by Greg Chapman
from Ugly American #10
Let's start with the history of the Bunny Brains.
It started without me in early '89 at SUNY in Purchase. It
was these two people who were already doing another experimental
kinda thing called Invaders from Sears and one day they were
hanging around with this guy and they said, "Why don't we
do something," and then Elise Flynn said "This sounds like
the Bunny Brains." She and her boyfriend Bob Barret, along
with Malcolm Tent (not the accordion player from Atlantic
City, but the Floridian punk rocker who opened a record store
in Conn.) were the first incarnation of the Bunny Brains.
Then I started hanging around doing stuff. It basically started
there, but everyone else dropped out except for me. The three
other people in the band now are permanent as of a year and
a half ago. They are the latest incarnation.
So it changes with whoever drops in/out?
Yeah, but I try and keep everything fucked up enough so it
always sounds like the Bunny Brains.
So you're the glue?
Yeah, I'm not saying it in an egotistical way, but I try and
keep the vision of keeping things fucked up. If things start
getting too safe, it's just not worth doing.
Yeah, and then you'll want your $3,000 back.
That's Larry, our lottery winner/videographer/CD backer.
He won the lottery?
He was my best friend from high school and he won the lottery
when he was 21 for 1 and 1/2 million dollars. So now 10 years
later, he's got 10 years left on his checks and has got a
5 year old son. He paid for our CD. We're trying to pay him
back, but that's him carping and whining (see Bunny Magick,
side 2) and then you realize he's talking about breakfast.
So when you joined up, Eg the Poet became Dan Bunny?
yeah, Eg the Poet turned into the Bunny Brains.
So you joined forces?
Well, I did Eg the Poet for almost four years, like 1986-89
and it needed a lift.
It needed the Bunny Brains.
It needed music, it needed some rock.
So Eg the Poet was basically just you?
It was just me and various other people that would help me
out. It was like bad performance art, but I guess MTV would
label it "cool alternative performance art" now and I probably
would be in the Jim Rose show spitting up on myself. Back
then nobody was being completely stupid and gross. I would
just get up onstage and fill my mouth up with as much food
as I could and spit it out and do poetry, and I fucked a frozen
chicken and had a dead gopher piñata. I did things
I thought were funny but I didn't realize others didn't share
the humor at the time. In retrospect, now that I'm fat, old,
and conservative, I can see the club owners point of view
of not wanting spaghetti sauce all over their monitors. You
hafta kinda tailor that nowadays to places you want to play
Hell, yeah. So is that the bunny Brains' goal, tearing
up the stuffed rabbits...
I don't know, once that started it became a trademark schtick.
I thought that was kind of miserable, to be expected to do
that. I almost think that when a band is expected to do something,
that's the beginning of the end. Like when the Butthole Surfers
went out for the tenth time and they're doing the same exact
thing that they'd already been doing in 1983. Most bands of
this ilk do stuff like we do, like films and slides and videos
and projections and costumery, but we have a pretty good sense
of humor about it. We don't want to kill you unless we have
to. You know, we're not in there killing indiscriminately,
we're usually killing well-chosen targets.
That's very considerate.
Yeah, we definitely care about the people we kill.
Tell me about the recording process.
Fortunately, our drummer is a top-notch rock radio station
engineer. He' s the guy who takes care of the transmitter
and the equipment and all that shit. He's got a basement that
looks like fucking NASA. He can build a better studio than
any major label fucking band could dream of, but the problem
is we've never been able to fully harness everything he has
all at the same time. It's all been bits and pieces coming
together and we usually get something halfway decent. As far
as the songs and stuff, we just basically go down and fucking
start exploding as often as we can and then go back and transcribe
it all. We do it backwards basically.
It's better when the shit varies...
We have a strange, totally amebic sound that I have no intention
of trying to pin down because we'll do something and then
we'll do something else that's completely different. Not stylistically,
we're not switching from bluegrass to heavy metal or anything,
but it's enough of a change that people can appreciate the
fact that we're not trying to stick to the three-chord dinosaur
shit that most people put out these days.
I noticed the sound of Bunny Magick is seemingly
different, but not really different than the CD. It seems
like a totally different thing but it isn't at all.
