Blog Archives

Weird of the Day: Afrika Bambaataa, “Renegades of Funk”

Afrika Bambaataa

I’m in the Bay Area today interviewing DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist about their upcoming Renegades of Rhythm tour, for which they’ll be playing all vinyl culled from hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa’s 40,000-plus record collection. So I thought it would be a good day to give Bambaataa a little shout-out here on TWBITW. After all, he was in many ways a pretty weird dude.

This 1983 video for “Renegades of Funk” is a nice reminder that, compared to most of the crap on the radio today, early hip-hop could get downright avant-garde. Aside from the Sun Ra/George Clinton Afro-futurist costumes worn by Bambaataa and his Soulsonic Force crew, the track itself is a forward-thinking mix of squiggly synths, stuttering drum machines and Bootsy-style bass. It also name-checks practically every major funk and hip-hop innovator, civil rights activist, and the original gangsta, Sitting Bull. Class is in session!

My DJ Shadow/Cut Chemist interview won’t run here; it’s one of them there paying gigs for another outlet. But we’ll probably link out to it from our Facebook page or something.

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Weird Interview: Laki Lan

Laki Lan

After they topped our Weird 100 chart last month, we were determined to learn more about bug-themed Polish funksters Łąki Łan. But English-language info about the band is scarce. So we reached out to them directly. Here’s what they had to say for themselves via email in their (probably) first-ever English interview. (We’ve edited their answers a bit for clarity and coherence, but not too much—we didn’t want to lose that English-is-not-their-first-language flavor entirely.)

P.S. All questions answered by Laki Lan’s guitarist, Bonk.

Weirdest Band: You call your music “meadow funk.” What’s meadow funk?

Łąki Łan: “Meadow Funk” is a title of one of our songs (“Łąki Funk”). So we used it to call our music. We call it techno twist or techno live funk as well. Many kinds of music are intermingled: you have funk section, rock ‘n’ roll guitar, techno keys. We didn’t want to be a typical funk band or rock ‘n’ roll band. Nobody want to be a pigeonhole.

WB: How did you all first meet and come to play music together?

LL: In about 1999 there was a group of people who got a great passion. They visited [abandoned] buildings, industrial zone and many interesting places. We made a bonfire , smoking joints and had a good time. We had many very cool places in this time in Warsaw. Old communism factory…a huge factory about two or three kilometers from the center of Warsaw! Paprodziad was a spirius movens [spiritual leader] of this informal group.

WB: What’s Paprodziad’s story? Most of you seem to be insects but he seems more like some kind of mad wizard.

LL: He wasn’t a typical vocalist to begin with. He was a kind of showman or performer, a theatrical person on the stage, something like a mad wizard indeed. He did a lot of performances like changing brains to clump of grass. He was singing a few lines in a few songs, but we played almost only improvisation in those days. Some riffs, but it was open form on one chord on most of them. It was cool, but it was sometimes working and sometimes not, so we felt we needed [more structure] to get our show up. Paprodziad always was a writer, and he started to sing own stuff and we started making songs.

WB: Are your influences mostly other Polish bands? Or bands from other places, too?

LL: I think only bands from other places. We listened to funk ’70s stuff, James Brown and George Clinton of course, and RHCP [Red Hot Chili Peppers], Frank Zappa, all new stuff like Chemical Brothers or Groove Armada, techno music and house music, we loved it. And rock ‘n’ roll ’60s , all acid jazz, Jamiroquai, Snoop and all hip-hop stuff, Beastie Boys and AC/DC and Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, Slayer, and also Burt Bacharach or Elvis. And Bob Marley of course. And Prince.

But when we saw George Clinton it opened our eyes! We said yeahh, we can do it in the same style. Let’s dress up. Let’s make our own world. We tried a little bit to be an ambassador of funk in Warsaw because nobody playing this at that time. DJs played that but not a live band. In the late ’90s we have got only rock bands and old communism stars and awful pop stars. But most of them were really shit. It wasn’t our music, young people music. Only hip-hop and rap was interesting at that time.

We tried to be different and fresh like music we listened to, Chemical Brothers or Fatboy Slim. We always wanted to play techno as live band. Techno is some kind of jazz, you’ve got a groove full of places to improvise. We tried this on a really big techno party for thousands of people! We tried to play like Prodigy or Chemical Bros.

WB: What’s the music scene like in Poland these days? Are there many other bands playing your style of music?

