Cover bands have to be fun. That’s a rule guitarist-vocalist Jeff Ebbage sticks to in his group Fishhook, which plays covers spanning from the Who to Sublime.
“We’re happy to play the court jester, if that’s what’s going to get people involved. If you’re all like, ‘I’m just too cool for this,’ it’s a hard sell,” Ebbage says. “With cover bands, people want to have fun. You need a little David Lee Roth swagger.”
The band formed about five years ago, but went through some lineup changes before they started playing out regularly. “There are no original members of Fishhook, which is kind of a weird Spinal Tap-esque thing,” Ebbage says.
They think long and hard about their setlist, which they want to be danceable rock songs from the ’60s to the ’90s. According to Ebbage, they play the songs that people really respond to, and that they enjoy playing themselves. If neither of these criteria is met, the song gets tossed. This keeps the evening fun for everyone. One of their most popular mainstays is Violent Femmes’ “Blister in the Sun,” which has a Flamenco guitar intro that Ebbage wrote.
“When I hit the first line of ‘Blister in the Sun,’ people just go fucking crazy,” Ebbage says. “It’s about a junkie who has wet dreams, and his girl can’t figure out why he’s such a jerk. People are just jumping to that and smiling. I love it.”
INFO: 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18. Crow’s Nest, 2218 E Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz. $6. 476-4560.