What the Critics Think

Cake Magazine Issue #38, Fall, 1995

This new CD release from the Auto Body Experience is everything I expected: Well-played, well-produced, downright silly at times, but always entertaining. Primary lyricists Scott Yoho and Tom Hambleton continue to find interesting ways of writing about life' otherwise mundane details ("Near The Cheese" and "Waiting In Line"), and keep their refreshing sense of humor intact throughout the CD. Their lighthearted puns and jabs at anything and everything in general extend from lyrics to the band's performance as a whole, delightfully evident on their tune "The Wedding Band". These guys play their style of cool jazz-tinged rock just as well. Musical guest on this CD include the Car Horns, described as: "The Artists Formerly Employed By The Artist Formerly Known As Prince." The Auto Body Experience remains a real treat to those fond of well-played rock with an interesting , playful twist. A big thumbs up!!!

(Deneen Gannon)

Web Master's note: The Smash Hits liner notes properly credit STRESS-LAB for the TAFEBTAFKAP phrase.

Excerpt from letter to Scott Yoho (after 7th Street Entry co-bill on 3/7/96), March 25, 1996

"Man y'all are really tight. As tight as your recordings."

Carl Finch, bandleader of the Grammy Award-winning Brave Combo

City Pages August 2, 1995

"Gluttons for pun-ish-ment must get hip to the Auto Body Experience, a four-piece project where top-notch musicianship meets silly social commentary. Their latest, Smash Hits -- with artwork and lettering lifted from the less clever Hendrix album of the same name -- seems destined for Dr. Demento, especially with the inclusion of the longtime club hit: 'The Wedding Band'."(Jim Meyer)

Web Master's Note: The Auto Body Experience has been featured on Dr. Demento's nationally syndicated radio show.

Twin Cities Reader August 2, 1995

"My favorite local pop CD of the year? Without a doubt, it's Auto Body's pun-filled, fun-filled hook-laden new disc, Smash Hits. Nearly every track is a winner; the fake Jimi Hendrix covert art, a hoot; the production, world-class; and the lyric sheet/booklet contains better reading matter than The New York Times. At their best, Auto Body Experience call the Beach Boys, the Beatles, Frank Zappa, Adrian Belew, Something Fierce, the Bonzo Dog band, Led and Dread Zeppelin, Brave Combo, the Marx Brothers, SCTV and the ultimate wedding band. I kid you not; they're hilarious and harmonious."

(Tom Surowicz)

Web Master's Note: The Auto Body Experience has shared the stage with Adrian Belew, Something Fierce, Dread Zeppelin, and Brave Combo.

Factsheet 5 Issue #58 November 1995

>>The Auto Body Experience<<

Smash Hits

"Definitely inspired by Frank Zappa (the disk is even dedicated to the man) but they take all that wackiness and mix it with a '90's pop sensibility. The lyrics are very upbeat, as is the music, but they avoid sappiness by infusing the songs with plenty of sophistication. You could just sit back and read the liner notes, as the lyrics are spiced with humorous background information, but then the music grabs you with its multitude of influences, spanning decades of inspiration. Recommended to people who enjoy humor added to their music." (CD/Polished/RSF)

The Highland Villager Wednesday, July 26, 1995

Wacky Pop

Mac-Groveland duo proves fun, good music can go hand in hand

Rock bands of the '90s are not known for their sense of humor. This is the decade of the tortured singers and combos that rejoice in noise, pompous lyrics and rampant pessimism.

Scan the list of top MTV acts - Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins, et al. - and there is scarcely a cracked smile seen for miles. They Might Be Giants are about the only major collegiate sensation that is deliberately and intelligently funny. Most of the slacker generation's designated fools - Gwar, Pauly Shore, Carrot Top, Green Jelly - are more embarrassing than enlightened. Wit is in short supply in the current youth culture.

