Comparative Anatomy are another group that I have liked for many years. Their 2010 CD Mammalian is really good. I have been waiting ever since for a follow-up album, which never seems to come.
They are an experimental drum & bass band from Charlottesville, Virginia. Known for their elaborate costumes, absurd humor, simple but diverse textures and unique sound, the band has become known in the experimental and noise rock scenes for their outlandish performances. Their early work has been referred to by reviewers as a “patchwork, cut-up style” similar to bands like Mr. Bungle, but recently they have created their own unique sound with robotic sounding bass lines, frenzied loops of animal samples, and beat-focused drums. To date, they are the only band to consistently use animals for vocals, recording their sounds in a variety of settings and programming them to the music, often altering the sounds and layering them in their more recent work.
Comparative Anatomy started as an experiment in 2009 between the two main members, Sir Puffers Rabbinald the Third and Ron Chickenbaby. At this time, the band name was not yet chosen. The original line-up went through several guitars and one real drummer, all of who were eventually eliminated. After deciding to work alone, the group took a different route, eliminated guitars altogether and moved away from the quirky, death metal sound where they started as well as completely scrapping vocals. Their musical direction began to take an experimental, drum & dual-bass approach utilizing special tunings, a drum machine, and various samples from a variety of sources. They’re known for its odd humor, which relies heavily on absurdist and quasi-dadaist dialogs with the crowd and symbolism focusing totally on animals.
During live performances, Comparative Anatomy is known for wearing costumes, which were at first simple designs made with dismembered, stuffed animals, but eventually became elaborate and full-body pieces hand-made by the two main members featuring everything from top hats to black metal guantlets. In addition, their live act involves a set of films and animations created by the band that follow the music and are projected behind them on a giant screen.
Another cool thing about them that I like very much is that they tour in a refurbished ambulance, playing their music over the PA system as they approach their performances.
If you ever wonder what a Mike Nobody solo performance looks like, without a real band onstage, this probably isn’t far from it… minus the costumes.
In the 1990’s, there were a number of bands who styled themselves as cartoonish action heroes, complete with a theatrical image and fictional backstory (GWAR, Supernova, The Aquabats, The Cocktails, The Amino Acids, Man or Astroman?).
I am not sure if this is the legacy of KISS or The Monkees.
The nice thing about these groups is that they are fun, for starters, and make additional income for the artist through merchandising. I wrote about merchandising before. Yes, there is a dark side to avoid. But, there is also potential to have a lot of fun with it. Comic book culture thrives on it. Go to any comic-con and check out the mountains of stuff available for almost any property. I cannot help that the inner geek in me likes collecting things. I blame Star Trek and record collecting for getting me started on that.
Mog Stunt Team were one of these groups, and were also close friends of mine.
I liked their music and whole schtick. But, I always felt like they put most of their energy into an image and not their music. I believed that I could write better songs, for sure. Bassist / vocalist Kenny Mugwump must have sensed this on some level, because he often asked for my opinion about stuff and wanted my input. I regret that I never asked to join their group. But, I was a bit intimidated. These were old pros with management, years of experience in a number of bands, touring, getting signed to labels, etc. I was just this weird kid who hung around a lot and helped when they needed a favor.
I kinda forgot about these sort of groups for awhile, then realized that The Aquabats were still kicking, and had their own TV show for two seasons! Christ, how did I miss THAT? I did a little research and discovered that the lead Aquabat, Christian Jacobs, was a former 1980’s child actor. He tried making a go of The Aquabats band for a couple of years in the 1990’s, unsuccessfully. In 1998 they made a failed Aquabats TV pilot with Bobcat Goldthwait. In 1999, he tried pitching Yo Gabba Gabba! to the networks instead. After belatedly appearing on the internet for a few years, it was a big success. Afterward, he was asked what his next project would be. So, he simply dusted off his VHS recording of The Aquabats! Super Show! and tried that again 15 years after it was originally made. Ta-Dah!
Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to make The Island of Misfit Noise sort of like these groups. The IOMN movie certainly shares some of the same influences. I don’t want to wear costumes onstage or anything like that. But, I think that I could create different characters that we could make toys out of and stuff like that. Sorta like The Archies or Josie and The Pussycats. That could be fun.
As a kid growing up in the 1970’s-1980’s, I knew even then that most of the cartoons on TV were just half-hour commercials for toys. It was a little annoying, sometimes. I mean, c’mon, they made a TV show about a talking Rubik’s Cube! Really?! The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were one of these shows. Literally, the show was only made so they could make toys. But, damn if it wasn’t still a good show! I think the fact that they had already developed it as a successful comic book for a few years gave them the chance to flesh out the characters more.
Anyway, I still look forward to writing songs with anyone who wants to add them into this. Not sure what will come of it. But, we will see.
Space Streakings was a noise rock band from Japan formed in 1993 by four video game programmers. Very little information is available about them, not even their real names.
- Space Streakings:
- Captain Insect – bass guitar, vocals, programming
- Kame Bazooka – alto saxophone, vocals, horns, illustrations
- Karate Condor – turntables, vocals
- Screaming Stomach – guitar, vocals, trumpet, kazoo
As those pseudonyms may suggest, the group took a cavalier attitude to their craft, producing a series of unclassifiable songs which have confused critics in and outside of Japan’s borders – the band themselves dubbed it ‘Cyber-punk-techno-core’. They had unusual instrumentation. No drums, for one thing. But, they also featured a gasoline-powered guitar and flamethrower trombone.
