MR BUNGLE 24
"We can't tell you who's on the Mr Bungle record.
Their contract won't let us.
We can't print the lyrics from the Mr Bungle record.
The magazine won't let us.
But here's a brief list of the topics covered on Mr Bungle's début.
Sex with footwear
Oral sex with cultural icons
Viscous secretions and other bodily fluids
Body parts and how they fit together
PG-rated movie stars
X-rated movie stars
The alimentary canal
And after all, isn't that what life is all about?"
On this day in 1991 Mr Bungle released their eponymous debut album through Warner Brothers. This album changed the people's perception of a Mike Patton they thought they had come to understand via Faith No More's 'The Real Thing'. The album expertly pieces together different genres and themes to create a schizophrenic masterpiece unlike anything before or after. The musicianship of the six members is outstanding. This is our tribute to Mr Bungle.
Vlad Drac -- vocals
Scummy -- guitars
Heifetz -- drums
Trevor Roy Dunn -- bass
Bär -- tenor sax
Theobald Brooks Lengyel -- alto / bäri intonation
Post metal, post modern, post logical, the sound of Mr. Bungle has been setting off sonic shock waves from the group's Northern California home base since 1985. Now the seismic activity is spreading nationwide with the release of the group's debut Warner Bros. Records release, Mr. Bungle. Featuring such apocalyptic anthems as "Slowly Growing Deaf," "Love Is A Fist," "The Girls Of Porn" and the terrifyingly original "Quote Unquote," Mr. Bungle by Mr. Bungle makes hamburger out of every cherished cow within rifle range...and cooks up something compelling, totally committed music in the process.
Spawned in the bovine and redwood hinterlands of Eureka and Arcata, Mr. Bungle was distilled from a cluster of stragglers, rejects and misfits thrown out of local death metal groups in the mid-Eighties. Taking its name from an arcane grade school hygiene film, the original quartet, which included vocalist Vlad Drac, guitarist Scummy and bassist Trevor Roy Dunn, built on their grindcore roots with a stylistic spread that included everything from white noise to raw jazz, recruiting various co-conspirators along the way, most notably drummer Heifetz.
In the spring of '86, Mr. Bungle made their first of four home-brewed demos, a collection of original tracks that quickly became a hot item on the region's bustling underground tape trading circuit. The group's musical reach, meanwhile, continued to grasp new styles of endlessly incongruity, necessitating the enlistment of horn players Bär and Theobald Brooks Lengyel. By '88, Mr. Bungle's line up had jelled, even as their galvanizing live show spread the word south to the Bay Area and beyond. A final independent demo captured the band's increasingly, and aggressively, original musical impulses and attracted the attention of several major labels.
By late 1990, Mr. Bungle had selected Warner Bros. as their label-of-choice and, by January of this year, they were in the studio recording their debut outing. At the production helm: John Zorn, whose skills as a composer and sax player for the avant jazz ensemble Naked City, helped enhance and expand the group's already formidable musical vernacular.
The result is Mr. Bungle, an album that splinters sound into a thousand chards before putting it all back together again into a whole, and wholly original, new kind of music.
Kerrang! | August 1991 | Don Kaye | KKKK
Anything I could say to you in this review would not adequately describe Mr Bungle. Put it this way; if you think Faith No More are a progressive, alternative answer to rock's most isolationist, humdrum elements, Mr Bungle make FNM sound positively mainstream.
Of course there is a link between the two: singer Mike Patton (known here as Vlad Drac) fronts both bands and brings his eccentric stamp of personality to both. But with Mr Bungle, his character is magnified to the hundredth power: and his talk about playing with himself in interviews is manifested here in his lyrics, as sleazy a slimefest as you're likely to find on a major record label (just check out 'Girls Of Porn', which also provides a clue to the origin of the band's name).
Simply put, Patton flies, somersaults, tumbles and slinks all over this album, but it's par for the course as Mr Bungle are nothing if not a musical roller coaster ride that takes you 500 feet in the air, drops you like a rock, sends you spinning out of control and ass over tea kettle before bringing you down - albeit none too gently.
Metal, punk, rap, funk, jazz, classical derivation, gothic horror film music, video game sound effects - it's all here. The songs are more like symphonies of the bizarre, often slipping into various combinations of all of the above genres throughout their length. Honestly, I'd be hard pressed to remember exactly how 'Travolta' goes as it never quite comes back to the same place - but when it's over the track's sheer energy and improvisation leaves you breathless.
