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Every so often someone tells me that I should have been in a band. I tell them that I was a vocalist for a band once. And that if I had known how to sing, I would have been the singer, ha ha. If pressed, I'll admit that it wasn't really a band. I mean, we never got any gigs. We just rehearsed. When I was in the band, it was me and three other U.C. Berkeley students in various computer-science related majors.
The name of the band was MegaBrööce.
Here's an early description of the band, from before the time I joined:
Mason Thomas: Lead Guitar
Hans Mahr: Rhythm Guitar & Lead Vocal
"Commando" Rob Pfile: Bass Guitar, washboard and Jug
Jenny Liu: Keyboards
Brendan "flounder" Robinson: Drums
David Otsuka: Drums
Bryan "greed is good" Clair: Drums & Computer animation
Jon "the punisher" Beck: Demolition
Craig "Cleg" Mah: Real-time on stage deviations
Manager: Suruchi Bhatia
Produced by: Vivien "Megabux" Lee
On K-tel Records, Tapes and 8-track cassettes
All songs (c)1989 Flaming Smegma music co.except "Piano Man", (c)1976 Screaming Wop Music, Inc.and "smell the glove", (c)1979 Spinal Tap Bar & Grill
Brendan Robinson uses Zildjian cymbals
Bryan Clair uses Paiste cymbals
David Otsuka uses Brendan's head
Megabrööce was founded in late 1988, primarily "to relieve terminal boredom", in the words of bassist Lob Pfile. Other goals are to bring Brooce to the masses and to prove that having 3 drummers is practical in a modern-day heavy metal band. "We thought we could achieve a healthy balance between Classical, pop, top-40 and punk music. What we ended up with was shit. There is no middle ground. Heavy Metal is the compromise between all forms of music," says lead guitarist Mason Thomas.
Another, longer description of the band, also from before I joined:
music for activities freaks
by Tiger Beat's corresponent in the field, Buttus Incontinentus
Megabrööce is quickly becoming 1989's hottest band. With a sweeping world tour in 1989 which gloriously closed in Albequerque, New Mexico, mB has taken the music world by storm. With songs like "get a jøb", "smoke a hooter with your 'pooter" and a remake of the classic Judas Priest song, "Hell bent för Leather", MegaBrööce's first album has gone mega-Platinüm. This first album, entitled Can't Log Off! (There are suspended jobs), is a true heavy-metal/chamber music tour de force. The following is a transcript of an interview with bassist Röb Pfile after the final stop of the MegaScatology world tour in Albequerque.
TB: Röb, before we begin, I just have to ask you, did your parents really put those silly little dots over the 'o' in your first name?
MB: Yeah. Ok, no. But, see, my real name isn't Röb, it's Ædölph. I was discreetly named after a dictator. We figured Röb was easier to pronounce.
TB: How do you pronounce it then?
MB: What? Ædölph? well, start by saying 'Z', but don't actually say 'Z', try to say A, and...
TB: No! Röb...
MB: Yeah, just like that.
TB: Forget It! Tell me, why MegaBrööce?
MB: What, the name? Well, let's see. There was this guy named Bruce... He's a stud, a real hacker, he can sling code with the likes of Hilfinger...
TB: NO, the ümläüts!
MB: Well, a lot of other heavy metal bands have them, we figured if Spinal Tap could have them over the 'n', then we could, too. You wont be taken seriously by the fans unless you have an umlaut or two in your name, come on!
TB: So, tell me, why did you call it the MegaScatology tour?
MB: Craig thought of it. See, we do things right here. We have one person, one processor, if you like, assigned to each important heavy metal task. One of these tasks is the Standard Deviation, as we like to call it. It just doesn't do for a guy like ozzy to be biting chickens off of heads, and then singing... It just doesn't work right. We have the right man for the job.
MB: Oh, yeah, so Craig is in charge of the real-time deviations. You should hear him belch! Sick minds think alike.
TB: "biting chickens off of heads"?... what?
MB: oh, did I say that? I meant, of course, heads off of chickens. I'm not as think as you stoned I am!!!
TB: When you performed in Palo Alto this year, there was that incident with the VAX. Do you have anything to say about that?
