You probably think you can tell what PPL MVR sound like just by looking at them. I mean, it’s three guys dressed up like yetis. It’s gotta be knuckle-dragging, skull-pounding sludge metal, right? Or maybe theatrical death metal a la Band of Orcs. One way or another, it’s metal. Clearly. Only metal guys are willing to sweat that much.
But think again. Although PPL MVR’s sound does in fact rock hard, and their drummer does in fact play with sticks shaped like thigh bones, they owe more to strutting, ’70s-style cock-rock than to anything on today’s headbanger circuit. In fact, once you throw in some pedal-distorted guitar and talkbox-distorted vocals, they kinda sound like ELO trying to do Sabbath covers. At least they’ve got all windmilling-in-the-wind-tunnel moves down, though. Whatever planet they’re from must have Headbangers Ball reruns.
PPL MVR—or “The One and Only PPL MVR,” as they sometimes go by—are from right here in TWBITW’s home base of Los Angeles, but like all good costumed bands, they’ve done a pretty good job so far of keeping their identities secret, going only by their yeti names of SNWBLL, K-PO and Q. They give great interviews, staying totally in character, and we’ve heard their live shows are great, too, though we haven’t yet had the pleasure.
And they must have a really good manager, because even though they’ve only been in existence for about a year, they’ve already appeared at Sundance, Tenacious D’s Festival Supreme, the Playboy offices, and something called the Spike TV Guys’ Choice Awards, because y’know, all those other awards shows don’t let guys give each other enough awards. They’ve even been signed to Elektra Records, which is pretty big time. I mean, yeah, they live in L.A. and their songs are catchy as hell, but still—bands like Extreme Turbo Smash must be looking at PPL MVR like, “Fuck. What do we have to do to get in on that action?”
Not much else is known about PPL MVR at this point, because well, they’ve only been around for a year and the only interviews they’ve given so far have consisted of grunts and snarls. So we’ll just leave you with what appears to be their latest video, for a song called “Let’s Take This Outside.” I’m no expert on yeti social customs, but my strong advice to you is: Do NOT take it outside with PPL MVR. Let the beasts eat their pancakes in peace.
We get a lot of submissions from bands that like to perform in various states of undress, up to and including full genital exposure. It will not surprise you to learn that 99% of these bands are dudes. Guys love whipping it out in public, and doing so in the name of rock ‘n’ roll stopped being a transgressive act a long time ago. When Blink-182 does something, it’s officially no longer any big shakes.
For women, it’s different. Thanks to our society’s inherent sexism and double standards, female sexuality is still taboo in ways that male sexuality is not. So the fact that a band like Rockbitch ever existed is a fairly remarkable thing.
Rockbitch was a British hard rock group that emerged from the ashes of another band called Red Abyss. From the start, Red Abyss embodied many of the same principles that later came to characterize Rockbitch: It was female fronted (though the drummer, and occasionally other members of the revolving lineup, were men), communal and sex-positive. But compared to Rockbitch, Red Abyss’s lyrics and stage show were comparatively tame: “We were hiding our lifestyle behind a facade,” reads the band’s official bio, written by their guitarist, Lisa “Babe” Wills, “self-censoring our natural behaviour.”
Part of the problem was that, while fans and promoters encouraged and even rewarded outrageous behavior by male rock bands, they tended to frown upon similar antics coming from the ladies of Red Abyss. “Male bands with whom we were sharing a stage would perform screaming out their fake rebellious bullshit about sex and satan — then insult us to our faces saying that we shouldn’t be fucking all those men and women in our dressing rooms, and did our parents know how we behaved?”
Red Abyss also encountered straight-up sexism at every turn: booking agents refusing to deal with their female manager, male sound guys and venue employees assuming they didn’t know how to play their instruments or outright sabotaging their sets, venue owners insisting on handing the money to a male roadie rather than to a female band member. “We were, bluntly, being treated like shit.” This, by the way, wasn’t happening in some pre–women’s lib Mad Men past. This was in the ’90s.
Eventually, the women of Red Abyss had had enough. They became the darker, heavier, more sexually aggressive beast called Rockbitch.
