They Pick It Up Again; An interview with Krusty Watch Guys

At the height of the ‘90s ska boom, a group of friends from Beavercreek High School in Dayton, Ohio, put their creative and musical heads together to form a ska, swing outfit unlike the city had seen before, and has likely seen since, Krusty Watch Guys. The group became a significant fixture of the local music scene and even managed to secure second place in the Dayton Band Playoffs, once won by another group of Beavercreek High School grads, and celebrated indie rock heroes, Brainiac.
With the majority of the group’s 20th high school reunion around the corner, they’ve decided to dust off their wingtips and clear out their spit valves for a home town blowout at Blind Bob’s. Ghettoblaster caught up with members of the band, singer Joe Anderl and bassist Tim Hackett, to take a stroll down memory lane and talk about why they’ve decided to “pick it up” again.
How did the Krusty Watch Guys form and what did you accomplish when you were active in the ’90s?
Tim Hackett: KWG formed in the fall of 1994. We were all involved in the high school showchoir, of all things. Joe Anderl sang in the choir, and Kris Swanson, Chris Erin, Nick Schroeder, and I played in the combo group. In the spring of 1995, we recorded our first six-song demo in Chris’s basement, and our first major gig was playing our junior prom. We enlisted the talents of Chuck Hague on keyboard for that show, but he did not become a permanent fixture in the band.
Joe Anderl: We did a few originals but mostly covers for that show. I don’t think it went over that well because we didn’t play enough slow jams.
Tim Hackett: In the summer of 1995, we entered the Dayton Band Playoffs and lost in the first round, but out of the experience we were given more opportunities for paying gigs. By the winter of 95-96, we were rehearsing regularly, added Steve Polesky to horn section, and we recorded another six-song demo at Steve Van Etten’s basement studio in February 1996.
In the summer of 1996, we recorded another two songs at FJM and again entered the Dayton Band Playoffs. This year, we embarked on a magical run all the way to the final show at Fraze Pavilion, only to finish in second place. Around this time, we added Reid Davis and Rahul Mehan to beef up the horn section. Rahul and Nick Harris helped fill in on bass while I was unable to make it home for the fourth round matchup.
Joe Anderl: For a bunch of high school nerds, it was a pretty great experience to get to play on a stage as big as Fraze and with two great bands in Gulliver’s Traveling Medicine Show (champion) and Life in The Circus.
Tim Hackett: In the fall of 1996, the core of the band (basically everyone but Joe) had graduated and moved on to college at separate places. We reconvened on breaks for shows and rehearsals, and in the summer of 1997, we recorded a full-length album at Refraze. We also added Noah Belamy to the horn lineup. We enlisted Ian Kaplan (Motel Beds) to fill in occasionally on drums when Nick Schroeder was away for military commitments.
Unfortunately, by the fall of 1997, Joe left the group as we were moving in different directions musically. The remaining members continued playing under the name Charlie Hustle for the next 18 months or so, again only on breaks and during summers, but ultimately by early 1999 the group had officially broken up.
Joe Anderl: Over the course of our run we got to play some pretty cool shows with Remy Zero, Funk Allegiance, John Mullins, The Beatdowns, and others. Canal Street served as our home base and Mick Montgomery was really instrumental in us learning how to be a band. I know I am grateful for everything he did for me and us over the years.
What was the musical landscape like in Dayton in the ’90s and how did you fit into that?
Tim Hackett: By the 1990s Dayton was already known as a hotbed of local music. Bands like Guided by Voices, Brainiac, and the Breeders achieved international acclaim. Needless to say, the market was competitive. However, we were young and didn’t know any better, and the third wave of ska made the genre more accessible to suburban America, so we went with it. We were lucky to develop a following that at first was mostly just family and friends.
Joe Anderl: We were pretty active in not only playing back then but attending every show we could. I am pretty sure we never missed a Know Nothings show. Dayton was a pretty special place to cut your teeth in the ‘90s. We had no idea what we were doing but are glad we got to play in the era of such great bands as Honeyburn, A Ten O clock Scholar, Brainiac, etc.
