly the sort of guy to not let something like that slide without asking about it, ‘Dude, what’s up? What’s up with the two wetsuits?’ So the Dutch guy turns to us and says, ‘Well, you see, with just one wetsuit, I can’t contain the sexy.’
“So we were joking about it, drinking beers later that night and, ’You know,’ I thought, ’this is a good idea for a song.’”
That song, “Two Wetsuits,” with the ready-made chorus hook, “I can’t contain the sexy, I can’t contain the sexy with just one wetsuit,” leads off Aversion Therapy’s new album, Snake Oil. The 10-song collection of upbeat, relatively straightforward pop-rock was recorded at Dogwater Studios in Sparks and was released on the local label Cherrybear Records. The album, the band’s second, is distinguished by the humor and wit of the songwriting. Other songs include “Raver Girl,” an ode to a drug-fried Burner chick, and “Train Trench,” a facetious song extolling the nonexistent tourist appeal of downtown Reno’s train trench.
In their live show, Aversion Therapy also include some well-chosen cover songs, like Lady Gaga’s “Born Like This,” redone as a sort of AC/DC-like rock tune, with added mash-up lyrics from Madonna’s “Express Yourself,” the Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” and Guns ’n’ Roses’ “Paradise City.” They’ve also been known to do themed sets, like all superhero songs for the Superhero Crawl or Christmas tunes for the Santa Crawl.
“It was bizarre when I joined this band last year,” says lead guitarist Denis Phares. “I found a Craigslist ad, that’s how I found the band, and the ad was like, our influences are Christmas songs, superhero songs, TV theme songs. I was like, what the fuck is this?”
“But that’s partly how we knew Denis was the right guy, that he could read an ad like that and actually want to find out what it was all about,” says Humphreys.
It’s fun, funny music played well. Humpreys, Phares, drummer Bruce Gonyea and guitarist Henry King all know their way around their instruments. The band’s music would sound at home on the soundtrack of a “Let’s go surfing and look at chicks”-type B-movie sex comedy. Using the intoxicant classification of music categorization system, Aversion Therapy falls under the cheap-beer-and-lots-of-it heading.
So, in many ways, they’re an ideal bar band: fun music that’s not challenging, but is entertaining, especially if you’ve had a few drinks.
“For me, a huge plus to the band is how intelligible Evan is when he sings,” says King. “If you can’t follow the lyrics, you won’t get the jokes.”
The band members cite the beloved local group Saddle Tramps as an influence for the idea that live music should be fun entertainment. Even if you weren’t a rockabilly fan, the Saddle Tramps put on an entertaining enough show to win you over.
“In this day and age, where live music isn’t necessarily at the top of everybody’s agenda, not the first thing everybody thinks about when they’re going out for an evening event, it’s important that whatever we’re doing is more fun and different than sitting at home and playing your MP3s of the songs you already know,” says Humphreys. “It’s got to be more fun to be there than to stay at home.”
The musicians’ aim is not that listeners walk away saying, “that’s one of the best bands I’ve ever seen,” but rather, “that’s one of the best times that I’ve ever had.”