On the Rodent

Some squirrels gather nuts for the winter. Others are nuts all the time.

But don't expect to find find such references in the booklet that accompanies the CD; adamant that the meaning come from the visceral impact of an entire song, For Squirrels refuses to print their lyrics. "A song is the whole song, and we don't like to separate the lyrics from the music," explains Vigliatura. "People could draw a different meaning from reading it than from listening to it. Also, I've experienced that when you don't know [the lyrics], you go and look, and it's not always as good as what you thought he was saying. You come up with the coolest thing and you're like, 'That's so bad!' and then it's something else. I hate that. Let everybody just fill in the blanks."

(At a loss when it comes to words, fans might be even more puzzled about the band's rodenty name. Regarding those roots, however, the group is a little more forthcoming. They say that after kicking around hundreds of possibilities -- including Fidel Castro and his Magic Peanuts, Battlestar Giaspanktica, and the Road Apples -- to no avail, they found themselves having to settle on something in a hurry when Y&T printed a T-shirt for the AIDS benefit last fall. They went with "the Squirrels," only to learn that the name was already taken. Thus the prepositional phrase and the four-ple entendre.)

On Sunday For Squirrels takes the stage at the Stephen Talkhouse. Then comes America's Birthday Bash, where they share the Fourth of July bill with the Smithereens, Brother Kane, Mary Karlzen, and Natural Causes, among others. According to manager Ulloa, WSHE-FM (103.5) plans to have "Flagboy" on the playlist all weekend. Also during this South Florida swing, the group will record a B-side for a promotional seven-inch single of "Go on Up."

The members admit they've been surprised and impressed by local audiences' openness and enthusiasm, a welcome respite from up north. "Gainesville is a tough crowd," notes White. "Everyone and their brother is in a band. It's very hard to break through because people are playing every night. It's not like in Miami, where there's maybe ten to fifteen bands whose names you hear again and again. In Gainesville there are probably 50 or 60."

Adds Vigliatura: "Miami has been a nice surprise; it validates what we're doing. We have a confidence in the band, and we have fun, but a lot of times when we have fun, it doesn't necessarily mean that everyone else is having fun."

Next up for the band is a fall club tour to coincide with the release of the EP and its national distribution to college and commercial stations. The trip will take For Squirrels to the northeast, then to Texas, Louisiana, and throughout the South, and perhaps west to Los Angeles. In the winter they'll head to the studio to record new material -- if the labels aren't interested, they say, they'll produce it themselves.

"But even getting on a label isn't the final answer," says Vigliatura. "Having a successful [music] career is like playing in the NBA: If you hit, you hit big. But you have a better chance of being struck by lightning. You could always end up being on, say, Polygram, and ending up in the three-dollar rack six weeks later."

Doubt it, Jack.
For Squirrels performs with the Goods, Milk Can, and Fuel on Sunday at 10:00 p.m. at the Stephen Talkhouse (616 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, 531-7557; tickets are $5) and on Monday at America's Birthday Bash Fourth of July celebration beginning at noon at the South End Amphitheater at Bayfront Park (301 Biscayne Blvd, 358-7550; admission is free).

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