Interview: Scott Ian – Mr. Bungle

The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny Demo

The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny” has been out for just few days and the noise around the album has been immense, with a Halloween live show to stoke the bonfires of furore. It was a 5/5 release here at The Metal Wanderlust (see the link below) and an album about which it seems no-one is short of an opinion. We at the Wanderlust believe in obtaining the opinions that matter, and the week before the release of “The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo,” Your Grouchy Friend was lucky enough to catch up with Scott Ian: guitarist, founder and only remaining constant member of Anthrax about egg and spoon races, tuna-fish sandwiches, studio whistling, fan-boy love… and of course joining Mr. Bungle. As you will hear/read Scott seems to be absolutely loving where things are at right now (why wouldn’t he be?), and his heartfelt, in-the-moment appreciation of the opportunity for such an epic all-star team up is irresistibly compelling.

Without further ado, The Metal Wanderlust gives you one of the bona fide legends of the Metal world in conversation with Your Grouchy Friend. They kicked off with an obligatory celebration of the fruition of a much-anticipated project and Scott was only too happy to fill us in…

…Certainly, the three albums they released, I’ve been a fan forever, so, you know, this whole thing is really, really exciting and weird for me because I’ve been a fan for so long and, you know, I’ve been friends and a fan of Mike’s [Patton – Vocals] for so long. And obviously I’ve known Dave [Lombardo – Drums] forever. So, the whole scenario is just really this kind of very, very odd dream come true.”

As far as that humanist side of it; that dream come true, a lot of human beings, probably more than would want to admit, suffer from imposter syndrome. The feeling you don’t belong despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. How did you feel personally going into play at first with such a stellar line-up?

Well, when Mike first asked me and he was very specific when he just basically said – because we were texting about something completely different not having anything to do with Mr Bungle – then he just kind of drops this bomb on my head and says “all right, listen, you remember The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny?” I’m like, yeah. And he said “so I need you to stay with me here, follow along. OK?”  I’m like OK, and then he basically invited me to be in the band, not only invited me, but said if Dave and I wouldn’t do it, if we wouldn’t be a part of it, then they weren’t going to do it.

That’s literally where they were at as far as the three guys from Mr Bungle. And I wrote him back and I said, what the fuck are you talking about? Like? Are you? Like, really? And he’s like, “Yeah, really.” And I said, Well, is Dave in? And he said, “Yeah, Dave’s already in.” And it’s like, well, I’m in: you could tell me that you just want to go in the studio and whistle for two hours on a record and I would be a part of it. I’m you know, he knows! I said, you know what a fan I am of Bungle. So, yeah, this is like, what are we doing? How are we doing it? You know? And of course, I had a million questions and I was honoured. You know, I kept saying to those guys, this is such an honour for me to do. And they’re like, “No, you don’t understand. It’s an honour for us. This is like our fifteen-year-old fantasy dream band come true: We’re having you and Dave playing with us!” So, it’s just been a Bungle love fest from the start.”

Oh. To be able to shine the rabbit symbol into the air and call on the Big Four, right? It’s every thrash fan’s wet dream, right? 

Exactly.”

So as far as actually being in the room at first playing together, was there a point where you just thought, oh hell yeah, this is right, this is clicking?

Yeah, I don’t think that was ever even a question. Those guys are so… they’re so… what’s the best word I could… Bungle for them is like they care for it like it’s like a delicate egg, you know, like, you know that stupid thing you do when you’re at a picnic and you do egg races and gotta hold the egg and not drop the egg? That’s what Bungle is for these guys. It’s like this super special, delicate… it’s this thing that they care so much about. It’s their baby. So, they already knew, those guys. They’re so advanced musically from most of the rest of the planet. They knew it was going to work just fine without having ever to have heard anything. And then I understood that immediately, because as soon as I started learning the stuff, you know, the riffs were so familiar to me because they were listening to Slayer and SOD and Anthrax and Possessed and Mercyful Fate and everything I was listening to, and Corrosion of Conformity and, you know, all kinds of stuff, all the same stuff I was listening to between ‘82 and ‘86. So, you know, musically, I understood what they were talking about. It just makes complete sense for Dave and I to be a part of it. But yes, to answer your question, the first time we actually got in a room together, which was months and months after the initial conversation, I actually had Trevor [Dunn – Bass] and Trey [Spruance – Guitar] at my house and we spent two or three days just rehearsing guitars and bass before we got together with the full band because we wanted to make sure just the three of us were tight. And as soon as even just doing that, we realized how great it was.”

