Monthly Archives: October 2010

The Locust

It being Halloween and whatnot, I thought it would be a good time to give a shout out to another costume band. But not just any costume band, because let’s face it, all the rubber monster masks in the world can’t make up for boring music. Yeah, I’m looking at you, Slipknot.

But these guys out of San Diego called The Locust are pretty badass. They play a style of punk/thrash/noise that I guess some folks call “powerviolence“…yes, there’s a genre name for everything these days. There songs are super short, sometimes less than a minute, and tend to have titles like “Recyclable Body Fluids in Human Form” and “Full Frontal Obscurity.” And the kicker is that, unlike your average punk band (or powerviolence band, as far as we know), they dress up in these matching uniforms that make them look kind of like a cross between DEVO and a chemical weapons disposel team.

So here’s a little clip of The Locust doing their costumed powerviolence thing, with a precision and ferocity that puts the latest Saw move to shame. Incidently, their drummer is a guy named Gabe Serbian who used to be in another band we’ve blogged about, veggie goregrinders Cattle Decapitation. Bet the Cattle guys miss him. Dude’s an absolute beast.

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Justice Yeldham

Today’s weird (one-man) band comes from a reader in Australia named David. Yes, apparently, we have readers in Australia. Worldwide, baby!

Anyway, David introduced to the bizarre stylings of a fella named Lucas Abela, aka Justice Yeldham. Abela is a self-described “live audio artist” with an abiding interest in creating bizarre new sounds out of various non-musical objects. Past projects, recorded and/or performed under names like DJ Smallcock and Peeled Hearts Paste, have involved things like “amplified samurai swords” and “high powered turntables constructed from sewing machine motors” (don’t ask us, we’re just quoting from the official bio, folks).

In 2003, Abela discovered that he enjoyed using his various vocal and electronic amplification techniques on large sheets of glass, and his Justice Yeldham act was born.

A Yeldham performance–and really, the only way to experience his “music” is to see him perform it live–typically begins with Abela squeezing a tube of KY jelly into his mouth and then slowly spewing it all over a large sheet of glass that’s been rigged up to various effects boxes that he wears on a toolbelt. The jelly forms a seal around his lips and allows him to make what are basically those farty noises you probably made into your hands and elbows a lot as a kid, but vibrated through the whole sheet of glass, distorted, and amplified into what kind of sounds like Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music, only scarier. And yes, since it’s glass–and since he occasionally not only blows on it, but also licks it, bites it, and smashes it over his head–there’s very often blood mixed in with the KY. Sometimes a lot of blood. (Warning: Do not watch the video in that link past the 1:45 mark unless you’re really, really not squeamish.) Not for nothing does his MySpace page say, “Crossing the line between music and bloodsport.”

Below is an interview with Abela and a video of one his less bloody–but no less astonishing–performances. He actually seems like a really sweet guy. “I like that idea that I can heighten people’s mood,” he says at one point. I guess biting off chunks of glass and spitting them at the audience is Australian for “heightening people’s mood.”

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Crash Worship

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Today’s weird band is yet another suggestion from one of our greatest sources of weird band lore, our buddy Treiops, who also designed our bitchin’ double-neck guitar “W” logo. Treiops recently reminded us about a band he saw back in the ’90s called Crash Worship, which sort of took the whole neo-pagan tribal vibe espoused by events like Burning Man to its logical extreme. In fact, if I had to guess, I’d say most former members of the now-defunct Crash Worship (aka Adoración De Rotura Violenta, or ADRV) probably think Burning Man’s gotten pretty lame at this point. Too many safety rules. At a Crash Worship show, safety pretty much went out the window.

Crash Worship started in the mid ’80s in, of all places, San Diego, where a couple of percussionists named Markus Wolff and Simon Cheffins got together and started making music inspired by their shared love of early industrial/experimental bands like Throbbing Gristle and 23 Skidoo. Originally, the band was purely a studio project, but eventually, their live shows would grow to eclipse their recorded output—most of which is, to be honest, a lo-fi mess of post-punk/industrial jam sessions with lots of distorted guitar and tribal drums and not much in the way of recognizable songs.