For a few years, up until they disbanded in 2002, Rockbitch was probably the raunchiest band on the planet. Many of the band members performed naked, or nearly so. Songs like “Fistfuck” would be acted out onstage. During every show, they’d toss a “Golden Condom” into the audience and invite whoever caught it, male or female, to come backstage and fuck several members of the band. (“Babe” Wills liked to point out that, of everyone who ever caught the Golden Condom, the only ones who would chicken out were the men, some of whom apparently assumed it was a joke. Rockbitch’s in-your-face female sexuality was, and still is, highly intimidating to many men. Including, we must admit, us.)
None of this was done for shock value, at least not primarily. As outlined in various essays and manifestos on the band’s website, Rockbitch’s mission was to destigmatize female sexuality and sex in general. And hard rock seemed like the perfect vehicle for doing so. “When a woman can’t even strip to the waist and play a bitching, head-down guitar riff, have her lead singer fuck her with a strap-on whilst a stage surfer licks her feet without authorities wanting to ban over 18’s from coming to see it — well, what has the world of rock and rebellion come to!?” their website playfully asks. (And no, that’s not an exaggerated description of their live show.)
By 2000, Rockbitch’s lineup had become all-female: founder/matriarch Amanda “The Bitch” Smith-Skinner on fretless bass, Julie Worland on vocals, Lisa “Babe” Wills on lead guitar, Luci the “Stage Slut” on rhythm guitar, Nikki Fay on keyboards and Jo Heeley on drums, plus two or three “Sex Magick Priestesses” who danced and facilitated some of the sexual rituals. The band’s former lead guitarist, Tony “The Beast,” stayed on as the band’s manager and producer — no doubt in part to run occasional interference with sexist bookers and venue owners.
Musically, the band played theatrical, heavy rock, highlighted by Worland’s operatic vocals, The Bitch’s fluid, often funky basslines and Babe’s scorching guitar. Here’s a good example, a track called “Sex & The Devil” that also happens to features a weirdly witchy video, with the Rockbitches cavorting half-naked in the forest:
As you probably got from that video, besides all the sexual themes and imagery, an element of paganism runs through Rockbitch’s music and philosophy — though Babe is quick to point out on the band’s website that they are neither Wiccans nor Satanists. As best as we understand it — and I admit, as a couple of uptight dudes in monogamous relationships, our understanding is probably shaky — they celebrate sex itself as sacred, particularly the acts of cunnilingus and vaginal penetration, which they describe as forms of “cunt worship,” the vagina being the source of all human life and therefore the most sacred component of human sexuality. This worship/celebration of sex extends, paganistically, to the worship of nature in general; although their website stops short of describing many of the group’s offstage rituals, or explaining the full meaning of their many onstage ones (“we are intensely private people,” Babe explains in her “brief and grudging account of part of our belief system”), their are a few photographs showing things like an “earth-fucking ritual” and a “serpent initiation ritual,” suggesting that the cult of Rockbitch is a fairly elaborate one that extends far beyond just the music and sex acts.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the authorities tended to lose their shit over Rockbitch. The band was banned from performing at many venues, and their music and album artwork was heavily censored in many countries. It’s not clear what role if any this played in the band’s eventual breakup. but it couldn’t have been easy for the women to tour or get distribution for their music.
Rockbitch only released one studio album, 1999’s Motor Driven Bimbo, plus a live album, Rockbitch Live in Amsterdam; during their brief run, the Netherlands seemed to have been one of the few countries where the band was able to tour on a regular basis. A second album, Psychic Attack, was never officially released but has been widely bootlegged and can be found on various torrent sites. Motor Driven Bimbo is out of print, but copies occasionally surface on Amazon and elsewhere, often selling for $100 or more.
Post-Rockbitch, the band’s full lineup resurfaced in a clothed, less theatrical incarnation called MT-TV. But that group soon disbanded, as well. Amanda Smith-Skinner and Jo Heeley later teamed up with singer-songwriter Erin Bennett to form another all-female band called Syren, but tragically, that group dissolved after Heeley died of breast cancer in 2012. Other former Rockbitch members have, as far as we’ve been able to tell, retired from making music — though according to their Facebook page, they still live and work together as a commune.
