An Open Letter To Estradasphere (And Their Fans)
Context From Carl: This was written in 2002, just after I moved to San Francisco. Estradasphere was the first band I saw perform (at a local bar) upon arriving. I was angry (and deep down, envious), so I wrote this.
I went on to record a mockery of their song Hardball, which appeared on my album: How To Sell The Whole F#@!ing Universe To Everybody… Once And For All! The cover version coincidentally amused Trey so much it led to co-releasing it on his Mimicry Records.
Over the years, I’ve met the members of the band, and I’ve realized they were just harmless musicians having fun and sharing a positive experience with an audience — which is something I couldn’t identify with at that point in my life. They weren’t driven by negativity like I was back then. Audiences really enjoyed them! And to be honest it’s not easy to put together and keep a band like that. They were all good musicians and have continued to execute on a high level.
Tim Smolens and I spent an afternoon together in 2003 (?), listening to music and talking. He was a kind and intelligent guy, played me a bunch of Brian Wilson and showed me things on his computer.
So: go and see what Tim Smolens is up to lately.
Also: I can understand why the band members thought Trey Spruance invented Sir Millard Mulch and wrote this silly thing. It’s full of Scummyisms. Embarrassing!
This document was excavated on July 7, 2011.
• • •
Dear Estradasphere and Fans of Estradasphere,
You owe me a very big apology. I have given you three (3) chances to impress me, and you have failed each and every time. Terribly. To the point of actually making me very frustrated and angry! But not without good reason…
I find it utterly disappointing that in an area like this, a band can actually get away with purveying a watered-down and sterile version of Mr. Bungle. “Hey, look! We can play funk, metal, and country while wearing funny costumes! I bet you’ve never heard of THAT before!”
Many people reading this will try and criticize me by saying that I am wrong in my comparison and that I obviously can’t see the difference between Estradasphere and Mr. Bungle — and that is where they are barking up the wrong tree. Whether Estradasphere likes it or not, they are in Mr. Bungle’s shadow; and if their own light can’t shine bright enough, that is where they will stay. They are the ones who decided on accepting the fame from the association; and an Ayn Randist knows that fame is hard to achieve — but once you have it, it is even harder to change the nature of it.
I am not here to prove why they are the same, I am here to prove why they are different. And there is only one primary element that makes the two bands totally different. Wanna know what it is? It’s probably not what you think. I’ll give you a hint – it isn’t the high level of musicianship. It’s not the twisted sense of humor. Both bands share that. Give up?
Mr. Bungle included the element of DANGER in their albums and live shows. They created an imbalance of energy between themselves and the audience. No one knew what to expect in their set — even from night to night their shows were radically different. They tampered with The Unknown. “But aren’t Estradasphere a wild and crazy band? They have a guy who READS on stage!” Come on! All they are saying is, “Look, isn’t that out of place? A guy reading? Ha! Isn’t it SUBVERSIVE?” Looks to me like Estradasphere has come along and gotten a boost from some friends in high places, and then, thinking they could learn from what they consider to be mistakes, improve upon the schtick and cash in from this nice little marketing niche they have going. “I’ll have a Mr. Bungle Jr., with cheese, please!” It’s as if Estradasphere are saying, “We’re just like Mr. Bungle, but we’re the CLEAN version, which everyone can clap along with!” Mr. Bungle For Dummies. “Listen to our band in the meantime while Mr. Bungle are working on their next album!”
I’ll bet you’re waiting for them to kick the bucket – I’m sure you’d be the first ones to form a tribute band. EEK! Estradasphere should be the soundtrack to “Commodify Your Dissent” by Thomas Frank and Matt Weiland. This Estradasphere / Mr. Bungle phenomenon is the most ridiculous thing I have heard of since someone had the lack of self-respect to start a Frank Zappa cover band. I almost forgot, your band gets billed with one of them! Some advice: the best way to pay tribute to someone who went against the grain is to take that inspiration and go against the grain yourself — not to be a copycat and turn them into a shallow meme to be easily digestible and spontaneously consumed along with all the rest. Your band is following the path of least resistance and unwittingly working to destroy the ideals which your forefathers fought to uphold! Take the torch and run with it, you morons, don’t stick it in the ground to mark the grave of your dead heroes! And beyond that, don’t charge admission to the shrine you built around it! The battlefield of the music industry is out there waiting for you, and you’re too busy hopping around in the locker room whipping each other on the behinds with towels.
I can understand that it was only a matter of time, given the endlessly regenerative roster of bands in this world, that a few (or even many) would pop up and seem to be similar to Mr. Bungle. Whether Mr. Bungle is a direct influence or not, how hard is it to come up with the idea of shifting between three or four different styles within one song? Then all you have to do is incorporate lyrics about something seemingly childish and pointless, and you end up with: “Song About My Farts In 7/8.” And don’t forget your lounge version of a Slayer song while you’re at it. When will this end? Can it possibly still be funny? Maybe ten years ago it was, but how is this at all challenging the status quo at this point? The audience expects your every move! B-O-R-I-N-G.
Had Estradasphere not associated themselves with Mr. Bungle, not tried to be funny, and played their many styles of music flawlessly and flown away to Neverneverland on their own pixie dust (example: “we’re a band with a diverse repertoire that plays on the streets and in coffee houses of Santa Cruz”) I could have cared less. But Estradasphere has gone far past the point of deserving my wrath. They have abused something which is dear to me. They have come along and taken all the benefits of associating themselves with Mr. Bungle, but miss the single most important element.
