Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra

satanic-puppeteer-2
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 Band Night happened, and it was awesome

California Institute of Abnormalarts
Photo by Gruesome Gereg

Well, it only took us five years, but we finally hosted our first-ever Weird Band Night, and it was amazing. Why didn’t we do this sooner? Because we’re control freaks and booking live music is the art of wrangling chaos. So many things are so completely out of your control that all you can really do is line up the bands and the venue and tell everyone you’ve ever met that they need to be there and then sit back and hope for the best.

But despite a setback or two (we forgive you, Haunted Garage), Weird Band Night was a rousing success. OK, the venue could have been a little fuller, and the show could have run a little more on schedule. And Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra’s name could’ve been spelled correctly on the marquee. But no one died and the bands were on fire. Plus the California Institute of Abnormalarts (CIA) might literally be the Weirdest Venue in the World (complete with its own oddities museum containing no fewer than two actual mummies) so we couldn’t have asked for a better place to host it for us. We’re putting this one in the win column!

First up we had the Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra from San Diego, playing their first L.A. show. As with all opening bands, they had to contend with the lower energy of a small audience, but they powered through a hilarious set that answered such burning questions as “What’s the most expensive way to feed a zebra?” (answer: Pop Tarts) and “Which species of bird are potentially poisonous?” (answer: all of them).

SPO-CIA-sm

Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra
SPO-20, robot frontman of the Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra

For a one-man/one-robot act, SPO had quite the impressive setup, complete with their own lighting and an audiovisual presentation that included vintage educational videos and lyric subtitles, so you could decipher the Stephen Hawking-like vocals of the band’s frontrobot, SPO-20.

SPO at the CIA
Photo by Gruesome Gereg

Next up: The Rhythm Coffin, the ghoulish cavalry who swooped in and saved the day when Haunted Garage were forced to cancel on short notice. Their set was a big horror-punk/surf/rockabilly singalong with lots of great audience interaction, especially when they tossed what felt like about 300 styrofoam dummy heads into the crowd. This was ostensibly only for one song, “The Headless Head Bop,” but once the heads were unleashed, you pretty much had to keep your own head on a swivel for the rest of their set, lest you get beaned from behind by an overeager Coffin fan.

The Rhythm Coffin
Rhythm Coffin lead ghoul Gruesome Gereg (Photo by Paul Koudounaris)
Eerie Emma
Rhythm Coffin “Ghoulie Girl” Eerie Emma (Photo by Paul Koudounaris)
The Rhythm Coffin
Scary Carrie, Gruesome Gereg and GhoulHectic Clownie (Photo by Paul Koudounaris)

Last but certainly not least: The Radioactive Chicken Heads. What can I say about these guys? Every single song was a show unto itself. They broke out so many props and costumes and extra performers that, had I not met lead singer Carrot Topp in street clothes before the show, I might have started wondering if Dave Brockie faked his death and was now playing in a chicken-themed punk band from Orange Country. Their show was GWAR-like in its mind-boggling parade of wacky characters and costumes.

Carrot Top, Radioactive Chicken Heads
Carrot Topp of Radioactive Chicken Heads (Photo by Paul Koudounaris)
Radioactive Chicken Heads
Chicken Heads (left to right): El Pollo Diablo, Sgt. Psyclopps, Carrot Topp, Cheri Tomato, Bird Brain
I'm not really sure what this thing was. It almost ate Carrot Topp, but he managed to escape.
I’m not really sure what this thing was. It almost ate Carrot Topp, but he managed to escape.
Radioactive Chicken Heads
Double Carrot Topps! For the song “I Looked Into the Mirror.”
Radioactive Chicken Heads
Carrot Topp, Bird Brain and drummer Puke Boy
Carrot Topp and Badd Bunny
Carrot Topp does battle with the Badd Bunny, one of many adversaries who, for some reason, manage to get into every Radioactive Chicken Heads show
Radioactive Chicken Heads
This adorable little girl got onstage to help introduce the song “I Eat Kids.” Don’t worry, she’s fine. (Photo by Paul Koudounaris)
Punky Rooster and El Pollo Diablo (Photo by Paul Koudounaris)
Punky Rooster and El Pollo Diablo (Photo by Paul Koudounaris)

Thanks again to all the bands, Carl and everyone at the CIA, and most of all, all the friends and fans who came out to support the show. I hope you had half as much fun as we did.

Radioactive Chicken Heads, The Rhythm Coffin and the Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra are playing our first-ever Weird Band Night

Weird Band Night at CIA

[Update: Due to circumstances beyond our control, Haunted Garage had to cancel their appearance. The Rhythm Coffin will be rockin’ Weird Band Night in their place. Our apologies to all you Dukey Flyswatter fans out there. We’ll try to book them for the next one.]

So how’s this for sweet? After many months of trying to track down a venue dumb cool enough to host a show for us, we finally hooked up with the good people at the California Institute of Abnormalarts to bring you our very first Weird Band Night. It’s all going down on Friday, July 11th, so if you plan on being anywhere in the greater Los Angeles area that night, get your ass down to the CIA or I will personally hunt you down and make you watch One Direction videos until you’re begging for the sweet release of death.

Our lineup is pretty excellent for our first time out, if I do say so myself. Co-headlining are legendary poultry punks the Radioactive Chicken Heads and monster rockers The Rhythm Coffin. And to open the show, we’ve got the unholy man/machine duo of the Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra, up from San Diego and making their L.A. debut. All this for a mere 10 bones, and possibly a dry cleaning bill if you stand too close to the stage.

For more info or to RSVP, check out our event page on Facebook. Not that you have to RSVP or anything. It’ll be first-come, first-served at the door the night of the show. But RSVP anyway so we can show our parents that some people actually take this blog at least somewhat seriously.

And now, to help you get as pumped as we are, here are some videos from our bands. You know you gotta come out and see this shit.

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.