We’ve known about Rockbitch for years, but were reluctant at first to add them to the Weird List because to do so seemed sexist. So it was a bunch of women with guitars and their tits out — so what? A bunch of men doing the same thing would be met nowadays with a collective shrug. To add them to our compendium of extreme music felt like yet another example of the very double standard in music that Rockbitch railed against.
But as well researched the band further (while our wives were at work), we decided that regardless of their gender, Rockbitch were truly unique. No other band in history, male, female or coed, ever randomized the groupie selection process as radically as Rockbitch did with their Golden Condom, or made oral sex and vaginal penetration such a routine part of their stage show. Rockbitch incorporated sex into rock ‘n’ roll performance in a way that’s never been done before or since. And as powerful, liberated women, they made that sex a political act. A Rockbitch show was a rock concert, neopagan ritual and radical feminist performance-art piece all in one. And lots of people got laid. That’s the truly awesome kind of weirdness this blog was designed to celebrate.
We’ll leave you one more video, for a track from Psychic Attack called “Breathe.” This appears to be a fan-made mashup of strange naked zombie go-go dance animation and video from one of several concert documentaries made about the band, probably 2002’s Sex, Death and Magick (which, if you’re so inclined, and are over 18, you can watch in full on YouTube).
Every once in awhile, a new weird band comes along with a concept that is so completely fucking brilliant, you can’t believe no one else thought of it sooner. That was the reaction we first had when a friend of ours here in L.A. invited us to see a McDonald’s-themed Black Sabbath cover band called…wait for it…Mac Sabbath! Genius, right?
It was so genius that we were sure they must suck…no idea could be that clever and well-executed. Turns out we needn’t have worried. You’re in good, puffy clown hands with Mac Sabbath…those hands belonging to one Mike Odd, the same twisted visionary behind another of our favorite weird local bands, Rosemary’s Billygoat. (Officially, Mike Odd is just Mac Sabbath’s manager. But let’s just say that must be Mike’s brother under the “Ronald Osbourne” makeup, because the resemblance is uncanny.)
We were apparently fortunate enough, by pure dumb luck, to attend Mac Sabbath’s first-ever live performance (blurry photographic evidence below) back in July and it was fucking amazing. Hamburglar came out first, tossing hamburgers at the audience as he took his place behind the drum kit. Then came the guitar player,
Mayor Slayer McCheese, horns protruding from his cheeseburger mouth like he just ate a whole steer. Then came Grimace, and of COURSE Grimace plays the fucking bass. Most bass players have a little Grimace in them. If you painted my high school garage band’s bass player purple, he’d basically be Grimace with slightly more hair.
Ronald Mc…sorry, Osbourne, came out sporting red and yellow fringed sleeves and took up position behind a mic stand shaped like a giant milkshake straw. The band launched into “Sweet Beef” and the rewritten Sabbath songs just got more ridiculous from there: “Frying Pan” instead of “Iron Man,” “Pair-a-buns” instead of “Paranoid,” you get the idea. I’m pretty sure “Rat Salad” is still just “Rat Salad,” though.
The highlight came when Ronald reached into his takeout bag, pulled out a hamburger with bat wings, and took a massive bite out of it. Or maybe the highlight was when he started using a giant straw to sneak slurps of audience members’ drinks. Or maybe the highlight was just watching Grimace play the bass. Seriously, I could not get over that part.
I’ll leave you with a live video of the band performing “Frying Pan,” complete with subtitles so you can appreciate the full hilarity of what Mike Odd and company have aptly dubbed “Drive Thru Metal.” Supersize me, Mac Sabbath!
Oh and here’s our bragging-rights photo of their very first performance:
The post-Oderus incarnation of GWAR continues to exceed our expectations. Instead of replacing the irreplaceable entity that was Oderus/Dave Brockie, the band’s reportedly totally revamped their stage show and added not one, but two new lead vocalists fill Oderus’ massive platform boots.
