Bay Area noise-rockers Deerhoof were in a pretty festive mood on their last album, 2012’s Breakup Song, and it sounds like they’re going to keep the party raging on their next LP. Due out Nov. 4th on Polyvinyl, it’s got the Madonna-evoking title La Isla Bonita—and while neither track released from it so far could be mistaken for Madge’s 1987 foray into Latin pop, they’re both downright pop-tastic by Deerhoof standards. In fact, we love ’em so much we’ll include them both in this post, before we tell you about the ‘Hoof’s fall tour dates.
First up: “Exit Only,” a stomping, punk-rock rave-up:
Next, “Paradise Girls,” which I guess you could describe as Deerhoof’s version of a feminist empowerment anthem. Girls who are smart and/or play the bass do indeed rule. Satomi Matsuzaki oughta know, ’cause she’s both.
La Isla Bonita is available for pre-order now from the Polyvinyl website. Now here are those tour dates we promised you. See you at the Troubadour!
Deerhoof National Tour Dates:
11/4: Brooklyn, NY @ Baby’s All Right (w/ Tim Barnes, Xenia Rubinos)
11/5: Brooklyn, NY @ Baby’s All Right (w/ Assembly, Zannie Owens w/ Mount Yucca)
11/6: Brooklyn, NY @ Baby’s All Right (w/ White Reaper, Trans Am)
11/7: Falls Church, VA @ State Theatre (w/ White Reaper, Xenia Rubinos)
11/8: Charlottesville, VA @ The Southern (w/ White Reaper, Xenia Rubinos)
11/9: Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer (w/ White Reaper, Cibo Matto)
11/11: Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge (w/ White Reaper, Priests)
11/12: Kalamazoo, MI @ Louie’s Back Room (w/ White Reaper, Priests)
11/13: Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace (w/ White Reaper, Priests)
11/14: Montreal, QC @ Cabaret Piccolo Rialto (w/ White Reaper, Priests)
11/15: Pawtucket, RI @ The Met (w/ Priests, Lightning Bolt)
11/17: Los Angeles, CA @ The Troubadour (w/ Go Dark, Crystal Skulls)
11/18: San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall (w/ Go Dark, Crystal Skulls)
11/20: Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge (w/ Go Dark, Busdriver)
11/21: Seattle, WA @ Neumo’s (w/ Go Dark, Busdriver)
11/22: Vancouver, BC @ Fortune (w/ Go Dark, Busdriver)
We rarely post entire album streams on this site, for a variety of reasons: a.) Most of the full album streams on YouTube are of questionable provenance, and we don’t wanna get sued; b.) We have very short attention spans; and c.) Most albums are, let’s face it, not compelling enough to listen to from beginning to end. But The Godz’s 1966 debut, Contact High with the Godz, is too amazing not to share in its entirety. So with apologies to the great ESP-Disk label, which reissues all sorts of great half-forgotten freakery from the ’60s (including the tribal noise pioneers Cromagnon), we present Contact High with the Godz in all its glory. Enjoy!
A bit of backstory as you listen: The Godz emerged from the same underground New York folk-rock scene as The Fugs. They went on to release three more albums before breaking up in 1973, although they did reunite a few times in recent years. As the ESP-Disk website says, “There was no precedent for what they did. The weirdest and most far-out bands around at that time were the Monks and the Mothers of Invention. The first albums of the Velvet Underground, the Stooges, and the Grateful Dead all lay in the future.” They also pre-dated Cromagnon and The Shaggs by several years. So whatever you want to call what they’re doing—freak folk, psych-folk, avant noise-rock, proto-punk—they were pretty much inventing it out of whole cloth.
A tip of the hat to reader Lowell Brams for suggesting we do a Godz post. Lowell, incidentally, runs a fantastic label called Asthmatic Kitty that many of you are probably familiar with. If you’re not familiar, please check them out. The new My Brightest Diamond video is especially stunning (not in a weird way, just in a lovely way—think of it as a palette-cleanser after 25 minutes of Godz).
You know that long hiatus we just took? It gave Jake and me some much-needed time to do a little soul searching. I reconnected with my inner child, Jake reconnected with his inner hippie, and we both reconnected with our punk-rock roots. Okay, Jake reconnected with his punk-rock roots; I broke out my old Pink Floyd records. But somehow, both of those things led us back to another classic weird band we’ve neglected for far too long: the Butthole Surfers.
