Once upon a time, there existed a little podcast on My Space called “Whiskey ‘N’ Waterbeds” that was hosted by yours truly. Under the moniker “Joey Fuckup”, I graciously served up a steaming pile of glorious smuttiness while pulverizing my liver with can after can of Four Loko, bottles of Mad Dog 20/20, and/or the cheapest, most rotgut ghetto swill that could be purchased for fished-out pocket change. The modus operandi generally involved me espousing, or rather slurring, into a microphone, while my co-host, Brian Muncy (“Whiskey Brian”) operated the gear while playing the (ironically) straight man. As a drunken exercise in novelty internet thrills, our show began to attract a steady following, thanks in large part to our support of underground music. We billed ourselves as a “melting pot”, and rather than focus on one genre or particular music scene, we would reach out to artists/bands that we felt deserved a shot at getting their name(s) more exposure. However, “Whiskey ‘N’ Waterbeds” was in no way an NPR-level program by any means, but rather, a VERY low-brow, vulgar, and at times, tasteless abuse in media arts that would never be underwritten by any Fortune 5oo company. Playing music to the generally open-minded, we were always on the lookout for groups that mandated an aural shock that guaranteed that they would never receive commercial airplay of any kind. Wonderful iPod playlist essentials like “Built To Fuck” by Money Shot, “Fuck Me Up the Ass” by the Urinal Mints, and “Sex Drive” by Punk Bunny was just the tip (pun intended) of what you’d hear on this downloadable asylum. Factor in some dive bar road trips (for live interviews), recorded drunken shenanigans, and a reputation for going way too far, and you basically had “Jackass” meets “Little Steven’s Underground Garage”…or something like that.
“Whiskey ‘N’ Waterbeds” first launched in 2008, and it was during this inebriated haze that I came across an avatar on My Space that nailed me like a case of Colt 45: a cartoon of a clown, kneeling in front of a toilet, vomiting a rainbow. Underneath this gorgeous image was the name “Clown Vomit”. Clicking on their profile, I knew they would be perfect for the show.
Clown Vomit was formed in Long Island, NY on October 12, 2001, when vocalist/bassist Anthony Giannotti convinced his pal Brian Bonelli to borrow his sister’s theremin. Along with guitarist/vocalist Pete Scarlata and drummer Randy Matthew Cohen, they sought to create a memorable force that would combine their love for punk with their unabashed prog rock fascinations. Coupling their musical influences with food-oriented lyricisms and a stage show full of costumes and props, Clown Vomit played a couple of high school functions, then promptly recorded the demo “Francesca’s Magic Crouton” in just a few hours. However, the band was upchucked when everyone graduated and enrolled in different colleges. Specifically, Anthony went to study music therapy at the Berklee College of Music, Brian attended New Paltz for library science, and Pete stayed around Long Island, planning to go into dentistry. With academics more of a concern than the fine arts, no future plans were made regarding the band. But while Brian was away at school, he was burning Clown Vomit material onto CD-R copies and casually leaving them around campus, hoping that they could generate interest. As it would happen, one of those copies fell into the hands of campus radio which led to favorable press in the New Paltz Oracle. Due to this, demand for live shows escalated and the band reconvened with a new drummer, Scotty Zwang, along with two new guitarists, Jon Moss and Ryan Wasser. With a batch of new songs written, the reconstituted Vomit released the album “Regurgitation” on their own label in 2006, and were chosen to compose theme music that would appear on Radio X, a Long Island rock ‘n’ roll station that helped boost their profile. Local interest continued to grow as they played festivals and band competitions, while international exposure came via My Space. The following year, the band attempted a third release titled “Jacuzzi Breakfast”, but tensions within led to a split, leaving the album unfinished (although several tracks would appear on a later release). Come 2007, yet another line-up of Clown Vomit was formed, resulting in the LP “Sunshine In the Morning” (which would not get released until 2010), culminating in their final live show in 2009.
2010 seemed to be a turning point for Clown Vomit: A concept album/rock opera titled “Adam Lerner” was uncompleted due to a fever pitch of tensions erupting during the recording sessions. With a decreasing amount of activity in the studio, band members eventually went their separate ways, signalling what appeared to be the end to the jazz punk progsters.
In the fall of 2016, the greatest hits/unreleased songs compilation “For Your Silly Ass!” was released digitally on Anthony’s birthday through Clown Vomit’s Bandcamp page. As a fitting homage to the band’s existence, there are remastered versions of some of their more well-known crowd pleasers, as well as shelved material that never saw the light of day. This collection of 16 songs truly runs the gamut of experimentalism. If your Saturday night drinking music consists of Flipper, the Residents, Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, Butthole Surfers, Barnes & Barnes, and the Soft Machine, well then Clown Vomit is definitely an essential addition to your music collection. From jazz signatures to no wave to just being wonderfully avant-garde, this group destroys all categories and allows the listener to totally envelope the kind of punk weirdness that made Gibby Haynes a star. The first track, “Eggsalad”, with its jazz leanings, sounds like pure Soft Machine-style prog, making you wonder if the ghost of Kevin Ayers had his talented hands in the composition. “Even Fish Hold Hands” would be a killer B-side to a vinyl re-release of “Fish Heads” by Barnes & Barnes, possibly prompting Dr. Demento to come out of retirement. “The Wanton Song” is the perfect mash-up if Tool and the Butthole Surfers got together, “Theodore Roosevelt” sounds like a garage rock version of Rush crossed with the Eagles Of Death Metal, and “Death Is My Existence” treads into Incubus territory. With other song titles like “I Doody For You”, “It Is Vomit”, and “Newt Gingrich”, it’s a given that Clown Vomit will not be appearing at any elementary school’s field day. Now, with word that Anthony is inspired to write and release new material (following their reunion show this year), it’s the perfect time to become acquainted with or rediscover this exciting and truly groundbreaking collection of artists.
“Even Fish Hold Hands”:
“The Wanton Song”:
To purchase a copy of “For Your Silly Ass!” digitally, head over to Clown Vomit’s page on Bandcamp.
To stay up-to-date on all Clown Vomit happenings, including tour information, check out their page on Facebook.
You can also keep up with Clown Vomit on Twitter.