Sunday Shout-Out: Yeah I Know It Sucks

yeah-sucks

Our latest Sunday Shout-Out is a little biased. OK, more than a little. We had already stumbled across the “absurdist review blog” Yeah I Know It Sucks and enjoyed their irreverent humor and penchant for unearthing obscure treasures like Mark Templeton’s ambient/chopped-n-chilled remixes of cheesy ’80s ballads. Then they actually took the time to interview Jake and me for a feature about Weirdest Band in the World and made us feel all special. So we’re returning the favor.

Discerning taste in fellow blogs aside, YIKIS really is a fantastic source for music that escapes the attention of pretty much the entire rest of the blogosphere. It’s not all weird, but most of it is well worth checking out: Mark McGuire’s abstract guitar reveries; Logosamphia’s chiptune/breakcore freakery; the tape-hiss and field recording experiments of To-Bo. That it’s all served up with the sort of goofy, friendly, free-association humor you usually only hear from your friends after their third bong rip is just the icing on the Suckitude cake. Here, for example, is a line from their review of a release called “Piece of Shit,” from an artist called MARK (they’re currently in the midst of an all-artists-named-Mark binge…you know, just cuz): “I have no idea what MARK eats, if he has a special diet or uses special ingredients because his ‘piece of shit’ is the most chilled out funkiest space jam that ever came out of an anus!” I guarantee you that is the single greatest sentence anyone has ever written on the subject of MARK and his “Piece of Shit.”

YIKIS is the work of a whole team of music obsessives, including one Kai Nobuko, the man behind our current Weird Band of the Week, Toxic Chicken. He’s also the guy who did that interview with me and Jake that I mentioned earlier. Have you read it yet? No? You should, it’s really rather quite good. Here’s the link again. Go read it and every burning question you’ve ever had about TWBITW shall be answered.

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Toxic Chicken

Toxic Chicken

Toxic Chicken in Thailand

Sometimes when we do our monthly Weird Band Poll, a band gets robbed. Any other month, they would have crushed it, but they had the bad luck to be up against someone super-popular, super-weird or possibly just super-unethical when it comes to repeat voting. (We try to prevent it, but let’s face it, this is the Internet we’re talking about. Most of you could probably use Bitcoin to buy blow and download a thousand Prince bootlegs right now if you weren’t such fine, upstanding citizens.) Such a band is Toxic Chicken, who narrowly lost out last month to Well Worn Boot. And while WWB totally deserved the win, TC gave them a run worthy of a belated Weird Band of the Week shout-out.

Toxic Chicken is the work of a Dutch guy named Kai Nobuko, who currently resides in Bangkok. When pressed for details on his backstory, Mr. Chicken obliged us with a rambling and highly entertaining bio, which we’ll attempt to condense here. Long story short: Like a lot of weird bands, the whole thing started as sort of a joke and now it’s his main gig. (Not unlike the story of this very blog, actually. But that’s a tale for another time.)

Kai wrote his first Toxic Chicken track as a joke submission for a music contest in the Netherlands. “It was a track I made by using the phonebook and calling random numbers,” he recalls. “Unfortunately the contest people liked it.” As a finalist, he had to come in and perform, so he hired a metal band and had them just stand around while he played a tape and made sandwiches for the audience.

After that, every Toxic Chicken performance was a little different, but always featured food in some way. Someone stole his synths early on so he mostly just performed on a laptop, occasionally making chicken noises into a megaphone “as that feels so good to get things out of the system.”

His only regret from that era? “I regret playing too much with chocolate because it is a pain to remove it between the tiny gaps of the keys of the craptop.” Preachin’ to the choir, buddy!

Here’s a sample track from those early days, called “You are my dog.” Yes, it’s a love song addressed to a dog. Try not to read too much into, OK? The guy in the song just really loves his dog. That’s all. Probably.

Eventually Toxic Chicken moved to London where, inspired by a punk-rock show, he decided to trash his laptop as part of a performance. “It was satisfying at the time but regretted it later because I lost a lot of music,” he admits now. These days he uses cheap laptops and backs up his files.

He also occasionally does songs with his sister under the name Jointriders, which are, if anything, even crazier than his Toxic Chicken stuff. Here’s a sample:

“Basically every gig was one disaster after another,” is how The Toxic One describes this period. Our favorite story from this phase involves a show in Belgium where he got a “nice guy called Hamtaro” to dress up in a chicken costume and perform his entire set “so I could hang at the bar and perhaps dance to show that it’s possible.”

Sometime after that, Toxic Chicken got heavily into the “lobit” scene, in which electronic musicians deliberately compress their music to make it easier to stream and download—and, if you’re into the bright, tinny quality of compressed music, sound better, too. “It makes everything sound better,” TC insists. “Even terrible noise sounds like pretty ambient in a lobit rate.” Lobit artists tend to post their music for free on sites like Archive.org and Toxic Chicken is no exception. Here’s an EP from 2010 called GIFKIP ORCHESTRA that’s actually quite lovely. I have to admit I was skeptical about the whole “things sound better in lobit” argument, but it’s really true that by compressing his synths, Kai’s able to make them sound more convincingly like a chamber orchestra than any Prophet or Roland synth I’ve ever heard on a major-label release.