From about 1985 to 1989, the Butthole Surfers had one of the craziest live shows of any band on the planet. Their lead singer, the eternally manic Gibby Haynes, wore dresses and played squealing saxophone riffs and shouted lyrics into a megaphone. Next to him stood an upside-down cymbal filled with lighter fluid; he would set it—and often, his hand—on fire. Guitarist Paul Leary writhed around the stage like a man possessed. Two identical-looking drummers played standing up, sometimes in perfect unison and sometimes it utter cacophony. Kathleen Lynch, the band’s infamous “naked dancer,” struck spastic poses in time to a strobe light, covered in lurid body paint. Behind the band, overlapping 16-millmeter films layered disturbing and incongruous images atop one another, like a graphic penis reconstruction medical video and, according to one account, “people with Down’s syndrome dancing in top hats and tails.” The whole thing was designed to freak the shit out of the audience, and it usually worked. Here, for example, is drummer Teresa Taylor, aka Teresa Nervosa, describing the Surfers’ shows circa 1985 (from this excellent oral history of the band):
Gibby in those days would take condoms filled with colored dye and put those in his pants so that at some point they would burst and it would look very bloody. He would change clothes onstage during the set a lot. Then he went and bought the first vocal effect and that was a big deal. We had strobe lights, $10 strobe lights, and then we bought a 16-millimeter projector, because we started to make more money. Everything was invested back into the band, so we could have a better show, better sound. Later we got another projector and showed two 16-millimeter films overlapping. The full-on shows would make people puke and scream and run out, that kind of thing. It was what we’d always wanted.
Happily, a ton of video from this era exists on YouTube—much of it lifted from Blind Eye Sees All, a concert film the band shot in Detroit in 1985, but plenty of clips from later years, as well (which is a good thing, because Lynch didn’t add her naked dancing to the band’s spectacle until 1986). Less happily, the quality of most of these videos is shitty, and even under the best of circumstances, an ’80s B-hole Surfers show was almost impossible to film. This is one of the better clips we could find and you still really can’t see anything until 40 second into it:
I’ve somehow neglected to mention the music up to this point, which is stupid because the music was generally every bit as crazy as the stage show. Early on, the Surfers were part of the punk scene, and their live performances definitely owed a debt to the Sex Pistols and the Dead Kennedys. But in the studio, they were on their own trip from day one. Here, for example, is a track off their first full-length album, 1984’s Psychic… Powerless… Another Man’s Sac, which owes as much to The Residents or Captain Beefheart as it does to hardcore punk:
Back in ’84, Gibby Haynes achieved his distorted, menacing vocals mostly just by singing by through a megaphone or a toilet paper roll, but over the years he added various electronic effects, until he finally had an entire rack of processors that came be known as “Gibbytronix.” You can’t actually see Gibby in this 1991 video, but you can hear Gibbytronix in full effect:
Over the course of the ’90s, the Surfers devolved into a tamer, “alternative rock” incarnation of their former selves. Kurt Cobain name-checked them as an influence (he and Courtney Love met at a Butthole Surfers show), which helped the band land a major-label deal at Capitol Records in 1992. They even got John Paul fucking Jones (yes, the Led Zeppelin guy) to produce their first record for Capitol, the intriguingly titled but disappointingly polished Independent Worm Saloon. By the time they scored their biggest hit, 1996’s “Pepper,” they were starting to sound kinda like Weezer. But hey, if aging psychedelic noise punks can’t cash out in America, what hope is there for the rest of us? And to their credit, they still play the old weird shit to this day, albeit as a stripped-down four piece with fewer visual effects and naked dancers.
I’ve really only scratched the surface of all that was weird about the Butthole Surfers; if I wanted to, I could go on all night. In their early days, they changed the band name for every show: Ashtray Babyheads, the Right to Eat Fred Astaire’s Asshole, the Dick Gas Five. Their classic 1988 album Hairway to Steven was released with cartoons for each song in place of titles. Fans later deciphered the song titles based on live set lists; the song represented by a rabbit dancing on top of a dead fish turned out to be called “Julio Iglesias.”
But instead of cataloging their every bit of chicanery, I’ll just leave you with a short 1988 film called Bar-B-Que Movie, which starred all six then-members of the band (Gibby, Leary, bassist Jeff Pinkus, drummers King Coffey and Teresa Nervosa, and dancer Kathleen Lynch) and was directed by, of all people, Alex Winter, the actor best known as the not-Keanu guy from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. It’s a spoof of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and…well, just fucking watch it, OK? You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll never look at your cast-iron frying pan the same way again. There’s a full-on recreation of the Surfers’ stage show about seven minutes in. Enjoy.
