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Well Worn Boot

Well Worn Boot

I know a lot of you foreign types read this blog, so let me explain something. Here in America, we have this thing every year called “March Madness” where suddenly everyone is expected to care about college basketball. It’s a tournament and the team that wins gets to bone every chick at the losing team’s school…at least I assume that’s what happens, because there’s no other explanation for why everyone gets so fucking excited about it.

Anyway, around here we had our own little version of March Madness with our latest Weird Band Poll, and the band that gets to cut down the net (look it up) is a little combo from Upstate New York called Well Worn Boot. I am excited about this because I grew up in that part of the world and these guys represent my favorite part of Upstate, which is the white trash part. They’re from Buffalo but they may as well be from Pigfuck, Arkansas. Except they’re probably a little too weird for that.

Well Worn Boot’s lead singer is a flute-playing hillbilly named The Plainsman. Their guitarist is a horse called Horse. Their bass player is a big baby called Baby Buckingham. Their drummer is a dead guy named Billy Klubb who, for reasons no one can explain, wears a tiny cow-colored top hat. They play music that has been described as “Johnny Cash meets Captain Beefheart,” and yes, it is very nearly as awesome as that sounds. Especially when The Plainsman lets rip with a flute solo. Then they’re like a cowpunk Jethro Tull.

They release comic books with their EPs, which chronicle the adventures of Well Worn Boot like they’re a bunch of drunken Upstate superheroes. The first comic/EP was called Fully Torqued and you can preview it here. The next one comes out next month and will be called Boot in Space. I assume it’ll be set in space but from what I know so far about these guys, it might just be set in Billy Klubb’s basement and guest star a nitrous tank.

Oh and they also have their own festival. It’s called the Wild Wild Fest and it’s happening this year Aug. 29-30 at the Willow Creek Winery in Silver Creek, NY. I’m usually more of a beer and bourbon guy, but I’ll drink whatever that place is pouring.

We’ll leave you with the video from “Drunk on the Highway,” which is pretty typical of the WWB catalog in that it features aliens, drinking and sex. Not necessarily in that order.

Actually, hold up. That one didn’t have enough flute in it. So here’s another one.

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Peelander-Z’s spring tour is going to melt your fucking face off

Peelander-Z

Photo by Brian D. Byers

With their whole Mighty Morphin Power Ramones shtick, I didn’t think Peelander-Z could get any more awesome. Then last year, they transformed from a punk band and into a metal band and bam! More awesomeness. I’ll never underestimate you again, Peelander-Z.

You can see the new hesher-friendly incarnation of Peelander in action starting next month, when they head out on a U.S. tour that is sure to leave a lot of sore necks and torn fishnets in its wake.

Peelander-Z On Tour:

03/08 Savannah, GA @ Club One (Savannah Stopover Festival)
03/18 Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald’s Upstairs
03/19 New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jacks
03/20 Birmingham, AL @ The Bottletree Cafe
03/21 Athens, GA @ 40 Watt
03/22 Knoxville, TN @ The Bowery
03/24 Atlanta, GA @ The Drunken Unicorn
03/25 Chattanooga, TN @ JJ’s Bohemia
03/28 St. Louis, MO @ The Demo
03/29 Springfield, MO @ Outland Ballroom
03/30 Tulsa, OK @ Mercury Lounge
04/01 Norman, OK @ Opolis
04/03 Lincoln, NE @ Knickerbockers
04/05 Kansas City, MO @ Middle Of The Map Fest
04/09 Denver, CO @ Marquis Theater
04/15 San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar
04/16 West Hollywood, CA @ The Roxy Theatre
04/17 San Francisco, CA @ DNA Lounge
04/19 Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theatre Lounge
04/21 Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
04/22 Boise, ID @ Neurolux
04/26 Billings, MT @ Railyard
04/29 Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St. Entry
05/01 Chicago, IL @ Reggie’s Rock Club
05/03 Toledo, OH @ Frankies
05/08 Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter
05/14 Providence, RI @ Fete Music

Peelander’s metal-themed album, Metalander-Z, is available here.

You gotta see this Winny Puhh performance from the Estonian Music Awards

Winny Puhh

A hearty tip of the gimp mask to reader Arno Tamm for alerting us to the existence of a brand-new video from Winny Puhh, the band that makes us wish we could crowd-surf all the way to Estonia. Apparently the Estonian Music Awards were last week—and in addition to taking home a well-deserved trophy (what do they call the awards handed out at the EMAs? I really hope it’s “Stoneys”) for Best Song, Winny Puhh also stole the show with yet another of their what-the-fuck-is-going-on live performances. Actually, this one isn’t strictly speaking “live,” although it was clearly recorded all in one take. See how long it takes you to figure out the non-live part.

In case you were wondering: Winny Puhh won the Best Song category for “Meiecundimees üks Korsakov läks eile Lätti,” the song they now famously performed at the Estonian Eurovision tryouts and later at a Paris fashion show. I’m not sure what else they were nominated for, but the fact that they lost Best Band to these guys did is a travesty of Macklemore-esque proportions.

