Gary S. Paxton

[Warning: Graphic Holocaust imagery ahead. Which really has nothing to do with this week’s artist, but…well, you’ll see.]

This week’s weird act was suggested by reader jlrake, who wrote in with all sorts of worthy weirdo contenders. We’re going with Gary S. Paxton because he’s responsible for one of the most popular overplayed Halloween songs of all time and a catchy little tune called “Vote Em Out Boogie,” both of which seemed pretty apropos for this week. If only he’d written a song about hurricanes, we’d be hitting the timeliness trifecta.

Throughout his 40-plus year career, Paxton has been a master of the novelty song. His very first hit, “Alley Oop,” was a Coasters-style R&B goof about a caveman from a popular comic strip, recorded with fellow nutjob Kim Fowley and a thrown-together group called The Hollywood Argyles. He followed that up with the revered/reviled Halloween party staple, “Monster Mash,” which he produced with singer Bobby “Boris” Pickett in 1962. But surprisingly, his music really took a turn for the weird after he converted to Christianity in 1970. His early Jesus stuff was fairly conventional, easy-listening ’70s gospel—like his most successful Christian song, the oft-covered “He Was There All the Time.” But his Amish-on-steroids facial hair was a clue that the dude behind “Alley Oop” and “Monster Mash” was, well, there all the time.

That dude—the Paxton who would eventually start wearing, y’know, gold boots and masks with his initials on them—really busted out on his second gospel album, More From the Astonishing, Outrageous, Amazing, Incredible, Unbelievable Gary S. Paxton (a sequel, obviously, to The Astonishing, Outrageous, Amazing, Incredible, Unbelievable, Different World of Gary S. Paxton). Alongside more conventional Bible-belt fodder like “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” were such immortal Paxton originals as “Jesus Is My Lawyer in Heaven,” “When the Meat Wagon Comes for You” and my personal favorite, “There Goes a Cigar Smoking a Man.” If Bible Camp had been more like this, I might have gone for more than one weekend.

Paxton’s next album, Terminally Weird/But Godly Right, further cemented his status as sort of a Christian cross (Jesus pun!) between Randy Newman and Wavy Gravy: a lovable but irascible old hippie writing catchy little songs that were easy to dismiss as silly but full of sly social satire to anyone who was paying attention. You can listen to excerpts of the whole thing on The Pax’s website. We recommend starting with “Fat, Fat Christians.”

A bizarre and tragic event nearly ended Paxton’s life in 1980. He was living in Nashville at the time and producing a lot of country artists. Depending on which version of the story you believe (Paxton’s, or that of his current wife, Vicki Sue Roberts), Paxton was shot three or five times by two hitmen hired to kill him over a contract dispute with a country singer he was working with. He survived, only to run into troubles with the IRS and develop a near-fatal case of hepatitis C. Oh, and he might have also had an affair with Tammy Faye Bakker. So the ’80s were a particularly odd time for The Paxman.

Since 1999, Paxton has lived in Branson, Missouri with Roberts, where he by all accounts (well, his and Vicki’s) keeps a fairly low profile. He can’t perform any more because of his health problems, but that hasn’t stopped him from churning out a steady stream of increasingly bizarre novelty songs, including “When I Die Just Bury Me at Wal-Mart” and “Frankenclone” (The Pax does house music!). He also does the occasional conservative wingnut screed, but he’s old and white and lives in Missouri, so we’ll let that slide.

So Happy Halloween and Happy Almost-Election Day, My Gary S. “Monster Mash/Obamascare” Paxton! We hope you’re still keeping it weird in Branson, even if we also hope “Vote ‘Em Out Boogie” only applies to the Tea Party and not our boy Barack. He’s not perfect, but Romney and Ryan scare the shit out of us.

Most of Paxton’s weirdest stuff sadly is unavailable on YouTube, but we did rather enjoy the zany lyrics (though not, it must be noted, the gratuitous use of gruesome Holocaust imagery—sorry about that part) of this little pro-gun ditty. You’re totally right, Gary, no handgun ever drove itself to a schoolyard. All inanimate objects are inherently harmless! C4 and hand grenades for everyone! And anyone who disagrees is Hitler.

