Birth of The BunnyBrains
Way back in 1987, Bobby Bunny met Elisa Flynn at local Westchester County, NY art college SUNY Purchase. They had collaborated on Bobby's solo band Invaders from Sears but felt they needed a whole new band to get their combined message across to the jaded art school kids and hardcore punk scenesters of Westchester County, so deep in the basement of Bobby's Aunt's house in Darien CT, they wrote a bunch of song titles and decided to call their band The BunnyBrains and vowed to become the worst band anyone had ever accidentally asked to a gig.
Very shortly after recording only two songs, Elisa quit to establish a more refined alt rock musical future, but Malcolm Tent, owner of seminal CT punk culture shop Trash American Style and the TPOS record label, jumped in and got things moving in a decidedly improper direction. Malcolm's many years' experience in Florida and CT post-punk bands rapidly rutted with Bobby's Eno-esque conceptual music theorizing and lo-fi minimalism. In the space of 4 hours they had improvised and recorded a 6 track mini-album demo.
In Danbury CT in 1988 there was a small and very incestuous anti-hardcore scene comprised of a dozen or so non-musicians and an equal number of avant-punks all revolving around Malcolm's store, Trash American Style. Typically the same group of crazed post-hippie art delinquents would perform as 4 separate bands on the same bill. Acts like The Ashlars of Newtown, Chicken Doody Faggot, Eg the Poet and Chicks with Dicks, all featuring the same roster of friends, would come and go in so many weeks. At this time The BunnyBrains seemed to everyone to be the end result of their ideal band concept and guest musicians were recruited from amongst all the local Danbury talent, including the established bands who would soon go on to major label fame. With Malcolm on guitar and bass and Bobby on bass, vocals and effects, BunnyBrains grew to include drummers playing pots and pans, a cellist, a saxophone, and then a real drummer. Concurrently, Malcolm had been making improvised noise with local nogoodnik performance artist Eg The Poet. It seemed logical to merge the two quarters into one half and thus BunnyBrains (mach II) fell into the world.
In 1989 Bobby was recruited to join Butthole Surfers spin-off band Beme Seed and left the small town art rock kids for international psych-rock fame. That meant moving to New York City, but coming back home every now and then to sit in and check out what they were doing. Bobby was hence forth known as "the Founder" of what was growing into a large collection of motley weirdos.
Bobby Bunny's History of The BunnyBrains
To set the record straight once and for all, Elisa and I started this band as a couple thing. We wanted to have a band together, it was our pet project. When we broke up I still felt like it was a good project and called Malcolm and asked him to join in and we began working the way we would end up working together long into the future. Just improv it with the tape rolling. BunnyBrains was not going to be one of these bands that writes songs. Where's the revolutionary thought in that? Anyway, Malcolm and I made our demo, played a few shows in CT and some in Boston and it was a fair deal of fun.
At some point in the first 6 months of the band, we kept being harassed by fellow scene mate Eg The Poet, aka Dan Seward, and how he wanted to play shows with us. Now I liked Dan's solo act, it was weird and edgy folk guitar and poetry, sorta like Tiny Tim meets GG Allin, but way more on the Tiny Tim side. I first saw Dan at Trash American Style (Malcolm's record store) when they were having a performance art poetry night. A whole lot of people were crammed into this tiny store and Dan was dressed like Uncle Floyd and playing a boombox with envangelistic spouting on it and squatting on a desk telling stories about serving his brains to his wife in a Carvel ice cream cake or something like that. Then he actually started pawing thru the ice cream cake and scooping out various animal internal organs. I figured he was a profound artist and a potential dangerous psychopath. (The latter proved true...)
side note: Dan and I first appeared on the same bill at Trash American Style Night at the Newtown High School. My solo act Invaders from Sears did a few songs and Malcolm's friends and family did the satanic chicken dance and a stage version of Richard Kern's short film "You Killed Me First" and then Dan started his recital and grabbing the baseball bat I used to fend off asshole skinheads at hardcore shows, he started batting whole frozen fish, which shattered and and rained down upon the whole audience in this huge theater/assembly hall. Needless to say the show closed quickly and we were never invited back.