Yet a shining exception to all this mirthlessness exists within the Macalester-Groveland neighborhood, which is home to a band that is bright, tuneful, prodigiously talented, upbeat and never afraid to be funny. Even the group's name provides a good laugh - Auto Body Experience. Ditto the name for its self-owned and self-sufficient production label - Dental Records. The band, which features lead guitarist/singer Scott Yoho, bass player Erik Fratzke, keyboardist/singer Tom Hambleton and drummer Matt Jacobs, knows the value of good fun, not to mention a good pun.

Auto Body Experience's new CD, "Smash Hits," is full of inside-jokes, odd topics and wiseacre rhymes. The disc, a parody of a Jimi Hendrix album of the same name, includes songs about such unlikely subjects as bad drivers, science classes, counter clerks, waiting in line, and slave laborers at Disneyland.

"Smash Hits" also is full of pop hooks, grade-A solos and alert dynamics. Nearly every track is a winner. The remarkable "I'm A Salesman" is a grandiose production worthy of the Beach Boys or the Beatles. Simply put, "Smash Hits" is one of the year's best local records and a work deserving of national attention. The album will receive it's Twin Cities send-off when Auto Body Experience performs at a CD release party on Thursday, August 3, at the Cabooze on Minneapolis' West Bank. Joining them will be the horn-driven Minneapolis band the Crops.

The artistic success of "Smash Hits" should come as little surprise to folks who have followed the careers of Palace Avenue hotshots Yoho and Fratzke. Both young men have been written up glowingly in the pages of Guitar Player magazine, the national bible of hot licks and tricks. Yoho earned his exposure at age 24 and Fratzke was featured while still a teen.

Yoho is a graduate of The Crops, which recorded for Willie Murphy's Atomic Theory Records. He also plays in the wedding band Taylor Made and tours the country occasionally with '60s pop star Gene Pitney.

Fratzke has led the hard rock/metal combos Love Kit and Juggernaut. He gets funky with veteran rockers Brutus and with the new acid jazz trio Casino Royale. With the latter group, Fratzke often backs a pack of popular Twin Cities rappers called Full Circle. This guy's plenty busy and obviously respected: Minnesota Music Academy members recently voted Fratzke "Best Bassist" at their 1995 awards show.

The two talented housemates only join forces in the zany and often amazing Auto Body Experience. "I generally describe what we do as wacky pop," said Fratzke, who was on a break from his day job at Landfill Books and Music. "If people press me any further, the names Adrian Belew and Frank Zappa might get mentioned. They're two of Scott's main guys and all-time favorites. It's a songwriter's band, really."

"When people want to know what Auto Body Experience is all about, I usually explain that we play funny music," Yoho said. And when they ask me to name a specific genre, I respond by asking them, 'What kind of music did the Beatles play?' The Beatles could have 'When I'm 64' and 'Helter Skelter' both coming from the same guy and nobody felt the need to devise a specific term for them. They were simply The Beatles."

When Yoho does try to musically analyze one of his songs, the result can be a comical as the lyrics. "The tune on the new album 'Waiting In Line' is a country-jazz-klezmer-Stevie Ray Vaughan-cartoon music kind of thing," he said with a chuckle. "But what I really tried to do in that number was to creatively rip off Benny Goodman's classic 'Sing, Sing, Sing."

Most of the songs performed by Auto Body Experience have just as much going on - musically and lyrically. One track on "Smash Hits," which is ironically titled "Simple Love Song," even comes complete with a glossary of terms, including repudiate, excoriate and remonstrate. Cole Porter is spinning in his grave.

Music by Auto Body Experience has crept onto nationally syndicated radio, via the programs "Car Talk" and "The Doctor Demento Show." And the ABE Boys recently packed the fashionable Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater with fans and well-wishers.

But if the ultimate long-shot occurs and Yoho and Fratzke become genuine rock stars, do not expect them to desert their Mac-Groveland home for Hollywood - or even Kenwood.

"I lived in Kenwood in a beautiful little apartment for over a year and a half and I never got to know one of my neighbors," Yoho said. "The day I moved into St. Paul some folks from across the street brought me some tomatoes from their garden and the lady next door immediately started chatting to me over the fence. That was about five years ago and it's still the same - a fun, friendly place."

(Tom Surowicz)

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