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Weird Live Review: Peelander-Z

Peelander-Z and a lucky fan

Sometimes, we here at TWBITW gots to pay the bills. So my full review of Peelander-Z’s pre-Halloween extravaganza at L.A.’s Bootleg Bar can only be read on LA Weekly’s West Coast Sound blog, whose editors were kind enough to compensate me for going to the show in exchange for telling their readers how frickin’ awesome it was. And it was pretty frickin’ awesome, but for all the gory details, you’ll have to visit LAWeekly.com.

Meanwhile, here are a few more photos from Saturday night’s show, plus more Peelander-Z tour dates after the jump. If they’re coming to your town, you really should go see them. How many bands do you know with a unicycle-riding squid?

Remaining Peelander-Z tour dates:

10/31 Dallas, TX @ Club Dada *
11/01 Shreveport, LA @ Fatty Arbuckles *
11/02 Austin, TX @ Red 7 FunFunFun Festival, 1230AM
11/03 Austin, TX @ Yellow Stage FunFunFun Festival, 755PM
11/04 Houston, TX @ Warehouse Live *, w/ Anamanaguchi
11/05 Lafayette, LA @ The Feed & Seed
11/06 New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jacks *
11/09 Atlanta, GA @ Drunken Unicorn *
11/10 Nashville, TN @ Mercy Lounge *
11/11 Knoxville, TN @ Cider House *
11/13 Tallahassee, FL @ Rehab *
11/14 Orlando, FL @ The Social *
11/15 Tampa, FL @ The Orpheum *
11/17 Gainesville, FL @ High Dive *
11/19 Wilmington, NC @ The Soapbox *
11/21 Washington, DC @ U Street Music *
11/23 Brooklyn, NY @ Knitting Factory *, Brooklyn Vegan Presents

* w/Electric Eel Shock

Automusik

Austin’s Automusik strive to hold down the title of World’s Most Generic Pop Band. Their official bio describes them as “a moderately priced musikal entity”; their members are known only by job titles like Female Rock Unit Number One and Visual Viewing Unit Number Four; most of their songs, like “General Masses,” are heavy-handed parodies of trashy, mass-marketed pop and the vapid stars that produce it. It’s like if Kraftwerk were forced to turn themselves into a Lady Gaga tribute band, but couldn’t disguise their contempt for “Paparazzi.”

None of that, however, is what makes Automusik kind of awesome. What makes them kind of awesome is when they go off the We-Are-Pop-Shit-Robots script and produce truly bizarre gems like “Everything Is for the Baby.” Please to enjoy.

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New Die Antwoord video “Fatty Boom Boom” pisses off Lady Gaga and possibly all black people

So you know that new Die Antwoord video we told you about a couple weeks back? Well, it’s out, and it’s even more batshit crazy than usual. Among other things, “Fatty Boom Boom” features a Lady Gaga impersonator giving birth to a cockroach and the disturbing spectacle of little blonde Yo-landi Vi$$er prancing around in head-to-toe black body paint. Lady Gaga is not amused, and neither are the good folks over at Slate, The Guardian and TheGrio.com, who are calling Yo-landi’s paint job blackface.

So…is “Fatty Boom Boom” racist? Or are Die Antwoord just having fun with African stereotypes? Watch the clip and judge for yourself.

Look who’s on Kickstarter now: The Polyphonic Spree

Let’s make it rain for the Spree!

This Kickstarter thing is getting outta hand. Every time we turn around, another Weird List alumnus is passing the cyber-hat, looking to crowd-fund their latest folly. We’re not made of money, people!

But you know what? Fuck it. We should spend every nickel we earn from those stupid WordPress ads on our site to kick down some cash to artists like Anklepants, Christeene and Mission Man, because without them, this blog wouldn’t exist. So count us in for all your crazy Kickstarter campaigns, you broke-ass weirdos! And yes, that includes you, Polyphonic Spree. I just pledged 12 bucks and became backer #613. You’re welcome.

For those of y’all too lazy to watch the full video or read the breakdowns on the Spree’s elaborate and ambitious Kickstarter pledge drive, here’s the skinny: After laying pretty low for most of the past five years, Tim DeLaughter’s merry band of symphonic rock lunatics is gearing up to return with a vengeance in 2013. They plan to release a live album, a new studio album, a live concert/documentary DVD, and tour the globe—all with their usual contingent of 20-plus robe-wearing singers and violinists and piccolo players and whoever else they can cram onto their gigantic tour bus. Y’know, the usual Spree stuff.

