March 22, 2010

Interview: Bunnygrunt

Towards the ending of 2009 Bunnygrunt released their album Matt Harnish & Other Delights, on Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records. Like I said in my 'review' of the album back then: "...this is hard pop, speed rock; there are even some serious guitar solos here. It's all rather fantastic too."

A few months and lots of hours of listening later, I still think it's a truly great and addictive album. It made me want to ask the album's namegiver, Matt Harnish, all about Bunnygrunt's yesterday, today and tomorrow. And, probably unsurprisingly, so I did!

Hello Matt! How are you doing?


Seventeen years of Bunnygrunt, or eleven if we substract the 1998-2004 break. Quite an achievement, I'd say! Do you remember how it all began? How did you meet, and why did you decide to start making music together?

Karen & I worked at different stores of the same record chain. Our two stores interacted a lot, Karen & I saw each other at shows a lot, we realized we had compatible musical ideas & blammo, the magic was born!

In your own experience, how different is 2010's Bunnygrunt from 1993's Bunnygrunt and its sound and motivations? What has changed, and what has stayed the same?

Well, none of us are in this full time any more. At our height we were on the road for 6-8 weeks out of the year, now it's a long weekend here & there, usually based around one of the US Popfests. Musically, Karen's switch to bass opened up a world of options we hadn't had in previous line-ups. The sound is a bit more free-form, though we still obviously love a giant multi-harmony chorus.

The sound on last year's Matt Harnish & Other delights is far removed from what anyone would dare to call twee or cuddlecore. I just read on your myspace that you actually sound like "Karen & Matt punching you in the face and touching your butt." I'll have to take your word on that. But seriously, you rock hard nowadays. Aren't you scaring away the pop kids? Do you notice reaching another crowd than some years ago?

I think we've probably scared away a couple pop kids, but we never really stuck to a strict Pop diet. Our earliest shows were with our young friends in political hardcore bands & our old friends in psych garage bands, so the whole "Pop" scene was never something we tried to exploit. We love playing the Popfests & will continue to do 'em til they kick us out of the club.

On the album the band is a lot bigger than just the two of you. Is Bunnygrunt oficially still just Matt and Karen, or do you consider the other players part of the band by now?

We have a full time drummer called Eric Von Damage, and a rotating cast of extra guitar players, depending on their availability. We vary from a 3 piece to a 6 piece from show to show.

I enjoyed the recording I found of your Blondiegrunt set on the Athens Popfest. I'm assuming you like Blondie, then? Are there any (other) bands that you consider influences, or just admire or enjoy for what they do? What was the kind of music you grew up with?

We're on a hardcore 70's "Classic Rock" kick these days. St Louis had/has one of the premier rock radio stations in the country, KSHE 95, and we recently learned a set of 70's prog & hard rock jams in honor of its influence on us. Oh man, it was sweet. Actually, it was The Sweet (see what I did there?), plus Argent, ELO, a few somewhat more obscure bands that only got real airplay in St Louis, like Doucette, Dust & Off Broadway. We've basically lost our minds.

Whatever happened to The See-Thrus? Excuse my ignorance, but did you ever release anything?

It was a case of remaining friends or remaining in a band. I think we made the right choice. No recordings, no nothing.

Matt, I read on your Bert Dax myspace: "I put out some records but I'm not really a label, I book some shows but I'm not really a promoter, I DJ sometimes but I'm not really a DJ, I love Christmas but I'm not Santa Claus... I just want things in St Louis to be cool." So, how cool are things in St Louis? What is the St Louis music community like?

Awesome! Lots of good bands (who unfortunately rarely try to get themselves known outside of St Louis), lots of good venues, cheap rent, cheap beer, creative ridiculous people. I love my hometown!

Wikipedia says: "Despite one of their songs being used in a major Hollywood movie, Bunnygrunt seem to be, whether deliberately or not, unbothered regarding commercial success." True or false? And while we're at it: how did your song (Season's freaklings) end up being on that Bad Santa soundtrack?

I don't think we've ever intentionally turned down fame & fortune, but we've never sought it at the cost of our souls, either. The Bad Santa thing isn't a very interesting story. Basically random chance. Cool, though, paid some bills for about a month.

The HHBTM website claims: "This isn't music for blogs, this is shout along live, loud, in the joyful moment Rock-n-Roll." Will we get a chance to shout along live with you in Europe as well in 2010? What else is coming up for Bunnygrunt in this new year?

I wish! There was tentative talk of a HHBTM package tour of England this summer, but it kinda fell through. Maybe in '11? Who knows what stupid stuff we will have come up with by then?

Thanks Matt! And thanks Bunnygrunt!

Buy Matt Harnish & Other Delights
Bunnygrunt myspace
HHBTM website

Download (right click, save as)
1. Bunnygrunt - The limits of Southern hospitality
2. Bunnygrunt - Hometown rockstar

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