Van Canto defeat evil and save heavy metal in their new video, “Badaboom”

Van Canto

Sure, you laugh now at Van Canto, the German a cappella metal band that does all their drop-D riffs with voices instead of guitars. But when the shit hits the fan, you’re gonna need these guys. Because only a cappella metal can defeat the forces of evil that are conspiring to keep you from banging your head as nature intended.

In their new video for the awesomely titled “Badaboom”…which we can only hope will soon be followed by a prequel song/video called “Badabing”…Van Canto must save the day when an evil scientist and his Matrix-like horde of shades-and-suits henchmen decide to rid the world of heavy metal by stealing every heavy band’s guitars. They start right at the top with Sabbath and Metallica, then they skip further down the list to Swedish power metalers Sabaton, I guess because they needed to represent Northern Europe somehow and no one actually knows what Opeth looks like. Anyway, Van Canto come to the rescue because, of course, they don’t need no stinkin’ guitars…although they do have a drummer, because everyone knows that mouth percussion is retarded.

“Badaboom” is the first single from Van Canto’s fifth album, Dawn of the Brave, which comes out next February on Napalm Records. You can pre-order that shit here, and catch them on tour if you happen to live in Europe. If you live in America, like us, well I guess there’s always a chance Glee might do an all-metal episode. But let’s hope not.

Van Canto 2014 tour dates after the clip. By the way, which impersonator in this video is worse: fake Ozzy or fake Hetfield? Discuss!

Van Canto “Dawn of the Brave” Tour:
14.02.2014 RUS – Moscow / Klub Volta
15.02.2014 RUS – St. Petersburg / Zal Ozhidaniya
21.02.2014 FR – Strasbourg / La Laiterie
22.02.2014 CH – Pratteln / Gallery
23.02.2014 DE – Nuremnberg / RoFa
06.03.2014 IT – Milan / Factory
07.03.2014 DE – Munich / Backstage
08.03.2014 CZ – Prague / Nova Chmelnice
09.03.2014 DE – Ludwigsburg / ROFA
21.03.2014 DE – Aschaffenburg / ColosSaal
22.03.2014 DE – Hamburg / Grünspan
23.03.2014 DE – Hamelin / Sumpfblume
02.04.2014 GB – London / Underworld
03.04.2014 NL – Tilburg / O13
04.04.2014 DE – Bremen / Aladin
05.04.2014 DE – Cologne / Live Music Hall
10.04.2014 DE – Berlin / Lido
11.04.2014 DE – Glauchau / Alte Spinnerei
12.04.2014 DE – Düsseldorf / Pitcher
13.04.2014 DE – Dortmund / FZW


Wanna sing on the next Van Canto album? Better get your ass to Germany, then.


Back in college, I lived on the same floor with a guy who would crank the music from his dorm room crazy loud so he could sing along to it in the shower down the hall. He tended to alternate between…and I couldn’t make this up if I tried, people…Guns ‘N Roses’ Use Your Illusion and the soundtrack to Grease. I really wish I had kept in touch with that guy, who I think was named Dave, because he would be all over this German a cappella metal band Van Canto like Axl Rose on a Cheesecake Factory. Also, because I never got a chance to punch him in the face for making me listen to Grease every fucking morning for half a semester.

Assuming middle-aged Dave still sings “November Rain” in the shower as lustily as college-aged Dave, he’d probably be packing his bags for Germany this July. That’s because on July 14th, Van Canto will be recording a “Van Cantian Choir” for their next album, and they want their fans to participate. “You don’t have to be talented in singing,” says the announcement in the news section of their website, “you only have to be many people and you have to be loud!” Many people and loud, huh? Maybe they should recruit these guys.

This will all go down in a town called Dortmund, which is also home to a big-ass free music festival called Bochum Total which happens at the same time. So come for the Van Canto sing-along, stay to party with a bunch of sweaty Germans. You’ll need an extra-long shower afterwards and you can sing your ass off the whole time.

The Van Cantian Choir will appear on Van Canto’s fifth album, which the band is hard at work on as we speak, with a tentative release date season of “next winter.” Recently they just posted on Facebook that they’ve finished recording all the drum tracks and are preparing to lay down some of those sweet metal vocal harmonies next. We’ll keep you posted on their progress.

Oh, we almost forgot to tell you how you can sing with Van Canto, didn’t we? Apparently, you can just send an email to Disclaimer: They first announced this about a month ago, so it’s possible that all the singing spots are already taken. But hey, give it a shot. The worst they can say is, “Nein, danke.”

Van Canto

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German people are awesome. Don’t believe me? Just feast your ears on Van fucking Canto, a heavy metal a cappella group that is way more committed to making that “diggadiggadiggadigga” sound with their mouths than will you ever be committed to anything in your entire life. Yes, you probably love your children less than Van Canto loves singing “diggadiggadiggadigga” on Metallica and Manowar covers. That adorable a cappella group you loved in college? The Whiffengoobers or whatever? They are but dust on the heels of Van Canto’s studded motorcycle boots.

