Mucca Pazza, Safety Fifth (Electric Cowbell Records)
Revenge of the Band Nerds:
Mucca Pazza’s Brash Brass, Rocking Glock, and Hockey-Helmet Amps Transform the Marching Band into a Post-Punk Spree
Twisted metal and piles of slag behind them, shish boom bah!
• Check out upcoming live shows May - July 2012 at the link
Chicago’s Mucca Pazza marches on, from the steel mill parking lots of Chicago across the nation. Wielding homemade headgear amps and shouting surreal algebraic cheers, the dozens-strong band insists on Safety Fifth (Electric Cowbell Records; June 12, 2012).
They march in formation, rip through drum cadences, bust out cinematic stories, and incite mass dance outbreaks. They channel everything from Bartok to a love-struck Godzilla, re-imagine the uptight 19th-century march, and make up soundtracks for classic Egyptian movies that never happened. Not bad for an eccentric gang of loud-and-proud, self-proclaimed band geeks.
“We look like a marching band and occasionally behave like a marching band, but we don’t sound like one,” explains Gary Kalar, mandolin player and member of Mucca Pazza’s “freak” section of stringed instruments and accordion. “We care about the music we play; it’s not a novelty thing. We just don’t fit into any hyphenated genre.”
“We’re a marching band that thinks we’re a rock band,” exclaims sousaphone player Mark Messing.
This May and June, Mucca Pazza will rock New York, Washington DC, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Louisville, and, of course, Chicago, with a live show too big to stay on stage.
Mucca Pazza pushes the envelope, bringing punk aesthetics to the parade and marching band chops to the rock club. “We were marching in the Kentucky Derby parade in Louisville, with all these 100-member marching bands,” Thomas recounts. “We’d march like a regular band and then with a whistle blow make these random honking noises. At the point when a TV newscaster started to announce us on the air, we started honking away, and the announcer stopped mid-band name. He said, 'I don’t think we’ve seen anything quite like this before.’”
Photo Credit: C.B Lindsey