In their 28 years on our pathetic excuse for a planet, GWAR has cut a pretty wide swath of destruction. But for reasons that remain murkier than the inside of Oderus’s codpiece, Japan has been spared…until now.
This March, GWAR will play their first-ever* shows in the nation that gave us a shrimp-themed jazz/funk band and a J-pop trio that looks like this. So I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that the Scumdogs of the Universe will be a big hit in Osaka and Tokyo. Plus, they’re apparently bringing their pet T-Rex Gor-Gor with them, and we all know that if there’s one thing Japanese people love, it’s getting their asses kicked by giant dinosaurs. That and metal played by schoolgirls. Maybe new guitarist Pustulus Maximus can wear a plaid skirt for the occasion.
Even space-traveling demon-gods need to plan their tours efficiently, so GWAR will also be swinging through Australia to play the Soundwave Festival, a touring punk/rock/metal festival with a lineup so good I almost don’t mind that it includes Panic! At the Disco. Almost.
Anyway, for all you folks on the other side of our pathetic excuse for a planet, here are the full dates:
GWAR Australia/Japan Tour
2/22/14: Soundwave Festival Brisbane 2/23/14: Soundwave Festival Sydney 2/28/14: Soundwave Festival Melbourne 3/1/14: Soundwave Festival Adelaide 3/3/14: Soundwave Festival Perth 3/6: Osaka, Japan @ BIG CAT 3/7: Tokyo, Japan @ Akasaka BLITZ
In other news we meant to tell you about sooner: GWAR released their latest album, Battle Maximus, last fall. You can score yourself a copy here and watch the video for “Madness at the Core of Time” below. We can attest from personal experience that yes, that’s really what a GWAR show looks like. Except it’s even grosser in person. Can’t let Oderus spew his demon spunk all over that expensive camera equipment.
*That concert DVD Live From Mt. Fuji? “Recorded in the future!” according to Oderus. Or Pittsburgh, according to Wikipedia.
Okay, so we didn’t dress up as zombies for the 6th annual Long Beach Zombie Walk. Instead of brains, we feasted on bacon-and-gorgonzola sliders from the Me So Hungry food truck. But hey, we were there to document. I didn’t want to get zombie gore all over my camera phone. (Except that I kind of did anyway. More on that in a moment.)
Zombies are great and all, but we were mainly there to see the bands. Radioactive Chicken Heads, Rosemary’s Billygoat, Haunted Garage and Metalachi, all in one lineup? We’d eat our mothers’ brains with a spoon to check that out.
Sadly, we missed Radioactive Chicken Heads, which was extra frustrating because we got there during the last 15 minutes of their set and just couldn’t find the entrance. Event security staff were in full-on zombie mode, too. “How do we get in?” we kept asking, at barricade after barricade. “Ugh,” they’d reply, pointing vaguely back in the direction we’d just come from. Who do we have to eat to get into this thing?
We finally figured it out just in time to have about an hour to kill before the next set, by Rosemary’s Billygoat. We passed the time watching a lame wrestling show, a slightly less lame burlesque act, having more event staff zombie conversations about how to buy beer (“Where do I go to get my ID checked?” “Ugh! Ugggghhhh!!”) and, of course, people zombie watching. Not everybody went full undead for the occasion, but among the ones who did, there were some pretty cool makeups. Here’s our personal favorite, the only one we saw from which people actually recoiled in horror.
Incidentally, I’m glad to see he wore his earplugs. Just because you’re dead doesn’t mean you can’t take precautions again tinnitus.
Finally. Rosemary’s Billygoat took the stage, and they did not disappoint. Frontman Mike Odd is a serious showman, entering on stilts through the crowd and performing their first head-banger strapped to an electric chair.
Throughout their set, R’s BG pushed the prop-rock envelope. There were pizzas sliced up into pentagrams. There were hearses spun in circles through the audience. There was a flaming baby carriage for their cover of “Hell Is for Children” by that “horror queen” (as Mike Odd referred to her), Pat Benatar. There was a flaming guitar, which I failed to get a decent picture of, but I’m posting a picture of it anyway because I love that one of the spectators in the foreground is a giant brain. [Update: We have since received a great shot of the flaming guitar from none other than Mr. Mike Odd himself. Thanks, Mike!]