After unleashing Blothar on the unsuspecting masses at the GWAR-B-Q, they presented his female counterpart, Vulvatron, at Riot Fest in Chicago this past weekend. And she is pretty much everything one could hope for in a lady GWAR demon. She’s hot. She shoots blood from her massive breasts. She takes great selfies. And she fucks shit up with the boys. We’re sold.
Vulvatron’s human counterpart is one Kim “Kylla” Dylla, who’s just as much of a badass IRL, as the kids all say these days. Just check out her CV on her website: degrees in art and computer science, a painter and costume designer, wrestler, frontwoman of her own metal band Thismeansyou. She’s going to have human filth lining up around the block after every GWAR show hoping to be her disposable sex slaves.
Speaking of GWAR shows: The band’s also announced a massive, 45-date tour that’s also being billed as the band’s quest to find the missing Oderus. Here’s what guitarist Balsac the Jaws of Death says about the tour on the GWAR website:
“Dark clouds of war and ill omen have gathered around GWAR. In our hour of greatest peril, Oderus has left us and our enemies stand poised, ready to strike while they sense weakness. But we shall no longer cower in our Antarctic stronghold, awaiting Destiny’s final blow. This Fall GWAR sets out on the most trying quest of our career. We shall scour our leader’s favorite stomping ground, North America, leaving no city unsearched, no venue unraised, and no sheep unmolested. GWAR will venture to the depths of Hell or to the very end of Time itself, and though I fear what we may encounter out there, I know that we can never return home until we have the answer we seek: ‘Where is Oderus Urungus?’”
So what say you, GWARmy? Do you stand ready to help your demon overlords in their hour of need? Are you ready to get sprayed with blood from the almighty udder of Blothar and the unspeakable breasts of Vulvatron? Goddamn right you are.
Here are the dates:
GWAR W/ Decapitated and American Sharks:
10/15: Norfolk, VA @ The Norva
10/16: Sayreville, NJ @ Starland Ballroom
10/17: Stroudsburg, PA @ Sherman Theater
10/18: Worcester, MA @ The Palladium – “Rock and Shock Festival”
10/19: Buffalo, NY @ The Town Ballroom
10/21: Louisville, KY @ Expo Five
10/22: Memphis, TN @ New Daisy Theater
10/23: Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Live
10/24: New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues
10/25: Austin, TX @ Emo’s – “Housecore Horror Film Festival*
10/26: Houston, TX @ Warehouse Live
10/28: Oklahoma City, OK @ Diamond Ballroom
10/29: Sauget, IL @ Pop’s Nightclub
10/30: Lawrence, KS @ Granada Theater
10/31: Denver, CO @ The Summit Music Hall**
11/1: Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theater
11/2: Tempe, AZ @ The Marquee
11/3: Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory
11/4: Reno, NV @ Knitting Factory Concert House
11/5: San Francisco, CA @ The Regency Ballroom
11/6: Hollywood, CA @ House of Blues
11/7: Las Vegas, NV @ Hard Rock Live
11/8: Magna, UT @ The Great Salt Air
11/10: Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory Concert House
11/11: Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
11/12: Seattle, WA @ Showbox SODO
GWAR W/ TBA and American Sharks:
11/14: Vancouver, BC and Commodore Ballroom
GWAR W/ Corrosion of Conformity and American Sharks:
11/15: Spokane, WA @ Knitting Factory Concert House
11/16: Calgary, AB @ MacEwan Hall Ballroom
11/17: Edmonton, AB @ Union Hall
11/19: Fargo, ND @ The Venue
11/20: Minneapolis, MN @ Skyway Theater
11/21: Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave
11/22: Detroit, MI @ Harpo’s
11/23: Grand Rapids, MI @ The Intersection
11/25: Indianapolis, IN @ The Vogue
11/26: Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues
11/28: Charlotte, NC @ Tremont Music Hall
11/29: Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
11/30: New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
12/2: Nashville, TN @ Exit/In
12/3: Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel
12/4: Pensacola, FL @ Vinyl Music Hall
12/5: Orlando, FL @ Firestone Live
12/6: Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade
12/7: Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall
12/8: Millvale, PA @ Mr. Smalls Theater
12/9: Toronto, ON @ Opera House
12/10: Montreal, QC @ Virgin Mobile Corona Theater
12/11: Clifton Park, NY @ Upstate Concert Hall
12/12: New Haven, CT @ Toad’s Place
12/13: Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Sound Stage
*No American Sharks
** Havok plays on this show
In our write-up for Tera Melos, our reigning Weird Band of the Week, we noted that all of their brilliant music videos are the work of one man, a director named Behn Fannin. We decided to dive into the rest of Fannin’s catalog in search of further gems of weirdness and came up with this classic from punk/sludge metal legends the Melvins, from their 2006 album, (A) Senile Animal. Our new favorite video director Fannin’s been doing twisted things with creepy puppets and visual non sequiturs for a long time, it seems.