On the other hand 'Carousel' rumbles along on an ominous chorus and funky scratch-mix sensibility, while 'Girls Of Porn' comes down hard with a throbbing groove shuffle and monstrous riffage. The entire album crackles with a weird electricity and the air of a rock and roll circus gone insane. Which is possibly the closest anyone will ever come to describe Mr Bungle.
Hot Metal | August 1991 | Ziola Raye | 5/5
The puerile rantings or wretched mutations of American youth, or one of the most original forms of noise to be committed to vinyl this year? Take your pick, Mr.Bungle are at once chaotic, cataclysmic, powerful, deranged and uncomfortable listening. This band would probably never have surfaced on a major label, if it weren't for the current fascination for their reluctant star and vocalist, Mike Patton, whose presence will obviously interest a lot of parties who would have otherwise cast this aside as too surreal and offbeat for mass consumption. But it is as far removed from FNM as Mr.Patton probably meant it to be.
For those who managed to get a copy of the brilliant (now deleted) Bungle demo tape OU818, there will be some surprises. The expansive production by John Zorn has added layers of eccentric, and sometimes just too unpalatable, background to reworked tracks that graced the aforementioned demo, like "The Girls Of Porn" and "Squeeze Me Macaroni". Where before these appealed for their laid back idiocy, there now lurks a sharp edge of aural insanity, that at times has a touch too much frenzied input for the ears to take in. Even the sampling of the innocuously irritating Nintendo Mario Brothers theme tune takes on a sinister air in the context of this majestically manic me-lee.
Yet it remains absorbing, if only for the infectious bass riffs, a brilliantly innovative horn section and its ability to bounce through more chops and changes per song than most bands manage in a whole lifetime. "Egg" is a case in hand, a screaming cachophony of jazz encrusted mad opera, "there's no place like home", gurgles Patton, like a man committing his nervous breakdown onto vinyl. His ability to run riot over his vocal scale, from the highest pig like squeal to the lowest demonic growl with ease, is at once scary and magnificent.
Lyrically, no subject is too scary or too sordid for Bungle to explore. Littered with various profanities and running the gamut from masturbation to bestiality, most of it is designed to offend, but its schoolboy mentality ensures that it only amuses. "I was giving some head to some French bread / It was a four course orgy on the spread of my bed / I get better penetration with a fork and a spoon" Shocking to some maybe, but more likely, Patton's attempt to distance himself from the pretty poster boy image he's so obviously trying to escape.
If you can imagine Zappa on bad acid, then you'll get a fair idea of what this album entails. But if you prefer your listening more laidback and harmonious, here's some advice: take a Valium - it's not going to be an easy ride.
Rock Hard Magazine | Issue 8 | Wolfgang Schaefer | 9/10
The joke of the month does not come from Bonn [capital of germany it's from the United States, because what Mike Patton and his friends has produced under the ominous name Mr.Bungle is topping everything that had ever exist in this category. They are moving respect-less from one track to the other.Starting with free jazz, funk, rap, hip hop, ska over to the dumb metal grunt - the band does not stop for anything. In doing so they formed the past decades of music history to an exciting, lovely 50 minutes joyride. One time it sounds ridiculous, the other it's a perfect quotation. I know this all sounds unusual, yes it tests the nerves af the author of this article, so that dislikes are involved with this review. Therefore this album, which really does not contain one single song, should be taken as it is; an exciting, odd, sometimes a crude collection of musical pieces. Not more and not less.
Rock Power | 10 / 10 | August 91 | Richard Heggie
No More Faith. Mr, Bungle is not the son of any famous father. Mike Patton's alter-ego is a rough-hewn, crusty individual stripped from the soul of a dancing psycho's clubfoot. Parentage unknown but spiritual guardians aplenty. It's all a conspiracy, you know. Some time ago in America, an inner sanctum of radical young movers swore to subvert the traditions of metal and rock 'n' roll, those two most conservative of bastions. A few years later, Mr. Bungle rears his malformed skull and gyrates through the pores of an audience now primed and willing to accept anything. Anything from the Specials and The Mothers mangle by Bart Simpson on 'Stubb (A Dub)', to the menacing metal-ska carousel of 'Travolta', through the pure sleazy funk of 'Girls Of Porn'. Everything yet nothing. If you find a pigeon-hole for this, the odds are it will already be inhabited by a perverted winged-creature, lapping out a grotesque melody on a bontempi organ through a Marshall stack. Hold it. Don't dismiss this as crypto-Journalistic claptrap. Take a risk. Here's a clue. Eclectic is a word that sounds like electric, ends like hectic and rhymes with quintessential. Your Move, And remember, we're playing off the board.
