John Nichols, the band's singer and organist (who's been working for an airline since '83), explains their archetypal band story like this: "Through the Village Voice and Rolling Stone, we could see there was a music scene going at Max's Kansas City in New York Blondie was starting up, and Television.
"You could order bootleg tapes of shows at Max's. We'd order the tapes and listen to them. We just got really enthused about how it might not be that hard to put a band together and play your own music."
Before long, the Embos (as the band and its fans are still known) were critically lauded, top five in college radio, and headlining New York hot spots like CBGBs. "They were impressed something would come out of Kansas," chuckles Nichols.
From 1979 to 1983, the Embarrassment was the crown jewel of a noisy, funny, independent and intense local scene that included bands such as the Mortal Micronotz, the Yard Apes, the Gardrails and Get Smart bands not quite punk, more complicated than new wave and ... kind of normal. "We were definitely not spandex," Nichols says. "We didn't have safety pins or torn-up clothes. Before grunge was there, we were just grungy." With their gogglish late-'70s glasses and mussed-up hair, they gave the audience the gift of looking just like them. Then they'd thrash through their frantic rock songs about lusting after Bewitched's star ("Elizabeth Montgomery's Face") and going on a "Sex Drive."
The Embarrassment, in fact, has already been staked out for a movie. "The impetus [for the reunion shows] was an independent videographer from New York," Nichols explains. "He's working on a video piece he feels he can turn into a feature-length ... something: a made-for-TV movie, or a movie or whatever it happens to be. We renewed our contact with each other. We just thought, Hey, let's get together and play this summer."
The band has planned one-week reacquaintance rehearsal in Wichita. The guys are serious about this. "It's been a long time since we've done this, but we've got a pretty thick set list we're working on," Nichols says. "We'll make sure we're in fine form."
So will we.