In 1994, musician and music engineer Steve Albini flew to Japan in order to record the band’s second album 7-Toku. Shortly after the album’s release Screaming Stomach, who had grown tired of the band’s cacophonous sound, left the band. This resulted in a collaboration with Mount Shasta of Chicago, forming the supergroup Shakuhachi Surprise:
- Jason Benson – drums, percussion
- Carl Brueggen – guitar
- Captain Insect – bass guitar, vocals, horns
- John Forbes – vocals, guitar, harmonica
- Kame Bazooka – alto saxophone, vocals
- Karate Condor – turntables, guitar, horns
- Jenny White – guitar, bass guitar, vocals
I actually like this collaboration even more than Space Streakings itself. The addition of a real drummer smoothed out the jagged edges of the stiff-sounding drum machines. Space Streakings Sighted Over Mount Shasta is the sole album recorded by Mount Shasta and Space Streakings together, released on October 1, 1996 through Skin Graft Records. It is a shame that they didn’t make any more.
After a brief tour of the United States, Space Streakings disbanded.
I applied for another job again, Value World (aka Value Village).
Not sure if it will do any good.
They were the only place that required applicants to apply in person, instead of online like everywhere else.
I later walked to the store for pop & bread and actually did some housecleaning today, too.
I’m on a roll.
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I am feeling kinda brave and pulled the Roland workstation out… seeing if I could operate it at all.
I may dig through some boxes of old tapes and see if there is anything that I wanna work on again.
I may lift some material directly from them for the zine.
I am thinking that I will just keep accumulating material as I go along.
Then, when I have enough cash to publish I will put a new issue out, hopefully every three to four months.
It would be easier if I had some extra income for this.
But, I am working with what I have for now.
Thee Urban SpaceCat CassetteZine may be printed by a company that did Death Cat comics, Ka-Blam is their name I think.
It seems like they work in all sorts of volumes with good quality.
The tapes may be recorded, mixed, mastered, and dubbed totally DIY, though.
I am undecided if I want to get them made at a duplicating plant or just dub them myself.
I guess it depends what the demand is for them.
If I get too many orders I will have to go with the duplicating plant.
I am making a distinction between the CassetteZine and the RecycleTapes, though.
The CassetteZine will use fresh normal bias cassettes, probably Sony.
They seem to be the most readily available.
RecycleTapes are hard copy recordings of Mike Damn Nobody’s noise albums, dubbed on reused tapes and re-labelled by me.
I may have to create new artwork for the older titles.
I cannot find the originals.
I was thinking of when I want to take my recordings into a legitimate studio.
Money is a factor, of course.
But, when I am ready, I am thinking that I may only release vinyl singles and EPs like that for awhile.
If they do well, I can compile them onto CDs later.
The Weirdos are an LA punk band from way-y-y back.
They released only vinyl singles for twenty years before they put out their first full-length album.
“Weird Al” Yankovic says that he will no longer release full length albums.
He is only doing singles now.
It seems like that is the direction that the music industry will be going, eventually.
I haven’t been in a record store for years.
So, it is a little tough for me to gauge.
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I am probably gonna upgrade my my video capture software and get a chromakey program added to it.
I need to get a green screen or some fluorescent green paint.
I have a few leftover projector screens that I could paint if I had something for fabric, that wouldn’t crack and peel off.
Here is another group that I like very much. I have been listening to these guys for years and years. Touring with them would be pretty awesome if the opportunity ever came up.
Japanese experimental punk trio Ultra Bidé was formed in 1978 by Hide Fujiwara (bass / guitar / vocals) and released their first song in 1980 on the five-band compilation Dokkiri Record. It’s sort of the No New York of Japan’s south-central Kansai region (which contains Osaka and Kyoto), and Ultra Bide’s contribution, the dissonant “1979!,” bolsters its babbling vocals and thwacking bass with thunderclaps of guitar. After the band’s debut full-length, 1984’s The Original Ultra Bide, it took them 11 years to put out another, at which point they dropped three between 1995 and 2003—and 2013’s DNA vs. DNA-c (Alternative Tentacles) is their first since then. These guys can still make a whole lot of noise (“Phase Is Massive Power Attack Weapon” consists mostly of reverberating guitar feedback), but they’re also great at cleaner, more melodic tunes built from blunt guitar jabs and driving, nimble bass lines.
For many years, they were a standard power trio of guitar, drums, and bass. But, in recent years, they have eschewed the guitar for a two-bassist lineup. It is a really bad-ass sound. Their last album was recorded entirely at home, then mixed & mastered in professional studios. Definitely my way of doing things!
I look at making music as kinda like making movies.
There are different styles of making music, just as there are different styles of filmmaking.
Some bands are very dictatorial, with one or two people in charge.
I have always hated that and avoided it like the plague.
Frank Zappa was like that.
So was Captain Beefheart.
If a band were a film crew, both were the writer, director, and producer of their band.
The rest of their group would be the cast and crew.
They would compose the music alone, then hand it off to their band, who would play it exactly as it was written.
I always tried to be more democratic than that, involving everybody in the process, through the whole thing.
I am terribly uncomfortable in a leadership role.
But, that is not a very efficient method.
People get frustrated by it and leave.
After years of trial-and-error, I think the best approach to operating as a group is to be a “benign dictatorship” of sorts.
Someone has to have an idea of where they are going or the whole thing will drift apart.
They also have to leave a lot of wiggle-room for others to work with.
I try to look for ideas from the world of filmmaking, when it is applicable.
I think my biggest problem is the lack of social skills.
I don’t read people or situations very well.
I don’t communicate what I am thinking very well, either, it seems.
So, if I want to do anything at all, it seems like the best approach for me is just working alone (for the most part) with some occasional collaboration with friends.
This really sucks.
Part of the reason I make music is to overcome anxiety, depression, and have some sort of social life.
I don’t really participate in much else, besides music.
But, it seems like having a real band is going to always be out of reach for me.