So Malcolm and I had already done the BunnyBrains demo there was a lot of intermixing of the Danbury music scene (Eg The Poet, Closet Full of Fear, King Hatreds, Invaders from Sears, etc.) going on, so one night shortly after the Bunny demo session, Dan and Malcolm and Malcolm's wife Kathy came down to my Aunt's basement and we recorded some nonsense which I called Stoolbox: The Next Generation. They were doing a side project of Dan's called Chicken Doody Faggot or Chicken Duty Faggot which was kinda like what Dan's Bunnybrains would become. I suggested another version of the same people without Dan's involvement called The Ashlars of Newtown which was essentially a mix of Invaders from Sears and Malcolm's family doing an air-guitar punk rock Manson family thing. (Nobody could really play, but everybody wanted to join.) We crashed a few gigs around SUNY Purchase where I was going to school and did a multiple bill at The Beat in Portchester, NY with all three of our bands providing similar noisefests. Insteading of clearing the house as expected, it was quite popular and we innaugurated the practice of letting the audience play in the band when someone got bored on stage.
Shortly after that we decided to combine and prune and came up with the first real Bunnybrains (Malcolm, Dan & Me) and decided to go set up in the Sculpture graveyard at SUNY Purchase on the first day of school and see if anybody would come by to listen. (I was inspired by Amherst band The Supreme Dicks who used to do the same thing at Hampshire College). This one scultor guy came over and saw us and said, "You remind me of my cousin. She's in this band called Pussy Galore." That was more than enough for our ego and we moved inside the Art building in an empty classroom to try to attract more students with noise-rock-hero relatives. After some attrocious squealing, three shy new freshmen art students were peeking in thru the door but too scared to come in. We lured them inside and handed them instruments and recorded it as the first Bunnybrains live sessions (available on the BunnyBrains Double LP). (One of the kids was Rik, my future roommate and later international guitar hero with NYC glam stars Toilet Boys, and the other was Eddie, who would eventually be the drummer for Psychick TV as well as The Toilet Boys and NYC drag diva Miss Guy). Eddie played drums for the first actual Bunnybrains live gig at SUNY Purchase with the frightening Thalidomide & The One-Armed Mongoloids opening in what would be their final show. I was doing co-vocal with Dan at the time and was on the floor with my three digital delays making vocal loops when Dan started slamming my bass repeatedly inches away from my head. It was then I realized he was a pretty scary guy.
Bunnybrains went on hiatus for a while then. King Hatreds got back together for a bit. Dan was still doing performance art gigs. I kinda killed Invaders from Sears and got together with Rik & Eddie doing some improv Buttholesish thing called Fish Fish (we opened a show at SUNY Purchase for White Zombie). Then I graduated College finally and moved to Boston where I heard Dan had appropriated the Bunnybrains for his own uses. I didn't really care too much as I somehow landed my dream spot of being hired by Butthole Surfers spinoff band Beme Seed and signing a record deal with Rough Trade and hanging out with rock stars and getting my ass kissed by strangers. That was wild, especially cuz I still really couldn't play an instrument well.
Beme Seed broke up and I was quick to retire from the music scene for a while, it was just too crazy, and this time stuck in the big city. Strangely enough I kept hearing reports from ex Danbury citizens all over the country that the Bunnybrains were being played on the radio or some such hallucinations. And true enough, I got the occasional phone call from Dan to come down and guest appear and they were getting pretty decent shows and people were showing up to watch and strangely they're music was becoming "musical" almost. Against the goals I set out for the band, they were actually writing songs and rehearsing and attempting to be an ACTUAL band. When all the local kids had had enough of this veneer of professionalism, they bolted and were replaced by musicians of actual talent. When Malcolm finally left our dream of egalitarian rock suckdom had petered out.
So now, a few years later and back in the fold I personally vow to remove the professionalism and polish from the Bunnybrains and return it to its roots of mindnumbing utter crap and noise. So next time you come see our show, feel free to jump right in and add yer input. Bunnybrains is about dynamics, change and everyone doing whatever they feel. You too can be a part. So come prepared to do battle and do service for your musical community.
