Big Hunk O' Cheese formed in Bowling Green in 1988 from the remnants of (Main Street & Howard's Club H heroes) Law of Fear, Sheepish Grin & Off the Record. Mike Abssy, Mark "Ike" Eichner, Mike Bove and Joe & Jamie Church took clues from The Sugarcubes, The Pixies, The Specials, The B-52s and Fetchin' Bones to create their original sound.
Following the departure of the both singer, Jamie, & guitarist, Joe, in late '88, guitarist Mac McKeever joined the group. At that time bandleader Mike Abssy moved the direction of the band into a '70s funk / Chili Pepper / "Rap Rock" sound. This led to The Cheese becoming immensely popular throughout the State Schools in both Ohio & Michigan (especially Kent State & Akron U) and put them on the road from Madison, Wisconsin to NYC.
Written from '88 - '90,Their self-titled debut, Big Hunk O' Cheese, released on Jack Records & pressed by Warner Bros./ WEA in late 1991. BHOC was reported in the "TOP 25 Charts" at 100 plus college radio stations in over 30 different states. (Despite the sound of the CD suffering GREATLY from 5 digital to analog "re-conversions" during production. Digital Audio was new & no one knew about the 'perils of re-digitization.')
The weight of College radio airplay took the band as high as #146 in March of '92 on the CMJ National TOP 150 chart. This was nearly unprecedented for a DIY band with no promotion company (or even the band) marketing the release. Interest from both RCA & CURB Records resulted in some preliminary negotiations including an offer to go out as a support act with The Refreshments from RCA.
By early 1991 Abssy had again moved the group in a different direction featuring a "heavier sound" that pre-dated TOOL and many other riff based mid-nineties groups like RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE. Later CHEESE recordings find lead vocalist "Ike" Eichner singing with more of a Jello Biafra delivery & moving away his earlier rap stylings.
For "the doubters" about the Cheese's stylistic shift and rocking live assault during their '91 to '93 heyday, need only reference SST Record's cofounder Joe Carducci's book, "Rock and the Pop Narcotic." (Note that the 2nd & 3rd editions are basically the same, 2nd on 2.13.61 & 3rd on Redoubt Press 2005.)
After seeing the band in Chicago, the revered Mr. Carducci honored Big Hunk O' Cheese by naming them in the same sentence with The Jesus Lizard & Fugazi whilst talking about "aggressive riff based early '90s music" and live shows.
The band shared the stage with many of their contemporaries including: The Dead Milkmen, GBH, Cobra Verde, RC Mob, Kelvynator, Death of Samantha, The Twist-Offs, Burma Jam, The Numbers Band, Varicose, Rural Swine, Thin White Rope, Eric's Mother, Material Issue, Bad Religion, Lizard 99, Gone Daddy Finch, Burma Jam, Polvo, Mary on the Dash, L7, Egypt, Vambo Marble Eye, Brickbat, 10 Foot Pole, Schwa, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Johnny Quest, Sex Police, Spiderfoot, The Love Cowboys, The Great Bar-B-Q Gods, Michael Katon Band, Hostile Amish, Pigface and the Rollins Band. And numerous other touring early '90s bands ;-)
As the momentum behind the band continued to grow & various low dollar affiliation offers were presenting themselves, drummer Mike Bove left the band to be in the first U.S. STOMP! troupe in NYC. He later starred in the film "Stomp Out Loud." He was replaced by comedian/drummer Dale Hoffman in early 1993 for what would turn out to be the bands last tour, "The Tour Without A Cause," Feb - June 1993.
The band released a CD EP, "You're Soaking In It," in the Spring of '93 with minimal packaging as an attempt to land a larger label offer & better tour support for the band. (At which point that band would record their remaining new material & release a proper full length follow up on a larger imprint.)
While "You're Soaking In It' was again reported in the "TOP 25" at over 75 stations in the coming weeks, it failed to hit the National Top 150 chart.
While still filling rooms and hitting the Poll$tar charts, the band was tired of the booze, the hotels & the Interstate and decided to "go out on top" like The Beatles, The Pistols & The Clash. The final show at Howard's Club H (Club Hell) was recorded by sound wizard Scott Kramer (currently the FOH soundman at Dollywood circa 2006) and was released as "Big Hunk O' Cheese, LIVE FROM HELL."
BHOC's high spirited & comedic performances inspired many other Ohio / Michigan / Kentucky / West Virginia / Indiana / Pennsylvania / North Carolina musicians via touring for 5 years & logging 400+ live shows. Some of their Sardonic humor can be seen in 21st century acts such as Stylex, Sledge & The T-Shirts.
Certainly no one would look to Big Hunk O' Cheese for beautiful melodic ideas ala Gershwin & Cole Porter. However, the strong points in The Cheese's musical canon would be their relentless live shows, inventive syncopated mix meter Riffs and the "humorous & unapologetic" Lyrics penned by Abssy & Eichner.
The band lives on posthumously via recordings, VHS era videos & myspace music.