Wammo Wants To Blow Your Mind

Redneck, hipster or righteously indignant hipster?

The artist known as Wammo (the artist formerly known as Mr. Wammo), figures

that if you're enough of a bonehead not to get the dripping irony in the songs

on his album Fat Headed Stranger you're just a "jarhead" anyway. "If

they really don't get it, then there's nothing I can do for them," is exactly

how he feels about it.

And, he's got a point. If you can't cut the irony

in a song like "There Is Too Much Light In This Bar," a cautionary tale about

all things Generation X, then maybe you shouldn't be allowed out in public

until you watch a few dozen episodes of the old Batman TV show. Wammo spends a

lot of time talking about the generation known as X, but as in "Too Much

Light," he wants to remind pepole that he's old enough to remember when the

phrase referred to "Billy Idol's first band."

Wammo is 35, a veteran of

"tons of bands" in his hometown of Austin, Texas and an 11-year vet of the

spoken word/poetry slam scene who says that his "bands went nowhere, but my

words did."

His words won him the slam crown at the Nuyorican poetry slam

in 1992, where he beat out 20 of the Big Apples' finest, which in turn got him

hooked up with Nuyorican honcho and poetry legend Bob Holman and his new

Mercury Records-distributed label, Mouth Almighty.

Before that, Wammo plied

his trade in bands and slam competitions for years until he was asked to

perform in the PBS project United States of Poetry, which then got him a

gig in the word tent at the 1994 Lollapalooza, followed by a few dates on an

MTV-sponsored spoken word tour with contemporaries Reggie Gaines and Maggie

Estep, which led to his new album.

Which isn't really like most rock

records, but more like an eye-bulging rant set to music from a seriously

defective victim of a fast-food, "do-I-have-to-read-the-whole-thing?" society.

Wammo starts off paying homage to the Ramones on "Homage to the Ramones," leaps

into a flamenco rail about the life-changing possibilities of the cheesy Batman

TV show in "Batman," and takes one of many stabs at the X generation in the

hokey country "I was flannel when flannel wasn't cool" shuffle "Children of the

Corn Nuts," about a guy trying to shed his grunge image by any means


And while Wammo puts on a number of guises: redneck,

hipster, righteously indignant hipster, he knew the music had to be good enough

to get people to listen to tunes like the dead-on alternarock Breeders spoof

"Salty," or else Stranger might end up in the pile in the corner with

the other, good-for-one-listen comedy/spoken word albums.

"Music is the

best way to get them to listen to poetry," says Wammo about finding a path to

make his words more palatable for today's attention-defecit audiences. "All day

long people are talking to you and telling you this and that and the last thing

you want to do is put on a record and hear someone talking to you. So, let's

say you have a record with JFK, MLK, Jesus, God and Hitler all doing rants. How

many times will you really listen to it? Eventually you'll know all the words

and even those will get boring. With the music it's always different, you

always catch something new each time around."

Check out "Open Letter '92"

a poem/letter to a deceased Kurt Cobain with a spaghetti western backing track

of acoustic guitar, eerie whistles and harmonica that is essentially a "you're

not missing anything down here" missive.

The album features instrumental

help from one of Wammo's many other side projects, the 10-piece Austin-based

band Asylum Street Spankers, an all-acoustic band with whom he gigs around town

playing 20's style jump blues music with no microphones, amps or electricity.

In keeping with his contrarian nature, the music on Stranger strays

pretty far from that of the Spankers jump boogie, seguing from the overheated

guitars and manic riffs of songs like "There is Too Much Light In This Bar" and

the Alice In Chains-like scrunge of "Do I Look Fat In This?," a catalogue of

disjointed scenes and machine-gun images, to the Laurie Anderson-mocking sound

collage "This May Sound Kind of Weird."

"I used to play some drums in Poi

Dog Pondering," says Wammo about his rock roots, adding, "and my poetry has

always been affected by rock and I'm an aggressive person, which is why the

poetry seems aggressive."

The high-blood pressure troubadour comes to his

beyond-it-all anti-everything attitude by being a "cusper," too young for a

yuppie, too old to squeeze into the busters. "I grew up with the whole

Generation X thing and when you grow up on the cusp, it's a hard place to be.

I've always leaned towards punk rock and when 'alternative music' came out, I

was caught right in the middle of it. I really was flannel when flannel wasn't

cool, but not be design. The only way to make fun of it is from the inside

looking out. How else could I be so embittered and humorous at same