Primus

Guess what, weirdlings? Today’s our second anniversary! What’d you get us? That’s okay…your “presence” is better than any “presents.” (Don’t you hate when people say that?)

We like to mark this annual milestone in TWBITW’s continuing quest for blogosphere domination by giving props to a classic weird band…you know, one of those acts that’s been around for so long and enjoyed so much success that people tend to take their weirdness for granted. Last year, for our first anniversary, we gave up the funk for Parliament-Funkadelic; this year, we’d like to tip our big brown beaver hat to Primus, a band that after more than 20 years together continues to be the gold standard when it comes to freaky, funky, Zappa-inspired experimental rock.

Primus actually has a new album coming out next month called Green Naugahyde, their first in over a decade. Spin is previewing the first single, “Tragedy’s A-Comin'”, and it sounds pretty much exactly how Primus have always sounded: a jazz/funk/rock jam held together by Les Claypool’s trademark slap-bass and mumbly, sing-speak vocals. They’re nothing if not consistent.

If it’s hard to describe the Primus sound (“thrash-funk meets Don Knots” is probably our favorite), it’s even harder to explain what makes them weird, exactly. They do dress a little quirky; they definitely make bizarre videos; and Claypool does things with his bass guitar that it was never meant to do, bending notes with a whammy bar, using all sorts of distortion pedals, and slapping out polyrhythms that would reduce the thumbs of mere mortal bassists to hamburger in a matter of minutes. But really, it all just comes down to the fact that Primus’ music, for all its obvious influences—Frank Zappa, King Crimson, the Residents—sounds like nothing else except Primus.

That said, those videos are awfully damn weird, too. By now, even your grandmother has probably seen the clip for “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver“—so even though it is indeed awesome, we’d like to share this less famous but equally bizarre, single-take video for “Mr. Krinkle” off 1993’s Pork Soda. Yes, someone was doing single-take music videos long before OK Go ever came along. Watch and learn, kids.

You might also like: That 1 Guy, Ping, Buckethead

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Mr. Bungle

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Another year, more weird bands! The fun never ends.

So it was exactly one year ago today that we finally owned up to our huge man-crushes on Mike Patton and wrote up what we considered to be the weirdest of his many bands, Fantomas. To which pretty much every single comment has been: “Fantomas? No way! Mr. Bungle is way weirder!” Did any of you people actually watch the Fantomas video we posted? But okay, fine, Bungle is pretty weird, too. So why not make it a tradition and declare Jan. 1st to be Mike Patton Day here at TWBITW? We’ll pick another of his projects to write up on Jan. 1, 2012. Start casting your votes now.

As for Mr. Bungle…if you’re not familiar, this was actually Mike Patton’s first band, started in Eureka, California with his childhood buds Trevor Dunn, Trey Spruance and Theo Lengyel. (The band’s original drummer, Jed Watts, quit before they got big.) The band’s early demos were a mix of metal, ska and free jazz, and their music just kept getting weirder from there; by the time they released their self-titled debut album in 1991, they were creating a mish mash of sounds unlike any other band in existence. They released two more albums in the 90s, Disco Volante and California, then finally called it quits in 2004, as Patton went on to his zillion other projects, Dunn went on to play bass with folks like Fantomas and John Zorn, Spruance carried on with his experimental rock group Secret Chiefs 3, and Lengyel went on to, as far as we can tell, drop off the face of the earth.

What’s particularly odd about Mr. Bungle is that, because their music included some elements of metal and because Mike Patton was also recruited to be the vocalist for funk-metal pioneers Faith No More, their fan base early on consisted mainly of headbangers. This led to a few shows in which the Bungle boys would turn on their own fans or vice versa (as described in this article, for example). It also means that, to Mike Patton’s eternal regret, Mr. Bungle was a huge influence on various, mostly crappy nu-metal bands like Korn, Slipknot and Limp Bizkit. (Patton once said of such bands, “It’s their mothers’ fault, not mine.”)

They also had a long-running feud with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which led to this awesome parody performance at a Halloween show in ’99. Mike Patton does Anthony Kiedis better than Anthony Kiedis does, doesn’t he? (Say that 10 times really fast.)

Mr. Bungle only made one official music video, which was banned by MTV because it featured members of the band hanging from meat hooks and severed dolls heads flying around and various other images that, honestly, seem kinda tame now but were apparently too disturbing back in the days before anyone had seen a Saw movie. That video, for the song “Quote Unquote” is pretty great, but for a true taste of what made Mr. Bungle so wacky, we’re partial to this live video from a 1995 concert. They’re like the masked satanic hotel lounge band from hell. This must’ve sent the few remaining Faith No More fans in attendance scrambing for the exits.

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