Zillion Happy Volts takes its name from the surreal 1989 art-house film Dr. Caligari.
“It’s one of my all-time favorite cult movies,” says singer Davit Buck, who formerly fronted the Homeless Sexuals. “The phrase is heard in the scene where Gus Pratt, the cannibal, is asking Dr. Caligari to give him shock treatment, saying he already implanted needles in his own buttocks. ‘Juice me, I’m a shiver boy. I got secret needles in my pokey globes. Pins and needles, the shiny kind. I’m riding a zillion happy volts….’”
Founded late last year, the experimental punk-prog trio includes drummer-turned-guitarist Greg Gerardi (Swore, Challenger Deep) and drummer Andrew Bracken.
“I talked them into the name by playing Dr. Caligari clips over and over and over,” says Buck, who recruited the duo via craigslist. “I said in the ads that I was pretty much stuck in the 1990s and hated almost every band performing these days. They’re in their mid-30s, so I figure they know where I’m coming from.
“Greg lived in New York City and is a huge fan of noise and no-wave bands. He plays guitar through a bass amp, and the sound is crazy, like some extremely drunk old-funk guitarist picked up a broken guitar and tried to play some dance grooves. Andrew used to intern at Touch and Go Records, so he’s familiar with ’90s noise rock, and he mixes in some odd time signatures with Brazilian-style drumming.”
For their live shows, “I’ll be singing through a CB microphone,” says Buck, “and using bent-circuit toys, a loop station, an Atari console, a coyote distress call, a kids’ flute recorder, and I do this thing with toilet-paper rolls…we may use all the noise devices for this instrumental we’re working on, which usually runs about seven minutes. Maybe longer, if the audience isn’t into it.”
WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?
1) Swans, My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky. “The best album of 2010 — this CD has original Swans’ guitarist Norman Westberg.”
2) Lydia Lunch, Big Sexy Noise. “She sings raspy blues mixed with noise rock.”
3) Fifty Tons of Black Terror, Gutter Erotica. “This U.K. album is from 1997, but I just discovered it. It’s amazing and bluesy noise rock, like Jesus Lizard with a harmonica.”
4) Dax Riggs, Say Goodnight to the World. “Dark, goth-y stoner rock influenced by Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, and Roky Erickson, with an amazing cover of ‘Heartbreak Hotel.’”
5) Ausgang, Last Exit. “A 1980s post-punk band, very Killing Joke meets the Birthday Party.”
TOP THREE ONSTAGE INJURIES?
1) “I broke my ribs when a large man launched off a trampoline and landed on me. Actually, he broke my ribs.”
2) “I got cut in Long Beach by some tweaker girl in the audience who sliced across my chest with something. Her fingernails?”
3) “Stitches in my hand opened at the Ken Club, so I did bloody-finger paintings onstage.”
PAID YOUR DUES?
1) “I lived in a car parked in the Food 4 Less lot so I’d have 24-hour bathroom access.”
2) “I ate SpaghettiOs straight from the can.”
3) “I had to sell my original Dischord 7-inch records — Minor Threat, SOA, Teen Idles — just so I could buy insulin.”
BEST AND WORST BAND NAMES?
“Best, Butthole Surfers. Worst, Milli Vanilli.”
“Tragic Mulatto in 1987 at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC. I sat on the stage watching this band with two dirty dreadlocked girls with hairy armpits and no underwear under their dresses. Off to the right, the male guitarist was also wearing a dress and doing wiener windmills. They sang Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’ with a tuba and trombone. I was mesmerized by the show. It changed my life, as well as my expectations for live rock and roll shows.”
HARDEST THING TO LET GO?
“The Homeless Sexuals. After trying to keep the band alive for almost 15 years, I just let it die.”
THREE THINGS WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU?
1) “When I was a kid, I read the Bible to old people.”
2) “I used to rap on street corners.”
3) “I had Rodney King’s lawyers working for me on a police-brutality case.”