We have a first today on TWBITW: our first-ever reader-submitted weird band! Okay, actually, it was suggested by a friend of ours at the bar the other night, but he does read the blog. Or at least he claims to.
Anyway, we were a little skeptical at first when our friend/alleged reader brought up the old novelty act Barnes & Barnes, they of “Fish Heads” fame. (“Eat them up, yum!”) After all, if we nominated every novelty act that’s ever come down the pike for TWBITW status, this blog would quickly turn into “Dr. Demento.” And no one wants that.
But we started doing a little digging into B&B’s music and their long, checkered history, and we had to admit–even for a so-called novelty act, these guy are pretty freakin’ weird. Started as early as 1970 but not really doing anything of consequence until the late ’70s, when “Fish Heads” blew up, the duo brought a distinctly surrealist sensibility to their spazzy, New Wave-inspired comedy rock. And they were dark: Weird Al may have a twisted sense of humor, but he would never record a song called “Boogie Woogie Amputee.” Or name an album Sicks. Or, for that matter, sing a song about how when they took their fish head to the movies, they didn’t have to buy it a ticket. You get the idea.
The real names of Art Barnes and Artie Barnes are Bill Mumy and Robert Haimer. Haimer you’ve probably never heard of, unless you’re already a hardcore B&B fan; but if Mumy’s name rings a bell, it’s probably because he played Will Robinson on “Lost in Space.” Rumor has it that to this day, if you walk up to him and go, “Danger, Will Robinson!”, he will punch you in the face, but we can’t confirm that.
Random factoid: the actor Bill Paxton was buds with Mumy and Haimer and directed and co-starred in most of their early videos, including the clip for “Fish Heads.”
Even more random factoid: after an 18-year hiatus, Barnes and Barnes returned just this year with a new album, Opbopachop. The album addresses themes of entering middle age in such thoughtful tunes as “Life Is What You Do in Between Orgasms” and “Our Dead Dads.” Sounds like they haven’t lost it!
Since the whole universe is pretty well-acquainted with “Fish Heads,” we’ll leave you with a video for another B&B classic, the delightfully absurd and more than a little creepy “Pizza Face.” It’s sort of like Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face,” but with a thinner crust and extra cheese. See if you can spot Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea and actor Miguel Ferrer.
P.S. Is it just us, or does Robert Haimer kind of look like Jon Stewart’s mildly retarded older brother?