Mr. Bungle put themselves on the line, every night, and with each released album. They took chances. They pushed the envelope. That gave me a lifetime of inspiration. I see no risk-taking whatsoever in the band Estradasphere. I see opportunistic kids, climbing the ladder and giving nothing back to the causes which made all of this possible for them in the first place. It’s similar to when some dumb kid inherits the fortunes amassed by their grandparents’ life of hard work and saving — and then they turn around and blow it on hookers and cocaine within 6 months. It also reminds me of the stunning ability for Christian bands to offer a cleaned up and Godly version of Slayer.
The idea of a band like Estradasphere following in Mr. Bungle’s footsteps, going so far as to cater to the same audience, is simply not honorable; this trick has been done to death. How is it not obvious to everyone? No one should be surprised when Estradasphere has a funny character dressed as Bondage Santa Claus come onto the stage during a Samba and shit marbles into a goldfish bowl. Wanna know why? Let me explain it to you in case you don’t understand.
One word: FAME.
It all started like this: Mike Patton was a POP STAR in the early 90’s. That’s right. Just like Christina Aguilera. The band he hesitantly joined, Faith No more, was all over MTV. This gave him a lot of social leverage which most bands are not afforded, and he was able to take that fame and experiment with it. The art-fag metal head kids across the world who were turned onto Mr. Bungle’s “funny music” through Patton idolized and worshipped him. The girls wanted to be WITH him so the guys wanted to BE him. There he was, on stage, symbolizing everything for these kids. You can tell what Faith No More album came out around what time by looking at the hairstyles in pictures of the fans (The Real Thing – long hair, shaved underneath, pony tails…Angel Dust – short hair, goatee, wallet chain, mechanic’s shirt). Granted, the kids were pretty sheltered in the first place and didn’t have much experience with listening to a large variety of music or experiencing other cultures. They definitely needed a hero. Patton was a good choice. In Mr. Bungle’s music, the fans could handle and even appreciate the occasional and unexpected cover song, the droning of feedback in moderation, and some funny masks and costumes. But they at least got the joke. Score!
Fast forward several years. What they didn’t expect is how deep into the world of 20th Century music Mr. Bungle was about to submerse (no pun intended) themselves by recording and touring with the music of Disco Volante. The kids who were into the first album were looking to be able to fully get the joke this time around, and they brought their musician friends to watch who stood in the back with their arms crossed and wondered why the drum sound wasn’t as crisp and tight. “What’s with this fat dude hitting the timpani? Ah, I guess I get it.” They had listened to Disco Volante enough times to realize there were actually song structures, and could hum along and know when the funny sound effects would happen. Great! During this, the silliness started to fade and Mr. Bungle began to get seriously into orchestration — while at the same time indulging in unbearably long noise jams and bizarre interruptions. There were so many buttons to press and cables to plug in that it got ridiculous to have to wear the stupid masks; but they still managed to confuse the audience and make them really wonder what Mr. Bungle’s motives were, without the surface level of silliness and without pandering to the childish, masturbation-obsessed sense of humor that they surrounded themselves with up until that point. At times they probably covered up for equipment difficulties by making it part of the show. It only added to the tension and confusion. Many of the kids in the audience, having lived in the middle of nowhere their whole lives, thought Mr. Bungle were doing something musically amazing — what they didn’t realize was that they could probably find more talented musicians in their home town at the symphony or jazz bar. That is not an insult directed at Mr. Bungle, it is a fact; there are hundreds of years of Western music history to back that up. Perhaps thousands in Eastern music history; research it yourself if you want to know. I don’t remember.
You will see that in the grand design of the universe Mr. Bungle is a pop music phenomenon — their existence depends on the world of marketing their products to pop culture (a shallow world of people without much motivation or ability to grasp complex ideas). Basically, if some guy down the street stands on stage and lets his microphone feedback into the monitors, it’s not that amazing, and will just be annoying. If a big pop star does it, say, Michael Jackson… now you’ve got something shocking! And if all you are fed is a steady diet of Britney Spears and Limp Bizkit, YES, Mr. Bungle’s music is amazing and groundbreaking. But that is a narrow point of view, and you are walking around with blinders on to an entire universe of music, more than you can listen to in a lifetime, and then you go around complaining that there’s “No more good music these days!” Bullshit. Write your own original music. Or if you are still not satisfied, look elsewhere, look to other cultures, keep your eyes open, don’t limit yourselves to looking to MTV or VH1 or the Radio for the answers — wouldn’t that be the same thing you damn your enemies, “the mindless sheep,” for doing? The least you can do is take a music appreciation class or go to the library if you want to start to get ahead of the game. Looks like Estradasphere did, but didn’t bother to add their own chapter to the book.