Well, the CD has a lot of Jim Roberto on it. He's the gtr
player for St. Johnny.
So he's not involved anymore?
No, he's pretty much beholden to Geffen and they have a record
coming out next month, but he's all over the CD so it really
does make a difference. He's more of and MC5, Stooges, retro
kinda guitar player. And what came out on that CD all worked,
but I would definitely not want that sound constantly because
I would get tired of it.
It did appear in bits and pieces so it wasn't really overwhelming.
I mean, some of it sounded retro and other times it sounded
like, what's the word for it? Beyondo?
Yeah, there were some moments that you can't go back and re-learn
them and play them in concert or anything. I hope that more
people get a chance to listen to it. We have plenty left.
You have numerous copies still?
Yeah, we just got a bunch back from this distributor in California.
which is good, they sold a lot of 'em, like a couple of hundred,
and we got the ones back so we can give 'em to people and
get the word out that there's other things than They Might
So the stuff that appeared on Bunny Magick was all
post that CD?
Oh yeah, that was all summer 93 to summer 94.
So the CD was much earlier?
No, it's not that much earlier, maybe six months. Jim didn't
play with us at all on the album, so that makes a difference.
And the Matador album sounds even different, or different-er
because one of the original guitar players cam in from London
and made some noise with us and we put as much of that on
the Matador album as possible.
It's a natural change...
Yeah, every time somebody reviews us, they never really compare
us to anybody, and once they do, it's kind of a lame attempt
like "ahh, it sounds a little bit like Ween."
Yeah, but it's all they've ever heard.
Yeah, they give a totally clueless comparison or none at
Yeah, but I compared St. Johnny to Squeeze because they came
over the other night and played their new CD for me and I
offended them deeply.
They said, "don't compare us to anything, we don't compare
you to anything." Well, there's a reason for that, we're not
really comparable to anybody and you guys, well, c'mon. It's
a somewhat friendly rivalry.
We'll see what's happening with them in a year.
But with the Bunny Brains, the faces all run together,
but it's still the Bunny Brains. The faces run together, the
colors change, the landscape is different, and the fire is
different and always changing or something...
Yeah, but I would never get bored, even if I was objective,
which I'm not. I'm completely not objective about this band,
but if I was, I'd still be interested in this band after four
years of them putting out records. You know how you buy a
band's single, and then you buy their next single and it sounds
like the first single, then you buy the record and it sounds
like a half-hour of all the singles?
Well, you're like, "I know exactly what I'm going to get."
Which to me is disappointing. I always thought the best bands
were the ones that would make a record and you're like, 'what
the fuck is this going to be like?" Like the Beastie Boys.
They started off and everybody thought that was it, that was
there one joke, ya know?
But they had plenty other jokes ahead.
More jokes and more expensive jokes ahead, that needed to
be paid for. They mutated pretty decently for a band at what
they're doing. There's a difference between having a signature
sound and being boring every time you put a record out.
It's a fine line, but once you cross it, there is no going
But after hearing Bunny Magick, it's hard for me
to be objective about the Bunny Brains.
It is passionate music in a way. It does hit ya when you listen
to it. If you're into it, and even if you're not into that
kind of music. We've had completely straight, conservative
rock radio listeners listen to our stuff and they're like,
"What the fuck is that?" They're so used to listening to something
That's a shame. Rock-n-roll is supposed to be the realm
o the rebellious and the changing, always on the frontier,
but it's just the realm of the stagnant and prepackaged in
the same tight fucking pants.
Yeah, we're old. We're not like 20 years old. We're 29, 30,
37, and 39.
Davo, the bass player.
Pete, the drummer.
I'll be 31 in February.
Lots of middle-agers, huh?
Yeah, so we're beyond the concept of dressing up like a bunch
of Bon Jovi freaks and getting out there and putting on the
whole rock-n-roll show...A lot of bands in New York that's
there whole sole purpose of existing is to get signed and
that is ridiculous.
That's pretty much everywhere now. You go down the street
here and they're hoping some talent fucking scout is somewhere
looming in the rafters and shit.
That's such a misguided way to put your music out.
That's the way of the day, man.
The funny thing is, we never thought it was beyond us, know
what I mean? When we first started, we always wondered why
people didn't think we were the greatest thing in the world.
