Thursday, January 5, 2012

Call Me Pigtail 4/20

Call Me Pigtail

Repeat after me: stupidity is entertaining, and entertaining is stupid. We are finally ready to do what it takes to be entertaining, to be fun to watch, to make people happy. We're ready because we are now, finally, stupid...

But we are not stupid. Not quite. We are, and have always been, a few steps up the idiot ladder from the dudes in the other bands that we encounter on the road or at local shows. There's proof: somehow we have managed to stay alive for years with virtually no other income than the proceeds from the gigs, albums, and merch sales of a band that nobody truly gives a crap about. We get the shows, hustle promotion, show up on time, leave the club intact. Our press kit is organized and well-written. We can keep a calendar. We understand things. We are not losers. Plus we absolutely love music.
This new thing, THEE New Duncan Imperials, these dudes also love music -- just not the same music as the old band. A side-effect of becoming Skipper and Pigtail and Goodtime appears to be an entirely new idea of what good music is, and what it should be. Our old band listened to and referenced REM, the Smiths, The Replacements, worthy and acceptable artists. But now we are not that band. Not only that -- We have never been that band. We have always been NDI, and we have always loved a very short list of similarly fucked-up artists. We steal blatantly and liberally. No apologies! From the start we refer to our songs as "riffs we stole," and from the start we turned to three, and only three, bands to steal from. So write this down: we steal from Jon Wayne, we steal from The Country Rockers, and we steal from The Mentors. That's the list. That's all. Go look 'em up on-line. As far as contemporary influences on The New Duncan Imperials go, that's them.
So much for the present. But the past? Our non-contemporary influences? Oooh yeah. Foghat, Pablo Cruise, George Jones, Black Sabbath, Chuck Berry, Kool and the Gang, the Sex Pistols, The Action, Motorhead, Blue Oyster Cult, KC and the Sunshine Band, The Osmonds, and on and on. Also: Saturday morning cartoons, go-cart tracks, space food sticks, Which Witch, sibling rivalry, front yards with cars in them, garage sales, grits, the Brady Bunch, Yogi Bear, Spectre Man, NASCAR, camping, minibikes, girly magazines. Lots of girly magazines. But not that newfangled airbrushed Playboy bullshit -- we're mainlining vintage smut. Somewhere along the line we steal/are given a big stack of old 50's and 60's naughty zines with titles like "Men" and "Sir!" and "Rogue." Not sexy at all, really, but flip past the awkward black and white photo spreads of ladies in big ugly underpants and you get to page after page of sleazy, sketchy advertisements, beautiful, nasty, primitive ads for hairpieces, 8mm dirty movie reels and projectors to watch them with, correspondence courses to become a plumber or a private eye, shoes that make you taller, something called "French Ticklers" that they evidently aren't allowed to illustrate, offers to set your poems to music, five adult novels for the price of three, spy kits, x-ray glasses, pinkie rings, on and on. And always at least one full-page thing for Frederick's of Hollywood, with some actually hot ladies in racy brassieres. Somehow this parade of desperation and bad taste nails the NDI state of mind. The fleshing-out of the NDI acquires a layer of slime.
Another bit that we start almost right away is a policy of giving free shit to whoever is standing in front of us. At our first show at the Cubby Bear, a Chicago club booked by Sue Miller, a tolerator of our old band and a true fan of our new one, GT decides to put out little cups of cereal and milk on the tables in front of the stage before the gig. Why not? Like a little reward for our friends. But he puts the cereal in surplus urine sample containers that he found in a corner of his basement. Are they clean? Sure! But there's something about the gesture that fits our new personalities: we're nice and outgoing, but we're also kind of dumb and assholic. We'll give the audience free shit from here on out, even play a variety of "giving out shit theme songs," but the giveaways will almost always be something odd, like raw broccoli, or dangerous, like a lit sparkler. We'll send GT running out from behind his drum kit to hand out whatever he's got -- raw pig ears or chicken feet, handfuls of unwrapped candy, toy soldiers. Sometimes they throw the gifts back at us. Fair enough. The chicken feet hurt, though, so soon we gravitate toward softer items. Marshmallows are popular. But that's still to come.
So we've done a few more Chicago club shows and sometimes twenty people come and sometimes fifty, but no matter what there's a new feeling, a tinge of the manic, people singing along, laughing, sometimes screaming. Also in spite of ourselves we're getting better, or at least better at being NDI. We're benefiting from a kind of hybrid vigor: as stupid and dumb as we now are, there's still the awareness and something like shrewdness that kind of bubbles up through our characters. We're a new and maybe dangerous species: fake hillbillies with real ambition. And now it's time to take our show on the road.

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