In other Winny Puhh news: The band has just been confirmed as one of over 200 acts performing at Tallinn Music Week, which seems to be sort of a South by Southwest for Eastern Europe. They’ll be headlining the Rock Cafe on Saturday, March 29th. I don’t think we can crowd-surf there by then, but if anyone goes, please, take lots of photos.

Flaming Lips reveal their punk roots on previously unreleased 1983 demo

FlamingLips1983

If you left any Flaming Lips fans off your Christmas list, there’s still time to get them a cool stocking stuffer: a blue seven-inch vinyl release of the band’s second demo from way back in 1983, when they were just another scruffy post-punk college-rock band with a shouty lead singer (Wayne Coyne’s brother Mark, who left the group in 1985). The untitled four-song demo was originally recorded on cassette tape and has never been previously released to the public. Only 2,000 copies of the blue vinyl were released, all on Dec. 24th to independent record stores. Our friends over at The Future Heart have diligently assembled a list, via Twitter, of which stores still had copies left as of yesterday. There are also apparently still some copies of the Lips’ first EP floating around green vinyl, as well.

Wanna listen before you buy? Of course you do. It’s an on-demand world. So here, feast your ears on what the press release aptly describes as the Lips’ early “primitive shambolic drug-damaged punk-pop.” These first two tracks are called “The Flaming Lips Theme Song 1983″ and “The Future Is Gone”:

And here’s “Underground Pharmacist” and “Real Fast Words.” Dig that walking bassline from Michael Ivins.

And now, a message of holiday cheer from the Radioactive Chicken Heads. No, wait, scratch that. They just wanna say “Cluck You.”

Radioactive Chicken Heads

Usually when a band posts a new video this late in the year, we just assume it’s gonna be yet another lame cover of “Jingle Bell Rock” or some such tinsel-bedecked piece of crap. But not the Radioactive Chicken Heads. These costumed purveyors of snot-punk mayhem have a much more appropriate message for when you’ve just wasted your weekend shoving baby strollers out of the way in a futile attempt to find the last iPad Mini in town for your high-maintenance girlfriend: “Cluck You!”

Before we get to the clip, we should also mention that this coming February, the RC-Heads celebrate their 20th anniversary as a band with a show in Orange County, Calif., where they got their start. 20 years! Hope they’ve upgraded their costumes a few times or else the inside of that carrot must smell like a Port-O-Potty on day three of Bonnaroo.

Laki Lan

Laki Lan

We thought we had already stumbled across the weirdest band in Poland when a reader turned us on to Dick4Dick. Boy were we ever wrong. Turns out that when it comes to weird bands, the Poles roll deep. A reader by the name of Paweł recently dropped his own Polish Weird List on us and we’re still digesting it like a two-foot kielbasa. We’re not even sure where to start at this point, but the “meadow funk” of Laki Lan is as good a place as any.

Laki Lan (or Łąki Łan, if you want to get all Polish about it) is a six-piece from Warsaw or thereabouts. Their name means “meadow field” and they all dress up in goofy costumes evoking various creatures native to said meadows and fields—bugs, mostly, but also the occasional rodent, elf or other adorable woodland fauna. They’ve been around for over a decade and released three albums, but don’t seem to be well-known outside Poland, or at least among us Yanks. About the only things written about them on the Web in English are a brief Wikipedia entry and a fanciful bio on Last.fm that reads, in part:

Once upon a time, somewhere on the meadow near Warsaw, four insects got together and decided to form a music band. They wanted to play, but they didnt know how. After long months of practicing and rehearsing Butterfly, Grasshopper, Bumble-bee and Dragonfly started a psychedelic journey to the big city and thats how the world learned about fantastic live shows giving rare mixture of disco-punk-rock-funkin style of Łąki Łan (meadow field).

I wish we knew more, because there’s clearly some backstory to all the characters. But I don’t think Google translator is up to the task. Here’s how it renders the bio on the band’s website:

Once the leaf jełopianu met six amazing gourmet pollen and nectar …
Mon Kolny, Unruly Bonk hare Cokictokloc, Jesus, Marian, MegaMotyl and little elf named Paprodziad.
Paprodziadowi managed to dig out from his bundle bizarre bottle whose contents then offered all members of the Meadows canopy.
Suddenly, the wind ferocious dust rose into the air, it got dark as in the belly of the track, the birds were silent, flower petals pozwijały and terrible lightning pierced the skies were blue.
Fortunately, there has been nothing more than rain that soaked the wings and doublets.
So they returned to his true fungus, took out instruments and played ŁąkiFunka …

Actually, you know what? I take it back. That’s all I need to know about these guys.

