Spatula: "I think that was the swan song, and we landed like an albatross."
Spatula circa 2005 (L-R: Summer Snover, Evan Brown, Paul Cousineau, King Lexie and Jesse Roadkill).
Spatula (due this Friday, February 10, at the Climax Lounge) was a band you often heard about between 2004 and 2005, if you did not actually see it. The band was musical, but more to the point, it was always a ridiculous spectacle with simple but effective props, elaborate homemade costumes, fake gore, live births, simulated environments and general, fun-loving mayhem. Everyone who saw Spatula left with a strong and fond impression, and maybe a little something on them for their trouble. After close to two years together, the band came to an end after an infamous show, outlined below, playing atop a bus during First Friday on Tennyson Street and Santa Fe Drive.
Spatula in 2012
Spatula consisted of King Lexie and Jesse Roadkill, who both sang and played guitar; Summer Snover, who played bass and sang, too; Paul Cousineau, who provided electronic accompaniment; and drummer Evan Brown. Lexie and Roadkill went on to musical and artistic projects beyond Denver, including a life-sized mousetrap, and Snover and Cousineau collaborated in the short-lived Trembler and still perform in Fancy and the "porno-techno comedy band" Provert.
All five members of Spatula have found themselves in Denver again for an extended, if temporary, span of time and decided to grace us with a reunion show. Go expecting free prizes and, the band wants pointed out, expensive prizes, as well as the infamous live birth. Remember to bring your own spatula or else! We visited with the five rapscallions at the home of Cousineau to discuss Spatula's colorful and somewhat sordid past.
Westword: When did you start Spatula, and was it a band or more a performance-art type of thing?
Summer Snover: Our very first show was kind of performance art at a party. Bacchanalia in summer of 2004.
Jesse Roadkill: The actual group itself started on accident. Wasn't it like a post-party jam? Right before we dispersed, someone, maybe you [points to Evan Brown], was like, "All right, when's band practice?" And it went from there.
SS: Good old six in the morning, sleep deprivation.
King Lexie: Whiskey floats.
SS: So, yeah, it's music and performance. It's a "spacticle."
Paul Cousineau: It was an electronic show band and then it got less electronic.
JR: Bacchanalia definitely solidified the performing concept that came with it. I think that's when we first learned to creatively fuck with people's minds.
So was Bacchanalia an event or a place?
SS: A massive underground party at Evan's place.
KL: You know the type. Different themes and costumes.
Evan Brown: We roasted a goat that night.
PC: In a back yard in downtown Denver. It put a whole aesthetic over the whole scene to put a roasting goat in the back yard.
JR: It was one of our first animal-processing lessons. And we got in a pretty burly tongue fight. Getting slapped with a sheep tongue hurts.
KL: There was a baklava fight in the shower, also.
JR: No, the baklava fight just prompted the group shower.
SS:Okay, stop, reel it back.
How did you all meet?
EB: Linoleum, I think. We met on Larimer Street. The place that's now...what is it called? It used to be called Orange Cat, and before that it was Linoleum, aka the Labyrinth of Dishevelment.
SS: Paul lived there.
EB The time Spatula formed there, it was quite disheveled there.
PC: We had met Lexie right before that, too, and you said, "I met this girl, and she should be in our band." It worked out great.
SS: The heavens parted and we were brought together!
Why did you pick Spatula as the moniker for your new project?
KL: It was given by our friend Nicole. She's a poet.
SS: We were going to go with "Slotted Turner" because that's the true name of this implement.
PC: People would come up to us and say, "You know, that's not a spatula, it's a slotted turner."
KL: Then we would stab them with it.
SS: No, we would spank them with it, normally. We weren't going with the "Stabula."
No Stabula? Count Stabula?
EB: We were talking, and it was one of those "Oh, that would be a great band name." You know how ten times a week someone will say "That's a great band name"? It was one of those moments. The imagery works really well. It fits, and it's just weird enough.
KL: It's useful. And we turn people over. It's really become a metaphor.
EB: There's a lot of spatula slapping that goes on.
KL: That came later. Not much later. Like five minutes. Third practice.
Spatula: See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil at the Butcher Block Cafe 2005.
