Rock and roll has a history of power pairings, where the lead singer and the lead guitarist become almost an entity unto themselves – Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Stones or Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith might immediately come to mind to many music fans. In this region, we have our own version of the Glimmer Twins in Jeff Zimmerman and Michael Eudis of The Hipakritz, this year’s winner for Best Rock Band in the 30th Annual Review Music Awards.
As much as the band is identified with the two, it is also easy to think of The Hipakritz as a family tree, seeing many of the area’s notable musicians moving through their ranks over the years, with alumni going on to join groups like Jedi Mind Trip, Burnaround and Tweed & Dixie, among others. This year’s Award for Best Rock Band is the first for the group, whose current line-up consists of Zimmerman, Eudis, John Willing, Jon Dillman and Steve (Part Time) Gould.
The band came into existence when Zimmerman, then fronting a unit known as Hipakrit Fish, joined forces with Eudis, recently of the popular band Shovel, approximately 15 years ago. You can hear the pair’s hard rock sensibilities in their set list, largely built around 1990’s and 2000’s alternative rock and punk pop. Mix in a catalog of “bar band classics” on call if the crowd requests, partial male nudity (more on this later), a whole lot of energy, and you have an idea of a Hipakritz show.
My first question to the pair was actually one of advice. Given their ability to keep the Hipakritz franchise rolling along this long, did they have any advice for others that might wish to make their mark as a gigging act.
Mike was very quick to answer, “You have to remember that you are there to entertain the crowd.”
Jeff added quickly, “Absolutely. You are playing for the crowd, not for yourself. I’ve been in a band where all we did was the songs we really liked and no one came to watch. We try to play the songs that are going to get people off, rather than only the songs we love that no one else really wants to hear.”
At this point I got a real sense of the camaraderie between the two when Eudis said, “Sometimes, even after 15 years, we’ll be playing and everyone is having a good time and I look at Jeff, he looks and me and we realize that we just love it. That’s why I am still doing it. I guess I got happy.”
One difference you will notice when you go to a Hipakritz gig is they certainly play the room – almost like it’s a member of the band sometimes. The seminal Hipakritz image is any one of Zimmerman, shirtless, showing off a pretty impressive collection of tattoos, standing on a table or a speaker stack, belting out an anthem like Drowning Pool’s “Let The Bodies Hit The Floor.”
Eudis seems resigned to this, when he said: “All the best pictures of the band, Jeff is the one who gets to look cool. I am just kind of in it.” (I promise you, Mike, we were laughing with you, not at you.) Over the years this energy and ability to fill a stage have landed them opening slots for bands like Finding Clyde, Janie Layne and Skid Row.
Eudis was actually quick to correct my wording when I asked him to say something about the fan support it took for them to pick up this year’s award when he said: “We don’t have fans. Rocks stars have fans. We play in a cover band. What we have are friends.”
The other thing that Eudis made clear was how he has come to understand what the Review Awards actually mean to the regional music community.
“I am glad to be behind Bob Martin and the Review on this. He does all of this for the musicians and he doesn’t have to. Who wins is kind of inconsequential. It’s a night where all the musicians get together and celebrate the scene together.”
Zimmerman added “I love it. You get to see people you don’t get to see. And you might even see Melissa May dressed up like Mad Max for her set. It is just great.”
In a way, Eudis summed up the whole conversation when he stated: “It’s all just fun. I love being in a band and I will continue doing it as long as things are fun.”
From all observations, that point doesn’t seem to be coming any point soon. The Hipakritz. They are where they party is.
9th February, 2024