Van Canto have been doing their “hero metal a cappella” thing since 2006, aided only by a drummer because, as their website proudly states, “we do not do disco pop.” By implication, this means all other a cappella groups do do disco pop. So fuck off, Rockapella. You know what you guys don’t have? Drums. Also, druids and fire (see video below). Therefore, by definition, you are disco pop. Van Canto has spoken!

A massive shout-out to our old friend Richard from Army of Gay Unicorns for turning us on to these guys. And yes, Richard, they do turn us on. It’s not just a figure of speech. Just thought you should know.


Vocal Trash

What do you get when you cross Stomp, Rockapella, and the kind of highly enthusiastic but somewhat amateurish cover bands you see at B-list state fairs in places like Iowa and Delaware? You get Vocal Trash, a band that combines a cappella, found-object percussion, tap dancing, trumpet solos and, oh, let’s just throw a little break-dancing in there, shall we? I mean, why the hell not?

Vocal Trash was started about 10 years by a guy from West Texas named Steve Linder, who judging from the amount of eyeliner he wears probably did not fit in with the other kids in the Lone Star State. The group was originally pretty much just a cross between show choir and banging on trash cans—”Glee with a kick!” as the press materials proclaim. There was something goofy and white-trash but undeniably awesome about them, especially when they unleashed their junkyard swag on the confused but obviously entranced masses on the state and county fair circuit:

More recently, the band has slicked up its stage show by adding more instruments, choreographed dance moves and a very Stomp-like stage set—all of which can seen in this somewhat depressing promotional video. Apparently they do lots of corporate events and theme parks and such these days, which explains the snazzier production values and the inclusion of the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” in their set list.

And hey, we get it—they’ve been doing this for 10 years, and at a certain point, if the quirky junkyard show band shtick isn’t landing you those major corporate gigs, you lose the fat dude with the biker mustache and bring in the break-dancers. But we still shed a tear for the demise of the rag-tag group in this no-budget video, which looks like it was shot in haste before they were chased off by the scrapyard Rottweilers:


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Today’s band was suggested to us by a reader named Alex. Big ups to him, as the kids like to say, because the one-man rock ‘n’ roll wrecking crew known as Paska (Finnish for “shit”) is as weird as they come. It’s like if someone shoved Bobby McFerrin so far up G.G. Allin’s ass, he started spouting punk-rock a cappella covers of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Paska is one Ari Peltonen, and his entire shtick is that he performs and records, very, very badly, with just his voice–no instruments, no overdubs, just one clearly unhinged individual sing-screaming highly condensed, barely intelligible versions of songs like “Ace of Spades” and “Love Me Tender”, interspersed with the occasional really bad mouth guitar solo, random drum hits and whatever other noises he can muster in between sloppy gasps for more oxygen. Oh, and he does perform a few originals, too, like “Pain in the Ass,” “Sex Is Shit,” and my personal favorite, “I Fucked Myself and Fell in Love.” Been there, my Finnish brother!

Now I know what you’re thinking: “Jake, this sounds like what me and my friends do when we’re driving home from $2 pitcher night and everyone in the car is too drunk to work the CD changer.” But here’s the difference, my friend: No one would so much as buy you another $2 pitcher to see you and your friends drunkenly butcher the punk and pop classics of yore. Whereas this Peltonen dude has been doing his Paska shtick, and getting paid for it, since the 80s. He’s played major festivals. He’s toured the U.S. He’s released an album (2005’s Women Are From Venus, Men From Anus), an EP and various singles and 7″s. In Finland, he’s either sort of a national hero or public enemy No. 1, or maybe both. At the very least, he has his own radio show.

I think my favorite part of the whole Paska story is that in the early 90’s, Paska “broke up” and Peltonen began staging concerts as various “ex-Paska” members: the egomaniac lead singer was Jeesus, the cheesy organist was Johnny Blue, the disgruntled bass player was Jorma (Finnish for “dick”). Of course, all of these Paska “solo projects” also just consisted of Ari Peltonen jumping around by himself and screaming into a microphone, but that’s the genius of the whole thing, don’t you think?

Alex sent us over a crap-ton of YouTube links to Paska’s hijinks, and it’s hard to pick just one as our favorite. So fuck it, we’ll embed a few. He’s just that awesome.