The show ended with what looked like Manute Bol in a werewolf costume stumbling through the crowd. It was all quite the rock ‘n’ roll spectacle.
Next up: Haunted Garage, the recently rebooted splatter-punk ensemble led by the inimitable Dukey Flyswatter, looking fetching in an apron made of human skin (note the screaming face visible near the hem) and ass-crack-revealing biker shorts. (I failed to get a decent photo of Dukey’s ass-crack. To all humanity, my humblest apologies.) Oh yeah, and those things on his face? Mousetraps. Even the guy with the super-gross zombie makeup was probably like, “Woah, dude. Hardcore.”
“This is our first Halloween show in 20 fuckin’ years!” Dukey proudly announced. They tore through a short but furious set of Haunted Garage classics, from “Welcome to Hell” and “Bitch Like You” to “Incredible Two-Headed Transplant” and “Brain in a Jar” (complete with, yes, a brain in a jar, like something you’d see at the checkout counter of a zombie convenience store). The stage show was stripped down compared to Rosemary’s Billygoat (“We’re building it back up,” Dukey promised), but what they lacked in flaming baby carriages they more than made up for with energy, intensity and spewage. Right after “Welcome to Hell,” Dukey scored a direct hit on me and several other folks in the front row with a well-sprayed mouthful of what looked like blood but which I believe was Jack Daniels, Coke and red food coloring. At least that’s what it tasted like. Yeah, he caught me mouth-breathing, that bastard. What can I say? I was slack-jawed with admiration at their horror-punk onslaught.
The whole band tore it up, but special recognition has to go to guitarist Erik Erath, whose screaming leads took the whole band into Priest/Maiden territory. Not bad for a guy whose brains appeared to be leaking out of his forehead.
Oh, did I mention the giant, demonic rabbit? That’s Peter Rotten Tail, who came out and danced around for a song or two. There was also a flying monkey and some go-go dancers called the Gore Gore Girls. But Dukey was always the center of attention. That guy’s a true rock ‘n’ roll maniac.
After Haunted Garage, we stumbled over to a whole second fenced-off area for the Zombie Walk, which isn’t really a walk anymore—more like an aimless milling about, which I suppose is more zombie-like, come to think of it. Anyway, the headliners in this smaller area were L.A.’s preeminent metal mariachi band, Metalachi. We’ve already described the awesomeness that is a Metalachi show, so I won’t give a full recap here; I’ll just note that I believe they rocked this poor gentleman’s fucking face off:
So thanks for an excellent evening, Long Beach Zombie Walk! And sorry we missed you, Radioactive Chicken Heads. I’m sure you were a huge hit with the undead crowd.
So in perusing the music lineup for this Saturday’s Long Beach Zombie Walk, Andy and I realized that there are a lot of weird bands right in our own backyard that haven’t made it onto the Weird List yet. Clearly, we need to get out more. I blame my Xbox. Have you guys played GTA5 yet? Holy Christ. Shit’s basically gamer meth. Now what were we talking about?
Oh yeah: Weird L.A. bands, many of whom will be in Long Beach this weekend rockin’ out for a bunch of zombies. Including this week’s WBOTW, Rosemary’s Billygoat.
Rosemary’s Billygoat is a costumed comedy cock-rock four piece that’s been kicking around our City of Lost Angels since the early ’90s. And yes, I know “costumed comedy cock-rock” is way too much alliteration for a Wednesday, but that’s what the music of Rosemary’s Billygoat does to me. It’s like if you threw AC/DC and GWAR into a pentagram-shaped MMA cage and made them hurl gnarly riffs and hunks of animal flesh at each other until they conjured up a goat-headed demon army that then proceeded to devour both bands and absorb their power.
I won’t go into the full RB backstory here because a guy named Paul K. from the band Imperial Butt Wizards already nailed it. But here, because I’m a lazy bastard, is a brief excerpt:
The fledgling group went through a number of drummers, none of whom were truly capable of understanding Mike [Odd, lead singer] and Neal [Gargantua, guitarist]’s world view, until they happened upon a part-time motorcycle racer and demolition derby driver by the name of Paul Bearer. The only audition this Evil Knievel of the trap set needed was revealing that once, while working for a moving company, he had stolen a pair of Rod Stewart’s pants (they’re the tight leopard- skin ones; every once in a while, when he’s feeling generous towards the rest of humanity, Paul will wear them on stage). It turned out to be a fortuitous choice: pants aside, Paul proved to be one of the top drummers in Los Angeles, a serious student of percussion, something like Ginger Baker but with a personality.
