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Joy Ride

Gravy Train!!!!'s new thing: There's something like music in the show.

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On its new album, Are You Wigglin?, the coed members of the Oakland-based cult band Gravy Train!!!! try something new: playing a mix of camp-punk and spiky new wave with live drums, loud guitars, and a newfound command of their instruments.

"It was a big joke," keyboardist and guitarist Hunx (whose real name is Seth Bogart) says of their early efforts. "Once we started making records and going on tour, we decided we should try to make something that sounds more like music."

This aspiration (or something close to it) also creeps onto the new CD, lacing the grooves with actual melodies and beats. Quite a change from the past four years, when Gravy Train!!!! dabbled in rap, punk, pop, and glam, all banged out on a single keyboard as the four members rhymed and sang off-key. "[Our music is] something we would listen to now," says Hunx. "It's not like karaoke anymore."

Hunx and his bandmates (Chunx, Funx, and Junx) spent more time in the studio, too, polishing Are You Wigglin? till its shiny surface matched the chewy words found inside the grooves. And unlike 2003's Hello Doctor, where the lyrical content was limited to sex and food, Wigglin? covers a wide range of topics -- from sunless tanning to dieting to, um, a song called "Pussy Sauce" and the most uses of the word "beaver" outside a Metroparks newsletter. "We pretty much think about sex all the time," says Hunx, who's gay. "I'm addicted to pornography."

At least it'll give them something to do on tour when they're not onstage. Gravy Train!!!!'s recent concerts (if they can be called that; they're more like rowdy parties) benefit from the new skills, says Hunx. Now that they've learned what chords make what noises, the guys and gals in Gravy Train!!!! sound like a real band. Sort of. "I don't think we're good musicians," says Hunx. "But I think we're good at what we do."

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