Music Features

Garage Rock Legends The Woggles Return with Time Has Come

The Woggles performing live at the 40 Watt Club during AthFest Music & Arts Festival on June 25, 2022. Credit: Mike White.

Enduring for over 35 years, seasoned garage-rock stalwarts The Woggles have maintained a cult following for their frenzied, fuzzed-out spin on vintage sounds. Time Has Come, a new album released May 31 via Wicked Cool Records, further demonstrates the band’s ability to blend influences of early garage rock, British Invasion, R&B, soul, surf and proto-punk into a singular rock-and-roll sound. As the first studio full-length since 2017’s Tally Ho!, the 12-track album marks a triumphant return for a band whose ethos demands onward progression.

Formed in 1987 by lead singer Manfred Jones, also known as Mighty Manfred or The Professor, The Woggles have weathered the decades by adapting through a variety of lineups yet always remaining true to their roots. Though members have been spread out across the country at times, the Atlanta-based band’s history traces back to Athens where founding members worked as DJs at UGA’s student-run alternative radio station, WUOG 90.5 FM, the call letters of which inspired the band’s name. 

After a few years of gigging around town and releasing a handful of singles, the band signed to Northwestern garage-rock imprint Estrus Records for its debut full-length Teen Dance Party in 1993. The band dutifully grew its audience by steadily releasing more tunes and playing countless shows, even touring to Europe and Japan half a dozen times. 

A major turning point came in the early 2000s, when the band caught the attention of Steven Van Zandt who, in addition to his roles as a guitarist for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band and actor on “The Sopranos,” hosts “Little Steven’s Underground Garage,” a weekly syndicated radio show dedicated to rock and roll from the 1950s to today. Van Zandt not only featured The Woggles regularly, but would later invite Jones to become a weekday on-air host on the Underground Garage, the 24-hour satellite radio channel heard worldwide via SiriusXM. 

Not long after launching his radio show, Van Zandt founded Wicked Cool Records in 2005 as an effort to support deserving yet often overlooked garage rock musicians. The Woggles signed to Wicked Cool the following year, and have since released five albums as well as a number of singles and EPs through the label. 

Van Zandt makes an appearance on Time Has Come, as do Greg Cartwright (Reigning Sound), Peter Greenberg (Barrence Whitfield & The Savages, DMZ, Lyres) and Pat Beers (The Schizophonics). Four of the album’s tracks—“Hole In My Heart,” “Her Majesty’s Pleasure,” “Mr. Last Chance” and “Nothing More To Say”—also received the designation of “Coolest Song in the World,” a feature spot on Underground Garage.

Time Has Come opens with “Flesh Hammer,” a tribute written in memory of the late Woggles guitarist Jeff Walls (Guadalcanal Diary, Hillbilly Frankenstein), who died in 2019. After a decade or so of producing and occasionally playing on Woggles recordings, the longtime Athens musician stepped in full-time following the death of previous guitarist George Montague Holton III in 2003. 

Despite experiencing immeasurable losses along the way, The Woggles have soldiered on, finding the band to simply be a way of life. Rounding out the current lineup of Jones, bassist Patrick “Buzz Hagstrom” O’Connor and drummer Dan “Electro” Hall are guitarists Graham Day (The Prisoners, Solar Flares, Thee Mighty Caesars) and Shane Pringle (Tiger! Tiger!, Bad Spell), the latter of whom occasionally doubles up on saxophone. 

Time Has Come is full of invigorating garage rock gems that should resonate with anyone who has a fondness for the genre’s classic sound. A throwback to mid-century dance moves like the twist and mashed potato, “Do the Slug” offers a coy invitation to loosen up and wiggle around to match Jones’ electrified on-stage swagger. “Her Majesty’s Pleasure” is a stand-out melody with near-Baroque pop flourishes, while “Wearing On My Soul” is a gritty, bluesy song dense with organ and harmonica.

The Woggles will return to the 40 Watt Club on Tuesday, June 11 as part of a nine-date Southeastern tour in support of the new album. In August, they’ll cross the pond for a pair of shows in England before heading to Denmark for the long-running annual Gutter Island Garage Rock Festival. They’ll then hit the road with Southern Culture on the Skids for another nine-day east coast tour in September. 

WHO: The Woggles
WHEN: Tuesday, June 11, 7 p.m. (doors)
WHERE: 40 Watt Club