LL: We are a village country so most popular artists are playing disco polo. It is our traditional [songs] but played on the Casio. Something like Balkan turbo disco. It is wedding music, too. But it doesn’t matter. There are a lot of bands playing good music, more and more. And more and more hip-hop artists using live bands so we have got more funk characters in Poland. We have got many reggae bands as well. They are very popular. I think people in Poland have a great feeling of black music like reggae or funk. It’s huge but still underground. It isn’t mainstream, but it could be in YouTube times. Times they are a-changing nonstop. It is good for us. But I haven’t seen any bands playing our style.

WB: Do you ever tour much outside Poland? Where is the farthest away from home you’ve ever played a show?

LL: We working on that. We were in Georgia farthest. We’re still waiting to show in New Zealand and Alaska.

WB: Some of your lyrics are in English. Do a lot of Polish bands sing in English?

LL: Not many but much more than ten years ago. I think people prefer Polish language because they could understand what’s going on, a heart feeling. This is poetry at the end. But much more people using English. Language is kind of instrument as well, so if you play funk or rock ‘n’ roll for example, when you using English it sounds good. If you play flamenco you [use] Spanish language rather German. It’s not a rule, but it is easy to make an odd thing doing this way. And believe me, when you get English texts and sing them in Polish it is a big comedy. Polish language is a very different, it is another context.

WB: To an English speaker, “Łąki Łan” sounds a bit like “Wonky One,” which means something like “Weirdo.” Was this intentional?

LL: It is a play on words. Paprodziad was writing a lot of stuff and he tried to use a Polish words to get English sound. We’ve listened only to western music almost (western meaning west from us) and English language is part of those [songs] like guitar sound is part of rock ‘n’ roll . So he [put together] Polish words in special way and everybody thought he sing in English. We love that because we were different and sound western but we used still Polish words. Łąki Łan is two words of one line of text, we said, “o yeahh!” It sounds great. It sounds like the name of the band. Many people in Poland still asking us what does it mean.

WB: Your live shows look like fun. Do a lot of your fans dress up in their own Łąki Łan costumes?

LL: There are much more! It is amazing! Thanks, everybody! When I see people dress up like me it is so huge a power and happy. They dress up like me, wow, and I only play music! This is nice.

WB: What are you working on these days? Will there be new Łąki Łan music coming soon?

LL: We are working nonstop because we love it. We have got new stuff so I hope it will be coming soon.

WB: Do you consider yourselves weird?

LL: I don’t know. It is hard to consider this from inside. It is normal for us. We are people like others. We know much  more weird people, everybody knows, but they are not famous usually. Really weird people for us are still normal when you know each other.

But there is one kind of weird people for me.

They believe in money.

More tour dates and free music from Here Come the Mummies, the hardest-working undead band in show biz

Here Come the Mummies

I guess when you’re undead, you must not need much sleep, because every time we turn around, 4,000-year-old funksters Here Come the Mummies are announcing a new tour and/or releasing new music. Slow down, guys! It’s not like you’re ever going to get too old to keep doing this, right? Stop and smell the flowers once in awhile. Assuming you can smell anything over the musty reek of those 4,000-year-old bandages.

To maintain their status as the hardest-working undead band in show biz, HCTM will be releasing a series of free EPs this year, starting with A La Mode, which they just posted in downloadable form on SoundCloud a few days ago. Here’s one of our favorite A La Mode tracks, a jazzy jam called “Limo Ride.”

They’re also touring their asses off (literally—I hear their asses have been known to actually fall off, along with various other body parts) throughout 2014. Here are the dates they’ve announced so far; more to come, I’m sure.

Here Come the Mummies 2014 tour dates:

3/1 The Fillmore – Detroit, MI
3/7 Culture Room – Ft. Lauderdale, FL
3/8 FunkFest – Punta Gorda, FL
3/14 Bluebird Nightclub – Bloomington, IN
3/15 Zorah Shrine – Terre Haute, IN
4/11 Mercury Ballroom – Louisville, KY
4/12 The Vogue – Indianapolis, IN
4/16 Varsity Theatre – Minneapolis, MN
4/17 Diamond Jo Casino – Dubuque, IA
4/18 Victory Theatre – Evansville, IN
5/2 Engel Stadium – Chattanooga, TN
6/19 State Theatre – Falls Church, VA
6/20 Maryland Live Casino – Hanover, MD
6/21 Mohegan Sun Wolf Den – Uncasville, CT
7/4 Haynes Apperson Festival – Kokomo, IN
7/5 4H Fair – South Bend, IN
8/1 Wisconsin State Fair – West Allis, WI
8/2 Wisconsin State Fair – West Allis, WI
8/8 Piere’s – Fort Wayne, IN
8/9 Riverside Park – Watertown, WI
9/19 Arcada Theatre – St. Charles, IL

