There were 11 hours left in 2007 when I met Biff Blumfumgagnge of the Gomers for coffee at Manna Café on North Sherman Avenue.
But there were only three minutes left in the café's 2007. "We close at 1 today," said the man behind the counter.
Confronted with the end of time, Biff calmly smiled and handed me a copy of the Gomers' new CD. He was unfazed by this terminal moment, which made perfect sense. After all, the Gomers thrive by riffing on music's past. Seventies rock will take center stage at their CD-release party on Saturday, Jan. 12, at the High Noon Saloon.
The man making coffee graciously let us stay and chat while he cleaned and closed. Sitting in a sea of vacant tables, Biff explained the concept behind Saturday's gig.
"We'll be reenacting Wolfman Jack's Midnight Special show," he said. "We've been auditioning for several weeks to find someone to play the part of Wolfman."
Some women have tried out, too. So "Wolfman Jackie" remains a possibility.
Biff gave me a sneak peek at the set list the Gomers have planned: ELO's "Evil Woman," Peter Frampton's "Show Me the Way," the O'Jays' "Love Train."
The Midnight Special shares the bill this Saturday with the release of the Gomers' fourth studio CD, unusually named Mike Zirkel - The Album.
Zirkel is the chief recording engineer at Madison's Smart Studios.
"He recorded our last CD, Salt and Sugar, and somehow we left his name off the credits," said Biff. "It was very embarrassing. We love the dickens out of him, so we promised him we'd name our next album after him. It was a running joke for a while, but it was never a joke for me."
The 18 tracks on the Gomers' new disc brim with the kind of high-energy electric guitar riffs and familiar chord progressions that defined '70s dance rock. They're layered, too, with the Gomers' unique brand of humor.
"Dance Jack Palance" is a "Johnny B. Goode" sound-alike that mispronounces the name of the late actor to force a rhyme with "dance." That provides an opportunity for a break in the music for the sake of correction: "It's PA-lance!"
"Forcefield" is an ode to halitosis that has Zirkel resisting his association with this record.
"The Gomers will be hearing from some pretty high-powered attorneys very soon!" he threatened in an email sent to me.
Mixing classic rock with humor and kitsch is the Gomers' mainstay. You can head to the High Noon Saloon any Tuesday night to see for yourself. That's where the Gomers perform their live-band karaoke ("Gomeroke"). The Gomers have mastered thousands of songs from the pop canon of the past five decades. They play those songs at Gomeroke while members of the audience front the band and act out their rock-star fantasies.
Well beyond closing time at Manna Café, Biff and I ended our conversation and walked outside. He invited me to take a tour of his BeefTone Studio (named for the way people with European accents pronounce "Biff").
His studio is in the same strip mall as Manna - just a few doors away and down a staircase. There are practice spaces for bands here. When you step inside BeefTone, you feel like you're stepping into the Madison music scene.
Two mayoral proclamations for the Gomers adorn the wall - one from Sue Bauman and one from Dave Cieslewicz. Politicians may court unions in other towns, but in Madison, they court the Gomers.
A collection of pinball machines gives BeefTone its retro flair.
"I buy them off e-Bay." Biff told me.
We stood there on the brink of 2008, admiring gaudy electric relics of the '70s.
Bring on Wolfman, baby! Suhhhhhhhhhhhhweeeeeeeeet!