While Conley's own quest for R.A. started in St. Paul, where she attended Central High School, her bandmates (save for drummer Gary Weis, a.k.a. Guy Incognito) are out-of-towners. Bleach-blond bassist Tom Meehan (a.k.a. Mr. Black) is a vet of probably the finest Jewish punk band ever to emerge from Iowa, Total Passover. Ramin and Staggs both hail from Williamsport, Pennsylvania, a sleepy lumber and steel town tucked in a valley surrounded by mountains, and home to the Little League World Series.
"Nothing big ever came through town," Ramin remembers. "We were able to have punk concerts and high school bands, but we had to do it ourselves." Ramin booked a Williamsport show by Conley's old band Speedway (with Tom Rosenthal of Magnatone and the Foxfire Coffee Lounge) and offered to sit in on drums when their skin-kicker was unable to travel. Soon, he found himself recruited to join them in the Cities. "The first concert I came to here, I couldn't believe how everyone was just planted," he says. "Where we come from, it didn't matter who it was: People would dance."
Hoping to liven things up, Ramin's new JetStar label will be releasing records by the Odd, power-poppers Candygirl, and like-minded rock hedonists the Dirty Robbers and the Midnight Evils. With this emerging scene around them, the band hopes to inject a few pre-punk notions of fantasy and flash into the DIY culture they were reared on. Conley and company may also be the first band tuneful and fast enough to bridge the underage punk movement in which they got their start in 1996 and the liquored Turf Club hipster ghetto they now inhabit. "Our best shows have been in basements," Conley says. "I'm not into the insider politics of it, but I still consider myself a punk. Down to my bones."
The Short Fuses perform an 8:00 p.m. in-store concert at Cheapo Uptown on Friday, May 14th; (612) 827-8238. They also perform in the 7th Street Entry on Sunday, May 16 with the Eyeliners and the Groovie Ghoulies; (612) 338-8388. JetStar holds a label showcase on Wednesday, May 19 at the Turf Club, featuring the Odd, the Short Fuses, and Candygirl; (651) 647-0486.