You can’t even imagine how much I loved the Dead Milkmen when I was in high school. I remember seeing a flyer for a show and being immediately drawn to their name, their cow logo, the xeroxed photo of four scruffy, scrappy goofballs. The flyer boasted of “hits” like “Bitchin Camaro” and “The Thing That Only Eats Hippies” and “Taking [redacted] To The Zoo” and I was sold. I wanted to go so bad even though I had never yet heard a note by them, but I didn’t even ask my mom because I knew she wouldn’t let me go. Shortly before this she had flatly refused to let me go see the Violent Femmes because she was afraid of the type of crowd that would by attracted by a band with a name like that. I wasn’t old enough to drive.
A bit later I was at the record store in the mall — Tape World or Recordland or whatever — and saw a Dead Milkmen tape on the new releases rack. It was called Bucky Fellini and it had a bunch of funny song titles and a cover of the Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus” (or so I assumed…incorrectly it turned out). I bought it and listened to it nonstop. I soon picked up their back catalog (the other two albums), and finally got to see them in concert when they came back around on the Beelzebubba tour. They were awesome. I joined their fanclub and got their newsletter and even signed up for their “pen-pal parade” and received a bunch of letters and postcards from other Dead Milkmen fans. That’s how social media worked back then, kids! Strictly analog.
If you haven’t been paying attention to Dead Milkmen news for the past 30 years, here’s a short version: They broke up in 1995 and everybody went their own way. Bassist Dave Blood took his own life in 2004. The surviving members got together for a couple tribute shows and have pretty much been back together as a group since 2008. Throughout the pandemic they’ve posted weekly “Big Questions with The Dead Milkmen” zoom videos on YouTube, and now they’ve got a new single and an upcoming album.
Rodney Anonymous (who’s on Mastodon, by the way) told Consequence, “Considering the fact that 99.99% of all indie bands would rather have the entire Radiohead back catalog shoved up their asses than pen a political tune, I figured that someone outside of that genre should probably do it. If you go to eat breakfast only to discover that your grandfather has taken a dump in your oatmeal, would you say, ‘Well, that’s the way they used to do things back in Gramps’ day. I guess it’ll just take him some time to catch up with the rest of the world,’ or would you say, ‘Do it again, old man, and you won’t need that Jazzy to make it across the room. You’ll be doing it on the end of my foot!’ Well, the same principle applies when your grandfather votes for a racist.”
This is great news! The Dead Milkmen have recorded seventeen new songs and plan to release an album in March or April. See a few more details on their web site or in a response singer Rodney Anonymous gave to Philebrity, including this fantastic tidbit:
The cover art is currently unavailable as our lawyer has informed us that the image we originally intended to use – a Photoshopped image of Michele Bachmann blowing a Thomson’s gazelle – could quite possibly lead to “A whole lot of fucking around in court.”
Sheesh, I can’t believe I didn’t see this when it was published back in October. Rodney Anonymous kept a rehearsal/tour diary from their shows last fall. The whole thing is as hilarious as any Dead Milkmen fan could expect it to be, but my favorite part is this bit about their biggest hit:
I occupy the unique position in music history of being the only member of a “one-hit wonder” band who had absolutely nothing to do with the one hit. Despite having a writing credit (all of the Milkmen equally share the writing credits no matter what combination of us initially wrote a tune), I neither wrote, sang on nor played on our big hit, “Punk Rock Girl.” I have also never turned down a royalty check for the song. If I could only just figure out a way to get paid for every song that I neither wrote nor played on — the entire Beatles catalog, for example — I’d be set for life.
A few nights ago I got it into my head that I should actually do something when we play “Punk Rock Girl” other than what I’ve been doing for the past 20 years: just standing around tapping my foot like Larry Craig in a men’s room stall. To this end, I’ve asked Joe Genaro (aka Joe Jack Talcum, Butterfly Joe, etc.), our guitarist, to stop by today to help me work out a keyboard part for the song since Joe played the accordion on the original and I want to emulate his style as closely as possible. It takes roughly 10 minutes for Joe and me to come up with something, so we use the rest of the time we’ve allocated for the project watching TV.
I remember when I saw them back on the Beelzebubba tour, Rodney played with a remote control car on stage during that song. Or, wait a minute, maybe that’s the video…
In other exciting news, the Milkmen are “writing and rehearsing new songs and hope to have a release later this year.” Awesome.
Weird Al pays homage to Match Game guest star Charles Nelson Reilly via the White Stripes in his latest video. Unfortunately, Al’s guitar tone doesn’t even come close to Jack White‘s, even if the riff is spot on. What’s the deal, Al? Couldn’t find a rental shop in L.A. with a vintage Airline? Giddyup, Gene!
Equally disappointing is the fact that Al has disabled embedding of the video. Boo! [Updated to embed the video, which now Al graciously allows. -ed. 8/4/2017] Get some real Charles Nelson Reilly relief after the jump… Go!
Dean: Actually that was our manager—he was playing the power saw, but that was me doing the screaming when you heard the saw going through the chunk of wood. Rodney: I recommend the Craftsman circular saw. Bob Dylan goes for that traditional folk saw, and a lot of people, say, use the jigsaw, but that’s more of a funk instrument.
“We haven’t trashed any hotel rooms yet. I wish we had that kind of money. But we’ve always been into subtle trashing… For instance, in a lot of hotel rooms you can unscrew those abstract paintings from the wall and hang them upside down; nobody knows the difference.”
Crazy to think that was 20 years ago. Time flies…when you’re OLD!
The official Dead Milkmen website reports some New Stuff Happening in the land of the pale cow:
We had so much fun last November at the Fun Fun Fun Festival that we’ve decided to keep at it and play some shows to see what might develop as far as new material. We’re rehearsing and will see how it goes – stay tuned…
So far they’ve booked a show in Brooklyn in April. Joe Jack Talcum has a bunch of solo shows coming up, too. If you want to see what these guys look like these days, check out the flickr set from Dean Clean‘s sister.
Saw this on VH1 Classic this weekend, and even though the Dead Milkmen were one of my favorite bands in high school, I don’t think I’d ever seen this video before. It’s better than I could’ve imagined.
So as I was looking up some links, I came across the news that they’re reuniting to play the Fun Fun Fun Festival in Austin, TX. They originally split up in 1995, but got together for a couple of benefit shows after bassist Dave Blood committed suicide in 2004. Dandrew Stevens will play bass.
“But she wasn’t really 14 / And she wasn’t really a she / She was a guy who worked for the FBI / Sex sting / I wish I had not typed those dirty links / I wish I had not sent those naughty things / to the undercover pig / Now I’m caught in a sex sting.”