October 28, 1994
"Cat Scratch Fever"
by Johnny Angel
We've been banned almost everywhere in L.A.," says Woodpussy spokesman and percussionist Gordon Holmes, with a touch of wistfulness coming through his Okie twang. "Jabberjaw, we weren't hip enough for those coffee swillers. Raji's, the owner, Adnan, freaked out over me and [guitarist] Jason Hadley's Full Frontal Nudity... same with the teaser, even though we packed both places to the brim. Some folks you just can't figure out, except I think there's some law about nakedness and liquor somewheres."
Such are the trials of Oklahoma emigre's Woodpussy, a septet of drumming, screaming, quasi-amateurs and exhibitionists. Consider the spectacle of seven writhing nearly-nudes, two pounding on drums fashioned from barrels, and from others, a full-bore sonic assault a/la The Butthole Surfers, circa another man's sac. Most of the compositions consist of one or two riffs, beaten to a pulp, by Hadley and bassist, Michel Cicero, while zaftig lead singer, Jen Flygare intones her rage, like a wounded puma over the top. When Woodpussy hit their groove at a monolithic tilt, it's jarring and liberating at the same time.
On the surface, it might seem that Woodpussy's attack is pure chaos, a rev-'em-up-and-go with no discernible dynamic, yet at a recent gig, the band's discipline is obvious, especially in the set opener, "I like you." The group are wind up tighter than nun's corset, so much so that when Cicero botches a riff and Holmes lands a drumbeat off meter, the two mistakes sound completely foreign. "When we get our nut off musically, it usually gets wilder," says the bespectacled Holmes, who's professorial visage makes me think he'd be Grant Wood's idea of a punk rocker. When Woodpussy do explode, they trash the above mentioned Surfers or other shock-rockers, reminding me of the long-lost mothers of percussion and noise madness, Pulsullama.
Holmes says this has become a typical audience reaction in the last few years. "We moved to California just as things got ugly, back in 1991," says Holmes. "Couldn't really get anywhere in Norman, Oklahoma - this was before Matador was signing anything with an amp, you know - so we picked up and headed for the promised land." Holmes and company were aghast at what they found. "No camaraderie, no fun - that was the scene here, still is," he says. Woodpussy added Cicero and drummer Todd Sterling to its lineup and began gigging. "The first show we did was at the teaser," says Holmes. "The nudity thing, the duck tape on the nipples, was the result of having no musical ability and trying to compensate."
Woodpussy's "Hell Yeah" seven inch has garnered retching from the public due to its cover's graphic depiction of what seems to be a swollen labia. "People figure that's what we'd put on the cover, but it's really a picture of a smashed jelly doughnut against Jan's breasts." The single's A-Side is "Put a Jelly in the Box," a double-entendre-laden recitative redolent of the Shangri-Las' "Give Him a Great Big Kiss."
Woodpussy appears at the Whisky A Go-Go with Michael
Petak and others Monday, October 31st.