In Poland, Laki Lan are most famous for their rousing live shows, which do indeed look like a funky good time. The band’s music is a highly danceable mish-mash of punk, funk, rock, house, disco and even drum ‘n’ bass. It occasionally gets a little weird, but mostly it’s just high-energy and fun, like this track called “Propaganda,” which based on the video I guess is about one of those girls with so much shit in her purse she gets sucked into an alternate universe just looking for her keys.

But Laki Lan doesn’t get any weirder than “Big Baton,” the clip our buddy Paweł sent us. They’re like the Red Hot Chili Peppers back when they had a sense of humor! And better outfits.

Oh and given what time of year it is, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this earlier, punkier Laki Lan video:

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Weird Interview: Haunted Garage

Haunted Garage new lineup

Haunted Garage in 2013 (left to right): Brian Beaver, Dukey Flyswatter, Erik Erath, Andy Chavez, Sean Fodor

From about 1985 to 1993, Haunted Garage was one of the most demented acts in the L.A. underground rock scene, famous for their elaborate, prop-heavy stage shows and frenetic, horror-themed punk/metal songs. But after releasing their one and only album, Possession Park, and touring the U.S. and Europe with The Cramps, the band called it quits. Mostly.

Since 1993, frontman Dukey Flyswatter (also famous as a B-movie actor in films like Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers and Surf Nazis Must Die, sometimes credited under his real name, Michael Sonye) has made several attempts to bring Haunted Garage back to life. The first two reunions produced only a handful of shows, but it’s looking like the latest incarnation of Haunted Garage may stick around for awhile. Formed just a few months ago, the new lineup features lead guitarist Erik Erath (who first joined the band for a reunion show back around 2001), rhythm guitarist (and professional makeup effects artist) Andy Chavez, bassist Sean Fodor and drummer Brian Beaver. With this new supporting cast, Dukey is more excited about Haunted Garage than he’s been in years. “These guys, they believe in the band,” he says. “They like the theatrics.”

Recently, I got to visit the band in their rehearsal space at Francisco Studios, in the industrial L.A. suburb of Vernon. I listened while they tore through a full rehearsal set, then we chatted for about a hour, drinking Jack Daniels and swapping stories. Portions of that interview wound up in an LA Weekly article previewing their gig at the Long Beach Zombie Walk. But I just had to reprint the full interview (with a few minor edits) here on TWBITW, because the story of Dukey Flyswatter and Haunted Garage hasn’t really been told enough.

Weirdest Band: Can you talk about how this version of the band came together?

Dukey: I’ve been trying to put together different versions of Haunted Garage for awhile now. If I lay fallow too long, I go crazy. I have bipolar disorder and I just can’t work a normal job with normal people for too long. I’ve just gotta unleash this pent-up energy.

WB: Were you working a normal job for awhile?

Dukey: Yeah, for a little while. I had a gig with Dinah Cancer and this other girl at a movie company’s daycare center. And then one of the women there—I put her kid into time out. You know, I was weird-looking; I had green hair and everything. So she started this rumor that I was yelling at her kid and yelling at all the other kids. That’s the time that sent me into my second nervous breakdown. I had one breakdown when the band quit and then right afterwards there was the [Northridge] earthquake. And then right after that, my brother blew his brains out. And then right after that, my Mom tried to overdose. So that was just a lot. It was just too much. So yeah, I do better on my own and being creative and staying up late at night—I’ve got insomnia a lot.

We’ve tried to do several versions of [Haunted Garage]. Funnily enough—we used to play this place in San Francisco a lot called the Chatterbox. It was a tiny little place. When the bands came in at night, they would take the pool table and stack the amps on it and put a piece of plywood on top of it—and that’s where the bands would play. And Erik walked in in a stupor one night and we were throwing blood and stuff around. And he was like, “I don’t need to see this crap.” And walked out! [laughs]

And then about 12 years ago, me and Gaby [Godhead, guitarist from the “classic” Haunted Garage lineup], we had a big party at a friend’s house, and we got these guys from O.C. [Orange County, California] to be the rhythm section. They were blown away by the [number of] people that came to the gig. So the next time we saw them, they were dictating to us what they were gonna get paid for each gig. They just decided to hold the band for ransom. So that didn’t fly.

That Gaby got offered a gig with the guys from Bottom 12, and [that] morphed into Virginia City Revival. So I was able to do one more revamp of Haunted Garage for one night only at Safari Sam’s a little over five years ago.

WB: That was with Gaby?

Dukey: That was with Gaby. We were going to keep it semi-regular, and I was booking some gigs, but he wanted to make sure that Virginia City Revival was going to be first and foremost. I could see the writing on the wall: Rehearsals were gonna keep on getting canceled. So that didn’t fly.

Trying to find reliable band members when you don’t have any money to tempt them with is like trying to pull teeth, you know? [laughs] You got money, you can get any hotshot kid to go with you on tour. If you don’t have any money to start something, it’s gotta appeal.

