Born in Minnesota, the youngest of five children, Joel and the Huschle Family moved to Claremont in 1974. As Joel fondly describes, “This was maybe the most magical time in my life, a prepubescent transition into the chaos of what was to be. Claremont was the first place I considered home.” Joel claims that all of the kids in his family were pretty wild, “The shit we got away with back then would have us jailed or institutionalized these days. Ditching school and going to Orange Julius or Walter’s Restaurant to smoke cigarettes and drink coffee made me feel different, but a good kind of different.”
Joel got into music through his family and growing up with his older siblings. Though none of the Huschles played music, they regularly listened to groups like Simon & Garfunkel, Herb Alpert, Barbara Streisand, and Roger Miller. When they got to California, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, and the Beatles got thrown into the mix before Joel discovered more generation-centric punk rock and new wave groups like Devo, the Dead Kennedys, and the Sex Pistols.
Joel works as a psychiatric social worker, helping people with mental illnesses that are caught up in the criminal justice system. As Joel describes, “I am part of a pretty great program that works with the courts for alternatives to incarceration.” Looking back humorously at Claremont’s influence on his life, Joel states, “Claremont helped me become who I am as an artist and a musician. I will never forgive this city nor will I ever blame it.”
Aside from singing in WCKR SPGT, Joel makes music under the Furniture Huschle moniker. As he describes, “Furniture Huschle is my ‘solo’ project that I started in 1993 when Mark Givens and I were living too far apart to make music more than a few times a year. I initially used a microcassette recorder and a digital delay to loop sounds. I started a small record label called Car in Car Disco Product and began releasing my cassette tapes using oversized packaging and color Xerox covers. I put out my own product as well as several other bands’. Furniture Huschle has, over the years, morphed into several incarnations. Sometimes I play solo and sometimes with local musicians backing me up. I try to keep the music parts repetitive and minimal so as not to overshadow or drown out my lyrics. The music is the agar to my verbal bacteria. I continue to write and record in my free time. My music is not always an easy listen. One reviewer described one of my releases as "stand-up comedy to music, except that it’s not funny and it’s not musical’.”
Photography by Althea Sachs