The talent: Chad Willenborg (guitar/vocals), John Morgan (drums/percussion), Jim Scharosch (bass/vocals)
The sound: Rock, pure and simple
The gigs: Saturday @ Next Door, 1736 16th Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids
The rest of the story: www.knubby.net
It’s a little odd to picture, but the most entertaining rock in Cedar Rapids might just come from a self-proclaimed “power trio” of 40-somethings with a funny name and a mascot that looks like a tubby blob of, well, Knubby.
Spotted mostly at Tornado’s Grub and Pub in Cedar Rapids, Knubby is a local gem formed nearly two years ago by a group of longtime friends who took it upon themselves to take the music seriously and themselves a little less so. Thus, Knubby – a “purposefully obtuse” name according to Chad Willenborg, guitar and vocals – and the little green slacker-blob were born.
Knubby has a Green Day sensibility (fun, Dookie-era Green Day, not lame, socially conscious modern Green Day) and a rock sound reminiscent of their many influences – The Who, Cheap Trick and more recent throwbacks like Queens of the Stone Age and the Racquenteurs.
Their brand of rock – look especially for “Giant’s Foot” and “Feral Hogg” on “Knubby 2″ – leads to the kind of involuntary vertical head rocking reserved for rock without qualifiers. They string together catchy hooks and infectiously goofy lyrics (“big as a car, this monster boar… chase it across the forest floor … nothing you’ve ever seen before … come one down and you’ll get yours … FERAL HOGG!”), making them stand out in a crowded local scene.
Their sound is much refined between their first and second CDs (bassist Jim Scharosch has a recording studio in his basement where he’s produced a number of albums, including both of Knubby’s), largely the result of time off during the floods when the band was able to devote more effort to writing and crafting their songs. The result is a unique sound that not only let’s them stand out locally, but distances them from their influences and gives them their own identity.
“We take what we do seriously,” says John Morgan. “At the same time, we don’t take ourselves seriously.”
That attitude has served Knubby well in a sea of younger bands, including Chad’s own son’s band, which opened for Knubby just last week. Still, this power trio of fathers and fortysomethings isn’t going anywhere.
“I’ll keep playing as long as it keeps being fun and is a creative outlet,” Chad says. “It’s fun. It’s straight ahead power trio.”