Monthly Archives: December 2010
Yep, another band has run the gauntlet of our Submit and Vote page and come up a winner. This time the “band” is the really just a lone dude from Mexico named Gerardo Preciado, who lives in the Sonoran Desert and makes music he describes as “a battle beetween Depeche Mode and U2, set in post-apocalyptic 1984.” It’s not, frankly, the weirdest music we’ve ever featured by a long shot, but hey, you voted for this guy. Plus, he does have a knack for bizarre videos and he says his latest album Revelator was inspired by having night terrors, which in Spanish are called “se te subio el muerto” which translates to something like being possessed by spirits of the dead in your sleep. So that’s kinda spooky-weird, I guess.
Anyway, here’s the latest Atlantas video, which Preciado’s bio says features clips from old documentaries about metaphysics. And spinning swastikas! Oh, he’s gonna get some angry user comments about those.
So a couple weeks ago, a guy we blogged about called Justice Yeldham posted something about us on his Facebook page and we were like, “Sweet! Thanks, Justice!” Then one of his fans commented, “That list is lame, they don’t even have Caroliner up there.” Which is kind of an annoying thing to say, but we’re used to it. There are many weird bands in the world and we’ve only listed 79 so far…the chances that we overlooked your favorite one, whoever you are, are pretty high. It’s a work in progress, people!
But then…THEN, Justice Yeldham writes back and goes, “good point they have little idea for a webblog called worlds weirdest bands.” Et tu, Justice? This is the thanks we get for blogging about your silly, glass-eating ass? That hurts. Probably not as much as eating glass, but still.
All that being said: we take weird band suggestions from all comers, fans and haters alike. We’re not proud. And it’s true—we had never heard of this Caroliner band. So we Googled them, and guess what? They are indeed far and away the weirdest fucking band we’ve encountered in some time. So thanks for the tip, Matthew Williams of Melbourne, Australia! You have proven yourself to be useful, despite your negative attitude.
Anyway, Caroliner…where do we even start on this one? Caroliner is, according to their Wikipedia page, “an Industrial Bluegrass/Experimental/Noise conceptual art band,” based in San Francisco and active since the mid ’80s. The band members have never revealed their real identities, preferring to operate under a bunch of wacky, Captain Beefheart-ish pseudonyms like Mittens Samdrags, Crap Hat Carson, Obsidian Skeleton and The Cretin Finfetter. In concert, they perform wearing elaborate, carnivalesque costumes and play a variety instruments, both familiar and homemade. And they cover everything—costumes, instruments, and most of the stage—in fluorescent paint. The overall effect is somewhere between Yo Gabba Gabba, GWAR, Chinese opera and that really bad acid trip you had at that college blacklight party back in 1989, where you were sure all of your friends’ pastel parachute pants were trying to kill you. (That happened to you, too, right? Really? Just me? Moving on…)
Caroliner have released a number of albums over the years, all in limited-edition form with homemade packaging ranging from burlap bags to canvas paintings to cardboard pizza boxes. The band’s name changes with each album and possibly even with each performance: It’s been everything from Caroliner Rainbow Hernia Milk Queen to Caroliner Rainbow Stewed Angel Skins to Caroliner Rainbow Wire Thin Sheep Legs Baking Exhibit to, more recently, (deep breath) Caroliner Rainbow Rotting De-Mastered Schooner Atop the Horse Corsery. On their MySpace page, they’re currently known as Caroliner Rainbow Blumebiegh Treason of the Abyss. “Caroliner Rainbow” seems to be the only constant. Their fans pretty much all just call them Caroliner.
But wait…we haven’t even gotten to the really weird part yet. According to band lore, lead singer Mittens Samdrags (aka Grux…or they may have had different lead singers at one time or another, we’re not really sure) doesn’t actually write his lyrics—he channels them from the spirit of a 19th singing bull named Caroliner. Or maybe he just reads them—in one interview, an anonymous Caroliner member notes that the band owns a book containing transcriptions of the bull’s songs. Either way, this explains the old-timey, bluegrass/Appalachian elements that sometimes turn up in their music, which otherwise is pretty much just a mad cacophony of psychedelic noise.
