Perhaps the best introduction to local new wave band Scotty and the Help is the one the band uses itself: "From beneath the streets, lurking in the sewer pipes. From the bright blue sky, climbing trees with sloth-like precision. Scotty is one man on a mission to bring your ears peace and unity. Wars have been waged. Art has been made. Opinions have been destroyed, all in the name of music. Must wreck everything now… now… now…"
In Scotty and the Help's world, inspiration comes from all directions – musical and otherwise. Devo, for instance, is an inspiration. As is Glenn Danzig's punk outfit The Misfits. And then there's random stuff like "mad scientists, ghosts, ghouls, brain surgery gone horribly wrong, anything gone horribly wrong, outer space, aliens, Martians, invisibility, robots, cloning and monsters," says Scott Boehner, the Goshen-based musician who makes up half of the band – the human half, anyway.
Taking his cue from the Elton John song "Bennie and the Jets," Boehner calls his one-man band Scotty and the Help – Scotty being Boehner, the guy ing out the fusion of sci-fi nightmare, pop, hip-hop and punk. The Help is his keyboard, an Alesis synthesizer.
"Elton John was all the inspiration I needed," Boehner says. "I've always liked band names that are like 'Something and the Somethings.' And I thought it'd be funny, too, if people came to my shows expecting to see some big, six-piece heavy metal band. And here I am. One guy with a keyboard."
Not that Boehner's audiences are ever disappointed. The beauty of attending a Scotty and the Help show is the spastic collective freak-out of his fans, a crowd of people who have agreed to forgo the trappings of hipsterdom – the icy stare, the Parliament hanging from the lip, the Mick Jagger (circa 1968) haircut – and relive the awkward "school dance" moments of their pre-adolescence (those precious few moments before it begins to dawn on us: I can't dance. And I look like a total dork when I try.)
It helps that Boehner's manic, bizarre and danceable tunes are filled with the same sort of jerky robotic rhythms and electronic accents that made new wave acts such as Devo popular. But Boehner's ability to claim the punk ethos as a cozy place for piano-loving, robot-obsessed geeks isn't just a wink to the new wave artists who came before him. It's a worldview, capable of producing complex, angular melodies filled with absurdist lyrics.
"It's about taking punk music and reinterpreting it using instruments and imagery not usually associated with punk," he says. "And it's been pretty effective. It's what has helped me have a unique style."
Boehner's fourth album, "Creature or Companion," is a 13-song opus filled with wacky synthpop rave-ups with titles such as "The Brain That Wouldn't Die," "Perfect Robot" and "Teenage Nightmare." Framed by hip-hop-tinged backing tracks produced by local electronic musician AHAU and Boehner's own pan rapping, the album contains a multi-layered fusion of styles too diverse to pigeonhole.
"It's definitely electronic," he says. "I can't deny that. I think it's punk, too. But then there's some rap so … I guess it's electronic-new wave-punk, with a dash of hip-hop. Wait – does that make sense?"
Who cares? Just grab the hand of the first Asimovian robot you see and repeat after us: Must… Dance… Now…
~Emma Downs, The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
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