The world is Kepi Ghoulie's oyster. Well, not really, Kepi being a longtime vegetarian, but the ever-youthful songwriter does have a lot of broccoli in his bowl. The charismatic singer-bassist-guitarist of the late, legendary punk-popsters the Groovie Ghoulies, is up and running with two simultaneously released CDs on Asian Man Records. "I'll rock until I drop, if I can," says Kepi. "That is, as long as people will listen."
Kepi doesn't have to worry too much about people listening to his music. The Sacramento-based Groovie Ghoulies were one of the most productive bands of the past 20 years, frequently touring and releasing nine full-length CDs, five EPs, 13 singles, five split singles and appearances on no fewer than 25 compilations.
They broke up last year, as did Kepi's marriage to guitarist Roach. But neither split has affected Kepi's songwriting abilities or cheery disposition. Kepi's new CDs, the acoustic American Gothic and the rocking Hanging Out, were both released on May 6 and have been followed by what promises to be a never-ending tour of the world.
Kepi, who says even his mother has forgotten his birth name, recorded both CDs with a core group of solid musicians like Kevin Seconds, Anton Barbeau and Kim Shattuck of The Muffs. Shattuck and Kepi sing "This Friend of Mine" in the classic duet style of Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood.
"I have gifted friends that can help me do the things I can't," Kepi says.
American Gothic finds Kepi adding an emotional depth unseen in his previous work. "Stormy Weather" (no, not the classic), "Down We Go" and the closing song on the CD, "The Great Beyond," put Kepi onto an entirely different level of songwriting, la Robyn Hitchcock and Daniel Johnston. In fact, the latter's "True Love Will Find You In the End" is covered perfectly, as are Donovan's "To Sing for You" and Dan Schafer's "Take a Look."
The Colorado Springs stop on this tour features the solo, acoustic Kepi opening for the Queers, Lemuria and Bomb the Music Industry, all labelmates of the anti-racism, anti-war, independent Asian Man Records. Kepi has had a long friendship with Joe Queer, the only constant member of the Queers.
"They took the Ghoulies on their first full U.S. tour in '97, or something like that," explains Kepi. "And now, 10 years later, they are giving me my first solo acoustic tour."
Unflappable in his optimism, Kepi says his favorite musicians are the ones who have never stopped performing.
"I like lifers," he says. "I like musicians who just do it. I'll keep playing wherever I can play and as long as someone wants to hear it."