So it was just the right time that I hit Erik—and Erik and I are friends anyway. The rest of the people—it’s kinda like it was the first time with Gaby and those guys. It just fell in my lap. I’ve known Beaver before from this band Insecto. And I met Sean at this club where we were doing this cover band Undead Kennedys with Erik, which was Dead Kennedys covers all in zombie makeup. And then Andy I’ve known for awhile…

Andy: From Mondo Video.

Dukey: Yeah, from Mondo Video. Used to go there and see them shooting porno. They had all these weird bands there like Extreme Elvis and The Kids From Widney High, which were all these disabled kids. He saw the Safari Sam show and he really enjoyed it, so when he saw on the Facebook page that I was looking for a guitarist, he jumped on it. Plus this is the first time we’ve ever had an actual makeup man, an effects guy, in the band. The rest of the guys didn’t bother learning how to do that stuff.

Andy: Yeah, I work for a costume company.

Dukey: And his wife does, too. And I can do some. And these guys are starting to learn, too. Erik used to do his own zombie makeup and stuff.

Erik: Yeah, I did it in the Redwood one night with no mirror. It turned out OK.

Dukey: You do what you gotta do. One night, I think it was after we made the Cramps’ dressing room way too bloody in Europe—we were playing in Germany, I forgot where. Stuttgart, maybe. Anyway, we couldn’t use the dressing room. So we had to go up on these catwalks that were way high above the audience. We had to change our clothes up there and have little flashlights and little mirrors. No one even knew we were up there, it was so frickin’ high up. So you do what you gotta do.

WB: You said earlier that you have bipolar disorder. So is it when you get the manic energy that you get an itch for getting this band back together again?

Dukey: Absolutely. Being creative, period. I’ve been doing other things. But some things just don’t pan out, you know? I’ve been commissioned to write about three scripts, but they’re just kinda laying there.

WB: I checked your IMDb page and see you’ve still been acting occasionally.

Dukey: Yeah, I had a small role in a film called Reel Evil not too long ago. Me and Johnny Angel Wendell—he’s a musician and an AM talk show host, one of the few liberal ones—five years ago we were commissioned to write Blood Feast: The Musical. And we did, and the first draft turned out pretty good. But they haven’t gotten anybody to finance it yet.

WB: Were you always into music as well as the film stuff?

Dukey: No, I was always interested in acting. I always liked music. I love rock ‘n’ roll music. Me and my friends—it might’ve even been my birthday party—we’re all sitting around drinking beer, and we were just talking about some of the bad movies we liked, and the songs in them. And we were like, wouldn’t it be great if there was a band that played all those bad songs that we remember from those movies? You know, “The South Is Gonna Rise Again” from Two Thousand Maniacs!, and Strange Pursuits and Hideous Sun Demon and The Blob and stuff like that. And then the bass player called me up and said, “Dude, we’re gonna do the band. And you’re gonna sing.” And I went, “Oh, shit.” I hadn’t done any singing, except being drunk.

So you know, it just kinda took off for awhile. And then we found out that not as many people knew about the songs and they thought we were just making them up. So we started to make them up. And then as the band morphed, it just got more and more aggressive. It started out kinda bluesy, then it went kinda psychedelic. And then straight-on metal and punk.

WB: Do all your stage props live somewhere else?

Dukey: Yeah, they live at my house. They’re just building up now. Andy was able to score some stuff, and I’m asking around. We’re getting stuff sometimes right off the junk pile. I just had our corpse reserviced—you know, patched her up and everything.

WB: Does she have a name?

Dukey: Amber’s [Dukey’s girlfriend] just been calling her my wife. I think I’ve called her Monica. We’re gonna put a Miley Cyrus wig on her or something like that.

Sometimes it was hard to get the guys in the old band to fork over the money for the show. ‘Cause they were musicians first and they were showmen way second. But these guys like every part of it. So they’re willing to put some money forth in the beginning to at least get the show going. People expect some kind of a show, but we’re not up to where we used to be. ‘Cause on the last couple of shows [pre-breakup] we destroyed everything.

But the best thing about these guys is, they wanna do it. Sometimes it was like twisting the other guys’ arms. I had difficulty just getting them out of town, like to San Francisco. [puts on a gruff grouchy voice] “Why do we have to tour?” And then when they found out it was a gay bar in the daytime: [gruff voice] “Goddamn, look at all these queers hangin’ around here. We have to play this place?” They changed their tune later on. They were good guys.

Brian: Are you doing the bass player right now?

Dukey: [laughs] No, none of them…no, actually, I was doing the old drummer.

Brian: The bass player you guys had [King Dinosaur], he looked like Ted Nugent. Was he a total redneck or did he just look that way?

Dukey: You know, we made him that way. He was a total San Diego surfer guy. And we were like, this is not gonna fly. We were like, you gotta grow your hair, put on a leather jacket. I had the conversation for weeks to get a leather jacket. And when he finally got it, he’d never take that thing off.

