Friday, June 24, 2011

East Cackalacky Ascetic Marching Death Band: Buskers on Acid

East Cackalacky Ascetic Marching Death Band is a duo of buskers who like to hitch and ride the rails around the ol' U.S. of A., having adventures and making music. As you can probably already imagine, they're kind of weird and very funny. LEO spoke with Tom Senkus in advance of their performance next Tuesday at Highlands Tap Room.

LEO: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn't heard you yet?
TS: Buskers on acid, or vengeful musical theatre people who always got the shitty part with two lines.

LEO: What does your music smell like?
TS: Polycarbonate with a touch of that grease from underneath your chin. You know what I'm talking about.

LEO: How do your surroundings inspire your music?
TS: Oh, this is a good one. So, we lived in Klamath Falls, OR in the winter for cheap rent - bad idea. The music scene in December is nil, so we were left to make our own songs in an ex-crack house with no insulation. Our songs became excuses to play more furiously in a cheap attempt to save money on our gas bill.

Then, there's Easton, PA, another place we holed up in. Within the first week, we had three of our tires slashed. This lent a certain desperation and paranoia to our music. We even wrote a song about our neighbor who turned up her television in retaliation to our music practices. She was the inadvertent third member of our band for a while. We love you, Helen.

LEO: Do you prefer playing in bars, senior centers or outdoors?
TS: Nice try! I actually played in senior centers when I was a young lad and they were a hoot. Bars are nice, and it's nice to feed off of an appreciative, nice audience. Did I say nice a bunch? Nice... Sometimes it's fun to be a musical accomplice to some mutual date rape. Since we love to busk, outdoors is a fun method. It's like sticking music into a person-gumball machine and money and laughter comes out. Sometimes dancing.

LEO: What else do you do for money and/or fun?
TS: Jobs? Here's a list for Tom's jobs to make dough for this tour: mover, landscaper, temp agent, short-order cook, scrap metal returner, Craigslist hustler.

Sharmini worked as a tutor, also a Craigslist dealmaker, an Ebay/Amazon queen and a telemarketer for a car dealership. And an Indian restaurant waitress for a day, but they wouldn't let her keep her tips. Here's a tip: SCREW YOU!

As for fun, I like fixing things - the tour van named The Bumblebeast, old radios, laptops, old instruments. Music itself is consuming in all its facets that it leaves little need to work on that part of me that just wants to decoupage.

Sharmini says: Traveling, taking photographs, talking with crazy people and figuring out how to keep all that going. She does a lot of photography ( She's part Sri Lankan, so she thinks it's exciting to put Sriracha on everything. It's not.

LEO: Does your music ever make you horny?
TS: Indirectly, we've become more attractive to our friends with the erroneous mystique of being a "touring musician". Therefore, they find us unattainable by playing places like Pascagoula, Mississippi; and that terrible, terrible lie that all musicians have drugs. I'd like to state for the record that we are VERY attainable.

LEO: What is your favorite song to perform? What do you think is your worst song?
TS: My favorite song is usually the ones that feel like riding on a rollercoaster, like "I Should've Been Aborted". My least favorite is whatever is like the teacups... maybe the dead air between songs when we have to tune up. For those cumulative sections, we label them our punk rock version of John Cage's "4:33". Those especially suck.

LEO: What crimes have you committed in the name of music?
TS: In light of Tupac's murderer supposedly confessing, I'd like to ALSO state for the record that I didn't kill The Notorious B.I.G, no matter how notoriously B.I.G he was. Probably shoplifting from overpriced supermarkets, but really $2.99 for a loaf of french bread? C'mon, Pennsylvania.

LEO: Do you have any favorite trains?
TS: My least favorite is the Northern Pacific line in Kansas City, Missouri. This bull - the railroad policeman handcuffed me and then gave me the "Come to Jesus" speech. He had a very well-groomed mustache and aviators. I had to pay $100 in bribe money to some lawyer after riding a Greyhound for two days.

Tom's favorite was a 20+ hour hopout from Denver to someplace outside of Topeka. He had the opportunity to ride in an empty engine compartment with a bathroom, copious amounts of bottled water, and a jar of peanut butter. Heaven...

LEO: What do you know, or think, about Louisville? Any impressions of us?
TS: Isn't Slint from Louisville? Tom recalls hitchhiking through Louisville last year and this pregnant girl gave him her number to meet up with her by the on-ramp of this McDon-no, wait, that was Lexington. So, no, we're excited to learn how to pronounce "Louisville" all over again.

Tuesday, June 28
Highlands Tap Room
1279 Bardstown Rd.
10 p.m.

c. 2011 LEO Weekly

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