Columns | JONNY BIPOLAR: 3 of the Strangest Bands I Listen to... And You Should Too!

by Jonny Bipolar


Punk. Metal. Country. Psychedelia. Noise. Electronica.

They all meet in a hole-in-a-wall bar in the middle of nowhere. They shit talk the bartender, smack the waitresses' asses, drink Jack and Cokes all night, probably doing various drugs. The cops get called and they end up in a holding cell overnight.

That is The Butthole Surfers.

The first time I ever heard of them was on the program 120 Minutes, and the song was "Who Was In My Room Last Night?" (From the album Independent Worm Saloon). It was a blistering mess of heavy metal and punk rock (well, what I knew of punk rock in 1993). My friend had a few cassettes of them (yes, I'm 34 and know the joys of cassette tapes), and I was hooked.

Weird samples, noise collages, tape loops, two drummers, breaking the traditional sound structure. I was locked in and a fan since. They were bizarre, but once you thought you had them figured out, they threw you another curve ball.

Many people only know of them from the 1996 hit "Pepper", but they were much more than that. This Texan band was a crazy cacophony of chaotic sound and worth really checking out.

Recommended albums:
Independent Worm Saloon (1993, Capitol Records) | Locust Abortion Technician (1987, Touch & Go)

Extended listening:
"The Hurdy Gurdy Man" | "Dust Devil" | "Goofy's Concern" | "I Saw an X-Ray of a Girl Passing Gas"


What, punk rock doesn't have to consist only of guitar? It seemed like a crazy concept when I first heard of this band in 1998, but this band not only turned a form of music on its heels, it shattered preconceived notions of what was still left uncovered.

"They were a band that sounded the way you always wanted The Prodigy to sound," is what one NME writer said. Instead of four chords and snotty lyrics, ATR came crashing through with synthesizers, computers, samplers, and other electronic delights and ushered in some of the most pissed off and politics lyrics I'd ever heard, with a sonic backdrop like a mosh pit-fueled crime scene.

Song like "No Remorse (I Wanna Die)", "By Any Means Necessary", "Destroy 2000 Years of Culture", "Activate", "Start the Riot", and "Deutschland (Has Gotta Die!)" turned punk rock into the frenzied, unpretty, angry mess it needed to me.

'Digital Hardcore' was for the new millennium, and these Krauts (Alec Empire, Carl Crack, Hanin Elias, and Nico Endo) made me excited about punk again, when everything had become bland and safe. They didn't give a fuck about playing it safe, and helped a generation change the way they looked at the scene.

Albums to check out:
Burn, Berlin, Burn (Compilation 1996, Grand Royal) | 60 Second Wipeout (1999, Digital Hardcore Recordings)

Extended listening:
"Start the Riot" | "Sick to Death" | "Destroy 2000 Years of Culture" | "P.R.E.S.S."


Get ready to get your brain split. And fucked. And microwaved. And ran over by a semi-truck.
That's Japan's Boredoms. Noise punk without any rules. That's really all you can say.

They made me realize you could hit record on a tape player and play anything. It was an art form and there are some people who will dig it. Not everybody, but somebody. That's been my philosophy with every band I've been in.

Primal drumming, weird song structures, sound effects, sampling, screaming/babbling/yelped vocals making you question most music forms. I love them and the chaos they bring.

Check them out if you want to be confused, mesmerized, pissed off, and lost all at the same time.

Albums to check out:
Soul Discharge (1989, Original Selfish) | Pop Tatari (1992, Reprise)

Extended listening:
"Sun Gun Run" | "Mama Brain" | "Bo Go" | "Tomato Synthesizer"

Jonny Bipolar lives in New Castle, Pennsylvania, USA, and is exactly as described on the tin.