Mr. Bungle’s strength came from the fact that they were in a prominent position on the battlefield of the mainstream and could wield the power of Mike Patton’s fame and the clout of Warner Brothers (as little as WB actively did for them) and harness it for their own agenda, turning it back against itself. However, they were allowed to chase the rabbit but not to catch it. Eventually they seemed to drop most of the “bullshit superimposed on top of it” and focused on the music. The shock had gone away by the time they released and toured for the album, California. Their shows on that tour wound up being a well-oiled machine, a compromise between creation and destruction. People just wanted to consume their product in a direct way; they were starving for it. Well, they got it, served on a ritzy, expensive plate! The ultimate reversal for Mr. Bungle, in some ways. In other ways, not at all. I think it’s safe to say that if California had been released in 1991 no one would have cared. Think back to what YOU would have thought about Pink Cigarette if you hadn’t first been exposed to My Ass Is On Fire. You’ve been duped! Here’s a group of wise-asses, tricking you into listening to stuff like obscure film soundtracks. And it worked, didn’t it? As a similar example, what would the general punk-purchasing public think of Green Day if their first single on MTV was Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) instead of Longview? I’ll tell you: “What is this folky acoustic crap? Sounds like some gay song they’d play during the credits on a sitcom!” [Ironic!]
Music fans, from the lowest ignoramus to the most self-righteously elite, will buy ANYTHING if you put the right spin on it. Mark my words.
Talented as they may be, do you realize how hard it would have been for Mr. Bungle to accomplish what they have without Mike Patton’s initial crucification by MTV and Faith No More, or some similar act of God? And here you idiots are, damning MTV and the rest of the music industry — when it was the thing which was responsible for turning 99% of you onto all of this. It bankrolled the whole thing! That is not to say that Mr. Bungle couldn’t have existed in some shape or form without it (as they did for many years previous), but it no doubt contributed to their current existence (or lack of existence) in an integral way. I’d be willing to bet that I would have never heard of them. Would you have? Word just doesn’t travel all the way to B.F.E. without massive distributive power — that’s one of the advantages of being on Warner Brothers, as Mr. Bungle have said in the past. And I seriously doubt that if the members of Mr. Bungle stopped doing anything this very minute that they would be remembered for very much in the future of music history. As if Tomahawk is going to stand up against Prokofiev in the eyes of someone in search of brilliance! Ha! Despite the intricacies of their symbolism and depth of the references in their music and lyrics, Mr. Bungle can be seen as a performance art joke by comparison to the rest of music history — and Estradasphere as an embarrassingly weak tinkle down their pant leg. Even seemingly great bands like Mr. Bungle are an intermittently lit match in the profound darkness you surround yourself in, to paraphrase Endre Toth.
While the collected basket of fruit comprising Mr. Bungle’s VERY JUICY efforts thus far are not really all they are praised for musically, I still give them the highest amount of respect and credit possible for their revolutionary spirit while they splattered themselves on the minds of these sheltered and unsuspecting kids. It would have been easy to continue to churn out “Girls of Porn” for the rest of eternity and just go with the flow, pleasing the audience and quenching their adolescent thirst for songs about private parts. They had their lips around the teet. They could have really milked it. But they didn’t do that, did they? I wonder why?!
As an honest artist with that kind of power handed to you, you are presented with the Kaczynski-esque choice to either pick up your weapons and fight in the established business realm you are thrust into to exert your influence, or get sickened by the idea and move out into a log cabin in a cornfield and conquer the art of music in a pure and direct way. Some go insane, some keep their heads straight and strictly do one or the other, some do a little of both, some just stand there and watch the world get consumed by The Nothing. Which one is Mr. Bungle? Which one are you?
I am not regurgitating the cliche that commercial pop music is evil; far from it. I am more apt to listen to something like Foo Fighters or Faith Hill on any given day than I am to go digging through old dusty Middle-Eastern Surf Rock records. Everything has it’s place in the balance of things, and everyone has their own path to carve out. As a result, there are going to be enemies on your path. I am here to blow your cover and let everyone know what Estradasphere is really about. When it comes down to it, can you really stand firmly behind your image as subversive artists? Or is it false advertising; a living, breathing embodiment of Retrovertigo? I challenge you to answer and reveal the nature of your path.
Look guys, you can only pull the same stunt so many times before it loses it’s affect; at that point you are preaching to the converted. As Spock said in Star Trek VI, “Is it possible that we two, you and I, have grown so old and inflexible that we have outlived our usefulness?” What I see is akin to an impotent effort to hold a protest during which the system you are protesting makes necessary accommodations for you in an attempt to let you purge your frustrations and knows that you will fall right back into the system as soon as it’s over. What gets accomplished? Are you even willing to try to beat them? The secret: you will have to use the element of surprise, most likely on a DIFFERENT battlefield! God forbid you should have to take your mouths off the teet long enough to affect some change. Think about it: you could steal the cow, cut its intestines out, string them on a tortoise shell, and sell your creation to the gods in return for immortality! Imagine what your fans would think of you then, and how many more fans you would have in the end!
Do you think that Mr. Bungle, if they release another album, are going to come right out and blatantly be caricatures of their past selves — or for that matter, the cheap masks that they have both physically and metaphorically worn? Of course not, that’s what we have Estradasphere for! What honest fan, in their right mind, could stand to attend Mr. Bungle’s shows or buy their records if they weren’t forced into the refreshing atmosphere of trickery and manipulation (for the sake of opening minds) that Danny Heifetz & Co. have provided for them? The day that they stop reinventing themselves and monkeywrenching the minds of their gullible fans AND the music industry is the day that they will be OVER. Perhaps that day has already come. We shall see. I certainly hope not.
Because of your aforementioned social associations, and my insatiable thirst to be amazed, I put my own peace of mind on the line to reach out and give you multiple chances to actually play something good and / or entertain me, but all I see are a bunch of genetically-superior Alpha-Beta’s (I noticed the skin-tone and muscular & skeletal structures immediately – you guys aren’t fooling anyone) ripping off every imaginable musical style and genre known to mankind as if it could possibly still be funny.
Do you realize that in doing so, you are just leaving a huge void? You are contributing nothing! You’re just keeping kids dancing and the bar selling beer! As your favorite guy, Frank Zappa said, “Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.” Have you ever considered what happens when your revolutionary heroes became “The Norm?” Well, now they HAVE! You are perpetuating the stagnation — how’s that for a paradox? I expect to see you making some progress! That is our job, as artists; as musicians! If you are not up for this, look forward to a boring life in some other line of work, perhaps shuffling papers around. When your aging minds finally get disillusioned and foster a deep contempt for your audiences for falling for the oldest trick in the book (pretending you are having fun and doing that chicken-neck thing), maybe you’ll realize but by then it will be TOO LATE. If you’re gonna go that route, go all the way! Why waste your time — move to L.A. and become session musicians now, while you still have your youth to pull you through it! It pays much better! Maybe Vanessa Carlton will hire you — I saw her show here in San Francisco recently and it blew me away. Either way, shit or get off the pot! Enough of this half-assed parade around the rim of the porcelain — it’s starting to stink.
If you are trying to be like Bungle, have you ever considered doing anything authentic or putting your heart into the presentation of your band, or is it all a big joke to you? Perhaps nesting some deeper meaning in your craft, instead of just jacking off a lot of pop culture references into people’s ears? The music you play is just a bunch of bad stereotypical jokes told over and over — somewhere between “Why did the chicken cross the road?” and a horrible Adam Sandler album with corny rhymes (“I went down to the store…I hope that you are not a…WHORE!” [applause]), played on repeat throughout eternity. Anyone who wants to hear it is either really dumb or too lazy to just flip through random radio stations (because that is all Estradasphere really sounds like.) The fact that an array of thousands of styles comes from one band is not even noteworthy at this point. Don’t be the guy who sells every kind of sandwich – be the guy who INVENTED sandwiches — or at least don’t lead people to think you are something you are not. Perhaps you have some side projects which are more worthwhile…
The argument could be made that you are really just dudes playing lots of complicated music in all different styles and spreading the positive vibes, but I know better than that. Confess! Yes, Estradasphere has very good musicians – but not even as good as the ones in The Charlie Daniels Band. I don’t see any of you people talking about CDB’s drummer, Pat McDonald, on the Mr. Bungle message boards – why not? He could sight-read Estradasphere’s entire repertoire in his sleep and still improve upon it. Believe me, I know the guy. While Charlie Daniels travels around with some of the best musicians on the planet in his band, you people dare to consider Fantomas a band of virtuosos! The game is rigged: You don’t have to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun your buddy!
In this world of deconstructionist irony that you people exist in, you continually trick yourselves into thinking that if it’s consumed by the masses, it must suck. You then wait until it’s not popular anymore so you can create some goofy parody of it, and at the end of the process, you come to love it. Wow! You’re continually in search of what the next big mind-blowing thing is — and convincing yourselves that you’re going to find it under a rock in some foreign country or in a horrible punk rock band. Beauty can often be found right in front of you in the most obvious of places; don’t tell me you think that the simplest explanation cannot possibly be truth. If so, that is where you fall short. This why so called “meaningless music on the radio” wins in the realm of commerce. If people are in the mood, they’ll look for food. If the food looks and smells good, they will take a bite of it. If it tastes good, they’ll swallow it. If it doesn’t make them sick, they’ll continue the cycle. Ka-ching! Read a book by Jay Conrad Levinson someday — if you know what’s good for you. “Hey, it’s self-replicating! This stuff really DOES work!”
Is Estradasphere a plain and simple smorgasbord, or is it an exotic, acquired taste like Mr. Bungle? I, as a disappointed customer, must do my duty as a capitalist and protest against your establishment. Potential patrons beware! While the food on Estradasphere’s prominently-advertised smorgasbord was of the utmost quality, they are attracting people who are expecting a gourmet chef! It is on this level that you are employing deception for immoral purposes; you appear to be false prophets — using your position of power to snowball your own self-exaltation. I am the lighting that is striking your Tower. You should have stuck to your original (unoriginal) tagline, “Music For All Occasions.” I would have been more merciful.
Notice I am not attacking Deadweight or Sleepytime Gorilla Museum — two bands from The San Francisco Bay Area. Both of these bands are exactly what they are portrayed as being. They shine from their own light; the light coming from within; from their own creative forces. If that is the route they choose to take, and admit to it, I respect them for that. Whether you chose to be in the middle of this or not — this horrible, omnipresent, looming horde of ghosts that chant, “You’re Nothing But Mr. Bungle Clones!” — it is now your own responsibility to turn them away, in the same way that Mr. Bungle had to deal with the ghosts screaming, “Play The Flapping Fish Song!” I commend you if you can beat this, because I don’t know how to. I can only warn you that the ghosts are multiplying in numbers the further you descend into the dungeon. What will you do?
I, like most people, go to a day job to make money. There is nothing wrong with that…don’t be ashamed. If this is what Estradasphere is for you, then say it. But are you storing away the rewards you receive in your secret laboratory where you will one day build a machine capable of giving some of that energy back to the world? Or will you spend it on Sport Utility Vehicles? Your audience deserves to know! I know where I stand on this issue and will defend my position; will you do the same?
Until that is clear, I have to say that even Celine Dion has purer intentions than Estradasphere does, from what little I know of her. She’s part of the pop music establishment and at least admits to it. A superficial veil of diversity, creativity, and individuality is not something you could accuse her of wearing proudly and profiting from.
In contrast, I have paid admission to two of your shows (luckily, I left before you went on stage at one of them — or else I would have had to witness your lies in addition to losing money…better to cut my losses) and have listened to a number of your mp3’s with the hopes of being humbled by a band that carries the torch in Mr. Bungle’s absence, and still feel cheated. How many others have felt the same way? Imagine how many opportunities you are passing up here, with this racket you are making. The best you can give someone looking for something new is the same thing we are bombarded with 24-7 from every other direction? You’re like mocking birds!
On top of that, your stage costumes and inherent symbolic proclamation, “Aren’t We Wacky!?” are just not going to work, any more than it works for Weird Al. Sure, he’s an influence on all of us and he’s probably a millionaire, but how much depth is really there anymore? Anyone beyond 9th grade is going to develop beyond that point and crave something deeper. What I am saying is that you’re going to have to do better than wearing two different colored socks to prove yourselves. I actually feel sorry for you when I look at the pictures of your band on your website. Randomness gets old quick — I think it’s time for you guys to try something with some substance.
Luckily for you, I am ready to propose a new and even more suitable establishment to replace the old one I am tearing down. Consider it the next phase of Estradasphere’s existence, where they grow up and support the Forces of Good. You may find this letter destructive, but destruction is necessary in the creation of something new! Read the meaning of the Death Tarot Card if you don’t believe me.
Your band has amazing, top-notch skills as musicians (I wouldn’t dare attempt a duel against your guitarist!), but you’re obviously a band without a truly visionary leader. What a waste of talent! I think what you really need is someone who can guide you on a path to artistic success. A Prime Mover who has the courage to put his foot down and proclaim that “It Shall Be Thus So.” Someone with a knack for manipulation of the elements. Someone to help shape your destinies into something more than playing in a typical cover band — which is all you are right now. Imagine what it would be like to really make a difference!
I would be willing to allow you to repay your debt to the world of music history (and your own souls) by letting you exclusively perform my original compositions from this point forward (under my name, Sir Millard Mulch), as I see fit — and believe me, I’ll fire and replace any and all of you on a whim once my career is established. I am in this strictly to prime the pump of fame, which will result in a tidal wave of financial income; in a sense, to tap into an abundantly flowing river of resources to cultivate my suburban horticultural paradise. So don’t hope for any chance of further fraternization or claims to glory. That isn’t what this is about. It’s really about me, not you; nobody cares who the second violinist was in the premier performance of Rite of Spring. I will accept that your careers and repertoire thus far have been merely a resume to showcase your ability to accurately perform pre-existing material. This may come at a perfect time for both of us, since you have no originality and I have no band. Call it serendipity, if you like.
I have 3 CD’s of existing material that have already been released on my own label, and another 3 CD’s coming out in a few months as a concept album (222 minutes of music contained in this one). I can assist you in learning the music and will act as rehearsal manager and conductor (as it is very complex), and I can once again offer you the same patience I showed you in previous circumstances to prove yourselves worthy. I am a forgiving man, so long as I see some honest, hard work put in. I can’t promise you any initial monetary compensation, but you could at least get to play some music of tremendous social worth for a change.
The choice is yours. Either crash your aimless ship into the rocks, or help me to build a beacon of light for those other poor souls lost in the storms at sea.
It’s not too late,
-Sir Millard Mulch
The following are misguided responses to my recent Open Letter to Estradasphere (And Their Fans). I tidied them up, as they were often scattered at random among profanity and poor grammar.
1.) So if Estradasphere made you mad and manipulated you, does that make them the winners in this case?
This kind of reaction is EXACTLY my point. Once again, you are giving them credit where they deserve none. These kids are not as smart as you think! You are yet ANOTHER person who thinks that because Estradasphere are associated with Mr. Bungle, they must be on the same wavelength. They never intended to irritate me — and if they had, they’d still be in the wrong. Why? They wouldn’t have offered up any kind of substance to justify their facade of shallowness (!)
2.) If you don’t like Estradasphere then don’t listen to them! Some people don’t like mustard, but that doesn’t mean you need to write 5 pages complaining about it!
Does the idea of buying a jar of the finest, expensive, Kozliks Canadian Mustard, taking it home, and realizing it is just Kraft disturb you? Do you see anything wrong with that? There IS such a thing as morals involved in the music business, you know. I really don’t see how the phenomenon of “If you like Mr. Bungle, you’ll like Estradasphere” translates equally into, “If you like Kozliks Canadian Mustard, you will like Kraft.” This is just plain old WRONG!
3.) Your letter is way too long, why do you type so much?
Some of the people on this planet type a lot with the expectation that other people will read a lot. This just reinforces my point that pop culture marketing is based on the idea that people are too lazy to attempt to consume anything that can’t be swallowed after one bite or shot straight into the bloodstream of their consciousness with an epistemological syringe. Even among the so-called intelligent people like Mr. Bungle fans, it appears to be a strong case! They’ve got you, and you don’t even realize it! And if you think I type a lot, you should see how much typing is done by the authors of the books that inspire Mr. Bungle to make their music. You have no idea how much you are proving my point by your complaint. Am I wrong, or was complexity what attracted you to bands like Estradasphere and Mr. Bungle in the first place? Go ahead, explain. 4.) When you talk about Mr. Bungle, you seem to assume that they can’t be enjoyed simply as good music. Why does music have to be a prank to be good?
I wish this were the case more often. Mr. Bungle can be interpreted on many levels. But because of their first album, numerous demo tapes, and their legendary stage antics from back in the day, their primary audience seems to be people who are fascinated with their own genitalia. Do you consider that to be an act of, “Just listening to the good music?” Maybe the fans need to get over their sexual perversions through some form of self-discovery or therapy. It looks to me like Mr. Bungle did, for the most part! Maybe then they will realize that Mr. Bungle’s music DOES have an abundance of depth to it. There really is a tree hidden behind all those ornaments. 5.) Why are you attacking Estradasphere, they sure as hell are a lot better than most of the bands out there!
I agree with you, and that is exactly why I am attacking them. If they’re going to catch the ball, they’d better run with it… or pass it to someone who can. We’re losing the Superbowl!
6.) It’s just music, man! Cool your jets.
Yeah, it’s only music. I condemn you to a thousand years of listening to Pink for saying that. What am I thinking — if that’s how unimportant music is to you, then you’ve already condemned yourself! Or I should have said, “It’s just writing, man! Cool your jets!”
7.) At least Estradasphere are playing live — who the hell are you to talk shit about them? They’ve got a band, and you don’t! Loser! What are YOU doing that is so subversive?
Scary to think that someone could actually see Estradasphere as the “establishment”, isn’t it? You should try living in Venice, Florida — a retirement town — for a while. It’ll really polarize your senses — you’ll be able to tell instantly what is real artistic power and what is just a fizzled puff of smoke. Where I come from, Estradasphere would get NOWHERE.
8.) Come play some shows in California. I dare you. You wouldn’t sell one ticket! Writing a letter to a band is one thing. Once you involve the fans, you’ve declared war. So come on over and realize how pathetic you really are!
Wow, you couldn’t have proven my point any better. Thanks for reminding me! I had forgotten that ticket sales are indicative of a musician’s merit. That sure explains why Andrew W.K. is so talented! Funny how much rotten fruit falls out of Estradasphere’s tree when you shake it. Hey Estradasphere, can you explain how your band attracted someone this stupid? Apparently they like Estradasphere because of their ticket sales? I rest my case.
9.) How can you actually say that Mr. Bungle’s music is better than Estradasphere’s? This is unfair to judge music that way. If someone enjoys music, then that is a beautiful thing; how can you justify trying to threaten that?
I will offer two answers to this. My first answer is that on a personal level, I find that Mr. Bungle’s music is much more rewarding to listen to — each time I listen to it, I can hear something I didn’t hear the previous time. It’s been what, 6 years, and I am still decoding Disco Volante! With Estradasphere, I simply hear styles of music randomly pasted together. They jump from one to the other, playing them each like experts. What’s underneath it, unifying it? Is there anything? I don’t hear it. For me there is not much. That is my personal taste.
This is my second answer: that was not the point of my letter. I am not attacking Estradasphere on a purely musical level. I think Estradasphere does a great job of playing their music, and I think that I might even tend towards saying that Estradasphere has, on average, better musicians than Mr. Bungle does, in the technical realm of performance. I can’t quite pinpoint who is responsible for this, but Estradasphere’s performances on their records seems to have a level of execution that Mr. Bungle doesn’t achieve for some reason. So… kudos to them for that.
What I do have a problem with is the presentation of Estradasphere’s music in the realm of PUBLICITY AND PROMOTION. It’s a disaster waiting to happen! It’s flimsily held together by the vague notion that they are “experimental” or “outside of the mainstream” and cater to people who want something “new and challenging”, in the absence of Mr. Bungle. This has got to come to a resolution.
10.) I am going to kill you / beat you up / burn your house down for what you said!
I am sure the peace-loving and positive energy-emitting members of Estradasphere would approve of violence as their only defense against someone who wields the power of the pen (wait, I don’t see a pen, I see a bunch of keys!) to critique them. All I am doing is simply turning up the volume of the public opinion that is already out there. Are the members of Estradasphere willing to ride the wave of publicity that they have created for themselves to its logical consequences? I am not being fooled by their games, and know many other people who aren’t but are too scared to speak up.
11.) How dare you say that Mr. Bungle and Estradasphere are the same! They are different!
I’m not the one who said they are the same! The amoeba which is their publicity and promotion efforts have said it loud and clear, whether they like it or not! Once again, I say this is their responsibility to dispel this illusion. I am particular amused at how their own webmaster tries to cover all this up by saying, “I had no idea so many people make a connection between Estradaphere & The Warner Brothers recording artist, Mr. Bungle.” Nice try. Perhaps it’s because a member of Mr. Bungle is their producer, releases their albums on his record label, and hires some of them to play in his other bands. Hmmm. Let me think about that one and see if I can figure it out.
12.) You are just jealous of Estradasphere! You want to be signed on Web of Mimicry!
See what I mean? What is this crap about jealousy and Web of Mimicry? What you are insinuating (against both me AND Estradasphere) is that I wish I could have climbed to power along the same path that they have! It wasn’t me who signed to the label. I am not the one who wielded the double-edged sword. This path they have taken is leading in a horrible direction. It’s a wild animal running loose in the subconscious of their core audience. How will they chase it out? I’m just the messenger here! I’d have nothing to gain by signing to Web of Mimicry. This “Fame Magic” that these gods have around them can easily be harnessed and redirected, at the expense of it burning your hands (if not your soul). My job is to reveal the mechanism that is at work here. Not to become a band that can play every style of music. If I wanted to benefit myself in a safe way I would have approached them and asked nicely if they’d want to play in my band, or if I could open for them sometime. And releasing my albums on Web of Mimicry (as if I have a choice in the matter) would just end up tricking Mr. Bungle fans into listening to my music, while I know the truth – they would have never listened and they could care less if I released it myself. Where’s the fun in that? I could have bent myself over, compromised the quality of my music, and shameless taken advantage of the opportunities presented to me YEARS AGO — but that is not my intention, and everyone who knows me well knows that I continually shoot myself in the foot every single day, almost as a principle. What do you think I am doing by badmouthing one of the best bands in the area? Do you consider this to be crafty networking in the local scene for my own benefit? I will possibly lose countless opportunities and friends for this and be looked upon as a major asshole! As if I expect people to buy my CD’s because I am a jerk to them! Does that make any sense to you? The last time I was being considered for a record contract, I sent the president of the label all my bills and told him to pay them. Do you think that went over well? That’s right around the time that I asked Ipecac if they wanted to get into a bidding war over my new album. Would Estradasphere have the courage to do the same? Do you THINK they would? Is reality being accurately represented?
13.) Why do you waste your time writing all this junk instead of focusing on music?
Making a triple-CD concept album takes a lot of research.
14.) Why do you accuse Estradasphere of riding the gravy train to success by trying to sell their music to Mr. Bungle fans? They are all probably broke!
Money along the way is not what drives you, from the artist’s business point of view in this wonderful Music Industry, at least during the early years of the game. On the business end, it’s all fame, reputation, following, notoriety, a buzz. The thing that will propel you, more than a steady paycheck, is having your name out there to reach its audience. If you can afford to pay all your money to a record label to get your name out there, and have it stay out there long after your contract expires, and pay off the massive debt you have accumulated, and have enough money set aside for rehab, you have won. Even Warrant continue to tour small clubs and play great shows to their diehard fans. Even someone like Eric Burdon can continue to tour constantly and make shit loads of money. Why? Because he has a legendary name. Never heard of him? Ask your parents about him. Yep, he’s still kickin’ it, and livin’ large, yo. Coming to a State Fair near you! I wish I could actually go on the record and quote actual monetary figures from people I know who are “rock stars”, but I won’t stoop that low. All the gravity on this particular level is in fame, reputation, following, notoriety, a buzz, OR PROPAGANDA…whatever you want to call it. Everything else above the primary necessity for talent comes from that. That’s what glues your career together. Without it, you’re playing to new people every night and having to convince them you’re good by only what they see at that one show. And how are you going to get a club to book you without some major associations or political clout behind you? Walk up with your accordion and start jamming to impress the club owner? What do you think the Estradasphere Message Board is? How about their Mailing List? If they changed their name and played unannounced in a bar in Pitts, GA (I don’t think Pitts, GA even has a bar, actually) who the hell would be there, cheering them on when they dance around dressed up like Korn? How many times do I have to say this? Estradasphere knows this (I hope). That is not to say they are obsessed with fame and don’t care about the music. That would be a ridiculous claim, since there is no way to develop to where Estradasphere is without some seriously honest, hard work. But that is why they are able to hold it together so far. “Damn, you mean we get to tour and play music that we love? Screw the money — where do I sign up?” The question that burns within the minds of musicians that are “on-the-fence” like Estradasphere is, “Should we sell out?” It is true, musicians are often completely bent over backwards financially, even when they are all over the charts and selling albums like crazy. So it’s a tough call. A gamble. Some say there is no way around it (in fighting the dragon, we become the dragon!). It’s really not an easy road. Read this: http://www.danah.org/Ani/Dilate/JoyfulGirl.html. I ask again, which path will Estradasphere take? Are they going to reach a point of self-sufficient strength by word of mouth, just for being ridiculously talented musicians? Let’s get it out in the open. Let’s find out what “selling out” really means, and if we want to or even need to do it. This flakiness is exactly the kind of evidence that shows that they (and you, the fans) are not in control of this nonsensical game, as much as they should be. Get on top of it! Can Estradasphere (and their fans) take the abuse that the rest of the world is willing to dish out to them, upon their entrance to the big leagues? Do you really want Estradasphere to be processed through the machine, and end up with loudmouths like me attacking from every side for seemingly ridiculous and baseless reasons? Do they want hundreds of people crowding around them every single night and asking all the wrong questions, endlessly? Does Estradasphere want to be responsible for the creation of all this opposition and misinterpretation? Can they stand their ground firmly while madmen attempt to tear down their little lemonade stand? I would like to know — because if they are going to learn from this and progress onto the next stage of their careers, they had better figure out a solution. This is All-Natural, just how they like it.
15.) Are you trying to make Estradasphere break up? Why do you want to destroy them?
I want them to figure out and admit to which path they really want to go down; to stop their false advertising! The fact that they have already re-arranged their mp3 samples page because of my attack sure says something, doesn’t it? How firm were their convictions? All it took was one guy to complain…
16.) Who are you kidding, you are not leading anyone to anything. You are so full of yourself, you egomaniac! You act like you are some kind of great prophet!
That’s odd you should say that, I seem to have had quite an effect in the first 24 hours of my attack. Don’t worry, I am just getting started. Estradasphere are what, 5 or 6 guys with a following and a record label? You’d think they could come up with something substantial to defend themselves against this so-called “whiny little bitch.” Estradasphere has left themselves open to the attack!
17.) Why did you ask Estradasphere to be in your band, you idiot? As if they are going to do that!
Why WOULDN’T they want to be in my band? I admit, they’d probably do a poor job of conveying my music, like all musicians do. It was worth a try, but probably a bad idea in the long run. At this point I have pretty much given up the idea of forming a band. Unless I could come up with some funny “schtick” to justify people playing my music…maybe if I wore a KFC bucket on my head. Shhhhh!
18.) Your music sucks and all you are trying to do is promote yourself while making a big commotion at the expense of another band! What a shameless plug.
What the hell do you call this, then? http://www.estradasphere.com/pictures/new/backstreet/backstreet2.jpg. Whether you are creating your own ridiculous bunny suit to hop around in, or borrowing someone else’s, it’s all just trying to get people to pay attention to your damn music, which has absolutely nothing to do with the bunny suit in the first place. Isn’t that what Estradasphere wants? My point is this: how can you jump around in a bunny suit, and then expect people to not remember it? Name for me an instance where music can exist on its own and reach a wide audience without the help of some external force acting upon it other than its own beauty. The more make-up the woman wears, the uglier she probably is.
19.) This is all just a big joke. Either that, or you are totally insane!
Or maybe I am just really disappointed with Estradasphere and feel I should speak up about it! Did you ever consider that possibility? I thought I was pretty straight forward the first time around. Try reading my letter again.
20.) I hope that knucklehead comes to California to play. I haven’t ruined someone’s show since my punk rock days.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but it’s pretty hard to make one of my shows any worse than it already is. In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been boo’ed off stage by crowds numbering in the thousands. Every chance I get, I ruin MY OWN show. You fool! The only thing you’d be doing is helping me along. You’re STILL missing the point. These are your glorious fans — do you hear me, Estradasphere?
21.) I can’t believe anyone is even listening to this guy, he is so full of shit. You actually read his whole letter?
The fact that people are so interested in reading my proclamations only supports my position. Had Estradasphere written something this interesting and already covered all these issues, they wouldn’t need me here. You people wouldn’t be so upset if you didn’t feel some sense of truth in my writing. I am obviously touching on some very sore subjects! Maybe this will also signal to the band and their management that they should have some essays on their site. It really draws a crowd! First one’s free…
22.) I am going to fuck you up the ass you gay ass fag, come and suck my dick!
You know, Estradasphere, if you want roses, you need to cut the weeds. How can you stand to have fans like this? Sir Millard Mulch would certainly not tolerate it. What you need is some Idiot Repellent. You can borrow some of mine. Unfortunately, you’ll have to suffer the loss of 75% of your fans. It’s for your own good!
23.) Estradasphere sucks. No musical ability at all, boring songs, total lack of creativity. What they need is a drum machine or something… maybe a sequencer. Then they might get good.
You’re wrong. They’d still be in the same boat. A sequencer is a musical instrument like any other. Technology is just an extension of the person using it. Superior tools will not result in superior craftsmanship. True, if you want a silk purse, start with silk; but that doesn’t mean it’s going to look anything like a purse when you’re done with it if you don’t know what you’re doing. In this case, Estradasphere would certainly know what they are doing, and the musical result would sound exactly like their band does now, but played by a machine. I’d say that would be a waste of good technology. Oh, and when you find a band that can play my songs as good my sequencer can, let me know!
With all of this being said, I want to know why only two people so far out of the hundreds (I have been counting them) have actually understood the meaning of my War on Estradasphere! Are there only two people within the ranks of this weakly-constructed army of Estradasphere’s Fandom who can even comprehend these concepts? Those few who DO understand have already received the special prize I offer — it’s inherent in the message! Is there not a 3rd person out there who can actually stand up and defend Estradasphere against what many of you consider to be a fool? You can all sit back and call me names and threaten me, but no one has challenged me as an equal! This why you all have the nagging feeling that I am onto something! Duh! THIS is why the “shitty bands on the radio” will continue to prevail! You wonder why great bands are few and far between? You want to know why “the scene is dead”? It’s because the few bands out there with any potential can’t stand their own ground and declare their own principles, much less follow them! Maybe reading some Ayn Rand books would help you.
I thought there was more to it than this cheap cardboard cut-out of a musical movement. Pitiful.
-Sir Millard Mulch