If you haven't heard of Kardaz, you've likely heard from the band at some point: Its lively fight songs for local sports teams have permeated the airwaves and stadiums for more than a decade. In addition to a Steelers-themed parody of the Ghostbusters theme and the official song of the Washington Wild Things Frontier League baseball team, Kardaz is responsible for "The Mighty Guins," a perennial Penguins fight song that mimics the Bob Dylan-penned Manfred Mann hit "The Mighty Quinn." The song is peppered with the names of players and sayings made famous by broadcaster Mike Lange (Lange-isms like "Call Arnold Slick from Turtle Crick" and "The other teams won't know whether to cry or wind their watch" appear in the song.)
The band is led by Chris Kardasz, a Beaver County native who works in the 45s section of Jerry's Records in Squirrel Hill. He's joined by: brother Bob Kardasz, who plays guitar; drummer Art Myers; and brothers Mark and Jeff Hoffman -- the latter on bass, the former a utility player on keyboards, sax and more. We spoke with Bob Kardasz about "The Mighty Guins."
If you haven't heard enough of "The Mighty Guins," you can listen to it online here.
City Paper: When was the song first written?
Bob Kardasz: We first wrote it in '93.
CP: Where did "Guins" come from? Was that after Sophie Masloff yelled "Guins win!" after the first Cup victory?
BK: No, we just do a lot of '60s music as a band, and we were familiar with the song "The Mighty Quinn," by Bob Dylan. We kind of came up with that idea, "Mighty Guins," using that tune.
CP: "Guins" isn't an abbreviation you hear all that often ...
BK: Well, we always thought "Pens" were something you wrote with, but "Guins," you knew what it was going to be. The combination of using "The Mighty Quinn" and a lot of the Mike Lange sayings was kind of how the song really came together.
CP: And you've rewritten the song every time they've gone to the playoffs since then?
BK: Yeah, pretty much, we just change some of the names around. We just toy with the lead vocals each year and re-do it. Well, and we added the saxophone last year.
CP: So if the Pens keep going to the playoffs, you might end up adding a string section or something?
BK: Yeah, maybe, add an orchestra.
CP: Since the early '90s, when you first wrote the song, there have been more Russians and Eastern Europeans in the league and on the team. Do those names make it more difficult to get the rhyme scheme going, get the syllables right?
BK: Yeah, we went through a little mispronunciation of some of the names; we've gone back and done some fixes when people pointed out to us -- like Sergei Gonchar, we were mispronouncing his name initially. They have the names, then they have the nicknames, that helps.
CP: Ever get any cease-and-desist orders from players for saying their names wrong?
BK: Not yet. I don't know if they really pay attention.
CP: They play the song on the big screen outside Mellon Arena before games, so I assume it's officially sanctioned.
BK: When we did it in '93, it was the official Penguins song, we had it on a cassette with the Penguins logo. It's not official anymore, to my knowledge, but now we sort of give it to the city: Whoever wants to use it can use it. We just put it out there. Nowadays, people can put it on their Web site, you can just download it.
CP: You guys do a Steelers tune and a Penguins song, ever done a Pirates song?
BK: No, never a Pirates song, not yet.
CP: Maybe that's what they need, a good fight song.
BK: Could be. We'll try to sell them on it -- it's good luck.
- Power play: Kardaz