Call the Denver rock scene incestuous and you'll likely get no argument from the members of Somebody's Sister. In retelling the group's history, founders/ spouses Doug and Annette Conlon drop more band names than the autobiography of professional groupie Pamela Des Barres.
Doug, in particular, has plenty of experience on the local scene: He moved to Denver in 1974 and has been playing in area bands for a dozen years. Among the most popular of those was his current group's immediate predecessor, Love Garage. That act succeeded in part due to its bawdy image (for example, one of the band's three female backup singers had a habit of performing sans underwear), but it was hardly a monument to artistic achievement. The combo featured singers who couldn't sing, dancers who couldn't dance and generic anthem rock that masqueraded as alternative music. While parked in Love Garage alongside longtime collaborator/Fear of Sleep drummer Bob Rupp, Doug was very much influenced by classic rock. He just didn't seem willing to admit it.
Until Somebody's Sister, that is. The group rose from Love Garage's ashes in late 1992, and since then, Annette, thirty, and Doug, who's not telling, have finally started acting their age--or at least coming a lot closer to doing so. "I discovered that Love Garage wasn't my band--it was more Bob's band," Doug says, by way of explaining why he and Annette chose to strike out on their own. "So we decided to do something that was more my band."
Together with Annette, an on-again, off-again Love Garage singer, Darin Kavanagh, that band's bassist, and Kavanagh's friend Todd Moore on drums, Doug set out to make Somebody's Sister a vehicle for his gritty, though not astonishingly original, songwriting. And despite penning "Barney," a sendup of the preposterously popular purple dinosaur of the same name, he hopes his latest group will be taken somewhat more seriously than was Love Garage. Annette thinks the time is right for the new band's sound, partly because she predicts that grunge will prove to be a short-lived phenomenon. In contrast to the average Seattle band's buried vocals, heavily distorted guitars and often indistinct sound mixes, she says that Somebody's Sister delivers a more "glamorous" sound with "big, fat, juicy vocals and rich guitars," as well as lyrics that are placed front and center.
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This approach has led to what Annette proudly calls her "front chick" status--and has pushed Doug, a powerful frontman in his own right, into the role of sideman. Nevertheless, Doug claims to be happy out of the spotlight. Despite his long track record, he confesses that he's intimidated by both unruly throngs and smaller, more intimate audiences. Annette, however, seems unfettered by such self-consciousness. Her growing confidence as a performer, to say nothing of her penchant for revealing stage attire and ham-handed innuendo, leaves Doug free to contribute eminently serviceable guitar licks. In addition, Annette and Doug's vocal give-and-take recalls at its best the work of seminal L.A. scenesters X crossbred with the showmanship of the Tubes.
Still, area club owners have only recently gotten hot for Somebody's Sister. It has taken more than a year to get the act's live bookings off the ground, and the Conlons are quick to give much of the credit for getting early gigs to helpful peers in groups such as Truth of the Matter, Babihed, Mean Uncle Mike, Love Lies and Martha's Wake.
Now that it's established, Somebody's Sister is set to release its first CD this August. Post-Grunge Glam, a sixteen-song collection produced largely by Club Dog and Avalanche ace Bill Thomas along with Emilio bassist Jeff Andrews, is designed to remain true to Somebody's Sister's live sound while offering a few more acoustically oriented surprises.
Despite the Conlons' comparative maturity in rock-and-roll circles, they continue to dream about earning a record contract. Of course, Doug recognizes that music-industry executives seem to prefer bands that they can mold and market to Generation X; in order to compete, then, he says that Somebody's Sister will "just have to be that much better." When "Barney" begins to be played in elevators across the nation, he adds, "then you'll know we made it.