Images used for the front cover and various pages inside are illustrated by Dan Sweetman and taken from issue #1 'A Cotton Candy Autopsy' of the comic book series 'Beautiful Stories For Ugly Children'.
The inside work is by P.Earwig.
The reverse image is taken from this advert.
Mr.Bungle interview | 1991
By Kim Edwards
Here is the story: In the beginning, there were people and the people, they ate the apple and after the apple, the people, they took a dump and from the dump came Turd, and from Turd, Mr. Bungle.
A history of Mr. Bungle in fifty words or less, from the musings of guitar wild guy Trey Spruance: "It was 1985 when we started. We were in rival death metal bands. Jed and I were rivals with Mike and Trevor. Trevor and Mike got kicked out of their death metal band because they wanted to shave their heads and call it Turd. So we just sort of merged (okay, over fifty words) into this one band and we called it Mr. Bungle."
And then, says Mike Patton, the voice box, "Except they weren't really death metal and we were. Trevor and I wore more spikes and stuff. We still are a death metal band, that's very important to know. No one ever notes it."
Duly noted. Mr. Bungle is still a death metal band. Mike Patton continues, "We have roots deep in the death metal scene."
Deep. The name? Spruance: "We came really close to calling the band Summer Breeze." Patton: "Real close." Spruance: "And then we thought Mr. Bungle was a little better."
Mr. Bungle? Spruance: "As friends, we devised certain names for different people around school, and there was this one particular guy who was a total goober that we called Mr. Bungle. That name was inspired by the Pee Wee Herman special where they show footage of the little kid who was the amoral bastard, who didn't clean his belly button or whatever."
Yeah, so belly button lint, but what is this 'Turd' stuff? Then comes Trevor Dunn, the bass man, and he says: "Turd, I'm not even supposed to be talking to you about Turd." Hmmm... why not? Dunn: "Well, first of all, because you're a girl."
Be brave. Dunn: "Turd is just the hugest concept in the world. It's the biggest racist, chauvinist concept ever."
Turd -- Mike Patton, Trevor Dunn, and a Casio on a 120 minute Realistic cassette. Patton on guitar, Dunn on vocals.
Spruance, you know, Trey Spruance, the one who drives around his hometown, Eureka California, with girls and tries to get them to take their clothes off and then jacks off, that Spruance, he says: "We've gotten so much from Turd.
That's probably the biggest influence on Bungle, like 'Tractor in my Balls' and all that stuff is Turd. Just Trevor screaming random things into a microphone. Some of the images are really strong and it's easy to come along and put them into a neat format, because they come across so convincingly in Turd."
Hmmm. Spruance: "Yeah, you wouldn't believe it. It's pretty amazing stuff. It's on a Realistic tape. Can't be recorded on anything else. It's just that one Realistic tape. It's full now. They haven't made an album for like three years or whatever. I'm the one Turd fan and I've performed Turd surgery."
What? Spruance: "Every time they're done recording or listening to it (the Realistic cassette), they have to throw it up against the wall and wherever it lands is where it stays for the rest of the time until they listen to it again. And it broke one time and I had to fix it."
Because your'e the one Turd fan? Spruance: "Yeah, and they didn't have the know-how. Turd is like a really big union within our band. It sneaks out on stage as well. There's sort of a thing between Mike and Trevor that nobody in the world, including their best fan, understands."
The way they lick each other and stuff? Spruance: "Yeah. The things that happen are definitely Turd, even though the roles are reversed in Bungle -- Mike is singing instead of Trevor. Turd still exists. It's hiding in Bungle."
Bungle's id? Spruance: "It's a subliminal thing happening. Turd's big. It's a big thing with us. Actually, there's a new song that I'm making up called "The Road Going into the Trees," which is a Turd song. It's about this little road."
What is it about Turd that you love so much? Spruance: "Well, if you heard it, you might know." You don't have a tape, though. There's only one tape? Spruance: "There's only one." And that tape can never be reproduced. Spruance: "Exactly. You have to come to Trevor's house to hear it. There's something about it. It just has me rolling. It's really witty. Trevor can be pretty amazing sometimes."
So, Trevor Dunn can be pretty amazing sometimes, but will his mom allow a visit to hear the Turd tape, and even then, will his dad allow a foray into the Trevor room where the Turd tape resides, and the thing is, what about these guys' parents anyway? Do they listen to Mr. Bungle?
