Musicians in cartoon shows have popped up a lot in my childhood. Robert Smith fighting Barbara Streisand on the first season of South Park back when I was most likely too young to be watching South Park was a definite highlight. Sure there was that weird episode of The Simpsons where some fat white guy pretended to be Michael Jackson but even as a (tragically cynical) child I knew a poorly thought out cross promotion angle when I saw one.* I’ve tried to approach the news that Major Lazer has now been given their own cartoon show without the same crippling cynicism and I can safely say that the idea makes heaps of sense.
Their music just works so well with that style of cartoon, which got me thinking… some Aussie bands need to pick up this idea. In an age of dwindling record sales and a “need to diversify your income streams,” I think some bands really should consider getting into the cartoon game. I’ve even taken the idea one step further and jotted down some ideas of who might best suit a cartoon show. These bands might not have the money behind them like Major Lazer but I’d tune into the below before I watch a fat white guy sing Michael Jackson songs again.
This brilliant illustration of Tame Impala starring in their own Scooby Doo style misadventure was drawn by Robert Kabbas.
Here are 7 Aussie bands that we reckon could out-do Major Lazer with their own cartoon shows
If there is any band that you could throw into a van and have roll around and solve mysteries like Scooby Doo it’d be Tame Impala. Every episode opens with Half Full Glass Of Wine playing as a VW Combi, adorned with psychedelic swirls and “The Parker Pack” in bright letters painted on the side, rolls down some abandoned highway on the way to their next adventure. The whole band will be present with Kevin Parker being the obvious leader of the bunch. The comic relief will surely be Jay Watson, the drummer. While the others are off milling about trying to solve the crime you can normally find Jay scoffing down laced Watson Whackers, tripping balls and falling into some mid-trip anxiety attack where he’s scared of everything that moves. “Oh, not again Watson!” Parker would say, his face half hidden behind a pashmina scarf, as he tries to pull Watson down from the big haunted circus curtain he’s climbing in fright after seeing what he thought was the ghost of a disgruntled performance elephant.
Sadly, very much like their music, the show is also very reliant on the formulas of its predecessors. Something goes wrong at a deserted and scary location, “The Parker Pack” sweep in with their psychedelic haze, solve the mystery, unmask the perpetrator and go on their smug way. You always find out it was the underpaid cleaning lady or the underappreciated mailman just looking for some attention or some such rubbish, each one echoing the same catch phrase “I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for you pot smoking lay-abouts!” at the end of each episode. Some may say the show might be derivative but sometimes classics are classic for a reason. And sometimes being reminded of the classics in a similar but fresh way is better than sitting through hours of new stuff that’s simply just not as good. Remember how excited we all were about Wolfmother? Can’t we just be happy that Kevin Parker didn’t go the way of Andrew Stockdale?
Little Bastard’s live show is normally just one small step away from descending into Loony Toons style madness at any given time, so for them to have their own Wild West style animated series is not that much of a stretch of the imagination. It’d be great fun to watch. One of those shows you watched as a kid where nothing that happened to you would ever do that much damage; you get punched in the head you just grow an enormous lump. Nowadays if you get punched in the head a certified corrupt politician quickly passes illogical and rash nanny state legislation so that property developers can snatch up prime CBD real estate at a cut price. Shit, where was I? Oh yeah!
There’d be a new town each episode, leaving the previous one basically in ruins. They’d ride in on their horses, some of them riding doubles as inevitably one or two of the boys either sold theirs to pay their bar tab or lost it in a poker match. What would happen next would be a debaucherous ruckus full of wenches, pistol fights and saloon brawls. Each episode would end with the boys playing one of their songs in a bar before either they turn on each other, or on a member of the audience, and the screen just fills with that old classic cartoon fight effect: a cloud of dusty smoke with fists and feet flying everywhere. Oh how simple life was when we were young.
King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard
King Gizzard’s cartoon is the kind you’ll see at 3am on SBS. There is no discernible plot just twisted pulsing imagery. Imagine the Canadian film Heavy Metal with its weird sexual undertones and awesome early superhero comic book style animation. Then you add the weird harshness and psychotic chaos of that sequence in Beavis And Butthead Do America where “It’s like a music video!” with garish colours and dancing demons that are made up of 70% tongue, 70% bum and 70% face (and no, maths doesn’t exist in this world). Finally just for good measure you throw in some of the spiritual enlightenment elements a psychedelic experience offers like that time Homer drinks hot wax, eats the super hot chili and trips balls. Not saying there would be a spiritual guide like a Johnny Cash-voiced wolf in the show, just the elements of some underlying psychedelic importance about whats going on. No guidance. You’re very much alone.
That’s the kind of show I can see these boys being behind. No story line, just random colours, harsh visuals, objects morphing into one another and dancing little figures wiggling their butts at you. The kind of show that you put on at 3:00am after a hard nights intoxicating yourself that really makes you ponder your own existence. Vomit inducing? Potentially, but at 3:00am a purge is usually welcome and you can wake up thanking King Gizzard in the morning.
