MF Ruckus, due at SummerGrind this Saturday, August 16, at the Gothic Theatre and Moe's Original BBQ & Bowl, has more outrageous and humorous stories than most bands. The band started in 1997 as Forth Yeer Freshman when singer and sole original member Aaron Howell was, indeed, still in high school. Part of the reason the band has endured, in addition to Howell's faith in the project, has been its ability to absorb the ideas and influences of its evolving membership so that it never remained stuck as a fairly straight-ahead punk band. Though humor plays a central role in the band's DNA, its latest album, 2014's Thieves of Thunder, pulls together its various aesthetic threads for a hard rock record that unabashedly revels in its roots in glam, classic rock, punk and bluesy speed metal. Ronnie James Dio, among others, would be proud.
Mostly, though, it's a celebration of an attitude that permeates the band's approach to what it does -- that life is worth living and that the ups, the downs, the awkward moments, the setbacks, the triumphs, all of it are the things that make for great memories and a life well lived. In honor of that celebration, we've collected a few of Howell's best anecdotes.
Your Husband's In a Coma...So You're Saying You're Single?
We were playing in Oklahoma City. Long story short, Parker Clark-Whitton met this woman when we were playing in Oklahoma City and it turned she was flirting with him all night and they end up hooking up. Afterward she's crying and revealing to him that her husband's in a coma and it was just kind of a messed up situation.
Scott Campbell Writes Us a Check for $5
Aaron Howell: There's nothing mean to say about it. There used to be a system where you had to pay your dues with NIPP and the Bluebird in which you would do them a favor by throwing a local show, and in exchange you could do a bigger show. So in exchange for getting a slot on the Dwarves' show for this big punk rock weekend we put together a local show. It was a good show and it was a lot of fun and at the end of it, Scott Campbell handed us a check for $5.
This was around the time 3 Kings was first getting going and Jeff Campbell at 3 Kings goes, "Dude, you guys need to frame that and put it up on a wall and save that one forever." I remember telling him, "Nah, man, we really need the five." We cashed it, man. That thing was spent before we even got it.Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Gets Pulled Over, Let's His Dog Shit in Front of the White House, Drops His Pants, Gets Stopped by Cops Who Find Wall to Wall Grandma Porn, a Jug of Urine and Whole Bunch of Totally Illegal Contraband.
I'd never played in DC. We used to do a lot of late night drives. We were driving overnight and Jerry Cass had been driving all night. We pulled over in DC because he'd never seen any of the sights there and wasn't really aware of how serious Homeland Security was. We pulled over near the White House and the fence with the endless lawn. We used to take Jerry's dog Spike on tour with us. He would sit on stage when we played and hang out. Spike the Racist Dog was his name.
So we get out and let Spike take a shit and of course these DC cycle cops get on us right away. They come up to the door and make Jerry get out of the van. Jerry had had his pants open so that the AC will blow down into his pants. He forgets about this and gets out of the van and his pants fall down around his ankles. First thing. The whole time this is going on, Spike is taking a shit.
They open up the back of the van and order us all to get out and they start searching the van. One cop is in the front seat and he starts pulling out items one at a time. The first thing he pulls out is a switchblade comb and goes, "Oh, who does this belong to, gentlemen." Tai Hamilton says, "That's a comb." He flips it over and goes, "Oh, well, I'm going to compensate it anyway." He thinks he finds a gun and he pulls out a cap gun that we've got. He goes, "You know, you shouldn't be carrying this around. This is illegal too. I could have mistaken this for a real gun." We go, "Dude, that's a cap gun." He throws it in the bag and says he's taking it too.
Then he thinks he's really got us. He goes, "Oh ho, which one of you is the diabetic, gentlemen." He pulls out what he thinks is a syringe full of blue liquid that says, "Remember to get your flu shots." I go, "That's a pen." He looks at it and goes, "Well, I'm going to confiscate this too."
While this is going on, the other cop opens the back of the van and goes, "Jesus Christ!" I used to work at Fascinations. They would take their old magazines and tear the covers off and give you four to six packs of magazines for like ten bucks. We would buy those before we would go on the road and tear out our favorite pages and plaster the inside of the van with pages from not just good porno mags like Club, Cherie or Hustler. But also the ones they would slip in the middle like the really raunchy grandma and fat chick stuff. So it's a mixture of hot chicks, grandmas, fat chicks and then dudes just from Playgirl and stuff like that. So they open the van and there's this mosaic of raunchy, vile, disgusting porn all over every inch of the inside of the van.
The cop sees this Arizona Iced Tea bottle and he grabs it and opens the cap and smells it and it's completely full of piss. He has this look of horror and concern on his face and asks, "How long have you guys been in here?" We say, "I don't know. About three weeks." He puts the cap back on, throws it in the van and they both get on their bikes and go, "You guys are free to go." Because technically we hadn't done anything illegal. There's nothing illegal about having a van full of porn, a cap gun, a switchblade comb, a bottle of urine and a syringe-shaped ink pen.
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If you'd like to contact me, Tom Murphy, on Twitter, my handle is @simianthinker.