Dunn: "They asked to hear the tape (OU818, the last Mr. Bungle release) again not too long ago. But they wonder about the lyrics and say like, 'Do you have to use those words?'"
When asked about his parents, Patton says: "You have to understand, my parents are the type that own porno."
Yes boys and girls, Mr. Bungle can talk nasty. Your mom might not approve. They have words in their songs like 'butt bang' and 'dick' and 'ween' and 'wong' and 'dickweed'. There are also words like 'soliloquy' and 'incubus' and 'coprophagist' and even 'chivalry.' Yes, it's true. Mr. Bungle went to college.
They all go to college or went at one time. Spruance is sort of a music major with leanings toward physics. Dunn graduated with a music major. Theo Lengyel, the alto sax person, is a physics major. Bar McKinnon, the tenor sax guy, is a music major. Danny Heifetz, the drummer dude, has a degree in history. Patton was an English major but has sort of, you know, taken a leave of absence from university to pursue fame and fortune.
And how famous is Mike Patton? Well, he is so famous that Rolling Stone published a letter from his mom. He is so famous that when he goes to the mall in Eureka, he gets mobbed for his autograph. He is so famous that lots of people who didn't used to like him in high school like him now. And how did he get famous? Well, you know, he is that singer guy in Faith No More. So why is he in two bands? What else has he got to do? He likes it.
After Mr. Bungle initially formed, they made a tape and the tape was called THE RAGING WRATH OF THE EASTER BUNNY. A tape very close to their death metal roots, and sporting a photo of Mr. Bungle's namesake on the cover dressed up in bunny ears and the whole thing.
Spruance: "That whole thing (Mr. Bungle's music during the RAGING BUNNY era), it was something that became sort of common later, sort of having a sense of humor about death metal. But at the time we were the first."
"Then we decided that we wanted to change because we started getting way more into Fishbone and stuff. We all listened to all sorts of different stuff.
Mike worked at a record store and had all these wild tapes, so we decided to broaden our horizons. We kicked our drummer (Jed) out, who was a death metal head, we got the two horn players (Theo and Bar) and we got this guy named Hans on drums. He played like Fishbone (the first album), so we liked him.
And thus enter the BOWEL OF CHILEY (the second tape) era. That was our transition period, we're not too happy about that. That was when Mike sang just like Fishbone. We were just a Fishbone clone. It was bad."
BOWEL OF CHILEY? Spruance: "Trevor fucked up in Denny's. He wanted a bowl of chili, but he goes, 'I'll have a bowel of chiley.' We laughed for about an hour."
And named a tape after the occurrence. Spruance: "Yeah, big stupid, dumb tape and then we hated it. Then we did GOD DAMMIT, I LOVE AMERICA (1988) because it was getting to be the funky days. And then we kicked Hans out, because he was a flaky mother. We had a trumpet back in those days, kicked the trumpet player out, because he was a flake too. Flakiness is the reason we kicked those guys out. Got a sax player who is Bar, who can also play keyboards and drums, and got this drummer named Danny who played in a local band who had a big influence on us too, Eggly Bagelface. He has a degree and his grandpa was Jascha Heifetz (the famous violinist)."
So, current lineup and then the most recent tape OU818. The tape with the stuff on it. The tape that has an entire song about masturbation -- 'Girls of Porn.'
Masturbation. Yes, Patton has talked about it in Spin, in Rock Scene, NME and Kerrang! Patton has talked about it just about everywhere, he always gets asked the masturbation question, so here is what Spruance has to say.
Spruance: "We're all really heavy masturbators. I'm the worst." How many times per day? Spruance: "Five. Trevor can masturbate twice a day, maximum. He's lucky if he does it three times in a week. Mike and I are similar, we talk about what feels good and stuff and we're pretty similar on that. Trevor's the real oddball."
Normal masturbation in males (that means you reader -- okay, we know girls do it too, but the stats vary, so we'll deal with boys here) runs the gamut from two to three times per month to six times per day. So nobody's too odd, hmm? Just being a dude.
So where did this OU818 come from? Are the Bungle babes obsessed with sex? What's the deal? Spruance: "The deal is this: If you listen to any of our other tapes, there isn't even one cuss word. I don't know what happened. We were just in a really good mood, but sort of a sexually frustrated mood. But then, when we get around each other, we're very comforted, because we have each other. And the band was maybe just a thing to make us a little more happy about our situations."