We always wondered why we weren't getting asked back. There's
some really funny old tapes where people are just screaming
at us to stop playing, which I think Malcolm is going to release
on a double live album...
Like Bunny Brains Comes Alive or Bunny Brains Alive
II or something like that. Who knows. He did a double
album previously off all studio stuff '89 to '92. He's going
to do the same with the double live thing, which will be really
What was the other album called?
The double album? I don't think it was anything, but he did
300 of them with all different covers. Which was a big gimmick.
That's a good sign in the early days when you think you're
geniuses and the crowd thinks you're totally inept. it's a
Going through that for a couple of years shows you're headed
for some kind of greatness.
We were always wondering why we didn't get the big bucks.
We weren't getting paid at all, and eventually, people were
paying us not to play.
I'd take some money for not playing.
It was cool and even now, like that public service announcement:
"If one person gets help tonight and doesn't jump off a bridge,
that will be good." So for us, if one person enjoys it, if
one person really digs it, that's the person we're playing
for. We're not there for mass agellation, but we're completely
prepared for it if it ever happens.
That's a nice perspective.
If they don't know the latest Royal Trux 7" or they're not
in the Sonic Youth fan club and they don't have the decoder
ring that beeps out one of Thurston's guitar solos that you
get when you pay your $75 fee, that doesn't mean they're not
viable listeners of your music, which is what it all boils
down to. If you don't have the credentials, you aren't valid
to listen to this music. Which means... I play this music
for my sister, and she listens to Broadway soundtracks and
stuff, and she likes us because she realizes it has something
primitive in it that makes her like the rock aspect of it,
and that's all I can really ask for.
Primitive as in getting into something intuitively?
Yeah, it's beyond all of what you can imagine of what rock
music supposedly is...My favorite music has been the one that
hits you right in the fucking balls and guts. If it's 50's
fucking hillbilly rockabilly music or jazz or classical music
even, if it hits you in the balls and the stomach and you
can feel it, that's all that fucking matters. And I think
that's why people who don't listen to so-called alternative
or underground or indie rock respond to us because they can
just feel it...
We're living in the PC generation, the post-Cobain generation.
And before, the pre-Nirvana generation was a little more innocent
about this kind of music. Now that it is a commodity, it's
treated a lot more crassly because of that and you have to
come to expect that and deal with that and blow it away. That
should be the ultimate goal of these bands, but they don't
have a clue.
It all goes back to what I learned quickly when I fifst
got into punk rock, the punk rockers were assholes anyway.
Just because they were into this alternative way of thinking,
this "against them" frame of mind, they were just as stupid
in as many ways.
I think the battle lines were drawn a little too quickly before
people could realize they're exactly the same. Your Joe Rockhead
club promoter and your college DJ indie underground guy could
end up being the same asshole.
And they usually are.
Right, so when we were invited today to play at Aerosmith's
club up in Boston, we jumped at the chance.
Really? Who are you going to playing with?
I think we have our choice.
Who are you going to choose?
I don't know. Maybe we'll get Frown.
Hell, yeah. We're ready to go anywhere and chase everybody
out of the room.
Right, we'll chase Joe Perry down the street...
And set him on fire.
(laughing) Set him on fire.
Burn down his dumb club. That would be really good PR.
It's probably like the Hard Rock Cafe. They have old Aerosmith
records on the wall...
Yeah, and huge-assed bouncers... with guns and shit.
Back to this Matador thing, weren't you picking obnoxious,
How'd that come out?
So are you wondering if this is a nice litmus test?
Well, I still can't quite believe they will release it. They
keep saying they will, so I think I'll only believe it when
I have it in my hand.
You've sent it to them?
Well, yeah, supposedly it's all going to happen.
That's 2000 pink vinyl LPs, the only vinyl-only release they've
ever done and the only stuff they've done in a while that's
so-called controversial or cutting edge. It's ridiculous how
easy it is to stir things up. It'll be interesting to see
the reaction to it because people are looking at them now
to be kind of a cutesy pie pop label with Liz Phair, Bettie
Serveert and stuff away from the scum rock. It's fine with
me, I say Liz Phair should sell fucking millions of records
so then I can do more projects.
