The latest government report suggests that if people continue to take music seriously at the current rate then by 2005 the entire music industry will have to be surgically removed from its own rectum. Rumpus have joined the Laxative rebellion with gusto and aplomb.
Rumpus played the Casbah on Tuesday the 8th October to a crowd that their singer thought was woefully short of crab dancers. As ever Rumpus were slap and tickle for the ears. They waltzed through metal, grindcore, hardcore and jazz like hairy, gangly, girls skipping through grisly meadows.
Their expanding repertoire is a veritable landscape - replete with grim shadows, murky lakes, moons of mouldy cheese and of course, griffins. If one were to be crude one might say Rumpus fist progressive rock with large spanners. If one were to be culinary one might say it’s good time rock ‘n’ roll that’s been put through a blender and served raw with a good quality cheese. And this gig was no exception.
Danny the singer sounds like a Buffy demon and looks like an excommunicated castrato choir boy. He cruises through the octaves while Dave drums like a beefy but surprisingly subtle tractor driver and Ian, surely the most lugubrious of all guitarists, wrings oddness from his neck.
After the gig I literally cornered the band upstairs between the gentleman's lavatory and the fire exit with AC/DC vibrating up through the floors. They were having a strange night all in all. The gig had only been organised that afternoon by a keen Sandman and Rumpus still seemed in a state of bemusement.
It was a situation which I saw fit to exploit. Huddled on the floor I thrust a microphone in their faces and began to liberally grill them like landed fish.
If you haven't occasioned over Rumpus before then I must say that they are a three piece. Danny (or Blue Daniel), Ian (the wheel, wears shorts) and (Readysteady) Dave. But when they play they sound ten times bigger, like an orchestra for the insane. They all live together under the same roof which they think of as a tour bus without wheels. And they go back along way.
Ian and Dave have been friends since they were tiny toddlers in Shropshire. Somehow they managed to appropriate Danny some years later in Chesterfield at a very tender age. Danny was just fifteen when he auditioned Dave for his band. But little more is known about this as they skipped over their murky pasts very quickly. All three became good chums and began concocting the concept of Rumpus. They're a bunch of thoroughly decent chaps who are into music for the love of it and are desperately itching to get out and tour.
They’re not green though. Dave and Ian played for robot and axe inspired loonies Ten Benson for a while but have decided to concentrate now on their own project.
Ian describes Rumpus as a toy for the ears and its hard to disagree (mostly because he's bigger than me). Rumpus are into Mr. Bungle, Cornelius, The Coral, Jim O’Rourke, Primus, The Meat Puppets, Nirvana, Tom Waits, the Hollies, the Beach Boys - the influences of which bubble up in the songs if somewhat the worse for wear for warts and strange twists.
But they don't love all music, oh no. Ian claims that Oasis have severely diminished the quality of his life and they're all jointly scarred by Cher's scurrilous use of the vocoder, which they say is an insult to technology. It seems that Danny is the main lyrical instigator in the band who says his songs come from his soul because he hasn't found a way of plugging up the hole yet.
And a good thing too, where would we be without their griffins and Starfox's? Songs like Stump Muffet and Root Fizz and the one with the chorus which screams, ‘Sex. Food. MORE SEX!’ are funny as spuds but are written seriously about serious things. Why dangle a bleeding heart in the sweaty faces of an audience?
Danny hints that he would dearly love to fulfil his dream project: A Griffin Opera. But methinks we’ll have to wait for that. They jam out a lot of their music in rehearsal which would explain the freshness and fluidity of what they do. They’re all technically brilliant musicians who play with dry humour and undertones of darkness - kind of metal combined with easy listening. Which to me is like gold dust.
I'm sure Rumpus frustrate a lot of metal heads and rock bottoms who would rather hear them play it straight. But to be frank I quite like the idea of such people squirming on the dance floor with piles and half erected expectations. Rumpus bring to metal what is sorely lacking - contrast.
But because silliness and boundary hopping upset the straight laced, tight arsed punters Rumpus are treading a dangerous path in the current climate - especially as fewer and fewer people are coming out to see live music in Sheffield. Its something that Rumpus are quite conscious of. They reckon there should be more venues in Sheffield supporting the local music scene and that there shouldn’t be door charges. They believe more punters might come out to see new music if it wasn’t such a financial risk.
Over the past year or so they’ve played a variety of gigs in Sheffield and supported the Ozric Tentacles in Chesterfield but they’re keen to take their music out to the nation.
At the moment they haven't got any gigs lined up so if you want the aural treatment you're going to have to wait, so check their website to find out when their next lunatic debacle is looming. Alternatively you can track down their CDs: Ring of Scales and Brown Pyjamas (reviewed in the last issue of Sandman).
And talking of such things they've got a new album in the pipeline, as yet untitled but they reckon its going to be their best stuff yet. When you get the chance, go and see them, its your duty to reverse the worrying trend of serious music for serious people. It’s not too late - at the moment we're only cheek to cheek with disaster.
I felt the grey seeping through my window
I heard the joy of the good little workers snaffling
Perfectly in time to the beat
And now there's nothing to do with my elves today and my osterichbeak
I feel like killing somebody
Somebody like you
I saw a women who looked a bit tired
I heard her talking about what's on the telly tonight
She smelt a bit like cardboard.
From ‘My Ostrich Beak’ from the Brown Pyjamas EP
words: Richard Masters
pics: Jon Enoch