The Gretchens are two chicks and two dudes that have been friends for more than 20-years (going back to the days when young Jay Pee Gretchen was still in short pants, in a manner of speaking). Guitarist Joseph Gretchen and virtuoso drummer Homer are both alumni of the long-forgotten Orange County band Flying Spit. Tired of playing Irish folk-tinged punk rock, the two left Flying Spit (who evolved into the Brodies featuring Mike Johnson on bass) to form the Gretchens, with founding members Chacheena (vocals) and Jay Pee Gretchen (bass). The quartet floundered in the early years, struggling to “play” their instruments while honing their distinct sound. They eventually mastered a handful of their own three-chord songs, including: When I’m Gone, Bubblegum Counselor, Sweet Home Norwalk and the classic Oh, Vince! Along with those raw first original tunes, the band churned out a strange mix of cover songs. Their early live set included an interesting interpretation of the Carpenters Top of the World, the Partridge Family’s I Woke Up in Love the Morning, and the Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart–penned (I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone (also performed by the likes of the Monkees, Paul Revere and the Raiders, and the Sex Pistols). For good measure, the band played a rockin’ version of Silent Night year ’round simply because they could.

The initial, rare live appearances of the Gretchens were marred with drunken brawls, technical problems, bloodied hands and run-ins with the law. Despite insurmountable odds, the Gretchens stuck together and continued to make music that truly mattered.

The current and ONLY line-up of the band is:

  • Chacheena Gretchen — vocals (drums on Judy’s Got a Boyfriend)
  • Homer — Drums, backing vocals (lead vocals on Judy’s got a Boyfriend)
  • Jay Pee Gretchen — bass, vocals (Rice Krispie Treat and Wesley Willis)
  • Joseph Gretchen — guitar and fun channel

Patrick Miller was the engineer at the controls for Cover Your Ears. Tatum Mothershead is head of the road crew, principal beer runner, photographer, and groupie.

Southern California’s premier histo-tainer, Charles Phoenix was kind enough to allow the band to use The Hot Dog Show image for the cover of the new Gretchens CD (The Hot Dog Show, Ontario, CA, 1950 © Charles Phoenix, from his book Southern Californialand: Mid-century Culture in Kodachrome, Angel City Press, Santa Monica, 2004).