The Groovie Ghoulies were a Sacramento band that originally released their first record Appetite for Adrendochrome, all the way back in the distant land of 1989. Becoming local legends and a moderate name in pop-punk, The Groovie Ghoulies went on to produce Born In The Basement, World Contact Day, Re-animation Festival, then finally coming into 1999 where Fun In The Dark would hit the public and while not much information is displayed about The Ghoulies, it appears they move at night and recorded Fun In The Dark in front of a “dead audience.”
The line-up would see consistent changes through-out The Groovie Ghoulies career, however, Fun In The Dark includes Chris “B-Face” Barnard on the bass who was also a popular musician in a little band called The Queers, a guitarist and vocalist Rochelle Sparman who spawned the nickname “Roach,” and a drummer, Jeff “Kepi” Alexander who also provided vocals as well. The band would adopt a Ramones style of punk rock, but also kept a modern spin on the lyrical style and even the sound of the instruments.
Opening with “Carly Simon,” a dashing guitar track that displays some of that Ramones’ charm where for a split second the track almost sounds like something along the lines of “Blitzkrieg Bop.” Still finding their own identity, The Groovie Ghoulies change their lyrical style to fit more into the horror-punk genre where the lyrics discuss horror movies or topics like witchcraft, science fiction, and death. Kepi who delivers most of the vocal aspect of Groovie Ghoulies happily exclaims, “It’s just like Carly Simon said, things are coming ‘round again.” This is then leading into the second section where the tone changes and he explains, “Things started going wrong, didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t very long; those magic words rang true.” Kepi’s vocal style of the more fright-inducing lyrics soon shine through as The Groovie Ghoulies move onto the next track of “She Gets All The Girls.”
More of a love song than anything, “She Gets All The Girls” takes a few guitar solos and displaces them around the track before coming into different rephrases and choruses where Kepi can solemnly tell, “I’ve given up, I don’t even try, I don’t need to tell you why…I can’t explain, I wrack my brain, the times have changed; I’m so out of her range.” The percussion here is more of a straight-forward approach that uses a two-step snare beat style that enforces movement. B-Face on the track creates his own rhythm section that varies on following the guitarist and making his own path. His style is almost rockabilly and follows more of a thumping than a usual buzzing bass line for punk music.
The Groovie Ghoulies are a strange, but wonderful arrangement of genre-bending tracks that especially show through on the following self-titled track, “Fun In The Dark.” Switching from a blaze of hits with the previous two tracks, “Fun In the Dark” is more of a slowed down approach to a punk track that has Kepi shouting “Fun in the Dark!” The guitar here is frequent strumming that moves along the fret board almost seamlessly. Just as quickly as it began, “Fun In The Dark” ends and goes following the similar style on “(She’s My) Vampire Girl.”
The real adjustment is when the track, “Lonely Planet Boy” comes into frame and acts almost as a punk-ballad. The entire style of the music is altered here and instead of pounding drums and flying guitar work, The Groovie Ghoulies act more as a slick, love struck group that keeps the action moving at a moderate pace, but instead adopts a lovelier sound. This is also the longest track on Fun In The Dark, an album that has a mere run-time of just 1-second under 30-minutes. The percussion and guitar work in tandem together and act more as one conglomerate, rather than their own separate entities. When the guitar makes a move, the drums follow right behind, and this is the same in vice-versa. Both instruments together make one of the more rememberable and everlasting tracks present on Fun In The Dark.
The next few tracks, “Have Your Way With Me,” “(She’s Got A) Brain Scrambling Device,” and “Outbreak” all follow the same sort of distinction. A variation on chords and tempo played of course, but the tracks sound similar and almost seem to be mushed together into one package. It is only when the track, “The Spell Is On,” does the sound completely change and become an interesting mix of all three hydra-heads of The Groovie Ghoulies. The percussion and guitar form a rhythm section that allows the bass to make its own path again, acting as the backbone of the track, while the drums take the centerfold. Vocalist Kepi stays on the subject of love; singing, “Don’t try and fight it, just let it be… ain’t no denying you’re the one for me… You’ll think only of me every single hour, The spell is on and you’re under my power.”
Starting to wrap up loose ends, The Groovie Ghoulies moves into the final act of Fun In The Dark where the process once again speeds up with “Ivy Says.” Following the similar style of some of the earlier tracks on the record, the guitar and vocals become the main “meat” of this track and while brief, still make for yet another jamming song. The Groovie Ghoulies constantly change up their style and make a break for the relaxed method of “Laugh At Me.” Rather than launching into a full-frontal assault, the track starts a gradual progression that leads into the final rephrase where The Groovie Ghoulies start to shift into more of a frenzied style where the drums play a loosely and the guitar follows right along side.
Almost taking the coat-tails of “Laugh At Me,” the following track, “Let’s Go To The Moon,” starts with a countdown starting from 8-1, before jumping straight into the quick moving guitar and where the primary aspect of the vocals are handled by Roach who describes in radio static, the “different creatures” who live out in the deep void of space.
Finally, a sprint of a closer, “Don’t Make Me Kill You Again,” instantly sparks the flame and becomes a rushed jam session of stylish guitar work, and some decent bass runs that play in the background to give the tracks more depth behind the other instrumentalists. Kepi almost passive-aggressively explains, “This job is definitely becoming unfun. Don’t Make Me Kill You Again…” As soon as the last note resonates, The Groovie Ghoulies fade back into the darkness from which they came, only to return again when the graveyard fog rolls in, and the mausoleums crack back open.