Throttle Back Sparky was an American rock band that played in and around Los Angeles in 2000. The band's was formed by Allen Lulu and Jon Rosenberg after the two New York University college friends reunited at the Music Night, an occasional late night program where theater members and affiliate actors and musicians would come together to play original songs and covers in the relaxed atmosphere of the post-main-stage venue.
The original lineup of the band was mostly an ad-hoc assortment of Music Night performers and their acquaintances.
Band Members Edit
- Allen Lulu - Lead Vocals (2000–2006)
- Iden Kamishin - Lead Guitar (2000–2006)
- David Holcomb - Rhythm Guitar (2000–2006)
- Scott Brown - Bass (2004–2006)
- Pat Godwin - Drums (2005–2006)
- Crystal Keith - Backup Vocals (2000–2006)
- Gary Viggers - Bass (2000–2003)
- Damon Stout - Bass & Producer (2004)
- Todd Myers - Drums (2000–2005)
- Deena Rubinson - Backup Vocals (2000–2004)
- Jon Rosenberg - Percussion & Producer (2000)
- Doug Gochman - Guitar (2000)
- Mary Hayes - Backing Vocals (2000)
Robbie Rist - Producer (2005)
Great Big Mardi Gras Head EP Edit
Produced by Jon Rosenberg. Co-Produced by Allen Lulu
- Sacajawea (Lulu/Rosenberg)
- Babbling Brooke (Lulu)
- Rubberburner (Kamishin/Lulu/Rosenberg/Viggers)
- Great Big Mardi Gras Head (Kamishin/Lulu/Rosenberg)
- Prozac Grrl (Lulu)
- Serial Monogamy (Lulu/Rosenberg)
- Riding in the Whirlwind (Lulu/Rosenberg/Viggers)
Throttle Back Sparky Edit
Produced by Robbie Rist except where noted (*)
- Another Hoop (Lulu)
- Joey Enough (Throttle Back Sparky)
- Devil Got Shot (Kamishin/Lulu/Rosenberg)
- She Bop (Chertoff/Corbett/Lauper/Lunt)
- Beatrice (Holcomb/Kamishin/Lulu/Rosenberg)
- Hellraiser (Chinn/Chapman)
- Age of Consent (Holcomb/Kamishin/Lulu)*
- Pyrite (Holcomb/Kamishin/Lulu/Rosenberg)*
- Trusted (Holcomb/Lulu w/additional lyrics by Deena Rubinson)*
- 1,000 Years (Lulu)
- Angelyne (Holcomb/Lulu)
*Produced by Throttle Back Sparky
Encouraged by Sacred Fools founding member Jonathan Goldstein to bring an original song he had written for his brother's wedding to "Music Night", lead singer Allen Lulu began writing songs in earnest, bringing sometimes two or three new compositions to the concerts, which were held weekly during the spring and summer of 2000. It was there that Lulu and Rosenberg began their songwriting partnership.
After a handful of Music Night performances the duo decided to put an actual band together, made up mostly of musicians and actors they knew from Sacred Fools. This original line-up would only perform once, opening Music Night with a three song set consisting of "Sacajawea" by Lulu & Rosenberg and "Riding in the Whirlwind" by Lulu, Rosenberg & Viggers and "Prozac Grrl" by Lulu.
On the "strength" of a particularly low-fi and poorly recorded demo the band procured their first gig at The Gig in Hollywood. Before this first concert the band reconfigured into the seven-piece it would more closely resemble for much of its existence.
Early on in the band's existence it was suggested to (then third guitar) Lulu that he might want to "not play". "You're really bad." was how his musicianship was described to him by Kamishin and Holcomb and Viggers.
Realizing that they were entirely correct, Lulu put down his acoustic/electric Takamine and picked up the microphone, effectively changing from "Band Member" to "Front Man", taking his performance cues from Freddie Mercury and Bruce Springsteen. From that point the band settled into a formation of Lulu as front man, flanked to his right by Keith and Rubinson, behind them or to their right (depending on stage size) was Holcomb. On stage left was Kamishin with Viggers and Myers in the pocket in the back.
