Yacht Rock Revue, the tribute band-slash-original band-slash-comedic troupe, returns to perform the most popular songs of the 1970’s and 80’s at the Wonder Bar next month.

The band supplies the soundtrack to your youth and you bring the memories.  Rabid fans – including Billy Joel, John Mayer and Jon Bon Jovi – say the energetic show is one of the most fun and original nights around.  Last time Yacht Rock was in town, I saw the group transform an entire room into out-of-breath dancers.

In case you were wondering, the name “yacht rock,” according to Wikipedia is “used retrospectively to refer to the soft rock music format that peaked in popularity between the years of 1975 and 1984. In part, the term relates to the stereotype of the yuppie yacht owner, enjoying smooth music while out for a sail.”

Last week, I spoke with Yacht Rock band member Nick Niespodziani.

TBP:  Some say there is no such thing as a rock star in 2013.  The internet changed the music industry and with iPhones, Facebook and video games, geeks are the 21st Century’s rock star – getting all the riches and fame.

Niespodziani:  I think hustlers win and whether they are nerds or rock stars or cowboys, the personality traits are the same throughout the ages.  Be a badass and follow the golden rule.  And open the door for women.  Also, it does not hurt to be really good at playing guitar or drums or whatever.  I have never seen a dude sling anything based on their Guitar Hero gaming skills.

While we are at it, bands like ours – bands whose set lists are comprised of all Number One hits that every person knows the words to – are creating an uneven playing field for new, all-original bands.  How can a young band write a set of original material to compete against a compilation of the absolute best songs of all time, like “Easy Lover” and “What a Fool Believes”?  So Yacht Rock is actually part of the problem.

Tribute band Yacht Rock Revue returns to Wonder Bar.  Band members left to right:  David Freeman, Mark Cobb, Greg Lee, Peter Olson, Nicholas Niespodziani, Mark Dannells, Mark Bencuya.

Tribute band Yacht Rock Revue returns to Wonder Bar. Band members left to right: David Freeman, Mark Cobb, Greg Lee, Peter Olson, Nicholas Niespodziani, Mark Dannells, Mark Bencuya.

TBP:  How do you describe Yacht Rock Revue?

Niespodziani:  Smooth music got us into this mess.  Smooth music is going to get us out.

Peter and I grew up together in Indiana.  We started side-stepping to Bell Biv Devoe in junior high, started a band, learned how to play instruments and now we’re living the dream.  As long as “the dream” includes loading your own stuff and playing other people’s songs.

We met Mark at Indiana University and we all moved to Atlanta to make sweet passion to the music scene here.  Soon, we achieved excellent ratings on the indie rock scene and in our part-time jobs.  Then we got fired from both and thought it would be a real cut-up to do an AM Gold Tribute night.  Next thing you know, learning Steely Dan songs becomes our real job and our closets are full of polyester.

The writer with Yacht Rock Revue band member XXXXXX.

The writer with Yacht Rock Revue band member Greg Lee.

TBP:  You have a rabid fan following in part because your show is a feel-good party.  How do you select the songs for your set list?

Niespodziani:  In the beginning, we started with a core list of the 20 smoothest songs ever recorded.  We pretty much compiled the list from those “greatest hits” infomercials and studied a lot of Midnight Special videos.  From there, we expanded our definition of “yacht rock” to include any songs that capture the spirit:  lighthearted, musically interesting, and at a proper dancing tempo.

The real secret sauce is that we play each of these songs as though it was our own.  We do not handle the music lightly, we push it around a little which makes it easier to drop in an original song like “LA Lindsey,” the new single off our just-released EP “Yacht Rock Revue.”

TBP:  Yacht Rock sings the legendary hits from the 70’s and 80’s.  What do you predict will be the new classics from the early  21st Century?

Niespodziani:  In 30 years I will be singing the Hill Street Blues through a blue sitar with a kid named Blues Image, named after the band that played “Ride Captain Ride.”

People have been complaining about the disposable nature of contemporary popular music since before they invented adult diapers.  Of course, I think pop music has been on a parabolic decline since 1966 and I wasn’t even alive then.  I have trouble seeing “Harder to Breathe” (Maroon 5) create the same reaction in an audience that “Footloose” (Kenny Loggins) does.

TBP:  And the most requested Yacht Rock song is…?

Niespodziani:  “Rich Girl.”

TBP:  Love you guys performing that!  And what is the hit that would you like to file away and never sing again?

Niespodziani:  I would love to escape from “Escape,” the “Pina Colada Song.”  Band mate Mark hates “Baker Street,” and Greg cannot stand “Your Mama Don’t Dance.”  Most of the songs we hate, hate, hate like “Brick House,” “American Pie,” “Play That Funky Music,” “Celebration” – we never learned in the first place, so we do not have to lie when people request them.

Yacht Rock Revue at the Wonder Bar, March 14 at 8 pm.  Purchase general admission tickets for $13 each in advance or at the door.  PleaseRock.com has more info including free demos of the band’s songs.  Click here for the just-released EP.