Bungle Fever 2004

Note: This has nothing to do with my politics, Portland and/or drinking beat but whatever.

Back in 2004, I went to New York to simultaneously protest the Republican National Convention and record audio that would later be used for politics programming on WMPG. While I don’t think the audio ended up on the air, I had a blast talking with protestors and delegates alike. I attended a recording of Late Night With David Letterman alongside—no joke—one young anarchist and 398 red, white and denim blue clad Republicans. Jeff Foxworthy and LL Cool J were the guests that night. Before the taping of the show I got to ask Dave where Manny the Hippie ended up, a question to which he cloudily responded after [literally] ten seconds of doubled over laughter. That felt good. I yelled, chanted, avoided arrest, talked with the Reverend Jesse Jackson, met a delegate named Michael Moore (“Not that one”) slept in parks and at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater (which opened its doors to protestors), and had a great time in the city. The best time I had, though, was at the offices of Ipecac Recordings, Mike Patton and Greg Werckman‘s record label, which was at that time located in the Bowery.

I am recalling this because, for whatever reason, Patton has come up in conversation or through my speakers about a dozen times in the past week by way of his work with John Zorn, Mr. Bungle, Fantômas, Dillinger Escape Plan and many others. A few weeks ago I was reminded of my 2004 protest romp while working through the Bowery. The first album I bought with my own money was the self-titled Mr. Bungle record, and I immersed myself in the various Patton projects throughout the years that followed. I saw Patton’s noise project Fantômas open for Tool in Portland when the latter band was touring around the release of the album Lateralus back in 2001 or 2002. The audience recoiled at the frenetic performance, Patton gloriously spewed the response back at the crowd, and I loved all of it. I saw Patton play a mind-blowing performance [under the banner of Tomahawk] with the Melvins, Melt Banana and others at the Irving Ballroom in New York about a year later, and it was another year later when I would find myself protesting the war-mongering Bush Administration and their thousands of cheerleaders in Manhattan. Before heading to the city by bus, I sent Patton’s label an email to say that I would be in the area and I would love to stop by, just to be able to say I had been to their offices.

I never heard back from anyone at the label, so one day while I was in the city I just stopped by unannounced. It would not be until I would move to New York a couple of years later before I realized that so much of what happens in the city happens in massive, spacious lofts in shitty looking buildings, so I was surprised to be let into this nondescript place and find an open room with messy desks, stacks of CDs and a this woman I remember looking to be a bit into metal who welcomed my unannounced visit. I don’t know what I expected, but having grown up in the 90s I guess I thought that a record label would be stacked with hip-looking, intimidating people and expensive furniture and piles of drugs or whatever, but I was pleasantly surprised to see it as plain and sort of uninteresting as it was. The woman who was there—I regret being unable to recall her name—explained that she knew who I was and had been meaning to get back to my email but things were sort of hectic. There isn’t much to see, she explained, but I was welcome to come back and hang out, rest, or do whatever I needed while I was there in protest, and then she gave me a bag of CDs from the label. The experience was subtle, but it blew my simple, country-boy mind and while I was already a Patton-devotee, my allegiance was further solidified by my random drop-in to Icapec Records back in the Summer of 2004.

Alex Steed

About Alex Steed

Alex Steed has written about and engaged in politics since he was an insufferable teenager. He has run for the Statehouse and produced a successful web series. He now runs a content firm called Knack Factory with two guys who are a lot more talented than himself.