Our story begins in the humble city of Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Woonsocket is a Nipmuc Indian word meaning, "This place is so stupid, we should just call it Woonsocket." 'Twas once a booming textile mill community, one of the birthplaces of the Industrial Revolution. The world's very first pair of sneakers was manufactured in Woonsocket. (Eventually they made more.) Anyway, it was here that the future members of the Sponge Awareness Foundation first met. For this reason alone, Woonsocket is a city with every right to be highly ashamed.
Ed and Kevin met as tenth grade students at a high school populated by hockey players, rich kids, and miscellaneous weirdos (any guesses as to which category they belonged?). Ed played trumpet in the school band, but had greater musical aspirations. He taught himself to play the keyboard, and to read and write music. Eventually Ed was composing pieces for the entire band to perform, such as the humbly-titled Edgarmania, and the awkwardly-spelled Fanfareic Overture. For an English assignment, Ed wrote a children's story called No One Liked the Tuba, a title that would resurface years later as a SAF song. Meanwhile, Kevin was goofing off in the school's art department. He completed all his art assignments at home, so he could devote art class to more important activities, such as composing and performing Letterman-style top ten lists. Ed and Kevin's first creative collaboration was an odd short play called Strangers in the Light (also an English assignment). This was another title that would appear again someday, as a line in the SAF song "Coffee and Cartoons."
It was also in high school that Ed became a founding member of the legendary rock band Vortex. These guys could party like it was 1988. Because, you know, it was. They covered stuff like Poison, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Whitesnake, you name it. Hair metal at its finest. Kevin, while not yet ready to step in front of a microphone, was along for the Vortex experience nonetheless; he worked the lights at the band's live shows. (Vortex did several shows at local "all ages" — meaning "loser teen" — rock clubs, where they were booked alongside scary bands that played real metal. No one from our school had even heard an Anthrax song before.) Kevin also designed the Vortex logo, and provided the cover art for the band's self-produced cassette album Playground Closed. (Fun fact: Many years later, Kevin found a Vortex tape for sale at a flea market, way overpriced at $3.50.)
Then it was off to college. Ed studied computer science and started a short-lived pop band called Wet Paint. Meanwhile, Kevin went to art school and started mailing Pop-Tarts to his friends. (It works! You can address them, stamp them, and drop them in the mail like postcards! But don't do it. It's annoying.) Midway through their first year at school, Kevin filled a page with completely nonsensical lyrics, titled it "The Grim Wombat Parade," and sent it to Ed, along with a challenge to set the thing to music. Ed swiftly composed a clever marching tune for the moronic lyrics, and the first (and possibly worst) Sponge Awareness Foundation song was born.
Except, of course, that Ed and Kevin didn't know it was a Sponge Awareness Foundation song; they were not yet using a group name at all. However, "The Grim Wombat Parade" did get things started. A couple of demo recordings of the song were attempted, first with former Vortex singer/drummer Dave on lead vocals, and then with Kevin giving it a try. (Trying and failing, that is. That was a sad little recording...) Soon Kevin and Ed were mailing lyric sheets and cassettes back and forth, and more weird little songs were born, such as "Coffee and Cartoons", "Dance the Onion", "Alice", and "Roberta Is Strange".Continue on to Part 2