By Brad Lopez
By Tom Murphy
By Noah Hubbell
By Inkoo Kang
By Dave Herrerra
By Josiah M. Hesse
By Britt Chester
By Noah Hubbell
Buzz Bomber and the M-80s know the drill when it comes to blue-collar nights on the highbrow town, pistol-whipping themselves and whoever's left standing with a crass, beer-fueled brand of punk-spirited music and buffoonery. Playing manic sets like fast-order fry cooks, Bomber and the band offer musical grub that's both simple and filling -- like a gooey Denver omelet with extra ham -- with just enough love 'n' grease to cheer up an off-duty cop.
Or, better still, needy kids at Children's Hospital.
The band is the force behind a holly-hocked event that's coming to Cricket on the Hill this Saturday night, the sixth annual "Toys for Tots" fundraiser, where every red-nosed cent and ha'penny generated -- including the bar's cut -- will go for a worthy cause: sick little Yule-tykes with nary a figgy pudding; working families without insurance; kids with cancer; orphans in the burn ward. In short, the seasonal Tiny Tims of Denver.
Playing Santa Claus (complete with pink tutu and a farmer's tan) is nothing new to the 33-year-old Bomber, who relocated to Utah a year ago. As frontman/guitarist/screecher for this amusing power trio -- a noisy concoction featuring bassist Mike Mayhem and drummer Jack Shit -- Bomber's annual sleigh ride has become a tradition for the Cricket crowd. Despite any onstage antics that might (read: will) occur during the benefit, the three racketeers regard the evening's charity gig as more than just another reason to slam down copious amounts of liquor, which, more often than not, is precisely what fuels the funny car of their performances.
"My sister and I both spent about half of our early childhood [at Children's Hospital]," says Mayhem, a lifelong asthmatic who still keeps an inhaler handy at all times. "If it weren't for them, I wouldn't be around. My little cousin Michelle now has a brain tumor," he continues, "so I wrote her mom and said I'm playing this show for her." Bomber agrees: "It feels good to do stuff not just for yourself."
Warm and heartfelt cockles aside, the real irony in all of this sweet charity is that this band's vision -- a suds-guzzlin' and comically depraved one -- is definitely not for the kiddies, let alone any field-tripping soccer mom without the good sense to stay away. In other words, if Wilma Webb has the energy to go slumming after an episode of Touched by an Angel, she oughta steer clear of the Cricket and stick with something familiar like a cozy jaunt to the Dress Barn. Bomber and company make music so peppered with expletives and raunchiness that their live act almost begs distinction in the heralded halls of the lowest common denominator. (At the band's most recent Denver performance, Bomber actually stopped the whirling blades of an electric house fan with his tongue.)
"Our songs are so stupid that if you tell people what they're about before you sing them, it's too late. They've missed the point," Bomber says. Original numbers like "Molly" explore a young girl's pain and confusion growing up -- that is, growing up into a lesbian cheerleader prom queen out to gun down the boys who made her miserable. "Squeals Under My Wheels" mows down an unsuspecting puppy or two, and "2000 Man" casts a jaundiced eye toward the "plastic houses" and "vinyl flowers" of futuristic times, a Y2K sing-along that asks, "Why am I so fucking tired?" Parody is big with these galoots, too; imagine the chorus of the Four Non Blondes hit "What's Up?" replaced with "Vi-a-gra!" and sung with such vigor that even the pill-taker's dog would quake with fear. Bomber's signature strip-down song, "Little Dead Surfer Girl," puts a mad spin on Bill Comeau's Broadside Brass Bed Band classic "Little Surfer Girl," and, as the hulking fellow who is Bomber has been known to slowly unpeel layers of clothing -- excepting the pink tutu -- during the tune, it could offend even the daintiest of sensibilities. Sloppy, souped-up cover songs also work their way into the lather: the Banana Splits TV theme song, Devo's "Urge," "Helter Skelter (in the Fallout Shelter)." The group's most requested song, oddly enough, is Jonathan Richman's "Pablo Picasso." Throughout the band's repertoire, every white-trash stereotype gets a day of glamour with the clumsy, buck-toothed beautician: beer muscles, fat-fried greazy cheese dogs, even the host of the stultifying Jerry Springer Show. The M-80s' 1998 debut on Bomber's own FUH-Q imprint features the crowd-pleasing title cut "Beating Up My Best Friend," a spoof of John Denver's "Leaving on a Jet Plane." The song is a less-than-lilting tribute to Cincinnati's former mayor.
"We made a special video and sent it to him, too," Bomber notes. "Spared no expense. We couldn't find any girls to be in it, so I just sang to a mop." Whether Springer (the Democratic Party's hopeful to run against wholesome Republican senator Mike DeWine in 2000!) has viewed the tape remains unknown. "Haven't heard from him yet," Bomber concedes. Such shameless self-promotion comes naturally to the affable fellow whose passion for lampoonery dates back to involvement in bands like the Rabid Aardvarks and a San Francisco-based group called Disturbing the Peace, which -- big fat surprise -- set out to do just that. These days, another Bay Area project with electronica pioneer Robomaster, dubbed the Mechanized Killer Bees, keeps the Bomber's creative hive humming as well.