Conrad Callirgos and Sam Rodriguez of TOTAL CEREAL. (@totalxcereal)


Music Interviews

In a slurry of sound, SLUG Picnic is back for our September showcase featuring NARC, Gag Order, TOTAL CEREAL and MUTIE, who bring a pugnacity of pop-culture, politics and punk. SLUG Picnic takes place on Saturday, Sept. 25, at 230 S. 500 West in Salt Lake City. Tickets are $5. Picnic seating starts at 5 p.m., and music is 6–9 p.m. SLUG Picnic’s sponsors are Dented Brick Distillery, Sparrow Electric, Gem City Fine Foods, Squatters, Les Madeleines and GREENbike.

There’s a video of TOTAL CEREAL playing for a small crowd on the waterfront in Duluth. Shot late at night, the reflecting moonlight backlights the band’s rag-tag setup with a serenity that, paired with their guttural noisecore performance, becomes an emblematic scene of the group’s ethos. “We just drove up, set up and played at this random space where we were hoping the cops wouldn’t show up,” says Sam Rodriguez, who founded TOTAL CEREAL with his brother, Conrad Callirgos. The premise: create a song a day with influences from noise groups like Japan’s SETE STAR SEPT.

“If you put out a song every day, it’s like a commercial,” says Rodriguez. “It’s an ad; it’s a brand; it’s merchandising. But [it’s done] understanding that stuff’s all really stupid.” Appropriating the logos of mega-corporate monoliths such as McDonald’s is an essential ingredient of the TOTAL CEREAL brand as is the recontextualization of pop-culture iconography—from John Carpenter to hentai to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, it’s all TOTAL CEREAL.

With local venues often resistant to book them, the brothers created the label CITY OF DIS to carve out a home for local noisecore and powerviolence groups and attract touring acts. Totaling over 70 releases with dozens of bands, their serialized ambitions have come to fruition. “The last house show was insane … It said a lot for the scene. Hopefully, all those people will go off and set up a band of their own,” says Rodriguez. “Hopefully, they play fast—fast and bad sets.”