THE VARVE, an all female punk band, originated in late
1979 in the small but musically adventurous
underground of Denver/Boulder Colorado. Founded by Jo
Ann Gogue (vocals) (ex Guys La Dolce Vita fanzine),
Carolyn Crampton (guitar) and Sue Digby (bass) (ex
Profalactics and Not New Wave News fanzine.) After
much difficulty in finding other musicians to fill out
the band, they resorted to asking other women at
parties if they wanted to be in a band. Kelli Kozak
(keyboards) and Anne Brent (drums) were recruited and
the Varve (a geological term meaning sedimentary
deposits in lake over time) was born with Jo Ann
adding alto sax to her vocal chores.
Five separate forces moving together and apart with
chaotic togetherness. The Varve sound was danceable
and compelling, dense, chaotic, fragile and highly
orchestrated, primal wardance, jazz-influenced
rhythms, and rockabilly style vocals with
Madness/Contortions styled sax. The Varve rehearsed
in a room underneath the bleachers of University of
Colorado (Sue and Carolyn were both students) football
stadium to hone their sound. Early songs were
"Somebody By Default," "That Soon But Not That Fast,"
"I'm The One" "Undercover's Hero" "Terminal"
"Frictional Drag" "Pondersoa Saga" "Erotic Frigidaire"
and two crowd favorites "Mondo Condo" and "Wild
Thing." Their debut was at a party (minus Kelli
Kozak) for a few people from Iowa. Soon they were a
favorite on the scene supporting the likes of Leroy X
and the Excitations, The Visitors, Transistors, Gluons
and the Young Weasels at various venues (Walabi's,
Molly's and Four Mile House) and hot tub parties.
Their farewell show was a benefit for the Ft. Logan
Mental Health Center with the Metrotones.
In September 1980, the Varve joined the exodus of
bands moving to greener pastures if not fame and
fortune. They piled the Varve van high with guitars,
amps, punk records, pink cowboy boots and dreams and
drove to San Francisco (minus drummer, Anne Brent.)
Soon, they found a female drummer looking for a new
band and Kat Zumbach (ex Urge) was a Varve. Without so
much as a hiccup, they were back recording demos and
charged onto the performing circuit. Like the
Corvairs before them, they played at the Palms,
Mabuhay Gardens and Berkeley Square as well as the
Sound of Music, Rock City, Le Disque, On Broadway,
Valencia Tool & Die, and The Stud among many venues in
San Francisco and other Northern California cities.
They made one sojourn to Los Angeles and played with
In November 1982, The Varve made a triumphant return
to Denver and Boulder headlining the Mercury Cafe with
the Young Weasels and the Boulder Theater.
The Varve became well respected and a constant force
to be reckoned with on the San Francisco scene. Dirk
Dirksen, master of ceremonies at the legendary Mabuhay
Gardens (Fab Mab) LOVED the Varve (he was a tough
cookie and didn't like many bands.) WELCOME TO VARVE
COUNTRY was a slogan jokingly used during this time.
Their sound was a unique mix of funk, jazz, rockabilly
and strains from out of this universe (jangly guitar
scratches, jazzy multi-note melodic bass lines, poppy
yet sinister keyboard, solid drumming, funky alto sax
and vocals that someone once said was the result if
you mixed Yoko Ono with tribal American Indian music
and rockabilly hiccups.)
They played with the likes of Flipper, Translator, The
Mutants, Red Asphalt, Pop-O-Pies, Toiling Midgets,
Toxic Reasons, Angst (another Colorado transplant,)
The Contractions The Farmers and Romeo Void. They
opened for Geza X (from LA), The Mo-dettes and Brian
Brain (from England) and came very close to opening
for the Cure and U2 on very early tours.
Soon they began to make radio playlists (college
stations through the U.S. and local Bay Area rock
stations) with a demo tape, "Frictional Drag" off of
the LIVE AT LE DISQUE double album, a three-song EP
"Bamboo Curtain" and their self-produced seven-song
Like many bands, they would eventually disband in 1983
due to the usual frustrations (stifling music scene,
lack of venues and lack of worldwide fame.)
Jo Ann played in one punk band, Impending Doom, for a
short time after the Varve before taking a long
retirement from the music business to pursue other
artistic endeavors (acting, Brazilian dancing,
writing.) Still living in San Francisco she has been
singing part-time for the past two years just for fun.
She is relocating to Pennsylvania with her new
husband. Sue moved back to Denver for a year and then
relocated to London, England playing with a few bands.
She still works in the music business on the booking
side. Carolyn is a well-respected artist and has local
shows in San Francisco. Kelli is rumored to be living
in Southern California. Kat is playing in a new San
Francisco band, Alfred, at the present time. Anne
Brent has retired from the music business and is
living in San Francisco.
- Heartbreak Hotel Studios, Denver, CO demo tape
(Undercover's Hero, Rockateens, That Soon, I'm the One)
- Tom Mallon Studios demo tape, 4/81
"Undercover's Hero," "Bamboo Curtain" and "The Twitch" received heavy airplay on local radio stations
- "Frictional Drag" LIVE AT LE DISQUE double live records, Jump Records 10/81
- Hyde Street Studios, San Francisco, CA.
"Bamboo Curtain/Erotic Frigidaire/The Plan" 3 song EP on Risky Records 1982 7" and 12" formats.
"Wandafied" - "What's Wrong With Wanda," "Silkwood," "Decibel" "Wanda Goes to Church/People Like You,"
- T&B Studios, San Francisco, CA.
"Edie's On Fire" and "Crayons" 1983
- Numerous live recordings gathering dust in people's closets
- 7/29/81 Rock Journal - Channel 25 with Debora Hill (interview, aired "Bamboo Curtain" video (video recorded on zero budget on a San Francisco rooftop))
- 10/21/81 City Beat, Channel 25, filmed at Iguana Studios, rehearsal and interview
- 8/31/82 Varve, live show filmed at the Stud Bar Local clubs I-Beam and Sound of Music filmed live performances
Weird Angle (photo)' "Hardcore California" (photo,
- San Francisco/California - The Quake Magazine, Xerox Mouth, Brave Ear, Music Calendar, Santa Cruz Express, Another Room, Punk Globe
- Colorado - Local Anesthetic, Pulsebeat
- National/International - Zigzag, Boston Gay Community
- News: Women in Rock, Shout, Kill (German), Shades
Bamboo Curtain, Crayons, Decibel, Edie's On Fire,
Erotic Frigidaire, Frictional Drag,
I Wanna Be Repossessed, I'm the One, Mondo Condo,
Motion In a Void,
People Like You, Pondersoa Saga, Rock-A-Teens,
Silkwood, Somebody by Default,
Terminal, That Soon But Not That Fast, The Plan, The
Ridge, The Twitch,
Undercover's Hero, Understanding Wood
WANDA SONGS: Wanda Goes To Church, Wanda's Got New
What's Wrong With Wanda
All By Myself, Bed and Breakfast, Fire In Cairo, First
Time, Make Like A Rock,
Memories Are Made of This, Nicotine Stain, Today Your
Love, Tomorrow the World,