Last Saturday morning I awoke with a burning desire to eat Froot Loops and watch Saturday morning cartoons. I'm not sure what prompted this regression into childhood, except it probably had something to do with getting Bobby Joe Ebola's latest project in the mail the day before, actual snail mail of real books I could hold in my hands, with twisted, perverse, hilarious illustrations that required a second look to reveal all its secrets. This latest project is the work of Corbett Redford and Dan Abbott of Bobby Joe Ebola and The Children MacNuggits, and Jason Chandler of The Frustrators, who owns Horrible Comics and did the illustrations. Called Meal Deal with the Devil, it's a "horrible little listen-along book," that includes five of Bobby Joe Ebola's songs on CD, two of which are exclusive to the book itself as a throw-back to children's read-along books, but most definitely strictly for adults. Funny and ironic and perfect for jaded, cynical adults, such as myself, who desperately need to laugh at their own warped perception of the world, Meal Deal with the Devil is that refreshing break we all need in our lives to just feel like a kid again, if only for twenty minutes.
It opens with the story of two bees who are invited to a party "Down At The Jamboree," a commitment to throw a different kind of party that includes humans and animals alike, with the idealistic notion of living in harmony with nature, only to have nature follow its natural instincts and rip each other to shreds, destroying humans and lesser animals in their quest for a good time. The second read-along song is "The Town With No Beer," a story set in the working class town of Pinole, Cali. that has run out of beer, because "the beer truck is stuck in the rain." Drinking beer in the local bar is the only entertainment this poor town has and now they're in a panic, depressed and turning on each other "'Cos the worries they cause us great pain."
"Naked Beach Party (on the White House Lawn)" is an invitation to "... a different kind of occupyin' goin' on" that renders Homeland Security immobile due to shock upon seeing a bunch of naked people protesting in front of our nation's most prestigious building. I'm not completely sure how to interpret "Broken Bottles." It's morbid and gross and absolutely delicious, but, ya know, you'll have to hear it for yourself and draw your own conclusions. "Punk You Let Me Down" is an old-school rap song message from the old-time punks of its heydey in the 70s and 80s to the current punks who "got their punk from the mall."
The inspiration for the title of the read-along book fell into place as seamlessly as everything else Bobby Joe Ebola does, with their trademark irony and ability to mock political ideology and American "exceptionalism." Explains Redford, "With "MacNuggit" as part of our band's name, we have always been conscious about the corporatism that surrounds that word that we purposefully misspelled. It has allowed us to have fun with it, to ape it, to parody it and to, in some ways as we are also in the habit of creating things and selling them, to make our own kind of "Happy Meals." We try to come up with "Value Menu" deals at our merch table at shows. Heck, Dan has even toyed with the idea of us wearing hairnets and nametags when we sell t-shirts and records to fans. I do know I have heard him often say, "Welcome to Bobby Joe Ebola, how can I help you?" when greeting someone who is scanning through the stuff we're selling. The whole idea of a "Meal Deal" goes with the "McDonald's" joke, and well, "Meal Deal With The Devil" was a little too perfect." Happy meals for artists who embrace the dreaded term 'sell-out' and make money off their work? It is this genius behind the humor and their ability to acknowledge and laugh at the elephant in the room everyone else ignores that is the reason I love this band and recommend them as a band to watch in the coming year.
Never a dull moment and not ones to sit on their laurels, their most recent album Trainwreck To Narnia was the featured subject of an award-winning documentary film of the same title. Directed by Dylan Bergeson and winner of the Margaret & William Hearst Award for Excellence in Documentary Films, it is now traveling the national festival circuit. The second book is the Bobby Joe Ebola Songbook of their entire catalogue, every song they've ever written and performed, even the embarrassing ones from the early days, when they were young and naive and periodically immature, still caught up in the optimism and invincibility of youth before the realities of the music industry truly kicked in. Filled with behind-the-scenes tidbits about Corbett and Dan, stories and very sage advice to other aspiring musicians on important topics, such as "How to attract groupies" and how to wreck your neighborhood so your rent stays cheap. It is a fun inside look at what makes this band tick, with more twisted illustrations by Jason Chandler.
"Corbett and Dan have a way of mobilizing creative people to do things," said Chandler, which is reflected in the many creative projects they juggle on a daily basis, all of which are a collaboration among the band, their families, friends and fans. It isn't an exaggeration when I say they are the hardest working indie band I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. Smart comedy that turns the truth on its head and slaps us in the face with it without being preachy and pointless is such a rarity these days, and Bobby Joe Ebola compels us to devour every lyric and beg for more. Getting right to the point of why they wrote the songbook, Abbott stated, "I really like the idea of some of our songs being played by other people. I'd love to think our songs will outlast us...These songs are mostly very simple, so anyone who wants to play them should be able to."
To get in on the cutting edge of a band on the verge of breakthrough, check out Bobby Joe Ebola at http://bobbyjoeebola.com and http://fb.com/bobbyjoeebola. Check out more of Jason Chandler's illustrations at Horrible Comics at http://fb.com/horriblecomics
Set to release on November 15, 2013, you can order Meal Deal With The Devil at Microcosm Publishing http://microcosmpublishing.com