But oh, those live shows. A Crash Worship concert might begin with the band entering the venue from the street, pushing its way through the audience with mobile drum kits and fire dancers, then assaulting the spectators with strobe lights, fake (or possibly real) blood, wine, whipped cream, ice cubes, smoke, green Jello, small fireworks and god knows what else. Two de facto frontmen, JXL and Fat Jack Torino, served occasionally as vocalists but mainly as “audience manipulators,” running through the crowd to hand out little gifts (fruit, hand percussion, etc.), exhort the wallflowers to get off their asses and dance, and rub various viscous substances on the half-naked bodies of any willing (or sometimes unwilling) participants. People got naked, people got dirty, people got injured. Mostly, the barriers between audience and performer broke down to the point where nearly everyone there felt like they were not so much at a show as participating in some kind of ancient ritual. “I reverted to a PRIMAL state,” is how one witness described it. Whether you believe that or not, it’s pretty clear that a Crash Worship show was a totally unique experience.

Throughout the ’90s, Crash Worship continued to perform throughout the U.S. and Europe, although their reputation for leaving behind a horrible mess meant that fewer and fewer venues were willing to book them. The band also went through numerous lineup changes, the most significant apparently happening in 1996 when Wolff and some other key members quit. After that, a newer member of the band named Quintron seems to have taken a more significant role—in one interview, he even referred to himself as the “leader” of the band, even though Cheffins, JXL and Fat Jack were still part of the group. Quintron’s elaborate puppet shows would now often serve as a prelude to the rest of the group’s show—puppet shows he later developed further with his partner, Miss Pussycat, as part of their New Orleans-based “swamp-tech” act.

By 1999, Crash Worship was finished, leaving a trail of blown minds and tamer projects by various ex-members in their wake. (See below for links to some of them.) Unfortunately, very little video of Crash Worship shows exists, and most of what’s out there is of pretty poor quality—although it’s probably impossible to capture the vibe at a Crash Worship show anyway. Video can’t breathe fire in your face and pour chocolate syrup down your back. Still, this clip gives you some sense of the chaos.

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Imperial Stars

First off: our sincerest apologies for not posting any new content in so long. We’ve been slacking, clearly. Also, we’ve been stuck in traffic. And that part is totally the fault of these guys.

See, earlier this week, a bunch of douchebags from Orange County calling themselves Imperial Stars thought it would be cool if they promoted their new single, “Traffic Jam 101,” by…get this…causing a traffic jam! On the fucking 101 freeway! Genius, no?

To achieve this totally awesome end, the group drove a big-ass van down the 101 freeway in Hollywood during Tuesday rush hour (okay, it was 10:30 am, but this is LA, people…it’s always rush hour), then parked it sideways across three lanes of traffic, climbed on top, and started performing a little impromptu concert for all the poor suckers running late to their auditions and yoga classes. Concert ended when the cops showed up and arrested all three guys for disturbing the peace and unlawful assembly, but a really lame-ass hip-hop band from the O.C. that no one had ever heard of was all over the evening news, so hey…mission accomplished, I guess. No such thing as bad publicity and all that.

Now, obviously, one crass but effective publicity stunt does not a weird band make, so you’re probably wondering why we’re wasting precious bandwidth on these clowns. Well, there’s a few reasons. First off, there’s the band’s publicity materials, which seriously read like they were run through one of those programs that translates text into, I dunno, Slovenian or some shit, then back into English. Here’s a brief sample, from the band’s Facebook page:

“Dynamic synthesizers, authoritative drum patterns and mainstay power vocals that remind even the average ear of greatness, The Imperial Stars pierced themselves into the heart of music history…Vocalist Paul Arabella exhales igneous verse that bridge chorus potential into hit records…Imbedded into the culture of hip hop from the ages of adolescence, big Paul reinvented himself in content and persona that parallels elevated status.”

Second, there’s the band’s actual music, which almost makes the press materials seem coherent by comparison. At some point in “Traffic Jam 101,” the aforementioned Paul Arabella (who kinda looks like Andy Samberg in O.C. hip-hop drag) drops igneous verses like, “In the traffic jam, bumper to bumper/Heat for your winter, cool for your summer.” And head Imperial Christopher Wright says he “play my music for the children of the stars.” Dude, did the “children of the stars” tell you to ruin the morning of thousands of strangers?

Last but not least, there’s the alleged reason Imperial Stars decided to risk arrest so they could subject Hollywood commuters to their crappy song. They did it for the children.

“We were thinking we needed to do something big to grab the attention of the American people to this cause of the 1.5 million homeless children,” guitarist Keith Yackey told a local radio station the day after the stunt. The group claims it will donate 50% of all proceeds from sale of the “Traffic Jam 101″ single to help homeless youth.

If this is whole thing is some kind of weird Die Antwoord style meta-joke, it’s kinda brilliant. But if Imperial Stars—who, by the way, used to make incredibly derivative faux-gangsta rap under the name Imperial Assassins—are trying to be serious…and I think they are…well, then, wow. Just wow.

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