MB: Right... uhhh. Could you, uhh, Refresh my memory....?
TB: You pissed in it...
MB: Ah! Right! Yeah. So I did. Yep.
MB: I pissed in a VAX. What of it?
TB: Well, using a mainframe computer as a urinal is not normally done in western countries...
MB: Oh, yeah, you mean how the people at Digital weren't too amused?
TB: Goddammit, do you think I have all day, or are you just stupid?
MB: Stupid, probably. Look, for our number "Fuck IBM", we really wanted to defile a system/360 or something. But we couldnt get one, so we used our Vax-750.
TB: So you ruined a $200,000 computer?
MB: Oh, no! Those things are built to milspec! Ya know, theres little critters livin in there, rats & stuff, and they gotta piss too, so they take that into account. They're compleletly waterproof. Gotta hand it to DEC, tho, it would take a rat about 10 years to pee as much as I did. The sparks were just sparklers! If it had blown, everything would have stopped, the lights, the amps, the synth... I mean the symp... er, forget it.
TB: So, what's this "heavy metal/chamber music" scene?
MB: Well, see, Flaming Smegma, that's our publisher, wasn't too sure of the metal market. So, since they produce almost exclusively classical music, they wanted to bill us as classical music. As you can tell, we reached a compromise with "chamber" music. This was great, since we can always tell the fans it stands for "death chamber" or like the chamber in a gun. "Death Chambre" looks better, doesnt it? Should have spelled it that way...
TB: Right... So, what kind of bass do you play?
MB: I dont know, really...
TB: Looks like a Fender.
MB: Right! Ah, says right here by these shiny metal keys. Wonder what these are for...?
TB: So, after this world tour, what's next for MegaBrööce?
MB: Well, I figure we can really go to town now. We could market MB dolls, a line of instruments, air guitars and the like, and, shit, get a promotional deal with McDonalds... Even break up, maybe, artsy stuff like that.
TB: How about another album? Music?
MB: Right, that. Yeah, one of those, too. And man, we could spin off into other groups, like maybe microBrööce... how does that sound?
MB: Well, I gotta go to the bathroom now...
TB: You just did on stage! How can you have to go again!?
MB: No, no, that was Craig. If you'll wait...
TB: Ok... look, dont forget I'm out here.
As you can probably guess, he forgot. I immediatley tried to find one of the drummers to interview.
I found Brendan Robinson.
...and that's it. That's as far as the author of this piece (Rob, I suppose) got before giving up on it.
When I joined the band, it had reduced in numbers. It was:
By this time, the band's name had entered a state of random umlautization. Any and all characters in the band's name were randomly accented each time the name was printed. Cedillas dangled from the "e", umlauts appeared over the "g"; no letter was safe. When in a hurry, "MegaBrooce" or "MegaBrööce" was normally used.
I was brought in to shout out the lyrics to keep other people from losing their places. And because the rehearsal space was in Bryan's bedroom, which was right next door to mine in the house that we rented, along with Mason Thomas and Hans Mahr. There was no way to ignore MegaBrðöce in rehearsal; you might as well join in.
The neighbors got to join in the fun, too. After the band saw Blüchunks in concert, we did a cover of their song White Linen. Well, one lyric from White Linen:
They wrapped me in white linen
so that nobody would know
They wrapped me in white linen
so my woody wouldn't show.
Various members of the band took turns repeating this lyric into the microphone, through an amplifier, and out a speaker. At one point, a voice called over from the neighbors' house: "You know, we can hear every word."
We covered a few songs, including "The Ocean" by Led Zeppelin, "Bullet the Blue Sky" by U2, "Hotel California" by the Eagles, "Back in Black" by I know not who (AC/DC, perhaps?), and something by ZZ top. During this time, my mild dislike of the Eagles blossomed into the intense dislike I hold for them today. Thus, I feel that my time with MegàBröôce helped me to grow as a person.
Only one MegaBröòce rehearsal was ever recorded. However, the tape has since gone missing. The group broke up over some personal issues.
All that remains are the lyrics, some graphics that were to be used as album covers and posters, and a four-track recorder which the four of us each bought a fourth of and still trade around once every couple of years.
And the spririt of MegaBrööce lives on in all of us.
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