And Gaby, the first time Gaby came in, he was dressed up like a hippie with a Nehru jacket and a peace sign. “You know, that doesn’t quite work.” And he says, “Oh, OK. I think I know what I’m gonna do.” And he just showed up at this club, the Zombie Zoo, about 15 minutes before we were gonna go on, in like a total Catholic schoolgirl outfit with this weird kabuki makeup. Brilliant. He stayed that way ever since. In his other bands, he’s still dressing that way.

I was lucky to start the band at a time in Los Angeles when the club scene was very vital. There were a lot of bands that were doing stuff like that, like Pigmy Love Circus, Celebrity Skin, Christy McCool. Tons of different bands.

Erik: I mean, just your average rock band was throwing shapes onstage and wearing weird clothes. It was quite a time.

Dukey: That’s true.

WB: Does this version of the band have the blessing of Gaby and those other guys?

Dukey: Well, the other guys and I don’t talk very much. But Gaby wished me luck in an email. There’s some resentments with one or two other members, but that’s the way it goes.

WB: You’re the sole original member—the sole survivor.

Dukey: You know, I hated doing that. That’s another reason I waited so long. I didn’t want to like, cheapen it, you know? Here’s Fear and the only one in it is Lee Ving or here’s this other band and the only one in it is so-and-so. All the bands that only have one member left.

Erik: It was hard to imagine Haunted Garage without Gaby …

Dukey: Yeah, he’s so dynamic. So when he was doing the revivals with me, it was fine, because it was me and Gaby. But after that it was like, I don’t know. I didn’t know whether it would work or not. But I had to just give it a shot, because I needed to do something.

WB: What’s the story with Peter Rottentail?

Erik: Yeah, what is the story? The first time I saw that thing, it starts grabbing me.

Sean: It almost knocked me over, dude.

Dukey: We used to have a demon suit for that, for “Welcome to Hell.” But we don’t got no demon suit no more. So my girlfriend is like a borderline furry. She’s got some furry costumes and stuff like that  She decided to give me that costume for my birthday one night.

At the La Habra Bowl, they have furry bowling on Saturday afternoon. She wants to go, but she works on Saturday. So we might start one out here.

WB: That can’t be easy to bowl in a full furry costume.

Erik: I was gonna say, they must put the bumpers up or something.

Dukey: You know, I think they just roll it [mimes throwing a ball from between his legs] like that.

WB: So was that Amber in the rabbit costume?

Dukey: No, that was a friend of ours. Nick, from the Radioactive Chicken Heads. But I may put Amber in the flying monkey suit.

WB: Whatever happened to the demon costume?

Dukey: Oh, that foam rubber just deteriorates.

WB: I always wondered how the GWAR guys handle that.

Dukey: Well, they have VacuForm machines. They just make another one.

WB: Did you ever play with those guys?

Dukey: You know, they say we have and I swear we didn’t. But we’re friends with them. We were at their shows.

WB: I know you played with The Cramps…and you’ve probably also played with The Misfits, Butthole Surfers

Dukey: Right. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.

WB: Oh, really?

Dukey: Yeah. That was amazing.

WB: He’s one of your influences, I understand.

Dukey: Absolutely.

WB: As far as the sound of the band goes…I was listening to Possession Park earlier today and it sounds pretty close to what you were just playing. But do they kind of bring their own flavor to it?

Dukey: They can play with it. It’s pretty close in structure as long as they get all the chords right and everything like that.

WB: There were a few things that sounded a little more Sabbath-y…

Sean: Yeah, everything’s down a whole step.

Dukey: And the solos are very whatever they feel like doing.

WB: Are there plans to release any more Haunted Garage material? Old demos or any new stuff?

Dukey: Yeah, two people and Sean, too, want to record for us.

WB: Oh, so it’ll be new recordings?

Dukey: Yeah. Basically doing each other a favor so they can have production credits. So new material will be coming out. And then there are a few more songs of the old band that I want these guys to learn.

Andy: “Little Green Men.” I’ve been seeing it on all the threads.

WB: Had any of you guys done stuff like this in your previous bands, with costumes and all? Or is this pretty new?

Andy: I was more black metal/thrash type stuff.

Brian: I might enjoy being in Haunted Garage because of my prop-rock pedigree.

Erik: Besides being in Haunted Garage 12 years ago, 22 years ago, I walked out on the band in San Francisco. It was just too much for me. I was like, these guys are too fuckin’ crazy, so I actually walked out on the band that I’m in now.

WB (to Dukey): Do you have to do things differently now to take care of your voice and your body?

Dukey: Yeah, I have to do a lot more stretching and back exercises and stuff like that. And I used to be all over the fuckin’ stage and I can’t do that so much anymore. But, this one person I’m seeing for my health says I’m still not too old to reverse some of the aging process. Sixty is the new forty, I guess.

WB: How old are you, if you don’t mind me asking?

Dukey: I’m pushing sixty. I’ll be sixty next April. But I only feel it in my joints.

