This is Scranton Potato

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First Posted: 3/30/2015

In the blatantly cartoonish, image-driven lineage of bands like GWAR, Steel Panther and Dethklok, comes NEPA’s first entry into the tongue-in-cheek rock ‘n roll circus – Scranton Potato.

Formed in the Electric City just a few short months ago, Scranton Potato may be gimmicky, but the level of clench-fisted resolve and technically vibrant musicianship within the band’s ranks belies the short gestation period. If chatting with the members of Scranton Potato is any indication, this is a band destined for instant notoriety, if not outright legend.

“Even though we may be the newest band on the scene, there’s no doubt that we are the best,” quips Scranton Potato’s outspoken lead vocalist, “His Most Highness,” Scranton Potato himself. Potato’s namesake band, consisting of rhythm guitarist Sid Spud, Vinny Au Gratin on lead guitar, bassist Harry Hashbrown, keyboardist Frenchy Fry, and drummer Mikey Masher, in just a few short months, has already managed to get into some hot water due to a seeming lack of verbal inhibition.

“Well, let’s just say that we have a bit of venom to spit upon our audiences,” Potato said. “Anyone that comes to our live show should expect to get insulted – and insulted badly. I mean, come on – if I see somebody up front wearing a pair of overalls, or some other ridiculous getup all you backwoods fools in town wear, I’m gonna let ‘em have it.”

For all the trash-talking and awkward imagery this band conjures, it was a blazing note-for-note reading of Mozart’s “Requiem in D Minor” by guitarist Au Gratin, buzzing past everyone assembled in the band’s rehearsal room in the basement of the Glider Diner that turned heads. The classically trained six-string virtuoso was in rare form, perhaps out to prove to the media that his band was, in fact, the real deal.

“You know, due to a severe slip-and-fall accident years back on a banana peel, I swing aimlessly back and forth between electrified Mozart, Bach, and Paganini licks,” Au Gratin said. “It’s the strangest thing – I go from that type of stuff into a bluegrass version of my favorite track – Starship’s ‘We Built This City.’

Echoing Au Gratin’s personal revelation, Scranton Potato’s setlist is a veritable head-scratcher. A cover of Britney Spears’ 90’s pop gem “Oops! I Did It Again” is nestled alongside the public domain “I’m a Little Teapot” and the band’s original material like the “mash pit”-ready “Swimming in Grease” and the moving ballad, “Seasoned To Perfection.”

“I’m a Berklee grad,” proudly interjects Potato drummer Masher, speaking of the Boston musical institution that spawned artists like Steve Vai and Melissa Etheridge. “Frankly, that makes me better than any other musician in this area. I’m light years beyond anyone in terms of technicality. Maybe they’ll recognize that at those Steamtown Awards y’all got coming up this year.”

Scranton Potato has also made some claims to career-making opportunities in the near future – none of which can be verified at the moment.

“We were just selected to headline this summer’s Lilith Fair,” Potato said, with bassist Hashbrown giving a high five to his singer upon utterance. When pressed as to how a band comprised with not one single female member can even participate in a festival that’s been defunct for several years, Potato sheepishly answered, “Oh wait, that’s actually the Wayne County Fair. Sorry about that one.”

Keyboardist Fry was quick to pounce, though, with a retort.

“We’re still playing the main stage at this year’s Lollapalooza in Chicago,” he said. “I got a cousin in Los Angeles that knows Perry Farrell’s (Jane’s Addiction frontman, festival founder) pool cleaner, who said we’re in. We can’t wait. That huge crowd in Chicago’s Grant Park is gonna be nuts – I always wanted to play there in the great state of Texas.”

Looking forward to more 2015 highlights like the recording of their debut CD, Scranton Potato already has a plan of attack.

“We’re going to rent a flatbed and play driving up and down Lackawanna Avenue to announce the CD’s release,” Potato said. “That’s just our way of saying that we declare war on the Scranton music scene. Wanna know how good our CD’s going to be? The old Capitol Records plant in Southside is coming back to life just to press our vinyl. It’s so good that Camelot Music is going to reappear in every mall again just to sell our merch.”

Before finishing up with the band, it was noted how strangely silent for the duration of the interview rhythm guitarist Sid Spud had been. He was asked why he’d been so distant.

“Because,” he begins with a look falling somewhere between startled and tickled, “I just finished writing a song so epic that I literally blew my own mind. No, seriously, can you call an ambulance – my head really hurts. This interview’s over.”