The Abominable Snow Punks
Nanook el Faroook
Rock Historians may well categorize the 1990’s as the era of “scenes.” In the early 1990’s, the Seattle “scene” dominated the world of pop music. Then Raleigh, North Carolina had a “scene.” There’s the Washington, D.C. “scene.” The Austin “scene,” the Boston “scene,” etc. Wherever there’s a good independent music store, you can be assured there’s a group of dissatisfied kids with guitars waiting to make their own brand of music and to make a difference in the world of popular culture.
And the city of Moose, Alaska is no exception. Here in the remnants of an old working-class mining village lies the nucleus of a classic punk rock scene. Six months of darkness and little else to do but collect welfare and eat raw fish, seeing one’s parents slowly succumb to the ravages of boredom-induced alcoholism certainly is a reliable formula for great punk rock.
The Abominable Snow Punks are the first band of promise from Moose, and their recent signing by Conglomerate Records is proof positive that they’re here to stay. Their brand of punk rock is fast and furious, like an avalanche of guitar-driven Nirvana. Speaking with their mandolin player Mukluk Williamson during a stay-over at Kennedy Airport on their way to a tour of Mediterranean punk rock festivals, much was to be learned about this band that will take the world by snowstorm.
How have you made use of the time here at the airport?
So far we’ve avoided getting arrested, but I expect that to change any minute now, since Iggy [Igloo Johnson, bassist] just held up the pretzel lady over by Gate 50.
Yeah! Shit! Here come the security guards. That idiot’s always doing something like this. But we got smart since the last time, when he got locked up for six months in the Yukon for attempting to burn down the venue, after they tried to pay us in beaver pelts. We arranged for Derrick Smalls to travel with us and be our back-up bass player if Iggy became a liability.
Aren’t you going to help him? Or even go talk to the cops?
Hell no! Our plane doesn’t leave for another three hours and Derrick’s being picked up by our tour manager Holly Cherylson right now. Serves him right. He can take care of himself, he’s pretty tough. We’ll pick him up on the way back.
You seem pretty calm considering you’re about to lose one of your bandmates.
We’re used to it.
How did you hook up with Derrick Smalls?
Lex Talionis did a mini-tour of impoverished Alaskan towns, and we opened for them when they played Moose. Derek was looking to get out of Lex Talionis because the rest of the band had turned queer and were changing their sound to reflect their new sexual orientation. So after their tour he agreed to back us up with the possibility of a permanent position.
It looks like he’ll be permanent for a while now…
It might work out, we’re a really theatrical band and his background is in theatrical bands.
What kind of theatrics can we expect at an Abominable Snow Punks show?
Well, for starters, we just had new costumes made. We’ve got these huge, full-body suits made from polar bear skins — fur on — and latex rubber, just like the one I’m wearing right now. The effect of us walking on stage in these big bouncy bumble costumes sets the tone for the rest of the show. Picture all five of us [Iggy or Derrick, Mukluk, Whinnibago – drums, Orca – guitar, and Gaylord – vocals], all in white fur, yelling inaudible Inuit slurs at the crowd! Then we break right into “Deathmoose 2000,” which is the single that got us signed to Conglomerate, and the crowd goes wild! We even cover a few ASP tunes! Man, the last show we played, before this trip, they had to bar the doors on the auditorium to prevent the people from leaving in droves! It was intense!
Was growing up in a place like Moose a big influence on the kind of punk rock you play?
Not really. Well, none of us really grew up there. We’re all really from the Bay Area.
Huh? I thought you were home-grown?
Sort of. See, after graduating from high school, we all found out about opportunities to work during the summer for salmon canning companies. So rather than work for my dad’s computer firm in Silicon Valley before going to Stanford, we made the move to Moose and canning salmon provided a lot of inspiration for our songs and attitude.
How did canning salmon influence your music?
Iggy happens to be allergic to fish, so watching him puff up every day became the subject of our first song, “Rosebud.” To be true, though, the salmon canning gig got really old and we weren’t really making enough money to survive, even in Moose.
Yeah, but starving artists make some of the best punk rockers, right?
Maybe, but I found it hard just to concentrate and avoid falling into these huge stinking vats of salmon innards. Anyway, my dad let me cash in my trust fund and I had a recording studio and rehearsal space custom built for us, as well as split-level living quarters and a full-time cook.
That doesn’t sound very punk rock…
Hey, there are some things even I won’t tolerate.
Well, how did you get Conglomerate to sign you with just one song?
My sister, a vice-president at Conglomerate, told the A&R department that we will be the next Offspring, and he signed us without asking any questions. And if you ask me, that is punk rock.
The Abominable Snow Punks are due to be back in the United States after touring the Barbary Coast. Their album Free Otter With Each Fillup will be out this October.