White Cowbell Oklahoma Interview
Location: The Winnebago outside of NXNE’s Launch Party
Date: June 17th, 2009
By Aaron Binder
Originally published in Lithium Magazine
You wake up one morning with an invite to a party. This isn’t just any regular party though, North by Northeast is launching, and you’re heading down to Berkeley Castle to kick back in style with most of the bands on the bill. Musicians, writers, photographers, everyone with a hand in the NXNE festival is bouncing around the room like children that have just consumed a box of Pixie Stix.
It’s at this point you realize your two free, meager drink tickets are not going to last the whole night and payday…well, that word is still out to lunch with the phrase ‘cash on hand’.
You are in a predicament, a hugely troubling situation, a seemingly insurmountable problem from which you can’t see an easy way out. At that exact moment though, you run into the boys from White Cowbell Oklahoma.
White Cowbell? You’re asking yourself just who these guys are. They kind of sound like something you’d order at Burger King; “Yeah, I’ll have the White Cowbell, hold the Special Cattle Sauce please”.
Truth be told though, these rockers are one of Toronto’s most oddly named, badass bands. You’ve heard of CJ Sleeze and Robin Black, but it’s an almost certain guarantee that you’ve never had your mind blown by the fiery redneck-rock these boys slam down your ear canals. Deemed one of the most entertaining live acts in Canada, White Cowbell have built up a hard-rocking, eye-shocking, electrifying (literally) live show that would be worthy of KISS as the opener. They’ve also been riding high off the release of their newest album, Bombardero, which, this past May, hit stores and lots of people over the head with its raucous riffs and heavy grooves.
So you’ve introduced yourselves and that’s when a sly grin crosses the face of one Clem C. Clemson; “You know, we’ve got a way better party going on in our Winnebago.” The words slip from his grinning lips like this is a regular occurrence; it also comes to mind that you could probably learn a thing or two about meeting beautiful rocker women from this sly-eyed guy. It turns out this is a yearly event for these guys, the past few years at NXNE they have brought their own party Winnebago to party in front of the official launch party.
It all comes to a head though, after feeding you shots of Jagermeister and Cameron’s Beer for long enough, the word interview starts to get tossed around. As hard as it is to pin down more than one member at a time, you’re determined to talk to these guys. Winnebago’s are surprisingly large inside, especially with a party roaring on, so you decide to start tracking them down Predator style, one by one.
This is the culmination of one raucous night with White Cowbell Oklahoma.
Aaron – Hello Clem, can you introduce your band?
Clem C. Clemson – I’m Clem from White Cowbell Oklahoma, we are from Parts Unknown, Multi-Dimensional Space, right now we are residing in Toronto Ontario Canada because this is where they keep it not so hot.
Aaron – Fantastic answer for this beautiful April day. I’ve heard about your live show, how’d that come about?
Clem C. Clemson – WCO does everything bigger and better and larger and louder and more smashy and more breaky. There’s more breaky, breaky, smashy, smashy, nudie, nudie, destructo, loud. There’s more notes per square minute, that’s how we measure time, square minutes. More notes than you think you can even conceive of, and that is the majesty of White Cowbell Oklahoma.
Aaron – I think I just heard one of the best sentences of my life.
Clem C. Clemson – We are literary dynamos and masterminds as well with everything else.
Aaron – So we’re standing outside of your tour camper at NXNE and there’s a huge party going on inside, what’s the deal?
Clem C. Clemson – White Cowbell Oklahoma, we like to do everything up. We realize that there would probably only be drink tickets at this NXNE soiree so we thought we’d bring a lot more drinks for everyone to enjoy in one of our many vehicles from our fleet. We were gonna bring our submarine but we couldn’t find any water and the helicopter is in the shop in Slovenia. So we brought the White Cowbell Bombaderomobile for everyone to enjoy.
Aaron – This party is truly unlike anything else.
Clem C. Clemson – This is just one vehicle, it’s something we relax in every once in a while. We bring this vehicle for the people, this is our refreshment centre, and everyone needs refreshment. And like I was telling someone else earlier, by the end of the night some publicist is gonna get nailed on the mattress.
Aaron – I’ve gotta say, you guys are doing this party better than anyone inside the official soiree.
Clem C. Clemson – We always do. The rain kinda put us off but we often do festivals where we played on the back of a flatbread because the people deserve more. And most people don’t do enough in this festival so White Cowbell is givin’ it back to the people at North by Northeast 2009.