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You’ve got to prepare to be to be ready for the Dave thunder I imagine.

Yeah, and we just wanted to make sure we were on the same page before we got in the room with Mike and Dave, just so we knew we would be tight, you know, and then we’d really be able to focus on everything else.”

Methematics” really makes me smile with the original “Love is a Fist” riff that’s embedded inside it.  What riffs in particular – a lot of Metal fans dabble and play themselves – what riffs in particular on the album are the ones that if you were to jump on a guitar and thrash something out at volume now, what are the ones that make you tick?

“There’s something about just some of the parts in Raping Your Mind. The main verse riff of that is probably my go to: There’s just something so simple, yet so brutal about that part that I just love.

There’s the intro riff to Bungle Grind. That weird kind of mid-tempo, just crunching, crushing weird riff – I love that part so much. 

I love the… I mean so much of Sudden Death is just so great. But there’s so many parts in that song. I mean look, that song has like forty-three riffs in it or something like that and ninety, ninety-three changes. Like I literally am like doing ninety, I’m changing what I’m doing ninety-three times in that song. It’s nuts. 

I mean there’s so many… Glutton for Punishment – the riff when you play the main riff but up high on the 12th fret and… I mean who the hell does that?  Who plays a thrash riff all the way up there?  And you think it would take the, the brutality out of it, but it makes it even more brutal in a weird way. Like it’s just there’s so many, there’s so many parts, it’s so great.”

I think the album sounds so hungry and so urgent:  How do you think you guys got that to come across so well in the recording?

We pretty much play it live. We were super ready because we came out of two weeks of rehearsal and then we played the seven shows that we played and we went straight from the last show in San Francisco, flew down to L.A. the next day and we’re right in the studio making the record. So, you know, we couldn’t really couldn’t have been tighter in that moment as a band going into the studio. And then we set up and we pretty much ran it live in the studio with guitar, bass and drums. And then, you know, you do a couple of takes of each song and if there was any fixes that need to be done, we fix it. But, you know, the basic tracks, all that energy just comes from the fact that we were so ready to get in and make the record and I feel like you can really feel it in the tracks as well as Jay’s [Ruston – Mixing] mixes. You know, Jay really captures the essence of it. It’s not too polished. It’s you know, it sounds like it should sound… it just sounds raw and edgy and full of energy.”

Definitely maintains that old school Thrash vibe, the guitar tones in particular, they’re very, very precise, but like you say not overly polished and certainly capture the essence of what was going on back then.

Sure. I mean, the precision comes from our tone in our right hands, too. You don’t need to… we didn’t need to do anything else. I mean, the tones are there. You know, they’re the exact right tones for this music and yeah, you know, a lot of fun as live as it is and all that, a lot of thought went into it beforehand leading up to that. Especially in rehearsal, making sure that, you know, that our tones were going to be right, especially for live, where when you’re playing this fast, consistently for 70 minutes or so, you know, with the covers we were doing, we just wanted everything to sound very, very precise because things could things could get lost very easily if they if they didn’t sound properly the way they should.”

Thrash is that kind of music, right? That complexity gets lost in an instant if that precision isn’t there.

Yeah.”

Separates the wheat from the chaff, if you like? 

Yes.”

So, talking about the studio, you guys banged this out in 10 days. Everyone loves a good studio story. Were there any times where you were taken aback by one or more of the other guy’s performances or any hijinks in the studio?

No, there’s no hijinks.”

I anticipated that answer to be honest.

I don’t think, I mean, I’d be hard pressed to think of hijinks in the studio, you know, even going back to the ‘80s. It’s my experience being in the studio, it’s always been very, very much work; fun, fun work. But work. I mean, you’re there to do your job.”

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Oh, absolutely. 

“So, for me, that’s never been a thing. I mean, yeah, we’re having fun while we’re there but I mean, this Bungle record was basically; there was a lot of coffee drinking and a lot of tuna fish sandwiches eaten…and a lot of metal recorded. And that was pretty much it.”

That’s the way it should be. You said you do most of the music live with any fixes and then getting – I’ve had this experience myself in bands – getting to sit back and watch your vocalist do what they do. Was that the case with Mike? Did you guys get to sort of sit back and listen and watch him do his thing in the studio?

