Building the Matsonford Bridge in photos from 1920May 23, 2023
Conshohocken Sisters place 1st and 2nd in Soap Box DerbyJuly 5, 2023
Do YOU Remember a Band called Love Huskies?
by Brian Coll
If I was a better writer, I’d start this off with something like this:
I remember driving around Conshy with some friends in my first car. We had WDRE on and the DJ starts saying something about a local band from Norristown. After a second of sheesing my buddies I hear something like, these guys are great. Here’s the Love Huskies… They’ll be one of the bands playing at the WRDE Festival along with Sonic Youth, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Superchunk and more, this is their song Emotional Stitches.
By the way, it’s a great song, I’m just not that good of a writer. How I heard about the Love Huskies, at least recently was a friend posted a CD cover on Facebook and it was a band called Love Huskies. The cover photo was the old paint store, next to Piermani’s Beer Distributor. I had to know more! The really cool thing about the cover was I knew these dudes knew the secret of the paint store. Jack Romano ran the paint store by day, and by night he was a superhero for musician’s. Jack was a well sought out luthier. I’ll save you the trouble of looking up the definition (noun : a maker of stringed instruments such as violins or guitars.) I knew of two great guitarists that used Jack and there are countless more I don’t know about. One of these two was confirmed by Joe Hooven of Love Huskies. Joe was there when Krist Novoselic called Jack about fixing a guitar for him. Krist was a founding member of Nirvana along with Kurt Cobain. The other legendary Conshohocken story involving Jack was when Bob Dylan went to his house because he couldn’t find him at the store, someone told Bob where he lived and a neighbor told Bob Dylan that Jack wasn’t home.
Alright, let’s get back to the Love Huskies and Joe Hooven. Joe was so generous with his time. We went back and forth via text for a while before getting on the phone a few times. While I got to talk to Joe, he was quick to show his cousins and bandmates some love. He couldn’t say enough about the Bader brothers Matt, Tim and Mick. He had fond memories of being in a van and more importantly on stage with these guys. Matt played bass and was the lead singer, Tim was on rhythm guitar, Mick played the drums and Joe was on lead guitar. When it came to song writing, Joe would often bring the bones of a song and the band would find a way to fill it out. It was this approach and hard work that got them steady airplay on WDRE and love from local DJ’s in the mid to late 90’s including Marilyn Russell. I asked about how they got their start and he credited playing some local battle of the band type of events. I asked about one I went to at the music store on Ridge, by where Rita’s is now. He was quick to say they tied for best band there with another local staple at the time Dollar 380. Joe was talking about the local music scene at the time. Playing all the regular places like the Kyber Pass, JC Dobbs, upstairs at Nick’s. There were other really good musicians at the time, and the Philly music scene was getting national attention. Bands like Marah, The Low Road, G Love and Special Sauce. For Joe and his bandmates, starting to tour the east coast and beyond wouldn’t have happened without Mark Schulz who ran the studio at Studio 4 and Ruffhouse Records here in Conshy. Mark would go onto manage the band for a few years. Mark worked at Studio 4 and Ruffhouse Records. Joe had some great stories from his years hanging and recording at the studios there. The guys in Love Huskies had a great working relationship with Ian Cross at Ruffhouse and the famous Butcher Brothers.
Joe and I were all over the place during our conversations, sometimes I’d put my pen down and we’d just go off on a long side bar about different bands, songs and things. A few things really caught my attention and since they have to do with Conshohocken I’ll jump back into Joe’s time around Second Ave and Fayette Street. Joe was and still is still a painting contractor, in the mid 90’s he’d be picking up paint and supplies at the old paint store there, coming back to Conshy in the evening, jumping in the studio with Ian Cross and then would find themselves hanging out with bands like Cypress Hill while they were recording there. Joe clearly recalled hanging out with the guys from Cypress Hill and Anthrax at the Great American Pub ( I thought that memory would be more than a little hazy with Cypress Hill) The Love Huskies recording there crossed paths with bands like Urge Overkill and a young up and coming group called the Fugees. Ian Cross who produced the Love Huskies is now out on the West Coast along with two of the Bader brothers. Tim Bader moved out to LA and continued playing music but fell in love with acting. You may have seen Tim in some national commercials over the years.
Now at some point I had to jump off the phone call, but before we reconnected I jumped onto YouTube and looked up Love Huskies Band. I instantly thought about The Replacements and Paul Westerberg. Maybe a little Soul Asylum sound….I then hit Amazon and bought their two CD’s Semi Gloss (the paint store reference) and Spark Street. I am looking forward to their arrival anyday now! So, when Joe and I got back into our conversation, I was like dude, why didn’t you tell me you guys sounded like The Replacements? He chuckled and said one of the labels that tried to sign them thought the same thing. When we talked a bit about the Soul Asylum sound, he said that Soul Asylum actually reached out to them and really loved their music. I think that is pretty cool for 4 kids who graduated from Bishop Kenrick in Norristown to being compared to The Replacements and having Soul Asylum pay them some compliments. As we continued to talk about The Replacements Joe said he met Peter Jesperson, who actually discovered and managed them. Peter also signed Soul Asylum and it was through this friendship with Peter that the fellas from Soul Asylum reached out. Joe recalled that Peter really liked the Philly sound from the mid to late 90’s and compared it to what was happening in Minneapolis a decade earlier. Peter produced the soundtrack for one of my favorite movies Say Anything.
We’ve talked about the Semi Gloss album cover and when I saw the Spark Street cover and now knew about them being from Norristown, I thought maybe the cover was taken in Norristown, but I was unfamiliar with Spark Street. I don’t know nearly as much about Norristown as I do Conshohocken so there’s a chance it could have been Norristown… but it turns out Spark Street is where their mothers were raised in Olney. The cousins paid tribute to their moms and aunts.
This was a conversation where I really couldn’t write fast enough. We would get wrapped up talking about the Seattle sound from the early 90’s and then Joe would say something like, yeah it was cool when Krist called Jack about getting a guitar fixed. Another time I was in the studio there across the street and Dimebag Darryl called about trying to record something. So, while I could go off on a long list of artists and bands who have recorded at Studio 4 or Ruffhouse Records, I think I’ll have to do a deep dive of that another day.
Joe couldn’t have been nicer to talk to, we talked about them touring for a few years. Making the two records, and about the business side of the business. I knew I must have actually seen them play live somewhere in that time frame. I did see Joe perform with my friends in the band Marah as Joe went onto tour with them for The Kids in Philly tour and got to perform on Conan O’Brien. If you watch that, you will actually see Mick on drums as he was helping out fellow local band Marah at the time as well as Joe. There’s a chance you saw them if you were at the Matchbox 20/Soul Asylum show at the old Spectrum in 98.
As with so many bands, it seemed like they were “right there”, maybe one more show, one more DJ playing their songs… but if you are like me, it’s never too late to discover good music. Maybe, just maybe if Conshohocken ever got a cool music venue we could talk the guys from Love Huskies into playing a reunion show. Hell, maybe they could do it at the Great American Pub, it is after all where they did their recording.
If you see Joe around, or maybe if you’re in the Wildwood area and run into Mick, ask them about their time in this band. Tell them you are a Love Huskies fan!
Here’s Love Huskies with Emotional Stitches: