Saturday, June 12, 2010

Interview with The Emotron

Several weeks into their latest tour, Ithaca Underground's Bubba Crumrine catches up with The Emotron about his new stage show, the new album, his third trip to Ithaca on June 18th at The Shop while getting side tracked talking about flea market finds, road stories, Cryptorchid Chipmunk, Math The Band, candy, and the retirement of dick fires.

IU: Hey Kyle, how are things going on the road?

Emotron: Pretty Good! (To someone else in the distance) Hey, check out these California Rasins!

IU: Huh?

Emotron: I’m talking about my California Raisins! Dude, we’re playing at a flea market tonight and I bought a whole box of California Raisins.  (More chatter about comic books and VHS tapes in the background).  Sorry about that, Bubba.  We have a traveling thrift store now and since we’re playing a flea market tonight, we got into town early to get all the good deals to resell them.  We’re talking about our finds for the first time right now.

IU: Who else is with you this time?

Emotron: My buddy, Chris.  Last year, he toured with me and Mose Giganticus. When the Mose bus broke down, he and I ended up hitchhiking to three or four of the shows.   We bonded back then so I asked him to join me on the road this time, sharing the duties of driving, booking shows, and working our mobile thrift store – which has been totally awesome!  I can’t wait for you to see some of the stuff, as a conosur of children’s things and things from pop culture. 

IU: Can’t wait! What are some of your finds so far?

Emotron: I’ve picked up a lot of records, that’s kind of my forte.  I got Styx, Foreigner, Oingo Boingo, The Cars, Bruce Springsteen, Top Gun Soundtrack, U2’s “The Joshua Tree”, some Alabama, Journey, Ray Stevens, and Tom Petty.  I picked up a bunch of tapes too – Alabama boxed set and a Jeff Foxworthy set I’m putting together.  Grabbed some other toys in addition to the California Raisins, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles water bottle from 1988… we got a lot of toys. Chris used to own a used bookstore in Salisbery, North Carolina where I used to play and his forte is books so we stocked up on Stephen King, autobiographies from Kevin Smith and Willie Nelson, a bunch of Sci-Fi and Star Trek books and shit like that. (Laughs)  We have something for everybody at our thrift store!

IU: Did you just come up with the touring thrift store for this tour?

Emotron: When I first quit my job to go on tour and try to make a living doing this, I was selling a lot of my VHS and cassette tapes along with some of my toys on the road but now it’s become something bigger. Now we go out to dumpsters, scavenge, or whatever and look for things we think people would buy.  We go to thrift stores, yard sales, and flea markets and bargain with people just so we can try and make some profit off of it.  It all goes to a good thing which is keep us on the road.  Not everyone is into buying your CDs or your T-shirts but California Raisins man, they might love to buy one of those!

IU: That’s a really great idea!

Emotron: It’s fun too! People like to talk about it. I mean, what the shit, we had “Growing Pains” trading cards for a while… people were going NUTS for them! I never thought people would go so crazy “Growing Pains” trading cards.  We had an unsolved rubix cube in Chattanooga and there was this dude who came up and solved it in 30 seconds.  It was pretty ridiculous.  You meet all sorts of weird people from running the shittiest thrift store (laughs).

IU: I know you’ll probably have something I’ll flip over.

Emotron: Yeah, man, when we come through Ithaca on the 18th it might be completely different than what we have now even. 

IU: So, regarding your actual music… had the new album seen the light of date yet?

Emotron: No, no it hasn’t.  It’s still in the works unfortunately. There’s been a lot of shit that went wrong with releasing it.  But, it is coming out and it will come out soon.  Slanty Shanty Records kinda went under a little bit and I had to come up with a little more money to pump into it, which took me a while.  But in the end I did it and it was about to hit the presses when then they had an artwork problem. The artwork dude is on tour right now so he can’t get back to his computer that has the files.  The release is slowly happening but it’s happening. 

**UPDATE** - if all goes as planned, Ithaca will be the first date to have the new album available!

Aside from that though there is a completely new show for The Emotron which is unlike the previous Emotron shows. 

IU: Really? What’s the experience like now?

Emotron: It’s more of a performance art piece more than just me all over the place, comedy and campy like it was.  A lot of people have been sitting on the ground and absorbing what’s happening instead of dancing along.  It’s like sitting down and watching a Sci-Fi movie (laughs). 

IU: Is that where all the TVs are coming into play?

Emotron: Yeah, we’ve been carting around seven to ten small, 13” TVs. Chris is actually the video guy who helps me hook them all up.  We use them as backlighting and we have a collection of videos that we pick from. I guess I kinda stole the idea from Man… Or Astroman?  I thought it was a really interesting concept as a new digital effect instead of just having normal lights from above. 

IU: That’s really cool.  It’s going over well then?

Emotron: Yeah, it’s going well so far. A lot of people that I respect in the music industry have very much bowed down to the new show.  Kinda freaks me out a little bit.  These are the same people who I’ve been telling that their music has changed my life and now they’re telling me it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.  I think it’s different.  It’s a lot different than the old Emotron. I like it a lot better and more comfortable for me.  It’s better quality I feel.

IU: How so?

Emotron: Well, I’ve started to focus more on the music. I reprogrammed all my music, even the new songs from “Vampire Lunch Lady Tits”.  I sat down over several days, weeks, and months to carefully reprogram the songs and rethink them.  I’ve started using a vocal processor and programming my vocal settings, reverbs and such, to use with the reprogrammed songs.  I’ve been concentrating on singing and doing different melodies and making the songs sound different every night.  I think a lot of people will be let down in some aspects but I’m gaining a whole new fan base, fans that are a bit older.  Them youngins just want to watch me light my dick on fire (laughs).

 IU: So that’s no longer part of the set?

Emotron: No, I’ve pretty much banned dick fires and “1989” for a while.  I’ve been lighting my dick on fire since 2001 and have been playing 1989 since… I don’t even know when.  Now the show is much more about the music and how it sounds to the listeners and how it looks to the viewers.  I’m focusing more on that than the old Emotron shit n’ piss comedy routine.

IU: Sounds like you’re really stepping it up. I was wondering how long you’d want to keep lighting your dick on fire. 9 years is a long time.

Emotron: Yeah, exactly. I did it but now I’m ready for something new.  That’s what I’m ready to do. 

IU: Looking forward to it. So tell us more about where you are right now.

Emotron: Bubba, you’d love it, we’re playing a flea market tonight so we’re just hanging out here all day. It’s fucking great!  We’re in Roanoke, Virginia which is full of my buddies and a band called Nancy and the Two Meteors.  They have a booth where they sell art and they pretty much run the halls that Bingo is played in, which is a sweet warehouse space where they have shows on Sundays.  I’ve never jammed in a flea market space before; I’m pretty stoked on it. 

IU: Any other unique spaces you’ve hit on this tour?

Emotron: Not particularly but we did stay with a kid’s family in Birmingham, Alabama. It was a Christian-vegetarian sort of family.  He was a senior in high school and his younger brother was in 7th grade and here we are these two really dirty, 30 year-old dudes coming into their house.  It was a really weird but really awesome experience.  It was comfortable but on paper, we couldn’t believe we were in the situation.  The house was really, really nice in a really nice neighborhood.  The dad was your suite & tie office dad and he came out to the show and he was telling us about seeing Led Zepplin in 1969. He crashed a car on the way to the show and got to watch the show with head injuries.  After the set he told us our set was really groovy and told his son not to smoke dope with us (laughs).  Before we left Teddy’s mom told him, “Teddy, don’t forget who you are.” Like we’re really bad, and evil people.  I don’t think we’re that bad. We’re just nomads. 

IU: I’m really surprised that situation worked out for you guys!

Emotron: I’m pretty good when it comes to special situations, especially dealing with families and people who are older. I mean, I like parents, I’m a good house guest.  I’m a very clean person even though The Emotron is not too clean. 

IU: Yeah, I think Mel came down one time and you were cleaning our house.

Emotron: Yeah man, I’ll do some laundry or clean the bathrooms. I’m pretty sure I cleaned up pretty well, did some dishes. I cleaned the counters and the stove top – I know I did that.  I really like scrubbing out refrigerators, I could do that.

Oh hey, did the Cryptorchid Chipmunk troop make it up to Ithaca yet?

IU: Not yet but they’re coming in July!

Emotron: (Background murmer) Everybody around us in the flea market is now making comments about Cryptorchid now (laughs).  The flea market says “What’s up Cryptorchid!” 

IU: We’ll let them know! Have you played with them before?

Emortron: Have I PLAYED with Cryptorchid? Oh man, I’ve had the member’s dicks in my mouth before – we’re bros man.  We go back a long time.  Corey and Chris have tried to have me have a three way with them before but I always thought it’d be kind of uncomfortable.  But yeah, Bubba, I’ve told Chris, the guitar player, that I’m really interested in hearing about the friendship you and them bond. You all are really good people that should meet and hang out.  You guys should go down to Morgantown, West Virginia with them. They have a really sick house that a couple of the band members live in.  They have the most Nintendo games, Segas, Atari, and every video thing imaginable.  They have a lot of cool stuff.  I think they’ll go over very well in Ithaca.

IU: How long have you been going on this tour?

Emotron: It started with Rad Fest on May 14th and today is our 12th show… we’ve been out for two or three weeks now.  We played three shows, then with Mose Giganticus, then in Atlanta.  Chris and I went on a family vacation after Atlanta.  An hour away from the beach house in Jacksonville the brakes went out on our van and I had to crash into a bush to stop the van. The tour was pretty much doomed from there.  It cost $600 just to get the breaks fixed.  Mose let me borrow a lot of money and my parents let me borrow a lot of money so, we’ve been barely scraping by.  Which we’ve been doing the thrift store thing so religiously.  We’re keeping it dirty on the road.  We’ve got a girl from Phily with us who’ve been with us since Florida. We’ve got our own little family on the road here, going to scenic overlooks, stopping in at markets, dumpster diving every night for food. It’s pretty neat. 

IU: Glad you were able to make the best out of that situation!

Emotron: Oh yeah, we’re very thankful for my family and for Mose – thanks to Relapse for keeping The Emotron on the road! We’ve seen some really fucking good bands this time around too.  Nashville we played with a punk band called Frank The Fuck Out.  They were as if Nirvana and Fugazi met up on No Idea records.  They just started up but they really blew us away. In Florida we played with Chicken & Whiskey.  They were really awesome.  Three punk kids – live drummer, two keyboardists with casios, effects through Marshall stacks and all of them sing in that Matt & Kim really sing & dance riot music.  It’s punk party music. 

IU: Nice, I’ll have to check that out. Speaking of punk party keyboard music, we had your friends Math The Band up here in the spring.

Emotron: I’ve been keeping up with them on their tour with MC Chris. They said there’ve been a lot of Juggalos showing up on this tour.  Evidently MC Chris has a maximum of 15 Juggalos come see him.  They said it’s been interesting meeting a lot of really over the top Juggalos. 

IU: Huh, I wouldn’t have paired up MC Chris with ICP…

Emotron: Me neither! I was shocked to learn that. 

IU: We’ll have to ask them about that next time they’re up. They told us about candy cereal when they were up here in March though.

Emotron: Yeah, they really perfected what I started. I started with candy trail mix and they added Red Bull to it.  I’m really sad that I was able to afford candy at one time when I had food stamps but now I’m off, I’m off the sauce. It’s very rare that I get eat candy any more.

IU: That’s terrible! We’ll have to get you some candy when you come up. I love candy, I’m a candy fiend and I love sharing candy. 

Emotron: I’m really into gum too. I chew and swallow a lot of gum. Some people would see that as a problem. But I know my body does not keep gum in it for seven years because I’ve seen it in my shit several times.

IU: (Laughs) anything else we should know before we see you back up in Ithaca?

Emotron: I love Ithaca. I’d rather play Ithaca ten times than play one Brooklyn show.  You guys have a great thing going up there.