natty bughead

natty bughead

Ska, rock, punk,
reggae with a dash of
metal thrown in, diced
and pureed in such a
manner that the
elements offer
themselves like a well-
organized sushi platter.
There’s plenty to find in
the music of Bughead,
due in part to colorful histories and a rollicking sense
of humor about themselves and their songs. The
original trio of lead singer/guitarist Nathan Adams,,
bassist Jason Powell and drummer Pat Jones was
recently expanded to a quartet with the addition of
trombonist/pianist John Gnuechtel, formerly of the
SLOWLY RUBBINGS. After managing to organize all of
them in one place outside of Will’s Pub, the interview
began. There was a sense of impending hilarity in the
air and everyone stifled their giggles. Energies were
racing, as it was just a few minutes till showtime.
Theme parks was the subject as Jones related a story
of being hungover at Islands Of Adventure. The
discussion blossomed into a round table forum on how,
in Florida, the hospitality industry is one of the key
sources of income for musicians and Adams chimed in
with “All I know is hospitality!” Jones and Powell both
work at Wild Bill’s, a western themed dining
experience on the fringe of Walt Disney World. “The
best white-trash cheesy joint, two hours of free beer ,”
remarks Jones. Mandaddy of GARGAMEL! works there
also. Adams, looking a little like a pirate, shows variety
in his vocations. “I’ve been a bathroom valet at a titty
bar, worked in several kitchens and I been an actor on
Terror On Church Street,” he says with a faux redneck
accent. When the joking stops, a rare occasion, his
eyes are direct in line with yours, his voice level. “I’m
not looking for Ferrari’s and hookers and cocaine, I’m
just lookin to pay the bills and have a good time and
just play music. If we do nothing else but play music,
then what’s wrong with that?”

Bughead debuted at
the Ft. Meyers-based
Drafthouse in October
of 1992. Adams and
Powell were working
with “Brophy” on
drums while Jones did
his thing. “I started out
in a punk band with
Ens from the Copper
Rocket, called Walking Cliche and I played with him in
a couple of bands and then I joined a funk band called
Motherfunker and was playin’ with them for a few
years,” says the drummer whose first encounter with
his future bandmates was a double gig. Secretly, he
coveted the idea of playing with the crazy nutty band
with the cool ska feel. It took a strange series of phone
calls to make the transition. “We lost our drummer and
Pat was in Motherfunker and unbeknownst to Pat they
wanted to get rid of him and have another drummer,”
explains Adams. “His guitar player called me and said,
‘hey do you guys know of any drummers looking for a
band to jam with?’ and about two hours later, Pat
called me and said, ‘hey you guys know any bands
looking for drummers?’ and he didn’t know that his
guitar player from the other band had called and
asked me about drummers–so it was kinda weird.” The
guitarist and bassist got together with Jones and he
was invited to join the band on February 12th ,
1994–his birthday. Adams adds the cherry: “He had this
airbrushed topless chick on the drumhead and we
said, ‘that’s the guy'” and the band dissolves into
laughter. “Luckily he could play pretty well.”

The band’s debut CD “Whole Lotta Puddin'” was
released on Davey Schweizer’s Richter Records label
and is soon to be re-released. The follow-up, “Big
Baby”, perked up the ears of industry folks with its
crazy moshing reggae-punk mix. Songs like “Wrong
Side Of Town” and “Why Me Love?” are lovingly
crafted reggae beats fattened up with brash rock
chords and speedy tempo changes while sharp,
melodic fuzz inspires the blue-collar anthem “City
Worker”. But even in the most frenzied of shredding
riffs, the pace seems to always find time for a mellow
skank pulse with Powell’s lopey bass lines playing
hopscotch over the brittle afterbeat of Adams’ guitar.
Jones breaks a few reggae basic rules and creates
variations on a four that keep the caribbean bounce
lively and snappy.

“Jason won’t let us play
anything else,” Jones
says about the trend
towards reggae.

You don’t see anybody
playing reggae,” offers
the stocky Powell,
whose hard
appearance gives way
to a soft-spoken eloquence. “Especially three white
guys–you don’t really see it.”

The ringleader is certainly Adams, wearer of kilts and
derbies, proffering Scottish accents and quick with a
yarn, he explains his musical influences. “My daddy
was a sailor, so I was raised around a lot of caribbean
beats. ” The other band members look at each other
and inquire, “a sailor?” in unison. “Not a navy sailor,
he was an independent sailor, had his own– had a
sailboat, he used to traffic marijuana back and forth
from Jamaica .” The other band members sit and
watch Adams, mouths agape–they clearly know when
he is joking, and he’s dead serious as he speaks about
his father. “He was in a band with Kurt Loder, in
Jersey, it was like a Beach Boys type cover band, they
were called Preacher Bill and the Prophets–my dad
played bass, he played violin, he was an orchestra
conductor at a high school in Ft. Meyers.” His love of
reggae music was shared and that bond helped fuel
Bughead’s sound with the dancehall shuffles and dub
beats that are notorious for invoking the party gods
where ever they play.

“bhead3”

Their music is now
bridging the
multi-media gaps
through licensing
agreements with the
MTV series “Road
Rules” and an
upcoming project that
is shrouded in some
amount of secrecy.
“We’re taking over the video game establishment,”
says Jones. “We’re doing a soundtrack for a very
popular sports video game.” A new CD is in the works
and the group’s official website is being designed by
Gnuechtel and will offer up music and merchandise.
Though admittedly still broke, Bughead continues
along in the spirit of things–chugging along on a lazy,
crazy tide of melodious mirth. They hope to beat the
music industry at its own game and against all odds.
“We weren’t born cute, we weren’t born rich, we
weren’t born in an established community with lots of
culture, we weren’t born talented, and we’re not very
smart.” says Adams. He’s speaking from the heart here.
Then, a twinkle in the corner of those eyes.

“I’d like to find 10 million dollars in my bathtub when I
wake up,” he adds with a straight face. The band
seconds and thirds the notion.

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