People grab onto the sex thing quick. Spruance: "Well, because it's such a dumb thing, you can put it on in the background. It's like a party mentality thing and people are really into that at shows. They're into like shaking their asses and having bands be the soundtrack to their courtships. That makes us accessible to the party thing. In a way, OU818 sort of is a misrepresentation, but in another way, it's really close to us because we go into phases like that. In a way, when people say it has sexual overtones to it, it's really more just masturbation overtones, and it adds increasing dimensions when, you know, here we are playing this music, then there's like girls everywhere and we're still not getting it."
And says Patton: "About the sex thing, well, you know ..."
Yeah, they are not obsessed with sex, they are obsessed with faeces. And to see a real live Mr. Bungle show? Well known for their props. They wear clown and carrot costumes and S&M masks, old clown lady heads and a Frankenstein face or two. They have blow-up dolls, dance like retards, lick each other and cook and digest the occasional burrito on stage.
Spruance: "The music sounds like shit when we play it live. We're a tape band. When we're concentrating, we can sound good, but we never even try to sound good."
But the crowd loves it. Audience reaction? Spruance: "Overwhelmingly stupid positive. Like people go, 'yeah, party! Yeah Mr. Bungle!' Kissing our ass, kind of stuff."
Is going out to see a Bungle show better than sex? Spruance: "It totally depends on whether someone has had sex with the available person a billion times already or not." Is seeing Mr. Bungle safer than sex? Spruance: "Safer? No. Mike broke a girl's teeth out and broke her nose at one show. He dove on top of this girl. He was wearing a football hat. He breaks cameras all the time. So, I mean, I can't say it's safer than having sex."
A sold-out jaunt down the California coastline the first of January serves to show that people like this stuff. Even a photo and a mention in Rolling Stone's 'Random Notes' column. Imagine. From suburbia to the big city, Mr. Bungle packed them in and pleased the people with not only their own compositions but some very tasteful cover tunes.
Spruance: "We've done a lot (of cover tunes). In our stupid days, we were doing 'Earache My Eye', stuff like that. We started doing, halfway for real, but totally stupid, we did Van Halen's 'Dirty Movies'. We've done 'We Are the Champions', which we changed to 'B Are the Champions'. We do an MTV song probably at every show. Like everytime we go out, we try to make up a whole new MTV song that is sort of a mishmash of the top ten MTV hits at the time."
And what of MTV? Spruance: "I've got two people that I'm going to fucking kill if we ever go to MTV -- Ricki Rachtman and Julie Brown. Man, I'm going to stab that bitch. She's totally talking shit about us. They play the 'Falling to Pieces' video and she goes, 'That was the new one from Faith No More. Mike Patton, I think you should just rip that Mr. Bungle tape to pieces,' or whatever. Just like being a bitch. Because I guess Martha Quinn has it (the Bungle tape) and she likes it and Julie Brown hates it and she's just a ...."
Animosity from the media? Spruance: "Yeah, a little bit. Steffan Chirazi (a contributor to Kerrang!), you can go ahead and print this, I'm going to fucking kill that guy, too. He's just a big, stupid dork and hates us because he loves Faith No More. The guy can't smell anything. He's a total moron."
And this stuff, this preferred violence, pales in comparison to what Spruance says he and his band Scourge (yeah, he is in another band, too), who are total psychotic killer types, will do to the Red Hot Chili Peppers (who have threatened Patton with bodily harm for stealing Anthony's moves -- yeah of course, because RHCP are the only guys who have ever seen a rap video). Scourge, being the psycho nut butts that they are, will inflict true damage if the opportunity ever presents itself. Anthony, you have been warned.
Nasty boy. And so, is Patton being bad by being in both bands? Spruance: "A lot of people totally think that he's just kind of waiting to quit that band (Faith No More). That he's just sort of waiting for it to die down so that he can use it as a stepping stone or something. That's just not true. People always ask me, 'Who do you think he likes more, you or FNM?' How am I supposed to answer that? FNM were both his and my favorite band for a long time, INTRODUCE YOURSELF and everything. We really loved that band."
Patton: "Trey liked them better than I did."
But do you get more groupies with Patton's face being plastered all over the glossy metal rags? Has the FNM association brought you greater sex lives? Spruance: "Well, I don't know about 'getting' groupies. I mean, we have them, but we never hang out with them. I hate them, because I remember being the guy in the audience and seeing my friends, girls -- who were probably pretty cool -- act so stupid when a band came to town and it would piss me off so bad. Things like that don't really change, just because I'm on the receiving end of it, or whatever, doesn't really change it and it makes me as sick now as it did then. Especially when somebody that everyone would think is a beautiful girl is just using that to get close to people. I can't handle that and I can't really bring myself to think that they're good people. Also, there's a lot of people who try to use me to get to Mike, too. A lot of that, you can imagine. That's really easy to spot."