I guess early Billygoat shows featured a big furry cross upon which Mike Odd would crucify himself, and something called a “flaming pizza of death” and possibly cross-dressing, although that last one is from Wikipedia and Wikipedia is often full of shit.
Eventually they decided to take their own name more literally and went for more of a Satanic goat horn motif. They built helmets with horns, hats with horns…even one of Neal Gargantua’s guitars has giant fucking goat horns on it. If they ever add a keyboard player to their lineup, you know they’ll have the poor bastard gluing goat horns onto his expensive Roland electric piano. Except that’ll never happen, because like any self-respecting Sabbath/AC/DC-influenced metal band knows, keyboards are for pussies.
Bonus fun fact: Lead singer Mike Odd is also the proprietor of the Rosemary’s Billygoat Odditorium, an online stop carrying such truly odd shit as coffin coffee tables and belt buckles shaped like Cthulhu. Apparently he actually had an Odditorium storefront in Hollywood for awhile, but like most cool things in Hollywood, it was forced out by gentrification and is now probably a Pinkberry’s or some shit. He also does what I believe is a children’s show called Dr. Odd’s Medicine Show. At least it’s the kind of show I’d take my children to see. Good thing I don’t have any.
Speaking of shows: Here’s a live clip of Rosemary’s Billygoat in action. Can’t wait to see these guys throw down at the Zombie Walk. It’s gonna be goat brains for everyone!
I’ll wrap up this post with “Hobbit Feet,” which as far as I know is Rosemary’s Billygoat’s latest audiovisual masterpiece. It’s a tender love ballad about how one little physical abnormality can ruin an otherwise perfectly good hot chick. Or maybe it’s about how that one unique attribute makes a hot chick all that much hotter. It’s an artistic meditation on beauty that raises more questions than it answers, is what I’m saying. And hey, there’s probably cosplay freaks dressed up like hobbits knockin’ big furry hobbit boots as I write this. Who are we to judge?
I have to start off by thanking the guy who wrote us up on Metafilter last week, a website that apparently has the magical power to make even a half-assed music blog like ours more popular than catbeard photos. So thanks, narain! Hopefully by the time we post this, you and all the other Metafilterlings won’t have lost interest and moved on in search of…well, catbeard photos, probably. That shit is all the rage these days.
The Metafilter crowd suggested a ton of potential new Weird List fodder that Andy and I are still sifting through, but we wanted to jump right on at least one band submitted by all you highly opinionated newcomers. After much debate, we decided to go with symbioid‘s pick of glitch/noise outfit Computer Jesus Refrigerator, because we liked the name and their videos reminded me of when I used to scarf like 10 Pixy Stix all at once and spin around on the front lawn until it looked like the hedges were attacking me sideways. Yeah, I was basically the Gary Busey of my third grade class.
We don’t know a whole hell of a lot about Computer Jesus Refrigerator. They seem to be from Texas, but we’re not sure what part. This WFMU post says they’re from Austin, but their Bandcamp page is tagged San Antonio and their YouTube channel says they’re from Antarctica, which I assume is a joke but could also be an actual town in Texas for all I know. Maybe next to this one.
CJR is mostly the work of one dude named Michael Vasquez, who also goes by the name of KOKOFREAKBEAN. He likes to call his stuff “tonk honky,” which is as good a name for it as any. He plays drums, keyboards and samplers and also does all the project’s artwork, some of which is fucking amazing. He also designs the band’s costumes, which kind of look like his artwork come to life, in a very Caroliner kid’s-coloring-book-on-acid sorta way. Not sure if all CJR shows feature Vasquez on drums and another person on keyboards, but here’s a show from 2009 that does just that. I particularly like the way he yells at the audience in what sounds like a cross between Spanish, Swahili and Sullustese.
As mind-bending as that was, the videos Vasquez makes for CJR’s little 30-to-90-second bursts of glitchcore are even more extreme. Here’s our favorite.