If you want to see more of Fannin’s work, check out his Vimeo channel.
I know we’ve been doing “Flashback Fridays” around here lately but I don’t care. This video is too fucking good to wait till Monday. Besides, it came out in February, so that counts as a flashback, right? Ah, Feb. 2014. The good old days, before Ferguson and ISIS and Robin Williams and Christ, what a depressing summer this has been.
Anyway, this is yet another French band from Apathia Records, the same lunatics who brought you Pryapisme. Hardcore Anal Hydrogen aren’t quite that out there, especially on this track, which is pretty straight-up post-hardcore with some fun tempo changes and electronic elements. But the video kills me every time. I almost hope the next metal band I see just sends cardboard versions of themselves onstage. It would probably be more entertaining than some shows I’ve been to.
You can find out more about Hardcore Anal Hydrogen on the Apathia Records website.
We really need to get out more. Apparently one of the most awesome cover bands of all time was based right here in Los Angeles up until 2007 and we missed them. I’m talking about Nudist fucking Priest.
So OK, this is one of your basic one-joke cover bands, but you gotta admit, it’s a pretty balls-out joke. Literally.
Here’s video from their farewell show. All I can say is, I really hope the drummer brought his own stool.
I’m not ashamed to admit that credit for introducing us to this band must go to the Comedy Central show @Midnight, which did a whole segment on weird cover bands a few nights back. They even included our pint-sized pals in The Mini Band, who we kinda hope never see this post. At least whoever shot that video of Nudist Priest’s farewell show was thoughtful enough to scramble the naughty bits.
France is kicking ass this week. Not only did they win their group in the first round of the World Cup, they also won the even more prestigious* Weird Band Poll. How do you say “Congratulations!” in French? It’s basically just the sound of a champagne cork popping, right?
The winner of the June Weird Band Poll is a mysterious trio from a town whose name makes giggle, because I am a 44-year-old adolescent boy: Brest. (Heh.) They’re called The Von Deer Skulls and unfortunately, there are no breasts in their music videos, just lots of creepy people in skull masks sitting around drinking absinthe under blacklight to a soundtrack I’m gonna call ambient doom rock. Plus some claymation. That part’s almost as cool as breasts. Actually, the whole thing is pretty cool in a David Lynch sorta way. It makes me think of severed ears and Pabst Blue Ribbon.
The Von Deer Skulls aren’t related, at least not by birth. Leader/guitarist Peter Von Deer Skull is from Canada and is “the son of the Shadows of the Canadian forest,” according to the band’s Facebook bio. Bassist/screamer Hektor Von Deer Skull is an “androgynous, semi-deer/semi-wild boar, he comes from Schwarzwald in Germany.” Their drummer/lead singer is actually two people: Freke and Freyja Von Deer Skull, twin brother and sister, one a wolf and one a lynx, from the Faroe Islands, halfway between Norway and Iceland.
Does all of this sound like it might be totally made up? Yeah, well, that’s possible. Peter Von Deer Skull has shared a few secrets with us about the inner workings of the band, which we can’t reveal here. Let’s just put it this way: Hektor isn’t actually a wild boar/deer hybrid. That’s all we’re gonna say.
The Von Deer Skulls have released an EP on Bandcamp called It’s Time to Paralyze that reveals some other sides to their sound. They rock out pretty hard on occasion, like on this track “The Way to the Shadow.” It takes awhile to get going but trust me, it’s worth the wait.