- Butthole Surfers official site
- Butthole Surfers catalog on Amazon.com
- The Anal Obsession (fan catalog of every Butthole Surfers show ever, or damn close to it, with set lists)
- Feeding the Fish: An Oral History of the Butthole Surfers (based on Spin magazine interviews circa 1996)
- Butthole Surfers: The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey’s Grave (a remembrance of ’80s Surfers gigs by Richard Metzger of Dangerous Minds)
- Butthole Surfers on MySpace (because why the hell not?)
Listen, we all already knew that Lightning Bolt drummer Brian Chippendale was one crazy motherfucker, but he just keeps out-freaking himself with this Black Pus project. The music, which is mostly just Chippendale wailing away on larger-than-life drums, looped-to-death vocals and swarm-of-bees synths, is crazy enough all by itself. But now he has to go and add the kind of visual accompaniment that has me creeping around on all fours to find the gremlins that dosed my nightcap. Yes, I just watched this video five times in a row and I am now actually hallucinating. Either that or my socks really are full of ants. Nah, let’s assume I’m hallucinating.
Anyway, the video is for the chanty/ranty track “Hear No Evil” and you can watch it below. You can also read all about Brian’s unlikely trip to an avant-garde drumming workshop in the United Arab Emirates. Even without the peyote-punk videos, the man leads a pretty interesting life.
Bonus Pus nugget: Chippendale is taking his Black Pus show on the road in May. In case you missed ’em the first time, you can read all the dates here.
When he’s not pummeling audiences into submission as the drummer for Lightning Bolt, Brian Chippendale is pummeling audiences into submission as the one-man wrecking crew called Black Pus. Black Pus mostly sounds like Lightning Bolt, except bassist Brian Gibson is replaced by various electronics and oscillators and other shit I don’t really claim to understand. It’s technology, people! Technology in the service of making enough noise to cause your brain to start leaking out your ears in a thick, gummy discharge.
The latest Black Pus record, All My Relations, is due out March 19th on Thrill Jockey Records and judging from lead track “1000 Years,” it’s going to be a fucking beast. It’s also apparently the first time Chippendale has recorded a full album in a regular ol’ recording studio with other dudes doing the producing and recording and whatnot. Before all you D.I.Y. punk purists start crying “sellout,” fire up “1000 Years” below and tell me it doesn’t sound like Chippendale beat that studio till it called him Daddy. (If you can’t see the Soundcloud player, click here.)
Later this spring, Chippendale’s taking his Black Pus show on the road. Here are the dates:
05-03 Boston, MA- Cambridge Elks Lounge
05-04 Buffalo, NY- Sound Lab
05-05 Cleveland, OH- Happy Dog
05-07 Chicago, IL- Empty Bottle
05-09 St.Paul, MN- Turf Club *
05-10 Omaha, NE- Slowdown
05-11 Denver, CO- Larimer Lounge
05-13 Salt Lake City, UT- Kilby Court
05-14 Boise, ID- Neurolux
05-15 Seattle, WA- Black Lodge ^
05-16 Portland, OR – Bunk Bar
05-18 San Francisco, CA- Hemlock Tavern
05-19 Oakland, CA- Lobot Gallery
05-20 Los Angeles, CA- The Smell #
05-22 San Diego, CA- Soda Bar
05-23 Tucson, AZ- Topaz Tundra
05-24 Albuquerque, NM- Small Engine
05-26 Austin, TX- Mohawk (Inside)
05-29 Atlanta, GA- The Earl
05-30 Raleigh, NC- Kings Barcade
05-31 Baltimore, MD- Golden West %
06-01 Philadelphia, PA- PhilaMOCA
06-02 Brooklyn, NY- Death By Audio
*Skoal Kodiak, Seawhores
#Foot Village, Street Buddy
To pre-order All My Relations, go to Thrill Jockey’s official website. First 100 get a Chippendale comic based on a conversation we literally heard 75 different times at South by Southwest a few years back. Click the link and you’ll see what I mean.
(Photo by Sam Ashley)
If you ask me (and I know you probably didn’t but I’ll tell you anyway), the spirit of punk rock has always been about two things: 1.) keeping it simple and 2.) rocking the fuck out. By those standards, Lightning Bolt are punk as fuck.