What would have been a great dual show would have been Spatula with Get Your Going, when Andrew Novick was doing Waffle House songs and he served waffles to the audience with a spatula, of course.
JR: We had one desired attempt to have you serve flapjacks with a spatula while playing the drums and fling them into the audience. Then we settled on just a live birth.
SS: We did a pretty good job of achieving our fantasies, for the most part.
Which fantasies did you make into a reality?
JR: We made a monster.
KL: We climbed through a jungle with fog and foliage to hunt a monster.
What kind of monster was it?
JR: There were a couple of different monsters. A musical monster. I made a sock puppet with my dead grandfather's dentures, rest in peace. It was a really nice sock puppet.
SS: Someone stole it, though. Someone stole the monster.
EB: Maybe they really needed dentures.
KL: I think that the most epic, really, was the live birth of Spamuel. Whom you're holding right now. He was named on stage. We had the audience at Cricket on the Hill come up with the name, and Spamuel was really a choice from someone's mouth. We had a lot of audience participation. And we encouraged people to bring their own spatula.
What was involved with this live birth?
KL: You'll see on Friday...but there's placenta.
JR: It was some of the first of many growths of professional movie makeup and effects. We definitely concocted our own recipes, and that first birth really paved the way to a lot of the things I do now. I make guts.
SS: I make scabs. I make wounds.
KL: I make scars. I make wounds, too.
You didn't tell people at venues what you had in mind before you played there, did you?
Did anyone ever get upset about some of this stuff?
SS: We cleaned up after ourselves-ish. Scraped it up with a spatula.
KL: Yeah, because sometimes it gets a little rowdy, and sometimes it gets a little loud. Sometimes that's maybe offensive.
PC: But our fans drank a lot, and when your fans drink a lot, you get a lot of latitude.
JR: It's better to ask for forgiveness than permission in most of those scenarios.
EB: I'd say it was 50% underground events, too, and there was a lot of weirder, crazier stuff going on there than us.
SS: We played at Fallen Skate Warehouse.
PC: Yeah, a skateboard flew off and bounced off my mixing board, which was entertaining.
KL: We played at the old Synagogue.
The one on Curtis Street?
EB: Oh, yeah. Five hundred-plus people in the ballroom of the squatted synagogue.
JR: That was an amazing show full of effigies and costume changes.
KL: Yeah, that's true. We have had a lot of costume changes, like full-on different characters for each song.
SS: We had a minimum of two costume changes, and that was us really cutting back.
KL: The day of the skate warehouse show, I found an American flag to make into a skirt, and Summer made one out of adult magazines.
JR: I made a loincloth out of...I was a like a super beer woman. I made that loincloth out of beer-bottle caps, and I had a beer skirt and Pabst Blue Ribbon wristbands. I really did not save the day at all, though. I think my super powers got a little muted the more drunk I got. That happened a lot.
EB: Usually we had to participate on some level, too.
PC: I had that red jumpsuit. The spectacle is part of Spatula.
JR: Probably the biggest part, I would say.
At the Synagogue, was it just you playing, or did other people play?
PC: It was a zoo. And me and you pretty much stage-managed upstairs and set up a 10,000-watt audio system that had dual runways.
EB: Did you ever go to the 'Gogue?
No. I heard about shows there, but I also heard about other events I didn't really want to go to happening there.
EB: Those were probably our events.
JR: I don't think so. I know what ones you're talking about, and I guarantee I didn't go to any of those.
KL: Was it furries?
Kind of like that. More like fetish events and that kind of thing.
KL: I think some of those people would make appearances at these shows. I have some strong images of bodies tied up.
SS: I don't think we played at that thing; I think that was something else. We helped clean up that place, actually.
KL: We built the Asian Party, racist, first of all.
SS: It was called "Orient Yourself."
That's horrible and funny at the same time.
KL: Yes! But we had a whole tea-ceremony room. Another was a cherry-blossom room. Just huge installation pieces. It was rad, actually.
