Upon first hearing of a band that calls themselves Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children MacNuggits, one might find it somewhat difficult to discern just what the hell type of music these weirdos actually play. As Corbett Redford—one half of the two-man band, which also includes guitarist/vocalist Dan Abbott—explains, in 1995, the band was gearing up to play their first show, so they devised the most “clunky” name ever. Clunky name? Possibly, but the music these two mad scientists create is folky, catchy, sing-along punk of the finest caliber. Describing themselves as a “satiric folk rock band,” the duo has been active for going on 16 years, although they were somewhat dormant for 10 of those. Even with the extended period of relative inactivity, they have played well over 1,000 shows, helped organize and launch Geekfest in California (a free, all-ages festival that began as a reaction to the band being told they couldn’t play certain clubs) and co-founded S.P.A.M. Records. In addition to Bobby Joe Ebola, Abbott has gone on to play in Thee Hobo Gobbelins, and Redford was in Neverending Party, which included members of Street Eaters and Bent Outta Shape. On October 7, the two-piece will return to Salt Lake City. SLUG sat down to speak with Redford about the latest album and their live show.
SLUG: Tell me about yourself.
Redford: My name is Corbett Redford III, and I sing for Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children MacNuggits. I started performing after I left home at 15, first doing stand-up comedy, then theater, until I was blacklisted for a number of unfortunate and totally unmerited reasons. That mark led me to rock and roll.
SLUG: How would you best explain Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children MacNuggits?
Redford: We have a lot of sayings to sum up what it is that we do, like, “pretty songs about awful things,” or “just because we’re funny doesn’t mean we’re joking,” come to mind. We are known for our outrageous and catchy songs. We tour a bunch and work like crazy people on our elaborate creative projects. We have an insane amount of “irons in the fire” all the time. New records, tours, music videos, board games ... We’re nuts.
SLUG: What types of bands do you feel you “fit” the best with, in terms of live shows?
Redford: We play for people and not a specific kind of person, you know? We have played with a lot of very popular punk bands, big rock bands, folk groups, emo bands, hardcore bands, grindcore bands, etc. I couldn’t tell you where we fit in. It is hard to not have a scene that we fit into, per se. When we started, Dr. Demento gave us a lot of attention. We were honored as alumni from his show, which include “Weird Al” Yankovic, Ween, They Might Be Giants, AC/DC, Frank Zappa and others, but we also didn’t want to play for the fat-male-virgins-in-Hawaiian-shirts-wielding-kazoos circuit the rest of our lives.
SLUG: Why do you opt to tour as a two-piece, as opposed to a full band?
Redford: In the beginning, we realized that what we do is very full of energy, and it’s pretty loud on its own. We both have a lot of performing history and I think we began with the goal of trying to redefine what a “band” is. We play some shows locally with the talented friends that come into the studio with us to record when we make records, but have yet to tour with a full band.
SLUG: What is your outlook/approach to touring?
Redford: These days we have to make a real effort to make sure we don’t go in the hole money-wise, and we try to prepare a bit more and make sure we do our best to get the word out to people that we are coming through. If we are able to play for new people, see old friends and make enough money to get to the next town, we consider ourselves lucky. We are planning on Europe next year and are pretty excited about that prospect.
SLUG: Explain your reasoning for creating music videos.
Redford: We have always considered ourselves a visual band in the sense that we could see the stories of our songs coming through nicely in a filmic sort of way. When we got back together and recorded our newest LP, F, we decided to finally take the plunge and start making music videos. We decided to make videos for all 13 songs on F and we are about nine down, which is not bad for having little to no budget. We consider ourselves lucky that we have tons of gracious and talented friends who can do lots of things we can’t, such as direct, sculpt and dance. Our next video includes a seven-foot tall pink neon cross, biblical robes, snakes, breakdancers and three different churches as sets.
Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children MacNuggits will be bringing their punk rock to Raunch Records on Friday, October 7, alongside tour-mates Tornado Rider (tornadoriderband.com). For more information on the band, check them out on facebook, and head over to their YouTube channel (youtube.com/bobbyjoeebola) to experience their video weirdness.