The Woggles take special pride in “trying to combust on stage,” as lead singer Professor Mighty Manfred calls it. Thursday night, at the Middle East Upstairs, the Georgia-based retro-rockers will attempt to get even the loneliest record geeks to lay down their Blue Magoos LPs and shimmy. Manfred, also host of a daily show on Little Steven’s “Underground Garage” on Sirius/XM, spoke by phone during a recent tour stop.
Q. The new album, “The Big Beat,” has that great sound. That rare ability to sound old without sounding dated. It’s garage rock, right?
A. Sometimes we’re labeled as a garage band and, of course, there are aspects of that. We perceive ourselves as a timeless rock ’n’ roll band. In that sense, we’re not trying to relive any musical era, but we certainly draw from lots of different sources.
Q. But how do you get that sound?
A. It certainly helps to use the same tools. So a Selmer amp from the ’60s has already built into it aspects of that sound. The rest is going to be nuance from the person playing it and the ability to re-create it with that same set of tools.
Q. Garage rock or not, there is variety. You’ve got horns on some of these songs, a dance beat, and also different writers.
A. We have a kind of Kinks thing on there in “Lights, Camera, Action.” Buzz, our bass player, wrote it. He’s English and from Folkestone. Ray Davies is a god in that world. “Baby I’ll Trust You When You’re Dead.” That’s a song from our drummer. I’m always happy to see our drummer in a relationship, cause I know when it invariably ends, we’ll get some good songs out of it. “Say Goodbye to a Dream” is the result of the same woman. “Take It to the People” is mine. And that’s what we’re all about.
Q. We, in Boston, are obviously proud of our homegrown garage-rock royalty, Jeff “Monoman” Conolly and Lyres. Tell me. In a garage-off, who would emerge? Lyres or Woggles?
A. You mean, bring your chains and a couple of lead pipes? Monoman’s going to get his [expletive] kicked because the guys in his band are going to beat him up before we have a chance to. [Laughs]
Q. Put on your Mighty Manfred DJ hat for a minute. What’s an underappreciated and maybe unexpected record we should listen to?
A. One that I’m always astounded that people aren’t more familiar with is that Everly Brothers record, “Two Yanks in England.” They’re being backed by members of the Hollies and it’s just amazing. Especially since we have the impression of the Everly Brothers as this ’50s thing but this shows how they wanted to continue to grow as artists. The harmonies, the songwriting. That’s one I always champion.
Q. You’ve got the radio show on Little Steven’s channel and your record deal is with Little Steven. Should we be worried you’re selling out?
A. There’s no selling out. There’s only hopefully cashing in. But I’ll tell you, that window where you take your chits to, it never seems to happen. Does it help? It certainly doesn’t hurt. Does that mean we play to 30,000 people a night? No. But we might play to 30 very special people.
Q. There is not a single ballad on this new record. It’s all high energy. And you’ve been doing this now for more than 25 years. Is there a point where you slow down?
A. We’ll go and play with younger bands and afterward they’ll say, ‘I don’t know how you guys do it. You’ve got so much energy.’ I say, ‘You’ll never be able to, so you should quit right now.’ I heard some Buddy Rich story about some kid saying, ‘I love you and want to be just like you’ and he said, ‘You’ll never be, so give it up.’ The reason he’s saying that is if you ain’t really got it, don’t waste your time doing it. There is in your neck of the woods, the Remains. We played with them and at the soundcheck, we heard a song and it was horrible, terrible. I was so depressed. Then they played for real and it was just, it was like I closed my eyes and I don’t want to say it was like the record, because it was better than the record. It was powerful.
Q. So there really is no limit?
A. Take the Sonics. Having just stopped performing when the love beads were in the air, those guys have stopped and they come back 35 years later, and they start playing again. It’s like your dads are up on stage. But they’re making a killer sound.Geoff Edgers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.