Interviewing Gassaway is like having
a heart-to-heart with comedian Steven Wright -- he has that same
dry delivery as he describes the band's adventures in academia.
While Drummer Brandon Ripley got a degree from William Woods University,
the other members all attended Kansas University. Frontman Justin
Ripley was kicked out after changing majors seven times -- he currently
has enough credits to graduate. Bassist Ryan Laird is on academic
probation, while Gassaway actually earned a Journalism degree, which
he applied for three years at a small newspaper near Lawrence before
being fired on his birthday.
"The boss and I didn't like each other," he said wryly.
"It came down to being assigned an article about the search
light on top of the McDonald's drive-thru. I e-mailed him (even
though he was right across the hall) and asked if he thought it
was newsworthy. I got a hurt-sounding e-mail in return, and then
got called into the conference room."
Gassaway is now on unemployment, which gives him plenty of time
to tour, something the band loves to do. So much, in fact, that
The Pomonas are sort of an outsider band in a Lawrence scene bubbling
with label-bound acts like The Minus Story, Ghosty and Arthur Dodge
and the Horsefeathers.
"We're pretty nonexistent as far as that stuff is concerned,"
Gassaway said. "We concentrate on playing out of town. I don't
know why, but we enjoy playing a lot for people we don't know."
Like us Omahans. In fact, the Pomonas' first out-of-town gig was
at O'Leaver's last February, where they glowed like a diamond in
the rough -- and I mean rough. Their style is pure indie-garage
in the vein of a messy, early-'90s Matador band practicing in your
basement. Vocals ranged from falsetto yelps to unison cheers to
straight-on indie crooning, all with a laid-back, slacker sense
Gassaway said the band was disappointed in that first Omaha gig.
"We thought it was pretty sloppy," he said. "We've
gotten a lot more professional, but still, there's a restlessness
about us. We want to be a tightly honed machine, but, at the same
time, entertaining to watch."
Sadly, Gassaway said the band no longer plays "Slacker
"We had to cut the jock-jam chorus," he said. "It
blew my mind that the song could go beyond six minutes. I don't
want to listen to any song for six minutes unless it's a Yes song."
Ah, the joy of wishful thinking.
Published in The Omaha Reader Sept. 14, 2005.
Copyright © 2005 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
"We concentrate on playing out of
town. I don't know why, but we enjoy playing a lot for people
we don't know."