Hear (most of) Here Come the Mummies’ new album, “Cryptic”

Here Come the Mummies Cryptic

For some bands, reinventing the wheel would be a form of sacrilege akin to watching an old bluesman suddenly bust out into Justin Bieber song. So we’re happy to report that Cryptic, the sixth album from undead funk-rockers Here Come the Mummies, is pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a band whose previous albums include such WYSIWYG titles as Single Entendre and Bed, Bath and Behind. There are songs are partying, songs about sex, and songs about how too much partying can lead to sex. It’s a sweeping epic about the human condition, really. Baz Luhrmann should buy the film rights.

You can listen to extended clips from all 12 of Cryptic‘s tracks right now on the revamped HCTM website, which has a slick new look and all sorts of interactive features (the fan photos from past shows are especially nifty). And speaking of interactive…here’s a live video of them performing the Cryptic track “Everything But” that was made using the French website Evergig.com, which splices together fan-shot videos into a seamless concert clip. Pretty high-tech for a bunch of dudes who’ve been dead for five thousand years.

Here Come the Mummies just hit their Kickstarter goal. You’re off the hook this time, cheapskates.

HCTM

We’ve asked you, our soft-touch readers, to help out many a weird band via Kickstarter in the past. But this time around, we don’t need to ask. Yes, in just 12 days, Here Come the Mummies have already hit their Kickstarter fundraising goal of $50,069. So everything else from here on out is gravy—but hey, if you wanna give a bunch of horndog Mummies some gravy, be our guest.

All that coin is gonna help fund the release and promotion of Cryptic, the Mummies’ latest and greatest funk bomb of a studio album. It’s due out sometime in May and, as is usually the case, Kickstarter backers get first crack at it. Track titles include “Chaperone,” “Petting Zoo” and “You Know the Drill,” so we can safely assume HCTM have still not exhausted all the endless possibilities of their favorite topic, bumpin’ uglies. (And since these guys have been dead for 4,000 years, the emphasis is definitely on “ugly.”)

Click here to read more about Cryptic and watch one of those cute little Kickstarter videos; this one features the Mummies demonstrating how totally unqualified they are to hold down any kind of day job. We know the feeling, guys! Which is why I’m not sure Jake and I will be pledging anything this time around—although the custom voicemail greeting at $75 is mighty tempting.

Let’s play this post out with some live Mummies. If that’s not a contradiction in terms.

Weird Live Review: Here Come the Mummies

Mummies for nothing: Get a free album download from Here Come the Mummies

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You gotta set the funk free, don’t you? If that’s not a P-Funk lyric, it should be. With that in mind, undead funketeers Here Come the Mummies are making their latest album, Bed, Bath & Behind, free for a limited time (today and tomorrow only) via NoiseTrade. So get downloadin’ and savor the sweet, funky sounds of freedom. And be sure to leave a tip—which I guess technically means the album ain’t free any more, but tipping sounds more fun than paying, doesn’t it? Just imagine you’re sticking a few bucks in the Mummies’ Cowbelts.

In other HCTM news: The Bandaged Boys are gearing up for their latest U.S. tour, and Andy and I plan to be on hand for their L.A. show to shake a leg and give you, dear readers, a full report. Well, Andy will give you a report; I’ll probably be stumbling down Sunset Blvd. looking for a cab and wondering where my pants went. That bastard always ditches me after the 10th Jäger bomb.

I’ll play this post out with a live rendition of “That’s What She Said,” one of the many tasty morsels on that free album you should be downloading already. Enjoy.

Here Come the Mummies announce “If the Clown Shoe Fits” tour

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Anubis be praised! (No? Not an Egyptology crowd tonight? Fine…) Here Come the Mummies are bringing their reanimated funk back on the road…and this time, for the first time in like, forever (well, OK, for as long as we’ve known about them, which to be fair has only been about a year), they’re playing a show here in L.A.! Jake and I will be there with bandages and corpse paint on, baby, ready to let our freak flags fly.

But wait, the news gets cooler. HCTM are also pulling a Louis C.K. and selling tickets directly through their website, keeping convenience charges low and throwing in a few perks like a $5 gift certificate to the Mummies online store. Pretty savvy for a bunch of dudes who’ve been dead for 3,000 years.

Here are the full dates for what they’ve dubbed the “If the Clown Shoe Fits” tour. Clowns and mummies? It’s like the birthday party I was so cruelly denied as a six-year-old.