Fans in general. Lots of them. Lots of fan mail. Letters from girls talking nasty who get quick replies from T. Dunn, just to see how far they'll go. A tape or two of orgasmic rapture utilizing strategic Bungle member names at the height of ecstasy. Requests for tapes from all over the place, no doubt Patton's word of mouth process has gotten many a tape sold. And what to do with all these anxiously awaiting fans? Why, make them some music, of course! Mr. Bungle are doing studio time in January and February. They have John Zorn, the infante terrible of the hardcore weirdness jazz world, to help produce and/or mix the new material and some steadfast interest from Sire Records to put the noise to product and distribute the mother. Life keeps getting better. All they need to do is sit down and kick it.
Spruance: "When we do our album, we're going to sort of update all of the songs, because we're really sick of them, because they're really old. I like 'Egg'. I like the lyric, everything on that just worked out real well. I can't wait to do that in the studio. I like pretty much everything Trevor writes, actually. 'Slowly Growing Deaf' is really good, too."
And there are lots of new songs to come, "My Ass is on Fire," "Platypus," "Stubb A Dub." Spruance: "Even though I can't say that I'm so killer, I like 'Stubb A Dub' a lot, but I made it up, so it's not fair for me to say that. It's sort of a refreshing angle on the Bungle scene, it's not like what we've normally done."
And where does the new stuff come from? Spruance: "What we usually do is we write a whole bunch of songs at once. It just sort of happens in waves. We'll be playing a lot, and then we'll stop playing and then we won't even practice, and we'll just kind of make up songs whenever we feel like it, and then at the end of a dry spell, we have all these new songs. It's really strange.
"A capsule of what happens: On OU818, Mike wrote 'Squeeze Me Macaroni' and 'Girls of Porn', but a lot of those riffs are my riffs that he used in his songs and he wrote the lyrics, so it's his song kind of thing. Same thing with Trevor, he wrote all of 'Slowly Growing Deaf', I wrote some of 'Love is a Fist' but he wrote most of it. It's all a collaborative effort, but we sort of lean towards things. One is one person's song and one is the other's. We get inspiration from all sorts of stuff. It's just sort of a general outpouring of crap. It's usually a spontaneous or on-the-spot thing that happens."
But is it spontaneous with Patton in Australia or Europe and not within close proximity to dig on the Bungle vibe? Patton misses his band mates and the sit-down-together collaborative effort the band had grown accustomed to. So, he writes lyrics, etc. while on the road with FNM, but looks forward to productive time with his Bungle playmates.
Spruance: "Yeah, it really works when we sit down to do it together. I mean, like 'Girls of Porn', we just sat down and made that whole thing up in one night, just me, Mike, and Trevor. Sometimes those things work out really well, because you're not pressuring yourself to make up the best song in the world. We're just having fun, and that helps."
So, they're going to record and then they want a record company and what is it they want from a record company? Spruance: "Well, for one, we want to be able to do our songs untampered." This means leaving in all the nastiness and obscure references that anyone who is not a Bungle-man might never understand. Spruance: "I think money is kind of a big thing. Not for personal shit, but we want to do a good album. We want it to be well-produced, we just want to be able to have the luxury of doing what we want.
"I always think about how by now I'm supposed to be bored with the whole thing (Mr. Bungle, waiting for Patton, waiting to record, etc.). By now, I'm supposed to be, not excited about it. The band's been around five years, I'm supposed to say things like, 'Oh well, the world is this way and nothing's exciting to me and music is music,' and it just hasn't happened to any of us. We're still totally wide-eyed kids, even Mike. We're just wide-eyed idealistic people."
All the way from dudes who just hung out with each other -- Spruance: "At school, the group was me, Mike and Trevor. We would just hang out with each other and we never made any real friends. People knew us and socially accepted us because we were in a band, but that's kind of where it ended. Like Mike, everybody hated him. He was like a big dick, everybody totally hated him. He used to be real sarcastic, like really bad. He wasn't too well-liked, which is funny, because now I can go down and watch FNM and see a bunch of Humboldt county-ers with their eyes super wide open, just thinking about what a dream come true this all is for Eureka or whatever."
Patton: "It's like I did it for the town." -- to home town heroes. And this far, without even yet actually recording an album. What could be next? Disney World?