As if all that weren’t enough, KOKOFREAKBEAN also makes disgusting little video shorts for Funny or Die. If you’re at work, don’t click that link. Guess I probably shoulda told you that in advance, huh?
You blew it, Estonia. You could’ve given that stupid fucking Eurovision contest its greatest moment since the year monster-rockers Lordi won it for Finland. But no. Instead of sending Winny Puhh, you had throw your nation’s hopes and dreams for pop music domination behind this steaming pile of sentimental horseshit from some chick named Birgit Õigemeel. Why, Estonia, why? You had your chance…and you bleeeewww it!
See, in order to decide who they’re gonna send to Eurovision, Estonia hosts a little music competition of its own called Eesti Laul. Most years it’s basically just Eurovision Lite, with lots of schmaltzy pop singers and cheeseball Eurodisco acts strutting their tired-ass stuff. But this year, Estonia’s most popular…only?…costumed punk/metal band Winny Puhh decided to enter the contest and…well, just watch:
I mean, c’mon. Tell me this insanity wouldn’t have kicked ass at Eurovision. It’s already kicking ass on YouTube…956,000 page views and counting. Think Birgit’s Eesti Laul performance, posted on YouTube the same day, has racked up that many hits? Not even close, brother. Again, I say: Estonia, you totally blew it.
Before this past month, pretty much no one outside the Baltic states had ever even heard of Winny Puhh. But they’ve been weirding it up since long before they decided to suspend their drummers from the ceiling and cover their lead singer in Teen Wolf fur. Somehow, everyone west of Warsaw missed this when it came out:
And we were all really fucking asleep at the keyboard to have missed this shit, from 2009:
But hey, better late than never, right? So we salute you, Winny Puhh! And we hope your brush with Eurovision superstardom gets you across the Atlantic soon. Sooner than that human Ambien tablet Birgit Õigemeel, at least.
This week’s band is one of several recently suggested to us by the inimitable Petunia-Liebling MacPumpkin, who could probably do a way better job than us running this blog if she were so inclined. They’re a French group called Rockets, or sometimes Les Rockets or Roketz or even Silver Rockets to avoid being confused with a much less interesting American band called Rockets. And they did the whole ’70s glam/proto-disco/space-rock “We are aliens and we have come to your planet to boogie” thing the way only a bunch of ’70s French dudes could.
Rockets started in Paris way back in 1974 under the name Rocket Men. Dressed up in matching silver suits with shaved heads and silvery gray facepaint, they no doubt caused quite a scene in the French rock clubs of the day. Their otherworldly appearance and heavy use of synthesizers and vocoders suggested a strong Kraftwerk influence, but there was more to them than that: The very first track on their 1976 self-titled debut album, for example, was “Apache,” a funked-up version of a faux-Spaghetti Western rock instrumental recorded by a 1960 British skiffle band called The Shadows. They later covered Canned Heat, too. So their influences ranged pretty far beyond Ziggy-era Bowie and Krautrock—although that was clearly all part of the mix, too.
By 1979, Rockets had begun to enjoy some commercial success, at least in Europe, where their third album Plasteroid sold out in some countries almost as soon as it was released. By this time, they had developed more of a pop/New Wave sound and outfits that appeared to borrow rather flagrantly from Ace Frehley’s Spaceman look. But they had also perfected a highly entertaining live show that featured lots of robot dance moves and a scary, bazooka-like device with which lead singer Christian Le Bartz could shower the audience with sparks. [Update: There was a YouTube video of them doing this on an Italian TV show, but it’s sadly since been taken down, so you’ll have to take our word for it when we say it looked awesome and genuinely dangerous.]
Rockets peaked, both commercially and creatively, with 1980’s Galaxy, a brilliantly campy piece of space-rock/synth-pop with blacklight-ready cover art and high-concept songs about space travel and cyborgs and other bits of sci-fi geekery. It sold over a million copies worldwide, but the band began to unravel soon thereafter. By 1983, both lead singer Le Bartz and drummer Alain Groetzinger had quit the group, followed shortly by their longtime producer, Claude Lemoine, and their bassist, “Little” Gerard L’Her. With a new British lead singer, Sal Solo, the remnants of Rockets squeezed out two more albums, 1986’s One Way and 1992’s Another Future—the latter of which gamely tried to update the band’s sound with some Brit-rave beats, but without much success. By 1993, the band was effectively defunct.