WB: I have to ask, how did the mousetraps on the face come about?

Dukey: You gotta just [make] do with what’s around. There used to be a big prop house in Hollywood and I would go raid their trash cans at night. I got all these papier mâché cow heads one night from the trash there and we stuck ‘em up on this wall and threw the wall into the audience and had people smash them. We found this old antique fat shaker machine on somebody’s lawn and just went and used that for “Torture Dungeon.” Stuff like that.

Brian: People used to think those made you lose weight?

Dukey: Yeah, but they don’t. [laughs] I was doing that shit every night for two months and never lost a single pound. It was really fun when you put it up high—you could sing like the munchkins.

So anyway, I knew a lot of people in the S&M club scene that was just starting to come up at that time. It was just like, what am I gonna do with [all] these things? I don’t know how the idea came into my head, but it was like…OK, mousetraps.

WB: It’s an intense image.

Dukey: It’s not that bad. The rat traps after awhile hurt but the mousetraps are not that bad. I did play pierce my eye bags one night. That was kinda gnarly.

Erik: That’s a very delicate area.

Dukey: It was. I got shiners afterwards. [sounds of disgust from the band]

WB: Did you do that in a show or in the comfort of your own home?

Dukey: In a show. I’ve got it on film.

WB: That’s intense.

Dukey: It was intense.

Erik: More or less intense than a roman candle up your ass?

Dukey: Yeah, that was at a party. [laughs] I’ve still got the scar from that. I just don’t think like other people do. I don’t want to put myself in a certain league, but other artists that I like a lot think different, too, like Doug Stanhope, Sam Kinison, Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart

WB: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.

Dukey: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. When I was a kid, I saw some puppets do “I Put a Spell on You” and I was fuckin’ blown away. “Mom! Get me this record!”

WB: What’s the craziest live show any of you have been to?

Andy: I think Rammstein, when the guy came out on fire shooting lasers out of his eyes. That was pretty badass.

Sean: I have to think. I’ve seen so many shows so I have to clear the cobwebs. I don’t know, I mean, for me, that wasn’t really my cup of tea. I was more of a musician. I would go see musician bands. Like, everybody was into Kiss and I was into Queen at that time. Fuck Kiss, I hate that band. They suck.

Erik: They do. They’re terrible.

Sean: My very first concert that I ever went to in my entire life was Judas Priest when I was like seventeen years old. I saw them on the Defenders of the Faith tour in 1983. They had this huge stage thing with the monster with the claw that came out. [Rob Halford] comes out on a Harley. They opened with “Love Bites” and it was ridiculously loud. I was probably 15 feet from the stage. They hit that first note and I turned to my buddy and was like, “We are not standing here.” It felt like somebody was squeezing my head. So much sound pressure. It was insane. But they were great.

There’s a band out of Kalamazoo, Michigan called the God Bullies that’s pretty wild. There’s a really famous place in Kalamazoo called Club Soda. The Stooges used to play there back in the day. When I saw the God Bullies there, the bass player came out in a full clown outfit and stood with his back to the audience the whole time. The lead singer, I remember he had on these super-tight patent white leather pants and super-tight patent white leather jacket. No shirt. And he had this huge bulge, like down to his knee. And halfway through the show, he opens up his pants and pulls it out, and it’s a rotten squash. And he took this rotten squash and squashed it all over his body. They were really good musicians, too, but that’s probably the closest thing to this band that I’ve seen.

WB: Brian, what about you?

Brian: Strangely, I didn’t see many performance-type bands before I was in Insecto. But being in bands, I’ve always been kind of obsessed with musical power. Like you know, certain bands just seem to have that laser focus. My favorite band from my youth is Jane’s [Addiction]. They always had that. It was four people just musically focused [who] would punch you in the face every time you saw a show. From a musical standpoint, that’s always my goal, to have that wall of power.

WB: Erik?

Erik: Oddly enough, Judas Priest back when I was a kid in high school, too. I saw them in ’78, on the Hell Bent for Leather tour, with the motorcycle on the stage. And then the next time they came around [was] Screaming for Vengeance. That was the first time I took a full dose of acid, too. My ears were ringing the next day. The twin guitars…

Andy: Yeah. K.K. Downing, Glenn Tipton. You can’t beat those guys.

Erik: As far as what I can actually pull off playing, K.K.’s the guy, you know? Delay, whammy bar, wah pedal and just a lot of spirit.

Nina Hagen

Nina Hagen

So it being Halloween and all, we were going to make some wacky costumed act our Weird Band of the Week. But then we were going through some old reader comments and a few different folks mentioned Nina Hagen and we said, “You know what? Other acts wear Halloween costumes. Nina Hagen is a Halloween costume.” People have been ripping off her unique style for decades, to the point where some of them (ahem, Lady Gaga) probably aren’t even aware of the original source. So for all you young’uns out there, let’s get acquainted with the so-called Mother of Punk, shall we?