What material did you release when you were active and what were the circumstances surrounding those releases?
Tim Hackett: The only album we “released” was out full-length, Cracko Jacko, in 1997. 1,000 copies were made, but sadly, we were never picked up by any record companies for distribution. We made 100s of copies of our other demo recordings, all on cassette.
Joe Anderl: The cassettes were kind of fun because we literally dubbed them all individually. It took hours but we were just really excited to have something to share with our friends.

What would you say your favorite accomplishments as a band were?
Tim Hackett: Our proudest moments as a band were reaching the Dayton Band Playoffs final round in 1996 and recording the album. Performing at Fraze was an unforgettable experience, especially given our age at the time (17-18 years old). The album was definitely a labor of love, but not without its tense moments among the group. I might have been partly responsible for that.
When and under what circumstances did KWG call it quits?
Tim Hackett: At the end of summer 1997, we played our last show together at the Daily Grind on Brown St. There was a mutual decision for Joe to leave the band as we had grown apart musically. While the rest of us were convinced ska would be popular forever, Joe was interested in creating his own path as a singer-songwriter.
Joe Anderl: In all honesty, it was just hard with everyone living different places. I really just wanted to continue to play music on a regular basis, which was hard in that situation. These guys had been my best friends so it wasn’t a decision that was very easy, but I think it was right at the time.
Whose idea was it to reform for a reunion show?
Tim Hackett: Ever since we broke up there was always talk of a reunion show. We have all remained fairly close friends, especially thanks to e-mail, the Internet, and now Facebook.
Joe Anderl: I think I always took it is as a joke. I never thought I would be singing these songs 20 years later. When Nick came to me a couple years ago, I actually started to take the idea seriously and things kind of fell into place.
Why now in 2016?
Tim Hackett : It just so happens to fall on the eve of our 20th high school reunion. Well for everyone except Joe, who graduated a year later, and Noah, who graduated a year earlier and went to a different school.
Are all of KWG’s various members participating in the show?
Tim Hackett: As of right now, Nick (Schroeder), Kris Swanson, Joe, Rahul, Steve, and I have confirmed. Chris Erin won’t be able to make it. Noah also hopes to be there, but his summers these days are spent as a drum and bugle corps instructor. Reid unfortunately will not be able to come as he recuperates from major surgery at his home in Oakland, California.
What can fans expect from the reunion show?
Tim Hackett: A good time. We hope to play a lot of the familiar favorites, including most of the songs from our full-length, as well as a couple of earlier one from the demos. Now that we are 20 years older, we ourselves have almost literally become like the Krusty Watch Guy who became the inspiration for the band’s name. Hopefully we don’t suck.
Joe Anderl: My mom made me a special bowtie for the show, so there’s that. We will also have limited edition shirts and stickers for the show. I just hope people get to relive a little bit of their younger days for a night, including us.
Who will be supporting the show?
Tim Hackett: Fortunately, Joe has remained very connected to the Dayton music scene, as he performs solo shows as well as with his band The 1984 Draft on a regular basis. We are very grateful to Blind Bob’s for providing the venue. Also, we are very appreciative of Dip Spit, Duderus, and The Linus Method, who are also reuniting, for sharing the stage with us.
Joe Anderl: I’m pretty pumped for the support on this show. I think Dip Spit will definitely bring the party. Duderus is the type of band we would have played with in the ‘90s and I love those guys/girl; they are some really sweet people. The Linus Method is Shane Weber from O Condor and Steve Hubertz from The Give Ups high school band so it will be cool to see them do some of those songs again. Mainly we just wanted support that would fit the fun tone of the night.
How long will it be before another KWG show?
Tim Hackett: Who knows? Hopefully sooner than later. If nothing else we’ll try to do it again in another 20 years. Ska will be popular again by then, right?
Joe Anderl: I guess we can never say never since we are doing this one.
(Krusty Watch Guys perform at Blind Bob’s in Dayton, Ohio on Friday, June 24, with support from Dip Spit, Duderus and The Linus Method. More information is available here: