Hairball to rock fairgrounds in ‘big’ way

By Craig Purcell

There was a time in many of our pasts when everything about rock-and-roll, from its characters and costumes to the on-stage productions and even bandmembers’ hair, were larger than life.

Seasoned rockers who survived it the first time, as well as young fans new to the spectacle, can relive the spirit of rocking and rolling all night and partying every day by raising their fists for Hairball, who lights up the amps and the stage at the Delaware County Fairgrounds Sunday, May 27.

Hairball is a six-man band consisting of “Happy” (guitar), “Freaky” (bass) and “Billy” (drums), and singers “Joe,” “Kris” and “Bobby.” With the three musicians onstage the entire show, the singers alternate, with one manning the mic while the other two get into costumes and wigs for their impressions of the vocalists from Motley Crue, KISS, Journey and Def Leppard, to name but a few.

During a recent telephone interview, Happy said of their typical gig, “If you go see a Hairball show, you’re going to see one of the greatest rock-and-roll smorgasbord experiences ever. Hairball is the preservation society for what is cool in rock-and-roll. We represent a day when it was arenas and theatrics. With the images and the presentations, you didn’t have to be in the front row. It’s all big artists with visual impact, and whose music has given them staying power.”

The band itself has been around for nearly 20 years, growing out of a goof. “Hairball started as a kind of comedy act,” said Happy. “We got into it and it began evolving and revealing its own path. We kept upping the theatrics and making the rock show more authentic, and people began taking to it. We took some of the comedy out and sank money into better outfits, pyrotechnics and video.”

Don’t think for a second that Hairball sacrifices substance for style — these boys can rock. “We deliver the intensity the music has,” Happy said. “It’s still cool to land a jump and have fire go off. We’re basically a bunch of guys who haven’t figured out how to grow up.”

Which is not to say that they don’t have to deal with grown-up concerns. After having his hip replaced earlier in the year, Happy was still not feeling his best and was recently diagnosed with stage 3 esophageal cancer.

“I’ve got my battles that I need to balance right now but I have a good outlook on that,” he said. “I’ve been quite open with fans about what’s going on. At this point, I’m good and will hopefully be playing in Manchester.”

Happy has been working with another guitarist who will be able to step in for him if he needs some time to rest from any future treatments or procedures. “Whether I’m there or not, my heartbeat is always in Hairball,” he said. Happy is adamant about not wanting Hairball to become, in his words, “Cancer coming to Manchester.”

He’d rather fans come out for the fun the show provides. “Everybody has a different experience. I just want to know that they walked out of there with a smile on their face and that they felt good.”