Nina Hagen was born in 1955 in East Berlin, at the height of the Cold War. She was pegged very early in life as an opera prodigy, but she was more interested in pop music. After singing in a more traditional German pop band called Fritzens Dampferband (you can hear one of her early vocals here), she formed a “rock” band called Automobil in 1974. I put “rock” in quotation marks because this was one of their more rockin’ tracks:

The song title translates roughly to “You Forgot the Color Film” and the lyrics are basically all Nina Hagen berating her boyfriend on their vacation for, well, not bringing color film. Apparently it was interpreted at the time as a sly critique of the drabness of East Berlin. Yeah, life behind the Iron Curtain was not fun.

In 1976, she and her parents defected to West Germany, and that’s when the Nina Hagen we all know and love really began to blossom. Inspired by the nascent punk scene on a visit to London, Hagen formed the Nina Hagen Band and began playing a theatrical mix of punk, glam and progressive rock, all punctuated by her increasingly over-the-top, operatic vocals. The music was frankly not all that exciting, but Hagen was developing into an astonishing vocalist and live performer. Here, for example, is the Nina Hagen Band in 1979, performing a track called “Naturträne.” It’s basically one minute of song followed by three minutes of Nina wailing over a bunch of prog-rock noodling, but this woman could wail over a Yanni record and I’d still camp out for tickets.

By the end of ’79, the Nina Hagen Band had already broken up, as Hagen went off to explore wilder musical frontiers as a solo artist. Even in this 1980 clip of her covering “Ziggy Stardust” on Swedish television, the style and attitude she became famous for is pretty much all there: the crazy hair and eye makeup, crazier facial expressions, and positively batshit vocals.

In 1982, Hagen released her first solo album and first album sung entirely in English, NunSexMonkRock. Richard Metzger of Dangerous Minds recently called it the post-punk era’s greatest “unsung masterpiece” and it’s hard to argue with him. From beginning to end, the record sounds like it was flown in from another planet, not exactly punk or glam or New Wave but somehow channeling all those forces into a totally original sound. The best-known track is an anti-heroin anthem called “Smack Jack,” which isn’t the weirdest thing on the album but which features a music video that has to be seen to be believed. Yes, that’s Nina in male cop drag. And Nina singing backup. And another Nina singing the other backup. It’s a Nina-palooza.

Hagen’s done plenty of other weird shit in the years since: One of the most amazingly ’80s videos of all time, “New York New York” (her only real hit here in the U.S.).  A Rammstein cover with the Finnish cello-rock band Apocalyptica, which is fitting since Till Lindemann stole many of his vocal affectations from Hagen. She released an album of Hindu devotional chants, with cover art featuring herself dressed up as the goddess Kali. She once told David Letterman about a UFO she saw over Malibu—actually, she told lots of people about UFOs. In more recent years, she’s recorded an album of big band standards, covered Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus,” and, sadly, lost much of her once-astonishing vocal range. She’s also become a devout Christian, which probably alienated some of her old punk fan base. But she remains as refreshingly kooky and totally original as ever.

We’ll leave you with one of Nina Hagen’s signature cover tunes. Sid Vicious may have punked up “My Way” first, but Nina’s version is untouchable, even after all these years.

P.S. Thanks to readers Singing Grass, Alex and Denny for reminding us to add Nina to the Weird List. Better late than never, right, guys?

Links:

Weird Live Review: Long Beach Zombie Walk 2013

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BRRRRAAAAAIIIIINNNNSSS!

Okay, so we didn’t dress up as zombies for the 6th annual Long Beach Zombie Walk. Instead of brains, we feasted on bacon-and-gorgonzola sliders from the Me So Hungry food truck. But hey, we were there to document. I didn’t want to get zombie gore all over my camera phone. (Except that I kind of did anyway. More on that in a moment.)

Zombies are great and all, but we were mainly there to see the bands. Radioactive Chicken Heads, Rosemary’s Billygoat, Haunted Garage and Metalachi, all in one lineup? We’d eat our mothers’ brains with a spoon to check that out.

Sadly, we missed Radioactive Chicken Heads, which was extra frustrating because we got there during the last 15 minutes of their set and just couldn’t find the entrance. Event security staff were in full-on zombie mode, too. “How do we get in?” we  kept asking, at barricade after barricade. “Ugh,” they’d reply, pointing vaguely back in the direction we’d just come from. Who do we have to eat to get into this thing?

We finally figured it out just in time to have about an hour to kill before the next set, by Rosemary’s Billygoat. We passed the time watching a lame wrestling show, a slightly less lame burlesque act, having more event staff zombie conversations about how to buy beer (“Where do I go to get my ID checked?” “Ugh! Ugggghhhh!!”) and, of course, people zombie watching. Not everybody went full undead for the occasion, but among the ones who did, there were some pretty cool makeups. Here’s our personal favorite, the only one we saw from which people actually recoiled in horror.

