It a well-known fact that most band names are gobbledygook, but here at Rocks Off we're trying hard to find meaning in the oddest monikers.
Two years ago, when I started punching band names in the vowels until they coughed up their
lunch origins, I was immediately smitten with a band called Woozyhelmet from right here in Houston. See, it's a throwaway line from the 1992 movie Toys starring Robin Williams, which in addition to being one of my favorite movies of all time is also the most underrated Christmas movie ever.
In it, Williams' runs a toy factory that is being taken over by his uncle in hopes of turning into a miniature war-machine producer. In the name of innocence and whimsy, Williams fights back in a battle between good and evil that is heartwarming and truly extraordinary. Along the way, he invents a rollercoaster simulator that his robotic sister calls a Woozy Helmet.
I was so excited to find another fan of the film that I immediately fired off an email for this column to Jay Blazek Crossley. Then silence. Nothing. I have ignored everything the band has done since then out of a misplaced nerd-rage. It's petty, I know, but Toys fans are so hard to find I felt like I'd been left at the altar or something.
Wow. We missed the most awesome press email ever. I am so sorry we are morons. Nobody ever checks our firstname.lastname@example.org email address, which is dumb. However, since this was the best press email ever, I'm gonna go ahead and answer your questions two years late...
And, as luck would have it they're playing this weekend. So with all my hate extinguished, here's what I learned from Woozyhelmet.
Rocks Off: Why did you pick the name Woozyhelmet?
Jay Blazek Crossley: I am pretty sure that on the College Houses Co-Op bus to NASCO -- the national conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan -- a 40-hour trip in which I will neither confirm nor deny that there were lots of special brownies, there was the ability for movies and there was a long campaign to watch The Muppet Movie which involved ransom notes passed back and forth between the 21st Street Co-Op people (us -- in favor of the Muppet Movie, of course) and the Taos Co-Op people.
But I think after that we got away easily with watching Toys without much controversy and Toto [Miranda, drummer] and Brandi [DiPietro, bass] and I talked about it and basically everyone agreed right away that our new band would be called Woozyhelmet. [Ed. Note: Co-Ops are organizations, popular around college campuses, that offer reasonably priced housing in exchange for a certain amount of labor per week. The editor is a 21st Street alum.]
To be explicit: There is the scene where Robin Williams is showing Joan Cusack a new toy they developed that is a virtual-reality pair of goggles and they try out the toy on a couch doing a simulation of a roller coaster i think. So of course they wobble around and go back and forth and up and down and make wooooooh sounds. When they remove the head gear, Joan Cusack says "I think we should call it the Woozyhelmet!"
RO: Why do you think more people don't recognize the genius of the movie Toys?
JBC: People are dumb. Also, Robin Williams hanging around with children is actually a really scary thing. Also, Joan-Cusack-ruling-the-world fatigue. The target audience, who would have been our age at the time, probably thought they were too cool for a movie about toys and was out at parties actually talking to girls and driving their Explorer around, whereas we were at the movie theater on a Friday night to see a movie called Toys. They missed out.
RO: Would you be just as happy if people could use virtual reality to simulate your concerts, or would you still want them to come out?
JBC: I would be very happy if people could use virtual reality to simulate our concerts if you mean that we would be in our school-building-moved-to-our-farm practice space interacting with everybody all over the world and at least a dozen real people dancing and drinking with us.
There would need to be some kind of smell-o-vision and we would need to ensure that people were required to listen to it too loud, but with adequate earplug-type protection, but still too loud. Maybe you would have to set up speakers in your room and had to listen to it at concert volume (with your VR eye gear on), but then would be encouraged to wear earplugs (but the good ones that don't mess it up).
RO: What is the best toy you've ever owned and why?
JBC: My favorite toy was a computer by about 1984 or so, so that would be seven years old. First it would have been a Tandy TRS-80, then a Compaq, then finally the ultimate freedom machine, the Apple IIgs. My favorite game from I think Apple II was called Captain Goodnight.
You got to run and shoot, but then fly a helicopter, and then fly a submarine. My other favorite toy was probably the big scene of a WWII battle that we built in our fort with all the little model airplanes we had, where we like drilled holes through the planes and cut up the little soldiers and had them bleeding and all that kind of stuff. That project just kept going and going and always seemed so important.
Woozyhelmet "and friends" (The Shame Dragons, Hearts of Animals, Marshall Forse Walker) play around 9 p.m. tonight at Rudyard's, 2010 Waugh.
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