Estimated cost: $100,000. Which sounds like a lot of money, I know. But if you think about it, that only comes out to like, four grand per Spreeling. Or to put it another way, about what Ashton Kutcher makes every two minutes on Two and a Half Men. So I’d say the Spree are keeping things downright frugal.

It’s also worth noting, since nearly everything that’s ever been written about Kickstarter seems to miss this point: The hundred G’s ain’t charity, folks. Everyone who pledges at least $10 gets something tangible in return, whether it’s a CD copy of the new studio album (which I’m getting for my $12 pledge), a digital “full meal deal” that includes downloads of both albums and the concert doc (for a very reasonable $35) or a “surprise handmade gift” from a member of the band (for a roll-the-dice $100—could be a doll made of pipe cleaners, could be a framed piece of art you’ll bequeath to your grandkids). So stop calling Kickstarter pledges “donations,” for fuck’s sake. The under $5 contributions could be described that way, but everyone else is paying in advance for a future service, just like you do when you buy concert tickets. Why so many people miss this crucial aspect of the Kickstarter economy (as when otherwise sensible media outlets refer to Amanda Palmer as a “Kickstarter millionaire”—like she fucking pocketed every penny from Kickstarter and paid for her albums and merchandise and touring expenses with elf farts) is beyond me.

Sorry…I’ll climb down off my soapbox now and just mention one last thing: The Polyphonic Spree also have a totally non-crowd-funded holiday album coming out. It’s called Holidaydream and you can read more about it (and pre-order a copy, if you’re so inclined) here. When do these guys sleep?

I’ll leave you with the rough-cut intro to that Spree concert doc DVD. Tim DeLaughter hearts you! Even if you don’t send him money. But probably more if you do.

Ping

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Photo by Lene Ask

This week’s band comes to us from Norway, which seems to have more weirdness per capita than most EU nations (see also: Mayhem, Hurra Torpedo, etc.). And even though Norway is only like fifth on the list of Countries Where They Actually Read Our Blog, this band kicked major ass in our latest Facebook poll. Somebody from the Obama campaign should hire them to run their get-out-the-vote efforts in Ohio. Ohio is kinda like Olso, right? They both have shitty winters and begin and end with an “O.” Close enough for government work, as they say.

But about this band, which is called Ping: They’re a prog/psych-rock/jazz/fusion/whatever five-piece who have been around since 1999, when they were started by guitarist Mattis Janitz and bassist/vocalist Jørgen Greiner. They list such TWBITW favorites as Frank Zappa, Mike Patton and Ween among their many influences (also Wilco, but probably just for the Nels Cline guitar solos). And one of their albums is called Discotheque of Darkness, but is neither disco nor especially dark. So while they’re hardly the weirdest band we’ve ever blogged about, Ping definitely keep the quirk factor high.

The fan-made video below isn’t really Ping at their weirdest (for that, I’d have to recommend checking out the very Zappa-like “Anyway But Now“), but it does feature a truly amazing array of misfit goth/metal fan photos, plus a few shots of some of our favorite bands (keep an eye out for GWAR). Our kinda people!

Ping’s fourth album, The Hurricane Spoof, came out this past May. You can get it, along with the rest of their catalog, from the Norwegian version of iTunes.

P.S. Want your heart and/or other body parts to swell with pride when you see next month’s reader-voted Weird Band of the Week? Then go vote in our new Facebook poll. You’ll have to like our Facebook page first, but don’t worry, we’ll keep it casual.

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Watch Matmos’ telepathically transmitted video for “Very Large Green Triangles”

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Photo by James Thomas Marsh

Matmos‘ ESP-inspired Ganzfeld EP comes out today and although we’re not psychic, we’re pretty sure many readers of this blog are gonna dig it. We’ll have a full review soon (in addition to not being psychic, we also have really poor time management skills) but in the meantime, we hope you’ll feast your third eye on the video for the EP’s opening track, “Very Large Green Triangles,” which was shot by l.inc design after they consulted telepathically with Matmos (i.e. they didn’t actually consult Matmos). It’s every bit as trippy as any self-respecting Matmos fan might hope for. And yes, it features lots and lots of Very Large Green Triangles.

You can buy The Ganzfeld EP in various deluxe incarnations here.