We’ll leave you with their most recent video, which is even more mysterious and spooky than “Bitches of the Wood.” What’s coming at the end of 2014? Tell us, Von Deer Skulls! Why must you toy with us so?
*Kidding! Our polls are totally not more prestigious than the World Cup. But maybe they would be if we only had them once every four years.
- The Von Deer Skulls official site
- The Von Deer Skulls on Facebook
- The Von Deer Skulls on Bandcamp
- The Von Deer Skulls’ YouTube channel
GWAR fans still shattered over the death of their hero, Oderus Urungus, now have something to look forward to: On Friday, Aug. 15th in Richmond, Virginia, a public memorial service will be held honoring Oderus and the crazy, incredible dude behind him, Dave Brockie.
The memorial happens one day before the 5th annual GWAR-B-Q, which might be a slightly more solemn affair this year. Although let’s hope not, because I’m sure Oderus would’ve wanted his minions partying till they puke in his honor. Maybe they can puke first and then cry later. That seems like the way to go here, I think.
In a video statement, the surviving and unmasked members of GWAR also announced that they’re creating the Dave Brockie Foundation, a charity that “will be a resource for artists in the fields of music, film, literature and all visual arts who cannot find funding through mainstream channels.” So basically, every single band we’ve ever blogged about should apply.
You can read more about the Dave Brockie Foundation here and get updates on the GWAR-B-Q here. So far the only band that’s been announced is…GWAR! GWAR without Oderus? Can such a thing be possible? Maybe they can get Joan Jett to be like Oderus’ long-lost sister or something. She did a pretty good job subbing in for Cobain with Nirvana, I hear.
Here’s that video statement. Mark your calendars, GWARmy!
Turns out we really should read the comments on this thing more often. Ten friggin’ days ago, Duane Warr himself, the mysterious garage-metal hero behind Dwarr, posted a comment and we only just saw it this weekend. Sorry, Duane! Day jobs and shit. I’m sure you can relate.
Anyway, it turns out that Dwarr’s ill-fated 2012 comeback tour, which was described all over the interweb as having been totally canceled (including by us…oops), was only partially canceled. Duane did manage to squeeze out two shows in Texas before the whole thing went sideways. He even provided the video evidence to prove it. You can read his entire comment over on this page but allow us to provide the highlights:
The tour started in Austin, and it sounds like the first show went OK, even though Duane had literally only met his touring band the day before. “We had a really rough first practice. We practiced again Saturday around lunchtime. We went on last Saturday night. It was really bad, but everybody loved it.”
The first signs of trouble surfaced in Houston: “I was told I couldn’t use the Fender amp anymore because it was old and I might blow it up.” But the show went on anyway, and even sounded pretty good, despite early signs of road fatigue: “The music was a lot tighter in Houston but my 2 guys were tired. I think they stayed up late in Austin. At the bottom of my set list they wrote ‘BEDTIME.’ Pretty Hilarious.”
Duane drove by himself to the next gig in New Orleans, and showed up right on time for load-in, only to be greeted by the cook and the bartender. “Nobody else showed up for 2 hours,” he relates.
When they did arrive, I was told I had to shorten my set. I told them I only had 5 nights and really needed to play my whole set, I was trying to get a 2 disc live package with a CD and DVD. When I was told “This is Jennifer’s Tour and if she says you get 45 minutes, you get 45 minutes” that was it for me. Adios Amigos.
Jennifer, by the way, is Jennifer Herrema, formerly of Royal Trux and now gigging under the name Black Bananas. Black Bananas was the headliner, so I guess she pulled rank.
So there you have it…the true story of Dwarr’s only partially, not totally, canceled tour. I guess the two-disc live package will have to wait, but at least there are some sweet videos from the tour up on YouTube. Here’s our favorite, for a track called “Tears You Cry.” Yeah, it’s a little rough, but we owe Duane Warr a serious apology for bagging on his musical skills in an earlier post. Clearly the man can shred. And he rides that wah peal like it’s a stolen Ferrari.