When lobit artists release physical product, they tend to prefer “obsolete” technologies like cassettes and floppy discs. Toxic Chicken went one better in this department when he released an EP called Baby Boom Disk that came on a floppy disc wrapped in a dirty diaper. (For the squeamish among you, you can now listen to the EP poop-free on Bandcamp.) He also claims to have released a “floppy compilation” encased in recycled elephant shit and a project called Flop-Pee that’s just field recordings of his musician friends pissing. Those sound kind of made-up to us but with this guy, who knows?

Toxic Chicken’s crowning achievement in the lobit scene may have been when he and his sometime partner-in-crime Graham (who runs a label called Wrieuw Recordings, which just put out the latest TC release, an EP called My Cat) organized a lobit music festival that took place entirely online, even though all the festival info said it was taking place in Lobith, the Netherlands. Sure enough, some unwitting souls actually showed in Lobith looking for the music, not realizing that Kai and Graham were just broadcasting the whole thing from a hair salon in England.

These days, Kai lives in Thailand, where he continues to make music, run a label called L0BIT, and write for the music blog Yeah I Know It Sucks. Sounds like a pretty good life to us.

We’ll leave you with one Toxic Chicken classic and one of his more recent works. First, the recent stuff: This is a track from the My Cat EP, another touching love song called “If you are my cat I will be your chicken.” As the kids used to say: It’s got a great beat and you can dance to it.

And finally, one of Toxic Chicken’s crowning achievements, from way back in 2007: “Biscuits With Jesus,” the best video you will ever see that features Hitler doing a puppet show.

Links:

March Weird Band Poll: Vote for The Hermits of Suburbia, Man With a Mission, RV Carcass, Toxic Chicken or Well Worn Boot

After the week I just had, I need a weekend of less thinkin’, more drinkin’. Which means it’s time to leave the thinkin’ part of this blog to you folks out there Readerland. Yep, it’s time for another Weird Band Poll™! Ready to crush the hopes and dreams of four out of five bands? I know you are.

We’ll have our usual insanely long voting period, because procrastinators need love, too. So voting ends at midnight on Sunday, March 23rd, and the winner will be crowned Weird Band of the Week on March 26th. Play fair and only vote once, K? If you really feel the need to cheat, do it on something that matters, like your taxes or Words With Friends.

[Sorry, this poll has closed. Check back here Wednesday, when the winner will be revealed. And bookmark this page to partake of future polls. We do a new one every month(ish).]

For more on this month’s bands, read on:

The Hermits of Suburbia

Hermits of Suburbia

These guys are from Atlanta…or the suburbs of Atlanta, I guess…and call themselves a “drinking band with a ska problem.” I hope you get your ska problem sorted out soon, guys, cuz that shit’ll kill you. Here’s a song of theirs called “We Races the Car (So You Don’t Have To) or Who Says a Ska Band Can’t Funk,” and here’s their Bandcamp page. Oh, and their ukulele player is an ordained Dudeist in the Church of the Big Lebowski. Also, they’re a ska band with a fucking ukulele player! Mind = blown.

Man With a Mission

Man With a Mission

Man With a Mission is Japan’s only wolf-headed alt-metal band named after a Don Henley song. Trust us, we checked. Their backstory is all about how they were created in a lab and then frozen in Antarctica for centuries or some shit but let’s not worry too much about that part. Here’s one of their videos and here’s their official website, which for a band that dresses up like wolf janitors does not have anywhere near enough videos on it.

RV Carcass

RV Carcass

RV Carcass are named after their recording studio…literally, these guys record all their music in a broken-down RV they’ve rigged up with all sorts of high-tear electronics and converted to run on corn whiskey. You had us at “runs on corn whiskey,” buds. They’re based in San Francisco now but they “escaped” from Morocco, although I’m not really sure what they were escaping from. Judging from this video, I bet drugs were involved. Here’s their website.

Toxic Chicken

Toxic Chicken

We don’t really know much about this dude, except that he’s a Dutch guy living in Bangkok. He makes lo-bit bedroom electronic music which this guy Graham puts out on Wrieuw Recordings. Apparently one of his records came out on a floppy disk wrapped in a diaper, so he’s got that going for him. Here’s his My Cat EP on Bandcamp and here’s a video for the song “biscuits with jesus,” which for some reason co-stars Hitler.

Well Worn Boot

Well Worn Boot

Well Worn Boot are from Buffalo (Upstate NY represent!) and are led by a singer/flute-blower called The Plainsman, so they’re sort of an American white-trash version of Jethro Tull. Their press kit calls them “American folklore inspired” but I’m pretty sure that’s the same thing as “American white-trash inspired.” I bet they and the Hermits of Suburbia could have an epic drinking contest. Speaking of drinking, here’s a live video of them doing a song called “Drunk on the Highway.” And here’s their website.

So there you have it. Remember to cast your vote before midnight Sunday, March 23rd, and may the weirdest band win.