But nothing helps revive musical careers like a healthy dose of nostalgia—so you will not be surprised to learn that as of 2000, Rockets have resumed their existence, albeit in heavily watered-down form. The closest thing they still have to an original member is keyboardist Fabrice Quagliotti, an Italian who joined the group in 1977. Although we’re not sure exactly when it was shot, we’re pretty sure this video is Rockets in their current incarnation. The spark-shooting guitar is kinda cool, we guess, but go-go dancers? Seriously, guys? They’re like a bad Eurovision band now. We prefer to remember them in their spacey and slightly awkward late ’70s heyday, like in this video:
Or even when they were getting all arty and high-concept with guest female vocalists in the early ’80s, like in this clip:
So thanks for the tip, Petunia! Who knew that over 20 years before Daft Punk, French people were already dressing up like robot/alien space creatures?
Les Rockets (site dedicated to the “old” Rockets, in Italian)
Rockets home page (fan site, with an excellent bio we cribbed most of this post from, in English and Italian)
Someone suggested this week’s weird band to us over a year ago and I really have no good explanation for why we haven’t featured them sooner, other than the fact that for such a visually compelling band, there are amazingly few decent photos of them on the Interweb. Meet Hans Grüsel’s Kränkenkabinet, the greatest avant-garde German noise band ever to dress up like birdhouses.
Actually, that last sentence isn’t exactly true. HGK aren’t really from Germany, nor do they always dress up like birdhouses; sometimes, the lead singer (Hans Grüsel, I presume) dresses up like a tree trunk. Also, as you can see from the YouTube clip in that link—which kinda looks like it was shot in my middle school library—they’re not always that avant-garde. Sometimes they do Motörhead covers. They also do a mean version of “Tea for Two,” complete with tap-dancing. Hans Grüsel’s Kränkenkabinet is one of those bands that, just when you think they can’t possibly get any weirder…they get weirder. Even minus the goofy covers and eye-popping costumes, their music is a uniquely unsettling mix of hurdy-gurdy carnival music and migraine-inducing electro-noise assault. It kinda reminds me of the time I tried to watch Bugs Bunny cartoons with an ear infection and a vertiginous codeine high. Remember when they put codeine in cough syrup? Those were the days. But I digress….
The lunatic behind the Krankenkabinet is not, in fact, Hans Grüsel (at least not on his birth certificate), but a Bay Area composer named Thomas Day. Members of fellow Bay Area psychedelic noise wackos Caroliner are (or were) probably also involved in the project; certainly both groups share the same fingerpainting-on-acid design aesthetic. Another SF eccentric named Liz Allbee may or may not have been in on the action. But as far as I can tell, the exact identities of Day’s collaborators remain shrouded behind the myth that Hans Grüsel was a great but semi-forgotten enfant terrible from East Germany.
Day’s first Krankenkabinet release was 2001’s Das Boot, which purported to be a compilation of Grüsel’s “early works” and came wrapped in hand-painted cardboard, again a la Caroliner. One collector site describes the liner notes as looking “worm eaten,” but I’m not sure if that’s because someone stashed it in their basement too long or if the disc just came that way.
Over the next eight years or so, Hans and co. appear to have been semi-regular fixtures on the Bay Area underground art scene; they even toured occasionally. But from what I’ve been able to glean in my research, 2008’s Blaue Blooded Türen was the project’s last release. Since then, HansGrusel.com has been taken over by Asian cyber-squatters and those birdhouse and tree stump costumes have presumably been stuffed into a dark corner of Thomas Day’s closet—although they did make at least one return appearance in Seattle in 2011. The article about that show describes HGK as a “husband/wife duo” and says the dude in the tree-stump costume is a Seattle singer/guitarist named Sean Curley, who I suspect was recruited for just this one show. Whether the husband/wife thing is true or not, I have no idea.
It’s hard to sum up the weirdness that is Hans Grüsel’s Kränkenkabinet in just one video, but this clip capturing them in full electro-noise-freakout mode comes close. Is it just me, or does whoever’s playing ol’ tree-stump Grüsel (at the 1:30 mark) kinda look like Mr. Peanut’s angry, coke-addled brother?