Monthly Archives: June 2010
At first glance, Australia’s Rudely Interrupted is just a better-than-average power-pop band with a vaguely ’80ish vibe—they’ve got sort of a Cars/Split Enz/Gary Numan thing going on, in mostly a good way (but we’re sorry, those pink pants have gotta go). Not that weird at all, right? The whole vaguely ’80ish thing is pretty trendy right now. So what are they doing on TWBITW?
Well, look a bit closer. Five out of six of Rudely Interrupted’s members are physically and/or intellectually handicapped, some of them severely so. Lead singer Rory Burnside is blind and has Asperger’s syndrome (but also has perfect pitch—one man’s disability is another man’s superpower, you might say); keyboardist Marcus Stone has Asperger’s and is 80% deaf; bassist Sam Beke has Down syndrome; drummer Josh Hogan is autistic and has some physical abnormalities; and percussionist Connie Kirkpatrick, aka “The Human Metronome,” has Down syndrome and is legally blind. The only “able bodied” member of the group is guitarist Rohan Brooks, a music therapist who came up with the idea of forming a band made up of some of his students.
Rudely Interrupted could’ve just been a sort of rock ‘n’ roll Special Olympics, but the tunes are undeniably catchy and there’s a raucous, joyous quality to their live shows (based on the YouTube videos we’ve seen) that a lot of hipster bands could learn from. So OK, their bassist uses a capo to tune all his strings to the main chord of whatever song they’re playing—fine, you got him. But you know what? Dude has freaking Down syndrome. And he’s in a band that has toured the world and played at the United Nations. What have you done lately?
Here’s a video the band just shot as part of an awareness campaign for Scope—not, apparently, the mouthwash, but an Australian disability services non-profit. It’s been nominated for an Inside Film Award, which sounds really cool—although we have to admit we’re not sure what an Inside Film Award is. Awards are given out based on fan ratings, though, so you should go over to their website and rate it a 5. Trust us, it’ll give you a warm fuzzy feeling.
It’s another first here at Weird Band central: for the first time ever, we’re gonna feature an artist based on the votes of you, our loyal reader(s). Yes, a few months back, we decided to create a “Submit and Vote” page where bands could submit themselves for possible inclusion on The Weird List, and we could let all y’all out there on the Interwebs vote on whether we should include them or not. After a few false starts (let’s face it, the talent pool among fans of this blog does not run deep), we finally found an artist worthy of The Weird List. So here he is, folks: the one, the only, the truly bizarre Richard There.
Now we still don’t know much about Richard, except that he’s from Germany, he’s a fan of ours (at least he tell us so, and hell, why wouldn’t he be? we rock), and he makes funny, somewhat creepy little comic strips and funny, even creepier little songs that kinda sound like they were written by a schitzophrenic off his Clozapine. You know, lyrics about voices in his head and whatnot, sung in a thick German accent and accompanied mainly by solo guitar played with what we’ll charitably describe as shaky determination. He also has a lot of songs about birds. We’re not really sure what that’s about.
Not one to rest on his laurels and/or in a pool of his own filth, Richard also has a project called Spielplatz der Bosewichte, a musical collaboration with a fellow freak named Joewl Levis. It sounds pretty much exactly like Richard’s solo stuff, except with another thickly German-accented guy singing sometimes, too.
Anyway, Richard doesn’t have any videos on YouTube*, so we’ll have to deviate from our usual format and just suggest that if you want to hear some of Richard’s music, head on over to Last.fm, where he has pretty much his whole catalog available, most of it for free. We’d recommend starting with “Cat in My Head,” which combines all of Richard There’s obsessions—birds, shakily played guitar, and things inside his head—in one two-minute burst of talent-show-in-the-psych-ward awesomeness.
[*Update: Since we first posted this, Richard has alerted us to the fact that he does, in fact, have a YouTube channel, which currently features a short film he wrote the music for. So here it is. Also, he informs us that he is not technically from Germany but from "There." Thanks for clearing that up, Richard!]
One of the many reasons we love living in Los Angeles (fuck off, haters) is that it’s a neverending breeding ground for some pretty bizarre music. Today’s proof of hypothesis: Fol Chen, a six-piece from Highland Park (Jake’s hood, and also home to the infamous Avenues Gang) who combine the apocalyptic surrealism of Philip K. Dick and Steve Erickson with the postmodern dance-funk of Hot Chip and Prince. Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s…um,
2012? 2017? How far forward do we need to set our apocalypse clocks now?
Fol Chen, who keep their identities hidden behind masks, face paint, and quirky aliases like Samuel Bing (Chandler’s art school little brother?) and Sinosa Loa, first surfaced last year with an album called Part I: John Shade, Your Fortune’s Made. Sure enough, they returned this year with a sequel, Part II: The New December. Both albums vaguely trace an end-of-days storyline that would do Dick proud, but they’re not above the occasional song about a low-rent hookup at a fleabag motel (the fan-fucking-tastic “Cable TV,” a not-too-distant cousin of Beck’s “Debra”) or the oddball cover (they’ve done everyone from Pink Floyd to Mariah Carey to—no, really—the Gin Blossoms). They also hire old actors to do dramatic reading of their songs and write their press releases totally in character. As former theater geeks ourselves, we appreciate this sort of attention to detail.
