Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra

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Photo by Candice Eley

If you’re trying to start your own weird band, it’s a good move to include a robot member or two. As we’ve repeatedly established on this here blog, robots are weird. Especially ones that have glass heads with brains floating in them.

In the case of Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra, they have only one robot, but he’s a good one. SPO-20 has the aforementioned glass head and suspended brain, and he sings the band’s jaunty electro-pop ditties in a voice that’s two parts Stephen Hawking and one part retired Cylon warrior crooning pop standards in the rec room at the Cylon old folks’ home. The Dave Stewart to SPO-20’s Annie Lennox, Professor B. Miller, accompanies the robot on keyboards with more sweaty enthusiasm than Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra’s light-hearted tunes require, but he’s probably overcompensating for SPO-20’s stiffness air of enigmatic aloofness.

SPO are from San Diego, which is a weirder music town than you might expect; it’s also home to Cattle Decapitation, masked powerviolence perpetrators The Locust, and at least one other, much scarier robot band. They’ve been doing their thing since 1996 and their biggest claim to fame is they released the bestselling 4-disc debut album of all time — featuring “probably over 50 songs!” according to their website. You’re probably wondering, “Yeah, but how many 4-disc debut albums can there possibly be?” And I’m here to tell you that I have no idea, but I’m sure it’s a lot or they wouldn’t be bragging about it.

Here’s one of those 50-odd tracks, “Haunted Rental Car,” which I figured is an appropriate choice since it’s almost Halloween and all:

After a follow-up 2014 album called Experiments With Auto-Croon, SPO return next month with the first in what Prof B tell us will be a series of 20 (twenty!) EPs, each centered around a different theme. The first one is all about supermarkets, which I guess is appropriate because robots are already starting to run our supermarkets, so why not have one sing songs about it? Here’s a just-released video for that Orwellian shopping nightmare known as the “Price Check”:

After Stop by the Supermarket, SPO’s next three EPs will be about Christmas (timely!), the paranormal (less timely, but awesome!) and being lost at sea (never goes out of style). What the next 16 EPs after that will be about is anyone’s guess, but I’m sure they’ll all be trenchant parables for our dystopian times.

Side note: Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra was actually one of the three bands that played at our first (and to date, only) Weird Band Night back in 2014. How we went four years after that event without ever adding them to the Weird List I’m not sure, but it was probably down to some stupid human error and further proof that robots are better at everything. I’m sure one directed this video for another SPO tune, “Frankenstein’s Laundromat,” because it’s great. (As is their live show — if you happen to live in San Diego, they’re having a record release gig on Nov. 24th, which you should definitely check out.)

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Weird of the Day: Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra, “Frankenstein’s Laundromat”

Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra

A guy who calls himself Professor B. Miller wrote in to tell us about his band, the Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra. Confusingly, the band does not feature puppets, an orchestra or Satan. But it does feature a robot lead singer, so we were sold.

“Absurd satire?” asks their online press kit. “Experimental performance art? A glimpse in to our robotic future? A novelty act gone too far? Comedy gold? Yes.”

They’re from San Diego and their latest album is called Experiments with Auto-Croon. It’s 13 tracks and features a toy piano cover of “Werewolves of London,” but we’re more into this video for “Frankenstein’s Laundromat,” which features what I can only assume are members of Here Come the Mummies. After a few sweaty funk-rock shows, those mummy bandages are in serious need of a rinse.

You can buy yourself a copy of Experiments With Auto-Croon from Amazon.com or direct from SPO’s official website.

Compressorhead

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Humans suck. So it’s no surprise that there’s been an explosion of all-robot bands in recent years. There’s these guys. And these guys. And let’s not forget our old pals Captured! by Robots. Although they do have one human member, so technically they don’t count.

But earlier this month, a new all-robot band emerged that is basically the Terminator T-1000 to everyone else’s R2D2. They’re called Compressorhead and in addition to rocking solid imitations of Motörhead and The Ramones, they’re the first all-robot rock band that actually looks like a rock band. The drummer has four arms and a mohawk. The guitarist headbangs. If they could just smash their instruments, they’d really put all human rockers out a job.

Compressorhead are from Germany and they’ve actually been around for a few years. Early versions of the band featured just the drummer, Stickboy, although he was occasionally accompanied by robot go-go dancers. Am I a weirdo for saying the robodancers are way hotter than actual human dancers? Well, fuck it, I’m saying it anyway. [Update: The video featuring the robot go-go dancers has been removed because apparently we’re not allowed to have any fun around here.]

Stickboy was eventually joined by Fingers, a guitarist with 78 fingers (because shit, why not?) and Bones, a bass player, who only has eight fingers because let’s face it, playing bass is not that hard. Stickboy also has a little mini-Stickboy sidekick who looks kinda like a robot gremlin and just plays the hi-hat. Every drummer should have a mini-sidekick on hi-hat, don’t you think? So they can focus on more serious matters like double kick drums and cymbal crashes and bashing the living shit out of their snare.

Even though they’ve been around since at least 2008, Compressorhead really only started getting major attention earlier this month, when a video of them doing “Ace of Spades” went viral. Since pretty much the entire Internet has seen that clip, here’s another one of them doing “Blitzkrieg Bop.” You probably don’t actually need 78 fingers to play Johnny Ramone’s three chords, but it sure couldn’t hurt.

Starting this past weekend, Compressorhead began playing Australia’s Big Day Out Festival, which began last Friday in Sydney and continues this weekend in Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth. Apparently BDO organizer Ken West is now managing the robots, which has gotta beat managing a crowd of 50,000 sweaty Australians. Here’s a clip of them performing their signature track “Ace of Spades” for a mob of puzzled onlookers.

So what do you think: Robot bands, good, bad, or a sign of the coming apocalypse? And when is someone gonna put them all on the same bill and call it RoboFest or something equally stupid? I figure it’ll happen by 2014 at the latest. This guy could be the MC.

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