Guitars? Who needs ’em? Lightning Bolt get by with just a bass and a drum kit. (And it’s worth pointing out that they were doing this years before Death From Above 1979, who are awesome in their own way, but not as original, not as weird and definitely not punk as fuck.) Stage diving? Sorry, kids, there’s no stage.* Lightning Bolt prefer to set up right on the floor, with a bunch of Marshall amp stacks as their backdrop. The fans crowd around the band in a seething semi-circle that someone on YouTube aptly described as looking like “psycho-spermatozoa assaulting an epileptic ovule.”
So that’s the punk part. The weird part? That mostly comes courtesy of drummer/singer Brian Chippendale. Early on the band’s development, Chippendale solved the problem of how to be a singing drummer when you drum like you’re having a seizure in a pretty brilliant, makeshift way: He took the microphone out of a telephone receiver** and secured it to his face using a hood that looks sort of like a cross between a Mexican wrestling mask and something one of the guys from Slipknot would wear. Oh and did we mention he drums like he’s having a seizure? So yeah, watching Chippendale do his thing is pretty riveting stuff. The bassist, Brian Gibson, makes up for his more pedestrian stage presence mostly with volume. Those Marshall stacks aren’t just for show.
Lightning Bolt have made a handful of freaky music videos over the years, but the best way to experience their music is still live. (So we hear; we haven’t had the pleasure.) So here’s a clip of them rocking it live at a show in France in 2008. Vive le noise! Or something like that.
*Apparently, at some of their more recent shows, Lightning Bolt have finally started playing on stages. “Some of these shows have gotten too big and ridiculous, and that’s why we move to the stage,” Chippendale explained in an interview with The Stranger. “It’s just not fun or safe. Kids who complain when we play on the stage, I tell them sorry you missed it”—”it” being the “play on the floor” days of yore.
**Sorta like our hero, Bob Log III.
Democracy has struck again here at TWBITW. The latest band featured on our Submit & Vote page, a London outfit called BAANEEX (why all caps? because they’re shouting it at you, that’s why), was overwhelmingly declared Weird by you, our ever-fickle readers. So congrats, BAANEEX! Apparently it was not presumptuous of you to name your debut EP Weird Dance after all.
We actually don’t know very much about BAANEEX, except that some of them used to be in another band called Muarena Helena and they’ve been together since 2009 or so. They’ve also apparently been known to describe their music as “Dracula-inspired garage punk/noisepop/roarcore.” So there’s that.
They also have a couple of videos, our favorite of which was apparently created by their drummer, who’s either called Rosie or Risoe (or maybe someone in the band is just mildly dyslexic). It’s called “Cool Count” and it’s posted below.
BAANEEX is one of those bands that isn’t overtly weird. They don’t have any clever gimmicks or a wacky stage show. They’re basically just a noise rock band. But there’s something about them that’s definitely a bit off. Plus, how great is that publicity photo? So we’re happy they made the Weird List.
For our next TWBITW candidate, we have to go all the way to Japan, which has certainly produced its fair share of weird music over the years: Merzbow, Boris, Yellow Magic Orchestra. (Honestly, though, we even think Puffi AmiYumi is kinda weird…but we’re probably just racist.) But the Boredoms operate on a whole ‘nother plane of weird that even most Japanese bands never quite get to.
Started in the mid-’80s as a punk/no-wave band, the Boredoms featured a frontman named Yamantaka Eye, whose previous band, an industrial group called Hanatarash, had broken up mainly because they were banned from playing nearly every music venue in Japan (Hanatarash’s live shows featured highly dangerous use of power tools and, on at least one occasion, a backhoe). Although their music was considered highly abrasive even in noise-rock and no wave circles, they got the attention of other artists like John Zorn and Sonic Youth and, by the late ’80s, had developed a sizable U.S. following.
In the ’90s, the Boredoms began incorporating more electronic elements into their sound and experimenting with Krautrock, drone and, increasingly, tribal percussion. After an four-year hiatus, the band resurfaced in 2003 under the new name V∞redoms and with a new lineup featuring three drummers. The band’s fascination with percussion culminated in a series of recent concerts called 77 Boadrum and 88 Boadrum. 77 Boadrum took place on July 7, 2007 in New York and featured 77 drummers. 88 Boadrum took place simultaneously in New York and Los Angeles on August 8, 2008 and featured 88 drummer performing an 88-minute composition. (They also did an NYC concert on 9/9/09, but it featured only nine drummers.)
So what does the world’s most drum obsessed Japanese noise-rock band sound like? Here’s a taste from 77 Boadrum.