Only the globe and the heavens left to conquer. Mr. Bungle is on the way. From a town called Eureka, which is the state motto of California. Eureka, which from the original Greek means, 'I found it', and which is originally attributed to that wild man Archimedes, made famous for his invention of the upwards screw. They come bearing signs which they prominently display during concerts, 'Free Cock'. No one shows up after the gig to collect the offered delicacies, but those days may be behind them.
If you cannot wait for the newest recordings, go to your room, set up several phonographic devices, and play, all in conjunction, some Poulenc, some Slayer, some Sly & the Family Stone, a bit of Naked City, and any Dr. Demento you can get your hands on. Then take massive hits of Ex-Lax, and for good measure, try and get a Fellini film, but don't read the subtitles playing in the background. Too much? Just order a tape. END.
Teach Me Violence, issue #1
By A. Keane Stern
You may have heard about this new band called Mr. Bungle. Actually, they're not a new band. Mr. Bungle has been around for about six years now. I had heard a lot about them and was eagerly anticipating the release of their debut album on Warner Bros. I bought it the day it came out at Tower Records. So anxious was I to hear it that I even paid the absurd list price of $13.99. I wrote a review of the album, read that if you want specifics, but needless to say, the album is one of the greatest recorded works of Western Civilization. This was an album I had been waiting for my entire life. Something that shredded all your ideas of what music should be like. A middle-finger of epic proportions to the entire major label system. This is what alternative music was supposed to be like. None of this "jangly college rock" crap like the Pixies. Mr. Bungle render groups like that useless. Here's an analogy: Let's say that you're 9 years old and you're looking for your dad's Playboy collection. You know where he keeps them, on the top shelf of his closet, but how do you get up there? You start piling crap up, books, boxes, electrical devices, pets, anything that will get you to the top where the air-brushed goddesses await, divested of all clothing. You start climbing up these stopgap stairs. Right when you're about to reach the top, your older brother rushes in with a small step-ladder. He quickly scampers up the ladder, grabs the Playboy collection and runs out of the room, off to do what young men are known to do with such publications. Here's my point: Mr. Bungle represents that step-ladder your older brother brought in. All that junk you piled up represents The Black Crowes, Anthrax, the Violent Femmes, Paula Abdul or any other useless music. Right then, your makeshift ladder collapses right on your fat little nine year old face. The step-ladder that your brother used is still standing. Next time you'll try that step-ladder. Next time you'll try Mr. Bungle.
Of course, I was excited to see Mr. Bungle at NYU on Halloween. I wondered what types of people they would be. Child molesters or Harvard scholars? Both, perhaps? Were there any band members or was the whole album put together by one mind? I had listened to the album several times, and the possibility that living humans were behind it was somewhat disappointing. So eager was I, that I didn't even wait for the show, I went early to Loeb Student Center for the soundcheck. When I got there, someone pointed out Mr. Bungle's lead singer to me. His name is Vlad Drac. He's got a side project back in San Francisco called Faith No More. They're not as good as Mr. Bungle, but that's kinda like saying a certain book isn't as good as the Bible. Still, I have a feeling that this FNM may be extremely popular someday. I start talking to Vlad. We hit it off right away. We know some of the same people and share an appreciation for Godflesh, which is being blasted over the PA system. He agrees to do an interview with me as soon as the soundcheck is finished. 30 minutes later, I'm sitting in a Loeb conference room with the six members of Mr. Bungle, their manager, crew, and some girl who was apparently in love with Vlad Drac. I have a few questions prepared but most I make up on the spot. The whole interview is a blur. I don't remember much.
Listening to the tape of my encounter with Mr. Bungle jogged my memory of the traumatic events that occurred. The first thing I hear is them planning how their set is going to go. It sounds like a football team going over half-time strategy. One of them sets a cup full of ice over the door, rigged to fall on whoever is next to enter the room. I start my interview and Vlad Drac leaves the room. The tape then starts to sound like something from the album, there's screaming, shouting, burping, cursing, bits of muffled conversation, unexplainable noises. I ask how the band got on Warner Bros and they're not really sure. "By force," says one. Each band member tells me their name. Dunn on bass, Scummy on guitar, McKinnon and Theobald Brooks Lengyel on horns and Heifetz on drums. Heifetz tells me he's not going to say anything because he's studying for a big quiz, but "I might come up with something later." I discover that MTV is going to be at tonight's show to make sure Mr. Bungle is "kidding." "We made a video and they think it's got hidden mass murderer messages in it," Scummy explains. "Does it?" I ask. "They're not too hidden," he replies. I ask what song they made a video for. Scummy tells me the video is for "Travolta" and then has an argument with Heifetz over the song's true title. I ask how the band got thrash jazz assassin John Zorn to produce the album. "Basically we kicked his ass in," informs Theobald Brooks Lengyel. Scummy, apparently the only one interested in the interview, says "He's such a bum that we felt really sorry for him." Dunn tells me, "The guy writes so much music that is just inaccessible, you can't listen to it. He's basically a 20th century failure, we're trying to help him out."
