Where’d the slightly ridiculous name come from?
Corbett: We were on the verge of our first show as I recall. I think we were driving around and very young at the time, Dan,18 and I was 20. We were so incredibly stoned we had to pull over to stop. In a local fast food parking lot in our hometown and laughing so hard we started crying, I think we came up with the name randomly.
Dan: It was pretty stream of consciousness. Ebola was raging through the Congo at that point in 1995, and it just seemed like the most godawful thing that could happen to anybody. And Children MacNuggits; well, we grew up in a town with no bookstores and fast food everywhere you look. We also were not planning on doing this more than once, so the sillier the better. We considered changing the name to something more palatable, but obviously that never happened.
Why the long break between the last release and “F”?
Dan: We actually broke up as a band after Carmelita Sings! came out. We’d always agreed we would remain a band as long as it was fun. There were a lot of pressures on both of us at the time that made the band less fun. So we broke up before it could mess with our friendship. We did some very rare reunion shows over the years, but neither of us ever thought we’d ever reform for real.
Last year, we were asked to write a pilot for an animated series based on this rock opera we wrote about a dancing sausage. Since the entire plot was in song lyrics, we had to go through the old songs and in the process wrote a bunch of new ones. It was really fun, and around that time we got a couple of requests to play shows for friends. One thing led to another and we decided to give it another go.
So how’d you get hooked up with Silver Sprocket for this release?
Dan: We played a show with The Phenomenauts, another Silver Sprocket band. Avi (SSBC head honcho) was at the show and started chatting us up. At this point our album was almost done, and we’d assumed it would be self-released like always. So it was pretty flattering to have a well-known label like SSBC offering to release the record for us.
How do you come up with these righteous jams? Do you guys have a ‘song writing process’ you stick to?
Corbett: Righteous jams? Wow! Thanks! Hmmm, well it is always best when Dan and I sit down and knock out a song together. But at times he’ll bring a part, other times I will and then the other one of us will finish up a line or a melody. There is really no process, mostly it is subject matter or story that sends us or inspires us. We write about what we want to write about and usually marry the idea of the song with a kind of music that winds up seeming strange paired up with the lyrics. We are quite odd dudes.
The band doesn’t have a lot of serious sounding songs; have you run up against much negative reaction because of that?
Corbett: We usually get that the songs sound more serious than what the lyrics would lend. But other times, the lyrics are said to be more heavy-handed and the music more playful. People in the underground music community tend to think just because you use clever nature in your arsenal, that somehow you are coming from an insincere place. And yeah, we have gotten a lot of attitude, flack and disrespect as a group because of it. I say, “Fuck ‘em.”. Gandhi once said, “If I had no sense of humor, I would have long ago committed suicide.”. How is that for sincere?
I love ‘Postcards From Inferno (See You in Hell)’; it’s a pretty great song. But then after the song there’s the amazing, I guess skit is the best way to put it, what the hell is with that? Where’d it come from?
Dan: We had a lot of fun in the studio. We’re very lucky to have some very dear friends who are also brilliant artists in their own right. The voice of Taint Benhurst was that of our pal, comedian Alex Koll, and the voice of the anchor was another old pal, the very talented Jesse Townley. We essentially did the equivalent of a studio jam session, but with comedy and sound effects. We prompted Alex with the basic setting and he ran with it and ad-libbed most of his dialogue. We pretty much peed our pants with laughter the whole time we were doing that bit.
What do you think of the big explosion of alt-country/folk-punk that seems to be going on?
Corbett: I don’t like how the dudes of folk-punk sound like they are yelping when they sing. And not in a Buddy Holly sort of way, but rather in a more Lilith Fair sort of way. It makes me think they are faking it. Not like they need to sound like a Boston brawler or nothin’, but yeesh… gimme a break. It is too emphatic sounding. I dig on some country. Hank Sr., Cash, Willie Nelson and a few others. New country can bite it. Alt-country seems alright. Really dig a band we played with recently called The Dead Westerns.
Dan: It’s funny to me that we get compared to folk-punk bands, and I honestly don’t think we fit very well into that genre. I mean, I get it. We generally play acoustic, and we’re both been influenced by punk rock music and ethics. There are a lot of great neotraditional musicians out there who are a much bigger influence on me, and some of my friends in the whole accordion/old-timey revival (Sour Mash Hug Band, That Damned Band!, Blackbird Raum, etc) put me to shame in terms of musicianship. But our ideas don’t all fit into a genre of music, nor are the ideas necessarily musical. To me, anyway, the songs are simply delivery systems for the ideas. We could just as easily do puppet shows or comic books or movies, though it’s taken us a while to realize that.
What’s your favorite/least favorite place you’ve played over the years?
Corbett: Least favorite – Meathead’s in Vegas. ICP posters on the wall and racists on the mics. Favorite – The Dark Room in San Francisco for The Business & Snob Theater.
What’s the best show or event you’ve played since the band started?
Corbett: I miss the Geekfests. They were a blast. Hemptown was pretty amazing. The fest 9 in Gainesville was fun. We have played close to 1000 shows so it gets a little blurry after awhile. Seen a million toilets and rocked ‘em all, y’know?
This one is a completely selfish question; on your current tour you hit Ohio on December 12th, then Pennsylvania twice in a row then New Jersey. What’s with giving Maryland the cold shoulder?
Corbett: Get us a show in Maryland! Where are the places to play?! No offense!
Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children MacNuggits were a big part of Geekfest, with the return of the band is there going to be a return of the fest?
Corbett: There is always talk. For some strange reason, kids still ask. Our hotline for shows is still kicking due to Eggplant keeping it alive, (510) BAD-SMUT for Bay Area show info. We did a ten year Geekfest a few years back and it was amazing and huge. I can see it happening again at some point.
Dan: I always felt like Geekfest was a natural reaction to our situation at a very specific time and place in our lives. We had a problem: there were very few places to play for underage and/or weird bands. Quite by accident it turned into something like a scene, but it was marked by our particular sense of fun and our weird interests. We didn’t discover stuff like Hakim Bey’s idea of the Temporary Autonomous Zone until much later, though we started feeling less alone when we ran into other groups doing the same thing in different ways. The Pyrate Punx, for example, started with something very similar to Geekfest, the Pyrate Punx Picnics.
The point is, we came up with intuitive solutions that worked for us at the moment, but we personally no longer need to set up guerrilla shows. So we don’t. People need to come up with their own solutions and make their own mistakes, because that process was what made Geekfest special to us. If someone wants to put on a a show and call it Geekfest, that’s fine with me, as long as it’s free and all-ages. But I can’t understand why people wouldn’t rather come up with their own thing.
Dan: If you are an independently wealthy patron of the arts, we could really use a sugar momma/daddy so that we can get these weird ideas out of our heads and into the world.