SCARIENS LIVE AT THE MOONDANCE SALOON
Review By Robert Stutler
If you go by album covers alone, a lot of people are going to pass this one over without a second look. There's an inclination to dismiss thirty and forty-something bands as dinosaurs. But what the Scariens lack in youth, they more than make up for in attitude and audacity.
What you find is a mix of Fabulous Thunderbirds and Weird Al. Imagine a musically solid rock band banging out "For Your Love," while the leader sings Paul Simon's "Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover," only in this case, it's mother, not lover. Or imagine an opening song that leads in with Middle Eastern snake charming music that slips into Eric Clapton's "Sunshine of Your Love," done in Arabian dialect.
And then there's "I'm Not Too Old For You" that blends in guitar lines from "Superfreak" before transforming into "Hey There, Little Red Riding Hood," while the back up singer sings the chorus of Eurythmic's "Sweet Dreams."
There are seven tracks making almost an hour's worth of music, an hour of giddy anticipation to see what they come up with next. I really enjoy hearing a good band become even better with brashness and creativity, and have fun while they do it.
The only drawback is, like Weird Al's songs, most of the impact is from the novelty of the idea. So, get it while it's fresh.
WHAT THINGS WERE LIKE BACK IN 1993
By Mariane Matera
Steve Douglas wrote an article complaining about the lack of solidarity in the local music scene, Frank Daniel wrote about looking for a Kevin Ayers record in the used racks at Plan 9, I wrote about buying my first CD player and starting my collection, and about discovering the Scariens, truly the strangest band in town - a title they still hold. I also did a little piece on seeing the Beach Boys at Kings Dominion, a real paint-by-numbers show.
By Mariane Matera
No one seems to know who publishes "The Weakly Whirl News," a Richmond newspaper devoted to the preservation of Scarien philosophy, and in pursuit of that knowledge, we went in search of the Scariens. They opened their show at precisely midnight on a warm October night at Twisters with an actual haircut on stage, performed by the famous Angie. It was a very good haircut.
"He's having the evil cut out of his hair," Huk L. Bury, Scarien lead singer, bellowed. A small cult following of people who needed to be accompanied by Big Nurse gathered. Bury was dressed in a fire engine red suit and looked as if he would suddenly break out in,"hey there little Red Riding Hood, you sure are looking good, you're everything a big bad wolf could want," Sam the Sham's classic howl. It turned out to be the third song of the first set. Are we psychic or what?!
Bury uses a hand mike so he can sing from any part of the dance floor and does, roaring around like a Lionel train set. The band opened with a Jimi Hendrix version of "Happy Trails to You," moving quickly to something that sounded like Boy George singing Prince, then "Secret Agent Man" (Bury calls it "Secretly Aging Man") translated into Scarien and sung to the "James Bond Theme" with a trace of "Thunderball," followed by a languid "Purple Haze" sung from a wicker rocker, the way Jimi himself might do it if he had lived to be 80 and was very tired.
There was some bizarrely updated Elvis, and then "Honky Tonk Woman" done to "Obla de Obla da." Well, you have to hear it to believe it. Next "Ode to Billy Joe" to the tune of "Shotgun," and then "Sunshine of Your Love" in Scarien dialect. And that's only the first set. We're told the second set, which we haven't stayed up late enough to see, includes a "Leave it to Beave" medley that packages the Scarien message to the world to the tune of Beaver, then the "Pink Panther Theme", "Mayberry USA," "Smoke on the Water," Mission Impossible," "Child of Time," "You've Really Got Me," and "Cherokee Nation," only in this version its Scarien Nation. It's a 20 minute song, "the most ambitious thing we've worked up so far," says Bury, who adds, to further complicate things, sometimes the guitar players play different songs at the same time. "its amazing how it all fits."
"Are you scared? Are you scared?" Bury kept screaming. Possibly what he's getting at is their show is mind blowing. Not only do they have whirling hypnotic circles on the stage, but since the lyrics never match the music, although they dovetail perfectly, you find yourself having to tune out half your brain. Either separate the music or separate the lyrics to find a familiar touchstone, otherwise, your mind just starts to short circuit. We found ourselves desperately trying to remember a band that used to appear on "The Ed Sullivan Show" doing something vaguely like this, taking slow romantic ballads and turning them into hot Latin numbers. Our brains boiled trying to pull out the name.
"That old black magic's got me in it's spell, that old black magic that I know so well, round and round I go...."
She had a Prince Valient hair-do and never smiled. They were married in real life. He died of a brain tumor. Who were they? Who were they????
"Louis Prima and Keely Smith!" we shouted to Bury out on the sidewalk after the first set. He only smiled. "Scarien Nation Now Be One," he repeated the band's credo. A week earlier, back in the secret Scarien lair, he had told us all songs basically have the same chords, and so all are interchangeable. The secret of the Scarien philosophy was delivered in a box to a trailer court on Jefferson Davis Highway and is now in possession of guitarist Dusty O. Deedbooks. The Scariens had originally delivered the box to Elvis Presley, but he had abused it, thinking the power was in himself, so they had to take it back. With such error comes destruction, and then there was Col. Tom Parker.
"Colonel Tom Parker," we all wailed. The pits. The manager from hell. But now outside on the Grace Street sidewalk, it was time to gauge whether the message of the Scarien Nation had penetrated.
"Do you think they get it in there?"
"No," we said. "Otherwise they would have laughed at the beginning of each song, or gasped or something."
The crowd Halloween night at the Memphis didn't need Bury's screaming admonitions to "wake up motherfuckers!" They were true believers, attentive, in the know, and all wearing the whirling, swirly Scarien buttons. There's even Scarien press taking photos and fans aiming video cameras at the band. When one hopeful in the crowd tried to get Bury started by shouting out the "wake up" warning, he only smiled and said he didn't need to say that here. "We're just a little country band," he explained.
"What country?" the crowd asked.
That remains to be seen.
Messages Left on the Journal's
Answering Machine and Published
in the September 1996 Issue
I was watching the Scariens on public access and although they are technically kind of talented, they're no good at all because they don't have the sense of taste.
I was flipping channels on my TV and there on cable access, channel 38, I saw the Scariens and, god, this was the worst thing I've ever seen. They're playing for too long. They're playing really badly. Maybe if I cared if this guy could play his guitar, it'd be sort of okay, but it's terrible. I don't think that you should honor them by putting their name in your magazine anymore.
Letters to the Journal
Published in the
November 1996 Issue
I'm watching the goddam Scariens once again. They're on channel 38. I've got to say they suck. Thank you--Strummin' Joe Davis
Your paper is so cool! I love it. Why is everyone so scared of the Scariens. Their book, tabloid, and music really changed my life. The Scarien video programs are really cool. They are the only band using the MK-Ultra whirl and the new subliminal videodrome technology. Be strong, last long--Darlene
By Mariane Matera
The Scarien Nation, many familiar regulars, rolled out for the Scarie-okie, a special Scariens performance at Moondance on Sunday night. Scariens are a mind boggling experience, especially for other musicians. They play every tune you've ever heard, often in the same song. They play one song, and sing the lyrics to another. Whatever you expect, you don't get with the Scariens.
You do get the hypnotic wheel, the Christmas song, the Beaver song, the Scarien Nation anthem, and for the okie part, special guests including Chuck Wrenn and Gary Gerloff.