Aaron – So you’re a band for the people, by the people…
Clem C. Clemson – So we can own the people!
Aaron – Haha, awesome, thanks for chatting.
Clem C. Clemson – Thank you very much, this is Clem from White Cowbell Oklahoma, and we are going to burrow into your head shortly.
Aaron – So what’s your name?
Bubba – My name is Bubba Lee Fett, also known as The Rooster.
Aaron – Those are two very interesting names.
Bubba – Well, they’re both family names. My father was a Bubba Lee Fett and his father before him was a Bubba Lee Fett and his mother before him was a rooster which was…a little weird.
Aaron – Tell me about the chainsaws.
Bubba – Well, a chainsaw is a saw with a circular blade and when it’s motorized it makes chopping down trees a lot easier.
Aaron – Only trees?
Bubba – Other things…we’ve found with our Chainsawoligist if you will, we’ve learned that some things chainsaw easily like large phone bills. It turns out that ghetto blasters, not so much.
Aaron – So the go-go dancers? I’ve heard they’re actually nude.
Bubba – We never make it a requirement. We tell them to use their discretion and somehow they find that discretion. Everyone has their own spin on it.
Aaron – I heard you guys are the dirtiest southern band in Canada.
Bubba – We never went out to earn that reputation but we just found out that we’re pretty much the only band like us at NXNE.
Aaron – So you’re number 1.
Bubba – Yeah we pretty much are. We’re kind of like that guy in the Guinness Book of World Records for like shoving the most tarantulas into his eye sockets. He’s probably the only guy doing it but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have that record.
Aaron – So what kind of record are you guys trying to set?
Bubba – We’re trying to set Rock per Square Inch. You can bring up the chainsaws, the naked ladies, the drugs, the alcohol, the fire, the lightning, the rampant electrical monstrosities but they mean nothing without rock. What it comes down to is the White Cowbell experience being about rock and roll. We will set your ears on fire with rock; we are bringing audio fire to these people.
Aaron – You are channeling all the greats it sounds.
Bubba – We are looking to the trailblazers before us and they have shown us the way. The path is clear for White Cowbell, and the path is stained with rock.
Aaron – Thanks for chatting.
Bubba – Thank you.
Hollis – Hi, I’m Hollis and I used to play Freebird with my wang.
Aaron – That seems slightly emo.
Hollis – It was completely retarded and I had to stop because I’d never have chicks walk up to me and ask me to play that again. It was always guys.
Aaron – So I’ve heard of the go-go dancers, the chainsaws. What do you guys bring musically
Hollis – I think the problem is that we care about the music as much as the show. But the only thing we tend to hear about is the show. If we set the bar on fire, the people usually just remember that we set the bar on fire. What we want to hear is that it was a really kickass show and the players were great and they set the bar on fire.
What we don’t want to hear is that they set the bar on fire and there were some people playing in a band. When we go to Europe it’s completely opposite. They think along the lines that there were these guys that played very, very well and they lit the stage on fire.
Aaron – So they definitely remember your name.
Hollis – Yeah, that’s definitely so. I’d rather that than us being remembered for some girl getting up on stage and showing her tits for 8 seconds. There’s no problem with that, don’t get me wrong, but we’d rather that they were remembered side by side, that one isn’t better than the other and that all the work we put into being a good band that musicians would like…we don’t want to be the band remembered because of someone accidentally setting their hair on fire on stage. We quite often have the perception that we’re a joke band that doesn’t take music seriously.
Aaron – You definitely don’t want to be the Stryper of the 2000’s.
Hollis – Certainly not. We don’t want to be the Stryper of any decade. Nobody does.
Aaron – Probably not even Stryper. But you guys obviously enjoy playing in White Cowbell.
Hollis – Yes, there’s no better job in the world. We were not going to play NXNE this year, we’ve played it 9 years in a row, but this year we didn’t want to rush our brand new record. So we thought we weren’t going to play this but we decided to go ahead with it because it’s always a great time.
The best thing for us is to come away from this considered incredible musicians and great showmen as well. That’s it for us.
Aaron – That’s the ultimate goal?
Hollis – That’s the ultimate goal. Whether we succeed or not is up to everyone else.
Aaron – Thanks for chatting Hollis.
Hollis – Thank you.