Minor Threat

The Rondelles prove that the kids are all right.

Obviously, the band isn't afraid to veer from winning formulas for the sake of growth--or to ax them altogether. An example of the dewy humor and clap-worthy grooves Rondelles boosters have grown to love is "Mission: Irresistible," a tale told amid nerdy keyboard chatter that even feminists eager to dispel myths about female math disability could enjoy. Moynihan describes the concept: "Usually you're writing some song about Bobby on the football team, and we were trying to write a song about the guy who never gets a song written about him"--in this case, a bespectacled math-team geek who tutors Shango's seductress in geometry. But Moynihan hints that themes touching upon juvenile school days and boy trouble (like "Catastrophe," whose refrain announces, "I wish he had a crush on me!") may be slated for extinction. "When we were in high school, we weren't really interested in writing political lyrics," she says. "It was just kind of a joke. We were like the Shangri-las--girls-in-the-garage type stuff--and it seemed like what you're supposed to write about for that kind of music." But, she warns, "when our new album comes out, you're not going to hear any more songs about milkshakes."

While the Rondelles have no investment in clinging to teenybopper motifs, their collective youth--Shango and Munson are newly twenty, while Moynihan lingers at nineteen--has proven to be a desirable novelty. For instance, Rhino Records recently tapped the band for a project in which Nineties teen acts, including Ben Lee and Phantom Planet, performed covers of soundtrack hits from Eighties teen movies. "They sent us a tape of songs we could do," Moynihan says, and after considerable debate, they picked Modern English's mushy "Melt With You" over "Oh Yeah" by Yello. "We could have chosen a different one, but we decided that would be the easiest. 'Melt With You' was one of the catchier ones on the album." Not content to play it straight, the band hacked the bloated tune down to a bearable length and tinkered with the words many a Gen X virgin smudged her black eyeliner to. "One of the lyrics goes 'Making love to you was never second best,' but Juliet changed it to 'Making out with you was never second best,'" Moynihan snickers.

Opportunities like this one seem to fall into the Rondelles' lap on a regular basis. Not only did Steve Shelley issue the combo's flagship LP, but he asked the musicians to open for Sonic Youth at the Ogden Theatre last summer. A week later, however, when the Rondelles returned to Denver to play a date with the Minders at the 15th Street Tavern, they were reminded that even bands born under a lucky star aren't exempted from the occasional crummy letdown. Not only did the "crowd" at the Tavern consist of roughly four patrons, but because of their underage status, the club's proprietor demanded that the Rondelles remain outside until their set and promptly leave the premises afterward. "It was our first day of the tour, and it was our first show, and the Tavern's not in the best neighborhood, I guess," Moynihan says. "There were these crazy people on the corner going insane and yelling and hitting each other, and we were like, 'God!'" But the doleful one-night stand was mitigated by the hospitality of the Minders, who gave the greenies a place to stay and cooked them breakfast the next morning. "They're the most wonderful people," Moynihan enthuses.

As this response implies, the Rondelles remain untainted by either cynicism or premature cockiness. "It's always been this fun thing, but sometimes I'm like, 'Geez! High school! That was almost three years ago,'" Moynihan says with world-weary awe. "We've been in the band for almost three years, and suddenly we're putting out our second album and going on our second tour this summer." Then, as the interview winds down, she asks, "Did I answer okay?"

So far, so good.

The Rondelles, with the Maybellines. 10 p.m. Monday, July 12, 15th Street Tavern, 623 15th Street, $5, 303-572-0822.

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