First off, you gotta start by just appreciating the man’s raw performance skills, or lack thereof–and the fact that yes, he regularly does this stuff in front of attentive, seemingly appreciative audiences. So here’s Paska um, interpreting “Stairway to Heaven”, live and in concert:

Still with us? OK, now here’s my personal favorite: some wiseass edited Paska’s version of “Bohemian Rhapsody” over bits from the original Queen video. I like to think Freddie Mercury would have loved this, but I know he probably sheds a golden tear in rock star heaven every time it’s viewed:

And finally, for a good long stew in the sauna of Paska’s madness, see if you can make it through a mere 8 minutes (yes, this is only half of it) of his epic version of Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells”:

You didn’t actually listen to the whole thing, did you? Yeah, us neither. Just knowing it exists is the whole punchline, really.


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Edward Barton

Today’s TWBITW entry was suggested by a reader named John Collingswood (thanks, John!). Normally we’re not big fans of solo practitioners of so-called “outsider art”—any mildly schizophrenic creative type can hole himself up with an acoustic guitar and some art supplies and crank out all sorts of bizarre stuff that will inevitably find a small but cultish following and eventually score him a documentary and/or tribute album featuring at least one member of Radiohead. But something about Edward Barton and his convoluted backstory really appealed to us. He’s sort of Manchester, England’s answer to Daniel Johnston, complete with random connections to 808 State and the early U.K. rave scene. We had to find out more.

Barton got his start in the ’80s, recording minimalist, almost nursery-rhyme-like songs with his girlfriend at the time, Jane Lancaster. One of these songs, from an LP called Jane and Barton, was an a cappella track called “It’s a Fine Day” that became a minor hit in 1983 (according to Barton’s bio, it has the distinction of being the “highest ever chart placing of an unaccompanied poem” in U.K. history). The success garnered Barton, now a solo artist, a pair of appearances on a popular TV music show called The Tube, as well as opening slots for a number of touring bands from Manchester, although Barton has since said his popularity as an opening act was only because “I made bands look adventurous and/or compassionate for choosing me” and “I was willing to sleep outside the bands hotel in their van with an amplifier on my head.”

Also a visual artist, Barton directed the video for “Sit Down,” a 1989 single from James (the band that would later have that massive hit “Laid,” you know, the one with the yodeling chorus and the line, “She only comes when she’s on top”). He was also arrested for displaying an art installation called “Stolen,” which consisted of things he had shoplifted. In the early ’90s, he ran an exhibition space in Manchester called the Oblong Gallery, which was also eventually shut down—again, by the police, according to Barton’s bio, although it doesn’t go into specifics.

Barton had sort of an odd second career when he got involved in the nascent “Madchester” rave scene in the late ’80s/early ’90s. He co-wrote a very weird acid house track “Born in the North” with A Guy Called Gerald in 1988, and he hosted a popular Manchester club night called Hip Replacement which, according to Graham Massey of 808 State, featured such esoteric entertainments as “Ukrainian folk groups, life drawing classes [and] first aid demos,” as well as a “wardrobe orchestra” in which all the musicians performed inside different wardrobes (i.e. big pieces of furniture roughly the size and shape of a small closet). We’re not quite sure how that last one worked and no one seems to have provided a detailed account of it—so we’re guessing the concept never quite caught on.

His big claim to fame from this era came in 1992 when the house/techno band Opus III remade “It’s a Fine Day” as an uplifting club anthem, complete with a video that’s now so fantastically dated, it seems like a parody of early ’90s house music—but no, early ’90s house music was really just that ridiculous. The Ecstasy must’ve been really, really good back then.

After the success of Opus III’s “It’s a Fine Day” remake, Barton recorded a series of albums under the name Hush that consisted entirely of a cappella songs meant to be sampled by dance music producers. Hush samples did appear on half a dozen hit songs over the next several years, including “Happiness,” an early Norman Cook track released under the name Pizzaman, but none ever repeated the success of “It’s a Fine Day” or did much to boost Barton’s profile.

After the release of the last Hush album in 1995, Barton seems to have dropped off the radar a bit. Supposedly he worked on a project with Mark Day of the Happy Mondays called O.K. Cola, but we couldn’t verify this. He also released a record in 2000 under the name Pudding called “A Little Christmas Thieving,” which is still available on his website. But for the most part, he appears to have kept fairly quiet…until last year, when he finally resurfaced with a brand-new album called And a Panda. Based on the tracks available on his MySpace page, plus this YouTube video for a track called “Ginger Funk,” it’s by far the mostly elaborately arranged and accessible stuff Barton’s ever recorded–but it’s still pretty out there.

Despite his many accomplishments, Barton is probably still best-known in England for his first appearance on The Tube in the early ’80s. There, young fans who were perhaps expecting to see the lady with the pretty voice who sang “It’s a Fine Day” instead got treated to a spastic performance by a solo Barton, playing a battered acoustic guitar with a wooden spoon and declaiming a (for lack of a better term) song called “I’ve Got No Chicken But I’ve Got Five Wooden Chairs.” Here’s a clip of that immortal performance.