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One Jump Forward, Three Decades Back

By Sara Bruskin

Quick, what’s your favorite guilty-pleasure song?

If you didn’t answer with a cheesy 1980s tune, we’re going to assume you’re lying, because Boulder County dwellers have shown their deep and abiding love for ’80s music by flocking to see The Goonies’ performances for years now. This hard-partying cover band has become iconic in our little corner of the world, and its singer, Ashley Eyre, attributes that ’80s love to “the cheese that people don’t want to admit is just tucked into their hearts.”

Name: Erik Thomsen
Instruments: Guitar, bass and backup vocals
Hometown: Steamboat Springs, Colo.
Favorite song they play: “Welcome to the Jungle”— Guns N’ Roses
What he would bring back from the ’80s: Randy Rhoads, original Nintendo, thongs over spandex, Bon Scott (photo by lisa siciliano)

In 2009, guitarist Erik Thomsen realized the amazing power ’80s songs have to throw entire rooms into party mode, and took to Craigslist in search of bandmates. By coincidence, Ashley had just sung “Sweet Child o’ Mine” at Sushi Zanmai and unintentionally summoned the rock gods of decades past, who led her to Craigslist for the first time in four years. The very first posting she saw was Erik’s. She quickly sent him a polite and demure request for an audition: “F#@k you, it’s me! I’m the singer! That’s my part!!!”

Name: Nathan (Nate) Halko
Instruments: Guitar, bass, keyboards and backup vocals
Hometown: Santa Barbara, Calif.
Favorite song they play: “White Wedding”—Billy Idol
What he would bring back from the ’80s: Speak & Spell,
Lite-Brite, My Little Pony
(photo by lisa siciliano)

Nate Halko was almost too late when he found Erik’s posting, as The Goonies already had another guitarist lined up to audition. What happened to that other guy? Well, nobody seems to remember, so it’s probably safe to assume that Nate had him … taken care of.

After their original drummer left for China, The Goonies started a new search that began and ended with Ferid Kurjak, the only drummer who could intimidate this motley crew. He responded to their flyer with a terse phone message in his thick Croatian accent: “I play drums. Call me.” After his awesome audition, The Goonies still planned to try out other drummers, but Ferid said, “So I am hired now, or what?” Looking around at each other helplessly, The Goonies couldn’t do anything but agree.

Outside the Band

These rocking superheroes all maintain alter egos with full-time jobs in their everyday lives. Ashley works as an art therapist, Nate is a data scientist, Erik works with a French tennis-equipment company, and Ferid lays hardwood flooring. The Goonies have entertained the idea of taking their music full-time, but they don’t want to ruin the fun for themselves. Their performances are raging parties for the band as well as the audience. As it is, their legendary gigs have taken them all over Colorado, Utah and California.

We Asked the Most Blasphemous Question … and no, they never get tired of ’80s music. Two things keep the experience fresh for them: They put their own creative spin on every song in their repertoire, and they love the rush of excitement from the audience when an old favorite hits the speakers. “We should be sick of playing ‘Don’t Stop Believing,’” says Erik, “because we play it at every gig, but people just go crazy for it every single time, so we end up getting so into it.”

Name: Ashley Eyre
Instruments: Lead vocals, air guitar
Hometown: Agoura Hills, Calif.
Favorite song The Goonies play:
“Enjoy the Silence”—Depeche Mode
What she would bring back from the ’80s:
Michael Jackson, the Care Bears, Teddy Ruxpin (photo by lisa siciliano)

Their favorite venues are the ones where they get the most energy from the crowd, like Ophelia’s in Denver and the Bohemian Biergarten in Boulder, though they’ll admit they’re also swayed by the big plate of sausage they get after their sets at the Biergarten. When sausage isn’t available, they improvise. “I did tear the head off of a rattlesnake to feed the band at one point,” Ashley says. “Chewed it up for them and spit it into their little birdie mouths.”

Somehow, this wasn’t even the weirdest thing they told us.

Name: Ferid Kurjak
Instruments: Drums
Hometown: Rijeka, Croatia
Favorite song they play: “Separate Ways”—Journey
What he would bring back from the ’80s: His younger self
(photo by lisa siciliano)

If you’ve seen The Goonies perform live, you know that their enthusiasm is crazy infectious and gets everybody out on the dance floor, but The Goonies recounted a story about a wedding they played, at which the guests were awkwardly reluctant to get their groove on. The entire cosmos was horrified at the idea of such a face-meltingly awesome show going to waste, so the clouds gathered, and brought down a hailstorm of biblical proportions. “Everyone was huddled under an awning while wineglasses were shattering around them,” Ashley says, “but it brought everyone together and all of a sudden, they were feeling it.” Once the spell of sophisticated perfection had broken, guests finally let loose and danced the night away amid the wreckage of the storm.

To find a Goonies performance, check www.thegoonies80s.com/shows.

Early Days

The Goonies don’t have many disaster stories, but they started off with their fair share of newbie awkwardness, dealing with obscurity and ill-conceived stunt ideas. They spent their first winter playing at The Lazy Dog to a frequently empty room, and at one of the first house parties they ever played, they brought along 99 red balloons and released them, but the cops showed up before they even got to play the song “99 Red Balloons.”

photos by dave meas

Their first music video went over much better, and its filming still stands as one of their most legendary parties. Nate’s company was renting space in the old Daily Camera building on Pearl Street, which had a huge basement where the printing presses used to operate. The Goonies describe the setting as something out of a horror movie, with black ink dust everywhere and chains hanging from the ceiling. “It was like nuclear fallout, where everybody either ran or got burned to ashes,” Nate says. “We filmed a music video down there and threw a party, and everybody woke up the next morning with black boogers from the ink dust.”

These days, The Goonies are still partying at gigs every weekend, which doesn’t leave time for much else besides their 9-to-5 jobs. Ashley would love for them to start writing their own songs, but there aren’t enough hours in the day to consider that right now. When we asked the band what else the future might hold for them, Nate piped up, saying the natural progression after ’80s music must be ’90s music, of course!

Then his bandmates threw him in a blender with some avocados and tomatoes, and ate him with the shattered remains of a Backstreet Boys CD.