The identities of Caroliner’s members are sort of secret and sort of not. According to their Allmusic.com bio, they share members with fellow Bay Area weirdos Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, although Allmusic.com neglects to specify exactly which members. They are also “rumored” to occasionally feature members of Mr. Bungle. Two confirmed (we think) members of Caroliner, Chris Cooper and Jess Goddard, have worked with Deerhoof—another band we really should get around to blogging about one of these days. [Update: We finally did.] Caroliner records never include personnel credits, and since they always appear onstage masked and in costume, it’s hard to say who all’s involved. Over the years, probably quite a few members of the Bay Area’s experimental rock scene have donned the day-glo monster suits—which doesn’t exactly narrow it down much. You can’t spill a cappuccino in San Fran without hitting at least one experimental rock guitarist.
Anyway, here’s a clip of Caroliner in action in their hometown. Wonder if they’re available for kids’ parties?
(Photo copyright Thomas Rabsch)
It’s been awhile since we blogged about an oldie but goodie here on TWBITW, so we thought it was high time we give a shout-out to Einstürzende Neubauten. While these German art punks didn’t actually invent industrial music, they probably influenced its development as much as earlier acts like Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire–maybe more, actually. Guys like Trent Reznor and Nivek Ogre of Skinny Puppy definitely took a few style tips from Neubauten’s tormented, black-clad frontman, Blixa Bargeld.
Einstürzende Neubauten–whose name means “Collapsing New Buildings”–started in Berlin in 1980, and right away, they brought a scary intensity to their music and their live act that made the British industrial acts seems almost polite by comparison. Blixa and his co-conspirators, N.U. Unruh and Alexander Hacke (the most constant members in a rotating cast), liked using power tools and found objects as percussion, and they sometimes took their use of such objects to some pretty wild extremes. Early Neubauten shows tended to look more like construction sites than rock concerts: band members would drill holes in the stage, set fires, swing huge oil drums suspended on chains out over the audience, maybe do a little arc welding–oh and play some distorted, detuned guitar and yell a lot, too.
Eventually, Einstürzende Neubauten’s sound became a little less chaotic and by the mid ’90s, they were producing records like Ende Neu that employed actual recognizable melodies and instruments–though always with plenty of weird noises created on specially made instruments (like the “bassfeder,” a giant steel spring struck with sticks to create a twangy, bass-like sound) and always with Blixa’s distinctive, cadaverous vocals. But it’s those crazy early live shows and wildly experimental, almost unlistenable albums like 1981’s Kollaps that earn them a spot on The Weird List.
Speaking of Kollaps: here’s a video
from that album for the Kollaps song “Sehnsucht” from a 1986 film called Halber Mensch, shot while the band was in Japan, that pretty neatly sums up the early Neubauten vibe. (Thanks to reader “tertius” for pointing out the source of this video…our research dept. was clearly falling down on the job when we originally posted it.)
Once again, democracy has struck here at TWBITW. Our readers have spoken, and they deemed the most recent entrant on our Submit and Vote page to be weird by the widest margin we’ve ever seen. In fact, if your votes are anything to go by, Zayde Buti might be the weirdest thing we’ve ever blogged about. Either that, or he spent way too much time voting for himself over and over again. (We really should close that loophole. We keep meaning to.)
Including Zayde on The Weird List is a bit of a cheat—not because he’s a solo artist (although some of our more pedantic readers take issue with every solo act we’ve ever listed), but because he’s really more of a performance artist than a musical act. And calling a performance artist weird is a little like observing that kittens are cute. Weird is what performance artists do—and as you can probably tell from the above photo, Zayde certainly comes through on that count.
But music is definitely a major part of Zayde’s act. He’s even got an album out: It’s called I’m Lovin’ It and yes, that’s a McDonald’s reference. You see, Zayde seems to be endlessly fascinated with the advertising slogans and iconography of fast food—that’s actually a Wendy’s wig he’s wearing in his publicity photo. In Boston, where he’s based, he has a one-man show called “Hungry,” and he’s also been known to do guerrilla theatre performances where he dresses up like a Dunkin’ Donuts employee and does song and dance routines for unsuspecting DD customers. It’s all very subversive…or at the very least, it confuses the hell out of the actual employees in pretty entertaining ways.
I’m Lovin’ It is streaming in full on Soundcloud, and it’s worth checking out. If Weird Al Yankovic got together with those guys who do the “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell” song and made an entire album inspired by Naomi Klein’s No Logo…well, actually, that would probably be a train-wreck, but I’m Lovin’ It has its moments. Still, for the full Zayde Buti experience, you really have to watch one of his videos. They’re all pretty bizarre, but this one called “Hot ‘n Juicy” really takes the cake. Or burger. Or something.