"He's the glue," concurs Fisher. "And he also has this under-the-radar humor — he's funny, but in a non-exhibitionist way."
In the larger sense, it was a community writing process. The two singers would generate a specific idea, but others were always invited to contribute. Sometimes, though, they wrote full songs on their own. Fisher penned "Christmas in Japan" after hearing John Lennon and Yoko Ono's holiday hit, "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)." "I just wanted to do something ridiculous with it," he says.
Cheeks is proud of the way some tunes were drawn from real life. "Nixon's Underwear" references Congressman Jerry Voorhees. "New Deal" cops a Chuck Berry theme to drive a tale of Roosevelt's commitment to the working class. "It says, 'When from a marble cabin in Albany,' " explains the singer, "and Roosevelt had just been the governor of New York, which like Rhode Island has a marble statehouse. I wanted it to paraphrase 'Johnny B. Goode,' but include some stuff that only history Ph.Ds would know. Let's face it, there aren't that many songs that invoke Rexford Tugwell."
But it certainly wasn't all egghead adventures. "Beer" offered a punk ferociousness while explaining the pleasures of sudsy self-medication. "I Married a Tree" ("My name is Rudy/her name was Eucalyptus") took a nonsensical premise and ran for a touchdown. When they did the occasional cover, it too was warped. You don't often hear "Eve Of Destruction" given a disco spin. "Wooly Bully" was just bizarre enough on its own to get a somewhat straight reading. Cheeks says they proudly made a point to drop "a pile of stupidity" on everyone's doorstep. Fisher says they had no idea their chemistry would work. They just wanted to have "the craziest band possible."
“LET’S JUST DO SOMETHING FUN” The Adults rehearsing in their secluded mansion.
Such giddy inspiration earned them regular trips to New York. Throughout their run, the Adults played the Mercer Arts Center, Hurrah, and Trax. In 1988 they threw all this nutsiness on an album titled Helping Others (will someone please digitize that thing?). A year later it also placed them in the middle of Jim Wolpaw's Complex World, an indie feature about a bomb being placed inside of a local bar (yes, Lupo's). The film was named after one of the band's most popular songs. "Sometimes I feel like a ch-ch-ch-chimpanzee," goes the refrain. To some degree, their intelligent slant on cluckishness drove the group from the start.
"Dave said it the other night," muses Cheeks. "The real spirit of the band was, 'Hey, let's do something.' That was the credo. Let's just do something fun. That notion reaches all the way back to the Motels. In the RISD days, Charlie and Dan Gosch would dress as Captain Packard and Lobo, put on tights and superhero costumes and show up uninvited at Kentucky Fried Chicken openings with a film crew just to disrupt the whole thing. Another time Charlie and I were the great healers from the East and West, Mahah Rudy Cheeks and Anal Roberts. My character would wear a diaper and turban, and talk about 'waves continuing in the flow of life . . . .' "
>> READ: "A fan's notes on the Young Adults: Hail the swinging geniuses!" by Ted Widmer <<