Going down

One last fling with The Elevator Drops
By MATT PARISH  |  December 16, 2009

0912_edrops_main
DRESSED TO KILL "We wanted to be like Kiss if they could actually write songs," says Drops singer Josh Hager (rear, with Fitts and Goolkasian).

It's never been clear why The Elevator Drops broke up in the first place. Stories involve cryogenic freezing (doubtful) and getting stranded in Texas on the way to a redemptive meeting with a label big shot (plausible). But maybe their demise isn't all that hard to understand: the Drops were a glam-pop band in a decade when everyone was dressed down and rocking hyper-sensitive bullshit meters — and this trio really, really loved bullshit. They donned space carnival make-up and costumes and adopted sci-fi aliases. Guitarist and singer Josh Hager was Garvy J; drummer Scott Fitts was the Man in the Orange Suit; bass player and lead singer Dave Goolkasian was the Texas Governor. "We wanted to be like Kiss if they could actually write songs," says Hager from outside a job at a studio in Brooklyn.

The Drops burned through the '90s like hyperactive kids who were never taught how to play with others, locking college radio DJs in closets during on-air appearances and once bum-rushing Tower Records for a guerrilla in-store show. They bushwhacked their way into the basement at Jacque's (which Hager says was full of "furniture piled up floor to ceiling, garbage, and used condoms") after wearing out their welcome at other clubs. They were kicked off one tour after Goolkasian plastered headliner Blur's tour bus with Oasis bumper stickers.

Now, after a 10-year absence, they're getting back together for what they're calling a one-off reunion show this Friday at the Middle East downstairs. "It's sort of like when you hear those cicadas outside in the summer," says Goolkasian from his home in Dover, New Hampshire. "They just know when it's time to start making noise again."

The trio — Goolkasian and Fitts from Newton, Hager from Holliston — started playing together around 1992, stringing together disembodied glam melodies and fragments of psych-pop through short-attention-span engineering and old keyboards they snatched up wherever they could. "It was a good time to be into synths," says Hager, who's since moved on to front a solo Garvy J project and make a living as a producer (working on the new Devo record this year). "You could buy any of them for cheap, since no one else wanted to have anything to do with the '80s."

Meanwhile, Goolkasian developed a singular howl that falls somewhere in among David Bowie, Wayne Coyne, and a helium-loaded Gene Ween. In signature disco-daydream jams like "Snow" and "Be a Lemonhead (Beautiful Junkie)," his voice throws tantrums with unhinged whines and pouty croons that stomp all over the shimmery beds of guitars and electronics in wobbly platform shoes. And they were always providing new, weird contexts to throw his voice into, from the Blondie throb of "Sentimental Love" to the sleaze punk of "Drop 19 (I Want To Be A)," one of a long line of jabs at rival local bands the Drops never could resist. They once booked a show at the Middle East as "Letters to Leo" and nearly sold the room out to Cleo fans who thought it was a typo.

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