FRUMP: Rockin’ mamas

Neighborhood resident Mary Hestand alternately growls, screams and croons into the microphone ...

Meet this uniquely maternal presence on the Lakewood music scene

Neighborhood resident Mary Hestand alternately growls, screams and croons into the microphone, seducing her crowd as they jump up and down, fling their arms and legs about, heads bobbing around as if on springs. One fan races around in circles, unable to control his response to the band’s infectious riffs.

Between songs, the other members of the band smile beatifically. They are used to this reaction from the crowd, the pent up energy being released.

“This next song is called ‘Pick Up Your Socks,’” purrs Hestand. There’s a brief moment of silence, and then the song begins, the bands’ members taking turns shrieking into their microphones:

“Pick up your socks!

“Clean up your room!

“Go take a bath!

“And don’t make me come in there!!”

A couple of the band’s newer fans stop dancing, stare wide-eyed at the stage. They haven’t heard this song before, and you can see what’s going on in their heads: Wait, I know this voice … am I in trouble? Just a second ago I was dancing, and now this strange lady who isn’t my mom is yelling …

And then, with a shrug of the shoulders, they dance on.

Confused? The band is called FRUMP, and they play mostly covers, parodies or originals inspired by ’70s and ’80s punk and pop bands such as the Ramones, the Go-Gos, the Monkeys.

But classic old bands aren’t the only thing inspiring FRUMP’s music. They call themselves an all-mom garage band and, indeed, all of the members have children, ranging in age from 3 to 18 years old. Many of their songs — “Pick Up Your Socks,” for example — are inspired by their collective experiences as moms.

“I’d say we all draw on personal experience and frequently try to have a sense of humor about that personal experience,” says Frances Peterson, the group’s guitarist.

It’s a message appreciated by the group’s fans, who are mostly other moms and their children.

“One of the nicest things that the women who come to see us say is, ‘You guys are great. I’m so glad you’re doing this.’ Somebody this morning said to me, ‘You’re just a shining example to the rest of us,’ Peterson says, laughing. “But it was nice to hear. We try to preach the message that moms can do anything. We’re so committed to teaching our kids that they can do anything. We need to remember that we can do anything, too.

“It’s easy to get tied up in the practical responsibilities of being a mom, and forget that you have a responsibility to the creative side of yourself,” she says. “That’s really what we need to bring to our children, especially our girls.”

Which is one reason drummer Suzy Riddle started the band more than two years ago. Riddle, who played drums in college, bought a vintage drum set and started relearning how to play.

“I started to get these ideas about starting an all-mom band,” she says. “Other women had told me they had fantasies of being rock stars, and I thought: Well, I could do this.”

She recruited other women from her church and her kids’ school, and they started practicing in her living room. Peterson says it was Riddle’s decision to name the band FRUMP, a choice she appreciates.

“All of us sort of eased into middle age reluctantly,” Peterson says. “It’s just a whole different society that you move into after you have been an artist or an actor, or you’ve been in a creative role. You have children, and your time for creativity is greatly lessened.

“And you do start feeling kind of frumpy, kind of overweight, getting a little wrinkled, menopause staring you in the face. That was her need for the name. Like the saying: Let’s call a spade a spade? Well, let’s call a frump a frump. But let’s go outside that stereotype, and let’s be frumps in our way.”

The band’s first gig was at Riddle’s 40th birthday party. They knew four songs, including the crowd-pleasing parody of the Go-Gos “We Got the Beat,” which FRUMP calls “We’re Really Beat.”

“A couple hundred people were there,” Riddle says. “It was really fun.”

Soon, they were getting more attention than they’d bargained for. A filmmaker friend shot footage of the band for the week leading up to the birthday show and made a documentary, showing it at film festivals around the country. A Dallas Morning News story went out over the Associated Press wire for publications through the world, and friends from around the country started calling.

One phone call surprised them more than others. Someone from The Tonight Show contacted Riddle, who, on Sept. 10, 2001, sent in a tape of the band to the show’s producers. She never heard back, though she figures it had more to do with the events of 9-11 than anything else. The band took it in their usual stride.

“We’ve all decided we’d much rather be on Letterman anyway,” Peterson says.

In fact, achieving national fame isn’t what they’re about, though it isn’t as if they don’t have their goals. Since starting, the band has more than quadrupled its song list, and now all the members are writing original songs. Though most of their tunes are what they call “G-rated,” they do others that are meant for a more adult audience. They released a kids’ CD last fall, and hope to record a few more mini-CDs over the coming months. And they stay busy playing charity, school and library functions, where their little fans have a great time jiggling around.

“Kids really have a good time listening to us,” Riddle says. “ There’s always a bunch of kids right down front, jumping up and down. We call it the kids’ mosh pit.”

For now, the band is content to impress local moms and evoke the inner punk rockers in their children. As for their own children, FRUMP’s members insist the kids aren’t embarrassed by them.

“Our kids are really proud of us,” says Riddle, whose kids range in age from 5 to 18. “My 10-year-old, she thinks I’m a rock star. My oldest daughter, she went to [Booker T. Washington] arts magnet, and a lot of the kids there had heard about us. It was cool for her.”

Peterson echoes those sentiments.

“They really love it. They want to start a band themselves,” she says. “My 7-year-old, she wants to sing and play guitar just like me. It makes me feel really good.”

For information about FRUMP, visit frump.com.


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