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Incidentally, I’m glad to see he wore his earplugs. Just because you’re dead doesn’t mean you can’t take precautions again tinnitus.

Finally. Rosemary’s Billygoat took the stage, and they did not disappoint. Frontman Mike Odd is a serious showman, entering on stilts through the crowd and performing their first head-banger strapped to an electric chair.

rosemarys5Throughout their set, R’s BG pushed the prop-rock envelope. There were pizzas sliced up into pentagrams. There were hearses spun in circles through the audience. There was a flaming baby carriage for their cover of “Hell Is for Children” by that “horror queen” (as Mike Odd referred to her), Pat Benatar. There was a flaming guitar, which I failed to get a decent picture of, but I’m posting a picture of it anyway because I love that one of the spectators in the foreground is a giant brain. [Update: We have since received a great shot of the flaming guitar from none other than Mr. Mike Odd himself. Thanks, Mike!]

The show ended with what looked like Manute Bol in a werewolf costume stumbling through the crowd. It was all quite the rock ‘n’ roll spectacle.

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Mike Odd of Rosemary's Billygoat

Photo by Todd Sharp

Next up: Haunted Garage, the recently rebooted splatter-punk ensemble led by the inimitable Dukey Flyswatter, looking fetching in an apron made of human skin (note the screaming face visible near the hem) and ass-crack-revealing biker shorts. (I failed to get a decent photo of Dukey’s ass-crack. To all humanity, my humblest apologies.) Oh yeah, and those things on his face? Mousetraps. Even the guy with the super-gross zombie makeup was probably like, “Woah, dude. Hardcore.” hauntedgarage7

“This is our first Halloween show in 20 fuckin’ years!” Dukey proudly announced. They tore through a short but furious set of Haunted Garage classics, from “Welcome to Hell” and “Bitch Like You” to “Incredible Two-Headed Transplant” and “Brain in a Jar” (complete with, yes, a brain in a jar, like something you’d see at the checkout counter of a zombie convenience store). The stage show was stripped down compared to Rosemary’s Billygoat (“We’re building it back up,” Dukey promised), but what they lacked in flaming baby carriages they more than made up for with energy, intensity and spewage. Right after “Welcome to Hell,” Dukey scored a direct hit on me and several other folks in the front row with a well-sprayed mouthful of what looked like blood but which I believe was Jack Daniels, Coke and red food coloring. At least that’s what it tasted like. Yeah, he caught me mouth-breathing, that bastard. What can I say? I was slack-jawed with admiration at their horror-punk onslaught.

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The whole band tore it up, but special recognition has to go to guitarist Erik Erath, whose screaming leads took the whole band into Priest/Maiden territory. Not bad for a guy whose brains appeared to be leaking out of his forehead.

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Oh, did I mention the giant, demonic rabbit? That’s Peter Rotten Tail, who came out and danced around for a song or two. There was also a flying monkey and some go-go dancers called the Gore Gore Girls.  But Dukey was always the center of attention. That guy’s a true rock ‘n’ roll maniac.

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After Haunted Garage, we stumbled over to a whole second fenced-off area for the Zombie Walk, which isn’t really a walk anymore—more like an aimless milling about, which I suppose is more zombie-like, come to think of it. Anyway, the headliners in this smaller area were L.A.’s preeminent metal mariachi band, Metalachi. We’ve already described the awesomeness that is a Metalachi show, so I won’t give a full recap here; I’ll just note that I believe they rocked this poor gentleman’s fucking face off:

Metalachi-fanmetalachiSo thanks for an excellent evening, Long Beach Zombie Walk! And sorry we missed you, Radioactive Chicken Heads. I’m sure you were a huge hit with the undead crowd.

Weird bands invade the Long Beach Zombie Walk: Metalachi, Haunted Garage, Radioactive Chicken Heads

LBZombieWalk

Usually I save my zombie impersonation for the morning after the party. But Saturday, Oct. 26th, I’m gonna be moanin, shamblin and bitin people in the head during the party. It’s the sixth annual Long Beach Zombie Walk Festival, motherfuckers! And this year, they’ve got a music lineup that’s practically ripped from the pages of this here blog.

LBZW 2013 stars three Weird List stalwarts: heavy metal mariachi combo Metalachi, reunited ’80s horror punks Haunted Garage, and why-is-the-lead-singer-a-carrot band the Radioactive Chicken Heads. As if all that wasn’t weirdness enough, they’ve also got monster-themed rockers The Rhythm Coffin, evil clown punks Circus Jerks, and whatever the hell these guys are supposed to be.

Tickets to the festivities are a mere $15 and zombie attire is optional…but why the hell wouldn’t you smear yourself in fake gore before going? Especially if you’re taking the Metro. Nothing keeps the panhandlers away like fake gore. Well, except maybe real gore.

For more info and to purchase tickets, go here.

We’ll play this post out with The Rhythm Coffin’s “Tombstone Twist.” Catchy like ebola, ain’t it? See ya in the LBC.

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