Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Back in '84 I Nearly Choked On A Unicorn
Hardcore punk is a pretty humorless type of music. Don't get me wrong, I've been listening to hardcore and it's mother genre punk rock for literally half of my 32 years and I love it like a dear friend. It's just that it's usually pretty damn serious. Topics of hardcore that have been covered on a regular to semi-regular basis include unity, fighting, not fighting, friends, being drug free, doing more drugs than you can possibly handle, whoas, animal rights, more whoas, anarchy, Hare Krishna and breaking down walls. It's a wide enough range of topics, but nothing you'd want to bring up on a first date. I think the Incredible Hulk would have been a good hardcore singer. "Don't make me angry...you wouldn't like me when I'm angry. Hulk SMASH!" (Cue swirling circle mosh pit.)
The point of all this is that I was listening to the 2010 LP "Rohnert Park" from the San Francisco Bay Area hardcore band "Ceremony". It's a pretty kickass record. It manages to be super tough sounding and yet creative, literate and progressive, which is even more impressive considering it's in a genre that is more than happy to stagnate and rehash. But still, like most hardcore, it's pretty damn serious. At least, until about ten seconds into their song "Back in '84" when this line pops up: "Back in '84 I nearly choked on a unicorn." *Needle scratches off the record*
My first react was confusion, as the remaining words in the minute-long song held no explanation or further reference to unicorns. And then I felt delight. And finally, my mind raced with a million and one logistical questions about how you actually choke on a unicorn. So much so that I actually sat down and wrote a letter to the band, which I will now type in it's entirety:
Hi, my name is Mike Brody. I think your band is awesome. I think you are the best hardcore band in 10 years. Couple questions: Did the singer of your band nearly choke on a unicorn? And if so, how big is his mouth? How do you nearly choke on a unicorn? You would think it was all or none. Was he trying to eat the unicorn? Or did it fly into his mouth like a moth? Are there bite-sized unicorns? How come I've never heard of this happening since? Was there a unicorn epidemic in 1984? Did Henry Rollins kill the last unicorn in 1984 and make a pair of Umbros out of it? How often does your singer tell this story? Did it take him years of courage-building to be able to share or do people around him sigh and go "Oh god, this guy again with his unicorn story!"? Did the drummer or anyone else in the band attempt CPR to dislodge the unicorn or did he have to use a chair on himself? How come the "Unicorn Spike" hairdo was never a thing with punk rockers? Does your singer avoid unicorns now or has he remained fearless, much like that one-armed surfer girl who still surfs after the shark bit her arm off? Was your singer in a to-the-death battle with a unicorn or was he caught in an embarrassing unicorn snuggle turned ugly? Are there support groups for mythological creature accident survivors. 'Hi, my name is Ross...and...*whimper* back in '84 I nearly choked on a unicorn. It almost ruined my life! *sobs*' Cue the one-upping homeless vet: 'You think that's bad, you pussy? Back in 'Nam I nearly snorted a bigfoot. I still have yeti hair up my nose. YETI HAIR!!!'
Thanks for your time. Keep up the great work, Ceremony!
I had this all ready to go. And then I googled the lyrics. Turns out he says "Back in '84 I nearly choked on the u-cord." I'll admit, I was disappointed. Not only was there no mention of unicorns, but I think "u-cord" is a bit of a stretch (no pun intended). I realize that "umbilical cord" is a tough one to fit into even the least musical sounding of genres. But damn, it sounds like J-Lo invented that term. Anyway, Ceremony, my questions still stand and I expect a detailed report on my desk by Monday. My hope is no one from the band ever chokes on a unicorn in real life because then I'd feel like a total jerk. Be safe, Ceremony!
And please, check out their new album "Rohnert Park". It's really the best hardcore album I've heard in ages.