These days, punk and even so-called alternative music seems to be cut-and-dried. But it doesn't have to be that way -- just ask JJCnV, the Mesa trio who has been releasing some of the strangest tunes in the Valley for nearly a decade. Their crass sense of humor has spanned three full-lengths, and two EPs, all released on Flab Fjord Records, many of them recorded and mixed by Jalipaz Nelson at Audioconfusion.
Songs like "Hunter of Bugs" and "Hamsterdam" explore the kind of short, sweet, and offbeat themes Pixies fans are usually into, but tracks like "Deli Mmmeat," which talks about smelling urine, recall the jokey punk style of the Dead Milkmen. Their videos employ a morbid campiness, such as the singing bicep on "Stomach Baby" or the severed cow head Ray Reeves plays with on "Flush It."
Let's not even get into JJCnV's penchant for eccentric costumes. You'll often find them wearing hot pink wigs or superhero costumes; plus, there's always the handwritten shirts with messages like "The Internet owes me an apology." So whatever JJCnV does in the upcoming year will be sure to make you scratch your head, giggle insanely, or both.
"We are finishing up a brand new recording that should be released the beginning of next year," says bassist Pete Hinz. "It's going to cream minds, shake asses, and force-feed those starving for wowza and good timery."
"New recording, same us. Only better," guitarist (and Hinz's wife) Dana Stern says. "If someone would like to book our tour and handle the arrangements, I'm sure we might be interested. Any takers?"
Hinz and Stern split vocal duties, while drummer Jeff Barthold "winds up with 110 percent of both the male and female fan affections," Hinz snarks.
JJCnV's future is just as interesting as its chaotic past. Before Janis Joplin's estate threatened to sue, the trio originally were called "Janis Joplin Crap N Vomit" -- now they're just JJCnV, which can stand for whatever you want it to, like Just Jump Carl, Nobody Varies or Jellied Japanese Cockroach Nipple Vaseline. As Stern puts it, "We'd like to think people are creative enough to come up with their own Mad Libs-type answer to this."
Hinz has some great advice on how to be different: "Read books. Never be seen in any natural fiber. Treat most nouns as verbs. Use two hands for every handshake. Make music to make music."
"Don't be a phony; do be mildly menacing," Stern adds.
Stern and Hinz have been married for close to a decade, about as long as JJCnV have existed. What's their secret?
"No secret," Stern says. "I just like that guy, so that makes things pretty easy."
"Just write intensely passionate songs about each other's silly dillies," Hinz suggests.
Others' silly dillies definitely interest JJCnV. The band makes an effort to play with some of the most eclectic groups around Phoenix.
"Most bands we play shows with are the ones I find most exciting," Hinz says, a detailed list of gigs that's included Nobunny, Treasure MammaL, Fathers Day, and many others.
"Does anyone remember the Vinegar Sting?" Stern asks. "There are a lot of great bands around right now -- Discos and Whispering Wires from Tucson, Blanche Beach, French Girls, Battered Suitcases. . . . We like lots of bands around here and usually have a good time playing with any and all of 'em."
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