JR: I like to think the murals we painted there are still there and just slowly rotting and peeling off the walls. I think the day of the show I was just going to these weird shops and I found this piñata of this girl, and I don't know if this had manhandled it or something, but the eyes were ripped off and there was just this big black socket. This thing looked like this mutos-freak. So I got it at a discount -- gave them like two bucks for it. We turned it into an anti-Spatula fanatic, and then we threw it upon the mercy of the crowd. The crowd just tore it to pieces and started parading the head around in a procession around the ballroom. That was pretty good.
EB: You knew how to whip up a crowd.
JR: I know how to stir it up. We also put things in a glory box and made people stick their hands in the box.
KL: We had a song called "Shut Up and Touch It."
SS: It was inspired by one of those glob slap hands. And it sat on my dash on a piece of paper and it morphed into something. Then we forced people to touch it, and then it turned into a song. As all things do.
JR: Just go out into the audience and go, "Put your fuckin' hand in it. What? Shut up and touch it."
Spatula live circa 2004
So how long a run did the band have initially?
SS: 2004-2005, I think. We had almost a two year run before we kind of simmered down.
KL: Our last show was on top of a bus.
Excuse me, did you say your last show was on top of a bus?
KL: Yeah. The art bus. And we were attacked brutally.
PC: Three of us got clubbed by a tree branch.
EB: I thought I had ripped my ear off.
PC: I was almost blinded.
JR: Evan and I both got hit by the same branch, and I'm pretty sure we were doing about 35 or 40 miles per hour.
EB: I thought we were going to clear it, but I think the draw, or the drag of the bus, pulled the branch down or something. It knocked me off of my drum seat.
JR: And ran the branch into me.
EB: I reached up and touched my head, and my hand was all bloody and my ear hurt really bad. I went to a friend and asked, "Is my ear still attached?" And he said, "I think so."
KL: We sang "Dancing in the Street."
SS: And oh, God, it was so bad.
How did you arrange to do this?
EB: A good friend owns the bus.
JR: Oh, wait, that part was easy. Getting the equipment on top of the bus, that sucked balls.
Was it down Santa Fe?
EB: We got hit leaving the Tennyson Art Walk.
JR: When we got to Santa Fe, I think the band was already broken up at that time. The Tennyson show was super-shitty. My amp kept going in and out, and I think that was the first time you ever forgot the words to one of your songs, and it was so bad I just stopped.
KL: It couldn't have been the first time.
JR: No, but you completely spaced it. It was one of those "Kentucky Deluxe" nights. We were on a plastic bottle budget most of the time...But like, yeah, it was so bad I think that was the swan song, and we landed like an albatross and just fucking crash-dived.
KL:"Kentucky Deluxe" was one of our songs.
EB: The physical assault put us in a bad mood.
JR: I killed a kitten that night. That was probably the last nail in the coffin.
SS: She was forced to do that.
JR: I was forced to kill the kitten, just to set the record straight. I was dealing with closure.
EB: It was this deal early on that if you quit the band, you had to kill a kitten.
JR: If the band broke up, I was contractually obligated to take the life of something precious. The cuter the better! What is that, a seal? Kill her!
Was that intentionally your last show?
JR: The show was highly stressed to begin with, and I think we just kind of hit a point and we never picked up. The point hit us, and we never caught the momentum to keep it going after that.
KL: I started school.
JR: I started another project.
KL:She didn't kill a kitten on purpose, okay, Tom? It was a mercy kill.
JR: My friend ran over it, but it wasn't dead. So when I went and found it, it was this tiny, tiny mangled cat that was twitching, so I put it in a bag and hugged it to death. Then I put it in another bag and decorated a box with National Geographics and then I put the kitten in the box and buried it. And now I want that skull. I want to dig up the past. Lit-rally. Again the multi-faceted uses of the slotted turner. Creative and traditional. The applications are endless.
EB: So we happened to all be in town for a short period of time and had to seize upon this opportunity to play together again.
KL: There will be a live birth of Spamuel. It will be a rebirthing. He had a traumatic birth.
SS: Does that mean he's a virgin again?
KL: He's been under my close watch in the closet.
PC: He came out of the closet?
JR: He came out of the closet and went straight up Lexie's skirt. A couple of times.
He's a provert.
KL: He is a provert. A professional pervert.
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