In late 2000, while waiting to enter the gate to the Warner Brothers lot for an audition for "The Norm Show", a pickup truck backed up into Lulu's Mazda Miata instead of going forward to the parking lot.
Lulu bounded out of his car, shouting maniacally and the driver casually emerged from the truck and said, "Woah, throttle back, Sparky. It's all good."
The audition was cancelled (as was The Norm Show) but Lulu realized, while running the incident back in his head, that the driver had given him the perfect name for the band. The rest of the band agreed. Although, the comma between "Back" and "Sparky" would not be added until the self-titled album and was never part of the band's name, leaving no people around the world to wonder, "Is 'Sparky" being told to 'Throttle Back' or is 'Throttle Back' the nickname for 'Sparky'?". This question was often not followed with "Who the hell is 'Sparky'?" and "Why doesn't 'Sparky' just take an Atavan if he is so wound up???"
Described by producer Rist as "Seven people, each with different records in their record collections, vibrating at different frequencies, held together by rubber bands" the band quickly began to make a name for itself in the burgeoning power-pop Los Angeles scene, led by groups like The Piper Downs, The Andersons!, Four Star Mary, B9, Powder, Jed, SparkleJets*U.K., Dalton Grant & Drag.
The 90s influenced lead guitar licks of Kamishin melded with the southern classic rock/Kiss oriented style of Holcomb supported the "Meatloaf meets Jello Biafra" histrionics of Lulu were all complemented by up front backup singers Keith and Rubinson atop a jazz/pop bedrock of Viggers & Myers (later Myers & Brown, later Godwin & Brown).
Their sets would often see Lulu leaping into the crowd to Swing-Dance with some audience member during the New Orleans ode, "Great Big Mardi Gras Head", a crowd favorite which the band later turned into a post-Katrina dirge for the victims in New Orleans. Known also for their retro covers of Cyndi Lauper's "She Bop", a song about female masturbations sung by Lulu as well as The Sweet's "Hellraiser", often mistaken for a long-lost Mötley Crüe song.
The band's oeuvre ran the gamut from two minute punk homages (The Ramones influenced, "Joey Enough") to epic stadium anthems ("Age of Consent" & "Trusted").
Known for their high energy shows, they would often describe their performances as "if someone paid $10 to see us, we should give them a $50 show".
During the course of their six-year career they would frequent the Los Angeles club scene, most notably playing shows as The Gig, The Joint, Coconut Teaszer, The Whiskey-a-Go-Go, The Derby, The Hard Rock Cafe among many others. They would sometimes play out as far as Thousand Oaks, but they hated the drive and Las Vegas, a drive they hated much less because, casinos.
They also played South by Southwest in 2003 on a bill with Los Angeles band, Drag, far off the strip in a bar called The Filling Station. Their set was almost cut short because they started late, having to help move the piano off the stage so they and the other bands could play.
In 2006, Lulu's daughter, Elizabeth (Lizzie) who had been a lifelong sufferer of Cystic Fibrosis, was hospitalized for the last time. A lover of the band, Lizzie often talked about how she wanted to start her own band, The Sparkettes, and her face adorned the cover of the band's first EP.
In May of that year Lizzie succumbed to her disease and, shortly thereafter, her father established a Scholarship in her name (The Elizabeth Lulu Scholarship Foundation) to benefit college bound teens who suffer from the same disease.
To kick off the foundation, the band played a show at the same venue that had given them their start.
Unbeknownst to the rest of the band, Lulu had confided to his wife and family that this show was to be his last concert. His intent being to dissolve the band; the association with his daughter too much for him to bear and the joy he felt performing on the stage "began to feel hollow, like I wasn't really there."
As of May 2016, no incarnation of Throttle Back Sparky has ever performed again.