Sep 21     Toledo, OH     Headliners
Sep 22     Urbana, IL     Canopy Club
Oct 4     West Hollywood, CA     House of Blues
Oct 5     Santa Ynez, CA     Chumash Casino Resort
Oct 6     Las Vegas, NV     Hard Rock Las Vegas
Oct 7     Tucson, AZ     Rialto Theatre
Oct 11     Nashville, TN     Live On The Green
Oct 12     Bloomington, IN     The Bluebird
Oct 13     St. Louis, MO     The Pageant
Oct 14     Lincoln, NE     Rococo Theatre
Oct 18     Lexington, KY     Buster’s Billiards & Backroom
Oct 19     Ft. Wayne, IN     Pierre’s
Oct 20     Mansfield, OH     Renaissance Theatre
Oct 25     Madison, WI     Majestic Theatre
Oct 26     Onamia, MN     Grand Casino Mille Lacs
Oct 27     Hinkley, MN     Grand Casino Amphitheater
Nov 1     Joliet, IL     MoJoes
Nov 2     Macomb, IL     COFAC Recital Hall
Nov 3     Dubuque, IA     Diamond Jo Casino
Nov 10     Cincinnati, OH     Taft Theatre
Nov 16     Indianapolis, IN     Vogue Theater
Nov 17     South Bend, IN     Club Fever

That 1 Guy

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It’s been awhile since we blogged about an artist who plays homemade instruments. So let’s fix that this week by making That 1 Guy, creator of the Magic Pipe, our Weird Band of the Week.

Now I know what you’re thinking: “Dude, I play my Magic Pipe every night! Usually to pictures of Kate Upton.” But That 1 Guy’s Magic Pipe is both longer and cooler than yours, my friend. Hooked up to various electronics and a few bass strings, it’s a seven-foot, harp-shaped weapon of mass awesomeness that, in the hands of That 1 Guy’s Mike Silverman (who is, indeed, just one guy), can sound as funky as a Les Claypool bassline, as evil as a Nine Inch Nails song, and as goofy as, oh, let’s say Ween, all in the same song. Lots of artists these days use loops and electronics to do the whole one-man-band thing, but few do it with more oddball swag than That 1 Guy.

Silverman is a highly trained jazz bassist who got so bored with the limitations of his instrument that he decided to start making his own gear. In addition his signature instrument, the Magic Pipe, which is sort of like a Chapman stick on steroids, he’s also concocted the Magic Boot, the Magic Flute and the Magic Saw. Apparently, he even does magic tricks in his act now. If he ever asks you to pick a card, go for the Joker. (Did we mention that That 1 Guy’s songs tend to be hilariously silly? Well, they do.)

That 1 Guy has collaborated with fellow weirdos like Buckethead (subject of a future Weird Band of the Week pick, we promise—hang in there, Ian!), but mostly, he does solo shows like the one in the video below. When you can generate that much noise all by yourself, who needs collaborators?

P.S.: Shout out to our new biggest fan, Sheavy, for reminding us about this guy. Glad you like the site, buddy! Have you come around to Die Antwoord yet?

Links:

Here Comes the Mummies are playing the Indy 500

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We’re not sure what mummies and auto racing have in common. But something about the stanky-sweet undead funk of Here Come the Mummies seems to have the folks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway sold. After playing there last year for the 2011 Indy 500, they’ve been invited back for the 2012 edition of America’s most prestigious event that involves driving cars around in a big circle really, really fast. (So far, the only other confirmed musical act appears to be Lynyrd Skynyrd, who at this point are basically undead, too.)

I should probably point out that the Mummies are not playing the actual race itself, which happens Sunday, May 27th. They’re playing the “Pole Day Qualifications.” I was really hoping that’s some kind of stripper competition, but my one friend who actually cares about auto racing just burst my bubble and informed me it’s the day the drivers compete to see who gets prime position at the start of the race. “Pole Day” happens on Saturday, May 19th and unlike the Indy 500 itself, which is mostly sold out, you can still get tickets for it—for a mere 15 bucks—here.

The Mummies play the Coke Stage at 6:15 p.m. Wonder if Coke knows its corporate banners will be accompanied by a bunch of dudes in mummy costumes whose set list typically includes songs like “Attack of the Wiener Man” and “Libido Knievel”? We hear they do a “PG version” of their set for events like the Indy 500, though. Wouldn’t want to upset those God-fearing NASCAR fans. And yes, I know the Indy 500’s not NASCAR. Split hairs, why don’t you?

Let’s play this post out with a clip from the Mummies’ concert DVD, Undead Live. More cowbelt!

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