No, only a little bit. He went and did a lot of the vocals back… he’s got a studio at his house. So, he only did some of the vocals that, when I say we did it in 10 days, that’s pretty much drums, bass, guitars, backup vocals and you know, Mike did most of his vocals at home, and then Jay mixed it. So, no I didn’t get to see him sing a lot of the lead stuff. I only saw a couple of little bits and pieces towards the end of the session when we realized we were going to have some time towards the end of the recording so he started throwing some vocals down.”

Cool, and all things aside, you’d enjoyed the stage with him previously. So, I’m sure that was an experience.

It was amazing. Look, I’ve you know, I’m a fan of everything I mean, how many bands is he in? Twenty-six, twenty-seven? You know, I’ve been… I’m even just naming the main ones, whether it be, you know, Bungle, Faith No More obviously, Fantomas, Tomahawk, Dead Cross. So, you know, what other am I missing? Another major one. But just even just naming those. I mean, you know, I love all of that stuff.”

Peeping Tom?

Totally, yes. Tons of stuff. So, you know, I’ve been a fan of his for so long. And so, to actually get to work with him on this level and be in a band with the maestro, it’s been amazing for me on so many levels from being a complete fanboy to, you know, on the creative level of getting to see how he works and be a part of his process: To be on the inside of that is amazing.”

We’re running pretty short on time so last thing: Thrash is undergoing quite a revival in the last few years, especially with some really young bands – on the website and I do a podcast as well. What do you feel led to the resurgence of Thrash and what do you feel “Raging Wrath” adds to that and gives to the kids that are doing it now?

You know, honestly, it’s not something I’m super aware of or have ever really paid attention to as far as a resurgence. In my mind, as far as I’m concerned, it’s never gone away but maybe that’s my bubble.”

Me too mate, I would agree: I live in a similar bubble.

“So, you know, for me if that is the case, of course it’s something that’s great. I feel good music is just good music and good bands are good bands, regardless of what kind of genre they’re playing. So, if there are good bands playing thrash metal, meaning new bands, then they’ll be able to get it out there. They’ll be able to make it through all of the noise that’s out there and people will pay attention and of course, that’s a good thing. As far as Raging Wrath, yes, I think that it’s such an odd situation. It’s like a time capsule. This record is like going out in the field and digging up a time capsule and finding some thrash metal record from 1986 that nobody’s ever heard… and it’s fucking genius, you know what I mean? Bungle wrote this material back in ’85/‘86  and no one’s ever really heard it because you can’t count what’s on that Raging Wrath demo because it doesn’t sound like this. It wasn’t recorded with this band this way.”

I’m a massive fan and I’ve heard almost nothing from it because I’m outside of that. Those demos on that level used to circulate quite locally in the scenes back in the day. So being in Australia I didn’t have the opportunity to hear it. 

Certainly. Sure, sure.

So, you know, I think this record, this record stands up to any thrash record that was made in that time period and I think that’s the best compliment I could pay because, you know, that’s the genesis right there. Those years are when the best thrash bands were doing their thing. We were we were making our first few albums and I think this record would have stood out just based on the fact that the songs are amazing. They were so far ahead of any of the other thrash bands at that time. When it comes to arranging music, nobody was doing what they were doing with this material in 1986. And these guys were teenagers. They were younger than all of us in the Big Four and they were so far advanced, they were so far ahead already musically.

So, you know, it’s hard to say but for me if this record would have been around in ‘86 they would have changed the world, like all us other bands would have looked at that record and gone, holy shit!  How did they do that?

So, you know, that’s how I feel about this record.”

I’m told you’ve got another interview coming up, is that correct?

I believe so, yeah, I think so.”

Probably for me to that seems like a nice place to leave it anyway. I certainly don’t want to eat into anyone else’s time. I try and play it respectfully. Thanks so much for your time. I really appreciate it and I’m sure our readers will appreciate it. The album’s an absolute cracker, like I said, in the Australian version of that word. 

Mate, thank you very much for your time, cheers.

“Yeah, right on. Thank you. Cheers.”


Your Grouchy Friend’s review of “The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny

https://themetalwanderlust.com/2020/10/27/album-review-the-raging-wrath-of-the-easter-bunny-mr-bungle/

https://www.facebook.com/ou818/

https://www.facebook.com/ipecac/

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