Neal Augenstein, wtop.com
WASHINGTON – Whether it’s spelled Christmas or X-mas, a long-rocking Virginia Beach band got tired of hearing about the so-called “war on Christmas,” and decided to try to settle the controversy with a catchy, hummable pop song.
And the help of some famous friends.
“Last year the war on Christmas was ginning up again, and I wanted to write a very sincere song about the fact that Christmas isn’t about war, it’s about love and peace,” says Seth Gordon, guitarist, singer and co-founder of The Mockers.
Lyrics include the following:
It doesn’t really matter if you use an X or C
I doubt that Jesus would have cared
They both spell ‘love’ to me
So you can wish me Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays
You’re only saying ‘peace on Earth’ in many different ways.
“I think that’s what Jesus was trying to say,” opines Gordon, who is Jewish.
“In the hallowed tradition of Jews writing, hopefully, classic Christmas songs – there are actually three Jews in the band,” says Gordon, alluding to songs stretching from Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas,” to Johnny Marks’ “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” and Joey Ramone’s “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight).”
Co-founder, bassist and singer Tony Leventhal and guitarist, producer and singer Robbie Rist, whose initial claim to fame was his role as Cousin Oliver in the Brady Bunch sitcom, also are Jewish.
Luis “Weedge” Herrera plays drums and sings.
Well-pedigreed friends add to the lush orchestration of Gordon’s song, as well as Leventhal’s contribution to the “double a-side” release, “(What’s A Better Present) At Christmas Time.”
“The glockenspiel and bells are played by Christian Nesmith, who has a pretty famous father: Mike Nesmith from The Monkees,” says Gordon.
“We told Robbie,’It’s a Christmas song, it has to be overproduced,'” jokes Gordon.
“We have lots of keyboards, and organs, and big vocals and a bunch of our friends in the studio for a big chorale effect at the end.”
One of those friends lending backing vocals is Derrick Anderson, who now plays bass with The Bangles.
Gordon acknowledges he was inspired by previous Christmas hits.
“My two favorite rock Christmas songs that I was kind of going for was ‘Father Christmas’ by the Kinks and ‘Merry X-mas Everybody,’ by Slade.”
The two Christmas songs won’t appear on a future album, Gordon says, reminiscent of Christmas singles released in the 1960s and 1970s.
“We actually considered releasing it on vinyl, because frankly, people don’t buy CDs anymore,” says Gordon.
“It’s either vinyl for collectors or mp3s for everybody else.”
Disclaimer: WTOP’s Neal Augenstein played in a band, Cheap Dates, that opened for The Mockers, circa 1988.
(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)