-Bobby Bunny 1998
[addendum 2002: BunnyBrains 1998-2002 were the most violent and chaotic years for the band, with typical shows consisting of police and fire dept personnel interruptions, of band members sleeping with each other's girlfriends, throwing amplifiers at each other, booking fake tours, cheating other members out of money and destroying whole clubs at times. The rampant in-fighting and nasty behavior was too much for Bobby who called Malcolm and figured it was best to just start from square one again and thus they formed Ultrabunny in 2002 which recreated the BunnyBrains original line-up. ]
Early BunnyBrains Songs - Some Liner Notes
Brickhed with a Mohawk
The FIRST EVER song recorded under the name Bunnybrains, along with another track "Dead Squirrel" now somewhat lost*. "Brickhed" was subsequently released on the "Invaders from Sears - Rarities" cassette in 1989, of which I believe 6 or 8 were released by observation deck information (odi-music), my microscopic cassette-only label, and distributed by TPOS (Trash American Style), Danbury, CT.
Recorded in my Aunt's basement in 1988 (Asbestos Deathtrap Studios, Darien, CT) with fellow Invader from Sears member Elisa Flynn, who went on to found Freakbaby and Jet Jaguar.
Elisa also gets the credit for inspiring the name "Bunnybrains,"** and the project was undertaken as a way for Invaders from Sears, which was basically my solo crap, to incorporate into a 2 person crap band.
And also I had this idea of being the world's worst band. I thought, god, so many people out there try so hard to be the best musicians in the world, yet they sucked so hard, so why not try really hard to suck the most, and just be smug about that.
It'sallbecauseofthisstupidindustrialrevolutionnonsenseahundredcanoesatleast-basicallyanotheroneofthoselargedeskttopeditionsthickansonylonplush (Bob Barrett) - noise
Pope XYZ Armadillo Mk. II Deluxe (Elisa Flynn) - more noise
One night Malcolm Tent came over to my Aunt's basement to record some of his solo ideas after he split with the King Hatreds. We decided to record an ep for my odi label under the name Bunnybrains (Elisa wan't interested anymore) and then managed to improv it on the spot. Pots, pans, a steel fireplace and my ancient Hammond rhythmbox for percussion and Malcolm and I alternating vocals bass and guitar. and we had six songs in a couple hours. This tape was kinda released by odi (maybe 10 copies) but basically ended up as the demo for the fledgeling Bunnies.
Louie Louie was an easy cover (jeez, I played keyboards mostly, and only knew a few notes on bass) and the twisted vocal object was a reel to reel tape Dan (Eg the Poet) sent me for tape collage use. I think he swiped it from a radio station...
Bobby Bunny (Bob Barrett) - Stood Up
Morton JustMild (Malcolm Tent)- Sat Down
3. Purple Teeth
I was recording a couple tapes for my best friends, Thalidomide and the One-Armed Mongoloids, who I truly believe were influential in creating the entire "grunge" movement when the guitarist moved to Olympia, WA in 1989. They did a cover of Purple Haze with lyrics that changed nightly, but the ones I recorded went like this:
"Purple Slush and mango juice
when I drink it I sing like Bruce
Am I tasty or in Missouri
or am I just a goose engineer from Tennessee"
So when The Bunnybrains got our first live radio gig on WXCI Danbury, I figured I'd rip them off.
Although Dan had recently joined the band, he was still more involved in his solo work and thus couldn't make it to the radio station a few blocks away, but attempted to phone in his vocals over a live telephone link. While those technicalities were being worked out, we went ahead and improvised this tune.
Bobby Bunny - sampler, vocals, gimmicks
Malcolm Tent - Bass
Thom Monahan - Guitar
Patty Grannan - ???
Live recording engineered by Greg Vegas
***Remixed by Bobby Bunny
*Recorded (***rerecorded) originally on a 3-track portastudio (one track was broken) that once belonged to Peter Frampton. Due to a loss of this essential relic, the masters are somewhat unusable and thus digital remastering was done from low quality cassette tapes still surviving.
** Elisa and I were driving and this rabbit stopped in front of us and just stood there. I said, "Why do rabbits always just stand there waiting to get run over and won't move or anything? And she said, "Because they only have little bunny brains."
-Bobby Bunny 1998