October 5, 2006
After hearing Lou Cucinelli’s voice on my answering machine, suggesting I meet his band at Mad Anthony Brewing Co. on a Sunday afternoon, I more or less assumed he might be the lead-talker of the nearly-year-old band I, Wombat. Knowing that the get-together would not depart from my typical Sunday afternoon at the brew pub was a nice bonus, and I looked forward to talking to all five members of the Fort Wayne-based post-hardcore band. After asking MABC employee Jay Deleon (he knew the band) to steer the gang in my direction, I ordered a Pale and waited for Lou and his bandmates to join me. They arrived soon and we jumped into a warm-up discussion about other local artists before digging into the I, Wombat tale. Lanky lead singer Chad Fry was wearing a Tito Discovery shirt he had picked up the night before from that band’s triumphant return after a messy split. We all agreed that Tito singer Johnny Revers has the talent and swagger to be a star in any city.
I soon found that I was wrong in presuming that Cucinelli would be the spokesmen for the Wombats. A one-on-one conversation with Lou might have given me enough information to write a piece about the band, but the soft-spoken guitarist never had a chance in the company of Fry and guitarist ("left guitar," in his words) Ben Larson. Fry and Larson took control of the discussion early and were (thankfully) informative as well as gifted raconteurs. These two guided me through the band’s evolution while adding some (just a guess) band folklore for good measure.
Attempting to squeeze into the verbal mix was bass player Darren Monroe, who alone resides at I, Wombat world headquarters on the south side of Fort Wayne. Drummer Marc Accilien calls that part of town “Wombatland” and since the others claim that Accilien doubles as band security (he’s not lanky), I decided I wouldn’t question that proclamation. Accilien handles the band’s booking as well.
I, Wombat were put together by Cucinelli, Fry and Monroe in June of 2005 after their previous band (the beloved Pwince) peacefully fell apart, or as Monroe put it, “It just sort of fizzled out.”
The trio took a short break to attend to real world matters but soon recruited Monroe and Accilien in order to jump back into the fray. Accilien had previously played drums with the Lollygaggers, while Larson was mostly playing solo acoustic shows. All five are just into their 30s.
Larson suggests that the Pwince trio “collectively had a premonition that before too long they would start a band with Marc and I.”
Larson then described Fry’s omen that occurred outside the Brass Rail (the band’s favorite place to play) involving a small boy eating a corndog and a moose crossing Broadway. Ignore that at your own peril. Pwince had to die. I, Wombat were born.
After a few months of practice, I, Wombat unveiled its tight, aggressive two-guitar onslaught at a November Bottoms Up show that also featured Moser Woods and Vomitron. They have since played around 20 shows and are finishing up their first full-length with hopes for a release before year’s end.
Monroe records the band in his basement studio and will release the record on his own Deuce Tone Records. Two songs I dare you to get out of your head, “POS” and “The Deuce,” are currently available on the band’s MySpace page.
I, Wombat recently participated in the whatzup Battle of the Bands III where they were just a few chicken suits short of advancing to the final round. Videos from that performance are posted on the MySpace site, which links from their official site (www.wombatrocks.com).
I, Wombat have an enviable ability to handle the various components of producing and promoting themselves. The DIY approach is nothing new to an unsigned band, but this crew has skills and connections that would seem to make them a self-contained production and promo.