The band shot numerous low-budget videos for the songs from John Shade, Your Fortune’s Made. All of them are pretty awesome (especially this one), but this video for “No Wedding Cake” gets our vote as the weirdest. We can’t wait for the next chapter in the Fol Chen saga.
For this installment of TWBITW, we have to give a shout-out to Kyle aka The Emotron, who suggested that we write about an obscure but highly influential ’90s duo called The Moog Cookbook. Thanks, Kyle! We’d heard of these guys before, but until we really dug into their music and their shtick a bit more, we didn’t fully appreciate their weirdness.
The Moog Cookbook was started by a couple of guys named Roger Joseph Manning Jr. (best-known for his work with the power-pop bands Jellyfish and Imperial Drag) and Brian Kehew, a more behind-the-scenes producer/engineer/keyboard tech guy who’s worked with everyone from Fiona Apple to The Who. They bonded over their shared love of vintage synthesizers, at a time (the grunge era) when synths were extremely uncool and therefore relatively cheap to collect. They also shared a fondness for the many novelty albums that got churned out in the late ’60s and early ’70s featuring pop songs of the day performed on early synths like the Moog, back when those synths were concerned mind-blowing and futuristic and not, y’know, cheesy.
Anyway, Manning and Kehew decided to put their large collections of antique synths to good use and record a modern-day version of those old novelty synth records like Moog Plays the Beatles and Switched-On Bach, featuring space-age bachelor pad versions of more recent songs like “Buddy Holly” and “Are You Gonna Go My Way?” Dressing up in ’50s sci-fi spacesuits and calling themselves The Moog Cookbook (after an actual cookbook, Moog’s Musical Eatery, published in the late ’70s by the wife of pioneering synth designer Robert Moog), they released two albums’ worth of cheesy synth goodness before more-or-less mothballing the project and getting back to more serious pursuits. (A third album of previously unreleased material, Bartell, came out a few years ago, but it mostly featured stuff they’d recorded years before).
Although Manning and Kehew did perform a handful of concerts as The Moog Cookbook–dressed in their spacesuits and using their aliases Meco Eno and Uli Nomi–we haven’t been able to find any live video of the duo in action, which is a serious bummer. But they did make one music video, for their version of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun,” which gives you a pretty good idea of what a great mix of kitsch and instrumental awesomeness these guys produced (wait for the wacky solo at about the 2:55 mark).
By the way…yes, a lot of folks have accused Daft Punk of ripping off Moog Cookbook’s look. And yes, it’s hard not to notice the resemblance. That’s all we’re saying.
Also: for the record, we far prefer the Cookbook’s cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” to their take on “Black Hole Sun.” That’s some funky shit, guys!
- The Moog Cookbook on MySpace
- The Moog Cookbook on Roger Joseph Manning Jr.’s official site
- Great article on Brian Kehew from Performing Musician
- Recording the Beatles (book co-authored by Kehew on The Beatles’ recording equipment and techniques)
I never thought I’d say this, but I envy the folks in Keshena, Wisconsin right now. Not because I have any great burning desire to escape the big city for the simple life of a podunk small town that’s frozen tundra nine months of the year and a mosquito-infested armpit the other three. No, I envy the cheese-eating yokels of Keshena because starting tomorrow night, for three amazing nights, they are going to get treated to the awesome rock ‘n’ sequins spectacle that is Rick K. & The Allnighters—American’s Most Exciting Show Band!
Now let’s face it: cheesy cover bands are as American as deep-fried Twinkies, and about half as cheap. And Rick K and his little band of classic-song-murdering stage bandits are about as cheesy as they come. So why, you may ask, are we gracing them with a place in our hallowed shrine to Weird Bands? One reason and one reason only: they have a drummer named Steve Moore, and the guy is a fucking madman.
If Steve were poundng the skins in say, Iron Maiden, he’d actually fit right in, and we’d just be all, “You totally crushed it, dude” and move on. But because he’s in this cheesy…no, let’s be honest here…fucking terrible “show band,” he sticks out like Keith Moon at my Aunt Trudy’s needlepoint club. Someone please rescue this man, shave his head, give him some tatts and a sleeveless Motorhead tee and at least find him a nice ’80s metal cover band to bash away in. Right now, it’s like watching a Rottweiler at the chihauhua kennel.
By the way, those June 3-5 shows in Keshena will be at the Menominee Casino-Bingo-Hotel. After that RK&tAN will be truckin’ on to Hinckley, Minnesota; Carmel, Indiana; and West Milford, West Virginia. Fucking L.A….we never get the good shows.