Shut up about it and just do it," says local DIY show promoter Rob Ruzicka, speaking on his decadelong procrastination in forming a punk-rock band lottery. Last year, Ruzicka finally brought the music community together for a night of one-time-only performances by several bands cobbled together in just under two months. This Saturday, December 7, Band Lotto returns for round two at the Mad Magician.
The process is simple: Put out the call for participants. Take those names and throw them into a hat. Pull out the names in groups of four, and assign each member an instrument, regardless of the player's experience. These brave souls get tasked with writing a five-song set made up of four originals and one cover.
Last winter's Band Lotto was, for the most part, a success. And although a sequel seemed like a no-brainer for many, Ruzicka hit some roadblocks along the way — coordinating creative types, many unfamiliar with one another, can be quite a challenge. "After the first one, I didn't even know if there would be a second one," Ruzicka admits.
With friendly prodding from last year's participants and help from Shaun Morrissey of Doom Town, Ruzicka returns with a second event featuring several new names, along with a returning cast from last year.
Unfortunately, the reigning champions from 2012's show, Nip Fiendz, will not return to defend the crown; however, the band names alone pique interest: Daren's Jimmy Johns, Pig Armor, Stabbing Contest, Blood of the Unicorn, Slaughterchops, BagDad and Rip Taylor Motherfuckers!
Much like American Idol, viewers participate by voting for favorites. While the top group won't take home a record contract, its members will win free buttons from Cherokee Street's Button Makers.
"It just seems fun. People meet new people, maybe new bands will form. It has snowballed into a unifying fun-factor," Ruzicka says. "I made a Facebook event, invited people and encouraged them to invite others. It's open to everyone, but it spread mostly through word of mouth."
Because Ruzicka plays in a well-respected hardcore band, the established Cardiac Arrest, he's in a unique position to bring together the bands and brains behind punk rock in St. Louis. From moonlighting as an unofficial motivational speaker to finding practice space for participants, Ruzicka took on many roles to ensure the event's success.
"I would like it to continue. It seems to have grown this year," Ruzicka says. "Maybe other people can do this too. Anyone can do this."
To preview this year's event, we asked each band to fill out a questionnaire, resulting in micro-profiles of each ensemble. Here they are, in alphabetical order:
Features members of: Cardiac Arrest, Everything Went Black, Dissention, Life Like
Origin of the name: "We did not give a shizz about the name."
Sounds like: Early '80s hardcore influenced by Gorilla Biscuits, Black Flag, Minor Threat, T.S.O.L., the Staples.
Sample lyrics: "Droogie don't crash here."
Fun facts: BagDad, featuring Ruzicka himself on drums, claims to contain precisely zero amateurs. In this project, they all surrender to simply having fun. According to these guys, look forward to seeing how four complete strangers can actually crank out something worthwhile.
BLOOD OF THE UNICORN
Genre: Melting-pot rock
Features members of: Sine Nomine, Animal Teeth
Origin of the name: Uncle Jesse and the Rippers, apparently.
Sounds like: n/a
Sample lyrics: "Shed your wings for me/Love is above the law/Love is the only law."
How rude: Perhaps the most obscure of the bunch, Blood of the Unicorn says little to reveal its true nature, and instead references hero John Stamos on multiple occasions and cites the Beach Boys as its biggest influence.
Daren's Jimmy John's
Genre: Food punk
Features members of: The Haddonfields, Better Days, Shaved Women, Lumpy and the Dumpers
Origin of the name: "Our name is our names."
Sounds like: "An anthropomorphic bag of Pizza Rolls that took too many placebos in the swell of a tubular wave," citing influences such as Zero Boys, Night Birds, Guttermouth, Fat Boys, Weird Al, Gallagher (the performance artist) and Jimmy Buffett.
Sample lyrics: "When I'm on the go, I always choose Go-Gurt."
Food on food: According to these punk gluttons, expect food — enough for the whole class. John Birkner, who takes on an unprecedented role behind the microphone, supposedly terrorized a bunch of supermarkets to prepare and says, "It's not really about who wins.... It's about how much you eat and having fun while doing it!"
Features members of: Cardiac Arrest, Grand Inquisitor, Dissention, Horsey Drawers
Origin of the name: "Our name came from the sky and the greasy, filthy clouds and our families. We're big on family. And pigs and metal."
Sounds like: "A hammer dry-humping a doughnut shop. So sweet. So strong. We'll make you fat, and we'll make you bleed."
Sample lyrics: n/a
Sausagefest: Pig Armor is a collaboration of self-proclaimed "handsome goofball geniuses" who say they will take over your life as well as your underwear drawer. It claims that onlookers should prepare to get ruined, quit their jobs, ruin their credit and change their sexual identity.
Rip Taylor Motherfuckers!
Genre: Power slob
Features members of: Sayonara, Fifth Row Felons, I Hate Billy, the Frankenhookers, Doom Town, the Humanoids, Totally Gay Cop
Origin of the name: "I assume it's a play on Gordon Solie Motherfuckers. Gordon Solie was the wrestling announcer from Georgia Championship Wrestling."
Sounds like: "Mostly indifference." Influenced by some band performing at Pop's Nightclub at 4 a.m.
Sample lyrics: n/a
Expect the unexpected: Says drummer Shaun Morrissey, "I have had a ton of suggestions. I really wanted to turn this on its head. I pushed for matching track suits and headset mics, choreographed dances. I would have been the slightly overweight rugged one in the boy-band formula.... The biggest challenge has been coordinating schedules. I find hope and prayer can help overcome most any adversity."
Features members of: Googolplexia, Times Beach, Broken Prayer, the Humanoids
Origin of the name: "RØB (Googolplexia) came up with the name because it is the hardest name in the world."
Sounds like: Someone hacking off their own hand with a machete.
Sample lyrics: "Slaughterchops, Slaughterchops/We're the hardest band in the world/Slaughterchops, Slaughterchops/You're going to chop off some of your limbs/We really love the band lotto/But we don't really know/ Each other."
Limb from limb: Slaughterchops says it's most influenced by the sounds of its members' own nightmares. They have successfully funneled urges to cut off their own limbs through song, though audience members might not be so lucky.
Genre: Face-melting hardcore
Features members of: The Humanoids, Everything Went Black, Rüz, Bath House Boys, Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting, Liquor Lord, Gang Control
Origin of the name: "It was the first name that anyone threw out and it didn't suck, so here we are."
Sounds like: Hardcore for the punks who like having their faces melted.
Sample lyrics: "No more happy endings."
Golden Gods: Drummer Cameron Rhoads reportedly has nicer hair than your girlfriend. Furthermore, Stabbing Contest claims to have created a style of music that is completely unique and without outside influence.