More 2000 pink records.
Yeah, more colored vinyl.
So, what's this going to be called?
Uh, tentatively titled the Bunny Brains' Easter LP?
It's gonna come out on Easter?
Yeah, April 16th I think.
That sound like a really interesting marketing strategy.
It's a stroke of genius.
it's all just coming together.
It's funny how things come together, isn't it?
It's just a big fucking joke.
It is a joke.
It's hilarious. It's the most funniest thing.
It is the most funniest thing because it's the most obscene
thing in music. We are the band with the most complete negative
image of a band.
Like a mirror image of a negative.
We've sent singles on a whim to MRR and to Billboard magazine
and they've both reviewed us.
What did Billboard say?
Billboard loved us. They had our Belgium single I think. They
were like "squealing, screeching, feedback, post-punk, blah,
blah, blah..." They loved it, they thought it was great. That
and the GG tribute single.
That's what it all comes down to and it's so fucking funny.
Look how stupidly simple it is to do something like that.
This is what I'm talking about, striking a chord. How many
records do you think Billboard gets in the mail?
How about like a billion?
Okay, let's say a billion.
How many out of that billion do you think they review?
Probably like 10 or 15. Now why would they review our record
of all that dreck? Why would that guy write a review for Billboard
when they're trying to aim these things at radio programmers?
Maybe it's just a subversive working there in the belly
of the beast.
Totally. Very strange. But it was great to have MRR and Billboard
review us in the same month. Back to Bunny Magick,
there can't be enough to say about that album. I wouldn't
know what to ask, where to start, what to say... but uh, what
about "Erin Go Boom"? give me some information about that.
I dunno, make something up...
That was myself and Raimondo in the basement here.
You came up with the lyrics out of the air?
Yeah, I don't know why I think it was just because he was
playing that Celtic kinda guitar thing and then we ended up
going over it with a vocal track and then I was hitting a
drum on its side. I have a total white man's rhythm and Larry
LHG from "L.H.G. Speaks" is heard hooting and hollering on
the beginning, so we just strung it all together in like 5
minutes and it ends up sounding good.
It's like instant perfection.
It sounds great.
Instant confusion. That came together great.
Like the Chieftains eating moldy bread or something.
The witches thought they were possessed...
Tripping their brains out.
The druids are burning each other on big wicker fires...
that's cool. I liked the anti-English sentiment in there.
You're talking about the Queen Mother and shit.
We had lyric sheets that were printed but Erica (?) in Los
Angeles never inserted them. They slept on it.
They were supposed to insert them.
Did you get the cover (of Bunny Magick) back?
Yup, I got that all straightened out. A guy at a new age magazine
who was going to do a favor for Blackjack ended up not doing
the favor and not returning the transparency. So I was turning
all my crystal power in his direction to burn him.
Blackjack haven't returned my Evil Acidhead tape.
But that's a whole other story. So that guy (Todd Schorr)
did a cover for Blue Oyster Cult? Which one?
Some Enchanted Evening.
The grim reaper. It was a single live album.
It wasn't as good as the double live albums.
But it did have a decent "Godzilla" on it.
That it did.
How did you hook up with him?
He used to bring his work into a photo place that I worked
at in Danbury and I just took a liking to his work and eventually
schmoozed my way into his life. Eventually I got the balls
enough to ask him if we could use an image and he said sure.
So this was all predicated on goodwill, friendship and they
bungled the transparency out there and never got the posters
made and this is all 5 months later and he's not thrilled
with me at this point.
Oh, they were gonna make posters?
Yeah, they were going to make posters as part of the whole
album deal. They were gonna give us a couple records and they'd
make the posters.
This is Blackjack?
Blackjack. Maybe we were going to split the cost of it, but
anyway, it never got done. That was like the real bottom line.
It wasn't that they weren't getting money to pay for it or
whatever but that it was out our hands and we couldn't have
it made, y'know, totally fucked up.
Sounds like they're a bunch of fuck ups, man.
Tomorrow I'm going to put it into production and set things
straight. Get my karma back in line and get this guy his posters
because the cover is fucking brilliant.
Yeah, you couldn't ask for a better cover for that album.
-- Ugly American, #10.