WCKR SPGT was formed in 1981 in Claremont and began recording and performing the following year. Their first live show was staged at the Bradbury House on 10th Street in Claremont, setting off a long chain of events in and around the Claremont area. Many of WCKR SPGT’s most memorable performances have occurred at the Claremont Colleges including a show on the steps of Garrison Theater, performances at The Grove House, The Wash, The Motley, and numerous appearances on KSPC. WCKR SPGT has provided music for art installations, musical theater performances, and a philosophy class for a unit on art and aesthetics. Over the years WCKR SPGT has also performed in the Claremont Village at Rhino Records, The Press, and once on the steps of the Claremont City Hall for the “Celebration of 9-17-11”.
Since 1993, the members of WCKR SPGT are: Joel Huschle, Mark Givens, Dave Carpenter, and Kyle Brodie. This versatile and unpredictable act has toured as a rock and roll band, presented performance art rock operas, and built themselves into an 8' x 8' box onstage. Their recordings, of which there are over 1,000 songs and more than 50 full-length albums, are quite varied and include experimental soundscapes, punk rock, pop songs, anthemic fist-pumping sing-alongs, improvisational rock and roll, and hip hop. A plethora of musicians have been a part of WCKR SPGT at one time or another, sometimes as band members, other times forming related side projects. Current members of WCKR SPGT likewise have played in a wide variety of musical acts and continue to advocate for the Claremont music scene however possible.
An unconventional group of artists with a quirky, often controversial sense of humor, WCKR SPGT has remained a vital force deep beneath the underground scene in Southern California’s Inland Empire. Whatever shapes the music takes, WCKR SPGT’s unique outlook and avant-garde humor slices through the heart of it all.
WCKR SPGT band members:
JOEL HUSCHLE (singer and songwriter)
MARK GIVENS (guitar)
Mark Givens was born in Pomona and raised in Claremont. He spent 10 years in Wisconsin around the turn of the century, returning to the warmer climate of Southern California to raise his children. Mark’s wife is a mathematician and he owns an independent book publishing company called Pelekinesis. Mark and his family live in Upland and maintain deep connections to Claremont.
Primarily known for playing guitar in WCKR SPGT, since 1980, Givens has also released ten albums under the name Cash Nexus. He continues to record and perform as Cash Nexus and has even occasionally appeared on WCKR SPGT recordings under the Cash Nexus moniker. Givens was also a member of The Mistaken with Gregg Turner (Angry Samoans), playing bass from 1985 to 1987 and played keyboards and created visual art for Desperation Squad from 1985 to 1989. Givens recorded under the T.H.U.D. moniker from 1989 to 1999, creating soundscape and sound collage recordings that resulted in an additional seven records. As one half of The Congress from 1985 to 2006, along with John Darnielle (The Mountain Goats), six more full-length releases were produced. Chicken Damage, a project with Roger Gee, released recordings in 1993.
Over his musical career, Mark's interest in sound manipulation and recording methods resulted in extensive experimentation with tape decks and natural environments, coalescing in primitive multi-layered recording techniques that carried on far longer than their usefulness dictated. His music and performance projects have always been able to find an outlet in the receptive and creative underground of the Claremont music scene. As Givens mentions, “Through it all, Claremont has been the foundation upon which to build - the stage, the platform on which a million ideas have been launched and a million more wait in the wings.”
“You can't throw a rock without hitting an artist or musician in Claremont. Please don't throw rocks.”
DAVE CARPENTER (bass)
Dave Carpenter was born in Pomona and raised all over Southern California, mostly in well-carpeted houses. He settled in Claremont first as a teenager and then again as an adult, leaving and returning for the same reason: the irresistible caterwaul of the nearby city. Dave currently works as a greet card writer, writing thank you cards. He got into music in order to attend parties without needing to talk to people, only to discover that in Claremont you only have to pretend to talk to them, because they already know. Carpenter believes that Claremont’s musical future will be bright to the extent that it continues to rediscover and redefine itself through a FYF brio and DIY ethic. While remaining heartbreakingly true to WCKR SPGT through the years, Dave has also briefly played with Desperation Squad and The Electric Love Bunnies.
“Claremont is a Petri dish in which every musical spore has an opportunity to flourish without people really noticing.”
KYLE BRODIE (drums)
“I was born in San Diego, California, but was raised, with scattered absences, in Upland. My parents each moved to Upland with their families around 1960, and eventually met at Upland High School. I grew up here; graduated from Upland High School in 1987 and now live in the house my grandmother bought in 1961. But let’s face it; Claremont is where the music happens. I went to Pomona College for one year (then left, for reasons which are stupid in retrospect, but whatever), and after graduating from law school, became a lawyer for the California Attorney General’s Office and bought a house in Pomona. I moved back to Upland in 2000, and since 2007, have been a superior court judge for the San Bernardino County Superior Court.
I’ve been playing drums since the third grade, for which I have my father to thank. (He was a drummer as well; I now use his drum set.) In high school I met up with Franklin Bruno. He knew, somehow, that I was a fan of Lou Reed. I gave him a cassette of Growing Up In Public. He wondered why I had a deep knowledge and love of Lou Reed’s solo work but didn’t know the Velvet Underground records. Anyway, we found a mutual love of the Minutemen, Embarrassment, Beat Happening, Mission of Burma, Giant Sand, and countless others from the Homestead Records post-punk roster. I liked Fugazi and Husker Du more than he did, and he enjoyed the Smiths and Go-Betweens more than I. But that’s in the margins. We played in a series of bands, Nothing Painted Blue being the last, and he brought me to WCKR SPGT, for which I will always be grateful.
I have only played in two bands of any significance: Nothing Painted Blue and WCKR SPGT. Nothing Painted Blue was active from around 1988 to 2001, more or less. I joined WCKR SPGT in 1991 and never left. It’s weird to still feel like the new guy. I half-expect them to get sick of me at any moment.
When I was in high school, playing in a band with Franklin Bruno, my father encouraged me to investigate the local music scene. But in truth, I had no idea how I might do that. It all seemed so mysterious and unknowable, in that way that things seem when you’re 17 years old. But I was wrong. The bands that made (and, in some cases, still make) Claremont their home were welcoming and inclusive and formed the backbone of a musical community as strong as any that I can imagine existing. And by the early 90’s, that community had become strong enough to draw bands from across the country of some note (in our indie rock circles, at least) to play in our crappy little venues. (I’m looking at you, Munchies.) And we played a lot! (Such is the freedom afforded by a lack of job and family. Not that I’d trade. But still.) Those bands that Franklin Bruno and I loved when we formed a band? Five years later they were playing in our town and we were opening for them.
Claremont’s musical future is plenty bright. I hope its next thirty years are as good as the last. The fact that Rhino Records continues to exist is sort of remarkable, really, and demonstrates the continued vitality of Claremont’s relationship to music.”
10 ways to live your life more like WCKR SPGT:
Photography by Anthony Brooks