BU Rocks: Couple Finally Meet, Then Pump Out the Punk
BU editors sing, play keyboard in the Sprained Ankles
BU and rock ‘n’ roll are in a long-term relationship — just ask the members of Aerosmith, who got their start playing parties in the dorms. Kenmore Square and the BU campus have changed since then, but the University’s musical tradition is still going strong. This week, we highlight five BU bands to watch for.
Click on the audio player to hear the Sprained Ankles perform "How’s It Feel to Be Wrong."
Looking back, it seems that for years BU editor Andrea Baird was just one step away from meeting her boyfriend, fellow editor Patrick Kennedy. Baird (COM’05) started in the graduate journalism program at the College of Communication just after Kennedy (COM’04) graduated. When she took a job in the Office of Development and Alumni Relations, she was assigned the cubicle next to the one he’d just vacated. Somehow, they worked on the same floor for a year and never met.
Baird and Kennedy finally were introduced at a Christmas party in December 2006, and today, not only are the two a couple, but they’re hard-rocking bandmates in a quirky monster-mash-infused punk outfit called the Sprained Ankles.
“We totally have an ABBA/Fleetwood Mac thing going on,” says Kennedy, “with Andrea and me being an item and the other backup singer being the drummer’s wife.”
Kennedy, the editor of two newsletters put out by the Office of Creative Services, the College of Communication’s COMtalk and the School of Education’s Update, plays keyboards, and Baird is one of the Brides of Tankenstein, the band’s backup doo-wop duo.
“The way I got involved was they needed backup singers, and I was the second nearest victim,” recalls Baird, a senior editor and writer at Development and Alumni Relations. “Our drummer’s wife was the first nearest victim, but she didn’t want to do it by herself, so they recruited me. I don’t have much of a musical background. I’m a making-it-up-as-I-go-along backup singer.”
Longtime musician Kennedy plays in several bands. A year and a half ago, the drummer in one of them decided to front a new retro punk band. The seven-member motley crew that assembled became the Sprained Ankles, which occasionally features a pizza-toting wolfman mascot, a reference to one of their more popular tunes, "Randy, the Rock ’n’ Roll Pizza Wolf." The band has recorded a six-track CD and in March played its first gig in New York City.
“It’s punk rock, garage rock,” says Kennedy. “It’s ’50s throwback rock and roll, but unique in that the lyrics are just bizarre. ‘Tankenstein’ is about a man made out of tank parts. ‘Axe Gnome’ is just over the top.”
“I think ‘goofy’ is the word that makes it into every review,” Baird says with a laugh.
The Boston Phoenix describes the band as “a recent and welcome addition to the pantheon of certifiably loony Boston garage-punk maniacs.” And the Somerville News writes about an appearance at the Abbey Lounge: “The seven-member band buzzed like a burnt-out speaker, but inside the almost-cacophony were sweet melodic lines you could trace back to doo-wop bands such as the Coasters.”
And what do Baird’s and Kennedy’s coworkers think of their post-5 p.m. lives?
“In Creative Services, you could do a whole article,” Kennedy says. “Our IT guy was in a punk band back in the day. Two of the typesetters are in bands. The print buyer books at the Abbey Lounge.”
“We all go to each other’s shows,” says Baird. “My personal fan base is almost entirely drawn from my office.”
You don’t have to be a scenester to enjoy a Sprained Ankles gig, according to Kennedy. “We’re pretty accessible,” he says. “It’s nothing earth-shattering, but it’s pretty fun.”
Baird agrees. “I always wanted to be in a band, and I was always pretty terrified of it,” she says. “Pat kind of forced me into it, and I’m so glad he did. I’m having so much fun.”
“And ironically,” Kennedy says, “she will be the one who gets a singing contract, leaves BU, and leaves us all behind.”
The Sprained Ankles played on July 19 at Great Scott in Allston at the Rippin’est Town Rally IV.
Caleb Daniloff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story originally ran March 11, 2008.+ Comments