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?