P.S: The Gizzard dudes are already well on their way. See below:
From their earliest releases there was something eerie about Bad Dreems. Their insular dark lyrics always made me think of an internal struggle with sanity… “So, not from round here huh?” is the opening line of the Bad Dreems cartoon movie called The Baddest Dream. The story follows a man as he wakes up in bizarre country town not knowing how he got there, meets 4 young country men who get him pissed, talk at him about the Adelaide Crows, take him ‘roo shootin’, and cause an absolute ruckus at the local pub. As the man is about to pass out he hears one of the young men say “you know what mate, that was a bloody laugh, we should do it again sometime”. Then the man falls asleep.
“So, not from round here huh?” Man wakes up in a bizarre country town. The day proceeds the same way again and on the film goes. Imagine Wake In Fright meets The Twilight Zone meets the AFL Footy show and that’s what we’re talking about here. A dark journey in the red, orange and browns of the Australian outback slowly watching as a man’s mind unravels at the hands of 4 young Australian men who just want to kick a ball around and drink piss. Not to ruin the ending (HA! Like my bullshit ideas will ever get funded…maybe if one the band is voiced by Geoffrey Rush or Cate Blanchet?) but it doesn’t end well for the mans sanity being caught in the cyclical environment with no option for escape. Hmm…makes me wonder though, maybe I was a bit off the mark with the title. Maybe it should actually just be called Living In Adelaide?
I can see Harts in a cartoon show called Captain Psychedelia. It’s kind of like Captain Planet but instead of dealing with lame problems like air pollution or dumping of waste, Captain Psychedelia, played by Jimi Hendrix, deals with matters of a more spiritual nature. Sadly due to the easy availability of the five sacred elements needed to call on Captain Psychedelia (a guy called Joe, a foxy lady, a little wing, something purple and “free” stone) and also the “problems” the type of people that would call on Hendrix would have, he gets bored after the first episode and has to enlist an underling to go forth in his place and do his work. Enter Harts. Continuously annoyed that he is sent off to do Hendrix’s dirty work while he stays in heaven smoking joints and jamming with Stevie Ray Vaughn, Harts comes down to earth to fulfil the biddings of those that have called him.
All of Captain Psychedelia’s three episodes follow the same formula which is great because when it is inevitably cancelled due to the lack of Hendrix, the show can be very easily recreated at home when you’re high with your buddies. All you need are three hats, some coloured paper and some colour pens. In the first hat goes a person, in the second hat goes an adjective and in the third hat goes a noun. Take one bit of paper from each hat, read it allowed and that is what Harts has to solve this week. This week, Harts, you’re helping Gwendolyn from the library because she has pessimistic toes. Next week, Harts, you’re saving that guy Peregrine from that party we were at last week from his gloomy wallpaper. And when you’re done that can you pop on over and see Andromeda? He’s complaining that his vegie patch is depressed.
Gang Of Youths
I could imagine Gang of Youths being the main characters in a Warriors style cartoon show. The gang known as The Hungry Hearts are stranded on the wrong side of town and have to traverse an urban wasteland to make it back to their turf on E Street. All dressed like Bruce Springsteen in blue jeans, tucked in white t shirts with rolled up sleeves the boys set out on a gritty adventure. Sadly for the boys it’s not all smooth sailing. As the road that leads them home takes them through treacherous terrain, each episode ends up telling the story of them squaring off with rival gangs. Down on the corner you’ve got the Creedence Clearwater Revivalists who like to fight with washboards and an absolute disregard for their white middle class San Francisco upbringing. Just across town you’ve got the Gang Formally Known As Love Symbol in their raspberry berets and their purple velvet jumpsuit.
Once they get past them the boys will have to face off with the David Bowie Boppers. The Boppers like to startle and confuse rival gangs with their sharp neon face-paint and their secret weapon of androgyny. A tussle with The Boppers though is no match for a run in with the fearsome “Coalition of the Holy Trinity” made up of a partnership of the three gangs The Angels, The Church and The Saints. Wearing jeans, wife beaters and being led by their ignorant and idiotic right-wing leader Angry Andrew, a fight with these guys usually results in a schooner glass to the face and a lecture on immigration from Angry Andrew. There is also one more gang called the Brian Numero Eno’s but they’re pretty harmless. They’re mainly just sitting in an alley way breaking bottles and recording the sound in a hope to truly capture the essence of a decaying urban landscape.
Imagine Beavis and Butthead crossed with Cheech and Chong but with the instructional elements of an episode of Martha Stewart and you’ve pretty much got a Dune Rats cartoon show. The boys would just sit on a couch, baked as fuck, and you’d watch as they watch Rage on a Saturday morning. Everything would be in cartoon apart from the video clips that they watch and we’d all just sit there and listen to them do a running commentary of the video clips. Argh. Why am I wasting my time trying to explain this, IT’S BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD BUT WITH BC AND DANNY!!
Each week one of their musician friends would join them on the couch as a special guest. One week it might be Johnny from Children Collide, and another week it’d be Shane and Simon from DZ Deathrays. Considering how internationally loved these two guys are amongst musos there would be a long list of guys that would want to jump on the couch. It wouldn’t be a Dune Rats cartoon show if there wasn’t a strong bong element so I also propose there to be a an informative section where the boys take us through the intricate process of transforming regular household items into bongs. It’d be musical and informative! It’d give artists another avenue to have their music videos seen while also being educational. There’s got to be a grant out there where I can get this show made….
*Ed. Try not getting ‘Lisa it’s Your Birthday’ stuck in your head after just a couple of bars into this killer song.
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