How exactly did Mr. Bungle develop their novel style of music? "We picked it up from being a death metal band and being addicted to video games," explains Scummy. Dunn jumps in by saying, "And listening to Mercyful Fate. Pass that pizza you fucker!" to a fellow band member. Is the music entirely planned out in advance? "100%, there's almost no improvisation on it," says Scummy. "Except for half of it," adds Dunn. I ask Scummy about serial killer/clown John Wayne Gacy -- would he like the Mr. Bungle album? "We don't have too many homosexual references... we have the whole clown thing, maybe if we gained some weight or something." Mr. Bungle's fondness for masturbation has been well-documented. Is it the throbbing force behind Mr. Bungle? I wanted to hear it from the band themselves. "It's probably as important as it is to everyone else in the world," Scummy tells me. "No one's willing to admit it like we are. We're a lot more open than anyone else in the world," adds Dunn. Horn player Mc Kinnon finally says something, his sole comment of the interview. "Now that it's out in the open, we're trying to hide it again." Scummy details what Mr. Bungle plans to move on to: "We're graduating to shit on the face, kiddie porn, stuff like that. Pretty soon we'll have our master's degree, move on to snuff films and get our doctorate."
Me: "What are you trying to accomplish by using bowel movement samples at the end of 'Slowly Growing Deaf'?"
Heifetz: "To build the biggest roller coaster ever."
I am of course curious about the live show. What about the mayhem and samples that's on the album between songs? Is that going to be reproduced live? "We figure most bands don't reproduce the silence between their songs on their albums live," says Dunn. "If we put space in between songs, we'd be reproducing other people's ideas. Silence is a cover song," elucidates Scummy. I have to know who Mr. Bungle is. Who is a Mr. Bungle? Theobald Brooks Lengyel asks me for a coke. Scummy tells me that Mr. Bungle is, "...any kind of asshole, murderer, dickhead, loser, geek, whatever." Dunn goes deeper into Bungology for my benefit. "Anybody who's teased to the point of hanging themselves is Mr. Bungle." Scummy adds that the ultimate Mr. Bungle would be anyone who hung themselves with their mother's underwear in order to achieve higher orgasm.
In ten years, can the band see themselves as big as the Grateful Dead, with Bungle-heads all over the world? "I'll probably end up cutting one of these assholes' fucking throats before then," says Scummy. Just then, an NYU student walks into the room and the cup of ice that was set up earlier falls on him. He takes it in good stride, which probably disappoints the band. Singer Vlad Drac walks back into the room and has this to say: "I just got stuck in the fire stairway. I walked in and thought it was a regular stairway. Every door was locked. So I ripped out the alarm wires so I wouldn't set it off." He tells me that the major influence on the band is a TV preacher named Robert Tilton. "You know how there was a reason why Bill Graham died? He's our reason." A few band members did impressions of this Robert Tilton. It was pretty funny, too bad you weren't there to see it. Vlad Drac starts talking about the MTV controversy and suddenly I realize that he's really the most normal member of the group. He's like the smart kid in high school who's pressured to help the stupid kids cheat on the test. Then after the test, the stupid kids tell the teacher that the smart kid cheated. The balding drummer Heifetz starts to perform a haircut on himself. What's the impetus for their conduct during this interview? "Every straight interview we've given made us look like complete morons," explains Vlad Drac.
I got to see Mr. Bungle twice during the CMJ Music Marathon. The first time was on Halloween at Loeb Student Center. "Every day is Halloween for Mr. Bungle, except Halloween," Dunn told me. Vlad Drac jumps off the PA stack, gets back onstage and then tackles the guitarist. Two days later, I saw Mr. Bungle at Maxwell's in Hoboken, New Jersey. This time, Vlad starts to eat some guy's braided hair in the middle of a song. In both shows, Mr. Bungle did cover songs by Mr. Rogers and the Dead Kennedys as well as other stuff. It was real special. Really.